True Confession

If you read my previous post, the one about “Christians & Alcohol,” you’ll appreciate this post more.

Suffice it to say that my first wife and I grew up in very conservative Christian homes that considered alcoholic beverages to be a no-no. Not surprisingly, we grew into equally conservative adults who never would have touched any kind of alcoholic beverage. (We would’ve avoided many types of alcohol simply because they smelled so bad, but that’s beside the point.)

We were in our mid-to-late twenties and had some wonderful friends at church. And even though I don’t recall them ever drinking in front of us, we’d seen the beer or whatever in their refrigerators. Needless to say, we were shocked at first. Christians don’t drink, do they?

Uh, apparently some of them do. And these friends were people we not only enjoyed being with, they were what we considered model  Christians. Were we dismissing alcohol unfairly? How could we say? We’d never even tasted any.

We decided to try some. But we couldn’t go to the local liquor store–we wouldn’t even go there to get boxes for moving–for fear that someone from church would see us and think badly of us.

So we drove thirty miles to a larger city where we were unlikely to be seen. That doesn’t mean we weren’t terrified of going inside, but we finally opened the door and walked in. My word! I had no idea there were so many kinds of alcohol and so many brands. Where were we to start?

I don’t recall why we decided on wine. Maybe because that sounded like a more biblical choice. But what kind and which brand? Impossible to say. We picked out one bottle that had a particularly attractive shape and color. We looked at one another. But what if it turned out simply to have been a bad selection?

Since we were probably buying the cheapest wine we saw, we decided to buy a second bottle, just in case. How one makes a random selection in a liquor store I’ll never know, but we walked out with a paper bag containing two bottles of cheap wine.

We were already feeling guilty. Especially when we got home and remembered that our conservative choir director and her even more conservative church deacon husband lived directly across the street from us. What if they saw us and asked what we had? Ugh! Tempting to leave the bag in the car. Forever. Untouched.

Obviously we couldn’t do that. But what if one of the bottles fell out and broke in the street? Oh, would our sin become obvious to everyone with a working nose.

Once safely inside, we looked at one another. Wasn’t wine supposed to be chilled? And for how long? We stuck both bottles in the fridge. An hour later we asked ourselves if we hadn’t waited long enough. We were going to chicken out if we didn’t taste that wine soon.

Uh, but corks? Did we have…? No, why would we have owned a corkscrew? I hopped in the car and drove somewhere to find one. God, with His infinite sense of humor, allowed me to find one the first place I looked.

Gee, that wine still wasn’t cold. Nonetheless, I attacked the cork and soon had it off. In no telling how many pieces, I might add. No way we’d ever be able to seal that bottle up again.

We poured a juice glass each. We sipped. Yuck! That one had been a bad choice. Down the drain it went.

Time to try the other one. My wife insisted that I taste it first. I made such a face she wasn’t willing to try it. Down the drain with that one, too.

We didn’t want the garbage collectors to see the bottles in the can. That was before everything went in opaque plastic bags. So we melted candles and crayons together and enjoyed those decorations for years to come. Don’t ask me why we didn’t worry about somebody asking where we’d gotten the wine bottles, ’cause I just don’t remember.

This true tale might have been funnier to watch than to read about, but the truth of the matter is this tale made us lose some of our strong feelings about Christians drinking. We still thought it better for Christians to set a good example–that was our permanent decision–but no longer did we look with disgust at Christians who drank in moderation .

What about you? Did you ever try something you’d always considered forbidden? Did it turn out the way you’d expected? Did it change your thoughts about something? How about sharing your tale in a comment?

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” (part two)

Anyone who sees Christians going about the business of loving people–even the unlovely–should be able to understand that Christianity is the ultimate religion of love and peace. So loving and so peaceful,  in fact, that Jesus prayed and asked God’s forgiveness for the people who were putting Him to death–in circumstances where hatred, anger, and resentment would have been the normal human emotions. Especially since the Romans and religious leaders responsible for His death  weren’t the least sorry for what they were doing.

What amazing love! Love that deserves the description “awesome” above everything else.

Why do so many people view the Bible as a textbook of hatred (and how many of them have read the Quran?) and Christians as the most hateful people on the face of the earth?

Maybe they’re too busy looking backwards at wars and persecution that were carried out in the name of Christianity in days long past. By people who never would’ve sung, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Not unless they’d done it hypocritically.

Or is the problem that Christians believe “Do not murder” means preserving the lives of innocent babies rather than allowing pregnant women to erase their sinful “mistakes” by killing their babies in utero because of the inconvenience or embarrassment of being pregnant? Or that “Do not commit adultery” interferes with the desires of the many individuals who believe post-modernism has eliminated the need for moral standards of behavior regarding anything? Or is the problem that biblical admonitions against homosexuality affect the “rights” of the vocal gay minority to practice their sins publicly–and to flaunt them?

Or is the problem that  non-believers see Christians as judgmental? The Bible says murder, adultery, and homosexuality are all wrong. The Bible is very clear about those issues. All of them are sins–things God disapproves of. Things that stand in the way of having a right relationship with Him.

But the Bible also specifies a number of other sins. Is it right for Christians to go around ranting at gay people for being sinners when–in reality–each one of us is a sinner in our own individual ways. No one is righteous on his own merit, and no one is “good enough” to deserve God’s love.

I’m not advocating the toleration of sin–any sin. But I believe strongly in the popular saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I believe one of the worst sins Christians practice is failing to demonstrate the kind of love and forgiveness Jesus modeled during his earthly ministry. For me, that’s the bottom line.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” And if they don’t see that love, then they have a right to question our faith–and even the basis of what we say we believe in.

If you’re a Christian, do others see a life filled with love, even when you don’t feel very loving? If you’re not a Christian, has any supposed Christian ever treated you in a way that made you question the reality of his faith? How about leaving a comment, please.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love”

The title of this post comes from a song that used to be quite popular in churches. Yet–probably more because of its continuing relevance than its former popularity–our music director dug it out again for congregational singing a few months ago. It was great to hear everyone singing it–some people for the first time in years, others for the first time ever. It has a simple but memorable tune–it’s the catchy kind of song a person’s not apt to forget once he hears it.

Catchiness isn’t the point, though. For many years, I’ve thought of songs that are meant for more than just dancing to as messages from the composer to the listener or to the singers who’re also listening as they sing. The lyrics are the actual letter. The heart. The meat of the message. The melody–along with the song’s arrangement–is just the envelope used for delivery.

Consequently, I think lyrics are immensely more important than tune and arrangement, even though people tend to overlook–or dismiss–songs that don’t “sound good” to them. I’ll be honest; I do that, too. But at least people can also read lyrics and get something out of them regardless of the tune and arrangement–if they choose to.

The Bible–particularly the New Testament and many of Jesus’ teachings–emphasize the importance of love. Christians are admonished to love their enemies as well as one another, to turn the other cheek, and to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.

If you’re not familiar with the cold water reference, it simply means to do good things for people who’re in need. But no matter whether we’re giving to the needy, serving at a soup kitchen, visiting prison inmates, or performing any of hundreds of other possible ministries, we should do those things as if we were ministering to Jesus Himself.

Pretty important, huh? It’s no wonder “they will know we are Christians by our love.”

My original  post started getting a bit lengthy at this point, so I’m going to save the rest of it for Wednesday.

Are you familiar with “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”? What do you think of the idea? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Growing More Conservative (Final Part)

I believe more strongly than ever in the morality of the Bible. Any society that ignores biblical teachings about right and wrong will slip further and further into decay. How much further can we slide before God decides to wipe His hands of us?

I don’t hate homosexuals. Although I don’t understand them, I am not the least afraid of them. My wife and I attended a large gay expo in New York City a few years ago to visit a gay friend and see his dance group perform. He’s someone I enjoyed talking with and I didn’t feel the least uncomfortable being around. Does that sound like fear or hate?

But the Bible says that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. It lists a number of other sins, too. Anything that can be described as “my way” rather than “God’s way” is a sin.

What too many people ignore is the fact that God didn’t create a chart giving sins an acceptability rating. He doesn’t view one sin as more acceptable or less acceptable than another. Anything that separates us from Him is sinful–equally sinful.

Addictions like smoking, drugs, and alcohol abuse that “sinners” have a difficult time breaking their dependence on is bad enough. But how many sins do people not even want to resist and sometimes stubbornly insist on holding on to?

Any number of sexual sins fall into that category, including the practice of homosexuality.  And adultery. But so does overeating, something God has helped me to overcome. But not until I’d already developed diabetes.

The Bible refers to the one and only unforgivable sin–and the practice of homosexuality isn’t it. Neither is overeating.

Jesus commands Christians to love one another–and to love their enemies as well–with God’s kind of love. Sacrificial love. So they ought to love gay people just as they would anyone else.

Condemning homosexuals is–in my understanding–unbiblical. At the same time, Christians shouldn’t go against the Bible by accepting the practice of homosexuality as biblically acceptable.

I’d like to say more, but I’ll leave it at that. I’ve tried to make my points without being insensitive or offensive. But I can’t deny my conservative faith in the Bible any more than people who’re different from me will deny who they are.

Please don’t expect me to.

If you want to comment about this post, please do so respectfully–of both sides. God loves us equally.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger