Chasing The Wind

Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works that are under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a chasing of the wind.

My car was a brand new Honda Accord Coupe and it was the first new car I had ever owned. I had struggled for years to pay off bad debts and increase my credit score. I guess you could say my car was the trophy for all my efforts.

After my car was a few months old, I found myself in a financial bind with the new car payment, rent and raising two children on a single income. Turns out my trophy was more of a bad decision, a burden on my already tight finances.

The days were becoming stressful, yet I was reading more scripture and trying to rely on God’s faithfulness. The more difficult life became, the more I delve into my bible, trying to find words from God that would give me hope and strength.

That’s when the book of Ecclesiastes came to my heart. The story of a king who had everything he could ever want (money, women, power and every pleasure known to man), yet he had an unexplainable void in his life.

In Ecclesiastes 2:17-18 the king says, “So I hated life because what is done under the son was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a striving after the wind and feeding on it….”

Two days after I read this book, I left my evening shift at work to find someone had slammed into my brand new car and drove away. They didn’t leave a note, just a huge dent on the side of my car.

I filed a police report and went home sobbing. My prayers to God that evening were prayers of frustration and anger.

“Why God? After all the trouble I went through to pay off my debts and buy something nice for myself – how could you let this happen?”

The next day I called the insurance company to report the hit-and-run. They sent out a claims advisor to do an appraisal on the repair. When all the paperwork was done, he said that the amount insurance would pay me was $1300. The damage to my vehicle was $1800 but I had a $500 deductible!

Again, I called out to God, “WHY??”

I couldn’t even afford to pay my rent, how was I going to come up with the money to get my car fixed.

With a subtle voice, God reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes – a king searching for fulfillment in worldly things and never being satisfied. Then he showed me how I had allowed my car to become more important to me that it should have been – my image, my material things.

Three days later, I received the $1300 check from insurance. It was then that I realized God had turned a bad situation into a blessing in my life. When I didn’t have enough money to pay my bills, he provided. With the check, I was able to pay my rent, pay my utilities AND buy groceries for my children!!

God doesn’t answer prayers the way we always want Him too, but he DOES answer prayers! When I received that check, I thought about the king again. How he chased after all those material things and was never satisfied. I became satisfied in God’s amazing wisdom and plan for my life.

The hit-and-run was over seven years ago. Since then, I’ve had plenty of financial opportunity to get the dent fixed, but chose not to. Every time I walk towards my car and see the dent, I am reminded of how faithful God is, how he took care of me when I couldn’t do it myself, how he turned a bad situation into a blessing.

What are some interesting and surprising ways God has worked in your life? Please comment below, I would love to hear some of your stories.

Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

Christian Hypocrites

At the age of 27, I walked into a church looking for help. I wasn’t there to find a close relationship with Jesus Christ, nor was I there to make friends or seek Christian guidance. I walked in 4 days clean and sober from drugs and alcohol, looking for a narcotics anonymous meeting.

This incredibly sweet woman greeted me with a smile and no judgment. Instead of seeing a person who had made bad choices, she saw a young woman in pain, desperate, and in need of some good ole’ Christian love. Alice (that was her name – my angel sent from above) told me when I could come back for a meeting, and then invited my children and I to the Wednesday Worship service. She said they served dinner and I would be on the guest list.

My boys and I went to the dinner and felt so welcomed and loved that we kept going back. Today, 18 years later, my world revolves with Jesus as the center.

This brings me to the dilemma I am faced with today (and I’m sorry to say, but a little bit of a rant).

Someone very dear to me (a long distance friend) called me the other day and wept about how lonely she was. She said she had tried to make friends at her new home but no one had time for friendship. They were just too busy to do anything extra. I suggested that she attend a church group meeting and reach out to her fellow Christians (as she had lived a Christian life in the past). Her response broke my heart.

“There are too many hypocrites in church and I’m just not interested in going back.”

