This morning I awoke early and couldn't keep from thinking about all the wonderful ways in which our Father brought together a host of individual lives yesterday, the way those lives intersected one another and how God chose to use these people in making Himself known among them. I'd like to share these experiences with you in the hope of reminding you just how important even the small details in our lives can become. This article will be known as the first "fruits" of my hope that some of you will also contribute to this ongoing series of A day in the Life.
Although the majority of those reading this are relatively new friends of mine; nonetheless I have made it a point to be fairly transparent as to my present circumstances in life with you all. Most of you know I hardly work in the winter months and that brings about some difficulties in making ends meet. I can't do a lot of running around so I usually sit in restaurants and internet cafes where I have access to free internet services. This provides me a place to read, write and study as well as real time ministry opportunities with the people I often meet. Yeh I know, sounds kind of boring to some of you although much more usually transpires than meets the eye. Below is such an example.
Most days I spend some time in prayer in the morning although on this particular day I got up a little later than usual and that disrupted my routine. I was off to the cafe where I often go for some decafe coffee and some breakfast sanwiches I often trade for a few minutes of snow shoveling when that need arises. I grabbed my joe and proceeded to write a letter to the eight of you I consider my likeminded brothers in the faith. The letter I proceeded to write was called A Request for Definition. Although I decided to wait in sending it due to some prayer concerns a couple of you sent to me (I didn't want to cloud those concerns) it was a request in relation to properly defining particular biblical terms that are often taken out of context or re-defined by professing believers. An example would be "church" which we all know came from the Greek word "ekklesia" and despite most Christians lives revolving around this word, ekklesia doesn't mean church. The improper translation has had an enormously adverse effect upon what God initially intended for His people in general. I want to create a listing of biblical terms and their proper definitions on my site and was asking for your help. I'll send it along in a few days or so.
Having put off sending the above to you I started thinking about another project on the back burner. Most of you also know my site is fairly anonymous- no one really knows who I am except a few people. I don't advertise it or track who frequents it and have no desire to. I simply ask that God leads those He knows need such truths to it and that they learn from Him as a result. I've never once in the almost eighteen months its been up received even one negative comment about what I write. Considering that my beliefs are contrary to what almost every professing believer accepts through church this is quite remarkable. It makes me feel as if I'm hiding a little more than I should and even some of you have encouraged me to get out of the closet- be a little more transparent with who I am through my site. As a compromise of sorts, I'm considering making up some cards (similar to business cards) that have several of my friend's "out of the box" internet sites upon them. Yesterday I asked a few of you if I could include yours as well. So far Michael in Idaho, Christopher in Michigan, Dan in Texas, Jim in Washington St and Beresford in England all gave me permission to use their sites along with my own. It's meant to stimulate a little more interaction for each of us and direct others to the truths we each hold so dear. Enough said.
It's mid morning and I'm receiving prayer concerns from Mark and Christopher. I spend some time replying to them and praying for their particular concerns. I'm reminded of how important it is to ask our brothers when we have need and not to minimize nor trivialize our problems. Christopher wrote about this recently and a comment was left yesterday by our friend Mickey in PA on Chris' site that said something along the lines of "praying now" which I appreciated. That's the exact attitude and urgency we need to have one to another. Don't wait, pray now when our brother's and sister's are in need. Shortly thereafter I read a few of Ian's posts, made comments and prayed for him. I especially appreciated his blog called "Why does God whisper to us?" which delineates many pertinent things. A must read for all believers at ianvincent.com.
It is now early evening and a young gal named Brooke shows up at the pizza joint. I had a few words with her the other day but the conversation was cut short. I really wanted to rekindle it and when the door was opened I approached the counter and after a brief opening chat asked her a question like, "How many really quality friendships do you have?" She said she had four- and I told her that was quite the blessing to have that many people who really cared about her. That is rare for most people these days. I used that question as a means to open the door for the discussion I share with people about the contrasts between "church" and "ekklesia" and God's real heart for His people. As it turns out, she was attending a church I used to attend many years back and I knew her "pastor." I proceeded on for some time offering illustration after illustration between the biblical differences and then she seemed to get it as she said the word- relationship! You gotta love it when they make your point for you. It just shows that God is working and revealing Himself. In between serving a couple of customers I continued and the conversation turned to my close friends over the internet and how those relationships were brought together. I told her their is a difference between what man is attempting to build in his own wisdom through church and an open door policy and what Jesus says He will build- His Ekklesia. I showed her that what man builds becomes chaotic for only God knows which body parts fit together, how they fit and when they need to come together. I showed her that this is exactly what He did with my relationships over the internet and that each of us not only knew He brought us together but each of us seemed as if we had known each other for long periods of time and even spoke that one to another. I told her that only God knew beforehand what was necessary to prepare each of us for what He wanted to bring to us and compared that to a husband and wife being united. We were then interrupted again as the dinner rush was on so I went back to my table and wrote her a little note with my internet site address upon it- she requested it from me.
Checking my email another newer friend Steve in Indiana sends me a post called, "How the Church rejects the Truth." Another good read at Indywatchman.com- I think that's right. Steve is bringing up awesome insights and using real life examples from his persoanl business to explain them. Most of the things he's sharing I'm aware of and then he makes this statement about definitions:
"Many times just to define a word or term is enough to spark a change in direction; and definitions are definitely a part of the integrity of life and equipment. Many times a wrong definition lies at the core of serious problems; and to assume a definition that has been accepted by generations before you, without ever knowing or searching it out for yourself is the worst kind of ignorance"
Was I suprised that Steve's very thoughts were right along the lines of what I had written earlier in my Request for Definition or my next article to be called Deception through Definition?" Sure, a little. But then again God is good, no? Steve later goes on to define "church" and shows how it differs from "ekklesia." No, not a coincidence, not at all.
I'm praising God for all of this, praying for Brooke and a young man is sitting to my left. He appears to have a bible so I ask, "What are you reading?" This leads to a half-hour conversation about the very things Brooke and I were talking about, buffeted by an emphasis upon "properly defining our words." We have some fairly good interaction despite his ongoing justifications and "I thinks" (got to love those) and I just kept quoting the scriptures through 1 Corinthians and proving not him, but his "leaders" to be in error- that their claims and actions were actually the traditions of men (salaries, tiltes, positions, hierarchy etc) and that these didn't echo New Testament Christianity but rather stemmed from Old Covenant practices superceded in Christ. He couldn't deny it and finally gave up and asked for my internet site as he was leaving. He works in the building next door and welcomed him to chat/fellowship once again in the future. He is 23 years old and his name is Nathan.
Nathan heads out and I notice Brooke seems free again. I walk up to the counter and immediately share a living example of how God orchestrated our lives as Christians using Steve's email to me as an example. It couldn't have fit more perfectly within our conversation. She seemed pleased about it. The manager Bob walks up and tries to make fun of me and my hand gestures while speaking- I do that alot when I'm talking. Bob means well, we joke one to another although we've had some serious chats too. I think he also is interested in the real Christian life and is well aware of what he calls my "religious" beliefs. Well not quite bob, but that's a start. I'm relatively sure God is opening that door as well. I talk a little more with Brooke and I give her the note I wrote her on her way out the door to go home.
Back at the table I'm reading a few more mails and looking up some things in the Word. The owner Matt walks over and sits down at my table. He's done this twice today already although it usually only lasts a couple of minutes due to his responsibilities as the owner of the restaurant. He knows I'm a Christian and he asks me how my conversation went with Nathan- must have noticed I was speaking to him. I explained the situation and what I spoke to him. I then used that conversation to direct him to what God actually says in the scriptures about sin, righteousness and judgment. Earlier I had spoken to him as well about my newest article I'm writing, Deception through Definition and used that as an illustration to contrast God's love, peace and righteousness with how this world defines those words. I showed Matt that we as humans are quick to label people generally "good" if people are reasonably moral and honest etc and yet that is not how God defines righteousness. I showed him that God's standard was perfection, and unfolded the gospel of faith and repentance to him- even using the verse in John 3 about the wind of the Spirit and how that properly illustrates (defines) those born spiritually of God. He listened intently smiling the whole time. I've known Matt for a while now, but this is the first time I was able to specifically ask him if he has ever truly trusted in Christ. He admitted that he had not. The night came to a close, we all parted ways and yet my work wasn't quite finished.
I drove off to a spot in town where I like to pray and committed all these things as well as all of you to our Father who art in heaven. He is the true orchestrator of all events, the one who convicts, the one who establishes and the one who saves. None of that is any our business, and yet He uses us to plant seeds, to water fields and even to call others to repentance.
In the days to come, I hope that all of you come to earnestly expect from God even as our brother Paul in the book of Philippians did. His life was riddled with affliction and perplexity and yet he persisted. He was mocked, judged and forsaken and yet he endured. His life was one of daily beig delivered to death and yet he earnestly expected from the God of heaven in the midst of it all.
A day in the Life, a day of living in and for Jesus who is that Life. Have a day you would like to share? A day according to your own expectation and hope? Send it along would you. Many a sinner and many a saint need to hear how you sail in the wind friend, and with Whom it is you sail.
the end, and yet…..