Friday, August 29, 2014

Are You Bored?

If I stood in a room of 100 people and asked over a loud speaker for those to raise their hand that considered themselves a Christian, how many of them would raise their hands? Is that too arbitrary? If I asked in a church gathering, wouldn't everyone's hand be raised? If I asked those same people in the church gathering, would a stranger know that you are a Christian because of the life you live, the way you speak, or because you tell him that you are? What would be the census then out of those 100 people (Luke 5:45 AMP)?

My son with an odd expression said to me one afternoon, "sometimes you can get bored." I asked, "with what?" He answered, "the relationship with God." After hearing and reading what other people say and do and then looking at my son being empathetic to wrong behavior, I stopped talking for a moment. I waited to hear what he had to say noticing that the strange look on his face didn't disappear. He stopped talking too and the silence bothered me. I asked, if told you to do 5 things in order for you to have everything that life has to offer - EVERYTHING ELSE, why be forlorn over those 5 things? It doesn't make sense to me. My son didn't answer. Give the tithe, keep yourself sexually pure, love your neighbor, think well of yourself, and pray are the 5 things to keep constant. No matter what, do these 5 things for the rest of your life - why would this be too boring to do if one was promised everything else?

When I was in my early 20's I worked at a steakhouse. My co-workers would go out every pay weekend and do whatever. They would return to work on Monday and talk about all they had done. Not one time did I ever wonder or ask if I could tag along because they seemed to be having so much fun and I wanted to have as good of a time. I laughed at their jokes and the antics they spoke of while they were out lounge hopping, clubbing, or whatever the flavor to do that week was. One pay Friday, I was asked to come along. I said, "no." I wasn't enticed. I just couldn't see what it was that they were considering to be the enjoyment that they believed I was missing out on. I saw what they looked like before the morning was over. I saw how they acted when they still had 6 hours to complete on their shift. Why would I want to do that to myself? After 2 pay weeks passed with them asking each time, I conceded for that evening after work. They were surprised as well as excited. Two of my co-workers were ready to take me shopping. They assumed that I didn't have the right attire for where they were going. What was decided upon to wear wasn't at all revealing and I was pleased that I could wear the outfit elsewhere.

It was late when I was picked up at my home. The three co-workers took me to a club outside the city limits. Why so far, I asked. I was told that they knew where the best clubs and lounges were. Fine. We went inside the first one. It was my first time. The lights were colorful. There were a few people at the bar. The music was extremely loud. We were seated at a table and my co-workers and I ordered drinks. Within minutes, I was bored and apparently so were they. The second one didn't look like a club from the outside. This one was closer to the city. When we went in, the lights were the same. The music was the same. The drinks were the same and if I am not mistaken, it looked like the same sort that was at the bar. Within 10 minutes of me sitting at a table, the bar tender came back and gave me another drink. He said the man on the other side of the club paid for it. Now I had two drinks and was suppose to signal to thank some strange man for giving me more drink then I needed. Ho-hum, I said to myself and looked as if my co-workers were saying the same thing. I believe we went to a third club and I still wasn't seeing the difference. It was about 3 hours in total when my co-workers packed it in and called it a night. They said it wasn't popping that night but tomorrow, it would be better. As much as I didn't wish to go, I had to prove to them as well as myself that I wasn't missing out on anything.

The very next night, my co-workers decided not to take the co-worker who happened to be a gay man with us. I suppose they thought that he was what knocked the buzz out of the evening. We went to a basement party first. It was dark, smokey, and a bunch of people I didn't know. The music was the same as the night before. The dancing was the same as the night before and if there was a bar, I do believe I would have recognized some of those people from the night before. We were there for an hour and then off to clubbing. Yay! This time we remained in the city. The first lounge had free bar-be-que ribs. Finally, a reason to go out to these clubs and they were good ribs too. We were even able to take some with us! There we were in the car en route to the next club eating our ribs. My co-worker was in the front with the driver. She was licking the sauce off of her lips and chin when a car pulled up next to us while on the freeway. The men in the car saw my co-worker licking her lips and misunderstood what she was doing. The chase was on. She didn't know what she had done and we were all pretty frantic on the freeway. When we lost them, calmed down, and told her to leave her food alone unless she knew how to eat right. I was so ready to go home, but wasn't the one driving. That was the second lesson for the night. While at the second place, I met someone. We exchanged phone numbers. The product of that exchange is a post all by itself. (I will link it here when I am finished with it.) At the third venue, we parked and stepped into the threshold of the lounge. The men were seated at the door. The moment we walked in they turned around and glared. We saw them grinning and salivating like hungry animals.  My co-workers and I didn't need to make a quick assessment of the place. We turned and left. Our fourth and final stop was close enough to my home that I could get a taxi but one of my co-workers met someone and left the venue to go in his car. I stayed for her safety. This place was dark. There were no colorful lights but the music was the same, the dances were the same, and the same sort of folk were draped at the bar. Every once in awhile we would go back out in the parking lot to see if she was still there and if she was alright. After about an hour or so, we called it a night...or a morning.

