I’m using Friday’s during this season to take a break. Follow the link and you can revisit with me one of my favorite Christmas posts from last year discussing my favorite rock/pop Christmas songs.
Occasionally someone tries to lay a guilt trip on me. Well, let me rephrase that. It not really anyone I know. It’s someone that I hear speaking. They are usually very idealistic. Here is what they indicate.
Since I ( or anyone listening) have so much, I should do without to help those who don’t have what I have.
In other words, I am accused of not caring for someone not as fortunate as me because I have something.
Here is my problem with that though.
They assume because I have X that I am not giving Y to someone.
They assume that because I have X that I am doing nothing to help those less fortunate.
They assume because I have bought X that I am uninterested in that other person.
In other words, they are trying to make me choose between THIS or THAT.
Maybe I’m wrong, but they don’t really know my situation.
They don’t really know how generous or selfish I am.
They don’t know the mistakes I have made that I am trying to recover from.
They don’t know what I am doing with my time.
I may be as selfish as they say I am. They just really don’t know.
Sometimes they want to frame it into making sure that I give my fair share to fix the problem.
All I know is that framing me in a THIS or THAT argument does nothing to solve the real issues.
The real issue is my heart. And your heart. And their heart.
You can’t legislate my heart. You can’t force my heart.
What you can do is make a great argument. You can appeal to my better judgment. Then get out-of-the-way and let me make the best decision between me and the Lord about it.
Just don’t assume THIS or THAT about my heart.
Have you ever had someone make an incorrect judgment about you like that?
As you may have been able to pick up on, my family and I have changed churches again. Things are going well, thanks for asking. The overall church experience is the best we have had in nearly a decade even though we miss several people at each of the two other churches we have been at over the years.
Yesterday, though, something happened.
I opened up the mailbox to get the mail. A card was inside. It was from the last church that we were at. It was one of those cards you get when you haven’t been to church in a while. There was a message telling us that we were missed and they hoped we were doing well.
The funny thing is that we haven’t been there in two months.
So I kind of chuckled to myself and shook my head.
Then I stopped.
Then I laughed again. This time I laughed at myself. Why?
Because I can’t count how many times I’ve done something similar.
Because I realized that I had made such an impression on those folks over nine months that they didn’t even realize we were gone until two months later.
Because this is happening in too many churches to count across these here United States of America.
Because it showed me just much we in the Church and our churches need to improve in how involved we are in each other’s lives.
Listen, I don’t hold it against them that they may have been a little bit late in noticing I wasn’t there any longer. I can’t be mad that they didn’t know until it was way too late that we were long gone from their church.
All I can do is kind of laugh at myself and use this as a learning experience. I need to work on building community with my new church. I need to make sure that no one slips out the back door.
I need to make sure that I don’t go two months without making contact with the folks I am in community with.
How involved are you with the people in your church community?
I am a husband.
And a dad.
And a friend.
I’m a Vol fan.
I’m a manager.
I’m a follower of Christ.
And some people think I need to check the majority of that stuff at the door when I walk into work.
Here’s the problem with that.
The person that wants me to check all of those hats at the door doesn’t do that. None of us really do.
I’ve had a few people tell me that they compartmentalize everything and don’t let the different parts of their life affect the other. You know what I say?
I say if that’s true, then there is too much compartmentalization.
Each and every part of our lives influence and affect the other.
I want my faith in Christ to touch each part of my life. I want to look at each “compartment” in my life with Christ’s eyes.
I think there is too much compartmentalization.
Let’s live in such a way that each part of our lives makes the other better. There is too much compartmentalization.
Do you compartmentalize your life?
I may be spending a bit of time discussing this whole encounter with the atheist over a particular blog post. It’s the “hot” topic on my mind right now, so it will be driving several of my upcoming posts.
One of the things I told this person was that neither one of us was going to buy the other person’s argument. I’m not sure this person believed this, but it was true. Seth Godin backed me up on that with this recent blog post.
Godin says that you cannot “change someone’s mind merely by convincing them of your point.” Instead you also have to persuade them.
Convincing, Godin would say, involved using rational arguments or devices.
Persuading, on the other hand, appeals to the emotions.
