Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Your Brother

There are a lot of people who sit in church pews around the country and are silently hurting in a big way but not necessarily in a visible way. They don’t know if the person standing up front whether he be the master of ceremonies and chief sermonizer, the preacher, or a hired gun like an evangelist who is brought in to shame the regular crowd into better attendance or more giving, really feels what they feel or understands where they are at right now, or even believes what they believe.

I’m one of those people who often just don’t get it. I read the Bible diligently. I’m on my 57th time. I know what it says, how’s it written, and who its written to, and most of the time, I think I understand it. But, there are times when I listen to a sermon that I feel like I’m from a different planet. And I’m not talking about my church, but any church, any internet sermon, any youtube video of a favorite preacher, or anyone who claims to be a “man of God”.

You know how they say how wonderful it is to be saved, to be in the “house of God”, and how they love the Lord, and you should feel all those things as well. Some people shout Amen! But, all you feel right now is beat up, run over, broken down, or maybe discouraged and disheartened, or even afraid. You feel guilty because, well, maybe it’s just a sin to feel the way you do.

You know how it is, they tell you that if you’re a real Christian you’d show up every time the doors are open. But, you wonder if the car that left you sit at work last week, the one you can’t afford to repair, the one you can’t afford to replace, will even get you home from the church meeting today. You know how it is, they tell you that if you really love Jesus you’d give more money and if you gave more to the church organization then God would bless you. But, since you were laid off and the unemployment ran out you’re worried about keeping a roof over your head, you can’t afford your own medical care, and the kids are sick. You think, I guess my worries are just more sin.

But, if you’re out there and you don’t connect with a lot of preaching you hear I just want you to know that I’m your brother in a lot of ways. Not in all ways but I’m sure you can see it my way in at least some ways.

I’m your brother if you’ve been through or are going through chronic, clinical depression and are taking medication for it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are probably people who are suffering who don’t have to but for their own pride and stubbornness. It wasn’t until I acknowledged the authority of the Authorized Version aka the King James Bible that God removed that from me. But, I do know how you feel. So does God.

Read Psalm 42.

I’m your brother if you are in middle age or senior years and feel like a failure. You not only haven’t arrived, you don’t even know where you were supposed to be going. Your ship not only didn’t come in, it hasn’t even left the dock yet to start the trip. You’re barely able to keep a roof over your head or gas in your car and you are one paycheck away from foreclosure. You’re one car breakdown away from not being able to get to work. Your relatives are successful. Kids you used to play with live in fine homes, take wonderful vacations to interesting places, and have the best electronic doodads on the market to entertain themselves with. But you, if it cost a nickel to go around the world you couldn’t get out of sight. You are just so thankful to God that in spite of your failures He is the one who has kept you from living under an overpass and eating cold beans out of a can. You’re thankful you have a spouse that is smart enough to keep the heat on or the water running. If you look back at your life and you honestly can say, were it not for God’s mercy, I’d be in line down at the county welfare office tomorrow. Or, maybe you will be in line at the county welfare office tomorrow. I’m your brother.

Psalm 9:18 For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

I’m your brother if sin has wrecked your life. If you’ve burned yourself out with wrong thoughts and wrong deeds. If you’ve pleaded with God to do what He’s done in the past, to deliver you from the sin that makes you sick. I used to drink a lot. Quietly, it caused me a lot of problems. I was unresponsive to my family’s emotional needs. I was there but I wasn’t there. You don’t have to be abusive to be an abuser. I was a neglecter. I paid a high price for it. And in my shame and agony God removed alcohol from my life when I believed which book was His Book. But, I have other sins I can’t shake. I’m too weak to let go myself. And I’m pleading with Him to do what He did with alcohol and horror movies. Just take it away. If your sin has made you sick and you want it to end but you see no end, you feel no end in sight, I’m your brother. I’ve been there. If your sins make you cringe when you think about the past and there are times in your life that should have been joyful but, dadburn it, you can’t remember them, precious memories that aren’t, or that bring back shame and self-disgust, I’m your brother.

