A Stone On Your Head

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In 1834 the following story was written by English historians who were compiling a review of County Crayke. It is the true account of a gentlemen named Simeon Ellerton.

“Simeon Ellerton died here, Crayke, North Yorkshire, England, January 3, 1799, at the advanced age of 104. He was a noted pedestrian, and was often employed by gentlemen in the neighborhood on commissions to London and other places, which he always executed on foot, with fidelity and diligence. He lived in a neat stone cottage of his own building; and what was remarkable, he had literally carried it upon his head!

It being his practice to bring home from every journey the proper stone he could pick up on the road, and place it on his head, until he had accumulated a sufficient quantity to erect his habitation, by which time, although the motive had ceased, this practice had grown so much into a habit, that he imagined he could travel the better for having a weight upon his head and he seldom came home without some loading. If any person inquired his reason, he used facetiously to answer, ‘’Tis to keep on my hat’.”

The article went on to say that local residents all thought he was a “curious fellow”, a bit touched in the head, or at the very least, a bit eccentric. Because of his practice, the term “rocks on your head” began to be used to describe anyone who acted out of the norm, or had behavior considered a bit strange. What is fascinating, is that the term is still in use today. It has come down to us in the form of “rocks in your head”. Yet the fact is, the man it was intended to mock,  actually lived an honorable life. He was trusted and respected by all who hired him, and lived to the ripe old age of 104, during a time when the average person died before the age of 50. Hardly the life of one who should be mocked!

For me this is such a great story. It demonstrates the value of quiet resolve, personal diligence and clear vision, which are so important if you are going to accomplish anything in life. Let’s face it, few people today would stop to ask why a man was walking the roadside with a rock on his head. Most would assume he was mentally unhinged, or an emotional prisoner to some trauma in life. He would most likely be reported to the authorities and locked in some psychiatric ward. Fewer still would have the diligence, fortitude and patience to carry out a practice everyone questioned. The mockery of others, and the sheer magnitude of the task at hand, would simply wear them out.

There is a powerful lesson to be learned from the humble determination of the man who carried a rock on his head. He is the model for all of us who think outside the box. We all live in a world that tries to conform us to it’s way of doing things. Dress like this, talk like that, think like this and act like so. Drive this car, use this makeup, live in this kind of house and dress in these clothes. Conform, or you are an outcast and will have no work! The point is, most people are nothing more than rats running in a social maze and they are too blind, or too scared, to see things for what they really are.

And so, those of us with a rock on our head, who carry this load along life’s road, are doing so because it secures our future.  We are carrying the stones of a place not yet built, where we will live free, think free and enjoy independence from that which influences and manipulates the rest of the world. Run like mindless lemmings, if you so desire, into the sea that this world offers. But, as for me, I will go against that flow every time, and much prefer to be the odd ball. An outcast in some circles, perhaps, but who cares! While they are running like gerbils on their caged-in treadmills, I am having amazing failures and wonderful adventures in the real world that take my breath away!

I, and those like me, are the curious ones that others wonder about, as we serve God, pray and live biblically principled lives. We gladly walk our road with a rock on our head, knowing that in time we will have a “neat stone cottage” approved by God. It may not be tomorrow, but one stone at a time it will be built. As this world goes it’s merry way, deeper into conformity and sin, laughing, mocking and looking at us with curiosity, we will be building a future that will not be shaken, one stone on our head at a time. My question is, what’s on your head my friend, and what future are you building?  If you don’t like what you see, let me invite you to join us on our journey into the presence of God. You won’t regret it! Now go find a nice stone….. and have a great day!

 

Life As A Priority

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In the early 1900’s, life in rural America was so much simpler than it is today. Many, like myself, think this was life as it should be. The steam locomotive, wagon and horse were the main forms of transportation. Every community had a hardware store and blacksmith shop. The general store, post office and barbershop were gathering places for local news. The sawmill and gristmill were centers of community commerce, and farmers brought their crops into town to sell locally. People were happy to depend on each other in times of crises, or to meet basic, daily needs.

Life was slower, less distracted and more deliberate in those days, and each season had its own necessary preparations. There were family gardens and crops to be planted in spring, structures to be built in summer, wood to be cut, a harvest to be brought in and animals to be hunted in the Fall, and winter was used to mend, fix and prep everything for the next year. Front porches on every house were lined with comfortable wooden rockers that adults sat in during the evening and they shared a cup of coffee and good conversation. Best of all, neighbors looked out after each other on a daily basis and there was a sense of belonging that cemented things into that specific time and place.

