Race Is Not the Problem. It Is a Symptom.

3.-Root-causeYesterday I heard the information unfold about the shooting of police officers in Dallas.  11 injured and 5 dead at the hands of one man who felt he needed to set something right.  This act was the result of two very publicized deaths of two black men in the past week.  I have watched a lot of video and read a lot of articles, and I am emotionally battered and bruised as a result of all of it.

There are a lot of hurting hearts out there today.  I speak not only of the families of those officers, but also of the families of the men who were killed by police.  No matter which side of the law those killed were on, their families are hurting today, grieving the loss of loved ones.  In that, all are equal.  I pray for God’s peace for them.  I also pray for an end of this.

Our country is sick right now yet we continue to look for a solution to the illness my treating the symptoms of the illness.  We add laws and programs. We spout rhetoric and demands.  We speak of rights and injustice. We point fingers and call for action.  What has it done?  Have we seen improvement?  No.  We might see momentary calm, but then the sickness returns stronger than ever and seemingly immune to things that once held it at bay.

I would like to say that I am angry, but I am at that point that we come to after anger and outrage.  I am almost in a state of complete despair regarding the future of our country and its ability to maintain any type of unity.  We are divided, and as long as we stay that way, things will continue to decline until the point that there is nothing left that is good, sacred, or safe.

So, what brought this on?  How did we get here?  Is this because of economic inequality, social class, race, educational opportunities, or bigotry?  Which of these or a hundred other things have brought us here?  Honestly I don’t think it is any of them.  They are just symptoms of the bigger problem.  The sickness is evil and it has been around a long time.  We like to think that we always recognize it, but it has been growing under different guises, hiding behind symptoms, building its strength and weakening our nation.

America is still a great place to be, and I am proud to be an American.  We have freedom like no other nation in the world.  It was sought out for that freedom by the Pilgrims, and then it was fought for by the early colonists. It has been defended through wars, both here on our land to deliver freedom to those in slavery, and abroad to give a part of our freedom to other countries that were in dire need.  Freedom is a good thing.  It is important to us and is should be defended, but in it I feel that evil has been allowed to flourish.

I think that in our pursuit of happiness and protection of so many of our rights, we have given birth to the most dangerous symptom of evil in our country – moral relativism.  The belief that what is right and wrong is based on my view of the world in any given moment.  When this type of mentality gets played out, it leads to one person’s “rights” being more important than another person’s “rights”.  Then, if those two “rights” are inherently opposed to each other we get conflict.  Over time, that conflict grows and becomes something out of control.  Here we are.

How has this happened?  I think C.S. Lewis summed it up quite well in the post below:

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Saw this quote yesterday paired with an image of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  While that is a whole different discussion, I think it applies very well to a discussion on how evil has been able to thrive under the guise of freedom and the development of moral relativism.  Satan likes to see us in a state of reaction because reaction is generally done without thought.  It takes us places we might not have gone if we had spent some time contemplating the issue and searching for what we truly need – truth.

We can list all kinds of things we see around us that live in the extremes and we can react to them with a total opposite action.  There are always going to be extremes.  There is crime, but that does not mean we should have police brutality.  There has been police brutality, but that does not mean we should have open season on police.  There has been racism, but that does not mean reverse racism is an answer.  There has been gender inequality, but that does not mean we should erase gender.  Answering an extreme with an extreme does nothing more than tear down the moral fabric of our country.

I know it is easy for me to sit here and type these words as if I can solve the problems all over our country.  I am not that naive.  I also know that there will be people who may be upset by my words, thinking I am minimizing the effects of heinous acts in both directions.  I apologize if I make you feel that way.  My intent is not to belittle anyone in this.  I merely want to point out that it is time that we take a stand and stop talking about the symptoms as if they are all that matter.  We need to take the fight to the disease!

