Tag Archives: Why am I here

Let us consider …

This week I saw a post from a friend asking for others to share stories of what God was doing in their lives. I thought it was a good entry and one that we should see more of. I sent her some of our story going back to the time we left Atlanta. She thanked me for the encouragement. But this raises a fundamental question in relation to the Hebrews 10:24 passage calling us to consider how to stir one another up to love and good works. How should we, as Christians go about encouraging one another? Is there a set of rules that guides such behavior? Ephesians 5:19 tells us to be filled with the Spirit, talking and singing with one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.

We are to consider how to spur one another on. I am in a Bible study with a group of men whose stories and journeys are becoming well known among the group. When we talk of God’s goodness and faithfulness we have our own set of stories that are sort of a library of battle wins that we can use to encourage one another. When we see the instruction of scripture, we have case studies and examples that we can use to create the picture. Some of these are stories that we share with others, and some we keep within the walls of that room.

This is not the kind of thing that we quote Bible verses to each other whenever we see each other. We know the stories and draw strength from how God has worked in our lives and our faith is built up. There is real value in knowing and being known. I just had a friend go through a very difficult illness, one that threatened her life on at least two occasions. We praise God together now, because he has brought her through the valley of the shadow of death. The stories are endless and in the process of knowing and being known, we remind each other of God’s faithfulness. We can say, “Remember when things were not going well, and we prayed and God answered our prayers?”

Some of this encouragement comes from the Ephesians 5 passage, because we have seen God’s faithfulness in our own lives and sharing an appropriate verse has greater meaning because it is shared in the context of our shared experience and in the remembering of God’s faithfulness. Suddenly you have the living and active word of God (Hebrews 4:12) intersecting with real life and the word comes to life! This becomes part of your testimony.

You know, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but our testimony ought not to be about the single event or moment in time when we invited Christ into our hearts. Our testimonies ought to be on-going developing stories of God’s faithfulness and how he is bringing growth to our spiritual lives.

How can we live in encouraging community? Who are those whom you would invite to be your guides and encouragers when the wheels seem to be coming off? Think ahead to upcoming interactions. Think about how you can be an encourager to get someone to use their gifts. I love how the New Living Translation says it: Encourage someone to outbursts of love and good deeds!

Have a blessed day!

The 5 Worst Beliefs a Christian Parent Can Have in an Imploding Society

Important read. This is from a blogging Christian mom that I follow and I thought worth referring to all of you. I thank God for giving Natasha Crain clarity of thought on this and many other basic parenting issues.

America is changing fast, and not in the direction we’d like. Our beliefs at a time like this matter. Here are 5 of the WORST beliefs we can have.

Source: The 5 Worst Beliefs a Christian Parent Can Have in an Imploding Society

On Worship

How we connect with God is a very personal matter for all of us. It is also a topic that carries with it a great deal of emotional energy. There is so much wrapped up in this activity (yes, worship is a verb) that many people try to find that church and worship experience that provides the mysterious connection with God. Yes, it is a mystery when we are able to hear the Creator, God of the universe, Father Son and Holy Spirit, speak to us and know that He is telling us that He cares for us, wants to hear our heart’s cry and our praise.

The concept of worship is expressed in the Old Testament in the Hebrew language as the word shaha pronounced shaw-khaw’. This word is translated as “worship” 99 times in our English Bibles, 31 times as “bow,” and 18 times as “bow down.” The Webster Unabridged Dictionary provides this definition: “The act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; religious reverence and homage; adoration, or acts of reverence, paid to God, or a being viewed as God.” We get from these usages and definitions that worship is an act of humbling ourselves, bowing down to a being, in our case, God, to give him the honor and to revere Him as our Source. 1 Peter 5:6 advises, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

In today’s settings, we gather on Sunday mornings for gatherings labeled as “Worship Services.” Millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of Christians gather each week for worship. Many, if not most, have a firm grasp on the process and purpose of worship, but an increasing number of people can be found church hopping trying to find a worship style that suits them. There are multiple variables in this space, including but not limited to: relevant teaching, deep teaching, expository teaching, the hymns written since the reformation, contemporary songs with a faster beat, music of choruses with repetitive expressions of awe, communion every Sunday, communion periodically to keep it special, taking an offering as part of worship, letting my giving be done in secret either online or placed in boxes around the sanctuary before or after the services, and the list goes on. Still others look to the style of church leadership to be comfortable that the governance is focused on maintaining spiritual growth of the body.

