First of all thanks to all of you who helped promote yesterday’s blog, it made it up to #4. It could go higher maybe even a little lower on the most viewed blogs at MySpace related to religion and philosophy but will likely stay in the top 6. It really isn’t a pride thing as much as it is about knowing people believed in the message enough to help promote it the way they did. Thanks, I hope I never get over being genuinely moved over the fact that some people see value in me, or see value in what I say. Coming from the crap in life I come from, that provides not only hope for me, but hopefully hope for others who have been abused, hurt, neglected, involved in drugs, gangs or whatever association you want to throw on me. Truth is I am nothing but muck I was, except Jesus Christ changed my life.
Now saying that causes me to reflect on a couple of things. Reflect on a couple of things specific to yesterday and this morning. Yesterday I sat at a hospital in the surgery waiting room from about 10:30 Central Time to almost 6:00 PM Central time. My son had surgery and to be honest it wasn’t a fun day. Now before anyone asks me what his surgery was for, realize that some things are meant to be private. About all I can say is hopefully my son isn’t planning on any physical battles for the next few days because if he is, he is in some deep do do. (Now for those of you familiar with Biblical history, you should be able to figure it out.)
One of the things my son often says is, “Papa can start up a conversation with anyone, anyplace.” Now you have to understand who I used to be, and in many ways still am. I am in reality, a rather shy person and at one time an extremely shy person who never spoke to anyone. I suspect that is one of the reason I love to write. I suspect it is also a reason I tend to ramble when I write. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to speak publicly, although I only got a C in my Public Speaking in college. I tend to think that if I took that course again, I would get an A+ as I also now realize I do a pretty good job, as I have been told, speaking in public. Crowds, very large, or very small don’t bother me any more. I love one to one interaction but more on that later. Bottom line, something in my life happened, I think it is actually a combination of a few things.
One of the things that happened, and you can call this a practical lesson on public speaking, is I tend to only speak on things I know something about. Now on this point understand I always valued Abraham Lincoln. I learned he was a man without much education outside of his excessive habit of reading. I love to read, and I value knowledge. There is benefit to all of those books, educational channels on television, and one of my favorite film types, documentaries. When you are speaking about something you know things get easier and more relaxed.
Another thing is I have practiced speaking, I have accepted every challenge, before every type of group imaginable. From television shows to the radio, and from birthday parties to arenas before tens of thousands, I have taken on every chance provided. In this regard there was really one thing that helped me immensely. I have studied theater, acting, performance. To this day I love acting and the theater. I never really knew I could sing until I sung in the play The Dracula Spectacula where I played the lead some years ago. I have since been told that I have a very good voice. I took that and went from being a promoter to a band member where I would on occasion sing a lead vocal, but mainly background vocals. I have also taken the performance art into a hobby I love, magic and have performed before individuals at shopping malls to private parties for The Vanderbilt’s, (yes the real family, not the store.) Bottom line, I have made the effort to practice my desires, and habits that would allow me to be more accomplished at presenting and promoting the things I do.
I could take on the aspect of writing but I have so much to learn. I keep trying though, writing something from day to day.
The last area that has helped me is the greatest area o f change imaginable, the acceptance of Jesus Christ into my life. Simply put, I am not any where near the same person I used to be. On that fact, some can be thrilled as I was not a likeable person. I was just sharing with a friend the other day, there are some things I did as a youth that I don’t believe there is a statute of limitations on. I have to be careful, I will accept whatever comes my way for some of those things, I would hope that what I did was forgiven and that society would see that I truly have rehabilitated, but not through some program, but through the person of Jesus Christ. I will never undervalue the importance of this relationship in my life which brought about the change.
Now back to the conversations and yesterday, (I know a long ramble to get there but let’s just call that background information, or plot development). While sitting in the hospital waiting room I happened to notice as I was watching a television show, The Big Valley on my computer that the gentleman sitting next to me was reading, marking and taking notes from Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Now for those that don’t know, this is a form of abbreviated commentary on the Bible. I noticed at times, this older gentleman speaking to his daughter, and at times going back to the notes. It seemed as if all of the notes he was sharing with her had to do with being saved. I could only speculate that he was trying to convert his daughter or prove a point to her. I don’t know I didn’t pay a lot of attention, after all Heath Barkley had some things to take care of at the ranch or there was going to be trouble.
I later on finished watching the program on the computer when all of a sudden a wireless service is available icon popped up and I realized I might just have wireless service available at the hospital. Well sure enough I had it and was able to keep on top of my replies to MySpace and The Virtual Pew yesterday. I was doing a lot of responding when the gentleman who had been sitting near us asked if I was writing a book or something. Well you can imagine the conversation that started. Long story (if you can imagine that) made short was that we talked about everything from Catholics to Baptists and from Revelations to Genesis. I can imagine my son sitting there, rolling his eyes, for another conversation I had just become engaged in with someone I had just met for the first time.
One of the things I noticed from this conversation, is that like so many other Christians, this particular Christian just didn’t get it when it came to the concept of The Virtual Pew. We try to reach out to Christians who have been neglected or burnt on the church, or for whatever reason don’t attend church. And on that last point, there are many good reasons that for some reason those still in church just don’t get it. Now for those that can, we also try to get them plugged back into church, whether it be a small home style church, or a larger church that will really be the church, not the judgment center, continue to beat down people type of association that so many churches have become. Now on that point realize we don’t force that issue, it comes up when it comes up and usually has to come up at the request of the person we are working with.
