Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mike's Working for the Man

Mike went out and got himself a job. Not that he wasn't working - he spends hours and hours and hours putting together his internet radio show. However, there isn't a lot of income from that endeavor. So he's found a job that he believes will allow him to continue his ministry and bring in some money, too.

Mike is now (drumroll, please!) a concessions supervisor at Minute Maid Park for the Astros games! Cool, huh? So he only works when the Astros are in town, although his work days are around 10 hours long. Starting Monday, he'll do seven ten-hour-days in a row. Then he's off for eleven days. He'll have to be more organized so that he can get ahead on the show when he has days off from the ballpark, but he's confident. (Of course, it's his show, so if one's a couple of days late, it isn't the end of the world.)

No, he's not carrying trays of peanuts and cotton candy; his job is to supervise several of the concession stands, keeping up inventory and doing cash drops and managing the workers' breaks and things. Not a lot of excitement, but he certainly keeps busy, and he gets to be at the ballpark. He's very happy about that. After baseball season, who knows? Maybe he'll go to Reliant Stadium for the Texans games or the Toyota Center for the Rockets. A world of options!

Living Proof Live in San Antonio

I just wanted to gush a little bit because I am getting to go to the Living Proof Live event in August! It's not that the tickets are hugely expensive, but we are really counting our pennies, and some of the little extras are having to be passed on. Anyway, I'm an avid reader of the Living Proof Ministries Blog. One day Amanda was writing about the event coming in San Antonio where they are holding a get-together afterward with people who read the blog. She mentioned that someone had an extra ticket. I responded, and she's giving it to me! (I almost missed it because her email telling me I could have the ticket got sent to my junk mail ARRGH!) I can't believe it! I'm so excited. And I'll be able to go to the get-together, too (or the Siesta Fiesta, as they call it)!

I still have to find a way to get there and a place to stay, but I think I know a couple of ladies who are going, so I may be able to bunk with them. Who knows how it will all work out, but I'm thrilled!

Anybody else want to go?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Attempt to Answer Inevitable Questions

Why believe in God?

At some point I recognize that I am not in control. For a while I fake it and try to force my will on the world around me, but I fail. If I don’t admit that God is in control, then I must admit there is only chaos and therefore, no hope. But if I do admit there is a God, how do I deal with that? How can I make him accept me and get me through? I can bargain with him that I’ll be good and follow the “rules” in exchange for His good graces. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work, because I am incapable of being good all the time and following all the rules. So I make another deal to make sacrifices and/or work off the bad things I do and rules I break. But I don’t do that either. I can’t even keep track of all the rules I break, much less the work to make up for them. (It also shows that I’m still trying to be in control.) This brings me to the Good News. God knows the trap we’re in. He sent Jesus to do the work and make the sacrifices on our behalf. Because Jesus had nothing for which he needed forgiveness, God accepts Jesus’ work and sacrifice for me. And not just for me, but for anyone who will ask. It’s that big! God even gives me the faith I need to come to him and ask for forgiveness. All free.

Where’s the catch?

Well, there really isn’t a catch. It’s just a matter of believing it and accepting it. Of course, if I don’t think I have anything for which I need forgiveness, then I really still haven’t recognized that I’m not in control. The trouble comes when I try to still buy my way in, “OK, God. Sure. I’ll believe whatever you want me to believe, if it’ll save my bacon later.” That’s not really belief; it’s trying to buy insurance. Usually the way you can tell it’s true belief is because I’m so blown away by the implications of this whole thing that I become sold out for anything God is doing. I want to help. I mean, look what he’s done for me? The least I could do is get to know the guy, see if he could use me in some capacity, let other people know what’s going on.

What about baptism?

Jesus told his disciples to go into the world baptizing and making disciples. Almost everywhere in the New Testament of the Bible, when people come to believe in Jesus, they get baptized. But nowhere does it say that if you don’t get baptized, you void your salvation. It doesn’t say that! As Jesus was dying on the cross, one of the criminals dying on a cross next to him admitted to the wrong he’d done and then said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (That’s in Luke Chapter 23.) Jesus didn’t say, “Somebody get over here and baptize this guy before it’s too late!” This leads me to believe that God is in control. He does what he wants regardless of our attempts to earn his favor.

So if a person won’t get baptized because they’re stubborn, there’s probably an issue there with their faith. But I can’t know that for sure. I’m not in control, remember? If they won’t get baptized because of extenuating circumstances, I think they’re ok.

Is it ever too late?

There will come a time when it’s too late. But since I don’t know what happens as a person is dying, I don’t know when that too late moment is. Who knows but as a person lies on their deathbed completely unresponsive to the people around them, that they may be having one last chat with Jesus? It’s not like he wants them to jump through a bunch of hoops or get a perfect score on some arbitrary test. Accept that you aren’t in control; admit that you’ve screwed up and deserve punishment; accept Jesus’ sacrifice in your place; and believe! I see it as a moment of clarity when a person breaks down and asks for forgiveness. Then Jesus reaches out and takes their hand and walks them into eternity.

I believe God wants everyone to spend eternity with him, but he won’t make them. Some people don’t want God in their lives or their afterlives, unless he plays by their rules. They put him in a box and decide how he should behave. They refuse to let God be God. I guess some of us still won’t admit, even at the end, that we’re not in control.

Why wait?

Really, waiting until the end is kind of playing with fire. (Ha Ha) Especially since, I can say from experience, life is hard. God is in control. Instead of fighting for the reins, let go. Follow where he leads and rest. It's not easy; it's not all sunshine and roses; it does bring peace. And yes, I still have a really difficult time with the control issue.