Don’t Forget to Shine

You’re one of those New Testament Christians aren’t you?” The comment combined with the sneer on his face left me in bewilderment, as these types of comments often do. Someday I won’t be a “new guy” to the church anymore, and it will all make sense to me; why do people leave a church claiming that the change in name was too much to handle, following shortly after a series of sermons explaining the difference between tradition and what is biblical?; why do otherwise highly educated individuals grab a verse out of Revelation, taking it totally out of context, and claim that it means something it obviously doesn’t mean if they’d only apply the rest of the bible?; but what argument exist for someone to can call me a “new testament” Christian, directed as an insult, I may never understand. My uneducated, “new guy” logic would argue that, of course, I’m a new testament Christian. The word “Christian” contains the word “Christ,” as in Jesus Christ, who is the main character of the New Testament. Part of being a Christian is (at least in my mind) trusting in Jesus and following his command. Thus the New Testament and “Christian” seem to go hand in hand. Furthermore, the multiple references and prophecies of the Old Testament, that are fulfilled in and by Jesus would dictate that he is the main character of the old testament too, so I’m probably an Old Testament Christian as well. Not to mention that I take the Bible literally, which means that I believe the whole thing is God’s word, and therefore believe ALL of it to be true, because otherwise I would be declaring that God made some “whoopsies” when writing the bible, and that I can edit out parts that I don’t want in there, which would also declare that I think I’m a better god than God. No other comment that was directed as a insult to me, ever made less sense than that. Sorry friend, I’m a “whole Bible” Christian… and frankly I don’t think there can be any other kind.

That was my rant for the day, it was eating at me, and I had to let it out in order to get over it… now where was I? Oh yes… onward! I hope I’m not trying to cram too much into this blog, I just have a lot of thinking going on. It’s a long one but hang in there, some of it is good.

So my wife and I recently celebrated our five year anniversary. I couldn’t be more satisfied or happier with the woman I married. People tell me “oh, you guys are still newly-weds. Just wait till you get to about 8 or 10 years.” Well, yea you’re right. We are still newly-weds. I still make a dork of myself trying to impress her, and I’m still goofy over her. She’s still worth chasing, she’s still out of my league, she’s the best part of a good day, and her love and presence provides remedy for a bad day. She’s my partner in everything I do, and we keep absolutely no secrets from each other, and I say that confidently. I love her tons, marrying her was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make, and I’d marry her again every day for the rest of my life. We’d be dirt poor, and it wouldn’t take long before all our friends would stop coming to our weddings, but I’d do it. I don’t see that changing anytime soon either. I think that as long as I don’t start using my place of work as an escape from her to complain about her when she’s not around, and as long as we always communicate well and keep everything in the open, We’ll be just fine. As long as we never get to a point where we are manipulating each other or trying to control one another, we’ll get along great. As if there’s something I want more than her, just the way she is. As if there’s something about her that I could change that would make her better. “I don’t think so Tim” (that’s Al from Home Improvement…nevermind) . We try our best to be bible believing, Jesus loving Christians, and although we are far, far off from perfect, we are dedicated to the journey. So, happy late anniversary my sweet lovely lady! You know I love ya.

Also, I mentioned that my wife and I were going to be leading a bible study class for a day. Well, that has happened, and it ended up being just me. My wife and all three of my kids woke up sick that morning. I was on the brink of taking my notes and a box of donuts to the class instructor, throwing them all at him, and running away, but I didn’t want to be a coward about it, so I went ahead and did the class on my own. First of all, I absolutely loved doing it. I love to talk about Jesus and the bible. I like to give my own testimony as well when I feel it could help someone. Now here’s what happened. At first, I was extremely nervous, and blew through my notes in about 3 minutes flat. After that, I relied on the instructor to spark discussion in the class, which led to me offending every baseball fan in the room, especially Reds fans (go Pittsburgh). All things considered, I think I did okay. I was under prepared, I was more nervous than I should have been, but I think that once I started speaking just from my heart, I did better anyway. It was my first time speaking to a group of people in that type of setting, probably ever. But what I felt was most important was that I enjoyed it, and once I warmed up, it felt very natural. So hopefully I get another opportunity to do something like that in the future, and I will prepare better for it.

One other thing, I promised that I would write about the two children we had stay in our house from Children of the World choir. Well, my wife did as good of a job blogging about that as I could, so I’ll just direct you there. Go here: http://thehelpmeetmommy.blogspot.com/ check the archives on the right side for the children of the world choir posts. She has a great blog, and if you aren’t already following her you outta check it out.

