Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)
TITLE: Hate me if you must
By Ed VanDeMark
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Yesterday I turned on my local Christian radio station. I listened for two minutes. Then I did something unusual for me. I switched to a country station. I was surprised. The quality of the music on the hillbilly station far exceeded the dirge being groaned out by a guy with appendicitis on the Lord’s network. I was surprised, because I’m in the habit of turning my radio off after two minutes of constipation. I thought the Christian station was doubtless comparable in quality to everything else being offered in the market place. Apparently I was wrong.
My wife and I read novels together. She reads till she’s tired then I read. We hopscotch our way through books. Until a couple weeks ago I would have said we hopscotch our way through Christian novels. Two weeks ago Linda bought what she believed was a safe novel. She bought it at a preacher’s yard sale. Guess what? It wasn’t a Christian novel. It used words I rarely hear in my circle of friends, but the writing was far superior to the Christian novels we’ve been reading. We finished the book. We didn’t like the words but we loved the story.
What am I saying? Somehow my brothers and sisters, many of us have come to some invalid conclusions. Some of us feel we can bludgeon people into the kingdom. We hammer them over the head with our bibles, codes of ethics and moral principals. If someone is hitting me with a hammer, a moral principal or a bible I’m going to resist. Many of us go the other way. In our attempt to love our friends into the kingdom we tell stories that are so nice they don’t ring true. I was born with a gift for words but somewhere along the way I decided my gift with words was enough. I forgot there are rules that govern grammar and there are people that can teach me things that enhance my gift.
Several years ago I went to a Conference in Buffalo. I graduated from college in Buffalo. That made me the resident expert in spite of the fact I graduated in 1963 and had only been back a handful of times. I led a delegation of six through downtown Buffalo. On our way back we met two men from our conference. They invited us to join them at a bar. I hadn’t been in a bar since my salvation in 1976. I found the bar a warm and inviting place. There were tables where friends could laugh, talk and even join in some foolishness. There was a bar tender there to listen to lonely souls. The television was playing the World Series and there was quiet music being piped in. Two couples even danced. The best part about the place was it was open seven days a week. My church has wonderful programs. There’s one this week, and a promise of two more in three weeks. Do folks quit needing a warm inviting place to drop into while we prepare our next wonderful life changing event?
I’ve been so locked into my Christian world and my Christian world view that I haven’t kept up with the competition. I love my faith. I love my Christian brothers and sisters. I love Faithwriters.com. I especially love Jesus. With all of that said, I’m beginning to realize that if I want to sell cornflakes, I better know what raisin brand and Special K are up to. Most often hearts are won over one little moment at a time. Home runs win a few games, but good pitching and singles win most of them.
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