First, I want to thank my Kingdom Blogger friends for their thoughts and prayers. H1N1 is nasty. Luckily, my wife and girls have been vaccinated, but I still have been isolated for over a week. I've been fever-free for almost 48 hours, so I seem to be out of the woods. As Three Dog Night said...One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do...
I'm about to start a study on what Jesus actually says and does in the Bible, and I'm really looking forward to it. The study may take me in a completely different direction once I start...or maybe even several...but I feel drawn to do this. As a Christian, I believe such knowledge is vital as framework for anything I say or write. Yes, I've heard and read the story of Jesus most all of my life. From Sunday School classes and Bible School through classes and sermons today, I've been saturated with most aspects of Christ's life. My goal is to get back to the very foundation of what I believe and wish to live from the very words of Jesus Himself.
Sharing Christ is an awesome responsibility and privilege. For some people, sharing the faith is as natural as breathing. Others have a more difficult time because sharing anything, even Jesus, just doesn't come natural. My process has evolved over time and now reflects both a little of me and a lot of refinement. By nature, I'm a debater and have become quite convincing with years of practice. I'm often accused under my own roof of twisting a position around until it is virtually impossible to polarize and only leaves my own point of view as an option...although I take issue with that accusation.
Of course, that's not the most effective way to share Christ...along with beating a person over the head with an actual Bible as we say here in the South...so I've adopted a more WWJD demeanor. My most effective tools seem to be love and patience. Yes, it's still a work in progress.
A few years back, I was talking to a teenager who happened to be in a ton of trouble. I was trying to emphasis to him that what's done is done, and all that was left were the consequences. He was having a hard time wrapping around what I was trying to convey because he couldn't get past a feeling that he had ruined his life with his serious lapse of judgment...and dwelling on those consequences.
'I believe you will ultimately be looked at for where and how you go from here,' I told him. We finally got around to matters of faith, and he solidly stated he believed in God. 'Well, if you truly believe in God, then you have to follow Him also. He has a plan for each of us, and this may be your moment to shine for His glory,' I said with emphasis. He still didn't understand how his mistake would bring God glory, and I told him that he may never understand exactly how this side of Heaven. The most important part was being obedient from this point forward.
Explaining the number of mistakes I had made in my own life because my focus wasn't on God seemed to be the notes that finally resonated with my young friend. 'Had my focus been on God, most or all of those mistakes would never have occurred,' I explained. It was a great conversation, but I knew the seeds planted might take time to germinate.
When kids get in trouble these days, there is a new element Satan uses for his benefit...well, maybe not completely new but at least unknown to my generation or the one before me. Getting in trouble these days gives a kid 'street credit.' The bigger the foul up...the more credit you bank. What makes the crossroads even more confusing is the fact 'street credit' is somehow glamorized by the younger generation. It's as if you can't be good at being good...then being good at being bad is the next best thing. No, I don't understand it myself, but we definitely need to be aware of it.
I've been following up since with my young friend to make sure he doesn't try to use his thuggery as a jumping off point for bigger and badder things. We've talked about Saul/Paul and King David and how God used them despite their major faults for His purpose. Maybe his ongoing story will end as another awesome testimony on God's love and mercy. He deserves my persistence with this young man for His patience with me....well, and so much more.