The Perfect Prayer

Pray, then, in this way: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

 

~Matthew 6:9-13

 The perfect prayer. Given to us by God Himself.

Here’s a bit of personal testimony:

 About 2 years ago, I was driving up to New York, to visit my girlfriend and her daughter. It was a pretty dark time in my life, just a few months before my conversion.

As a practicing pagan, I had opened myself up to demonic obsession. As I was driving through Pennsylvania I heard a voice in my car with me, telling me that if I just let the car go I could end all of the pain and all of the doubt I was having about my life. All I had to do was get to the top of the next hill and let go of the steering wheel.

 That voice was so soothing, and it made so much sense… I knew that I needed to do something but it seemed like there was a fog in my head. And then the first words of the Lord’s Prayer came to mind, and the words began to spill out of my mouth.

At first, it was from the head. I was a pagan, after all. But the voice in the car hesitated as I recited the prayer. The voice would get louder, and then I would get louder. Every time I came to the end of the prayer, I would start over from the beginning. Eventually I was driving through the midnight darkness of the Pennsylvania mountains screaming the Lord’s Prayer, watching the road through tears and driving snow, wondering if I would careen off the road and into one of the many deep gullies that bordered the highway. I don’t remember anything except saying the Lord’s Prayer over, and over, and over again.

I lost an entire hour of that trip—I simply did not remember getting to where I was. You can decide for yourself how that happened; I don’t know, God knows… but I was safe. There was nothing in the car except the sound of the tires burrowing through salty road slush and the soft blue glow of the dash lights. I was about thirty miles from where the “argument” had begun, in a small town, sitting at a stoplight. I was safe.

In this case, reciting the Lord’s Prayer by rote saved my life. It was the fact that I was so familiar with it that allowed me to pull it up and speak it, even when I couldn’t actively think for myself.

I’m not going to say the Lord’s Prayer can’t be used alone. It most certainly can be, if it’s said from the heart, and not the head. The problem that many of us run into, however, is that we tend to pray the Lord’s Prayer by rote. I know that this is a problem I have had in the past—I am so familiar with this prayer, that I can say it without feeling it. That’s a problem, because God insists that we seek His face earnestly. Just shuffling along, saying the words while you’re thinking about something else just doesn’t cut it. But in general, I have found that unless I’m saying it out of desperation I often repeat it mechanically, without feeling. So what I have taken to doing is using the prayer as the outline for my own prayers. This way, I know that my prayers are said in way that is pleasing to God; by not repeating the prayer verbatim, I am forced to really focus on each part of it as I say it. It also constructs my prayer in a way that gives glory to God before asking for my needs.

God wants us to ask for His help, but He wants that we should be humble about it. When we pray, we should be seeking His face, not His hand; “… seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

 I’ll be unpacking this in the next few articles, but here’s the basic scheme:

  • “Our Father, who art in heaven”: come to the Lord with an admission of God’s Lordship over us, by acknowledging that He is our Father and confess that, being “in heaven,” He is higher than us in stature and in power, omniscient and omnipotent
  • “hallowed be Thy name”: the name of God is above all other names. “I AM THAT I AM,” eternally and infinitely. We ask that His name be honored above all others, and that He be recognized as sovereign over all Creation.
  • “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”: we acknowledge and ask for His return in glory, we anticipate His kingdom; we ask that all things be in accordance with His divine will, not only in heaven, but also in this corrupted, perishable earth
  • “Give us this day our daily bread”: we ask for His provision for our physical, bodily needs—food, shelter, clothing—in order that we have the health and strength to glorify His name
  • “and forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors”: we not only ask forgiveness  for our own sins, but we affirm that we have forgiven those who have wronged us “in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous… Therefore you are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:45, 48)
  • “and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil”: God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13), but He may allow us to fall into temptation in order to test us, or humble us (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is a petition that He not allow us to come into temptation before we are ready; to give us grace to recognize and avoid temptation; and an acknowledgment of our weakness and dependency on Him.
  • “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen: The final verse of the prayer is not in the oldest New Testament manuscripts, but it is still worth noting. After asking for our own needs to be met, this is a final affirmation of God’s power and glory, and our promise to recognize His sovereignty.

Wow. This has been a longer post than usual! Y’all are probably sitting there with your eyes rolling back in your heads, muttering, “BlogDude, puhleeeeeeease let this end!” Well, I will, for now. But we’ll be coming back to this subject again in the near future; I just think that it’s important to understand a few points that I couldn’t cover today.

Have blessed day, everyone. I love you all—truthfully, I’ve been through some difficult spiritual times lately, and it has been a blessing and an encouragement to know that I have a family in Christ. It gives me the spine I need to face my own shortcomings, and just try to be a better man and Christian. I’ll see you back here on Tuesday.

