Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's easier when you have all the answers!

*****UPDATE: My friend Marty Colborn recently wrote an article on this subject that you might find interesting. I've known Marty for nearly 3 years and have come to appreciate his thoughts. He's one of the most genuine, godly men I've ever had the privilege of calling a friend. We come down on different sides of some issues, but in the end, we both love our Savior and we both want to serve Him. By the way, Marty and I attend the same church.....we even sing in a quartet together! You can find his article here. *****

I remember it like it was yesterday......I had it all figured out! I knew all the answers to the real important questions regarding life, Christianity, holiness, and sin. It was so simple and I couldn't believe that everybody else around me didn't see it - it was as clear as the nose on my cleanly shaven face!

The year was 1993 and I was a 20 year old bible college student. Everything made a lot of sense to me back then. I knew what a "real" Christian looked like, acted like, dressed like, etc...all others were counterfeit Christians. I knew what kind of music good Christians listened to, what Bible version they used, what kind of churches they attended, and what kind of haircuts they sported. I remember meeting a young man who's father pastored a different kind of know, the kind that was full of "deceived, fake" Christians..... This young man seemed to love the Lord and he had a passion for the things of God. We were talking one night and he told me how the Lord was using his brother in the ministry his brother had. When I asked him what that ministry was, I was shocked to discover that his brother was the lead singer in a Christian Rock Band (one that is fairly well known these days). I was flabbergasted! Fortunately I was able to tell him with a great deal of confidence that his brother was probably not saved.....I explained how the term "christian rock" was an oxymoron - the two words ought not even be uttered in the same sentence. That's right - I had all the answers and that night I lost a friend because of it.

One of the first churches I worked in after college was a small non-denominational church in southern Kansas. The fact that they had the word "community" rather than "baptist" in their title really bugged me, but they preached from the KJV and had conservative music from a good old hymnal, so that was good enough for me. I left that church when I "discovered" that they were supporting an SBC ministry financially - after all, the SBC was filled with compromisers...not "true" Christians. Again, I damaged some good friendships and hurt some sweet servants of God with my damaging words....all because I had all the right answers.

I like for things to be "black and white". I've got an extremely analytical mind and "gray areas" used to bug the living daylights out of me. It was much easier to write people off as being counterfeit than it was to try to understand things from a truly biblical perspective. In my mind I couldn't rationalize how a Christian man could ever have long hair, or wear jewelry, or (gasp!) have a tattoo on his body! As a matter of fact, a man who would put a tattoo on his body had disqualified himself from any usefulness in ministry as far as I was concerned. Yep....I had all the answers...

I guess the Lord began to open my eyes a bit when I finally found a church to attend that felt the same way I did. The lack of love; the separating from the world to the point that we were perceived as haters; the constant denigration of any Christian or Christian group who listened to certain types of music, read certain bible versions, or dressed in a certain get the picture - anyone who was different. Those things began to make me realize that I might just be missing something.

It was a lot easier when I had all the answers.....but it was lonely. I mean lonely in the sense that I went out of my way to ostracize myself from other believers. I viewed things such as music, bible versions, and calvinism as separation issues. I used to get mad when I would hear about or read interviews with CCM musicians and they would talk about ministry or speak of their relationship with Christ. I didn't understand how Satan was using them, but I just knew he was. After all, those within CCM were likely unsaved.......

All the answers.

Well I'm glad I'm no longer deceived into thinking I have all the answers. I've come to realize that God doesn't fit all that well into a little box, no matter how well that box might seem to be constructed. I've made dear friends who seem to have incredible walks with the Lord, yet they just don't see eye to eye with me on everything....I've come to love them and accept them....even the ones who have all the answers! I've come to find that two of the most important characteristics that a Christian should display are humility and was difficult to display those characteristics when I was so convinced of my own righteousness.....

I realize that I don't have all the answers. Sometimes that makes things difficult, but.....I think it's better!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A correction.....

I am sometimes (OK....often) guilty of overstating something for effect. My last article was such an occasion, I think.... I have no intention of voting for Hillary or Obama (although I like Obama.....he strikes me as the most honest liberal that's ever run, even though he's left of nearly everybody in the US!).

All that said......I also won't vote for McCain. McCain is conservative in name, but not in practice. I like his stance on the war and on abortion, but those two things alone are not enough to win me over. The fact that our current President gave him the resounding endorsement of being "a true conservative" certainly doesn't add much credence to his cause, in my opinion. I will vote this election, but I'm not sure for whom. It will likely be 3rd party or a write-in....but I may change my mind between now and then - time will tell.

So it seems that this go around, we are destined to get either the first female, black, or really, really old President.....either way, we will likely see more of the same - a political quagmire in D.C.!!!! I just love politics!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My political post

I don't really talk about politics too often, because the subject frustrates me. Each Presidential election brings us news that is nothing more than "all politics, all the time", so the political discussion is now on my mind. Of course, this frustrates me all over again, so I'm going to use my little slice of the internet to discuss my frustration.....

For most of my adult life I've been a registered Republican. After all, we know that all good Christians (and especially fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals) simply have to support the GOP! This is the same GOP that has given us the President we've had for the past 8 years and is apparently going to throw all its muscle behind a marginal (at best) Republican like John McCain for the upcoming election. The same GOP that turns utterly spineless when at a crossroads with Democratic opposition in the Senate. Quite frankly the GOP has abandoned most of its conservative principles and is causing me to refer to myself as a man without a party.... It frustrates me that the "conservative base" in the GOP are perceived as such dullards that all it takes to get our vote is to attach the term "pro-life" to your name. Equally frustrating is the fact that we've earned that reputation! You have to look no further than how this primary season has shaken out for McCain....a man who is more of a Democrat than Leiberman ever was is getting the vote of conservatives for two reasons...he's pro-life and he takes a good stance on our current war situation.

The only viable conservative that even ran for the Republican nomination this year was Romney (who will have no choice but to drop out soon), yet conservatives by the truckload threw their support behind Huckabee and McCain (who are essentially the exact same on most issues). This upcoming election is likely to pit McCain against that scenario I'd likely vote for McCain, but if Clinton wins the Democratic primary I might just vote for her this year. A McCain Presidency would look a lot like a Clinton Presidency with the exception that Clinton has the benefit of being married to a former President. I guess I'll have to see who their running mates are. If the ticket is Clinton / Obama, there's no way I'll vote for it. If McCain chooses someone like Lieberman or Huckabee, I feel the same way. I don't know, maybe this is the year that I don't vote....

By the way, after this primary season is over, I will no longer be registered as a Republican.