OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #181 On the Way to Church One Day
We’re preparing for Mark to go back to the World Sport Stacking Championships in Denver. We’ve bought the tickets for him and Jan and they will head out on April 16. If you’re in the Moncton area, there will be a benefit concert for Mark’s trip at our church this Friday night at 7pm. A lady in our church has graciously offered to help with fundraising and she put the event together.
If you’ve never seen Mark stack, check him out on YouTube and search "stackcritic"
We visited both grandmothers on PEI on Monday. This is one of the nice things about being so much closer to them. My maternal grandmother is back home from being in the hospital and my other grandmother is recovering from pneumonia. Thanks for your prayers for them.
Blessings for your week.
While visiting with friends one weekend, I volunteered at a duathalon. Duathalon is a combination of cycling, running, and cycling again. Our job was to supervise the turn-around point of the running portion and to warn traffic of the presence of racers ahead.
We had permission to stop traffic and soon developed a line we used with the few cars that passed on that quiet Sunday morning. "Excuse me. We just want to tell you that there is a bike and running race going on ahead and to be careful as you drive through the race area." Most often the drivers thanked us. An occasional few seemed annoyed, but saw the wisdom in our exercise.
But then there was one car in particular that came through at about 10:45. Even though I was standing 20 or more feet away, I could hear the driver. Bleepity bleepy blank beep. I hadn’t heard that many swear words in a row since I was in junior high.
My friend smiled at me as the car pulled ahead to pass my spot. I guess the driver wasn’t done because he stopped, looked out at me and repeated the performance. Bleepity bleepy blank beep.
And then he added this line which has stuck with me for almost 20 years. "And now you’ve made me late for church!" I had to bite my tongue from saying something like, "Yeah, pal, you really need it!" My better judgement prevailed and I waved the car along.
About an hour and a half later the car returned. I have to admit, his stamina and variety in calling down oaths was impressive, but I had to feel for the three others in the car. They tried to shrink into their seats during the encore performance. When he was done with me, he repeated it all for my friend in case he missed a few words.
It would be easy to point the finger at this guy as an example of what we don’t want to be as Christians. That’s not what I want to do. I’m all too aware of my baser instincts. I’ve pedalled away many hours on the bike by plotting various means of revenge after being cut off.
And I know what I really want to say when telemarketers won’t accept no for an answer. You know what keeps me from doing it? Jan and the boys are usually within hearing range, and somewhere on their computer screen there is probably a blank which says my occupation is clergy.
These are the kinds of things I think about as I read James. "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." (James 1:26*) Something within me tells me this is true when someone else’s mouth is involved. It is harder to accept when it is my mouth we’re talking about.
As James reminds us, religious words don’t mean much if we don’t back them up with action. The words, "I love you" mean nothing if we don’t do loving things. And "I’m a Christian" doesn’t mean much if our words and actions conflict. Our words confuse people if our actions don’t back them up. Its like a road sign pointing the wrong way. It may say something, but the message is all wrong.
So I don’t point the finger at that guy in the car. I hope instead that people - namely Jan and the boys - doesn’t point at me and wonder.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published March 18, 2009. *Bible references taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com Blog located at http://onfireletter.blogspot.com/