The cars, bicycles and motorcycles were novelties, for the most part, and the average person viewed them as toys for the rich. People heated their homes with wood and lighted the night with kerosene lamps or home made candles. Hand made bi-planes crawled into the air under the guidance of inexperience daredevils, who landed them in empty fields that served as airports. Doctors made house calls and left the necessary medicine for their patients, all for a whopping price of $5. Milk and heavy cream were delivered in glass bottles to the front door by local dairy’s along with eggs, cheese and butter.

A “tab” was run up at local stores by most everyone, and this was paid off without interest, at the end of the month. Loans were made, and finances exchanged with nothing more than a handshake and a verbal agreement. No signed contracts were needed, and in many cases, no one wrote down how much was borrowed. People were basically honest, but beyond that, they knew their family name was on the line if they failed to honor their agreement. There was genuine trust and respect that people gave to one another, and nothing less was to be expected.

There was one school in each community and it had locally hired teachers who taught two elementary grade levels in a single room. Each high school grade had it’s own room and teachers specialized in two or three subjects. Elementary teachers stayed with the same class all day while those in high school rotated between classrooms and grade levels to be taught different subjects. Students all walked to school, there were no busses, and they either carried their lunch in a brown paper bag or ran home to eat at lunchtime. The average class size in these community schools was 8 to 12 students per grade level, and that was also the size of each graduating class.

It’s hard to believe, but this is very close to the world I grew up in. Our small village in the northern Adirondacks seemed to have a “Brigadoon” quality about it that resisted modernization. It disliked change of any kind, and each new decade took it further and further out of step with the world that was changing all around it. Quite honestly, we were proud of that fact, and in many ways I still am. Why? Because, I got to live in a world that was quickly vanishing away. I got to know some of the life my father had lived, in the early 1900’s, and it connected me to him and to our family history. I not only heard his stories of years gone by, but I was able to experience some of them for myself, which made them real.

Dad road in an open wagon, and I got to ride in the back of his 1954 Willies truck on summer nights. He swam in Sumner Brook on hot summer days, and 55 years later so did I. I attended the same schoolhouse he did, sat in the same desks and wrote on the same chalkboards. Our family ate breakfast and dinner together as a family every day, and life rotated around when those meals were ready. We adjusted our activities to our family mealtime, not our mealtime to our activities. Eating at my mother’s table was a constant that established our family life and time together.

Now imagine this; when I was 9 years old my father called Cohen’s Hardware Store, just down the hill from our house, and told the clerk to give me two “farmers helpers”. Dad was clearing stumps and rocks from our backfield and these made the job much easier. With $2 in hand I arrived at the store, handed the clerk the money, and he gave me two paper bags. One had sawdust in it and the other did not. He then gave me stern instructions to keep them separate and take them directly to my father.

What was in the two bags? One held two blasting caps with 10 inch fuses, and the other held sawdust that encased and two half sticks of dynamite, called “blanks”. Once a blasting cap was inserted into the “blank”, and the fuse was lit, you were in business to remove any stump or rock that might be in the way. Today people would be arrested for such a thing, but back them it was just everyday life. I had a respect for the power of what I held and I also respected my father. In addition I trusted the store clerk and they both trusted me to do exactly as I was told. Needless to say I did not let them down and the whole system worked fine. There were no permits, no laws broken and no harm was done. It was regulation free and worked for everyone.

We learned respect for authority, obedience to our parents and we accepted the wisdom of common sense. We listened to what would be dangerous, or wrong, and we kept that knowledge close at hand. We took responsibility for our actions and discovered the value of honoring the old ways that served past generations so well. The deep-rooted connection to the life that had always been, was embraced as truth, and it kept us safe, brought focus and connected us together as a community.

This was the life for me during the 1950’s, and when it began to disappear, something in me disappeared with it. The sense of permanence, historical family foundations and the knowledge of knowing where you belonged, began to fade away. Then my mother moved from our hometown at the age of 90, and a few years later Normans General Store closed, after being there for 120 years. With these two events, all connection to who we had always been was gone. Every tie to family history, and the reality that I could no longer go “home” was a shock. It set me adrift, and I felt like I was floating in a sea of uncertainty in a rapidly changing world that clearly would never be the same.

