The message yesterday was on Acts3. While I sat and listened to the preacher talk, the scene began to play out before my eyes. Those of you that have read and are familiar with the New Testament know the story I am talking about. The story of Peter and John as they came upon the lame man begging for money outside the temple gate, where Peter spoke those famous words; “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you also. In the name of Jesus Christ stand and walk.” Immediately the beggar’s legs were healed and he ran shouting the praises of God. As the story was played out on the screen in my head, I began to empathize with one of the players. This is one of the many ways God has spoken to me through the scriptures, so I waited with eager ears to hear what He was about to say. I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised, and astounded by the vastness of my ignorance, tho. I expected to see something of me in Peter, or for something to resonate between me and John. I did NOT expect to empathize with the lame beggar. You see when Peter spoke to him, the beggar paid attention. He turned to Peter and John expecting money, something to live on for the next day, or if he was lucky, the next two or three days. These men of God had taken pity on him, and were going to give him something. This is the way I feel when God speaks to me. He has had pity on me and is going to give me something to help me through the trying times of this life. So when Peter said his famous words, it confused the beggar for a moment, and then he reached and took him by the hand. That is when God worked through Peter. Not just giving the beggar money, but giving him something worth sooo much more! The ability to walk! No more did he have to rely on the generousness of others to live. No more sitting and hoping that some man would take pity and help him. He turned to Peter expecting money, and received his Life instead. If we count on men, at best we can only get enough to get by for a few days. If we count on God, we need never worry about it again. After the service I was in awe of how I could miss such a message in all the times I had heard and read that story. Then I had to laugh. I realized that I was going to have to go home and tell my wife that God told me I was lame.
I took my son to the airport for his flight back the army yesterday. I truly enjoyed his visit. He has matured in so many ways, and I am proud of the man I see that he is becoming. As we waited for his flight we stopped by a coffee shop and I ordered the equivalent of a frozen cappuccino. They usually come with whipped cream on top. I don’t like whipped cream on my coffee so I specifically asked for them to leave it off. During the time that it took the girl to take our order one of the employees either came in to work or came back off of break. Apparently he missed the ‘no whipped cream’ order and I received my frozen treat with globs of the stuff on top. Yes I said something. I didn’t get irate, and I didn’t take it back, but I did say it loud enough that they could hear (It was a small shop, and there was only a few customers, so loud enough for them to hear was a normal speaking voice for me). My son thought I was being rude (he was paying so I guess he had that right) and said as much. This did annoy me a little bit. I rarely ever raise a fuss over orders gotten wrong at fast-food places. I totally understand that things can get hectic and people make mistakes. So I felt bad about it. I kept the coffee. I drank it all and threw the whipped cream away with the cup. The point of my little story was this; during the conversation the statement was made that we as Christians must set an example all the time, not just when it is easy and comfortable for us. I do agree with that statement, even if I don’t always set a good example. I am human, and as a human I make mistakes. I caution anyone who looks at a Christian and thinks that they are looking at a ‘perfect’ example of Christianity to remember that. Regardless of who it is you are looking at. It doesn’t matter who they are or how big their names are, they are only human and prone to human mistakes. They may do the right thing 149 times out of 150, but if you only see that 1 time they mess up, does that negate the other 149? There was only one perfect Christian that has ever walked this Earth, and He was the one that started it.
I went to church Sunday. I got up fairly early, and got cleaned up. Put on my dress pants and a good shirt, and finished it out with my favorite pair of dress shoes. We made it in time for Sunday school, and we had a pretty good service. What I wanted to talk about was what happened during intermission, though. I walked outside and stood on the front steps. The sun was high, the sky was blue and clear. The temperature was almost just right, but just a tad on the hot side. All in all, it was a beautiful day. I sat down on the steps with my son, just enjoying the day. As I did, I happen to look down at my shoes. I was clean as a pin, all dressed up and snazzy. Except for my shoes. As I looked down at them I saw a layer of gravel dust coating them. It could’ve been from walking to the car, or just from them sitting under my bed and I just didn’t notice it as I got ready. The thing is, life is a lot like that. It doesn’t matter how much you try to dress up and pretty up, there’s always going to be a little dust on your soul. It could be a bad thought that happened before you could stop it. It could be a little white lie you told to spare someone’s feelings. It could be any number of things. That dust is something that we all have in common. We pick up as we live our lives, and if we’re not careful, it could turn into grime. Grime, dust and dirt that have been there long enough to crust over. We become complacent with it. We even forget that it’s there. That is very dangerous, because as it builds it becomes a shell itself that insulates us from the bad things out in the world. We can’t insulate ourselves from these things. If we do, we forget that they are there, and by forgetting, we do nothing about them. If we do nothing about them, then who will? So I wiped the dust off my shoes. Have you?
I love my family, but there are times when disagreements arise. The family ends up in turmoil and chaos, and people start taking sides. Its easy to lose your objectiveness and once that goes the whole situation can escalate into a rift that can damage the unity of the ‘whole’ beyond repair. This is how you get a ‘broken’ home. The people involved choose to distance themselves from the problem and pretend that it will go away if they ignore it long enough. This is not the case. Steps have to be taken to contain the damage and prevent the rift from forming. I have a secret I use whenever I deal with such problems. I use it so much that it has become like second nature, like ‘muscle-memory.’ Whenever I get in a disagreement with any of my loved ones, the first thing I think of after squabbling is what if I never see them again? That one sobering thought puts the whole argument in perspective for me. That one question leads me to think of the validity of my argument. It lets me consider how much ‘me being right’ is worth. During all of this I continue to remind myself that it is okay to disagree. Everyone is unique and looks at things in their own special way, and that okay, but is it worth me not being able to overlook that disagreement? I can still love someone and disagree with them, but I can’t always comeback and apologize for harsh words and over-reactions. I know, I know. You’re thinking But you’ve already done the damage when you started arguing. This is true too, and sometimes it may still take time to repair the damage done by the things that were said. But the more I use that one little secret question, the faster I become at it. The faster I am at it, the quicker I can react to fix the damage I have done. Who knows; maybe one day I’ll be able to catch myself before the argument starts.
I was tortured over the idea of writing a blog about the shooting incident in Connecticut this week. Not that I didn’t agonize over the deaths of those innocent children, or that my heart didn’t break from the pain I knew their parents were going through. I just didn’t think that I could say anything that wasn’t already being shouted at the top of digital lungs all over the internet. And the things that they were saying were much more eloquent than I myself could say. At the same time, I saw a post from an associate tearing down religion and how believing that ‘anything’ can be forgiven was wrong. I will probably be blasted for what I am about to say, but I feel the need to say it anyway. Do I believe you can be forgiven for anything? Yes, I do. Jesus forgave people for all sorts of heinous crimes, and He instructed us as Christians to do likewise. Jesus said the only sin that couldn’t be forgiven was to Blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, or to ‘disbelieve in God’, and if you disbelieve in God who would you ask forgiveness from? Now, that being said, I would also like to make a clarification. Just because you are forgiven of a sin does not mean you are not held accountable for your sins in this life. When David sinned by sending Bathsheba’s husband to the front lines to be killed, he paid for it. The child she conceived with him died. David suffered many rifts in his family because of that sin, even though he had asked for forgiveness from it. Moses did not get to enter into the Promised Land because he had sinned against God. By striking the rock, he disobeyed God and thus paid for his disobedience in this life. God is the answer to all things. I believe IF you are truly sorry of your sins, AND you are repentant of them, they can be forgiven. Does that mean you are getting off ‘scott free’? No, my friends, if you are sorry and repentant then you have already begun to pay for that sin.