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Archive for June, 2013

What is Christianity

What is Christianity.

 

  • Isn’t Christianity just another religion?
  • Christianity is not about religion or being religious.
  • Christianity is a journey to intimate fellowship with God.

Many people have knowledge about religion, Christianity, and the Bible, but as the writer to the Hebrews warns, intellectual knowledge is not the same as vital faith. Knowing about God is not the same as having a personal relationship with Him.

This is clear from everyday relationships. Reading books on marriage is not the same as spending time with one’s spouse. Knowing someone’s phone number is a far cry from enjoying friendship with that person. Knowing who one’s customers are is not the same as dealing with a specific customer.

In the same way, knowing God involves far more than knowing about Him. Information alone does not produce tangible faith. To be sure, right thinking is involved infaith, but faith is more than mere knowledge. For example, the recipients of Hebrews knew quite a bit about the faith, such as the basic teachings about Christ, the need for repentance and for faith in God (Heb 6:1), and the meaning of baptism, ordination, resurrection, and judgment (Heb 6:2).

Nevertheless, without the constant work of cultivation [watering, weeding, fertilizing, pruning], spiritual weeds soon sprout and in time take over, producing thorns rather than good fruit or grain (Heb 6:7-8). In that case, the crop [faith] is worthless and destined for burning. To avoid that outcome, diligent tending and development are required (Heb 6:11-12). Perseverance is crucial: we must never coast on past experience or former tidbits of knowledge.

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Today, My wife Mary and I are sort of recuperating after one of few late nights out ever.  We celebrated the fifty-seventh “birthday” of the Family Drive-In in Stephens City, Virginia.  They have two screens.  Number One is bigger than Number Two, and each screen boasted a double-feature, though we wisely, considering our hour-and-a-half return trip, elected not to remain for the second feature, which we estimated to let out at about 2:15 AM..  So we watched, with a speaker to hang on our car window, Man of Steel and did not stay to see Fast and Furious 6.

This is not a review of the movie, though I must say that while several quotes and images could be said to remind one of Jesus Christ, any real Bible student would not have to try too hard to just sit (gripping the steering wheel at times) and enjoy the movie.  It was certainly action-packed.

This, instead, is about how nice a time we had, how folksy they were out there, and why I’d do it again.  This is probably a tie with the time we won tickets to the premier of the movieGrease!.  (Now, that’s dating myself!)  There was the before-the-show fifties music piped throughout the theater on the antique speakers, though you could tune, depending on your screen, to one FM station or another if you just had to have stereo sound (we didn’t).  There were the announcements of birthdays (including the theater’s), anniversaries, and even a couple who was spending their first wedded evening at the drive-in.  “Bobbie Jo and Leonard got married today, and look where they’re spending their wedding night!!  At the drive-in!!  Honk your horns to wish them congratulations!!”   (Followed by a cacophony of honks.)

A word about timing:  Friday and Saturday nights are their busiest, and I calculated we should arrive about 6:30 PM when I mistakenly thought they opened at 7:30.   We arrived at 6:25 and joined a line on the shoulder that was at least a city block long.  Once they opened, things moved along swiftly and we were in our space by 6:50 PM.  Ergo, we had a couple of hours to leisurely go for refreshments, use the restrooms, and to walk our Pomeranian.  Yes, they are pet-friendly, and even handed us a treat for her along with our program/menu and tickets.

(The only negative to the entire evening were the folks with hatchbacks who were oblivious to the fact that their raised hatches blocked some of the bottom of the screen, but we didn’t let it spoil our outing. Someday, when they update their house rules, they might want to add one for those folks.)

The folks who manned the concession stand couldn’t have been more pleasant or helpful.  Their aim, too, was to make our time there enjoyable.  If you follow my recommendation and visit Family Drive-In in Stephens City, Virginia, be sure to purchase your refreshments there instead of bringing them.  That, like other theaters, is where they make their money (though their prices seemed more reasonable), and that’s the only way they’ll ever be able to afford to upgrade their projection systems to digital, which is the way movie distribution is heading, leaving those who cannot do so only one option, and that is to close.

One more thing:  This theater tries to show only family-friendly movies, as much as that’s possible these days, which is a miracle.  (I always check movies at Kids In Mind, though we have no kids at home, before seeing or renting a movie.)

