Monday, June 22, 2015

Who Goes to Church on Wednesday, Anyway?

It's bizarre, you know, if you think about it.  I mean, sure, you know, and I know, that there are people that are attending church every time the door opens.  But, why?  Who is this person, or these people, that are attending church on this type of basis?  What could they possibly get from being there all the time?  Is it, if you will, that they feel more holy?  Do they think being there is simply what gets them closer to God?  

I have no idea what motivates every single person who does so to attend church on Wednesday night.  Going on a hunch, however, I'm going to say that they simply want to be closer to God.  They don't feel like they're any better than you or I, on average (save from the outlier(s) who do feel 'holier than thou').  We all know that lessons come from that with which we surround ourselves.  I think that people who attend church on Wednesday night are trying to make sure those lessons are coming from Him.  

I wish I had been there on Wednesday night.  I know it's crazy, but I wish I had been there.  I wasn't, I was in a private home where we basically held church.  Matthew 18:20 says, "Where two or three are gather in my name, there I am with them."  Although I was not in that church, I was at "church."  Ezekiel 22 verse 30, talks about standing in the gap.  "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."  This verse is about intercession.  It's about being the one to block the evil from that which is good.  As it relates to the story from which it came, God was going to have to destroy the land because there was no one to stand in the gap and save it from the overcoming evil.  The verse can also be a means for standing in the gap to protect the innocent from the harm that is in the world in which we currently live.  

When a tragedy happens like what happened in Charleston, SC last week, sometimes we let outside factors (such as media) decide what the issues are; like who we should blame, how mad we should be, and even what we have to do to stop it.  First of all, I'm not mad.  I'm sad.  I'm heartbroken.  It's painful to me that there is this kind of evil in the world.  I was very emotional yesterday, Father's Day, while sitting in church thinking about the mourning in South Carolina.  I don't even know who to blame for this.  I mean, I know who carried out the act, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was the only perpetrator.  I don't know who filled his mind with the kind of evil that made him commit mass murder.  Nor do I know what we should do to stop it.  News outlets have ideas of what to do but, I don't think they have the right answers.  More rules and regulations will not work.  Rules and regulations, whether we like it or not, will not stop evil.  I wonder if the young man who carried out this heinous act even knows about my Savior.  I bet not.  I can't guarantee that, but I bet not.  He may have attended church and heard people quote verses and seen people play out their own version of Christianity, but if he knew the Savior I know, he wouldn't have been able to carry out his plan.  

I was also overjoyed.  I know, that seems odd.  How could I be happy about anything involving tragedy?  As Wednesday night turned into Thursday, which turned into the weekend, families of victims began to speak out.  These are typically the kind of people who are angry and want vengeance.  They're usually too hurt to think about the consequences of the hate they might now carry in their own heart.  But these people of Charleston, South Carolina are special people.  Some of them attended the hearing of the young man who committed atrocities against their loved ones.  They were there, less than forty-eight hours later, to let him know that they have forgiven him.  

It's hard to know a person's motives.  You can't simply look at someone and see whether their outward appearance is similar to what is in their heart.  Having seen the temerity of the victims and their acquiescence of God's wishes by forgiving this young man, I think I can say that they know my Savior.  I wish I had been there that day.  I wish we could have been there to stand in the gap.  That's what brothers and sisters do for one another.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rejection Defined

Have you felt the effervescence that comes with acceptance?  Man, that's a good thing.  That feeling is difficult to duplicate.  Acceptance, as hard as it is to chase and find that feeling, I think it becomes even more elusive once you've felt rejection.  People in all situations deal with and reinvent what it means to be rejected.  For some, it's the scorn of a lost love --talk about pain.  There's something people are not readily seeking to replicate.  Some people come about rejection in ways that are less than normal.  I've seen the show The Wire a couple times.  My favorite character on that show is known as Bubbles (and I don't remember his character's real name, if it was even revealed).  Bubbles was a flawed individual in that he had a severe drug problem.  He struggled through the entirety of the 5 seasons.  In multiple instances the character could have taken a different path that might have lead to sobriety, but it wasn't to be.  On one occasion he was giving the police tips about specific drug dealers and they were returning the favor with ten or fifteen dollars, which is enough to get someone high.  Bubbles actually wanted them to help him, but they wanted him to support the cases they were building.  That's an odd, and life-threatening, type of rejection.  Another time Bubbles was trying to get clean and was staying in his sister's basement.  However, she would not let him climb the stairs because she didn't trust him to stay clean, so he had to stay in the basement and ultimately returned to the streets and the drugs.  (SPOILER ALERT: Bubbles gets clean.  Pretty sweet ending to his story.)  Bubbles' story is not completely unlike Josh Hamilton's story.  Josh's story is one that most people know.  Number one draft pick.  Drugs.  Jesus.  Baseball.  Home run derby.  All-Star.  Relapse.  "Quit."  Angels.  Relapse.  That pretty much sums it up.  Seriously.  Josh has been loved, that's for sure.  But he faces rejection, too.  Upon his return to Texas in an Angels uniform Josh faced a lot of rejection, which I wrote about here.  Josh's latest relapse would not be public information except that he gave himself to the mercy of MLB (and subsequently leaked to the media).  I thought the commissioner would reject Josh (and technically he did, but the MLBPA and an arbitrator disagreed), but he was allowed to resume playing with no penalty due to legal jargon.  Then came rejection I really didn't see coming.  Now, I don't love the Angels.  I don't root for the Angels, ever.  They are the second to last team I would ever root for (Cardinals are last --devil's advocates, you ask me).  The owner of the team, Arte Moreno, who just doesn't make good decisions, decided to take umbrage with the fact that an addict was attracted to and had a brief skirmish with a drug.  Maybe he doesn't understand how addiction works.  It's not something one recovers from.  It's a day to day, and for some, moment to moment work of concentration on doing the right thing.  It takes a lot for someone in Josh's shoes to keep his head straight.  Apparently Arte thought Josh left his addiction in his twenties (he's 33).  After two years with the team, the Angels decided to basically dump Josh.  Rejection.  It's gotta freakin' hurt.  You know?  I know people say things like, "He's famous and that comes with privileges that should be taken away and blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc."  Yeah, okay.  I prefer to care about people, even people I don't know on a personal level.  People's souls are what matters, and souls are personal and private things.  Hate and vitriol toward someone no matter how famous can hurt.  Hopefully Josh is fine.  Rumor is he was traded to a team in Texas.  I wish him well, really.  And that began before he was traded to Texas.  And before he signed with the Angels.  And before he left Texas.  And before he was traded to Texas the first time.  I'll move on.  This spewing of thoughts isn't about Josh.  It's about rejection.  I think the worst type of rejection is when person A wants to and thinks they're supporting Person B who, apparently, doesn't want your help.  The misconception by Person A is that Person B is doing something that is inherently wrong.  Person A thought they were doing something out of love.  Person B may not have wanted help.  Maybe Person A should have done nothing.

If you think you could be Person B* in a situation such as this, reassess.  There's a difference between nefarious acts and misinterpreted support.  These are not the same things.  Do not confuse them.  It's a painful thing to think you're supporting a dear friend only to find they didn't want your help and think you were trying to hurt them, then for them to reject you for exactly that.

*The original "Person B" will most likely never read this and, no, it's not my wonderful, supporting wife.

    • the spurning of a person's affections.
      "some people are reluctant to try it, because they fear rejection"

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.  1 Thessalonians 5:14