~BlogDude

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A Fable

Today’s blog was posted to my Facebook page by my good friend and all-around great Christian, itinerant pastor Zeke Whitelock.

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL :

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

 

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

This is great advice, folks. Be well, love one another… and step up! God Bless us all!

Proud to be Humble.

I think I’ve noticed a bit of a recurring undercurrent in a number of my threads, lately. Pride seems to be coming up quite often.

It makes sense. I have a real problem with this one; not only is it the root of all other sin, but I actually have a problem with the bald, naked sin of pride itself. My guess is that the Spirit has been leading me to confront it directly; I have to do that from time to time, and I think I’m probably past due.

When I first got straight with Jesus, I spent a lot of time reading commentaries and the like, trying to get every last ounce of meaning that I could from Scripture. I also flailed around, reading different books about various Christian virtues and values and theologies. I hadn’t found a church, yet—or, rather, I hadn’t come home to Bethel, yet—so I was kinda flying blind in a snowstorm. One book that I found helpful, though (there were a lot of books that weren’t helpful at all, and more than one that actually wound up in the round file), was Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. It’s a quick little read, not at all difficult to understand, but it is definitely an eye-opener.

After reading it, I had a better understanding of how damaging pride is, how insidious it is, and—most importantly—how to get loose of its grip. The following list is adapted from C.J. Mahaney’s.

  1. Start your day by acknowledging your need for and dependence on God. For some of us, it requires an act of divine grace just to roll to the edge of the mattress and slide off the edge feet-first; for everyone else, you’ll have to make a conscious effort to remember to do this.
  2. Start the day by giving thanks to God. I’m usually thankful that the previous maneuver (rolling out of bed) doesn’t culminate in a face plant into the rug. Usually.
  3. Be spiritually disciplined.

    a. Pray! Do it all day long. Have a running conversation with the Lord. He’s right there, all day long—what are you gonna do, ignore Him? That’s a bit rude, isn’t it?

    b. Study His Word! Seeking meaning in Scripture reinforces our recognition of our dependence on God, and helps us in our daily walk-and-talk with Him.

    c. Worship! This goes along with “a” and “b”, but it goes much further, as well. Acknowledge how awesome God is, every chance you get (a good friend of mine is in the habit of saying, “God is wicked awesome, dude. Wicked awesome.”) See a cool cloud formation? Give praise for the artistry of His creation. Enjoying that crisp autumn air? Thank Him for the season. Just washed your car and drove under a flock of pigeons unscathed? Head directly to your nearest house of worship and immediately break into song.

 

If you commute, what are you doing with that time? Are you using it constructively? If not, maybe you could take the opportunity to catch up on God’s Word while you drive into work, or home again (jiggety jig!). I hear that they’re even putting the Bible on CD these days! Technology—who knew?

  1. Quit sweating the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff.

 

“Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:3,4)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6,7; emphasis mine)

  1. Every night before bed, acknowledge all that the Lord has done for you and through you, that day. Give Him the glory for all of your successes, acknowledge your fault in all of your failures, and be reminded that we have and do nothing absent His grace—even the act of breathing is a gift from God!
  2. And finally (and a lot of readers are gonna like this one): sleep! Remember that sleep is one of our most precious and important blessings. It renews and refreshes us (better than Irish Spring, even!), recharges our minds and energizes our bodies. (At least, it’s supposed to. If it doesn’t, there may be some lifestyle issues involved. I’m not judging, I’m just sayin’.)

When you lay down to sleep, remember to thank God for this awesome gift that most of us get to experience every day. On warm summer Sundays—if looking around at the congregation is any indicator—sometimes more than once a day. (At least, that’s what I’ve been told. Summertime is when I have the most eye trouble, so I have to pay special attention to the insides of my eyelids.)

Well, that’s it: the primer on keeping ourselves humble! On a more serious note, I really need to practice what I’m preaching here, because trust me: this stuff takes discipline to do it every single day. But I speak from experience when I say that it is helpful—and effective, as long as you continue to practice it. So I’m going to recommit to doing these things every day. Starting with #6.

(Okay, #5. Yeesh.)

Bad Dreams and King David

Sunday night, I had a bad dream.

This wasn’t a nightmare, just a very unpleasant dream. It was also a dream that contained a lot of symbolism. For me, a dream that has a great many recognizable symbols usually catches my attention. It’s usually important.

I say that it’s usually important, because in my experience over the last eighteen months it usually turns out to be God, trying to tell me something. In this case, it was telling me that my life was getting to be a mess again.

