Scratch That Itch!

I remember one Sunday morning a few years back. My family and I were stuck at home because of car trouble and so we were having home church which was being led by my daughter. She had prepared a short message that she shared on what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.  I thought it was pretty good for an eight year old and after she finished we talked a little more and thats when this analogy occurred to me.

I asked her,

“What if someone cleaned your room when it was so messy that there was no way that you could ever do it yourself! Picked up all your toys, made your bed, vacuumed the rug, we’re talking immaculately clean! And then, after they were finished they leaned against the door frame and just watched you because they love you and enjoy seeing you play in your restored to order room. Would it change how you played? Would you try your best to keep it that way and never let it get dirty like it was before? If you answered yes then know something about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus!”

Since that day I’ve continued to search for answers to my own questions about what it means to live your life in Gods Presence.  The subject of how we are to live as Christians is one that plays out daily in the many details and choices we all face. I know that there will come a time when my simple analogy to my daughter will no longer suffice and so I want to be ready when perhaps she’ll come to me saying,

“I want to honor God in this way but I’m afraid some people might not understand”

I want her to know then as she did before that the reason God always has His eye’s on her isn’t because He’s watching to see if she does wrong, it’s because He loves her so much that He can’t take His eye’s off her!

I also hope she know’s that in her relationship with Jesus there’s an intimacy between her heart and His and that He understands her motives. His judgments are based in a love that not only “thinketh” no evil but one that,

1 Corinthians 13:7

 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

 I don’t want her to live her life as if she’s automatically guilty by association if she should become involved with things that might be thought of as being inappropriate for Christians.

I’ve dug myself quite a hole there, here’s what I mean…

There are some who might see a person being involved with the Martial Arts as such based on it’s links to Eastern philosophies and Buddhism. I just hope they don’t try to sell that to Chuck Norris who’s Kick Start program has helped thousands of kids find their way out of drug’s and gang’s and put their lives on the right track! I can’t imagine a Christian having any objection to other Christians participation in the Olympic’s even though originally they were intended as a competition to honor the Greek god Zeus! And Christmas? Oh come on! Ironically, in the two predominant holidays Christians observe there’s more Pagan symbolism than there is Christian, does that mean we should stop celebrating them? I know at least a few that have for just those reasons…

If, in an effort to maintain the temple of the Holy Spirit which our bodies are to be we decide to employ the stretching exercises used in Hatha Yoga I hope we aren’t shunned or looked down upon by other church members. Also, if your faith is such that you find exercise threatening to it perhaps yoga’s not your real problem. I’m saddened that I can’t tell people the whole story of how God has revealed His plan of redemption in the stars starting with Virgo the Virgin and ending with Leo the Lion of Judah’s return without people thinking I’m a heretic of some kind because of the acceptance of our enemies perversion in our minds of yet another of Gods precious gifts to us!

Romans 12:21

 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Several years ago I attended a revival given by a local church, during the service the kids were entertained down stairs by a Christian magician.  Should I have turned around and left because of not wanting my child to be exposed to the occult? Some Christian’s would say YES! Even though no where in the Bible does it say anything about theatrical magic being forbidden!

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

I thought Id just go ahead and get this verse of scripture into the mix as well, according to the Strong’s Concordance Itching ears are those which are “desirous of hearing something pleasant” as opposed to sound doctrine which is defined as,

a) of Christians whose opinions are free from any mixture of error

b) of one who keeps the graces and is strong

I’ll leave it to you to decide what I am…or am not, but whatever conclusions you reach regarding me I’ve said all these things to make a point which is this.

I have an itch to see Gods church rise up in these last days and be all He intended it to be and for it to complete the purpose for which it was established! A burning and uncomfortable itch to see the church cast aside it’s fears and it’s dogma and allow The Holy Spirit to move among them in whichever way He choses! To stop allowing counterfeit spiritual perversions of practically everything God’s given us to keep us from using those real gifts that we must employ if we’re going to be the generation that He’ll use to bring in the great harvest!

1 Corinthians 8:9

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.

If more Christian’s would get a similar uncomfortable burning itch, and would scratch it, who knows…

We might just have a wildfire on our hands instead of no-fire.

Just Another Christmas Story

What’s your favorite Christmas story? Perhaps it’s one of the many works by Charles Dickens such as A Christmas Carol or The Cricket on The Hearth. My personal favorite was always

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

With it’s emphasis on man’s redemption, the yuletide season serves as a fitting backdrop for so many great stories and novella’s. Not only do these works wonderfully entertain us with their irony and drama, but in a classic fashion they remind us of what is yet good in this world by projecting it against what is evil. Speaking to the faint glimmer of hope held within each of us the desired effect is to draw us in. To, through the timeless magic of the story, embolden us to confront our own internal struggles and to realize some similar victory of virtue within ourselves. These stories are about giving and receiving and the triumph of good over evil in mens hearts. They hold out to us the possibility of a different perspective than the cynical one held by so many in this world today.

The following is my Christmas story, on the surface it’s about how I overcame my own personal obstacles and made it home for Christmas one year but on a deeper level it’s also about faith and trust in something much bigger than myself.

Making specific plans when your a truck driver can not only be an exercise in futility, but one of frustration as well. This is due to the fact that as such you’re continually at the mercy of a far greater range of un-foreseen happen-stance that can, just like they did in John Steinbecks novel Of Mice and Men, wreck havoc on “even the best laid plans” that one might make. Knowing these things full well, I didn’t make a lot of specific plans that year, I simply knew that one way or another I was going to get home by Christmas!  The company I drove for at the time routinely shut down on the 21st of December and so on the 20th I was set to deliver my last load of tools to a sale truck in Indiana which would then free me to come back west and stop over at “the house” during the holiday. But after delivering my load and placing a call to my dispatcher (who plays the part of Scrooge in this drama) I was informed that after my drop, I was needed to make a pick up in Kentucky that would have to then be taken back to the warehouse in Kansas without delay.

OOP’S!

As I drove along I reasoned that the natural solution to this dilemma would be to simply call my wife and have her pick me up in K.C. (a 6 hour drive) but after inquiring after such, I was informed that she had to work (3rd shift) every night until Christmas, making it quite impossible for her to come and get me.

OKAY…

Another complication was that I had a bunch of gifts in the truck with me that I’d bought.  My only option available seemed to be to call her and have her meet me at a point closest to home on my way back west and drop the gifts off with her thereby freeing me up to then make my way home by whatever means unencumbered. After achieving that objective rather easily, I continued in my duty and returned to the warehouse in Kansas arriving around mid-evening. Resolved to my lack of any other remedy for my predicament I slept for a few hours and before light the next morning I was on my way back the way I had just came toward my home.

How you ask? by what mode or method? on foot my friend…

I took off walking with only a rolled up rain poncho and a black magic marker to make my destination signs with. I had to walk about 10 miles on 207th st. which is a gravel road before I came to hyw 69 at Stanley Ks. I scrambled up an embankment to the 4 lane road and within minutes was offered a ride with an older gentleman who took me to Harrissonville Mo. Next, I was given a ride from the 7/71 jct. on the back of a 1 ton flatbed all the way to Spfd, Mo. It was a very cold ride but despite my discomfort, I was most content, quite thankful even…imagine that!

Soon I arrived in Spfd at the I-44/13  junction, my new friends were headed into town and so I hopped off there. I was rather numb in my legs from the cold and so my walking was with a stiff limp. I hobbled over to the nearby McDonald’s for the days first “nourishment” of any kind and upon returning to my journey couldn’t help but notice how many people were crowding the ramps of the highway that day, panhandlers holding signs each pleading their case for charity. I remember I felt some embarrassment at that because I was afraid I would be mistaken for such because of my cardboard sign that read,”hyw 60 east” but I had come much too far to let such a baseless reluctance dissuade me.

It was nearly midday now and I had made it close to half way home! In the waning hours of that late December afternoon what I remember the most was walking what seemed like great distances on the snow covered frozen shoulder of the highway, hands and feet stinging from the lack of circulation in them, feeling the blasts of frigid air pushing me back and then swirling around me as the endless convoy’s of the freight trucks blasted by. Under these circumstances,one must also steel themselves to the thousand’s of curious stares fixed upon them by passing motorists, each with questioning eye’s which at times seemed to ask,

“What are you doing out here?’

But the Lord was with me…and after several warm comfortable rides I traveled the remaining 150 miles. By 4:30 that afternoon I was on the phone to my stunned wife asking her to drive the short distance into town and pick me up! As I think back I’m still amazed by many aspects of what occurred that day. I’m amazed at the kindness of strangers who perhaps disregarded their better judgement in giving me a lift that day. I’m amazed at my own tenacity that I would even attempt such a thing. Being put in the position I was, what was most essential to me was my faith and trust in God, that he was with me and that he would make my way if only I would just continue to put one foot in front of the other quite literally walking in faith! My feeling was that for every step I took after Him, He took two towards me! It was as if he longed to express his love for me and show me that no detail is too small to escape his notice and that nothing can separate me from his love and care…Several years have passed since then, but just like so many other times in my life before and since when I needed Him, my heavenly Father was always there!

No matter what season it is, can a man have any more comfort than that?

tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy…