Saturday, March 26, 2011

Have You Been Exposed or Contaminated?

Through the years I’ve had several thoughts on this subject on more than one occasion and have even written them down a time or two. A week or so ago I heard a ten year old boy use a word in a sentence that took me back to this familiar subject. This particular child is a relative, raised in a Christian home, and one could tell that he used it freely and without remorse. Now in the last couple of years, even in my own family, I have heard this same word spoken. It really raises the hair on the back of my neck, as not too long ago it was considered profanity. Who moved it out of that category? The culture. The word I am talking about here is another word for urinating. The dictionary says in its slang form it means to anger. I believe the use of this word by believers is a symptom of another issue.

Years ago, not long after being hired on at the Fire Department, it was required of me to “rove” to many of the stations. Word came down from headquarters or from somewhere higher up that a particular person from one of the stations had been diagnosed with Hepatitis. Now I am not sure which one as there are five different types, but it was strongly advised that anyone who had spent any time at all at that station should be checked for this disease. I went to the doctor to be tested, very shortly after receiving the notice. Now while my memory is not completely clear as to how long this process took, I will never forget the conversation with my doctor. He called me into the office and said good news, while the test shows you have been exposed, you are not contaminated. While certainly I was relieved at the statement my immediate question was “what is the difference?” He said the test showed antibodies in my blood that are only present in people who had been around or exposed to hepatitis. He went on to say that with too much exposure contamination would occur. Well Doc, I asked, how much is too much exposure? He said that it was hard to say and that it varied with each person and that lots of factors figured into the equation. A person’s health and how often the exposure occurred were two critical things in how long someone could prevent contracting the disease. The last thing I remember him saying was the least amount of exposure the better, as even a person with the strongest immune system can only resist so long.

There are many things we as believers cannot prevent exposure to if we are to reach this lost world, but how much do we purposely expose ourselves to for no good reason at all? Scripture is very clear that we are to be in the world but not of the world, and this means to not be like the world. Jesus was radically different, Paul was radically different, but it seems in today’s world there is more and more gray area between who God’s people are and the rest of society. Do we really grasp the meaning of the Scriptures that say “our body is a temple”, or that “we are to be holy?” If we wouldn’t bring something into the church why would we bring it into the temple? I think sometimes we place way too much confidence in ourselves and how strong we are against being influenced. People often comment that just because they read something or watch a movie or a show on TV that doesn’t mean they will follow that example in their own life. Why does the Bible say to choose our friends carefully or to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers? God is concerned about them influencing us, not the other way around. Isn’t this another way of saying that with enough exposure you will be contaminated? Our thoughts become influenced before our behavior. Exposing ourselves unnecessarily over and over again to profanity, for example, eventually affects our spiritual discernment in this area. Our tolerance level for this creeps up slowly and without even knowing it. When is the last time we told someone who uses profanity that it offends us or that we wish they would not use that type of language around us? If someone opened a pornographic magazine in front of us would we say something? Would we be shocked, offended, or walk away? What is the difference? If we went to see a “Christian movie” and there was profanity would we be surprised? Would it bother us? Why? If the Pastor uses that kind of language in his message on Sunday would it bother us? Have we re-defined holiness instead of accepting what the Lord says it is? Aren’t we living our lives for Someone else now? Just because we are not committing a particular sin doesn’t mean we might not be hurting our Christian witness. We all have been exposed; the question is are we contaminated and if so what can we do about it? I’ll discuss this in the next post.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Two Week Whirlwind !