Speaking as a worshiper, I am often convicted that I focus more on my own preferences rather than truly engaging in worship of a holy and righteous God. It would seem that at some point we must set aside the color of the carpet and the dress code of the pastor and focus on the One whom we are there to worship. I have to confess that I too fall victim to my own preferences in worship from time to time. Thankfully, my church provides some options from which to choose so that we are able to worship as a larger community with our preferred expressions, particularly in the area of music. The teaching is consistent and biblical, but the style of music, so influential in aiding our conversation with God and expressing our love and adoration, is varied in different services.

I have become convinced in my own mind that God is musically agnostic. What He loves and wants to hear is the expression of our hearts toward Him. We must focus on the object of our worship first and foremost, while making sure that we are hearing the truth of scripture being rightly divided. We must take the responsibility for validating what we are hearing by searching the scriptures to see whether the things we are hearing from the pulpit are correct.

Family, brothers and sisters, worshiping and bowing down involves humbling ourselves and honoring the One to whom honor is due. Worship is not a time to serve ourselves, let’s cast off the things that so easily beset us and put on the armor of light and give to God the glory, honor, and reverence that is due to Him alone.

“Come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!” Psalm 95:6

Note to self: Come back to read this periodically for a reminder and attitude adjustment!

People Believed, then …

Acts chapter 2 tells us of the days following Pentecost, the days when 20151204_095731the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, were teaching all who were within hearing range. Those who believed were filled with joy and joined in the fellowship of believers sharing what each one had. Verse 47 reports that they were praising God and having favor with all the people. This favor paved the way to tremendous growth in the number of people who were being saved. Exciting days those were, believers were being added to the body of Christ every day!

Then the Jewish leaders saw that many were following “the way” because the apostles were teaching in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in life after death. So they threw Peter and John in jail. Life begins to become complicated for the early Christians, not because of the Roman government, but because of the religious leaders. We have a saying these days that says, “We have found the enemy and they are us.” Isn’t that so often true? We feel constrained in following the word by our denominational preferences. Time passes and Paul, formerly Saul, begins to plant churches around the Western Asia world in places like Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Corinth, Athens, etc. The church at this point is growing through Paul’s teaching, yes, but also through the teaching of those who have learned from Paul.

In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul instructs Timothy as follows: “… what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This is how the churches where Timothy was ministering were to be (a) strengthened and (b) growing. Much of my life has been committed to mentoring and helping other men navigate life from a biblical perspective. A few years back, my son-in-law, Russell, gave me the 4-link chain shown in the picture above. I keep it on my key ring as a reminder of my purpose as I travel from meeting to meeting. Regardless of the subject of any meeting, it helps me keep an eternal perspective on the relationships interacting in those settings. How does it work?

Paul said, “what you have heard from me …” are the first two links … Paul (the first link) passing truth and the message on to Timothy (the second link). Timothy, then was to entrust those truths to faithful men (the third link) who, in turn, would be able to teach others also (the fourth link). With each sharing of the truths of the Gospel, a new chain is started. We are called to share the truth of Jesus Christ, His love and His death and resurrection and the resulting future hope with others. Recently, I’ve been blessed to observe a couple of men prepare to share their faith with others, including their children! We are all trusting God to prepare the hearts of these “others” that God has laid on the hearts of these men. Yes, some of our words will fall on rocky soil, but some will fall on rich soil eager to hear the good news of the Gospel.

A dear friend excitedly talked of “paying it forward” with another couple we both know. While scripture doesn’t have that specific terminology, the concept of sharing the good news of Jesus that we have received in a “pay it forward” manner certainly is biblical. We who have been gobsmacked by God’s grace, can’t wait to share with others who need to hear the freedom that comes from life in Jesus Christ.

My challenge to you is to be the first link in the chain. Take the scriptural truths that you have received and share them with a friend or neighbor or even someone you know at church. Be in prayer asking God to guide you to that person who needs to hear His good news (gospel). We live in a world that is fearful and doesn’t know where to turn. They know they are looking for answers, and that there has to be a better way. Even though the media ridicules God and faith, when you build relationships with people to the point where you can hear their hearts, and they can hear yours, God will open doors. We’ll talk about this in another blog, but we’re not talking here about a Billy Graham style campaign on another person. We’re talking about building a very personal trusting relationship which gives each person the opportunity to hear heart level desires.

Praying for each one of you, because you have a story to tell, a story of redemption and hope that another person needs to hear.

Finding Your Way Back to God

Over the course of the past six weeks Judy and I have been hosting a Life Image result for Road to GodGroup in our home. We’ve been following a series being led from our church entitled “Finding Your Way Back to God.” The series has been intended to help us focus from any starting point on our pursuit of and relationship with God. The biblical context for the series is the story of the prodigal son as found in Luke 15.

For most people, finding our way back to God is not a six week study or exercise. Even the stories shared in the accompanying videos talked about a lifetime of searching for something more. We have a tendency to get stuck in our day-to-day lives, but we were made for so much more. God tells us that “I know the plans that I have for you ..” (Jer 29:11). These plans have been in place before the foundations of the earth were laid. Psalm 139 tells us that God knit us together in our mother’s womb, and that this work was being done with the knowledge of each of our days.

So even before we were being formed, He was making plans for us. God had written in His book every one of our days that were made for us. Is it any wonder then, that we have this longing for more? He formed us with intentionality to meet the needs of the days that were made for us! Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do!

It boggles the mind that God created Adam and Eve knowing full well that they would fall into sin. It certainly was no surprise to Him and He did not have to scramble to come up with plan B. God loved us so much that He gave us a free will that would be free to sin and free to love Him. He sent His one and only son to die for our sins and failings, so that by faith in Christ we could be restored into relationship with Him. With those same global concepts and thoughts, He created each one of us, intentionally, with a purpose, knowing that He would need to draw all men to Himself so that they could make the choice to open the door to their hearts and let Him come in.

We all take different paths. I have been blessed recently to observe and encourage a couple of friends in renewing their walk of faith in Christ. Each came by a different path, but both, clearly came in response to the beckoning of the still small voice, that gentle knock on the door of their hearts and the engagement of plain folks like Judy and me. Along this journey, I have had a very real sense of fulfillment of the purpose for which I was made. That purpose began before I was being physically knit together in my mother’s womb.

Much more to talk about regarding such journeys. For now, I ask of my reader, where are you in your relationship with God? I am reminded of an old family friend whom I hadn’t seen since childhood, but a man who had been friends of my parents’ for all of my lifetime. Our paths crossed, ever so briefly, in the lobby of a multi-organizational meeting. Almost without taking a breath after our introduction and greeting, he looked me squarely in the eyes and said to me, “So, Bill, tell me how things are going with you and God.” I confess that I was a little taken aback, but at the same time I felt as though I had just been touched by God Himself. I gave our friend a response that I’m sure in retrospect might have seemed a little shallow, but I promise you that I have never forgotten that very brief interaction. That story, too, is part of my journey and part of my story.

Blessings!

Faith – Heritage and Legacy

In the picture below, are Bibles and a worship book. The worship book (bottom) belonged to my great grandmother and dates back to 1873. Of the four Bibles, the top one belonged 20150720_213816-2to my grandfather, the  next two to my father, and the fourth one down was mine. Naturally, there are stories that go with each of these Bibles, but the important point for this article is that they are symbols of the past, present and future. You see, the Bibles and the worship book were carried by men and women who were people of faith. The Bible that is the second from the bottom was given to me by my parents as a Christmas present when I was 12 (ok, 1958 so you don’t have to do the math). This Bible represents one of the ways that my parents delivered to me a heritage of faith. They put me in a position to make my faith my own by giving me a resource for use in church, yes, but their intent was that I would study God’s word for myself. As you can see by the worn cover, I took them up on the challenge to learn to apply God’s word to my own life. It was with this Bible that I developed my views on the church’s position on serving in the military during the season that I was being drafted for military service. It was with this Bible that I learned the intent of baptism and why I should be baptized. It was with this Bible that I engaged in numerous Bible drills, a competition to see who could find a particular passage first. I actually got pretty good at it because I knew my Bible and where the different books would be just by looking at the closed book. Most importantly, this Bible served me well as I built a platform for my faith and theology, those thoughts of God that determined how I would view life on this earth.

