Wednesday, April 22, 2009
DOING WHAT YOU'RE TOLD
When I was called to preach the Gospel and give my life to the service of His Church, many things went through my mind. I wanted to attend Moody Bible Institute but after two attempts I failed to gain entry. So my Pastor at that time, Dr. Phil Barnhart, took me under his wing and started a Homiletics class for me. We met often and the class was heavy on Bible study and book reading. I took this class seriously and was given many opportunities to preach once I had the skills honed enough.
But a thought began to enter my mind as I progressed. I am sure it must enter every students mind as they enter the study of Theology. In a world so occupied by liberal thinking and infused with progressive thought, can I trust my teacher to instruct me in the ways of God? Because indeed a students learning process is defined by who’s feet you sit at. Very often, a student’s instruction comes from one or two professors that mold the student into what he will be.
The first thing a person who is called to preach must do, is turn over their life to God. To relinquish that sovereign power we have on our self. A movement from non-being into being. The acknowledgment that God created me for a purpose, and he infused the spirit in me in my Mother’s womb to fulfill that purpose. To surrender all to Him, for His task, can be as difficult as it is gratifying. But it is also necessary, to become a God fearing and spirit filled preacher of His word. For if we fail to practice what is preached, we slip into hypocritical loss of authority and implausibility.
The cardinal mistake most people called to preach make is we look at life and we look at people and we look at the baby and we look at the Bible and we look at ourselves and we never ever look through them. It’s like having a telescope in your home. You gaze at it in all it’s wonderfulness and the shape and all the mirrors and fittings and we say, “Oh my! What a marvelous thing! What is it?” But only when you bend down, look through the lens and you see the craters on the moon and the rings of Saturn and the beauty of a nebula, are you able to understand and appreciate it’s existence. In order for life to have value, you must go through it. It’s the journey, not the destination. This takes discipline. Discipline not only to understand, but sometimes to go back and objectively read the scriptures again and see them in new and fascinating way we may have missed the first time. To remember events in our lives and look at them from 20 / 20 hindsight.
This is where my conservative nature is derived. And it is why I believe liberalism should be labeled for what it is: A religion. And it should be labeled such because it is faith based, albeit foundationless. It should be removed from schools because it is a religion. If I be called “old school” then thank God. Because where the new schools are going I have no interest to follow, for they base their values and vision on feelings. Feelings are not based on any moral ground. They come from inside you, not the word of God. Teaching and instruction and knowledge apart from God, goes against life it’s self for there would be no life without God. Liberals and their ideas sound oh so good at the time and they seem to mean well. But meaning well is never enough. And when the promise made at the beginning is nowhere in sight at the end, it has the appearance of the devil, who’s empty promises pave the road to damnation.
Conservatives base their ideas by not simply looking at today and looking at tomorrow, but always taking a look back to see if this has been tried before: To glimpse if an idea is relevant and good and worthy of effort. Or if we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past by a lack of understanding where we come from, and how we got here.
Where we are, is not where we aspire to be. If you fold the cards you’re dealt, you do not know how to make the best of what has been handed you. Nor do you have the desire to see it through and to realize the potential of life. Peter had nothing. But he stepped out of the boat and walked on the water. When he took his eyes off the Master, he began to sink. What a metaphor for life that anecdote is.
Those who have to tell you they are Christians usually are not. They may be saved, but their walk is frail. As the song goes, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”. Actions are what make a Christian authentic. It’s what we do that makes what we say significant and noteworthy. And when what we say comes from the mind of God and His word, we truly are doing, and not feeling.
How man perceives us is not how we are perceived by God. God sees us through eyes of grace, repentance, and love that can only come from the creator of life. Man cannot come close to this.
I was called to be a foster parent about a decade ago and took up the task for the sake of the children I was watching get hurt by abuse. I came face to face with this week with one persons perception of what I did. This has now caused me such great pain, I questioned my own faith and my own life as God’s servant.
A while ago, I was reading a paper that comes to every residence and business in Walworth County. I hardly ever read this paper for it is mostly advertising and fluff. But for some odd reason I was paging through it and I came upon an article that caught my attention. It was a story about a child’s long dark journey through the foster care system in our county. I had been a foster parent for many years so I glanced at the article. The girls name was altered to protect her identity. But by the fifth paragraph I was taken back by what I was reading. The story was too familiar. And I only had to read 10 more words to realize my fear. This was my foster child. The way she described her stay with us made me shutter. She claimed that she was scared to eat our food for fear we would scold or punish her. She claimed she felt alone even though we had another foster girl of similar age staying there at that time. She described a place I could not distinguish by her recollection. Was this the same girl? Was this how we treated her? Did I do this?
I will not go into details here about how dreadful she made her stay with me look. Suffice to say I was stunned and upset. Her descriptions bore no resemblance to my memory. I sat down at my desk, and emailed the editor. This foster child’s story had not been corroborated or challenged and I was appalled at its inaccuracy. I called the paper and asked to speak to the author but was not given the chance. The editor told me it was not his job to investigate the child’s accusations, just to print them. I asked the editor if the child had mentioned that I took her in to protect her from her abusive parents? Did she say she was given a bedroom and a bed and chest of drawers and desk to study at? Did she tell you we took her shopping the next day for clothes and anything she might need to make her stay pleasant? Did she say she was welcomed with open arms? Did she tell you she went to Church every week and was taught by me in Sunday school? Did she tell you she had the best birthdays and Christmas’s of her life at my home? Because that is what she told me at the time. Did she tell you how in the summer of 1999 we spent nearly every day jet skiing on Lake Geneva and shopping for whatever she desired? Did she tell you that even after she left my home, I brought her gifts for her birthday and Christmas and offered to help her learn how to drive? “No” he said, “She did not tell us any of those things. We wanted to hear about what she went through in foster care. We may have only printed what was bad, but we were only interested in finding the truth about foster care”. I then called my daughter, who was there at the same time and was this foster child’s friend. I read her the article. She was stunned and amazed at this girl’s selective memory. “It was not like that at all Dad”, she said, “You were the one thing in my life I could depend on. And you were there for her too. It’s very extraordinary she would talk of us this way”. This young girls bizarre account was untrue, but the lies were printed and the public now stands ready to accuse me of the behavior she relates. My own daughter has had to come to my rescue to tell the truth this paper could care less about. They want to sell stories and products and sensationalize the liar and make a perpetrator of the falsely accused.
When people take liberty and publish the lies, the damage can be extensive. Tell a lie often enough, and it becomes reality in the minds of the unknowing and truth in the eyes of the blind. I learned a valuable lesson this week. Do God’s will and help those who need it. Just don’t expect any appreciation. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Not for what you’ll receive from the world. You will not ever get what you deserve from the world. Only God sees to it you are paid in full. The world makes you pay now. God pays at the end. Being called to spread the Gospel is not something you do to get rich. Your treasure is stored in heaven.