What if everyone in the country stopped their arguing for a day about who was right and who was wrong?  What if we just stopped and asked the question, “What is right and what is wrong?”  Remove the person from the equation because people will have differing views.  We must have a proper understanding of what is good and what is evil before we can agree on how to move forward.  If we aren’t all playing by the same rules then we will never play well together.

God’s Word used to be seen as a yardstick to hold right and wrong up against.  For me, it still is.  The Word of God is not only true, it is True.  The standard.  The thing that all should be measured against.  It is a measure of how we should treat our families, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, our employees, and how we should conduct ourselves in society.  If we could go back to holding up Truth as the standard instead of a person’s beliefs then we would finally be able to start rebuilding the damaged relationships in this country.

I am not saying we need to throw out our laws.  we need them because we will always have evil. We will always have those who will try to lift their agendas above all others.  We can’t let that stand in the way of putting things right again though.  We must stand and do the right thing.

I know I am a white guy from northern Michigan who grew up in a little town that has literally had almost no ethnic diversity for most of my life.  I also know that as I have grown up we have had crime.  We have had murders. We have had theft.  We have had violent behavior, and it has happened on both sides of the law.  I can also say that it has been committed almost solely by white people.  Does that mean that white people are the problem?  No.  Not any more than crime in a predominately black, hispanic, asian or any other ethnic area is indicative of crime being attributed solely to their color or nationality.  The problem is that we are all PEOPLE. We are people and we sin by doing evil things.  Evil is the problem, not skin tone.

My heart breaks for the fear and anxiety in the world today.  I have not said much about it, and I am not going to pick a side because the lines are so boldly drawn and far apart that there is simply too much room for ambiguity and falsehood to wreak all kinds of havoc on both sides of the issues.  I cannot choose one over the other because I think that sometimes both sides in any issue are wrong.  Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. and if we can find it, we will be free to live our lives as God so desperately wants us to live.

Jesus Christ is that Truth.  He came so we could have that life we all want. An abundant and rich life.  A life that our founding fathers really had in mind when they penned the words “pursuit of happiness”.  I am not saying this is a Christian nation, but I am saying that it was founded on biblical principles because they saw and understood the Truth in God’s Word.  They saw that following those rules would give us our best shot at the happiness and freedoms we were designed for by God to have through a relationship with Him.  They wanted us to have freedom through those principles because in the principles of God’s Word, true freedom is found.

I have been challenged in my devotional reading yesterday that it is important to realize when enough is enough and it is time to stand up and say what needs to be said.  If I am going toe Relentless in my life, then that is what I need to do.  I want to be a man of God, obedient to Him and reaching out to those around me with Truth.  Not my truth. God’s Truth. So, today I am calling out those who read this to do the same.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says:

“Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

So, how about it?  Do I stand alone, or will you stand with me to pull back the cover that shrouds evil?  Are you willing to look past the symptoms that are tearing us apart and Relentlessly seek the root cause of the decay we are experiencing around us?

Let’s stand up.  Speak Truth into the circumstances around us. Pray for our country. Pray for our families.  Pray for a return to Truth.

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Siri Can’t Answer Everything

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Our friend on the beach. I call him Toby.

We have been having a great time on our vacation here in Florida.  Tomorrow we begin the trek that takes us one unwilling step back into reality.  I will be in class for three days before we get on the plane and leave all of the wonderful sun and warm (comparatively) temperatures behind and step grudgingly back into the reality of Northern Michigan Winter. (At least it will be with tanned faces and systems chock full of Vitamin D!)

