“I hate the Church” – An Open Letter

Dear Christian Friend,

My heart aches at your statement that you hate the Church and have left her fellowship. You say the Church is full of judgmental hypocrites. In a way, I can understand why you might say that. I believe you when you say you love the Lord, so as a fellow believer, I hope you’ll consider a few things.

I attend church for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a place to offer worship, honor, and praise to the One who sacrificed His perfect life on the cross to save me from the consequences of my sins. Can I praise God while listening to Christian music in my car? Yes. Can I praise Him as I admire the beauty of His creation? Of course. Are those offerings of praise pleasing to God? I believe they are. But it’s in church that I sit side-by-side with Christians from all walks of life, lifting our voices in unity together in praise to the Lord. That energizes me; it rejuvenates me. There is no replacing that. When I miss church, I miss church and I can’t wait to go back.

You say that churchgoers are judgmental. What you call judgmental, I call accountability. Once we connect with the Gospel and become saved, the desires of life begin to change; such is a sign of one who is truly saved. A healthy church will teach us what a Godly life looks like through Biblical preaching and teaching and encourage us on our Christian walk. I want my fellow Christians to help me along the path of sanctification. The Bible even encourages us to hold one another accountable (see Matthew 18 for example). We do so out of love for one another, not to win a “gotcha!” game. I get it – we don’t always get this right; there are jerks in church. There are jerks at work, on the roads, at the airport, and in the grocery store, too. Are you going to quit your job? Are you going to quit driving your car? Are you going to hole up in your house to avoid the jerks in life? Of course not.

You see, the church is full of sinners. Sinners just like me and just like you. Sinners who know the Lord, seek to live lives pleasing to Him, and make lots of mistakes in the process. Sinners who rally around the fallen and support him as he seeks to mend his ways. Sinners who lift one another in prayer in times of illness, unemployment, mourning, and other difficulties. Sinners who, though well intended, sometimes say the wrong things. Sinners who throw themselves on the mercy of the Cross, just as God intended. Your decision to leave says, in effect, that you think you are better than the rest of us. That, my friend, is the sin of pride rearing its ugly head. If you really stop to think about that, I know you will realize that you’re not. We’re all sinners. We’re all saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. We all have room for improvement. We need each other. We need you and we want you to come back.

Friend, you have a lot to offer the church, just as she has a lot to offer you. The things that you say have driven you away from the church are the very things that should draw you inside. I hope you will reconsider. I hope you will come back. I’m praying for you.

Your Brother in Christ,

Jeff

2015 Photo-A-Day 1.31.2015

We finally found our Fort Worth dance hall. Welcome to The Stagecoach Ballroom! This expansive dance floor filled quickly once Jamie Richards and his band took the stage. My wife and I two-stepped the night away to some fine Texas music, and we got to witness a sweet marriage proposal to boot. She said yes.

“They have always caught your attention as you traveled the roads of small rural Texas towns, whether on vacation or just out for a Sunday drive. They take on a different look when the Texas sun turns its light on them. There are fond memories of growing up visiting the “shrines” with family and recalling one’s first dance steps. They are a big part of Texas culture and Texas history – they are the dance halls of the Lone Star State.” ~ Geronimo Trevino III courtesy of media cottage.com

The Stagecoach Ballroom, Fort Worth, Texas.

The Stagecoach Ballroom, Fort Worth, Texas.

2015 Photo-A-Day 1.30.2015

Say hello to my new friends. As I walked the grounds of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo on Saturday, I stopped at this stall and these two walked up and said hello – makes me want to look for acreage so I can take these two home! This pair pulls one of the chuck wagons that race during the rodeo performance. Although they run all-out during the race, here they were as calm, friendly and docile as could be.

“I’ve often said, there is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” ~ Ronald Reagan via BrainyQuote.com

Met these two at the FWSSR. Sweet animals!

Met these two at the FWSSR. Sweet animals!

2015 Photo-A-Day 1.29.2015

Throwback Thursday. This is one of my favorite family pictures, taken in the fall of 2011 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

Autumn on the Blue Ridge Parkway

2015 Photo-A-Day 1.28.2015

Give a group of Texans a dance floor and a great band playing fine Texas music and you’ve got yourself a really fun time. In the Rodeo Roadhouse at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo last night, Jolie Holiday and her band offered up some of the finest, ranging all the way from Patsy Cline to Stevie Nicks. I took this pic just as Jolie began one of her Patsy Cline covers. I was just in time; the dance floor was packed soon after.

“Country music is three chords and the truth.” ~ Harlan Howard via BrainyQuote.com

Jolie Holiday and her band rocked the Rodeo Roadhouse at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Jolie Holiday and her band rocked the Rodeo Roadhouse at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

2015 Photo-A-Day 1.27.2015

The Grand Entry was just about finished when I snapped this picture from about 20 feet away from this rider and our American flag. As the flag enters the arena, guests stand as the rider passes before them, then are invited to sit and enjoy the grand entry procession of stock show dignitaries. Sisters Megan and Summer Gay have presented the Colors each of the four years I’ve been involved with the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and they do an outstanding job.

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~ Ronald Reagan via BrainyQuote.com

Our flag at FWSSR, 1.27.2015

Our flag at FWSSR, 1.27.2015

The New England Patriots and Legerdemain

Many believe that the New England Patriots displayed legerdemain in deflating 11 of 12 game balls prior to their AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. However, the Patriots and their fans believe the Pats displayed great legerdemain in walloping the Colts 45-7 in that same game. Well, which was it?

As Word Master for this week’s meeting of my Toastmasters club, I needed a word that most people in the group have likely never heard. That is the purpose of this role, after all: to help our members expand their vocabulary. My Merriam Webster Dictionary app solved my dilemma by offering me a word that met this criterion while allowing me to craft a usage example around a topic that is generating much discussion these days – the New England Patriots’ “deflategate” scandal.

Legerdemain (noun): 1. Sleight of hand; 2. A display of skill or adroitness. (credit: Merriam-Webster.com)

So, did the Patriots display legerdemain (1) or legerdemain (2) in the AFC Championship game? I believe they epitomized the concept of legerdemain by nailing both definitions. Based on news reports thus far into the NFL investigation, it appears clear that the Patroits managed to alter the game balls beyond what is allowed in the rules after the game officials had validated the balls. Did that by itself make the difference in the outcome of this game? Not hardly in my opinion. The final score was 45-7, after all, and New England outplayed Indy in all aspects of the game.

The NFL reported yesterday that their investigation will likely not be completed for another couple of weeks, so we fans of sports talk radio will be hearing about “deflategate” for at least that long. I think it’s sad that one of arguably the best teams to play the game apparently felt the need to cheat the rules to gain an edge over their opponent. Based on interviews with former NFL Quarterbacks and others who know Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady well, I don’t believe this occurred without their knowledge. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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