For years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did. A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution. I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?
Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”
I’ve never worried about that shoe again.
A Jewish lady answered a knock at her door. The young man asked her if she wanted her house painted. It needed painting, so she took his card. She noticed a fish symbol on the card and asked him what it meant. “It means I’m a Christian painter,” he said.
In my opinion, calling yourself a “Christian” anything presents two problems. First, no one has ever explained to me what a Christian is in Biblical terms. Any definition fails to capture what Jesus taught us about following Him.
And second, using “Christian” to describe a “painter” does not help me learn anything about the person holding the brush and ladder. Does a “Christian painter” paint differently from a “Catholic painter” or a “Muslim painter” or, “atheist painter”? The woman wanted her house painted. All she cared about was whether or not the guy could paint.
Too many times I think folks use “Christian” to describe their business to persuade their customers they’re more honest or ethical than “non-Christian” businesses. That somehow their “Christian business” ethics or integrity or quality of work is superior to their competitors who don’t flash a “Christian” label in their front window or on their business cards.
Too often we hear stories of bad experiences some consumers have with “Christian” businesses who flash their fish symbols then act just like the world in the market place. Those “Christian” business folks drive people away from The church and away from Jesus. One bad “Christian” business deal can destroy dozens of potential good business deals with authentic followers of Jesus who take Jesus to work every day.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23
Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to flash a “Christian” label to attract more customers, or to describe one’s integrity or character. Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to convince others of their faith. The way we love others is all we need to bear witness to our integrity and our character.
Even Mr. Smith found it impossible to function honestly in Washington. Continue reading
Yesterday in church Pastor Gearl recognized all the moms in the audience. His message was about how important a good mom is to her family and to others. I wish you could have been there with me.
I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Jesus called you home. I sure do miss you. I can’t count the times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call you. I loved to call you and share some way God blessed me, or tell you about something exciting or fun I did that day.
My conversations over the years with you and Dad created some of my most precious memories. Though we spent most of our lives living a thousand miles apart, I loved being able to pick up the phone and connect with you just to chat.
You gave me something few of my friends here share. For almost 60 years you gave me consistency. You stayed married to each other, despite some extremely difficult times. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, or not doing, I could always pick up the phone and dial 712-246-2655. You were always there. I often brag about my hometown and my wonderful growing up years in my loving family to my friends. Most of them marvel at the wonderful childhood I enjoyed in our small Iowa hometown. Many of my friends have never known the consistence and security you and Dad gave me.
I know we didn’t have a perfect life, either. I know I gave you more than my share of grief and heartaches. For all those, I am genuinely sorry.
I have to confess, Mom: the day you died, I was absolutely jubilant. Not because you died, but because I knew where you were. Your suffering from the cancer that took you from us was over. Not only was I jubilant because I knew where you were. I was jubilant because I knew that someday we would be reunited and basking in the love of Jesus in God’s Kingdom forever. We’ll never be apart again. We’ll never know pain or suffering or sorrow or dismay or any other health problems. And you’d never have to fuss at me again to pick up my clothes.
What a glorious day that will be!
Until then, Mom, please know that I love you and miss you still. I am grateful for everything you were to me, everything you gave me, everything you taught me, and everything you did for me.
I will always love you,
Your loving son, Steve
CAUTION: Today’s post contains a frank, candid discussion of the state of the bride of Christ. To err on the side of caution, I recommend it for adult readers only.
Too often I listen, but I don’t hear.
Jesus, completely and forever selfless, was adamantly intolerant of selfishness. Continue reading