On Saturday Tammi and I had a great afternoon on the beach enjoying the 70 degree temps, the blazing sun, and the sound of the surf. It was a little windy, and many of the locals we saw were wearing fleece, but to us it was divine.  We settled into our chairs for a three hour time of relaxation.  So we thought…

It wasn’t long before we realized that we had placed our chairs directly “downwind” from a guy that was very talkative…  The problem was that he was not talking to someone who was there, but someone on the phone. I say he was talking because this was not a conversation.  It was a monologue that was irritating at first, but it quickly turned comical.  Here are some of the topics we were able to overhear:

  • How to put a Buick engine in a Toyota – “Sure the motor mounts are different, but you can just weld the thing in and then splice the wire harnesses.  It’ll just take some fine tuning, but it’ll work.”
  • How to help your loved one in a Long Term Care Facility if you don’t think their meds are working properly for them – “Just look at the pills they give her in that place then go down to CVS and find a pill that looks like it.  Buy those and then go back and switch ’em out.  Make sure it’s not a pill that’s gonna hurt her though.  I don’t want you to think I’m saying to murder her, ‘cuz that wouldn’t be right”
  • Staying up to date with technology – “Yeah I got this new iPhone yesterday and it does all kinds of stuff.  First time I had one of these things, so I made sure I really read the instructions good.  Man, I went over ’em for like 8 hours yesterday ‘cuz I don’t wanna look stupid in front of people or nuthin’.”

There were a number of other things that came up, and the funny part of listening in was that his accent made it sound all the better.  He was definitely from the northern east coast, and after thinking about it, I would place his accent as Jersey or maybe New York.  I’m not making fun of people who live there, it just made the conversation about pain meds sound REALLY funny!

Shortly after the lesson on “learning your tech”, he began to apply his new found knowledge and skill set  to ask Siri for some information.  I am not sure if his accent was causing the problem or if a ninth hour of study would have been a good idea…

“Hello there, Siri.” “Hiya, Siri.” “How are ya, Siri?” “Siri?”  “Can you hear me, Siri?”

Those salutations and questions were made or asked one after the other with an approximate one second pause between them before being repeated 3 times.  At then end of that he would call someone on the phone and ask them if they knew what to do to get Siri to share her knowledge with him before he would hang up and start the cycle over again.  We heard this happen 4 times before he started a new tactic…

“Siri, how do I turn you off?”  “Siri, how do you disable Siri?”  “Siri, OFF!”

We heard this a couple times and then more phone calls were made asking if anyone else could help with exorcising the phone of the spirit of Siri – to no avail.  Finally he made a last phone call…

“Hey.  Yeah, it’s me.  Of course it’s me.  Why wouldn’t I call you?  Who else would I talk to?”

At that point Tammi said, “Well it certainly isn’t Siri!”  We lost it.  I laughed so hard.  I love that gal and her wit.  Our friend quieted down after that and just started smoking cigarettes.  As we were downwind from him, we soon packed up our stuff in search of a less carcinogenic area of sand.

It was a funny event on our trip, but it got me thinking.  How often do we treat God like this guy treated Siri?

  • Spend some time reading the Bible so we can feel like we understand how this whole “God thing” works in our lives and how we can use it for our own good.
  • Speak to God in a way that does not offer Him any honor or respect and only when we want something from Him.  (Great way to build a relationship with your Creator.)
  • Get mad and blame Him when He doesn’t come through for us in our requests – trivial and self serving as they may be.
  • Enlist the help of others to find a way to make God fit into our idea of who He should be.
  • When all else fails, try to cut Him out of our lives.

I know God isn’t an artificial intelligence.  He is TRUTH.  He holds all knowledge in His hand and is willing to share it with His children when they humbly ask.  He wants His children to be RELENTLESS in their desire to know Him better.  He wants them to be eager to bring their requests to Him, but He wants us to always understand and recognize that He is God.  He has the answers.  Every single one of them.

Sorry, Siri…

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Core Value #4 – Balance

UntitledI might be alienating a few people when I mention a piece of playground equipment that was common when I was a kid.  The teeter-totter.  I may be in the minority, but that was one of my favorite things to play on.  Unfortunately it has been rendered nearly extinct, along with the merry-go-round and the 15 foot tall stainless steel slide. (Okay, honestly that last one needed to go!)  I loved the teeter-totter, but I usually saw it used as an instrument of pain:

“Hey, Joe!  Wanna Teeter with me?”

“Sure!”

And then the game would begin.  A showdown of wills and courage to determine who would be the first to bail while the other was high in the air so he could be sent crashing to the ground, bruising a tailbone or who knows what else.  Good, clean, childish fun.

thumb.phpWhat I liked about it though was the science of the teeter-totter.  Size of participants didn’t matter as long as they were properly placed. Even the number of participants could achieve the balance needed for a good Teeter!  What mattered most was looking for the right people in the right place at the right time.  If you did it well, you could ride for hours. (Not that we did, we weren’t that boring…  However, we did try the maximum number of people on a teeter-totter once.  It broke right in the middle.)

Another thing I enjoy doing is building rock cairns.  If you ever get a chance to ride a bike around Mackinac Island you will see hundreds of them that have been built by people who are weird like me!  There is something satisfying about taking the different rocks and examining them to find the right rock to support, counter-balance, or balance the rest of the stack.  With trial and error, you can build some inventive stacks, and some of the best ones are supported by a small rock that holds the key to keeping it all in balance.

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I built this on Mackinac Island

Life is that way.  We all have a hundred different things that we have pulling us off balance, and it is easy to forget that these are the things God has given us to help us build our lives.  It’s not that we are working with lousy material, it’s just that we need to work with what we have to find the way it is supposed to fit.  We need to find the balance that will allow all of the craziness of life to amount to something beautiful that stands as a testament of a Relentless desire to not give up.

I have shared the story of my life and how so many things went crazy in my church history.  The balances were off between truth and grace, and that threw the people around off balance too.  In turn, a great deal of the teaching I received and the people I received it from ended up being very difficult to work with.  I spent a number of years trying to get rid of a lot of the things that I had learned thinking that they were all wrong and destructive.  That just wasn’t true.

You see, God allowed all of that in my life.  I got that healthy dose of legalism that helped me understand the importance of obedience.  Even though the Bible was not always followed, I had it deeply imprinted in my heart and mind that it was the source of truth,and I should never forget that.  My views of God the Father and the Spirit were skewed, but they had put me on the right course with Jesus.  I had stuff that was good to work with, and I had some crazy stuff that just didn’t seem to fit well. I fought for a long time to build a nice straight tower with these crooked pieces, then I tried to get rid of them all and get new pieces!

I finally realized that the pieces I have are good pieces for building.  There are some that are large and heavy, but can be balanced out by something small.  Truth is a heavy thing, and if you just sling it on the pile, it is going to fall over, just like putting the fat kid on the end of the teeter-totter meant someone was going to get hurt. (I was usually the fat kid, so I can say that.)  Grace is light, but it complements truth and softens its impact on the heart.  It holds truth in the right light where it can do a good thing rather than bludgeon.  It moves the fat kid farther up the teeter-totter where he can ride in balance with the little guy.

Lately I have been looking for a better way to prioritize my time.  Whether I am at work, home, church, or wherever, I seem to have a lot of stuff I am trying to balance, and I would like to chuck a whole bunch of it to start over and build what I want the way I want it to look.  The thing is, I only get to work with what I have.  I can work with that, or I can sit around and complain I don’t have the right pieces.  I think I’ve been doing  little too much of that lately.

I built this one on vacation on Lake Superior near the Porcupine Mountains.
I built this one on vacation on Lake Superior near the Porcupine Mountains.

Relentless living means you take what you have been given and you find the balance that works.  It might not look the way you wanted it to look, but if it is achieving the proper balance in your life, then that is probably the way God wanted it to be!  There could be several answers to the problem, but the balance is always the solution.  The outcome may look different, but if it results in a proper balance, then it was a success.

When I listed my values, I originally put Balance as # 5.  I have put a lot of thought into it since, and I now see it fits better at #4.  See, you can do it with anything!  When you have God in the right position, Family in the right position, and Friends in the right position, you end up needing Balance desperately.  If you don’t balance those three things properly, then it will all come crashing down.  It’s work!  I won’t lie to you, It is hard work!  The thing is, you will find that if you are living in balance, the work that goes in doesn’t feel as hard a lot of the time.  It’s just tweaking after awhile.