I was eventually able to get my bearings because the core values of that solid, grounded, generational life, served me well. However, many today live their lives with a directionless, rootless apathy. The need for job security often moves families across the country multiple times. Statistics show that people move, on average, every 5 years. Today, huge schools bus children in from miles around, and class sizes average in the hundreds. Millions of dollars are spent on sports programs, free breakfast and lunches and special clubs. Yet with all of this, more children are overweight, the quality of education continues to fall and students are less prepared for the workforce than ever before.

Where is the answer in all of this? Are we to go back to the horse and buggy, the kerosene lamp and the hand pump of 100 years ago? No, but we might do well to go back and revisit the values, the priorities and the heart of those earlier times. Imagine what it would be like to rediscover the art of human connection. Think of how wonderful conversation could be without the constant interruption of television, computer screens or cell phones buzzing and chirping invasively into every moment of the day. How grand would it be to sit around the dinner table and eat a well-prepared meal rather than rushing off to yet another event.

How in the world do you do this? One word: PRIORITIES! The priority you place on things always determines how they fit into the life you live. There is no exception to the rule, and no way to avoid the consequences either. You will always, and I mean always, find time for what’s really important. Tell me your kids are important, yet you are always working and never have time for them; YOU LIE! Say that family is important, yet you never take a vacation together, never do fun things as a family and rarely share your thoughts or feelings: YOU LIE! Say that saving for retirement is important but you constantly go into debt and buy things that you can’t afford; YOU LIE!

Let me challenge you to live a life of priorities. Set a standard that others will be blessed by. Set the wrong priorities and it will become a curse. Living a life of priorities is the only way to live happy and fulfilled. We may not be able to go back to what was, but we can get our priorities straight and capture a better way to live. If you want to recover some of what has been lost, let me encourage you to consider the above. If you will, you can change what is, and those who follow after you will be able enjoy the history you have created. Let me ask you, in the end, what’s that worth!

“Finding Your Dana”

dana This Is  Dana!!

My wife and I have the great privilege of being the lead ministers of a wonderful, small church in a community in upstate New York. Our area is historically significant to the American Revolutionary War and it is located in the foothills of a vast wilderness area known as the Adirondack Mountains. The land is lush with vegetation, crisscrossed with rivers, covered with countless freshwater lakes and ponds. Most of all, the diversity of the people who live here, and specifically those we count as friends in our church, are the real stars in our universe. They are simply an amazing cross-cultural group that never ceases to put a smile on our face.

One of these is a “spiritual daughter” that God rescued from a life of welfare, poverty, sin and brokenness. By God’s grace she went from being an uneducated single mother, struggling to hold her head above water, to the store manager of a nationally known company who provides her with a good income, a retirement plan, health insurance, company benefits, job development on company time, company travel and recognition for her excellence as one of the youngest store managers at the ripe old age of 25. She is just a fireball of energy, encouragement and enthusiasm. In short, she is a walking miracle whom we love deeply.

Adding to her life of God-given blessing is her son, our “spiritual grandson” named Dana. Dana is a 6 year old whirlwind with a razor sharp mind that is all his own. He talks in an endless stream of insightful statements, makes keen observations and asks honest questions that are just infectious and arrest everyone’s attention. He moves at the speed of light, but never misses a thing. When Dana comes into a room, he looks around, his face lights up and very quickly his presence becomes known to all. He is an old soul in a child’s body that is filled to overflowing with the electricity of life and the endless curiosity of Leonardo Da Vinci. I just love this little boy to pieces because he is me 57 years ago!

The other day Dane saw me, ran up, gave me a big hug aground the legs, and looked at me with those big, wonder-filled eyes. His childlike expression told me the wheels were turning on the inside, and that could mean anything, good or bad. What I mean is, his words can be funny or filled with a painful honesty that can unnerve the bravest soldier. Once he hugged me on the neck and then, pulled back, looked right into my face and, with his cute little-boy nose all puckered up, said “Pastor, your breath smells”. I am sure those I prayed for that day were eternally grateful he had spoken that little revelation to me!