So what is the title all about? The title, “Faith – Heritage and Legacy” means that we learn about faith from our parents and grandparents. We have a choice whether to adopt their faith or become convinced of our own faith. But here is the key, (1) we all have a view of God (faith) whether it is right or wrong, and (2) we will all leave traces of our faith with family, friends, and others in our sphere of influence. Thus, we will all have a legacy which we will leave behind. I can hear some saying now, that their legacy will be completely neutral permitting others to conclude truth for themselves. Any of us who interact with other people (human beings) leave an imprint, a fingerprint that is uniquely ours. After each interaction, people decide (a) whether they like us or not, (b) whether they agree with us or not, (c) whether they care to see us again, or not, (d) and the list goes on and on.

The human mind is a fascinating thing and is able to make value judgements while interacting with another person. We all do it without even trying to be judgmental. We get down on people who are judgmental. We like people who make us laugh. We tend to like people who see society and matters of faith very much as we see them. Whether we want to admit it or not, we will leave an impression, a legacy, that encourages people to see things as we saw them or they may be so disenchanted by us that they will avoid adopting any similarities to us. Either way, it is a legacy. It should come as no surprise to you that my view of God (faith) played a significant role in my life, my work, and my interactions with family, friends, and business associates. I pray that my life has had a positive influence that invited others to examine their relationship with their Creator.

The book of Proverbs is filled with exhortations to a son to heed the instruction of his father and mother. Chapter 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” This theme is repeated over and over again. The Ten Commandments tell us to honor our father and mother so that our days may be long in the land that God is giving to us. Paul says to Timothy (2 Tim 1:5) I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” The role of the parent and grandparent in encouraging the next generations in the faith is clear. So many of us have heard the testimony of Rachel Scott who was killed in the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. Still today, after being killed at age 17, her testimony is being told.

My friend, Crawford Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA, said in his book “Unshaken,” “Faith is both our heritage and our legacy.” We may have received a strong faith passed down from our parents, or we may have received a confusing set of theologically conflicting concepts. In the scriptures, Hebrews 11 gives us a list of people and how they expressed their faith. The scriptures are a resource to help you define and declare a true faith in God. The major point, however, is that we are and will be held responsible for that faith which we pass along to those who follow us. Think about how you build your reputation. Think about how you are known.

A distant relative recently passed and someone close attended the man’s funeral. As the event was being described to me today the comment was made that much was made about the man’s work accomplishments and his hobbies. While that is not bad, the next words of the story were troubling. They said, this was so different from this man’s dad’s funeral where his dad was described as a man who loved God and recollections were made of that man’s walk with the Lord. As for the man who was just buried, there was passing mention that he had placed his faith in Jesus Christ. The contrast between the two was striking. How will you be remembered? About what things were you most passionate?

The Path of Faith is Smooth Sailing (Not!)

Despite what some people may want you to believe, the path of faith doesn’t always come with a smooth ride. You may hear things like “Ever since I gave my life to Jesus, life has been wonderful!” Folks, the Bible tells us that we are aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11). The ESV calls us sojourners and exiles. That same passage tells us we live in an evil world that wages war against our souls. In addition to the spiritual warfare that is going on in this world these days that includes things like abortions, men and women pursuing unnatural relations with one another, a society in which over half the country is on the government dole, and so on, we have the daily stuff of life. The need to work to provide for one’s family, the beautiful thing that is called marriage where two distinct individuals are to become one flesh, raising children in the way they should go and all that is entailed in these endeavors is enough to make some days feel pretty daunting.

I’m reminded of the days early on in our marriage when the manufacturing world seemed to have a limited future. After praying together about what God might have for us, we were led to an opportunity at IBM. Interestingly, the IBM opportunity called for a 25% cut in pay. This caused us to pray more earnestly about what God wanted us to do as we had a 2 year old daughter, a new home and a new car. Yet, in faith, we felt God was leading to this new job. I was attending the University of Omaha at the time which placed additional demands on my time available with the family. But we were convinced in our hearts and minds that God had led us to the IBM opportunity and that He would provide. Little did we know that His provision and the path ahead would include taking on two additional jobs and dropping out of college to make the financial pieces fit and family life work.

