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!

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