I didn't realize until I got home that the sun was peeking over the horizon. I looked at my watch and had just enough time to wash up, change clothes, and go to work. I was never so exhausted in my whole life. I had an 8 hour shift to complete that I knew of. If someone wasn't going to show up, it could have been longer. When I got to work, the co-workers I went out with were already there. They looked like they always do at any given day of the week. I felt horrid. They smiled at me as if we three had a secret that no one else knew about. I belonged? The co-worker that met someone and went to his car, told me that they hooked up. (believe me, something altogether different to write about in the singles blog) The two of them told the gay man that went out with us previously what we did last night. He started to smile too. I didn't know what that meant. Did they think I had the bug and would start asking them if I could go out with them more often? Did they think they turned me out? That was one weekend and no others came after that - not with me anyway. They actually made my point. I could have done a number of things that was more interesting, more profitable, and much more to my benefit in the long scheme of things then schlepping all over town to meet men I would have not normally met (or desire to have met) anywhere else. I never laughed along with them as they reminisced over the time they described as "fun". Were these the same people with me in the smoke filled basement party, or was it the scary lounge we didn't dare to enter because of the ratio of men to women? How bored does one get to describe events that just didn't happen?

When I told this to Christian acquaintances, I was surprised at their reaction, "you didn't go to the right clubs. There are some joints that are live all night long." Really? I thought. Clubs that had better music, more interesting dances then the ones I witnessed? The clubs they were referring to had livelier people at the bar that can hold a half way decent conversation and attractive without being drunk? Huh, why didn't my co-workers know about these clubs? We went all over the city and outside city limits. It would seem we touched bases with anything that was supposedly "popping". I couldn't imagine being more bored then I was that night. At one point, while my co-workers were trying to figure out which club to go to next, I was asleep in the back seat. They had to scream my name to wake me up. You can't be more bored then that!

A pastor asked for the congregation to get up and make a joyful noise (Psalm 95:1-2 AMP). A noise was made but I guess it wasn't sufficient for him. So he used the reference as to when we went to the clubs we made a joyful noise then. When we were at the ball games, we rejoiced then. When we use to drink and party hard, we made a joyful noise then. Why can't we make a joyful noise for the Lord now? It reminded me of my excursion with those co-workers. What was this pastor talking about? One has nothing to do with the other. My joyful noise is because of what my God has done, will do, and what is still to come. I rejoice because He loves me and answers my prayers. I rejoice because how He has revealed Himself to me and I have that relationship with Him through my Lord and Savior. Jesus gave me a life I could have never received without Him. In the club, I don't know what they're screaming about.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Russian Roulette

"We all make mistakes" has become a catch-phrase for everything done wrong to someone else that has been confronted. It is a phrase I have grown tired of hearing. It cannot be the excuse for everything a person ... a believer does when caught in a compromising position and he/she doesn't wish to apologize. Did you know there are those in Christ that never simply ask for forgiveness? How can that person be in Christ? It is the beginning of salvation. Salvation doesn't exist for the individual without asking for forgiveness first (Matthew 6:15 AMP). Saying, we all make mistakes is not an apology, it doesn't show remorse, and in a nutshell...its kind of arrogant.

This blog initially was created for the more mature Christian that seems to have done all that has been asked of him/her and is dissatisfied with the results. He/she then asks, "is this all there is?" Thinking that God was supposed to give them all that is asked on a platter with little to no effort on their part (2 Thessalonians 3:10, James 2:14-18 AMP) . To summarize, it is to show all who believe we have arrived in God, how much more growing we still have to do. What made me think I was qualified to write such a blog and continue to do so? Arrogance? Huh, as hard as that maybe for me to swallow, I think so. I had to ask forgiveness for that but still I keep the mission statement up because we have all been there. There is also another generation growing up and the direction I have seen some going isn't a place they need to be in.

Pastors and ministers of yester-year are going home to be with the Lord. Who is left teaching the next
generation have made some changes in their style of ministering God's word. The new pastor didn't wish to be known as one who is now walking in the shoes of the pastor that has transitioned. He desires to make his own mark. But was that what God told him to do or were these his own thoughts of fame and glory? It comes out in the preaching (Proverbs 18:20 AMP). A man with the ideas of doing what is on God's heart will have a prosperous ministry (Proverbs 13:2 AMP). He will draw more souls to Christ rather than trying to audition for a television pilot. This minister will see the direction the people are headed and avert them back to the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14 AMP). This is what the pastor of sheep do....feed and watch over the flock. So what happens when the sheep aren't being watched over (Matthew 9:36 AMP)? What happens to sheep that are hungry? Shall we see this from a natural perspective and then bring the analogy where its supposed to be?

According to farmers of sheep, they know that sheep feel protected when they are in groups of 5 or more. Sheep are highly stressed when separated from their pack. Rams or mature male sheep can lead a flock if there is no shepherd doing his job. Rams are very aggressive. If petted on the head, the ram will see this as an act of assertion and will react to it. There is an article about a ram leading a flock of sheep into a ravine. Because it is the nature of sheep to follow; 1500 sheep were jumped that day. No shepherd was around. Is it necessary to put this in terms of what can happen to a congregation if not taught well?

I have been to the ravines and was practically dancing on the edge of it along with others. If it wasn't for the Lord, I could be a statistic right now. Was the placement of my own doing? Definitely. Would I have been there had I not been told/taught to be there? Definitely not? Understand, I have the responsibility to read the Word for myself. I cannot count on men, ministers, or pastors to do that for me. I don't know what they have been through or going through. I don't know if they prayed that week or studied or if he is angry with the Lord for not doing what he desired. It is why the congregants have the responsibility to pray for their pastors. Responsibility is a big word for children. It is why sons of God are expected to accept the task and move onto promotion.

In Russian Roulette, sinners take a gun and place a bullet in the chamber. The chamber is then spun before closed. Each person takes the gun, places the barrel on his/her temple and then pulls the trigger. If the person gets a click rather then the blast of the bullet, the gun is passed to the next person. As each one lives to pass the gun, the odds for the next person gets worse and worse. The barrel continues to move with each click. It isn't spun again. Those that have decided to participate in such foolishness have essentially chosen death. In Christ, does this happen within the church and if so, how?

As I have written in this blog over and over again, when we know better therefore, we do better. God has not changed. He is the same God that told Jonah to go and preach at Nineva and when he didn't wish to, he got swallowed up by the whale (Jonah 3:2 AMP). He is the same God that allowed Sampson because his anger caused him to be rebellious. (Judges 15:1-4 AMP). He is the same God that caused Samuel to choose Saul as king, direct Saul what to do and not to do; but when Saul was disobedient, He told him that he would lose his reign (1 Samuel 13:1-14 AMP). There are more accounts of God doing what He said He would do if we choose not to be obedient; especially when we have chosen life. We are His children. He is a good Father. He will not tolerate acts unbecoming of righteousness.

So why play the foolish game of Russian Roulette? Why dance on the side of death when God has provided all you need? All you are required to do is ask. When you don't ask, its as if you began spinning the barrel of the gun. Why smoke when you know it will cause physical illness?Another day passes and the Lord hasn't returned yet (click). Why drink strong drink when He has told you to stay away from it? Another day passes and the Lord hasn't returned yet (click). Why have sex with whomever when the Lord said to flee fornication? Another day passes and  the Lord hasn't returned yet (click). Why teach a message that didn't come from the Word when you are angry because you didn't get what you wanted? Another day passes and the Lord hasn't returned yet (click). Why treat another believer with disdain because you think he/she is more blessed then you? Another day passes and the Lord hasn't returned yet (click). Why choose to live any sort of way thinking this isn't the day of the Lord's return anyway? The day is coming. Not knowing when isn't the excitement you think if you are caught on the wrong side. Its His grace and mercy that has allowed for the clicks instead of the final bang; however, remember that God is not mocked. In that day when you see Him, He will have a question for you. When He asks you why, saying, "we all make mistakes" just won't cut it. BANG!