You know, Abraham’s journey from the land of Haran and his father’s people to another land he didn’t know, was based on a promise from God. Rom 4:20ff says “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” In the same way, we were convinced that God had taken us to IBM. This next bit will give you pause about my maturity, experience, and wisdom in those days. To be perfectly honest with you, I did not know that IBM made office equipment. That was the division where I had my first jobs in IBM. God literally led me to a place in which I had no idea what God would do with me there. I only knew that He had led us to this place. Even, after the first 90 days when my manager told me I would never amount to anything at IBM, I knew God had brought us there and would see us through. I had no idea what this was going to look like. I only knew what faith in God had brought about in our lives and I knew that He was faithful! When the Bible says He uses the simple things of this world, I was and still am a living example of that truth!

But God, brought us through those days and blessed us. But God put people into my path and took a few out as well, to accomplish His work in and through my life. My story never ceases to amaze me. When we sing the song “Amazing Grace” my mind begins to wander over the years to see his grace at work in my life and I am left in tears of gratitude, crushing humility, and just falling at His feet in adoration for the great things He has done. Hallelujah!

In the walk of faith, there are many challenges, both from inside and outside the faith. As Paul says in Romans 14:5, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Everything we do should be to honor the Lord. Being fully convinced means that we have been Bereans (Acts 10) looking into the word of God to see what He says to us. Only by prayer and searching God’s word can we walk confidently in faith. When we are challenged, we go back to God’s word as our consistent source of strength and truth. Then we can put on the full armor of God and are prepared to do battle with a world that rages against the truths of God.

As we navigate this world in which we are aliens and strangers, Philippians says, “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Does the path guarantee smooth sailing? No, because the world is filled with trouble and we, ourselves, are not sin free. But if we lean in to God and throw our cares on Him, by making our requests known to Him, He will give us peace in the midst of the storm.

Growing and Getting the Idea

In the previous post, I shared about my beginnings on the journey of faith. Based on my understanding of scripture, there is no doubt that in spite of my herky-jerky beginnings (think albatross, think gooney bird) that I was, in fact, completely and totally covered by the blood of Christ and my sins, past and future, were washed away. I had the behavior patterns of a young boy growing into his teen years with all that entails. But as I grew older, I was also growing in the knowledge of God. When I was 16, I attended a series of meetings (known in those days as Deeper Life evangelistic meetings) in Meade, Kansas. It was during those meetings that I was gripped with the need to make my faith my own. To own my faith meant to me that I needed to rely less on what my parents thought and more on what God would teach me through His word, the Bible.

A few years later, I would undergo a significant test. Part of being Mennonite, also meant that I was taught that war and the killing that was part of war was not for Christians. There came the time after registering with the Selective Service System (SSS) as a conscientious objector (one who was willing to serve, but in non-military capacities) that I felt I needed to come to my own conclusions in this matter. I studied and prayed and studied some more and prayed some more. After searching the scriptures that were held by the church to lead one to the conscientious objector conclusion, and various other passages that also provided insight and instruction in my search, I came to a conclusion that was different from the view held by my church and my parents and would have to be communicated to my father. While it was a dramatic setting that I’ll share more about later, I was proud of my father as he listened to my heartfelt confession of the soul. He knew that I had been searching the scriptures out for quite some time and that this was not from a rebellious heart, nor was it an arbitrary decision. Effectively, the result of my decision would cause me to be drafted (twice) for the Vietnam war so this was not a decision without consequence.

From my childhood days I had heard the stories of Solomon and how he gained his wisdom. What grabbed my heart was that God was pleased with this request. So, I too, because this pleased God, began praying for wisdom. At the same time, my mother had been praying Colossians 1:9-12 over me nearly every day. Among the many aspects of that prayer, a couple of parts were that I would grow in the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and knowledge and that I would grow in the knowledge of God. Without being prideful, I believe that God has honored those prayers. He has put me into situations for leading churches in seasons when He knew I needed a growth spurt, when I needed to learn what it was like to depend on Him. At times my learning was by observing how men of God walked by faith and at other times, I was in situations where I literally made sure the passenger seat in the car was empty so that He could be there with me and we would talk about things that were heavy on my heart.

I’ve found it interesting how He has insisted on using this ragamuffin guy with all his imperfections (just ask my wife) to carry the good news and to be a voice both inside the church and outside. I’m reminded of Samson and Peter as I think about my journey. I also think of David too. Now that I’m approaching my 69th birthday (in two weeks) I wish I could say that I’d figured out the air pockets and downdrafts in this walk of faith. But God is my source and my strength. He gives me a word for this person and that person who know me and my imperfections. Yet His word is true and when He gives us a word, it will strike the chord that God wants to be struck in another person’s heart and mind. Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 4 comes to mind where he says, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Paul goes on from there to tell how men will turn aside to myths and false teachings.

Our task is to be like the Bereans (Acts 10) who tested everything they heard against the scriptures. Even the things that Paul taught them were tested. They made their faith their own and they learned to grow in the knowledge of God as a result.

God grant us steadfast hearts that pine for You and You alone!

Starting the Journey of Faith

In my last post I commented that some of us grow up in a Christ-centered home and others grow up in homes that are almost the antithesis of that Christ-centered home. Those who actually go to the point of professing belief in the salvation that comes from Christ alone, however, set out on the same journey of faith. For some the embarkation on that journey is indiscernible and for others the transition is a marked transformation as the Holy Spirit begins to shape our minds to be more Christ-like. The degree of change seemingly has little to do with our upbringing. It has more to do with behavioral modification brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds.

The interesting piece of this is that while changes may be less or more noticeable by others, the real change and the change that matters is what God sees in the heart. Our behavior and speech patterns are driven by the heart. So to some degree, the heart change is seen by others, but we must acknowledge that some of us have inherited mountains of pain, of degradation, and violation. It’s what we call baggage. Just like the picture above, we bring that baggage into our relationship with Jesus. It has often been said that our relationships with our earthly fathers will influence how we are able to relate to our Heavenly Father. It is also true that troubled homes, bad marriages, dysfunctional churches and all the rest weigh heavily in our journey of faith.

These things are all part of our complex personalities and broken lives that we bring to Jesus when we come to faith. He understands all that. He knows where you’ve been. He can redeem the most desperate sinner who comes to Him in simple faith. I’m reminded of Rahab, the prostitute, who let the Israelite spies down in a basket from the wall of Jericho. God not only spared her, but gave her a place in the lineage (genealogy) of Christ. She was the mother of Boaz who married Ruth! Talk about redemption! That simple act of putting herself at risk to save the spies who came from God’s people, showed us that her heart was faithful to Jehovah God. He knew her heart and not only spared her miraculously when He brought down the wall of Jericho, but gave her an honored place in the line from which Christ would be born.

So how does it look when one embarks on this journey? For me, it was praying to receive Christ at my mother’s bedside at the age of 7, and then not living a perfect life from that point on. Rather, because I grew up in a legalistic setting, it was a life filled with rules and judging people who played by the rules and those who did not. In retrospect, I became really good at judging people by their merits or sins for standards that were not consistently applied to myself.

There was a saying among the young girls in our church circles that said, “I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, and I don’t go with  boys that do.” Interestingly, in the middle of all this judging and my private life, God had my heart. I always pined for God. I wanted to be like David, a man after God’s own heart. In my private moments, While I wanted to live by the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, I didn’t play so well at the stuff like judging and trying to get away with things, for example, smoking. Smoking wasn’t the real issue. The real issue that I had to resolve was this deep seated rebellious heart. The smoking was only a symptom of the rebellious heart. While in many ways I sought God’s counsel on matters of life’s decisions, I was a classic example of a young man committed to being in control and no rules or authority was going to tell me otherwise. To some degree, I was blind to that control or authority issue. Today, my wife calls it a stubborn streak. As has been passed down by the women in our family, they say that I inherited that from my dad. Dad is with Jesus now but he probably would have denied having that stubborn streak, just like me!

Suffice it to say that the word picture I would use is that of an albatross learning to fly or then learning to land. The beginning of my faith walk bore a striking resemblance to these feeble attempts. Check this out. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVmoYVTZTXU)

I hope this doesn’t discourage you from attempting to fly. One parting thought for this leg of the journey. God loved you before your were conceived, at which time, He formed you in your mother’s womb. He knew what would happen with each of your days before one of them came to be. He knew how each day would effect you and guess what? He has a plan for you as a person that will cause you to flourish to be a light and a help to others trying to find their wings. But you must take the step of faith, like Abraham had to take the first step to start the journey. The writer of Hebrews tells us that, “without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (11:6)

Until next time …