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A Note to My Readers on this 4th of July 2012

July 2012
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The Gospel of John

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God’s Offer to Us

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The Gospel Cannot Be Contained

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The Cost of Discipleship

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Our Highest Priority

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Penetrating the Darkness

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Leaps of Faith

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Two years ago in July (2010) I started this blog without a clue as to what I was going to do with it. At that point in time I had been unemployed for one year and three months after losing a job in April 2009 that I had moved to Houston for in September 2008. Losing that job was the shock of my life after working in higher education for almost twenty years.

After several months of writing blog posts without any particular theme in mind, I got frustrated and deleted all of the posts in April 2011 (the second anniversary of when I lost that job in Houston). I couldn’t believe I was still unemployed after two years and still had no job prospects after applying for 400 jobs in my field by the end of April 2011 (to date I have now applied for almost 500 jobs in my field–I’ve slowed down a bit since 2012 started as my past experience showed me that it was becoming a rather futile effort).

One year ago (July 2011), I decided to resurrect my blog and to date I have written 116 blog posts which include 28 “reblogged” posts from other bloggers (I started reblogging posts from other bloggers in March 2012). Clearly from the start of resurrecting my blog this “second time around” a theme emerged. I began writing about how my faith in Jesus Christ has changed me during this very long time of unemployment (it has now been three years and almost three months since I lost that job in Houston with still no job in sight as of this writing–July 4, 2012).

You can read a brief synopsis of my background on a page I titled A Little About Me.” I have been a Christian since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord at the age of ten. Over the many years since then, I have stumbled and fallen more times then I can count, but at the time I landed in Houston to start that ill-fated job in September 2008 I felt God put a spark in me to “get serious” about my walk with and faith in Jesus Christ. To say the least it has revolutionized my life.

For the past several decades I’ve been aware of how the basic tenants of Christianity have eroded in our culture starting back in the late 60’s with the whole “God is Dead” movement which was countered by the “Jesus Freaks.” Also, the “hippie generation” brought about cataclysmic changes in the moral fabric of our society with an “anything goes” approach to human sexuality and the prolific use of drugs. Any of you who were alive at the time will most likely remember it. However, the insidious erosion that started in the 60’s really took hold by the time we got to the “Me Generation” (the 1980s) with introduced greed and selfishness on a grand scale (not that greed and selfishness haven’t been a part of the human race since the beginning of time, but we had now reached a point where the entire culture worshipped at this altar).

I feel very passionate about what has happened to Christianity over the course of the past few decades in America and if you’ve read any of my blog posts you can clearly read my passion. And, some of them have clearly rankled modern day “church goers.” Still, I feel compelled to write what I write. And many times when I write I include my own failings while walking this path. I am certainly not writing with the intent of sounding like some saint who is pointing a finger at sinners.  No . . . I am clearly a sinner myself . . . a sinner saved by grace.

With that in mind, I want to tell you a little story about the effect a particular movie has had on me lately. In the movie, Two Weeks Notice,” (2002) Sandra Bullock pays a very impassioned lawyer (Lucy Kelson) who can be rather “in your face” about the things she is most passionate about–serving the poor, preserving the community, and railing against injustice brought on by materialism and greed. Hugh Grant plays a billionaire playboy (George Wade) indifferent to the very things that Sandra Bullock stands for and represents. I love watching the interaction between the two of them as they round out the sharp edges they both have during the movie. Within their individual extremes they both bury their real feelings and allow their outward persona to dictate their interactions with others including each other.

While I don’t want to give away too much about the movie in case you decide to watch it, there is a scene about two-thirds of the way through the movie where Wade (Grant) confronts Kelson (Bullock) with being “too perfect . . . nobody wants to live with a saint.” It is a very awkward moment for both of them and the scene ends with him walking out the door. The night before this scene takes place there is another scene where Kelson accidentally interrupts a game of “strip chess” that Wade is playing with a brand new and younger female lawyer hired to replace Kelson in his company that has reached the point where they are both, as Wade states, “unusually dressed” (e.g. almost half naked). Talk about awkward . . . .  Over the previous year that Kelson worked for Wade as the company lawyer, he grew very attached to her and she to him, but, of course, they come from opposite extremes and lifestyles. The “strip chess” scene brings the issue to a head for both of them. He is not only brought face-to-face with his shallowness in an embarrassing way, but the next day, when he confronts her about “being perfect” and that “nobody wants to live with a saint” she is brought face-to-face with her own rigidity. And she admits this to her father who said that perhaps she needed to change her approach but not her ideals.

After watching this movie several times, it hit me that people who only know me through my blog posts tend to see me as being harsh and unbending at times. This brings me to another line in the movie where Wade tells Kelson that she “can be intimidating,” and that perhaps she could soften her approach. As I look back on this past year when I became so prolific at expressing my passion for Christians in our society to get back to the basics of real Christianity, I found–on more occasions than I care to think about–that people who only know me through my blog posts and are somewhat “put off” by what I have written are surprised when they actually meet and talk with me as I turn out not to be the “ogre” they thought I was due to the bluntness of what I write in my blog posts periodically. This has certainly given me pause for thought, much like Wade’s comment when he tells Kelson, “nobody wants to live with a saint.”

Since the readers of my blog posts do not have the opportunity to interact with me on a personal level, they cannot see or perhaps understand that my passion is not one of “pointing fingers” at all the sinners out there (after all, I am one myself), but rather a passion to help folks in our culture to understand how very much the real, true, lasting tenants of Christianity have eroded in our churches and our culture in very significant ways over the past few decades.

On a personal level, I very much love engaging people in conversation on all kinds of topics, not just Christianity. And I love meeting people from all backgrounds and beliefs and cultures. And, I am never “in your face” to anyone I meet regarding my own personal beliefs. On the contrary, I really do accept people where they are at in their own lives.

My blog posts, however, are regarding a very specific topic that I am very passionate about–Christianity–and what has happened to Christianity in our postmodern culture. It is because of these past four years that I began to understand just how shallow my own Christianity had become due to the influences of our culture with all of its excesses, materialism, and greed that totally focuses on self. It is only a real, lasting, and vital relationship with Jesus Christ that takes the focus off of ourselves to see the realities of this world. But like any relationship, if we don’t want it to die, we have to work at it and take it very, very seriously. However, we are not alone in this when we spend time praying and reading the Bible daily to really get to know the mind and heart of Jesus Christ and allow God to change us. But if we live our lives acting as if He doesn’t exist except when hard times or a crisis hits us, we have no true foundation to rely on in times when the storms of life slam us. Just like in a marriage, if one or both partners are self-consumed and myopic the relationship will die. The divorce rate in this country attests to the fact that selfishness reigns supreme in many relationships and our society as a whole. And the workplace is full of people “looking out for #1.”

So, while my blog posts sometimes sound harsh and unbending, it is because I am compelled to send out a “wake up” call to people who are living their Christianity on the fringes while immersed in the culture and all that it offers (e.g. “anything goes”)–much to their detriment.

While I can never compromise on “truth” as it is presented within Christianity, I have recently heard the voice of Kelson’s father echo through my thoughts when he said to her that she could perhaps change her approach without compromising her ideals. The struggle is not without it’s challenges, but on this 4th of July, 2012, I will give it some serious consideration.

And thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to read anything that I have written. I am, in fact, very much like you, and we all–very much–need each other.

Happy 4th of July 2012!

YouTube Video:  “Endless Song” written and sung by Shannon Wexelberg on her CD, “Faithful God” (2007):

Photo credit here

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