Friday, June 5, 2015

New Christian experiences

I have been meaning to write on this topic for some time now and then this morning, Faith Street came on my screen with this title, "5 most uncomfortable things new Christian experience" and I should have known.  We - Christians, new and old, tend to succumb to the opinions of those who are eager to have us be a "clone" of their thoughts and practices.  It took me nearly forty-five years to overcome such temptations to listen and then, try to apply such counsel to my own life.  I stopped on that day that our Lord actually smiled on me and welcomed me to His family.

I thought I had been a Christian for most of those years.  I was a very young boy when I started to go to church.  There were no other options.  My family - at that time, were in church every day that the doors were open.  The building was in the country and was served by a itinerant Pastor who had other flocks to feed.  The teachers did the best that they could and I learned a lot about how Jesus loved us, young and old, male and female, black and white, well not really.  Blacks were not a part of "our" family in those days, but I felt that I was a Christian based on my knowledge at that time.

Then, I attended high school in the city and would learn that Jesus had other families.  In our town, the most important segment was the Catholics, and there were also the scoffers - "You believe what..?" so it was difficult to defend my faith in Jesus.

A tour in the Air Force in Japan brought me in touch with Chaplains who appeared to know about Jesus, but mostly, they talked about His father, God, and His willingness to smite people who did go by His book.  I had never read His book.  I don't recall ever being encouraged to do so.  But I did meet the locals who explained that they were Shintos, but few cared to explain why. Finally, I met a Samurai warrior, a very important man, and he was eager for me to tell him about the experience of being a Christian.  I knew very little.  I realized then that I was merely a church attender.  But he was serious and I sat in his presence as he offered a detailed recitation of why he had become a warrior and how it was his responsibility to defend the poor and the "women" of his native land.  The friend who introduced me to this man, tried to defend his thoughts - that scared me at the time, but at least he did listen to my stories of Jesus and the children.

Back to the States, I almost hurried to tell a local Pastor about my experience, to ask him how I could be a Christian and believe like that warrior seemed to believe.  I wanted to defend my Mother and Grandmother from the bad people. whoever they might be.  As best I remember, that Pastor did not or could not relate Christianity to the story I had to share.  Along the way, I tried to discuss my feelings with others, but was always reminded to attend church and listen.  That was nice but at my age then, I attended church to meet "nice" girls.

I finally met a nice girl, we were married, had children, often attended church and now I tried to listen to what the Pastors had to say.  I met one who seemed to know a lot more abut Jesus, but when I tried to talk with him, he seemed more interested in hearing about my visit with the Samrai.  He was not much help to me, but I had finally meet a Pastor who seemed to hear whet I had to say, I was left with the impression that most Pastors were merely playing a role of a pious person on Sunday and an average guy for the rest of the week.  Of course, not many - if any, were like that, but I knew what I had experienced and such thoughts tended to guide my life and led me into the opinion that I was not far from going to Hell.  I felt very uncomfortable about going to church

I think that God knew about such thoughts all the while and knowing the end from the beginning, He knew far more about my future than I might have ever dared to believe.  Fear hovered about my life from the very beginning and He was about to change that situation.

I was headed to see a wise man about how I could improve on the life I had been leading and he lived in a distant city.  I was on a bus when I decided to open the Bible I had brought along and thought I could find the place where Jesus started His ministry.  I did, apparently, and when I read of what He was saying, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand" I realized I knew nothing about that word repent,  I asked the God I thought I knew, what did He mean, repent?  My counsel, don't ever ask God what Jesus meant unless you are prepared to hear His answer.  He made it obvious I knew nothing about that word as the life I had been living did not conform to the life he wants us to be living.  My "sins" became very apparent to me and I knew that I knew, I had to repent. To ask His blessing on what I really knew was a corrupted life, but in a moment I will cling to forever, I know that I know, He was accepting me as I was, pits and all.  My heart was pierced.  My mind was whirling.  I just knew, there and then, I was the fault of the problems I thought others had caused, but now, I had been changed.  I no longer had to be that man.

I was - and still am, determined to be the man God wants me to be.  I was going to start, believing that Jesus meant what He said with these words, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" and forty years later, it is my testimony, He has not.  I even learned the words to an old song that I recalled from my childhood days, "He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives to day, He walks with me and He talks with me along life's narrow way, He lives, He lives, salvation to impart, you ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart."