When our eyes met I knew something was bubbling up from his amazing little brain, and it would soon be flowing out of his mouth. So, I braced myself for his next insight on life, and sure enough, in a moment of paused silence, there it was in all it’s unrefined glory. He tipped his head to one side and I bent down near him. Then he put his hands on both sides of my face, looked deep into my eyes and said with an absolute childlike declaration: “Pastor, you are very thinkative”. The moment was soon over and he simply sped off to his next adventure.

Dana left me standing there holding back laughter, but still somewhat stunned and amazed. He had invented his own word that summed up my very essence in his mind. He had put all his keen observations of my adult life and ministry into that incredible child brain of his, and boiled them down to a single three syllable word. The funny thing is, he was absolutely right. Ask any of my friends, my colleagues or my wife and they will all tell you it’s true. There is no denying it. I am “thinkative”!

I believe we all need a Dana close at hand. We need that one person who has miraculously held onto their honesty and their sense of awe and wonder at just being alive. In these people, the invasion of this world, and it’s deadly lies, have not stolen the God-given innocence they were born with. They have not lost the joy of living and have refused to be warped by the pain inflicted upon them by this broken, selfish world. These people are like rare, perfect, flawless diamonds. They catch every ray of life-light that comes their way and have an ability to somehow reflect it back to us in a million beautiful colors. They grab our attention and take our thoughts away to grander things.

I have a number of such people in my life, and foremost among them are my beautiful wife Esther, Dana and Dana’s mother. These people bless and strengthen me when others have given up. They get my eyes off the hard times and move me past the broken promises. They walk with me beyond the disloyal people who pierce my heart, and they support me when others have left my side, and their assignment, for their own thoughtless purposes. They lift me up when I stumble, and they carry me when I can no longer walk. They are the real jewels in any crown I may acquire in this life.

In whatever phase of life you are going through right now, let me encourage you to look for your Dana’s. They are the one’s who hold onto childlike faith for you. They have an innocence of vision that can see right through your adult veneer. They are the ones who are excited to tell you what they see in you, and are honest enough to tell you both the good and the bad. The truth is, they don’t’ care if you are busy, rushed, hurt, pressured or distracted. They always look for you, and you know that when they see you, they light up and so do you.

Find your Dana’s and cherish them. These are the people who keep your heart tender, your life honest and your vision of yourself clean. It matters not that they are 57 years your junior or 50 years your senior. They are God’s gift of love and authentic life to you, and you must hear their words, and hold them close. Open your arms, your ear, your heart and your life to these treasured people, and you will never be the same. Push them away, and you have pushed away the hand of God that came to refine you. So my question is, will you push your Dana’s away and miss the wonders God is holding in reserve for your life? Hold your Dana’s close, and you will find the truth you need. More than that, you may also find your destiny as well!

“Carpe Diem”

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The phrase “carpe diem” is a Latin phrase that is literally translated as, “pluck the day”. However in English it is better translate as “seize the day”. Used in a variety of ways, “carpe diem” has both a positive and a negative application. On the negative side it describes an attitude or philosophy of life that says, “live for today, do what you want and don’t be concerned about the consequences in the future.” Carpe diem in it’s highest form means, “grab hold of the day you have been given and make the most of it”. I really like that!

The positive application of this phrase is the one I have been inspired by throughout my life. The word “carpe” means to grab hold of, or to grab something by the neck and hold it up. Don’t you just love the word picture that conjures up in your mind? It’s not some wimpy, limp wristed, fear filled thing that is overpowered by hesitancy. No! It’s a bold declaration that says, “ Everything needs to take notice that I am here, I am on this thing and I am giving it my full attention.” It’s a way of living that declares, “I am grabbing this thing by the neck and holding it up for all to see, and I am going to come out of this way better than when I went in.”

Man I love that kind of an attitude when it comes to every part of life, and I mean real, authentic life. It reminds me of a billboard I saw not long ago. There was a muscular military guy in boot camp and he straining to pull himself over an impossibly high wall. The caption underneath it said, “Pain… it’s just weakness leaving your body!” This is the mindset that says, “I will NOT let this situation overcome me, but I will use this situation to my advantage. This difficulty will not define me, it will refine me.” In case you missed it, those who tend to succeed in life understand this aspect of “carpe diem” and walk it out on a daily basis.

