What Kind of Christian?

So I was introduced to someone the other day and after some small talk the ensuing conversation led me to identify myself as a Christian.

Normally I would self-identify as “a Jesus follower” rather than as “a Christian,” but the conversation path led to my saying, “I am a Christian.”

Immediately I was asked, “Well, what kind of Christian? Are you a ‘hate-Christian’ or a ‘love-Christian?'”

I am not exactly sure how I replied because I was so shaken by the question. I’m pretty sure I responded with something about Jesus saying that his followers are known by love, but I can’t be certain it made much sense.

I just kept thinking, “This is what it has come to? Really?”

A few days have passed and I am still frustrated at the current reality. But after some reflection, I am more concerned about being able to authentically claim to be “a love-Christian” in an age where people are very familiar with “hate-Christians.”

All of Them

Some people are bitter. Some people are hurting. Some people are stressed. Some people are hardened. Some people are lonely. Some people are overwhelmed. Some people are directionless. Some people are entangled in sin. Some people are desperate. Some people are confused. Some people are fed up. Some people are running on empty. And all of these people need love. May the church be a people who loves them. All of them.

3 Lies

In his writings, Henri Nouwen warns against these three lies we believe: I am what I do. I am what I have. I am what others think and say. Nouwen says the way to overcome these three lies is to remember this truth: I am God’s beloved. It is my hope and prayer that at Christmas we will be reminded yet again that we are God’s beloved. The message of that baby, the Word become flesh, is unmistakable. God loves me. God loves the world.

God’s Beloved

In his writings, Henri Nouwen warns against these three lies we believe: I am what I do. I am what I have. I am what others think and say. Nouwen says the way to overcome these three lies is to remember this truth: I am God’s beloved. It is my hope and prayer that at Christmas we will be reminded yet again that we are God’s beloved. The message of that baby, the Word become flesh, is unmistakable. God loves me. God loves the world.

Deeply Loved

God is love. God loved us so much that God gave us Jesus. God loved us while we were sinners. Let that sink in for a minute. Love. Deep love. Sacrificial love. Unconditional love. Remember these truths the next time you begin to believe the lies of the adversary, the accuser. Whatever your situation or circumstances, remember this core truth: you are loved deeply by God.

Continuous Partial Attention

Linda Stone uses the term, “continuous partial attention” to describe people who are always distracted, never fully present where they are, and never fully engaged with whom they are present. If I’m serious about loving people, I must be fully present with them. One way I can show interest, respect, and love for someone is to be present and really listen to them, it’s the Jesus-way.

A Front Row Seat

Love one another. We read it repeatedly in Scripture. Last week I had a front row seat to watch several people in our church family love one another. They loved generously. They loved unselfishly. They loved sincerely. They loved stubbornly. They loved hopefully. They loved sacrificially. I’m so thankful for a church family that shows me what love is all about. Love one another.

For the Love of God

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

As Lafayette Christian Preschool wrapped up another year, I had opportunity to participate in the closing ceremonies by praying a blessing over the children and the parents. Before praying for the children, I had opportunity to watch them sing a song they had been practicing for several days.

The teachers were sweet and encouraging as they positioned the children for the big performance. As I watched I knew the teachers were wondering if all of their hard work in teaching the song and preparing for the performance was going to be evident or if it would come off as if they had never rehearsed at all. When you work with children, especially young children, you never know quite what to expect.

  • Would they remember the words?
  • Would they stand still?
  • Would someone start sobbing?
  • Would a little girl lift up her dress?
  • Would a little boy pull down his pants?

One of the best things about these programs is the audience. These children were not onstage to perform for me. They were not performing for their teachers. They were certainly not performing for Simon Cowell. The children were on that stage singing for an audience packed with their number one fans, their parents, grandparents, and other family members.

As I sat in the front waiting for my cue to step onstage and bless the children, I think I had the best seat in the house. I could see everybody — the children, the teachers, and the audience of family members. I am not sure what was sweeter – seeing and hearing the children singing the songs or watching their parents and grandparents support their precious children.

Some of the children seemed confident. Some seemed a bit uneasy. One or two decided to just stand there without singing or even moving, seemingly overwhelmed by their moment in the spotlight. And then there were the Moms who were waving to their sons. Dads who were videotaping their daughters. Parents and grandparents mouthing, “I love you!” to their children. And, of course, once or twice I saw parents and grandparents reacting to what they were seeing with a “D’oh!”

As I watched the preschool production with all the family dynamics taking place, I thought of how family presents a picture of God’s love. I imagined Jesus watching us perform for Him. I envisioned God being focused on us, waving to get our attention. I pictured the Holy Spirit doing everything possible to assure us of God’s love. As I watched the parents and grandparents I was reminded — that’s the way God is.

Where would we be but for the love of God?

Holding Carson

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 a

Last December when Keith and Mindy told us they were expecting their first child, I began wondering what holding Carson would be like. After months of waiting, Carson Robert Clark made his entry into the world. Lourene, Laura, and I were in the family waiting room along with Mindy’s family when we heard the wonderful news.

We made our way to their room and experienced that holy moment of seeing Carson for the first time, cradled in his mother’s arms. There was a mixture of tears and quiet laughter as we all tried to get a glimpse of his sweet face. Soon we made our way out of the room to give Keith, Mindy, and Carson some time together before Carson had to go to the nursery.

In the months waiting for Carson’s arrival friends tried to prepare me. Most of their comments about being a grandfather ended with, “It’s an amazing experience.” After a few moments in Carson’s presence and little more than a few glimpses of his face, I knew they were right — amazing! I love that little boy so much. The love for my grandson was as instant as my love for his father and aunt when they were born.

We stayed in town for the two days Mindy and Carson were in the hospital. I can tell you that I got to hold Carson in my arms four times for a total of about 35 minutes. I know this because I cherished every single minute.

When it was time to hand him over to the one waiting to hold him, I began thinking about the next time I would hold him. Truth is, the minute I passed him to his grandmother or aunt I was looking at the clock to figure out when would be my next turn.

Holding Carson was all I wanted to do!

As I reflect on holding Carson I imagine God wanting to hold me. I love being a grandfather. Being a grandfather reminds me how wonderful it is to be a child of God. Holding Carson reminds me of the love God has lavished on me.

Sorry if I seem a little distracted these days. Chances are, I am daydreaming about the next time I am holding Carson.