So, there it is, my experience.  Now, I want to explain why there should be no "uncomfortable" things for new Christians, nor even older Christians, to experience.

You do not ever have to be ashamed of the life of Christ and the love of God.  It is your name that is written in His book.  All you need to do is live as He lived and not fear,you might even be "crucified" along the way, you will never have to die on cross.  He has done that for you and, for me!

So now, turn the page and learn of the fascination you will be beginning to experience along the way, along His way!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Essentials of the Good Life

After dealing with the more mundane aspects of life earlier today, I find myself even more interested in sharing what what I have learned over the years.  I have discovered that most folks are not as privileged to live 85+ years as I have been.  Prompted by an article I received from an old (but younger) friend of mine, Tom Reid.   He was talking about the "good" life and to me, that starts with a purpose for living.

It took me many years to reach that point, mainly because I thought I had been abandoned early in life.  My father died before I ever got to know him and my mother had another child to care for in the truly "great" Depression years, the early 30's.  I was fortunate however to have been sent to the farm, my grandparent's farm, near Yale MI.   I often brag that I am a Yale graduate and purposely avoid telling them it was Yale High School, not the University in Connecticut.

My grandfather was the "salt of the earth" kind of man, very conservative and very deliberate in all that he did.  He was born on that farm and died there and one might say, he did the very best that he could with what he had and never asked for more than that.  His devoted wife, my grandmother was the perfect mate for him.  She was devoted to her husband and delighted in the four children they raised together.  I was special to her and partially because they had had a still born son shortly before I came to live with them.   The only real "counselor" I would have in those years was a beloved grade school teacher and another from my high school years.

I was a good student and longed to go on to college, but there were no resources for that and I so I seized the opportunity to join the Army Air Corps in order to qualify for the WWII "GI Bill of Rights".  At seventeen years and twenty seven days, I left "home" (as it was) and never returned.  So what I have learned about life came about as I was "on the road" for many years.

The military taught me two important aspects of life.   Be loyal to your employer and those who were your superiors.  It paid off as I became a Tech Sergeant (E-6) faster than most of those who entered at the same time.  I was decorated for my competency and that fact set me back for many years.  I looked for it in others and seldom found it, for many years.  It may have been because I was always eager to get "ahead" and had a difficult time dealing with my superiors and my associates as well.

I left the Air Force to enter college and was disappointed with what I discovered, mainly because it was in the South and most of my instructors and fellow students seemed to be more interested in "getting along" rather than getting ahead which had become the primary motivation in my life.  While I did graduate from college, I failed in a marriage and also, in dealing with others.

Tom's thoughts deal first with productivity, but that apparently has never appealed to me as I never really learned to be a team leader, even though I held such positions several times in my life.  I learned to be a "teacher" but was never the inspiration one ought to be to teach or lead others.  He makes a good point of creating good friends.  Today, if you knew me well, you might think that I am a "master" in that area, but it never came from my vocational training. 

They are, however, high on my recommendations to live the good life.  In fact, as a counselor in the area of employable skills, you should start making friends as early as grade school and maintain contact with all that you can, given the fact that we live in a more mobile society than existed when I was a youngster.  I look back and realize how often I failed to see the potential of my younger friends and now am amazed by their success in life.  That fact also taught me to become an encourager*, wherever and whenever you meet with others.  *(The word may not be in the dictionary, but it should be.  The world needs more people who are skilled in encouraging others)

He lists culture as an important asset and while that is true, it means that we ought to become familiar with people who are - in a word, different.  It is not always easy as many of the "others" in life are often suspicious of becoming acquainted with people who are not the same race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.  In my generation, we were more often taught to avoid them.

I am not an expert on family life as I am not proud of the fact that I have children and sadly, grand children who know literally nothing about me.  But I have discovered that being good friends with fellow workers, neighbors. church members, and others, can more than make up for that loss

And finally, he comes to the most critical aspect of my life and learning, that is, spirituality, you know, church or similar affiliations.  It took me nearly forty five years to come to the realization that we were not created, haphazardly, as I had thought for all of those "lost" years.  Religions teach that there is a God and there are some who teach that He is a figment of our imagination.  In my life, there is and there is no disputing of the fact there is a God, a creative being.  We were created so that God could have a family here on earth and over the centuries, He has taught us that such a relationship is a matter of our love for Him and for one another.  That is the so-called, bottom line.  His love for us demands reciprocation, but not if we are not interested.  That is where religion tends to confuse the matter as each of the several religious forces on earth seem to want to disagree with the others, negating God's commands that we love one another.

I have waded through that confusion in the past forty years and have finally found a home where love really matters to one another.  Just send me an e-mail at and I will provide you with a full exclamation of all that it means to me.

It has confirmed to me that there is a priority for our pathway through life and it involves the following factors for living life as it was meant to be.  They are, in order of importance:  Love others, no matter what might held you back; be true to yourself, your elders, family and be honest with all others; reach out; seek new horizons, we live in a dynamic world where change has become the norm; have fun, enjoy yourself and personal pursuits as long as they do not interfere with the needs of your immediate family, and finally, become the encouragement that is more often avoided in the stress of every day living.

Looking closer at my day...

Well, the more I thought about my earlier "whine" - my word for complaint, it seems to get quicker response than other words, the more I realized I am the source of the answers to my problem.

And my thoughts were activated by a response I made to the people at the Gallop news organization with a headline as follows:  "Majority in U.S. Still Say Moral Values Getting Worse"

To which I replied:  "It is my most humble opinion, the "problem" with the majority is that every time they read newspapers, listen to the TV, radio, etc., etc., ad infinitum, they hear such reports being reported over and over and over again.

Do you not realize, politicians make their living by mimicking such nonsense?  Put them to the task for which they were elected and we might even resolve the problem of the debt they constantly ignore

At 85+ years of age, I could spend hours telling you and all of others of FAR MORE "trying" times that I have experienced and PROFITED by..

One of my favorite words is - reflection.  Add that to your vocabulary and you might be able to see what I see, today.  Opportunity, unlike nothing this nation has ever seen."

Do I expect a response from the folks at Gallup?  I do not.

Do I expect that average people like my readers will be motivated to pitch in and help all of the rest of us to deal with problems such as suggested by Gallup's headline?  Again, I do not.

Why not, you ask.  Well, I have heard that less than a third of those eligible to vote in our nation will vote in the next election.  Do you think for a moment that such a statistic causes any of the candidates in the race o stop and be concerned about their chances for victory?   Few have a chance to win.  They are in the race to woo the money folks who underwrite our election process, by sounding good and they could use that money to win a forthcoming election.  Please, folks, if you want to play the games, understand the rules.  Money wins, the "people's choice" will not come close to winning.

Who should win, if we still believe in the government that has brought us to the point where we are today, they will win, we will lose.  And that is, "We, the people..." the folks who were cited in the Constitution and who the our founding fathers had bet on to make our country, ..."one nation under God".

We are - in a phrase, "...asleep at the switch".  It is not the politicians fault.  They play the game by the rules that are established and they merely smile as others re-write local laws to dictate who can vote.  They get into office when we decide who gets our votes.  It is like the proverbial story of the fox and the chickens.  He knows the name of the game; it is his dinner.  The innocents merely ignore his presence and by the time it is too late, they become his dinner.''  

We can change all of that by a simple two step process.  First, register to vote and on election day, go out and vote. Need a ride?   Tell others of your need and it will be provided.

Do you remember the question posed by the Gallup folks?   They were talking about moral values.  To some, that is church talk, but representation in government is not necessarily a moral question.  It is specifically a question of civic duty, an honor not freely offered to half of the world's population.  We are where we are today because our fathers and mothers and their children before them recognized the honor it was to be an American.  Do you think that we have problems?  Of course we do, but ask yourself why there are hordes of people from other nations eagerly seeking a passport that leads to the honor of becoming a citizen of our great nation.  Ask any of those folks who have even dared to violate our laws to come here, for the opportunity they will have to earn a living for their families?  Yes, some of them do take advantage of the opportunities we provide, but who was responsible for making certain our borders were secured?   You and I do not write the laws, the people we elected to office write the laws on our behalf have asleep for decades .

We need to be at the voting booth on election day, every day that they are opened.  The administration of government - at every level, is far too complex to be left to people who are purely political.  We need to have people of integrity in every elected office and it is our responsibility to see that they are the ones who win our elections.

If we were really concerned about our future and the future of our children and the grand children to follow, we would see that laws are written so that people assuming public office are people of integrity, not just people whose loyalty is a politically inspired organization that have few if any, legitimate concerns for the average citizen

This is your responsibility.  Do not listen to the friend or neighbor to tell you how to vote.  They are part of the problem.  Groups do not vote.  People vote and we all need to go to bed at night, assured that we have done all that we can to return our nation to the point where we actually can fulfill the promises that are found in our Constitution for you, your family, your friends and neighbors and for those who no long available to vote.