Before we left for Tampa and the NAMB commissioning service, Camp MACOBA was filled with the Fowler family (Denise relatives). We had borrowed a pop-up camper from some dear friends of ours for her parents to sleep in and her sisters family stayed in tents. When they first arrived the weather was ok then cool temperatures hung around the entire rest of their trip…oh and we had a thunderstorm one day as well. A couple cords of wood were burned as folks pretty much hung around the campfire for most of the stay. One day Joseph took the kids down to the pond and got stuck so I had to hook the tractor up and pull him up the hill. During this time we celebrated Sawyer’s first birthday and that was pretty cool. Anytime Denise folks come down they like to make a visit to Rosie’s so we made that visit on Monday. We left out early on Wednesday morning while most everyone was still in bed but did manage to say our goodbyes. The trip to Tampa was eleven hours so an early start was necessary.

Our trip to Tampa was the first time I had ever been in the state of Florida. As a matter of fact I am the only one I know who has never seen the ocean and I didn’t get to see it this trip either! Oh we could have driven down to the beach but I want to make this event one where we have some time and are not rushed. The NAMB commissioning service is one I will not soon forget and it was broadcast live on the internet. We met lots of great folks and no two ministries were exactly the same. The hotel stay and meals were great. This event was almost an information overload but very helpful. I must admit prior to this past weekend I had many questions and even some apprehensions connected to the NAMB. The new leader taking over and making so many changes early on was a little disturbing along with what I had been reading and hearing in conversations around the local association. The staff down in Tampa was very good about answering all our questions and never putting us off about anything and I did my share on inquiring. I feel now that everything is going to be ok and NAMB is on the right track. Brother Harold Sellers and Ron Lynch from the Madison Baptist Association even flew down for our commissioning service and took us out to dinner. It is nice to know we have that kind of support in our local association but then again they are two fine men who have really been there for us during this whole process.

Well we are back and have hit the ground running as there is much to do. Today I will have lunch with the head of the local Christian Southern Archers. We formed a partnership with this organization last year and it has been working out well for both parties. Chris Hester really has a heart for Jesus and in helping kids and is such a fine man. Next I will be meeting with the Pastor of “Ignite” a local new church start. We recently joined this church and look forward to worshiping there and helping them in the coming year. Later on Denise and I will make a stop back at Lighthouse Baptist for church pictures so a busy day is in store.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Change Is No Respecter Of Persons……

Change is no respecter of persons. He comes into everyone’s life sooner or later and loves to catch us off guard. The world is full of things that have been brought on by his intervention and will continue to be until the end of time. Now many folks don’t like him and will take steps to slow down or just outright derail his arrival. As I have grown older, I like to sit down and talk with Change for awhile and hear what he has to say before making any kind of decision. There are times when it makes sense to allow him to come, as he will occasionally bring along some friends called Improvement and Happiness. This is not always the case however as he will also try and shake things up simply out of boredom, restlessness, for no good reason at all, or even to give some individual glory for accomplishment. Change at times will travel down a long winding road or come suddenly like a thief in the middle of the night. Shock value is often included in his methods. There are times we can see him from a great distance and can prepare, but when he shows up suddenly and uninvited, we are then forced to deal with him.

Change chose this way to visit with our family. We were on a fast road of expectation, and jubilation and steps had already been taken to travel down this new road when the train ran off the tracks. How does one with no hope put the train back on the tracks?….I don’t know. Those of us with hope know that the One watching over us and guiding us was not caught off guard by this tragedy. We trust Him so much that we believe that even this can be used for His glory and our benefit.

Change often brings along a cousin of his called Grief. Now this second cousin, on his dad’s side, can help us in the transition process. He moves in for awhile and helps us to deal with others who usually show up called Sadness, Confusion and Anger. Faith can be our best friend, especially if he has grown strong. He can stand up to many things well, but if not strong enough when stabbed over and over by Grief, can be weakened and a person scarred forever. Satan has used Grief to drive many folks away from the Lord by taking them down the “why” road and seeking someone to blame. Faith does not need all his questions answered and is more interested in restoration and recovery than blame.

I think the train is back on the tracks now, but the wheels are not moving very much yet. Bearing one another's burdens is what the church is called to do, though not practiced very much. Now one also must be receptive to those who are sincere in this area as well.