I had a friend for many years who was in public ministry (still is, I think) and one of the phrases that he said and wrote all the time at the end of his sermons or his many writing pieces was “you think about that.” It’s been a few years since we last communicated, but every now and then the memories of those years come back to me. He was funny and wise is a self-depreciating sort of way that I found to be quite endearing. His name was a very common one and I remember him saying that it was very pedestrian. I told him that he had taken a pedestrian name and made it uniquely his with his wit, wisdom, and personality. If you’ve ever met him, he’s hard to forget.
I remember when I first started writing this blog back in July 2010 that I had absolutely no idea where I was going with it or why I even started it. Mainly, I planned to use it as a way to express what it’s been like to go through this very long time of unemployment–which has now gone on for three years (and very soon will be entering the fourth). In the beginning it was sporadic and the posts loosely connected, but then it is a blog–and a blog can be anything one wants it to be. I just didn’t know what I wanted mine to be.
From July 2010 until April 2011 I wrote a number of posts, but I didn’t like the lack of a consistent theme and I was so frustrated by April 2011 at being unemployed for two years by that time that I just deleted all the posts I had written and was going to delete the blog altogether. However, in July 2011 I “resurrected” it and started it up again with two posts I had written in March 2011. From that point on it has taken on a life of it’s own.
For the past couple of weeks I haven’t felt like writing much after being rather prolific at writing over 65 posts in six months. And, I’ve been connecting with other bloggers on WordPress and recently decided to start reblogging some of their posts. After all, everybody has a story to tell and quite frankly I was getting tired of telling my own. And I’m still unemployed after all of this time which adds to the frustration. But as I’ve been looking over the posts I have written I realized one thing stood out about them. Many were regarding topics I had written to my friend over those 14 years that we communicated.
I feel a deep passion about what has happened to Christianity in America over the past few decades. An insidious decay has invaded the church and nobody seemed to be paying much attention. I often spoke of this to my friend and referred to it as “Americanized Christianity,” which is really no Christianity at all because it has become all about “us” and wanting God to meet our needs and wants. Or it was all about being consumed in Christian activities as if we were trying to earn our way to heaven. It was shallow, myopic, full of “self” and what we can get from God. It’s not that God doesn’t want to give us good things, but we’ve become consumed with what we can get from Him–His blessings–without carrying our own cross just as Jesus said in Luke 14:27. Without even realizing it, we’ve left Him in the dust, having a form of godliness but denying it’s power (2 Tim. 3:5).
How many people have left the Christian faith because they didn’t get what they wanted from God, or gave up because the waiting was taking too long? Or they didn’t want to give up their sins because they enjoyed them too much–even to the point of where they didn’t even consider it “sin” anymore (“addiction” has become the catch word and acceptable societal term in the past few decades). We’ve lost our way and become incredibly “lukewarm” in our worship of God. We worship ourselves instead at the expense of our relationships with others, and worst of all, with God. And it’s not very pretty what Jesus had to say to the angel messenger of the Church in Laodicea that found itself in a similar condition in Revelation 3:14-22:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Many Christians in America want everything God has promised but want nothing to do with “rebuke and discipline.” However, Jesus makes it clear that He does rebuke and discipline those who belong to Him and those whom He loves. This life is not about us, it’s about Him. And He said to “count the cost“ of being His disciple in Luke 14:25-33 before we decide to follow Him. Many of our churches today never even talk about the cost involved in following Jesus Christ. We want all the benefits without any cost.
And therein lies the problem . . . .
My intent in all of my blog posts has been to get people to start thinking about the way they live their lives, and, if they are Christian, what it really means to be a real follower of Jesus Christ. These posts are only my opinion. I’m far from perfect and I’ve included many examples of just where and how far I’ve fallen down in this journey of following after Jesus Christ, but I’ve never stopped, and I’ll keep stumbling and climbing in the right direction until I’m finally home. And I hope you will, too.
Sometimes I miss my communications with my old friend. I got a lot off my chest during those years when I knew him. I had a lot of pain (as we all do as we don’t get through life without a lot of pain) that I poured out to him (rightly or wrongly), but he never judged me, and he accepted all of my flaws. Never once did he condemn me for anything I said to him. And he was kind to me, and kindness–genuine kindness–is a very rare commodity nowadays. I miss his kindness most of all.
So, you, my readers, have been privy to some of the things I used to communicate with my friend by virtue of reading these blog posts. They have never been written in a spirit of anger or judgment, and if they have come off sounding like that, I apologize. My intent has always been in the hope of waking up a sleeping people–asleep in apathy, asleep in lukewarmness, asleep in putting so very many things in our lives–careers, materialism, money, greed, spiritual pride, sex, food (the list is endless) before Jesus Christ.
And you have my old friend to thank for that, too . . . .
And to my old friend, should you ever have a chance to read this, I wish you well and thank you for the many years of our friendship. I learned a lot from you, and you can read it in my writing. And, just in case you’ve forgotten, there was never anything even remotely pedestrian about you. Never . . . . And, thank you for your kindness to me. It has meant more than you can ever know.
And to the rest of you, never forget that no matter how far you’ve fallen, or how lukewarm you’ve become, you can always run back to Jesus.
Always . . . .
“You think about that . . .”
YouTube Video: “Auld Lang Syne” by Kenny G
(A good translation of the words “auld lang syne” is “times gone by.” So . . . when we sing this song, we are saying, “We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet for times gone by.” Click here for source.)
Photo credit here