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A friend, a black woman, was troubled because folks don’t seem to talk about race and racial divides as they once did.  She seems to feel that we’re somehow forgetting the past, wiping it away.  I gave it some thought, and I think that in circles where folks don’t feel victimized by their race or another’s they don’t think of race as being any more consequential than hair color or eye color.

Now, I’m white  (really white, since a medication I’m taking prevents me from tanning), so there are some aspects of the old racial discrimination I will never really be able to empathize with.

When I was a kid, without all the technology our planet was a much “bigger” one.  At one point, few had TVs and if we wanted to “see” the news we did so in the movie theaters.  (They were called newsreels, and even foreign TV news footage was flown to the US before being broadcast on TV.)  Unless someone from another country moved to our neighborhood, we never met someone who wasn’t “like us.”  Now, the world is so interconnected that just about everyone can see all over the world—many, if not most, on a device they carry around with them.

Also, when I was a kid, I admit, I had no black (back then it was “colored”) friends.  When I came to know some kids of color, though, I had no upbringing to tell me to treat them any differently than my other friends.  There was no epiphany, I just kept on treating folks (except for one horrible non-racial childhood error) like I’d want to be treated.  I guess I was fortunate in that way.

When I became a Christian, I continued on that path.  It isn’t my job to pass final judgment on folks but, in the end, God’s; however, it is my job to point out to them that, like I am a sinner, they are sinners and need a Savior.  I wasn’t and am not a “sinner” because I sinned, but because I was simply born a “sinner.”  I carry that Mankind gene which makes it so whether I live a moral life or an immoral one.

In my local church congregation we have several interracial marriages, some dating back well over twenty years.  When those were considering marriage, they were counseled, not to forego it due to possible opposition or discrimination, but to simply be aware of that possibility for them and any children.  Those of their progeny who have since married have done so, thankfully, without their race being as big a deal to them or their families, any discomfort having taken place a generation ago.

I guess my “bottom line” in this regard is that if we walk the way the Bible tells us we are less likely to feel victimized by anything, our race (or another’s) included, and if it appears we are somehow victimized the Bible tells us how to respond.  If we’re trusting God to rule our lives, race is no more a factor than our eye color.

Another black sister-in-the-Lord told me, “So in my mind it comes down to choice.  You can choose to believe the Word that says that there is no Jew or Greek in the body of Christ or you can choose not to believe it and have issues.  But at the end of the day, I think it’s a healing that only the Lord can bring and no amount of verbal chastisement can bring it about.”

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Well, dear readers, the year 2013, so far, has been full of, for me, quite a few milestones.  I retired after 43 years with the United States Postal Service and recently turned sixty-six.  Other than Route 66, I can’t come up with anything clever about that number.  It led me to Psalm 66, however:  “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me!”  (Psalms 66:18-20 NKJV)

I’ve been keeping busy with oversight of 20 volunteers in my church’s Transcript Ministry, and by acting in an administrative capacity for our church Skit Team.

As for my novel, I’ve now written just shy of 29,000 words, and I’m somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the way to writing “The End.”  “The End” is in quotes because once I think I have it done, I will then have to go through and enhance descriptions and dialog, proofreading as I go.  Once I’ve done that, I will solicit for folks to read it and comment on it with complaints, suggestions and corrections.

Then comes another obstacle, choosing how to publish.  Even while I write, the publishing industry is changing, trying to keep up with the phenomenon of e-books.  For myself, I thought I would never have anything besides a paper-and-ink book, the pages of which I can riffle, deducing the books history, if any, by the smell; however, I now have a dozen or so e-books on my Kindle-for-PC, including the one listed in my last post (Tools, Tools, Tools), which has been educating me about writing.  Should I seek out a local publisher (my book takes place mostly in Loudoun County, Virginia) or publish an e-book and a few hard copies for gifts?  That’s something I’ll keep an eye on, but decide later, after seeking counsel from both author friends and spiritual examples.  Pride would make me want to have it printed and bound by a “real” publisher, but economic possibilities might lead me into the world of electronic publishing.  We’ll see.

Ta-ta for now.  Comments are not only welcome, they’re encouraged!!

Thanks for reading!

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