Well, I kinda already knew that it was headed in that direction, but I was having trouble figuring out why, exactly. I had been praying about it for a couple of days, but to be honest, I was starting to wonder if I was going to get an answer, or if the answer I got would be obvious enough for me to take notice of it.

Yes, I know, I shoulda known better. The dream was a wake-up call (figuratively and literally). Troubled by the fact that it was my own voice that had awakened me from an otherwise sound sleep, I got up to an almost oppressive impulse to get into God’s Word, and try to find some meaning beyond what I had just seen in bed.

As is my habit when I’m looking for something specific in Scripture, but I have no idea where to begin looking, I just flipped the Bible open to a random page. It came up on the story in 2 Samuel 2, about the battle at the Pool of Gibeon. This sort of got my attention because I had just written a blog about the Pool of Gibeon and had actually just been speaking to my Dad about it, last night. So I started to read, but I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere; it was all, “David was victorious. The LORD gave David’s enemies into his hand. David kicks major tail all over the land of Israel,” et cetera, et cetera… how does this apply to my situation? David isn’t having any trouble! In fact, in all of this, the only really negative thing that happened was Uzzah getting smoked by the Lord for grabbing the Ark, when it nearly fell off the wagon!

(It was only while writing that last line that I remembered God’s sense of humor leaning toward the ironic. Hopefully you’ll get it, in a minute or two.)

Frustrated, and more than a little impatient, I read this line in 2 Samuel 8:4:

And David captured from him [Hadadezer] 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers; and David hamstrung the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots.

Okay, really? I’m getting nothin’ here! So, I figure, “One more chance,” and just flip the back pages of the Bible with my thumb, figuring maybe something will pop this time. A chunk of pages rolls over, and the first thing my eyes fall upon is this line:

And David took from him 1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers, and David hamstrung all of the chariot horses but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots.

~ 1 Chronicles 18:4

Um, ahem, okay, sorry, Lord. There’s obviously a reason that I’m supposed to be reading this. I get it.

I read on. Still, all I’m seeing is “David rocks, David kicks butt, David is da man,” but now, at least, I know that this is leading somewhere. And then:

Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1)

I still didn’t quite get it. Sometimes I’m a little thick. And then, I got to this line:

And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (1 Chronicles 21:8)

and,

And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great.” (1 Chronicles 21:13)

I still didn’t get it. But as I read that last line, I had a feeling that I had gone as far as I was supposed to. I needed to discern what the Lord meant, though, so I prayed that the scales be removed from eyes so that I could understand the message He meant for me to receive. The answer came to me almost before I finished asking for it.

Satan made David forget—for a moment—that God was the strength behind all of his victories. David took a census of his fighting men in order to ascertain his “strength.” David, in a moment of pride (I assume it was pride behind the error), put his own abilities and resources above the blessings of the Lord. When David realized his error, he begged forgiveness from the Lord; God gave him three choices to pick from by way of punishment for his transgressions.

Two of the punishments took place at the hands of men; the last would be a punishment from the hand of God. David, recognizing the Lord’s merciful nature, asked to be delivered into the hand of God.

The parallel to my own situation became very clear. Recently, I have been falling deeper and deeper into a sense of false security, thinking that God would be with me almost no matter what I chose to do. I was relying on my own judgment, on my own wisdom, to make decisions and do things “my way.” (Note on irony: David was transporting the Ark improperly when Uzzah got smited; rather than do what God wanted, I was doing what I wanted. There was also the obvious “fell off the wagon” reference, floating around in there somewhere.) A lot of this, I think, came from the notion that things weren’t going for me as I had hoped; money is still tight, the things I wanted to accomplish have been held up by circumstances, people that I have wanted to help out have been struggling and I have been unable to help because my own situation has left me unable to.

So I had taken to trying to make it happen on my own, getting impatient, and trying to talk God into hurrying up, already, I just needed a little break and I could take care of this stuff.

I could take care of this stuff.

Lack of faith. Pride. Those are my sins.

Everything happens according to God’s plan for us, and in His good time. I forgot. I ask that He forgive me for my sins. I know that He will. And from now on, I’m going to try to just relax and let Him handle it.

But I also gotta ask that he doesn’t smite 70,000 people because I screwed up. It’s hard enough, getting readers for this blog.

The Gospel and Harold Speed

”… New facts are but the addition of new instruments to the orchestra with which the artist creates his symphonies. They increase the range of possibilities open to him and enlarge the scope of his work. But they immensely increase the difficulties of composition, and… become so intricate and engrossing that they are apt to occupy the whole of his attention… The orchestration becomes the subject of the symphony, instead of its means of expression. The point is reached when the instruments of expression are too difficult to be controlled… and themselves begin to control the work.”