So, my question today is going to be right up in your face. I want to know something and your honest answer could be the thing that changes everything. Are you a wimpy whiner who feels life is tough and you are it’s constant victim? You may very well be in a hard situation, or be discouraged. I am not downplaying the pain you might be feeling right now. What I am saying is that you don’t have to let it define you and rule your life. Choose to face it, own it and then grab hold of it by the neck. Look for how you can use this “thing” to become stronger, more aware and more equipped as a person. Once you do that you can move out of your self-imposed, self-centered prison and start to help others.

“Seize The Day”! It’s the only way to really live your life in this fallen, broken, disconnected world. Stand up, look up, get shook up but refuse to give up. Defy the tendency to be ruled by mistakes, or what others have done or not done, said or not said. Begin to captain your own ship and learn how to take things where you want them to go. I was told by a wise old man some time ago, “Bill, if you let others drive, you have no right to complain about where they take you.” I say it’s your time to seize the day, take a risk, grab every issue by the throat and hold them up into the light!

Go live gloriously in the mistakes you will make and learn to enjoy the experience of failure so you can delight in the joy of victory when it finally comes. Refuse the meaningless, undeserved trophies of mediocrity life hands out to everyone. Embrace your magnificent failures, and in the process you will find the pleasure of living the life you always wanted. “Carpe Diem” my friends… anything less is not life at all. Now get out there and go seize the day!

When Planes Fall

On Apr 30, 2013 a huge civilian cargo plane had a deadly crashed at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. The incident was actually caught on a dash camera. In the footage the aircraft can be seen climbing at a steep angle, then it appears to slow down, slide back and to the left, begins to drop straight down and then goes nose first into the ground. It explodes in a ball of fire killing all on board. This incident, though horrific to watch, is by no means an isolated event. Over the years numerous planes of every size and shape have experienced the same thing. The question is, why?

While studying to fly several years ago, I learned there is something called “angle-to-lift” ratio and also “speed-to-curvature” ratio. That is, the angle at which an aircraft can be tilted upward can only be so steep, and that is based upon it’s speed and the amount of curvature the wing has. Once it exceeds specific ratios, the air flow over the wing curvature is not sufficient to give the aircraft a thing called “lift”. At an angle that is too steep, no amount of engine thrust, (at that point called “false thrust”), can overcome this lack of airflow over the surface of the wings. This causes the plane to “stall”, and it simply begins to fall downward in mid flight.

A large stalled aircraft at high altitude can drop thousands of feet per minute, and an inexperienced pilot might never recognize what is happening. With no reference point to help, a pilot can quickly get disoriented. When seeing the altimeter drop while believing they are still moving forward on course, confusion will set in. One deadly crash showed the copilot increase the angle of ascent and crank up the engines producing nothing but “false thrust” without lift. Unfortunately both of these are the wrong thing to do in that situation. Thinking the problem was solved, and the altimeter was malfunctioning, the aircraft continue it’s deadly drop and slammed on it’s belly into the ocean. All on board were instantly killed.

A situation like this can end with disastrous results or it can be corrected within a few seconds. It all depends on what the pilot does once the plane has gone into a stall. When an aircraft stalls, no matter how much thrust the engines put out, or how much the angle of ascent is increased, the aircraft will never stop it’s downward drop. The solution is really quite simple. All the pilot has to is point the nose of the plane in the direction of fall and the laws of physics and aerodynamics immediately take over. Air will begin to flow over the curve of the wings, and as it does air pressure above the wings goes down while air pressure under the wings goes up. This literally pushes up on the wings which produces the necessary “lift” for the aircraft to fly.

Think about the life implications of that for just a moment. The solution is found by pointing a stalled aircraft into the direction of fall. In other words, once the plane faces into the problem, it gets what it needs to be lifted out of the situation. A don’t know about you but that little revelation just makes me want to shout. Facing the problems at hand, not pointing yourself away from them, is what brings the solution you need. What a great truth to uncover as you being a new year!

Is your life stalled out right now? Do you feel disoriented and left wondering why in the world you are not making any real progress? Are you losing altitude, and no amount of effort on your part seems to be making a difference? Let me suggest that it’s time to face the things you may have been trying to avoid. If your life has stalled out then you need to go nose down ane fly right into the thick of it. Begin to work through the turbulence at the lower altitudes until you will feel the lift under your wings.

Your best destination is still out there and your ability to reach it is still within your grasp. All you need to do is learn the lesson provided by every plane that soars overhead. The right thrust, the right angel with enough airflow and you are good to go. Let 2017 be your year to reach the high place, fly through the low place and obtain the prize that awaits you. It is time to start you engine, because you have just been cleared for take off. Now go fly into that high place and begin to see the world from a more heavenly perspective. 

Avoiding The “Drama Dump”

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It is 6am on Christmas Eve morning, and I am enjoying a hot cup of Bengal Spice tea in the light of my Christmas tree. I am settled back into a large, well-padded, comfortable chair and soaking in all the solitude that surrounds me. The house is peaceful and warm, the road outside has no traffic and dawn is just showing over the ridge that is east of my house. I can see a flock of Chickadees flitting back and forth, grabbing a breakfast of sunflower seeds from the bird feeder I made and placed outside the window. This is a moment of morning seclusion, a sanctuary of quietness that I frequently enjoy, and always need. Why?  Because of the drama that often tries to surround our lives.

We live in a world that is overrun by pressures and the tyranny of the urgent needs of others that seem to hijack our life. Those we love and those we just know, have lives that are  often filled with drama, and this spills over onto us. We become collateral damage, so to speak, from the life issues, pain or stupid decisions others have made. For some, holiday time brings this into high gear and this can be rather emotionally draining. For others, it is simply an annoying frustration that they know will soon pass.

I am happy to say that I have finally learned how to move beyond the emotional baggage others want to unpack on my doorstep. I have discovered how not to be “dramatized” by the endless needs of others, and this revelation has changed my life. Let me take a moment to share my secret with you this Christmas season. It may just rescue you from yet another difficult time of year.

After a particularly demanding and emotionally draining time, I felt as if the life had been sucked out of me by the drama others were going through. Without knowing it, I had became the “host” animal, and emotional lamprey’s had attached themselves to me, hitched a ride and had been sucking the life juices out of me for months. In my attempt to help everyone, I was killing my own joy of living. My wife was impacted by it and my family and friends were getting the leftovers that remained. Needless to say this was the wrong order for things and I knew it had to stop.

Then one day I was talking with my wife about yet another emotional dump that had happened with those we loved. Perhaps I should say she was talking to me, and that conversation lit something within. Not long after this, an idea hit me during my quiet time in the early morning hours. I began to categorize the people, the drama and the outcomes that had been used to hijack my life. What I realized was that every situation fell into one of four categories, and that was a revelation. Once I discovered which category things fit into, every emotional bloodsucker fell off me. It was amazing!

The categories are actually simple filters that bring into focus what my role should be when someone wants to unpack their baggage and have a “drama dumped” at my front door. As you read these over, think of situations you may have been drawn into and see if this might help. They have worked well in my life, and my wife will tell you that we are all much better off since I put these into practice. The four “drama dump filters” are;

  1. ICA – I Can Advise (but you must do what I say).
  2. ICL – I Can Listen (but I don’t drag your drama with me).
  3. ICC – I Can Comfort (but you must be willing to change).
  4. ICH – I Can’t Help (because this is your issue. It’s not my monkey to carry).

When a drama dump comes your way, take a moment to pass it through the “drama dump filter” and watch what happens. Very quickly things will come into focus and the emotional bloodsuckers of life will fall away. When you don’t unpack the emotional baggage others want to drop on your doorstep, it is rather liberating.  Don’t allow others to leave their emotional junk mail in your mailbox, where you will be stuck opening it. It’s time to get your life back. Help where you can, listen when you are able, and leave others to the life they have made for themselves! Do yourself a favor and let the best come out of you this Holiday season. With a little practice, you can begin to live your life  with joy once again.

May God bless you, and may you have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

“Area 51” Christians

Above are pictures of top secret “Area 51” in Nevada.

One of the strangest things in American history is the mystery and continual misinformation given by our government about the infamous top secret base called “Area 51” that is located just outside of Los Vegas, Nevada. No matter how secret the government wanted to keep this place, in July of 2013, the CIA was forced to  publically acknowledged it for the first time due to a Freedom of Information Act request that had been filed 8 years earlier.

What’s so bizarre about this whole thing is that “Area 51” had been under public and private scrutiny for decades. It’s existence was well known, and thousands of photographs, articles and eye witness accounts had been collected about the facility and it’s location, following the report of a “UFO” Crash in the 1950’s. Information and speculation continually surfaced about it year after year. Some of it was pure fabrication, while other things were either undocumented half-truths or simple eye-witness reports by military people who worked there or been in the facility.

