Tag Archives: Christian

Flawed Christian, Pt. 2

This is part 2 of “Flawed Christian” and I would like to expound on what I meant in part 1. I said I was flawed and that is just what I meant. I am not perfect (I already said that) and I do not meet the standard Jesus set to be perfect as the Father in Heaven is. How am I not? Consider how you and I are created, we are tripartite beings, body, mind and spirit. Maybe you want to say body, soul and spirit, to me that is minor. We are three part beings.
First we are body, flesh, organic, we bleed and we sweat, we physically feel pain and pleasure. That is body. It is physical and it is what some people think is all we are. Further we all decay and eventually die. No getting around that except for one possible exception. A concept in Christianity is stated born once die twice. Born twice, die once meaning that once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we only die physically but we will live forever with God. I am not going to debate that concept here as it is not part of this story.
The only possible exception is Lazarus. Jesus raised him from the dead. It is written there that Lazarus was good and dead and ripe for several days when Jesus raised him. So, if Lazarus died then he died the death we all face and Jesus brought him back from the dead to live again. So did Lazarus die a second time? Now that is an interesting question to me. Could it be that in Israel right now is a little old 2,000 year old man who has a very bad attitude because Jesus brought him back from the dead and now he has to wait on Jesus coming back again. I know I would not be a happy camper. That is just some food for thought for the theological types.
I am 63 years old and not getting any younger. My body is physically decaying and beginning to break down. Is that a sin? No, that is the normal process of life. If the super Christian crowd prays for me to be healed what would it look like? Would it be the body of a young, healthy male or would it be the current state I am in being more comfortable and better able to perform normal routine activities? My point for this post is that I am flawed. I can no longer do many of the things I once could. Flawed is normal and I don’t have to try and be something I am not. Last summer I tried something I can no longer do. I was at the big city pool doing my water exercises and was watching kids jumping off the diving board with another lady who was doing the same thing as I was. She says that looks like fun, I think I will try it and she did. Nice dive lady. So I thought I would also and got up there on the board. Tested the board out for spring and distance of the steps with no problem. Planned on doing a simple jackknife and started to go up on one leg when the leg I went up on said “no you don’t.” I collapsed under me and I went off the board at a 45 degree angle on my shoulder in a complete belly flop that I sure was amazing to watch. No more going off the board for me.
We are mind, we have a brain (yes that is part of the body) that contains our learning ability. By this age mine should be chock full of knowledge and to an extent it is. 63 years of history and study and all kinds of stuff in there. Do you know the name of Dudley Do-right’s horse? I have that piece of wonderful knowledge stored away. But here comes a major factor in being a flawed Christian. The mind is where choices come in and quite often I choose that which is not pleasing to God and which He calls sin. I am flawed by my being weak in will and the choices I make. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul says that he does the things he does not want to do and does not do the things he should do. The great apostle Paul is saying he too is flawed. Puts us in good company I suppose.
How does Paul answer this dilemma? The answer is actually easy; the accepting of it is the hard part. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul goes on and says: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then in Romans, chapter 8, Paul ices the cake saying: “God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”
This is Christmas folks, the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, God made man. God came down from heaven and became flesh and blood, just like you and me, an baby infant, helpless and totally dependent on his mother to bring him into the world. Further, God came down in the lowliest of places to the most humble of people, poor and in a distant land from home, alone.
Yet they were not alone by a long shot. Who did God send to bear witness of this miracle? Shepherds that is who. Guys working the graveyard shift minding their own business, nice quiet evening out looking at the stars and making small talk about the local camel races. And lo, an angel appeared to them and the glory of God shone all around them! Hey, I am awake, okay. Fear not, for I bring tidings of great joy. Go down and look for the son of King David (really dropping names here) born this day. Oh, and by the way you will find him in the stable, in a manger, a feed trough if you will. What, the son of the great king David in a stable, in a manger, for shame, for shame. But that is how God comes to you and to me, humbly, poor, not lifting Himself up. He comes as a babe, helpless, willing to just “be” himself, no being anything special. That is our King, willing to serve.
Therein lies the key, are we willing to just be a servant, nothing special? That is all Jesus asks of us. Will you and I give Him our flawed selves this Christmas and allow Him to use us as He sees fit. I know I am not worthy, that I am flawed and am a sinner of the highest order (there is actually only one order of sinner and that is chief) yet God still chooses to occasionally work through me.
I hope and pray our new priest (Rev, Dr.) is a shepherd who is will to be approached by angels who come proclaiming good news and I hope he knows where the best grass is for his sheep because I am needy. This Christmas, his first with us, I hope and pray he leads us to lift our voices and hands to worship the coming of the King, son of God and son of Man. All I can say is Baaahhhh! Merry Christmas.

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Flawed Christian

I am a flawed Christian.  There I said and it is off my chest.  In Matthew 5:48 Jesus Himself says “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  I am definitely not what Jesus says I am to be, and I know it all too well.  Surprise, neither are you so don’t try and pretend you aren’t.

This morning I had a revelation and it went like this. Last night I stayed up way too late, my digestive system was rumbling, did not sleep well and the alarm keeps annoying me to get up and go to church.  So I kept hitting snooze until I was just too uncomfortable to stay in bed.  During the time of snoozing my mind was not fully cognizant so deeper thoughts were able to come forth, hence the revelation.  I was thinking about our new priest (I am an Episcopalian) who is a Rev. Dr. and we all know that a PhD means “piled higher and deeper.”  But he is called to be the shepherd of our church, the flock, and we are called to be his sheep.  Then I began reciting Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makest (I love King Jimmy) me lie down in green pastures…”  I have been taught that in olden days if a shepherd has a sheep that continues to stray he will actually break the sheep’s legs to get it to lie down and learn not to stray.

It is the shepherd’s job to lead the sheep to green grass and protect them from wolves.  Lord knows the world today is full of wolves.  Over the years, however, I have learned that the priests and preachers, the myriad of teachers, evangelists, and all of the theological types are also just like me, flawed, imperfect.  The problem comes in when they try to act perfect and they preach and teach like they are perfect and that we should be like them and act the part.  It does not work.  We are all flawed and imperfect and we are all dying, some faster than others.

So much of the Christian world today puts on a front and wants to have all the answers to being perfect and doing things right.  If you brush your teeth with Pepsodent your will have white teeth, if you use Dove soap you will have clean and smooth skin.  If you drive some car in some specific color you will be an in person, and so forth and so on.  It does not work.

In the modern Christian church if you pray a certain way you can have an inside line to God and your prayers will be answered the way you want.  If you follow certain teachings then you will be living the “good” Christian life and will be counted as righteous.  And oh yes, if you give so much of your money God will rain down even more money.  It is a guaranteed rate of return.  Furthermore, you should not hurt or feel pain, that is very unChristlike.

When we are born we begin the journey to death and we begin to decay and fall apart.  Yes, at a young age we are still on the uphill but at some point the journey starts going downhill.  Maybe very slowly and maybe the journey is very quick.  Maybe the monster named cancer will strike or any of a number of other unnatural diseases and ailments.  Perhaps an accident, tragedy or your life will be taken in a senseless crime of murder.  That has been happening a lot lately.  Just watch the evening news but don’t try and keep score as it is scary and depressing.

So back to our new Episcopal priest and how he plays into this revelation I had.  What I realized is that Episcopal priests, more than any other minsters or theologians I am aware of know that they are also flawed and imperfect.  And that is of great benefit to them.  They know there are no simple answers, nothing pat to offer.  Instead they can just “be” with their sheep.  They can tend them, love them, and wash their wounds.  That, I think, is what Jesus would do and what He does do.  That is honest ministry and that is what people need to draw them closer to the Lord.

God Himself does not offer us answers except to offer us Himself.  He offered Himself so deeply that He came down from heaven as a man, a man just like you and me (I use the term man in the third person meaning man and woman).  This week we celebrate His coming, God Himself coming, as a newborn babe, totally innocent and helpless, meek and mild, borne of a woman into a harsh world.  Jesus came to be born in a stable; sorry the hotel/motel is full go away, to show us God Himself in all of His glory.  The glory Jesus revealed first came to shepherd’s, men like our new priest, people just doing a job who took the time away to go and behold Him, the Promised One.

Merry Christmas to all.  Blessings in Jesus name.

Do you like Ice Cream?

Since I want this blog to deal with things of deeper meaning and value I probably should go ahead and ask a profoundly deep philosophical question. Do you like ice cream? If so, what is your favorite flavor? Vanilla, chocolate (milk, or dark chocolate), strawberry, peach, spumoni, along with a plethora of other flavors are available to choose from. But which flavor is real ice cream? Well, let me answer the question for you right off the bat. I am from Texas and down here we have Blue Bell ice cream from the little dairy in Brenham whose signature ice cream flavor is homemade vanilla. That people is real ice cream and is what all others aspire to achieve.

In March of this year I attended the NCECA Ceramics conference in Houston. It is a premier national ceramics conference. One of the panel discussions related to cone 6 glazes. Now, without getting technical, firing at cone 10 (cone 10 is fired much hotter than cone 6) has been considered a defacto standard for a lot of work. This panel was composed for 4 highly acclaimed names in the ceramics world including Steven Hill, from Missouri, and John Britt who lives in North Carolina and who has published a well-regarded book on cone 10 glazes. The panel was talking about how it doesn’t matter what temperature a ceramic piece is fired, what is important is the final piece. So John put up a slide showing various ice cream containers and told the story of how a well renowned cooking magazine did a taste test on ice cream to determine the best flavor. Well in the taste test the cheapo house brand that every store chain sells beat out all the expensive, fancy names. Being from Texas, and being unable to resist cheap jokes, during the question and answer portion I raised my hand and very seriously addressed John Britt, “John, have you ever tried Blue Bell ice cream?” The entire auditorium erupted in laughter and John replied that he had not. I submit that John Britt, nor the other panel members from their laughter, had not eaten what I consider to be real ice cream. I am thinking about sending him a couple of half gallons.

“In accordance with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the Food and Drug Administration enforces a set of standards which regulate the labeling of food products. Ice cream is defined as a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, containing at least 10% milkfat.” There you have it, there is a federal law that defines what ice cream is but can we trust our federal government? Have they ever tried Blue Bell ice cream? I know my congressmen have along with President’s Johnson (Lyndon, not Andrew) and Bush and Bush. Are we in a philosophical mood yet? Let’s get this show on the road.

Just like I asked if you like ice cream let me ask you if you are a Christian. Oh-Oh! But what flavor of Christian are you? Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry; which flavor is the real Christian? Just like ice cream has a definition let’s look at some of what people say.
1. Shorter Oxford English dictionary: A member of the religion of Christ; an adherent of Christianity. b A member of a particular sect using this name.
2. 1828 Webster’s dictionary: 1. A believer in the religion of Christ. 2. A real disciple of Christ; one who believes in the truth of the Christian religion, and studies to follow the example, and obey the precepts, of Christ; a believer in Christ who is characterized by real piety.
3. A follower of Jesus Christ is a definition I have heard for many years.

What is the “milkfat” of being a Christian? Remember that milkfat is what makes ice cream ice cream. It is the cross of Christ, Christ Jesus, crucified, dead and buried. The Episcopal Church, my current flavor of Christianity, loves creeds and has lots of them. But contained in the Holy Eucharist service is found three little lines that I lift my voice when I say them. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Those three lines sum up the gospel for me.

But I think that defining being a Christian needs more. It is the cross of Christ, of His death, His dying for each man, woman and child of humanity. We are a people condemned to death in the Garden of Eden, forever bound and chained. Yet God in His mercy sent His Son to die in our place, to redeem us and set us free from the death that is in each of our lives.

For us to appropriate this salvation we have to accept Christ death for our own and that means we have to take up the cross and walk with it. A. W. Tozer says this about the cross: “The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.” That is harsh, very harsh. We are called to sacrifice and give our lives to our Lord, to live no more for ourselves. But, but, but….

Look at what the apostle Paul says. 1 Corinthians 1:18-19: For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:17-19: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void. For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-3: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Being a Christian is at once the epitome of simplicity, utterly and purely. God does the work, God has done the work. The work is finished; it was finished by Christ Jesus on the cross. The price was paid for you, for me, the bonds were broken for all eternity and it was all laid bare and exposed. Take, eat, live; Christ presents you with life, true, whole and pure. Say yes, Lord, yes, come into my life as Lord and Savior. I believe and receive. There, was that so hard, so difficult.

But now comes the hard part; how to walk this new life. If you have been going through life blind, deaf and dumb how does one walk, talk and hear all that life is? If I have accepted the Lord I am required, nay, I am compelled to take up my cross as I go forth and I am compelled to share this new life that I have received to share with everyone I meet and come in contact with the good news that you too can have life, you can be saved from certain death.

Now about flavors. Do you as a Christian call yourself Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, non-denominational, or any of the too many to number flavors of Christianity? Do you venerate the Pope as being the head of the church, or is it that you have to be baptized by immersion or filled with the Holy Ghost and speak with tongues or any of the multitudes of church requirements? What is it that your church, your flavor of Christianity requires for you to wear the badge and mark of calling yourself a Christian?

I put forth that I don’t care what church you worship in or what beliefs your church holds and espouses. I really don’t as long as you worship and lift up the Lord Jesus Christ crucified for you and for me; the Lord who will return and claim us all as His bride. I accepted Jesus into my life in an Assembly of God church and was married in an Episcopal church. At our wedding an Anglican priest presided, a Catholic minister sang, a Baptist friend sang and the best man was non-denominational. I have no idea who all attended because I was the groom and was caught up with getting married. We gathered and rejoiced in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the great wedding feast.

I pray that each time you enjoy a bowl of ice cream that you will consider that you are part of something much greater. Know that as you partake of your bowl that you are partaking with millions the world over. Rejoice with them for ice cream and do not worry about the flavor they choose. Rejoice in the “milkfat” of the cross of Jesus Christ and Him died for you. I pray that you go to the church of your flavor and that you remember all the ice cream in the world that has the same “milkfat” of being Christian and that you worship in spirit and in truth. The truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Blessings.