Saturday, May 16, 2009

Generic Flour

A couple of years ago I talked to some people about generic flour. As Scott has recently spoken on Generic Christianity, I was reminded of my generic flour story.

In our early days of marriage I purchased some generic flour. Every item that I made with that flour turned out bad. I decided that all generic flour was bad and was willing to shell out the few extra cents for brand name flour. Almost ten years after that experience, it hit me how that one package of flour turned me off all generic flour, and I began to think about what it would take for me to try generic flour again. At first I couldn’t imagine anything making me want to try it. Ultimately I opened my mind to the possibilities of that one brand being bad or even that one package being bad and that maybe not all generic flour was bad. As I thought of the flour, I saw a parallel to what so many people feel about Christianity.

So many people have had a bad experience with Christianity, which has turned them off it forever, just as I was turned off generic flour. These people may have been hurt by someone in the church or by a situation in the church. Whatever the negative experiences they may have had, should they turn away from the church and Christianity forever? What can make them want to try again?

I went ten years without even thinking about trying generic flour. Honestly, it took me a few months after first thinking about until I was willing to buy and use some generic flour. If it was so hard for me to purchase a bag of flour, how much harder must it be for someone to reconsider Christianity?

Can we live our lives in a way that we can help that transition be easier for others? Can we live our lives in a way that doesn’t create the negative experiences for others - the ones that turn them off Christianity?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Magic 8 Ball

Remember the toy, Magic 8 Ball? You ask a question, shake it, and then an answer appears on the toy. How many times do we treat our faith like a Magic 8 Ball?
Have you ever prayed, “God, lead me to Your word today,” then flipped open the Bible and whatever page you landed on is God’s word for you that day? What about asking God to give you an answer to a decision? Have you prayed for God to give you a sign? For example, as you are driving, you pray that if God wants you to go ahead with a certain project, then the stoplight ahead will be green and if He doesn’t want you to go ahead, it will be red. Then you get to the stoplight to find it yellow!
It’s a good thing to seek God’s will and direction, yet we try so often to seek His will while adding our own qualifications. Telling God how to answer us isn’t really relying on faith.
Faith involves waiting and listening and fully seeking God. Just as it is foolish to shake the Magic 8 Ball to find out the answer to a serious question, so it is foolish to treat our faith like a Magic 8 Ball.