Archives For life lessons

My ecclesial history began with Protestantism; to wit, as a lad I having Jewish friends, Catholic friends, having Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on the door, asked my mom what religion are we?

Her reply? “We’re Protestants.” That apparently was to be the end of the matter, as no further explanation was forthcoming. I had no idea at all (at that age) what a Protestant was, or what were in fact protesting.

I guess we were protesting the whole thing, because the only church we ever darkened the doors of as a family was my grandma’s. And that only when we annually traveled to visit her. That, aside from maybe a VBS (“Vacation Bible School”) or two was the sum total of my church experience growing up.

Quite frankly what piqued my interest in church was the cute girl at the drugstore who invited me. We spent countless hours together talking about life, the universe, and everything. We visited:

Assemblies of God

Charismatic

Vineyard

& Nazarene

Churches

As I had no prior experience, or theological instruction, upon which to draw I had no preconceived notions about what church was. And darn if some of it didn’t stick! I prayed the sinner’s prayer, and promptly went to a party to get drunk.

I didn’t have a fat clue of what a Christian was, or how they comported themselves. I don’t know how much praying I did, but I did carry around a Bible given to me by my grandma; it was a large, white KJV (King James Version) affair. At the time, I didn’t know it was a family Bible, and was meant more for a coffee table than for constant, conspicuous carrying around.

As I awakened to the the message of the Gospel, it seemed the next step was to get baptized. I mean that’s what believers do, right? Get dunked/sprinkled/submersed/wet…

So I did on a warm September evening some four months after “accepting Christ.” I really didn’t grok at the time that it was some kind of big deal to be baptized, as my then-girlfriend’s family indicated that they wished they’d been there.

I didn’t know it was some kind of symbolic affair significant of anything other than basic obedience to one of Jesus’s commands. Afterwards, I didn’t feel anything other than wet.

Somehow, after being baptized at an Assemblies of God church, we ended up attending a Charismatic fellowship. It wasn’t until much later that I knew it was weird. And by weird I mean I had a fun experience being prayed over by a group white shirt wearing, yellow pit stained elders who wanted me to “recieve the initial evidence of the indwelling.”

Translation: they we’re praying for me to receive the gift of tongues, or in more formal parlance, glossolalia. They, being Charismatic, made it a doctrinal certainty that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; in other words, the practice tongues were to make me a living proof text of God’s work in my life…

The result? I mean I was willing, wanting whatever God has for me. So, sure. I was young, naive, and having no religious background thought why not?

When it didn’t happen, as these four grown men, sweaty-faced, their voices rising in ecstatic fervor, lapsing in and out of their Heavenly Languages, as they circled my seated form, finally (and flatly) stated: “Don’t worry, brother; it’ll happen. Just start muttering.”

Just. Start. Muttering.

I’m not sure that’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote of the gift of tongues. Although I suppose I have been muttering to God ever since…

Through

Highs and lows

Successes and failures

Jobs lost and found

Health issues

Death, and new life.

And I’m thankful He’s never yet despised the bleating of this wayward sheep.

'depression' photo (c) 2008, Rupert Ganzer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

So. I’ve mentioned that I have a piece in a book called Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression. Yeah, it surprises me, too. Thing is, if you met me, you’d probably think “he seems like a pretty happy guy.”

The truth is: I get by.

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I Don’t Know My Worth

randomlychad  —  September 23, 2011 — 22 Comments

Preface: this post was was inspired by What We’re Worth: A Community Collection, a post on TamaraOutloud.

Let me cut to the chase: I don’t know my worth. Am unsure of it, constantly questioning, probing, trying to find my place.

Don’t misunderstand: I know what the Bible says, that Christ loved me enough–loved us all enough–to die. But I sometimes feel lost.

Like this week. Life is harder than it’s been in a long time.

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Calcific Bursitis, how do I hate you? Let me count the ways:

You, who have no place being there, have taken up residence in my wife’s shoulder. You were not invited in, and yet unlike the vampires of lore, you pushed your way in. What gives? If I could rebuke you like those TV preachers say, I so would.


You have made her shout, cry, scream, plead, beg, cajole, for some kind, for any kind, of relief.

You have made her long for the pangs of childbirth! Because at least childbirth has an end. It’s a known commodity. You, Calcific Bursitis, are a parasite–hijacking nerve fibers, forestalling the use of an arm, singing a song of woe…

One that goes to 11! And not in a good way.

But your day is coming. It may not be soon enough–as soon as we’d like it–but it’s coming!

For someday, as with all suffering, you will have to give way:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4, ESV).

In the meantime, I hate you, Calcific Bursitis, and all that you do.

While you make us hurt now, these sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be.

Calcific bursitis, thou shalt die! But we, ultimately, shall not!

How has God met you in your place of suffering?

'chunky chalice' photo (c) 2009, Danny Ayers - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

My thanks to everyone who’s praying for Lisa. It’s a frustrating, odd place for her to be as a wife and a mom–where she has to rely on others to get quotidian activities accomplished. And as much as this alone frustrates her, I’m certain that the pain all but pushes it from her mind.

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