Am I A Rat?

When you suffer from Crohns disease you enjoy moments of getting acquainted with people in the bathrooms.  There are people who sing in the bathrooms.  There are people who stare at themselves in the mirror to fix their all ready perfect hair.  There are people who leave their Bibles in the stalls.  People with Crohns get to know the bathrooms very well.  Although, I have to admit I am blessed when it comes to Crohns.  The variation of its effects is different from person to person.  The effects of certain food and drink differ from person to person, too.  My Crohns is fairly easy to deal with most of the time, but for the past few weeks, it has been bad off and on. 

That said, we sat in the second row from the back on the end of the pew near the side door (where the bathrooms are located) in church today.  A friend walked by and said to us with a big grin, “So you’re sitting in the backsliders row, huh?” He continued on down towards the front of the church.  I wore jeans, a nice shirt, and I had a feeling the stubborn tendrils of hair on the back of my head were probably sticking up like miniature anteneas.  Sitting in the back row allows me to people watch unobtrusively. 

A woman wobbles slowly down the aisle.  She always wears a frown and a disinterested look on her face.  I remember her name and say a little prayer for her well being.  A few people tarry to say hello to us, but for the most part we are left to ourselves.  This is a good thing today.  When Crohns acts up I am not in the mood for lengthy conversations.  I watch as people shuffle down the aisles and grab a seat.  I notice a familiar face go to a certain row.  The people rise to allow the person to get to their seat.  They almost look uncertain or annoyed a bit, but a smile soon explodes on their faces.  Another face walks to her usual seat, but greets and converses with someone in the next pew.  It takes her a few minutes to sit down.  For the most part, people are finding their seats and planting themselves in them.  They do not move again until service is done. 

Today’s sermon was about, “Confronting The Christian Rat Race.”  Ben Joseph is an effective speaker and he echoed what has been on my heart for the past month.  In this culture, Christianity is/was cool.  We have great music, great books, and an effective ministry to bring the Good News to the youth in our community.  You might say other churches are just as effective, but how much of Jesus’ message is lost in our Christian culture?  How many times have you thrown out what you don’t agree with in the Bible and eagerly read the nicer scriptures? 

Christianity has become a tug of war of souls.  Good verses evil; false doctrine; people pleasers; and churches trying to meld Christianity with culture.  My favorite author is Grace Livingston Hill.  She never compromised doctrine just to sell a book.  The Shack author did compromise doctrine.  Instead, he tried to sell Jesus.  This brings up my pet peeve.  If you are going to save souls with your gift of writing, do it responsibly.  Never compromise the Word of God. 

As I am listening to the sermon, I feel myself nodding my head and examining my own motivations.  Do you do this?  Or do you hear yourself saying, “Oh, I know who needs to hear this sermon!”  Do you pick up copies of the sermon to give to friends whom you feel require improvement?  Or do you give them a copy of the sermon because they are lost souls or in dire need of encouragement?  I cannot tell you how many times I thought of people who needed to hear a sermon.  I cannot tell you how many times I looked at people through the eyes of judgment rather than God’s eyeglasses.  The service is letting out and Tony and I are making our way through the crowds.  The sermon, like the aftertaste of a great dish, lingers on my heart.  Be all things to all people, says Scripture, but this does not mean to compromise your values or good judgment.  Amen, Ben Joseph!  Amen!

Homework:

 

  • Look up in your Bible all the verses in the New Testament which apply to today’s devotion.  If you really want a challenge, find all the verses in the Old Testament that fortell Jesus’ coming. 

Application: 

  • Examine your motivations every day.  A guest speaker once said he was addicted to ministry.  Keep yourself accountable in every way, both on the outside and on the inside.  It also helps to have an accountability partner to make sure your intentions are true and honest. 
  • We get cute videos and email forwards proclaiming Jesus.  We are often seen with our cross necklaces and our shirts, but does our walk reflect our inner spirit?  Are we just as profound on the inside as we seem to be on the outside? 
  • Once upon a time I was asked to run a singles ministry.  I ran it with enthuasiasm and plenty of heart, but no one inquired on my Salvation.  I thought I was saved, but I did not understand the jargon, “born again,” or why someone remembered the very date of their Salvation.  Several years later, Tony and I were baptized together.  We were born again in November, 2002.  Both of us went to church, but neither of us were saved until that very moment. 
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Intimacy

DCP_0036“Some friends wish to go hunting up here.  Do you think you could take them?”  My step-father’s face is like a little boy.  My heart breaks.  He does not know what he is asking of me.  Hunting with my husband, Tony is the most intimate part of our marriage.  For some people, intimacy is a restaurant and a movie, or perhaps holding hands in the park under a full moon.  Intimacy is just the two of us in the remote wilderness enjoying the fullness of creation in the presence of God.  To honor my step-father, I agree to bring these two people hunting.  It was a disastrous weekend. 

One of the reasons I abhor bringing people hunting with us is their attitude.  Right away I feel as if they do not want me around.  There are three men, including my husband, and they all carry bows.  Each of them has a bow hunting tag for antlered deer; three men and one deer.  My mind pictures disaster.  Rule #1:  Do not go hunting with people you do not know.  It is a hunting disaster waiting to happen especially since people outnumber animals in our area.  Rule #2:  Pack in your food and stay from dawn until dusk.  Rule #3:  Save the beer for evening when the hunt is done.  Alcohol and weapons do not mix.  Rule #4:  Never ask another hunter where their hunting grounds are located.  It’s an unspoken rule.  A hunter’s spot is sacred. 

We had an unsuccessful hunt with all of the walking around and the breaks for lunch.  On the last day with my step-father’s friends, Tony and I found a quiet spot in a valley.  Cutting across the valley is a frozen creek.  Several inches of snow blanket the ground.  Not even the wind stirs.  The two strangers trample past us and keep going.  An hour or two later they return and ask if we are accompanying them to the cars.  We shake our heads and say our goodbyes with some relief and spend the rest of the day experiencing the beauty of the wilds.  We did not find any deer, but we found peace in sitting quietly and a strong feeling of the presence of God. 

Everyone experiences intimacy in their marriage.  It is different for everyone.  Tony and I adore the outdoors.  We respect its wild power and its untamed landscapes.  We have watched as a coyote trots along the fence across a wide valley, a lynx running as fast as lightening across the wide open plains, twenty deer climbing a hillside or trampling through the creeks, as well as experiencing the thrill and fear of escaping a bolt of lightening.  All of this brings us in close communion with the living God and strengthens our marriage.  Tony has always made me feel smart, strong, and capable.  When I lift a rifle to make a shot, I have a confidence I often lacked in prior years.  When I shot my first kill, I cannot tell you the thrill at getting it with one clean shot at 60 yards.  The outdoors is something to respect.  Don’t take it for granted and don’t take your marriage for granted.  It takes three for a marriage—Jesus, your spouse, and you. 

 Life Applications: 

  •  Do something today with your spouse that you both enjoy and refrain from bringing up anything negative.  Just enjoy each others company. 
  •  Search out intimacy with your spouse and be impulsive.  Without intimacy, a marriage will suffer. 
  • Are you putting Jesus first in your marriage? 

www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com

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