With all this going on, the federal government continually denied the existence of “Area 51”. Strangely enough they also debunked or threatened anyone who claimed to have been there, or been close enough to photograph it. I personally know of military personnel who mistakenly went on the property and were confronted at gun point and threatened to be shot or immediately arrested.  Thus, our government openly denied the reality of this place, and deliberately mislead the public for years, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In my mind it is hard to believe that such a thing could possibly happen, and yet it did. The facts did not matter. The truth did not matter. The evidence did not matter. What others wanted us to believe was in place, and that was blindly followed regardless of the truth. Finally, a few brave souls broke from their comfort zone and refused to simply go with the flow. They began to think for themselves and search for the truth. They forged ahead against the prevailing mindset and the end result was the truth finally had to be admitted. Once the lie was exposed, the “big secret” was over. It certainly did not uncover all that had or may still be going on in “Area 51”, but it did bring in some much needed honesty and light.

As I pondered this, I began to see the parallels between what happened with “Area 51” and what still happens when it comes to people understanding real Christianity. For the most part people see Christianity as being mysterious, full of secrets and still shrouded in a great many misunderstandings. Let me also say that in part, this is correct. What I mean is, for those who are on the outside looking in, much of what we do and say as Christians really does not make sense. Our language, ideas, beliefs and practices are pretty strange and they can’t connect the dots. Things can be so strange in fact, that we have lost touch with the very ones Jesus sent us to, to bring into His Kingdom. Basically, we are as strange in our ways and are as odd in our practices, as the atmosphere around “Area 51”.

Take, for example, our language. We say things like, “I’m pleading the Blood”, “I’m covered in the Blood” or “I’m washed in the Blood”. Now these may be Biblical truths, and we as Christians may understand their application, but consider what an unbeliever thinks when such things are spoken. The response is likely to be ….“Huh??? You are what????”.  It’s a foreign language and they are not likely to be drawn to God because of it. To them you are speaking a foreign language, from a foreign land, and they have no interest in following you to wherever that is.

In my experience, another issue is that far too many Christians come across as having an attitude of superiority or self-righteousness when it comes to connecting to unbelievers. We shoot down their music, their style of dress, their language and personal recreations. However, for them this is normal life. My point is, Jesus never did that! He simply went where they were and demonstrated the love and power of His Father’s Kingdom. He ate with anyone and even went were tax gatherers, prostitutes and the ungodly were hanging out. He never snubbed them, criticized them or refused their invitations. He simply participated where it was permissible and used each situation to introduce them to the love and light of God.

We, on the other hand, tend to be “sin conscious” and uncomfortable with the ungodly things around us. Because of this we miss the cry of those broken hearts that are looking for the truth we possess. Imagine what would happen if you were able to look beyond the mess, past the alcohol, the addiction, the sexual sin, the language, tattoos, piercings, etc . Think of how God changed you and how He wants to change those who are  hurting, soaked in and stained by the things of this world. Is it possible that He could use you in amazing ways if you were only willing to go where He needs you to go, and do what He needs you to do?

Let me encourage you to speak so those around you can hear what you are trying to say. Let me suggest that building bridges into the culture that is around you is much better than build walls to protect yourself from it. Look for the good in what people are doing, no matter how they dress or where they go. Focus on what’s right about them and not the sin or lifestyle that holds them captive.  Our job is to be the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus to a lost and hurting world. That job is made easier when we demonstrate the love of God and leave judgement up to Him.

Do we condone sin? Never! Do we participate in ungodly lifestyles? No! Is it our job to police the unsaved and point out all that is wrong in their lives? Certainly Not!  Our Job is to do what Jesus did, the way He did it. He loved the people. He met them at their own level, right where they were at and exactly the way He found them. He spoke the truth in love and He spoke it in language they could understand. More than that, he demonstrated the power of the Father’s Kingdom without judgement, and the people responded to it. If we can learn to do the same, God’s Kingdom will come and the harvest that is waiting will certainly be brought in.

My question today is simple: Will you be an “Area 51” Christian or will you be one who engages the culture with truth, transparency, love and care? Your answer to this is very important because billions of souls hang in the balance. Like it or not, you can make a difference!