We have a little under a year and a half to work on the problem before us.  We must get out and register to vote now and to be there on election day.

Then and only then will we begin to see what America means to its people and why we have so many grave stones marking the silent voices of those who cared for our future.

What to do on a lousy day

I am no expert on this subject.  I seldom have a lousy day, but today appears to be one of those.  I typically am awake at 6AM and eager to get started.  Today, I was awake at 6AM, but back in bed after taking care of nature's necessities.  Up at 8AM, turned on TV to see if the world was working well, without me.  It must be, I fell asleep in my chair and it was 10AM before I started moving about.

I examined incoming e-mails and with the exception of the regular one from my beloved, there was little or nothing of importance - at least, according to the the New York Times, Washington Post and other "authorities" that visit my computer daily.  Even my "blogger" friends seemed to be primarily concerned with themselves, so here I am, whining as well.

Not really.  I just don't feel well and that is strange.  At 85+ years and moving ahead purposefully, I seldom have days like this.  If there was a last one, I can't seem to remember it.

Perhaps, if I reminded myself - as I have, I seldom pray in the morning.  Could it be that my Father is reminding me that I ought to.  Well, I do - if I am more sensitive to the needs of others, but I suppose it is because I wake up almost every day, eager to get started with His business.  I like it this way.  I try to have no life of my own, only time invested in His life being lived through me.

I know, that sounds a bit pious, but it is true.  When my wife passed away almost two years ago now, I had no further interest in living.  For the previous seven years, I had invested my time in an effort to make her life more compelling than I had discovered it to be when we first met.  Some people I know live their lives as servants.  My thoughts of her previous life was more like being a slave, no real life of her own, but bowing to the beck and call of others and as I got to know them, it seemed to me they were merely using her.  What a shame.  She had so much to offer.  I know that for a fact.  She blessed me, constantly with her wit and expressions of love for others.

The problem was, she only had a passing acquaintance with our Lord.  She was never a "church" person.  We tried to get started after we were married, but it seemed that the churches we visited made no earnest effort to welcome us, so we started to going to "church" in our living room, listening to a Pastor on TV that we both liked and then, afterwards, opening the Bible to have a closer examination to see what He had to say about the theme of the words we had heard.  Those times were among the most sacred I have ever experienced and in her heart of hearts, I believe that she felt the same.  I miss those times.

But she has gone on and I am eagerly awaiting His call to come home.

Enough of the "buts".... I have discovered that there is a life to be lived, even at my age.  Sunday, I met a little lady, only a few months older than I am, and she is confined to wheel chair and I would learn, that she was far more "poorly" a few months ago.  It was as if it was the Lord who called on me to greet her and in doing so, I knelt down to make sure I heard her every word.  What a blessing.  It seems she is surrounded by a loving family and I almost wept as I heard of how her family was making her life so much more that others might imagine.  I have often thought that God caused wheelchairs to be invented so we could kneel down and hear better, of the life being lived by its occupant.

Just the reminder of that experience has made my day so much better.  I hasten to remind myself that I seem to have offended a dear friend of mine and that burden lingers in my mind.  The fact is, he has offended me many times in the past with his interpretation of what the Bible has to say on some of the more sensitive issues of the day.  I chose to discuss them on these pages and out of respect for his thoughts, I sent copies to him.  I never expected such a response.

I live on the premise that it is my obligation to live a life worthy of my calling as a Christian and use my experiences to draw others closer to my Lord.  I constantly attempt to remind myself that my experiences are not the same as others, but that is not to be interpreted to mean, my thoughts are no less important than those expressed by others.  We "see" life through the eyes of those we have been provided with and measure our thoughts in relation to what we have learned.  Some pay more attention to what they hear than others, that is a fact of life.

But to be a Christian, in my - as some like to say, "never to be so humble opinion", means we live to love others.  We are all entitled to our opinions, but if they are to be accepted as well, they oughtto correspond to the established facts we read in the Bible and the love that we have learned of by the life of our Lord, the principle rule being, we are to love others.

That does not mean we are to accept everything others have to say; it does mean than what we hear should be interpreted by the love that are expected to have for all of God's creation.

And of course, there are those who would remind me, that is my opinion.  I guess it will remain that way until I am corrected by the ever present, higher authority.

Anyway, I feel much better - having put my thoughts to print.