Now That’s a True Story

I love meeting new people; I think everyone has a story to tell. We should all listen sometimes. ~Kim Smith

I come from a large extended family of liars. No one is to be trusted.

You might get a phone call from “the sheriff” telling you your husband is in jail. Or, perhaps, a letter in the mail from some lost relative wanting to give you money.

Mostly the lying is good-natured; playing cards with us can be tricky, but we have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Here’s a heads up: if someone says, “That’s a true story right there,” don’t believe them.

Jesus told a lot of stories. The most well-known, culturally, is The Good Samaritan.

A man was hurt and beaten along the road, left to die. People who should have stopped to help him, walked by on the other side. Then an enemy came by. He stopped to help the man- going above and beyond the call of duty. He was the good Samaritan.

The early church was confronted with a real-life good Samaritan, and they didn’t know what to do about it.

Cornelius was a centurion in the Italian Regiment. He was trouble with a capital T. That rhymes with G and that stands for Gentile.

But Cornelius was a good man. He was generous, caring for the poor and needy. He was devout, praying to God. He was loved by God, and an angel visited him.

Cornelius and all of his family turned to Jesus. They became Christians and were given the Holy Spirit.

Some people weren’t too sure about it.  But Peter answered, ” . . . God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation . . .”

Did you know there are Christians in Congo, India, Ethiopia, China, Kenya, and Tanzania? Did you also know there are Christians with tattoos, piercings, and purple hair? There are Christians who are older than dirt and others who like to eat dirt.  There are Christians who sing and shout and some who quietly kneel.

We all have ideas of what Christians look like and how they behave. Creating book covers in our minds is what we do.

Telling stories so astounding they have to be true is what God does.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:8-9 NIV

No More Excuses

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~Benjamin Franklin

He made excuses as long as I knew him. A Vietnam Vet, he battled demons all his adult life. Alcohol abuse, domestic violence, shame, grief,  and sorrow became his best friends. He knew there was something better, but better was harder and he just didn’t have any fight left.

He read the Bible, knew the right answers, but couldn’t bring himself to believe that they were the answers for him. He was beyond salvation.

Do you know someone like my friend?

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Luke 14:18 NIV

They give their life to business. They need to work. There are bills to pay, appearances to keep up. The kids need braces, dance classes, college. The car needs maintaining, the house repainting, and the face uplifting. They never see the kids’ teeth, enjoy the car ride, or rest in the house.

The claims of business usurp the claims of God on their life.

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Luke 14:19 NIV

They need the latest technology, the best clothes, the flashiest trips. They’re always on the run, waving their hellos and goodbyes at the same time. Their life is lived in Instagram pixels and Snap Chat comebacks.

They are consumed by the novelty of their new possessions, and God gets crowded out.

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ Luke 14:20 NIV

They meet for family dinners every week, only vacation with relatives, and cousin camp is a summer must. Their friends’ list has two surnames. Their contacts list reads like a lineage from western European royalty. And their street culminates in a family cul-de-sac.

Their earthly family takes precedence and God the Father becomes another ancestor hanging on the wall.

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” Luke 14:23-24 NIV

My friend was invited to the feast, but in the end he thought the grace period had run out. He never accepted, never tasted, never enjoyed.

Don’t make excuses.

It’s time to accept.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4 NIV