Read Psalm 38

I’m your brother if your heart is broken. I’ve wanted to kill myself. I thought about it a lot. But, my daughter did it before me. I loved her so much. I still do. I just wasn’t a very good Dad. We didn’t have family Bible reading or family prayer. I never dealt with the issues that she would have had coming from a broken home and moving into a blended family. I just pretended those problems wouldn’t exist. I closed my eyes and whistled in the dark. I left it up to the church to teach her the ways of God. I left it up to her step-mother to teach her everything else. Her step-mother couldn’t have overcome the fact that my daughter’s biological mother had rejected her to her face, not once, but twice. There’s a saying I respect. Its, “look at your child and decide what kind of person you want that child to be, and then you be that person.” I wasn’t. She’s gone now. My only hope is that when she was seven and she went forward on her own and announced to the pastor that she believed, that she was saved. I know no one in the Bible who committed suicide went to Hell because they committed suicide. If they went to Hell it was for what they had done before. But, after the resurrection and Christ’s ascension there are no suicides in the Bible unless you think Paul for all his rash pursuit of martyrdom was suicidal. Maybe he was just in a hurry to be with the Lord. Anyway my heart is shattered into a million jagged pieces and it will never be put back together in this life. If you feel that pain and that grief and that hopeless loss with a big hole in your heart and you long for heaven and a reunion you pray will happen, I’m your brother.

Read 2 Samuel 21:8-11.

I’m your brother if you’re an oddball. Maybe you have a weird hobby. Maybe you’re just strange. I’m not the kind of person that people say, “hey, I got an idea! Let’s go hang out with Fred! That’ll be fun!” No, my friends, most are like me, and we’re content to talk on the internet. We’re not outgoing. Not party people. I’m not much of an entertainer and I’m not entertaining. If you regard yourself as a loner, someone who feels uncomfortable in a group or a meeting, I’m your brother. I feel good with my church in a way I don’t even feel with my family. The fellowship we have in the afternoon is often far too short a time. There are so many times that I regret that I live so far away. I feel like if we lived down the street I’d be there most days or evenings for some reason or the other. But, my wife is the only person I like hanging around for hour after hour. We don’t even have to talk. My wife and my animals. So, maybe you’re nerd, a bookworm, or are into Japanese calligraphy. Whatever. If you just aren’t a people person, not outgoing, not all excited about the prospect of going to Hershey Park or a high school reunion I’m with you. I’m your brother.

Read Psalm 102:6,7.

I’m your brother if you think politics is the entertainment wing of the military industrial complex. If you can’t trust politicians who don’t express a faith in God and don’t trust politicians who do, I’m your brother. I’m your brother if you think the Democrats are crazy as loons and the Republicans phony as three dollar bills. I’m your brother if you think Satan is the god of this world and you believe like the famous Lord Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and that great men are almost always bad men. You know the thought, that just the fact that a man wants that kind of power makes him ineligible morally to have it. I’m your brother if you think that the only native American criminal class is the government and if you’re sick of hearing that if you don’t vote for the one you are voting for the other because you know that both candidates’ people say that so who am I voting for if I don’t vote on that particular line? I’m your brother if you’re sick of people telling you that you have no compassion if you think their plans for curing the country of its ills and righting all wrongs are poorly thought out or that the president of whichever party is in the White House is a communist/muslim sleeper agent or doing the bidding of the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the Skull and Bones, or the He-man Woman-haters club. If you are sick of the lies and emotional manipulation in the world of politics, I’m your brother.

Read Daniel 4:17 and Luke 4:5-7.

I’m your brother if you know in your heart that you need to be doing more knocking on doors but your inherent shyness and/or your respect for private property and the right of someone to just get some rest on a Saturday morning without being harassed make it hard for you. I’m your brother if someone coming to your door on your only day off where you can actually get work done or just relax; dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase makes you feel like you want to hide your wallet, eat the paper your checking account number is written on, and hide behind the curtains until they leave; makes you angry or nauseated. I’m your brother if before you do go out to hand out tracts or to knock on doors you just pray that God would either direct you to that one person who has been praying for someone to come, or direct them to you, either way, because salvation isn’t a corporate sales gimmick where you think, well, it’s a numbers game. I give out so many tracts I’m bound to get a percentage saved. What is this, the church of Jesus Christ or a Dale Carnegie sales training symposium?

Read Acts 8:26-40.

I’m your brother if you are a Bible thumping, fundamental literalist who believes the King James Bible is the word of God, sort of the Lord Jesus Christ in written form, that it defines its own words, and lays out its on doctrines, and that adding to it or taking away from it is a stupid, if not downright hideous, sin. I’m your brother if you can read the literal English that breeches were Hebrew priests’ underwear, the church is the people, the house of God is God’s family, angels don’t have wings, and that the church is going to be translated, all pop religion words like “rapture” aside and that words like judgment, salvation, damnation, and vessel, etc. etc. should be defined in context only. I’m your brother if understand that nearly 99% of all manuscripts, the writing of the early church leaders called “Fathers” by unbelieving scholars, lexicons, and early versions agree with the Authorized Version aka KJV of the Bible and that the work of Westcott and Hort and their offspring are the works of the Devil. I’m your brother if you believe that “given by inspiration” , not “God-breathed” or “divinely inspired”, and preservation are essential Bible doctrines. I’m your brother if you think you’d have to be crazy to believe that only the originals were inspired by God, originals that are gone, no one you know personally has ever seen, and can’t do you any good or glorify Christ. I’m your brother if you believe the Bible, not your own will, has God’s power to change you and that most calls for holy living are pure humanistic drivel.

2Timothy 3:16; Job 32:8; 2Peter 3:15; wisdom, understanding, and knowledge from God being synonymous as per Exodus 31:3; see what God thinks of the originals in Jeremiah 36:32; see Psalm 12:6,7; Psalm 119:89; Psalm 119:11; Deuteronomy 17:18,20; Joshua 1:8; 1 Timothy 4:13.

I’m your bother if you believe that God created everything that is in six days by Christ who also holds it all together, that giant lizards didn’t become birds, that ape-like creatures didn’t become men, or that your ancestors didn’t evolve from the “primordial ooze” or some place equally nasty sounding. I’m your brother if you don’t see any reason to believe the earth is moving as even the godless, atheist scientists say that all motion is relative to the observer and there are no walls or floor or ceiling in space to start with as a reference point and I’m the observer and I’m here so everything else is moving and not me. I’m your brother if you picture the earth as the center of the universe. I mean, well, even the unsaved atheist cosmologist believes that anywhere can appear to be the center of the universe so why not here. I’m your brother if you believe that you can be a great medical doctor, biologist, astronomer, physicist, chemist, or engineer without believing in evolution or being an atheist. I’m your brother if you believe that a Christian who believes in evolution’s core principles is calling Moses, Paul, and the Lord Jesus Christ liars and needs to be smacked upside the head.

Read Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Mark 13:19; Colossians 1:15-17.

I’m your brother if you feel uncomfortable in many church services because you can read and by reading the Bible you know that the early church was a participatory worship and not passive. I’m your brother if you realize that we all have a ministry, whether we like it or not. You realize that you may be a lousy minister but you are one anyway; at work, in your neighborhood, in your family, at sporting events, when you shop at stores or eat out, and you are a representative of Christ, his ambassador, even if a reluctant one at times. I’m your brother if you wait on God’s calling each day and want Him to tell you through His word what service He wants from you, not someone in the church to define what your service ought to be by their standards and by their convictions. I’m your brother if God is not just a concept, an ideal, or a system of morality to you but a living and real person who speaks to you through His words in His Book every single day if you’ll allow it and that He wants to bless you by you being a blessing to others. God’s Spirit will direct you, you are sure, through His Book, and you resent someone trying to make you think that it is their personal standard of spirituality that counts more than the talents that God gives you personally, the inclinations that He directs you to personally, and the doors He opens for you personally. I’m your brother if you believe the church is a living organism, that Jesus Christ is God the Son, the Living WORD, the physical body of God, that God the Father is the soul of God, the seat of will and self-identity, and that God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is here to guide and teach you in all things. I’m your brother if you believe that Jesus Christ walked on this earth before His incarnation as the angel or appearance of God, and also after that. I’m your brother if you believe in the triune God.

1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 1:3,4; John 1:12,13; Colossians 1:18,24; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; Isaiah 63:9; Judges 2:1; Acts 27:23; John 14:26; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 5:7; Matthew 3:16,17.

I’m your brother if you believe that God saved you and you didn’t save yourself, that God keeps you saved, and that you not only can’t earn your salvation, you can’t pay for it once you’ve got it, and you can’t lose it because now you are part of Christ’s body, and He has sealed you by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and that no matter how bad you feel or how sorry you are you are saved because the Bible says you’re saved and it’s not based on how you feel or anyone else’s opinion of your standing with God or your standards with men. I’m your brother if you’re going to spend eternity with your Creator. Praise God and God bless you.

John 1:12,13; Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 16:31; 2 Corinthians 9:15.

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