I found myself defending Christians, and encouraging her to go back to church because I knew (or prayed) that someone would reach out to her and her loneliness would subside. The truth is though, I knew the awful truth. Even Christians are too busy to add extras to their schedule. Many Christians speak words of faith, but then their actions contradict what their words are saying.

What my friend was saying was true. (now please don’t get me wrong. I am not passing judgment on Christians or saying that we are ALL guilty of this. I’m just saying, as a general rule, Christians don’t have a good reputation in the secular world).

Let me give two examples from my own life.

1. Tattoos

While I was out making bad choices as a young adult, I got a few tattoos. Thankfully they were nothing hideous, but they are there for the rest of my life. I made those choices before I became a born again Christian.

Some time into my walk with Jesus Christ, I was approached by a fellow Christian that was told me I was a sinner and what I did was wrong. He began quoting scripture from Leviticus 19:28 which says, “you must not put tattoo markings upon yourself”. This guy was passing judgment on past mistakes I had already been forgiven for. Thankfully, I was strong in my Christian faith and I was not offended by what this person was telling me. I KNEW the word of God and I knew that I was saved from all that I had done in my past.

But here is my dilemma.

What if THAT was the person who greeted me when I first walked into the church? What if, in my brokenness, I was greeted with condemnation and judgment instead of compassion and the love of Jesus? What if I was made to feel like I was tarnished forever because of a mistake I could never erase?

I would have walked out and thought just what my friend had said, “Christian hypocrites!

2. Music

As a teenager, my favorite bands were Judas Priest, Metallica and Megadeath!! Yes it’s true, I was a total rocker!!…

When I began attending church regularly, a new friend (who was strong in her faith) began to plant seeds that maybe my music was not pleasing to God. She introduced me to a few musicians in the church who shared their vast collection of Christian CD’s with me. I was amazed!!

Christian music that wasn’t hymn music??? It was straight up – Rock & Roll!! (DC Talk – Jesus Freak, Jars of Clay, Kutless, Thousand Foot Krutch). I traded in all my Secular Rock CD’s and began to worship with Christian Rock. I found a way to connect with God through music and it was so exciting.

Years later, a woman said to me, “that music does NOT glorify God and you should be ashamed of yourself!!”

Thankfully (again) I was strong in my faith and was able to discard what she said as judgment (that was not hers to make). I explained to her it was through music that “myself” and thousands of young teenage kids were coming to the church’s because they were able to connect with the sound. The message in the music glorified God – really, it did!!

She was solid in her convictions and continued to pass judgment on me.

Here is my point…

This last week has been heartbreaking for me as I watch loved ones avoiding church because of “Christian Hypocrites”. What does that say about the job the church is doing (as a whole)?

The scripture says that we are to wash the feet of others as Jesus washed our feet (John 13:14), we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34), we are to stop passing judgment on one another (Romans 14:13), we are to be completely humble and gentle and patient (Ephesians 4:2), we are to forgive grievances (Colossians 3:13), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), not slander anyone (James 4:11) and live in complete harmony (I Peter 3:8).

As a church, I am pleading that each of us walk through our days as a shining example of Christianity. A billboard for Jesus Christ.

I don’t mean with bumper stickers or jewelry or those little Jesus fish that people have on their cars. I mean with our actions, with our words, with our unconditional love for others. We can give correction without condemnation. We can plant seeds of love like my friend did with my music. We can greet someone with a smile like my sweet Alice did. We can share God’s word without making people who don’t know Christianity feel “less than”.

We need to take a stand and help the world see that Christianity is not full of hypocrites. I am not perfect and I fall short all the time (this message is for me too!!). My prayer is for all of us to reach out to that new person in church, make time to share with others, be kind to strangers for no other reason than your love for Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a stand Christians!!!  The world should look at us and be SO amazed that they want what we have 🙂

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Thanks for stopping by! Many blessings, Rene’