The Virtual Pew also places a high priority on reaching out to non believers in a unique way that shows love as opposed to condemnation. Some people in the “church” may often refer to these as the Lost, the Last, and the Least. We do this because bottom line, I am convinced many churches don’t know how to, their lack of success at reaching these people is an indication they don’t know how to. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that they don’t want to, (although that is the case in some situations), but primarily they don’t know “how”. It is why I train and educate churches in this area that really want this knowledge. I do believe my own success indicates I have done something right over the years. To pass along that knowledge, knowing others can have the opportunity to learn about Jesus as opposed to religion or they can feel love as opposed to hatred, is something of value. Remember the reason this is of value to me. Remember my first few paragraphs here. I know I am not the same person, I feel love, I feel happiness, I feel joy more than I ever felt prior to my relationship with Christ. I also know that don’t mean things are perfect, in fact, often it seems as if life sucks, but at least I am not going through it alone, and I don’t know how, but I do know my relationship with Christ has enabled me to find the inner peace I never felt before.
Now what got me thinking about all of this today? It was a simple pm interaction between me and a friend at MySpace. She knows who she is as I told her that she had inspired me to write the blog today. I told her this morning, “Thanks, one of my concerns is that usually at first I suffer from first impression complex. That is because people hear and see that I am a Christian the first impression is I am like all other Christians. While my beliefs may not be that much different on many things, the way I practice it is much different. It is why most of my "enemies" are "devout" Christians and most of my friends are people who have had issues with "Christians." Once people get to know me though they know I am a little different. I have to be honest though, I really want people to see Christianity in a different light, not to force anything on them, but to open up a thought process that some of us have had, and can have, an impact. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Bono and so many others I could name. We are in the minority compared to the Jerry Fallwell types and others who report to be Christian, and because of that we have a very tough and difficult battle ahead of us. But then again, I am on another ramble.”
After receiving the above message she responded: “Well, I happen to appreciate your ramblings! I agree with you about how a few who "stand" for Christianity badly represent the real message of love and tolerance. I'm so glad that you are willing to get out there and show others a different and positive side to Christians! I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well!”
Now I have to come to why did this inspire me to write about the things I did? I guess my answer is multifold. I think we all have to remember, just as I told the gentleman at the hospital yesterday, none of us are any better than anyone else, it is important we realize that. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we have all of the answers, doesn’t mean we have it all down pat, doesn’t mean we have the right to put people in their place. All being a Christian means is we have salvation, and should have the ability to love others, no matter what the circumstance because of all people we should know what Jesus love did for us. That is the first thing I would say the Apostle Paul in the Bible recognized, the most powerful tool we have to share Jesus love with others is our lives. Unfortunately many have forgotten who they were before Jesus, and after Jesus. They forget they are different people who knew what it was like to not feel and know all of the things Jesus gave us. You know why I believe this is the case in most Christian’s lives, why it is they become these creatures? I believe they have forgotten because they quit hanging around people like they used to be, they made new “Christian” friends and somewhere along the line, they forgot what it was like to not be a Christian. It is why they say and do the things they do towards those who aren’t Christians, if in fact; they are around them and choose to have a relationship at all with them. From isolating to watching Christian television, going to Christian concerts, Christian Festivals, listening to Christian music and everything else, we have forgotten what it means to be salt and light. Our salt has lost its saltiness, and our light never penetrates darkness because we never enter darkness.
There is another reason for the rant today, that is to remind those who are Christians, be yourself, love those Jesus loved, be like Jesus, of course you have to study his habits to know how to do this. Instead of doing a “Theological” study of Scripture, do human relations study of Jesus. In other words, don’t try to discover theology; try to discover Jesus personal relationship habits. How did he approach people, how did they approach him, what did others say about him, why, question after question of what was Jesus like as a person. Once you discover these answers, and you will as they are easy to find, then you can start to live like Jesus. I would give one pointer here; if I am wrong tell me. Most of the time we see Jesus angry or using harsh words, we need to realize it was to the religious leaders. At that point, you really have to ask yourself, is the church really any different than the religious organization of the time? If you do any research at all here, you will realize, that the unfortunate answer to that is, no, it is very much the same. Preachers and parishioners of churches are more like the Rabbi’s and Pharisees of the day. People hate to hear that now, just like they hated to hear it then. I still challenge, just as yesterday, if the shoe fits, and people make that association to you, maybe, just maybe, you fit the bill. I can’t change that as it is likely more reality than it is imagination.
Last reason I did this, those who don’t follow Jesus need to realize that not all of us who do are alike. Just like you don’t like being thrown into a category that don’t fit you, neither do a lot of us. Don’t tell all of us that we don’t care about the poor, the hungry, the HIV infected, the injustices towards women or whatever political correct agenda you happen to be on is. Many of us do care, we are involved, we seek to change the way the world practices because we believe that is exactly what Christ would have us do. While many will throw theological labels at us because we do care, realize that we ourselves go through some level of misunderstanding, some level of being accused of not being Christian. That don’t change who we are though, that don’t change our compassion, it don’t change the fact that while we may at times fail and make mistakes, we still seek to improve, take the next step, make the next move, to be more like Jesus.
Well I know it has been another ramble for today. I have a lot of work to get caught up on so I guess I have to get there or I’ll never complete my day. As always, thanks for reading, and if you have liked what you have read, pass it along in blogs, bulletins, message boards, or wherever. Take care and again thanks for taking the time to read the words of this rambling man. (Hey that sounds like the name of a great song, Rambling Man)
Don't Write Me Off with Hugh Grant from the Movie Music and Lyrics
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