There is one other thing that happened recently that I’ll go into a bit. I had a conversation with someone who is not a Christian. I knew he was not a Christian at the beginning of the conversation, but I didn’t know that he harbored rather strong harsh feelings toward Christians, and church as a whole. This is not all that uncommon of an opinion. “Christians are all hypocrites, churches are all out to make money, and the whole thing is a big scam.” I hear that rather frequently. What bothered me is the story he told me that basically led him to hold that opinion. In a nut shell, any chance at having a relationship with Jesus, at the time, was ruined by what leaders of his church were doing. They were living lavishly, driving fancy cars, wearing fancy suits, and taking a lot of money for themselves. He basically said that they were preaching something, and living the exact opposite of what they were preaching. It really is a shame to think that the people who are supposed to be leading others into a relationship with Jesus are essentially driving them away from one. The bible says that teachers of the word will be judged the harshest, and I think this is exactly why. These people have the opportunity to bring people to Jesus, on a large scale, but have just the same opportunity to drive them away on the same scale. I know first hand how the wrong people in such a position can drive others away from church, from the bible, and from Jesus as well. I had an experience as a young boy (I was probably around 10) that is extremely difficult for me to talk about, and if I ever get into a blog about how hateful people can be toward innocent children when an attempt at bullying them into doing something to improve their own reputation fails, I may go into detail about that. But thank God they aren’t all like that. Thank God that there are people out there worth looking up to. Thank God that there are great role models that care deeply, deeply, for other people. They go out of their way to put young people on a track toward being leaders and pillars in their community, they teach young people how to be good parents and loving spouses. They don’t do it because it pays well, many of them do it for free! That is a concept that our society just doesn’t understand. Why would you do anything at all if it doesn’t make you money? I have an acquaintance that lives by that mentality.

Here’s another rant for ya…

Not everyone in the world worships God, and even though everyone may not call it worship, every human being worships something. In today’s world there is a popular idea that says “Everything is fine as long as you can feel good about yourself.” That’s why there are self help books, and psychiatrists who make a lot of money teaching people how to improve their lives. Many people put things in the position of “savior”. Often times its money, alcohol, boyfriends, girlfriends, success, your job, shopping, and many other things that are meant to make a person feel better. Not really bad, all by themselves, but not meant to be your savior. I feel very strongly that one of the things people worship most often, other than the one true God, is themselves. Living a life dedicated to making yourself feel “better” is essentially, worshiping yourself. Everything you do, is all about you. Worshiping yourself has one key flaw. You will never be satisfied. The things you put in the role of “savior” will eventually forsake you. There will always be more to acquire. You will never have enough money. That’s why the most common drugs today are anti-depressants, because living to make yourself feel better doesn’t work. Wrap your head around this; there are drugs that are designed to treat the negative side effects of anti-depressants, namely depression. Some people take a drug to feel better, and then have to take another drug to treat the depression caused by their anti-depressant. And some people think that religion is just good business.

What does work, is worshiping the one true God, because that’s what we were created to do. And honestly, trying to live by the bible may mean doing things sometimes that don’t make you feel good. They may be difficult to do. Conviction doesn’t always feel good, but it moves you to do something. But its okay, because we weren’t created to make ourselves feel good, we were created to bring God glory. Amen? How many people think that the idea of putting other people and purposes ahead of yourself is ridiculous? Chew on that for a while. It’s yummy and its free.

Back to my point, people are people no matter where you go, but it doesn’t change the fact that God is still God, and He wants everyone to know Him. Hateful people do exist, but that is exactly why we have to shine as bright as we can no matter what. I learned kind of a hard lesson recently. I missed an opportunity to do something good, that I should have done. There were a lot of people doing something hurtful, and I thought that since I wasn’t doing it as well, that I was doing the right thing. I was wrong. I was being neutral, stagnant, idle, passive, I was being luke-warm. That opportunity is forever gone now, and it saddens me to tears. Someone’s life may have been changed if I would have acted. I have felt pretty low for it. I think that sometimes, if you get to a point where you feel like you are a good person, you are shown how far off you really are. I also believe that the devil loves it when you think you have a sin beaten, because then you are vulnerable for him to hammer it back into your life. Jesus beat sin, not me. I hope I never skip an opportunity to be a light in someone else’s darkness ever again. Go shine bright folks.

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