Don’t think that things won’t come along to throw you off balance.  They will.  That’s the next blog.  For now, just soak it in.  You don’t need to start with new stuff.  The life you have was not such a disaster that it cannot be built into something.  God gave you the pieces, and He has plans for you to build something great.  Set Him as your start point and build things on Him with the things that you have.  Keep looking for that balance in Him, and I can promise you that you will be amazed at what you can do with Him!

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Digging In the Past – Part 3

gold_nuggetIf you are just stumbling across this blog, you might want to take a step back here and here to catch up on the story.  If not, that is fine, you are welcome to come in right where we are.  I’m hesitant to say that this is the final chapter of the story, as it will go on, but it is the final part of the series.  I’m excited to bring it to a close, not because I want to move on to something else, but because I’m eager to share how God has brought me to where I am today.

When I left last time, I had just been given some great words of wisdom from a friend, “God is more interested in having me do thing with Him than for Him.”  This was a new concept for me, as my entire life I had been directed to do things for God.  Now I was confronted with what seems at first blush to be a minor change, but when you analyze it, it turns the world of a Christian upside down.

As I started to back out of some of my ministries, I started to experience some hard feelings from some of the people in my church.  I am not going to say that it was all intended, because I think some of them just didn’t understand what I was coming to grips with.  I realized that most of the things I was doing were not things that I had felt God had called me to do.  I was doing them for one of two reasons.

  • Somebody asked me to do it and said that they had prayed about it and felt I would be good for the job.
  • Nobody else would step up to do it, and somebody needed to.

I had collected ministries like a kid collects baseball cards.  Now I was attempting to get myself into a position to see what God wanted me to do, and it wasn’t very easy.

Eventually I was down to just three ministries, and I felt like I had a good balance in my life for the first time in a long time.  Without going through a lot of things that don’t need to be brought out here, we eventually came to the conclusion that we needed to make a change.  After a lot of prayer, consideration, and investigation, we decided to make a quiet exit from that church and move on to where we are presently.

When we got to our new church we sat down with the pastor and explained why we were there and what we had been experiencing through our Bible study and the change that God had been making in our hearts.  I told the pastor that I was hungry for discipling, and that I wanted to be involved.

One of the first things he did is tell me to stay out of ministry for a year.  I couldn’t believe I was being told to stay out of ministry by a pastor!  He said I needed a time to heal and to rest.  I needed to spend that year drawing closer to God and learning about grace for living.  What?  Grace is what God gave us when He died for our sins!  You mean it is for more than that?

Wow.  It really is.

I started getting plugged in with some people at church, building some acquaintances, but still not getting as connected as I would have liked.  I was feeling like I was missing out on something because I wasn’t “doing” anything for God.  I kept going to church, learning deeper things than I had heard before, but was still not really sure what was going on with my relationship with God.  I felt like I was ready to learn and listen, but He just was still staying at arm’s length with me.

Life changed on April 14th, 2010.  I had been really struggling at work, trying to hang on to a job that I didn’t really want anymore, and the day came.  I went to work in my company car that morning with a confident feeling that things were starting to turn around.  I was performing the way they wanted me to, growth was taking place on my sales route, and all was well.  I came home that night in a cab with a little cardboard box holding my personal belongings, and a few pieces of paper saying thanks for 11 years of your life.

We were about to start understanding grace!

We had no savings and a lot of debt when I lost my job.  So, I went to work looking for work pretty soon.  It wasn’t very long before we started to see that I was pretty much a one-trick pony.  I had spent 20 years working in the grocery business, and it was about the only thing I knew.  The real problem was, I was burnt out.  I couldn’t even begin to think about going back to the world of grocery stores.  What do I do now?

Our church stepped in, and we got to learn about the grace that God shows through His people as they showered us with food.  I have seen food showers before, and usually it is food that nobody wants to eat so they give it away, but these people were showing us real love and giving us wonderful things that we could use and stretch into bigger meals that would last.  I can’t tell you how much that meant to us.

