Thursday, September 14, 2006

my christian spirituality

I just read the book titled Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. It is a very interesting book and it got me thinking about a lot of my beliefs about God, religion, social justice, the environment, etc. I went to Don's website and started reading some thing, found a link to some very good, free music ( and then via a google search I found some links to articles written by people that do not like Donald Miller. After reading and clicking on links and reading and clicking and reading and... well, you get the picture. Anyway, I found myself very curious about the emerging / emergent church, house churches, traditional church and traditional concepts about living out my faith in daily life. My readings of traditional religious leaders critizing Don lead me to articles / blogs critical of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Chruch / Life. I know people that are members of his church (Saddleback Church) who have been radically changed for Christ and who have contributed immensly to the church. The attacks on his ministry by these traditional religious leaders got me thinking that maybe they've got it all wrong. All of this to say that while I have certain beliefs about some of these things and I know why I believe, I do need to look at some of the concepts and foundations of my faith from different angles. I need to take a step back and think a little more about what I believe and why I believe it. We sometimes take what we have been taught as final truth when there may be more than one way to look at certain aspects of life. I am commencing a continuous journey of discovery. My great-grandfather read the Bible all the way through literally 100s of times and yet, in his 70s, he was excited to tell my dad about something new he had learned in the Bible that day. My goal is to be as my great-grandfather; ever learning, ever discovering and continuously sharing my discovery with others.

make a choice

Two weeks ago I was in Little Rock (LR), Arkansas and had a very, very short conversation with a lady in her 20s. She worked for Hertz car rental.

I am now going to make a short story kinda long...

The week before I went to LR I had been in a bible study with young couples from my church and had asked for prayer that God would grant me *explicit* opportunities to share Christ with some people while I was there.

The week before I went to LR I had started reading a book called The Last Choice, written by Andy Andrews. To keep this short, the moral of the fictional story is that we all make choices in life. Whether we think we are making a choice or not, we are. It could be something as simple as whether we eat healthy food, or bad food, or it could be something as "non-simple" as deciding whether or not to bring the topic of spirituality into a conversation. We can not just expect God to make our decisions for us. We must act.

Back to LR... The week had gone by and I had not had any "explicit" opportunites to talk about God. I was a little frustrated about that.

I had noticed, on my arrival in LR, and while I was waiting for my rental car, that someone had posted two pieces of paper in the Hertz booth. One was a very direct presentation of the gospel and the other talked about how there are no accidents and everything happens for a purpose.

It came time to leave LR and I was in my plane. After about 10 minutes they told us to get off the plane because of mechanical issues. 30 minutes later the flight was canceled. This was the last flight of the day back home, so the only other alternative to get home that night was to drive. So, I went back to Hertz, rented another car and went outside to wait for them to bring the car to me. As I waited, there was a young lady sitting in the booth (this is the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post). I said hi but continued talking to my friend (I was standing there with another friend that had been on the same flight. He rode back to the DFW area with me). I felt a "God induced" desire to continue talking to her, so I made the choice to continue talking to her. As I stood there I looked at those pieces of paper I had seen earlier in the week that presented the gospel and asked her if she had posted those. She said she hadn't, and that she hadn't even noticed them. I read part of one and mentioned how amazing and true it was. My friend happened to be a youth pastor and I felt, again, this God induced desire to mention that to her. I made the choice to tell her that. She said that she admired the fact that he was a youth pastor and thought it was really cool. Our car arrived at that time and we left.

See? A very simple story, but a very interesting story to me. First of all, I had asked for prayer for explicit opportunities, asking for others to initiate the conversation. I asked for that because I am sometimes too scared to initiate that conversation for fear of rejection or ridicule. Second, I read that book at the right time to help me understand that I needed to initiate the conversation because while God certainly can put those explicit conversations in my path, he also expects me to share with others about His love, forgiveness and relationship. Third, if my flight had not been canceled, I would have never had the opportunity to point that young lady towards thoughts of God and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was at first irritated about the cancellation but with that simple interaction, I was joyful for the cancellation of the flight. (I also got to talk to my friend about theology and many other things for 5 hours, and that was fun too). Fourth, I don't know if she read those papers after we left. But I do know that she would have never known they were there and never taken the opportunity to read them if I had not been there and made the choice to talk to her. I think God sometimes uses opportunities like that to help our own relationship with Him grow, maybe even more than it helps the people we talk to. All I know is that it got me more excited about expressing, in a non-threatening way, that which gives me the ultimate joy in life, which is my relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

So, that is my short story long.