Saturday, October 14, 2006

IHS - Baptisms - ACU Homecoming

I haven’t written about it in a while, but I’m still working through the book IN HIS STEPS by Charles Sheldon.  The book was first written in the late 1800’s as a series read aloud to some young people at a Kansas church.  It is a fascinating story, a tale of the lives of the preacher and former pew-sitters at First Church who decide to reinvent their actions based solely on the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”  I love reading how the preacher changes his way of ministering to people and even in his delivery of his weekly sermons.  Then there’s the business man who is confronted with issues of integrity at his workplace that he can no longer ignore.  Then a Christian publisher of a local newspaper radically decides to no longer publish a Sunday issue of his paper, costing him tons of money in advertisers and subscribers.  Even as each person wrestles with imitating the morality of Christ, you’re forced, as a reader, to do the same.  Yet even the characters wrestle with how we could determine the exact moral attitude of our Christ when we don’t have record of him in a newspaper publishing world, running a business, nor even necessarily as a modern day preacher.  A young talented voice, Rachael Winslow, is confronted with such a dilemma as she reverses her family’s dream that Ms. Winslow pursue a lucrative singing career with her voice known all over town (and very much a part of the beautiful voices of the First Church choir).  She says to her disbelieving mother, “I have made up my mind to use my voice in some way so as to satisfy my own soul that I am doing something better than pleasing fashionable audiences, or making money, or even gratifying my own love of singing.”  Such statements, through the first weeks of such a fanatic response to the WWJD issue, are met with doubt, skepticism, confusion and even resentment.  

One significant revolution is how these believers become convicted about engaging the Rectangle, the “bad part of town” where the bars and saloons are located.  Admittedly, the First Church and any respectable Christian citizen had certainly stayed clear of the dirty, drunken and impure “mass of humanity” saturating that part of town.  But then the question begged these extremists to think through the eyes of Christ.  The Reverend, with a reputation renowned for delivering well-articulated sermons every Sunday and Wednesday, found himself for the first time trembling speechless as he and several First Church disciples stared into the eyes of the shattered lives of the Rectangle.  As Rachel melted the hearts of these sinners with her angelic declarations, the preacher sensed he was doing what his Christ would do.  It was the overwhelming love in his heart for this mass of faces in what was once a faceless crowd.  The author describes Rev. Maxwell’s change of heart like this:

It is easy to love an individual sinner, especially if he is personally picturesque or interesting.  To love a multitude of sinners is distinctively a Christ-like quality.”

WOW!  I think of that in my own life….I can perpetually love me and even quickly extend the Lord’s large hand of grace to me (picturesque as I am!), but there are days when I honestly get disgusted when I look around at the host of Aja people so entrenched into voodoo, so oppressed by their own jealousy and so apathetic even about their Christ.  I don’t like my attitude like that….instead, I desire the heart of love which compels us all to be ambassadors of peace and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5.14ff)!

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Today I was witness to 8 young people who were baptized into Christ from the village of Tchatehoue (cha-TAY-way).  I just received a call confirming that in the village of Ainahoue (yee-NAH-way), tomorrow there will be another dozen.  God is good and is adding to His Kingdom all the time!

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This weekend is ACU’s Homecoming weekend!  And my 15-year college reunion!  Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long.  Although I hardly keep up with anyone from my actual class (’91!), I have so many friends who are alums of Abilene Christian (married one beautiful alumnus from ’92).  I’m proud to be a graduate (undergrad + grad degrees) and am so grateful for everything ACU gave to me…through my professors, my mentors, my friends.  Kelly is there with the kids in Abilene right now, so she’ll post some pictures over the next day or so.

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Next week, you’ll hear the full true tale answering the riddle:  “how many sanctuaries does it take to save a chicken?”  One of the funniest stories I’ve heard in a while!  A great story about one fowl’s desperate search for refuge and one Christian with a compassionate heart watchful enough to give it to him.  Stay tuned…..

-Randy


1 comment:

R Debenport said...

I am challenged and encouraged by your post today, Randy. Thanks for writing. I should pick up "In His Steps" again. I'm also so excited for the 9 new members of the Kingdom and there's more to come! Great news. God bless you and be a blessing.
-Russ