 

~Harold Speed, Oil Painting Techniques and Materials

So today’s article will be mostly targeted at folks that are fairly new to their faith. You should know that what I’m writing about, I write from intimate personal experience; struggling with finding a balance between what God expects me to do, and what I want to do for God, has been a serious and very real challenge for me since I came to Christ.

On the one hand, I want to do everything I can for the Lord. I went through a period in which I tried to do everything that I thought would please Him, with the result that I wasn’t getting anything done. It took me a little bit of time to realize that the Holy Spirit had endowed me with certain spiritual gifts for a reason; that reason was to focus on the specific tasks that God knows I am best suited for. For instance, public speaking is probably not my forte’.

On the other hand, I have these spiritual gifts, and I want to use them constantly. The trick is to find that balance. Jesus, in the parable of the soils, talks about believers who fall into this category. He tells of those who “fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil,” and as a result they immediately sprang up, because they had no “depth of soil.” But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and having “no root, they withered away.” (Matt. 13:5, 6)

My son calls people like this, “try-hards.” What it amounts to is that we get so wrapped up in the ecstasy of the moment that we forget to root ourselves before we start trying to branch out. Getting back to the art metaphors, “Do far less with your brush, and much more with your head at first.”

When I first got saved, I remember becoming fascinated with apologetics (I still am). I thought, “Oh, awesome! I can argue and be a good Christian? This is wicked cool!” The only problem with this was that I was learning the arguments before I learned the reason for the arguments. As a result, there were a couple of occasions where I fear that my arguments did more harm, than good; not having a firm foundation in the spirit of the argument, I let the argument itself become the point of the discussion. I regret to say that the two people that I am thinking of in this example have probably become even more entrenched in their resistance to Christ, as a result.

God, in His perfect wisdom, used this as a lesson to me. He has also put people in my life who have an almost eerie tendency to say exactly the right thing at the exact moment that I need to hear it; in this case, the lesson was reinforced when one of these people suggested that sometimes we get so busy doing for God that we forget about God. Yikes.

So, I backed up, and started reading more Scripture. I got into the Word about spiritual gifts, and at just about exactly the moment that I start wondering, “Well, what the heck is my gift? And how do I find out?” Pastor Reggie gave a sermon on—yup—spiritual gifts. Double yikes. Twice in ten days. Like I said—eerie.

Here was the information that I needed! After a couple of false starts—the direction in general was the right one, but it was the wrong path, both times—I finally found a couple of things that I could do for the Lord without having to compromise the quality of my work for Him. One of them, obviously, is this blog; the best part of this for me, in a spiritual sense, is that where I might get lazy about reading Scripture the way I should, writing this forces me to stick my nose in the Word pretty much daily so that I can be sure that what I’m writing is true to Scripture. It works great—I get to work for the Lord, I get to do that work by doing something I enjoy, and it actually forces me to grow spiritually! Awesome!

Of course, I try to do everything with God foremost in my mind. It wouldn’t do if this blog were the only thing that I dedicated to Him, so no matter what I do now I try to do it in a way that I know would be pleasing to Him, and with the knowledge that if it weren’t for His blessing I wouldn’t be able to do anything at all. But by just listening to the Spirit, I was led to the right outlet for my gifts—and my weaknesses.

“Everyone stumbles upon some methods that suit his particular temperament.” Experienced painters say that it is more important to focus on the foundational basics of the craft, than to focus on style. The problem is that most beginning painters get wrapped around the axle trying to be unique in their own way, rather than learning how to paint and letting style come about as a natural extension of their growth as artists. As Christians, I think we can be guilty of the same mistake. We get a taste of how great it is to be saved, and we want to just run out and start “being saved,” rather than building on that first stone and letting the building take shape as God intended. The result is that we get tired, frustrated and lost—which is what the Devil would love for us to do. “It’s better to burn out, than fade away,” as the song goes (yes, I’m dating myself, hush, you) but as Christians, this isn’t what we want to do. We want to finish the race, and finish strong. Just listen for God’s instruction, and take your time. He knows how best to use us, so stay out of His way, let yourself be attentive to His voice, and realize that what He wants us to do will be to His glory, and to our benefit.

God bless us all, and I’ll talk to you again on Tuesday!

Quiet…

I’m a big fan of Ecclesiastes.

I like the Psalms, and Proverbs is an awesome book, but I really, really dig Ecclesiastes, man. Every time I start thinking that life is getting ready to kick my butt, I can open up Ecclesiastes and see that no matter what’s going on, Solomon already got his butt kicked—and he was the (second) wisest man ever born!