That is something that I think all of us who claim Christ need to realize. We can make very logical, rational arguments for why people should follow Christ. Not in the same way that atheists would claim it, but rational and logical all the same. We can lay out all of the reasons why and try to convince people to believe. And, in the right circumstances, we should.
However, we cannot forget the other element. We cannot forget that we are dealing with real people, who are real spiritual beings and who have real emotions. We cannot simply try to only convince them.
We must also try to persuade them.
Paul made a strong plea to King Agrippa in the book of Acts. What was Agrippa’s response? “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”
We must appeal to people in every way we can, whether it be logic or emotion. We must use every tool the Lord gives us to appeal to those who do not know Him in order that He would make them new creatures that follow Him.
I didn’t get the chance to ask, but I wonder if the atheist who engaged me, or any other, want to believe. Even if I presented an argument that would CONVINCE them to follow Christ, could I persuade them? Emotionally would they really want to? I don’t know. I just know that I want to do everything I can to persuade them.
Once upon a time I was told, jokingly of course, that encouragement was not my spiritual gift. That kind of hurt my feeling at the time, but after a few years of reflection I kind of have to agree with them. There are simply some people in the Church who have the gift to encourage others.
Not me. I have to work at it. And I do so. In fact, that is one of the main purposes of this blog. I want to encourage others to really think about what we in the Church do, In turn, I hope that they come away from a blog post stronger in their walk with the Lord.
So, I was taken aback a bit to find myself in a debate this week with a rationalist/atheist.
Somehow they found one of my posts and decided that I would be a good person to debate how irrational our faith is.
I actually agreed with them. From their perspective. It is totally irrational from their view to believe in Someone we don’t see and can’t “prove”.
We went back and forth a bit until I asked myself a question.
Why was this happening?
Why after writing what is closing in on 600 blog posts would someone pick up one that I wrote weeks ago and had moved on from?
Here’s why I believe that happened. It’s ok if you don’t, but I believe in this sort of thing.
My family and I have changed churches. Not only have we changed churches, but we are happier in church right now than we have been in years. We are taking it slow, but we are slowly submerging more of our feet each week. Our lives are changing.
The enemy isn’t happy with that.
So, boom. The enemy led someone to find a particular post of mine. They engaged me in a way that I am not sure I have ever been engaged before.
You see, we don’t struggle with flesh and blood, but with rulers and powers and world forces of this darkness, and the spiritual forces of wickedness.
The real fight was not with any atheist that happened to find my blog. The real fight was a battle that I could not see with my eyes.
What a strange thing that happened.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation and realized that it was a spiritual battle?
Today is my first Christmas blog post of the year. This will surprise many since we I started listening to Christmas music on November 1 and we began putting up our Christmas trees that first weekend of November. I mentioned this in social media and was criticized by a few people. Who knew that I have to adhere to the same Christmas traditions that others do in regard to waiting until Thanksgiving?
I tweeted out a few days ago that it was 40 days until Christmas. Guess what? I got a response. It just wasn’t the one I thought I would get. I fully expected someone to tell me to slow down or to hear groans. However, that’s not what I got. Instead, this was the feedback I received.
@LarryTheDeuce 40 days left until Dec 25, 2012 – Christmas /Think beyond the world! @AdvntConspiracy
Everything before the slash was my original tweet. After that was the response I received. Being somewhat of a smart aleck, I replied back, “Interesting that you knew what I was thinking.”
Listen, I don’t care if you or any of my fellow followers of Christ celebrate Christmas or not. It’s a choice that each of us need to make for ourselves. It’s not a biblical celebration, so it’s not required or prohibited for any of us. I happen to love Christmas so much that I begin the celebration at the beginning of November.
My issue with this is that the person assumed that I was thinking as the world would think.
Maybe I was. Maybe I wasn’t. Quite honestly, that message could be applied to a hundred thousand other things besides Christmas.
Basically, don’t think as the world thinks. But how do I think during the Christmas season?
At Christmas, the lights remind me that Christ is the light of the world.
The evergreen trees remind me that Christ promises everlasting life.
I like to sing Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.
I like Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.
In other words, sometimes I think beyond the way the world thinks.
Sometimes I screw it up.
So do you.
But neither of us have to get in the other’s face and tell each other to think beyond the world.
The Holy Spirit is probably God enough to do that.
How do you think during the Christmas season?