Our parents were so kind and generous as they did things for us, helped us in so many different ways.  We were so humbled to receive their help and see their love and concern.

Tammi’s aunt and uncle gave me work to do, and that work allowed us to make sure that we never missed a house payment, or were even late on one.  We kept our lights on and a roof over our heads because of their generosity.

Time and again, God showed us His love through His people, and we soaked it up.  Eventually I started working again after 4 months of waiting for the job to finally come.  Two weeks after I started the job, I finally got an unemployment check.  Timely help for a guy that needed it.

Through all of that time and beyond, I was in a small group with a few men, and I put myself under the discipleship of a good and godly mentor.  He was so patient with me as I struggled with old beliefs, training, and religion.  He watched me rant and rave as I struggled to have my voice be heard and my rights made known.  He quietly, calmly, and firmly prodded me to dig deep into my Bible and really read it for the first time in my life.

Through that teaching I finally came to the realization that I was not just created to worship God and obey Him.  I was created for a relationship with Him.  I was fashioned by His hand because He wanted to know me and have me know Him!  He put the breath in my lungs so He could watch me grow closer to Him, to see that my life has more meaning than just being able to recite the books of the Bible and stay out of trouble.

Now I am growing, and I’m no longer satisfied with just having salvation.  If the Christian life was just about getting your salvation ticket punched, then we would be taken as soon as we accepted Christ.  Our purpose as believers is to show how God works in our lives and brings us through the struggles of life to let us reflect His goodness and grace in our lives so others can see Him and know Him.

When I started writing these posts, I said that you have to be careful when you go digging in the past because you might find something you have to deal with.  Well, that is true, but there’s a great reason to go digging.  You can dig for the nuggets of truth that God has laid out for you.  Sometimes those nuggets are easy to see, but not always.

I could look back on the past and say that there is no point in worshipping God because of the mess I had to deal with growing up in church.  I could say that a pastor is not a person who can be trusted because he is working his own agenda at the expense of his congregation.  I could say that there is no point in trying if I am just going to fail.  I could say that my efforts don’t count.

All those can be true unless I am looking for the nugget – the treasure.  What is the Truth of God at work in my life?  If I am looking for those, then I see the power of God at work through all of that.

I see that a pastor is there to help me grow closer to God, not to elevate himself.

I see that my efforts are not designed to carry me along, but to show God that I am working with Him rather than just sitting by.

I can say that the mess of church is there so we can see how God loves us as individuals even with all of our problems.

I see that the struggles, trials, doubts, and pain that I went through in regards to my faith over the years have been covering my nugget.  My nugget is God wants to be an active part of my growth.  My nugget is that God stayed with me through it all.  My nugget is that God can use what I went through to help someone else.  My nugget is that through all of those experiences where I didn’t know who God was or who I was, I now can stand in absolute confidence as a child of God.  I am in Christ.  I know who I am because I know who my God is.

If I said anything in these posts that has caused anyone to be angry at me or anyone else, please forgive me.  That was never my intent.  I just wanted to share my journey from a place of rules, restrictions, and doubt to a place of freedom, relationship, and confidence.  God is good, and I am so glad I went through it all so I can see how He has stayed with me. He has given me this desire for relentless growth in Him.

How about you?  Are you struggling with a similar situation?  Do you need someone to talk to?  Did this strike home with you?  I’d love to hear from you.

In HIS Grip,

Tom

I’ve Had My Phil…Moments

phil-robertson-238x300If you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you might not know who Phil Robertson is.  If you have been off planet for the last 10 days, you might not know what Phil Robertson said.  If you want to hang around for a few minutes, I would like to offer a thought or two on this.

I have had several “Phil” moments.  When I say a “Phil” moment, I don’t want to sound like I am putting him down.  I am talking about those times when I said something about something I believed in, and somebody got upset. Really upset.  Not burn my house down upset, but drag my name through the mud, tell all their friends, shoot me ugly looks kind of upset.

When I look back at those moments, I think about what I was thinking at the time the words left my mouth.  I’m ashamed to say that there have been times when the wrong motive was at work.  I’m very ashamed of some of those moments.  They might not be the majority, but still too many for comfort.

What I see most often when I look at those times is that I was not paying attention to the people that were about to hear the words that were going to fall off my tongue.  What would they do with those words?  Would they take them in and understand them, or were they looking for something to bludgeon me with?

“I was not paying attention to the people that were about to hear the words…”

The motive behind the words is important because that is where our decision is made to disrespect people, to hurt people, to tell people they anger us.  Our motive can be to merely share what we think, to invite a discussion, or to share information that we believe can help them, but our audience will determine what is heard if we are not careful.

I have angered friends and family with words that I thought were simple, straightforward, and necessary.  I have hurt people with words that I had thought would be beneficial to them.  I have pushed people away with words that I had intended to help bridge gaps.

The audience that hears our words is so important to the message we want to convey.  If you want someone to hear you exactly for what you mean, there must be a trust in place that you are going to be speaking in their best interest.  If they don’t trust you enough for that… it probably won’t be pretty.

I believe that Phil spoke from his heart not to condemn, but to share his belief in the Bible.  I believe he did not call out a group of people for the purpose of shaming them or angering them, it was just what came to mind at the time.

We as humans do not like to be reminded of our sins.  I know I don’t!  But I am a sinner.  I have done things that the Bible clearly outlines as sin.  That makes me a sinner.  Have I done them all? Nope. I don’t plan on it either!  The thing is that it only takes one to be a sinner.  That is what I believe to be true based on what I have read in the Bible.

Since I believe the Bible to be true, I do try to live my life a certain way.  There are times that the way I live my life does not “jive” with how another person wants to live their life.  Those are the moments where I need to be careful.  Those are the moments where the people misunderstand, get hurt, get angry.

“There are times that the way I live my life does not “jive” with how another person wants to live their life.”

I don’t want to hurt people with my words.  I want to try and reach people with the things I have to say.  I have been given so much by my God, and I want people to experience those gifts for themselves.  That is why I want to be aware of the people I speak to.  I want people to know that I am not in the business of judging.  I want people to know I care – even if I don’t agree with them.

I guess the one thing that this has brought up in my mind more than anything else is this:

When was the last time that I made a statement of my belief in the Bible and its truth that resulted in me being in hot water?

Been a long time.  Probably too long.  I am not saying that it is time for me to start looking for people that I can expose their sins in order to start a controversy.  That would be wrong, and I don’t think that was what Phil did.  I am just saying that I need to be more aware of the truth that is in me because of the belief I have in God’s Word, and look for the opportunity to share that truth.

That’s what Phil did.  He did not target, he did not chastise.  He spoke his belief in what the Bible has to say.  He did not attack, and he also expressed his desire to show God’s love to people.  The entire message was not heard by most.

Some heard hate.  Some heard a battle cry.  Some heard anger and judgment.  Some heard a call.  I think very few heard his heart.  Not because he didn’t speak it, but because people saw him as a man with an agenda.  I really think he was just a man, sitting down to share his thoughts.  He didn’t expect all that happened afterward.  It’s a shame that it all went the way it did.

Tolerance.  We hear the need for it all of the time.  We need to understand the meaning of it.  It means that I will not look down on your for your beliefs, but that does not mean that I need to change mine.  We might not agree, but we do not need to hate.  We do not need to be angry.  We do not need to tear down.  We just disagree.

Relentless growth requires coming to grips with what you believe and finding the way to defend that belief without attacking a person.  We, as Christians, are not here to judge.  We are sinners as well, and have no right pointing a finger.  Our job is in reflecting the light of Christ into lives, and you cannot do that with a pointed finger or a closed ear.

What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear them.  Please comment below.

In HIS Grip,

Tom