So, some of y’all may have noticed that I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time getting into the minutiae of an apologetic debate. A couple of weeks, actually. And it has been brought to my attention—by both human and supernatural sources—that I’ve let this debate steer me away from the primary purpose of this blog: the exhortation and fellowship of my church family.

So, I’m done with the debate. I think we made our point—Scripture trumps intellect—but it would be foolish for me to believe that I’m going to be able to peel the scales from peoples’ eyes. So, for those of you that were bored to tears by the last two weeks’ posts, my apologies.

But back to Ecclesiastes. There is one passage in this book that has always held a certain fascination for me: Chapter 9, vv. 13-18:

Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. There was a small city with a few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it, and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.

So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of that poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Time for me to quit shouting, and listen to what the Word is trying to tell me this week. How about you? Have you taken some quiet time recently?

So He said, “Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.

And it came about that when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“The Worst Thing that Ever Happened to Christianity, Was Christians”

I think most of us had heard that title, in one form or another, at some point in our lives. I know that I, myself, used it as a mantra whenever anyone asked me what my own beliefs about Christ were; it was a convenient (and effective) foil with which to shut down further uncomfortable discussion on the subject. Now that I’m a committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, I tend to be more keenly aware of it being on the minds of unbelievers, if simply for the fact that for twenty years it was almost a motto.

 

Now, far be it for me to tell other Christians how to act—I am among the worst possible examples of what a “good Christian” should be, I’m sure. In addition to the pet sins that plague us all, I am still beset by bad behaviors, poor impulse control, bad manners and a general disdain for people who are rude for rudeness’ sake. I’m not willing to start digging at the speck in your eye with a garden trowel, when there’s a lumberjack planking wood in my own. But I do hope to raise a few questions that all of us can apply to our own lives and, if it turns out that we are falling short in some department, find answers that will help us on the road to self-correction.

 

Before we get too much further, and this being my first time out with this forum, it would probably be helpful if I defined a few things, first. Right off the bat, let’s start with the word, “Christian.” When I say that a man is a “Christian,” I mean that that person has had a transformative salvation experience in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not going to be specific about denominations; those kinds of questions are best left to folks with a more thorough familiarity with theology and doctrine, than myself. For the most part, I think it is safe to say that most denominations, at their core, share the same beliefs and love for Jesus, if their methods of practicing that love vary somewhat (and occasionally a great deal). I will, of course, be rejecting the view that groups such as the Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, et cetera are Christians, as well as any other “denomination” which rejects the deity of Christ or the Triune nature of the true God. This will be the standard across all of my remarks on the topic, and any time I use the term, “Christian.”

 

I will also not be using the term in the modern, politically-correct sense of one who attends church, gives to the plate every once in a while and claims the title because they are “trying” to live a good life. If one were to accept those terms, roughly ¾ of the United States would be practicing Christians, and 85% of those people would be going to Heaven when they die. All one has to do is turn on the television for ten minutes, to see the lie in that. Nor will I be excluding from its use, those who are in fact, “saved,” but do not act in accordance with the teachings of Christ and the apostles. As C.S. Lewis stated:

 

“There is no question of [the term, Christianity] being restricted to those who profited by [the teaching of the apostles] as much as they should have. There is no question of its being extended to those who in some refined, spiritual, inward fashion were “far closer to the spirit of Christ” than the less satisfactory of the disciples. The point is not a theological, or a moral one. It is only a matter of using words so that we can all understand what is being said. When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say that he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian.”

(Mere Christianity, pref. p. 11)

 

So, while “Christianity” and “Christian” have practically become synonymous with “bigot,” “intolerance” and “hypocrite” to most of our society (which is ironic, given the number of people that insists on their heavenly aspirations), I will be using the term unashamedly in this forum, if only because it is the best word available to describe… well, us.

 

Finally, while the first several submissions that I make will concern what it means to be and act like a Christian (or, more accurately, what I believe to be appropriate, and what I, myself, aspire to), this will not be an ongoing series about what we are all doing wrong in our walk with the Lord. The purpose of this series is to invite discussion amongst the members of our church family, to exhort, encourage and hold each other accountable, and to learn from one another, as well as to stimulate the kinds of questions that we can bring to our church leadership in order to stimulate and further our growth in what the early Christians called, “The Way.” As we get further along, I hope that others will see fit to present articles of their own, on various subjects, and I will be presenting articles on things such as historical perspectives of certain books and events in the Bible, various views on certain biblical events and personalities, and Christian apologetics. In other words, this blog will be like a box of chocolates…

 

… you’ll never know what you’re gonna get.