Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wednesday's Word-The View from 30,000 Part 2

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." 1 Peter 3:15

Dallas and I take this verse very seriously. In fact, we regularly study religions outside the christian faith so that we're "bringing our 'A' game in life." Sit me next to a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness, and I will repreSENT! !) But, as I became overly aware on my flight home from Texas, I am unprepared to give a reason to all these "minor" religions...

I flew from Dallas to Atlanta, where I switched planes and ended up sitting next to a girl in her mid-twenties. She was a rug weaver from Alabama. I asked her why she was traveling to Baltimore, and she said she was going there for a Lakota Indian Tribe Sundance. (SMOKES! That religion wasn't in the books I read!) I asked her if she had Indian ancestry. "No. I read this book after my husband read it." She told me that it was the way she chose to worship and pray (to the same God of the Christian faith). WHA?! She also said that she has participated in sweat ceremonies in which you sit all day long in a hut made of willow branches and...you got it...sweat. This, she said, brings you closer to god. (I write that with a little "g" because I do not believe she worships the Almighty God) Her husband had already been in Maryland for a couple weeks, and she was invited to come to the last 4 days of the ceremony. And, the last four days are where I ran out of ideas on how to bring this back to Jesus.

A little research, and I found that Day one of the last four days includes finding and cutting down a "sacred" cottonwood tree, bringing it back to camp. They apparently cut it way back and then stand it upright into a hole in the ground. Day 2-3 commences the dancing/fasting/praying. They dance and dance and dance. Day 4 is where it sorta gets gross, so if you're easily grossed out, then you should probably skip the rest of this paragraph. At this point, a select group of men who have pledged to pierce lay down. The Medicine Man comes and cuts two incisions into each man's chest and sticks a peg through the hole. The men then tie the peg to ropes hanging from the top of this tree and continue to dance. At the end of the day, these men yank backward and the peg tears through their skin. They lay the skin at the base of the tree. the sacrifice has been made. This does not represent the God I know!

If I had KNOWN about this ceremony, that apparently a prayer would be answered through sacrifice, I could have asked her to explain this sacrifice, and then that would have been my segway into talking about Jesus, the PERFECT sacrifice-ONCE FOR ALL!

Getting back to the original Scripture, always be prepared to give a reason. If you need a REASON, then you're asking "WHY" kinda questions. My kids are constantly asking "Why" this and "Why" that...because they are seeking an ANSWER, a REASON. So, if I'd asked my flying partner WHY they rip a peg outta their skin, maybe I would have gotten to the reason behind it-the sacrifice. So, basically, if you keep asking "WHY" kinda questions...you will eventually come to SOMETHING that you can use to bring the conversation on home.

This reminds me of the story in Acts Chapter 8 (verses 26-40) where Philip was told to go out to this road where he met up with the chariot of an Ethiopian eunuch-an official to Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. The Holy Spirit told Philip to "Go to that chariot and stay near it." (I love that part-Philip is a RUNNER!) The eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah on his way to Jerusalem to worship. So, Philip, running beside this man's chariot...wait a minute...can you PICTURE this situation and how RIDICULOUS Philip must have looked?!! He is now RUNNING next to the chariot, "creeping" on this man's quiet time with the Lord! And, Philip says (through the window as he's running beside it to keep up!), "Do you understand what you are reading?" The man replies, "How can I...unless someone explains it to me?" Then, the man invites this "crazy runner guy" into his chariot! (What a WILD God we serve!) The eunuch reads Philip this passage and asks Philip what Isaiah was talking about. This is my favorite part:

"Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus." (vs 35)

I love this because Philip met the guy EXACTLY where he was in Scripture AND in his quest for truth, and the eunuch totally "sold out for Jesus!" In fact, they passed some water where the eunuch ordered the chariot to stop and was baptized! As soon as the eunuch came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit took Philip away and he "...preached the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea."

FOLKS! This is an example of how SHARP WE are supposed to be! Philip was led by the Spirit, went to "crazy" lengths to obey, and led this man to Christ...beginning RIGHT WHERE HE WAS!

I was speechless when this girl was telling me about her personal faith. I prayed, don't get me wrong, but I just didn't have an answer! I wasn't ready.

Are you?

No comments: