i always enjoy conversations with my brother-in-law. they always challenge me. you see, he and his wife have opinions very, very different from my own. their approach to christianity leaves most conservative believers with the opinion that are not saved at all.

so why am i right? or am i? my answer to that question would have been different at the differing stages of my life. there was a time when the answer was, "because my pastor said so." however, that answer holds very little water for the mature believer.

at the risk of oversimplification, let me give an answer for my life right now. if i am right, then it would be verified somehow, right? i live my faith out in the real world with fear and trembling. my beliefs demand that God be very much at work in the life of a regular joe like me. and thus far, he certainly has been! there have been examples upon examples of instances of "coincidences" that are strangely enough occuring when they need to be. it's as if my beliefs are some scientific theory, and i then see results of this theory being found true in my own world.

here's the hard thing. if i were to explain any one of these instances to you, you might be credulous at best that God were the force behind them. the words that would be given to me most frequently would be "coincidence" or "fate" or "luck." perhaps i am too simple-minded, but those terms are not adequate. i cannot impress upon you the strength of emotion, the brilliant flashes of understanding, or the unbelievable timing of certain things. (God seems to be most amazing with his sense of timing!)

i know, i know, i have heard all the philosophical arguments. my belief has provided a construct for receiving these circumstances, and immediately puts them into my pre-conceived categories involving God. i have examined those criticisms, and have examined theology (the study of God), and have seen the truth. there is something bigger than my opinion going on here.

God is real, and he does things -- unexplainable things -- in my life and the lives of others. ask me sometime about some of those experiences. i will tell you some stories, and it is possible that you will call me crazy, but then again, i have been called much worse.

but i feel my ADD kicking in, so i'll leave this discussion for now in an effort to stem the tide of some other rabbit-chase.



So it's pretty late, and I'll try to keep this short. But I couldn't get it out of my head. Don't worry, Mom, I don't have to work tomorrow. I'll sleep in. Maybe.

I attended a funeral today of a seventy-something Hispanic man. His son, an active godly deacon in our church, spoke of family, heaven, and strength from Jesus Christ. It was a long and touching service. I live in and love this tiny backwoods town of ours. Things are simpler here. People actually talk to one another. They don't send emails to friends to read each other's blogs. They actually use their mouths and hands. There's something right about that.

But I digress. (It's the ADD.) It occurred to me to ask myself a question. If there were no heaven, would I serve God anyway? Many Christians consider heaven the goal. I prefer to think of it as a reward. A bonus payable on death, if you will. Why do we serve God with our hands out, as if expecting payment in return? Accordingly, what if we didn't get "paid" with heaven? Would we still work for God? His gift of Jesus is plenty reason to serve him our whole lives.

This changes my evangelism. I am less interested in where people think they will go after they die. I am more interested in telling them how and why God loves them, and what they can do about that. If the Holy Spirit uses that to convince them to put God in the driver seat of their life, then God will have won a faithful follower. He will not have won what I refer to as someone wanting fire insurance. (God isn't simply our ticket out of hell.) The church is far too full of those. (But those people sure do boost our annual baptism totals, don't they? But I'll save that frustration for another post.)

On a practical level, that evangelism is more likely to produce less quantity, but more quality (hopefully). But the results do not concern me. I am only asked to share. Not save. That's his job.