Tuesday, June 9, 2009

50 Years Worth of Lessons, My Birthday Wish

Late last night I had the intent of sitting down, taking some time today to write several articles related to my reflections on my birthday, (today). As the morning progressed I got caught up in a number of things, including responding to people on various issues with The Virtual Pew, some church related things, plus the reposting of a review I did in 2006 and a new Barney Fife Sermon series. As the day went on I also found myself in some fairly serious issues, two regarding salvation, and another regarding a serious issue for another person I have met through The Virtual Pew. I also had the joy of responding a little to a dear friend I have admired and liked for sometime who has taken some giant strides in his relationship with Jesus. I shed tears, I had questions, and I have had a filled day which will end tonight as a number of friends show up at the house, despite the storms to celebrate my 50 years of life. There were many more people I interacted with, each important, but this is an example of my day.

One of the things I wanted to do was to reflect on a few thoughts I jotted down yesterday. There is no particular order in these things; all are serious, some about me, some about others. All are thoughts I would want you to consider regarding my desires as a friend, pastor, or acquaintance and each item is something I think most people would also appreciate. I can’t speak for them though, I can only speak for myself.

First, hurting people; they are everywhere yet we refuse to see them sometimes. I have prayed from early on when I first came to know Jesus that my desire, my hope is for God to allow me the opportunity to reach out to, and show hurting people that they are loved. This has been a passion because I hurt so much prior to coming to know Jesus. The truth is, I still hurt at times, and I try not to hide it. Yet, despite the hurt, heartache and pain, it seemed as if few cared. I have asked God for a tender heart to see people as he sees them. I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I am getting there. I literally wept today as a friend described his journey to find Christ and of the part I played in that journey. I really do care about each and every single person I come into contact with. That doesn’t mean I give equally to all. I have come to a conclusion that a person has to want help. I have also come to the conclusion that when I love, unconditionally, without judgment, the Holy Spirit will work and that person will be much more receptive to asking me questions and listening to me as I tell them about my relationship with Christ. Sometimes, just like today, I find that God and his Holy Spirit have worked in the process, doing their job. What an honor to know I am learning to see people in the same way Jesus sees them.

Second, I have learned I can feel more compassion and love for people when I look into their eyes. So many relationships are built on everything other than an ability to get to know each other. Despite having a ministry on the internet, and another that works with face to face contact, I have learned, when you look at a person in the eyes, you can see their honesty, but more importantly they can see yours. I value the fact that many people who know me know I am real. I don’t pretend to be anything other than who I am. I will say on this point though, nothing hurts hardly as much as looking someone in the eyes, and having them lie to you. There is an old saying that the eyes are the pathway to the soul. I think that came about because there is likely a measure of truth to it. I do know this, try it, it is harder to not help someone when you look into their eyes. People need to know you care, you need to know they hurt and seek, you and they, know that better when there is eye contact.

Third, this is seemingly unrelated but if you think about it, it really isn’t. Please don’t take this wrong, but at least in my case, quit trying to build relationships with me based on business. I want no more solicitation for networking, pyramid schemes, whatever you want to call it. To be honest, it doesn’t motivate me and I have no desire to get rich. I have all I need! You likely have no idea how important it is to reach a soul for the kingdom of God because you are likely pulling others into a scheme that seems to have the intent of helping someone else, but honestly, it seems like a scheme to help you more than others. While these things may be good for some, I see, and have little value for them. I see value in souls, and I have had far more relationships ruined because of people trying to get me involved in their product. They say they saw the potential for my ministry to have more money, and in reality, as soon as I don’t do their thing, they run away from me like a drunk being chased on an episode of the television show Cops. I believe what Jesus said, it is easier for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. If you love me and want to be my friend to share in life, fine, I don’t care if you do Amway, Shaklee, or whatever, but if as a condition of friendship you want me to sign up to be your next link in your network pyramid, stay away. I don’t have the time, desire, or interest. Other things move me and you will likely find a better friend in another location. This doesn’t imply that I don’t want to be friends if you are wealthy, I know many wealthy people, some who are my friends. Our relationships are built on other things than wealth. The amazing thing is, the majority of real friends I have with wealth have never asked me to join their network. God loves all people despite their social economic status.

Fourth, for all of us, we need to quit making excuses. There are important things in life, and there is, I believe, still a lot of help out there if we accept it. The truth be told though, it amazes me at people I try to help and they have an excuse to not listen to the advice I share with them. It could be access to a free medical clinic, advice on how we show others love, how to access social security, housing or any number of things. It seems as if we often make excuses for not getting things done. I know that on this one, I have a ways to go, yet, I am making the effort. I try to not commit to so much, it is one of the reasons I don’t have time to develop my network to make myself rich. I am more concerned about building up treasures in Heaven than I am here on earth. The investment in people is more valuable than the investment in my bank account. I have tried to learn from others and see value in that, but you will never accomplish anything as long as an excuse lies between you and the future. I have this saying I use, “can’t could never do nothing if it didn’t try.” Listen, learn, and go for it. If you don’t succeed, learn from your mistakes and go after it again. This brings me to my fifth point.

Point number five, and it is the reason The Virtual Pew exists, go for your dreams. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. It is possible that God has given you your dreams and your visions for the future. Don’t go to your deathbed wondering; what if? I believe God gives passions and desires; I believe God is God and he will help make a way. I know because I read, talk to, and see everyday the impact The Virtual Pew has had on others. To be a part of changing lives is something you can’t put a dollar mark on. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who hate me, people who say I promote myself and the ministry too much, but they are wrong. I could care less what others think of me, as long as God uses me to touch people who need the touch and love of Christ. I have seen that happen, it is my dream, it is my passion. I am blessed to know that God has allowed me in whatever way he has, to see and experience those moments.

Sixth and lastly, be real, no more fake friends. I can’t think of hardly a thing that makes a person feel worse than feeling like they have been used. There are many resources out there on developing real and lasting relationships, use them but even then it won’t be real unless you are real. The best resource to learn this, I believe is the Gospels in the Bible, the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, personally Luke is my favorite. Jesus was a real friend, even to the one who would betray him until the very end. Understand this though, real friendship requires real sacrifice. I know that, have experienced that. I have also failed in that; unfortunately there are some that know both of these to be true in my own example.

I have learned a few things in these 50 years of life, the above are just a few of those things in relation to who I am and what I believe. I suspect God has a lot more he is going to show me. I suspect there are things I will change my mind on in the future and I will realize how much I don’t know. I realize now there is a lot more I don’t know than I do. One of the last things I want is people saying about me that I am someone who act like I know it all; I don’t and don’t want to give that impression. I have learned that when I keep my mouth shut and let others talk and express their opinion they will learn that, and that I in return have the opportunity to learn more. I suspect though, that this week I will once again hear and see people who disagree with me on the things mentioned above, it is because they likely see more value in who they are than who I am. Thankfully Jesus takes me as I am, just as he will accept and take you as you are. I have learned that and hopefully many of you reading this have as well.

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Sam's Thots said...

Happy Be-lated Birthday from another born in June. Thank you for your blog, for your inspirations! I began following the Virtual Pew when I read an article featuring your testimony in my devotional, IN TOUCH.

Mike Furches & The Virtual Pew said...

Thanks and happy birthday to you as well. The article in Dr. Charles Stanley's magazine has opened the doors to a great deal more ministry that happens every day now because of it. Blessings to you again and thanks for the kind words.