It's been nearly a month since I've posted anything for the "My Thoughts" column. It hasn't necessarily been because I've been too busy or too lazy (although I could be accused of that) but I usually get caught up reading other stuff on the Net and then after a whole lot of time flies by, I'm ready to go home.
I guess one of the first things I should talk about is the terrorist attacks on the United States. We've heard so much about this that we're practically all experts on the subject by now. I was especially worried for my brother, who works in Manhattan. I never visited his clothing store when I visited three years ago but I assumed that it was not near the area of the World Trade Center. If his store was anywhere near Madison Squard Garden, I knew he'd be OK because I remember standing outside the Garden and I couldn't see the Towers from where I was. Plus, I knew Dan would get out of the area as fast as he could if he were working downtown.
I also remembered that Tuesday was sometimes his day off and since he lives in Queens, I knew he'd be all right. In fact, he wouldn't have even heard anything. Nobody could get through to New York for most of the day. I called my pastor, a friend out at Baylor and my Mom about the whole thing. My dad was able to leave a message and my mom told me later that night that he called her and said he was OK. He said he didn't know why so many people were worried about him. If that strikes you as kind of odd, it probably should.
I really don't know what to make of my brother (he's the third of four sons) because it seems like that is a non-chalant attitude toward about the value of his life. I'm not saying he doesn't value life, or his life in particular, with disdain, but... I guess what I'm trying to get at is that he doesn't seem to get the picture that people love him. Really love him. I mean, it's not just something we're obligated to do. It's genuine. I know he never really was the huggy type of person. In fact, all three of my brothers really aren't. I'm the only one that's different. I'm sure they all love mom and dad very much, but they express it completely differently. While all four of us may have some things in common, they're really not major things and you probably couldn't find four brothers more different.
It wasn't my intention to lay my heart out but it may be necessary to get an idea about where I'm coming from. My parents divorced when I was 7. My brothers were 14, 17 and 20. I have a good relationship with my parents, especially my dad. He was not an absentee father and he supported me in all the things I did/do. The thing with being the youngest and that far apart in years from all the others is that there's the chance you may not really know one or two of your brothers. That's the case with my middle brother. I really can't say that I know him at all. I know he's a good person and a good father to my nephews but he was never one to show his feelings. I wouldn't even say he's laid back. I just don't know what to think. That's another thing that makes me unique among the four is that I feel I'm more open and I am not afraid to shed a tear or express joy when the occasion fits.
I do know my oldest brother but it's mainly been in all the trips to Jupiter, FL to see him and his family. I think the lines of communication opened more as I got older and as I lost a lot of weight, which he'd subtlely (sometimes) been pushing on my mom and I for years. Back to my brother in NY, he, myself and my mom lived together for a few years until he went to college and my mom and I moved to Florida. When he moved to NY, he was always wanting to know when I'd come visit him. Now that I think about it, I never did understand why. I certainly had a good time seeing the city and some of upstate NY and I would want to go back, just not when it's friggin' 25 degrees. As well, he was the brother that I would call if I called any of them. He usually asked what was going on which wasn't usually a whole lot. He sounded astounded when I told him how much weight I was losing. (It's about 75 pounds or so, now.)
Being at Bryan College, I of course am learning more and more about the Biblical Worldview. I had already ascribed to this vew many years before and a lot of the stuff I encounter here I already knew about. It was in 1996 that I started my independent study on the United Methodist Church as I followed the General Conference in Denver, CO. I found out that the UMC in the U.S. is going down hill and years later I learn it's been that way for about 30 years. My investigations, however, had the roots in the departure of a youth pastor of mine two years earlier. But that's a whole other story it and of itself.
I've been born-again since I was 13 but I never knew what my brothers believed. The oldest and his family have gone to church ever since he was married. That has some dynamics to it that is too detailed to go into now. I don't know about my middle brother, but I think he's the same way. Mr. NY is a different story. The terrorist attacks really woke me up and I decided it was time to stop holding back of telling him that he needs to come to God, because I knew he wasn't saved. I didn't get into the whole doctrine of salvation or anything, just a note telling him that God loves him and that He wants him to come to Him. I got an intriguing e-mail back from him:
AS I HAVE SOMEWHAT INDICATED IN THE MASS E-MAIL YOU HAVE GENEROUSLY PROVIDED,
I AM FINE. YOUR THOUGHTS, HOWEVER, SHOULD LIE WITH THE VICTIMS AND THE
IN TIMES LIKE THESE, WE MAY ALL LOOK TO GOD FOR STRENGTH. BUT IT IS ONLY
HUMANKIND THAT CAN CREATE OR DESTROY ITSELF.
TO IMPLY THAT THIS IN SOME WAY IS A MESSAGE THAT GOD WANTS ME TO COME TO HIM
DIMINISHES THE PROFOUND LOSS THAT THE VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES HAVE
GOD DOES NOT NEED TO BLOW THINGS UP AND KILL THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN ORDER TO
THE EVENTS OF TODAY WERE HEINOUS ACTS OF TERRORISM, NOT PIECES OF PROPAGANDA
FOR YOUR CHRISTIAN BELIEFS.
THE MEN THAT WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR TODAY'S EVENTS ALSO BELIEVE IN THE SAME
GOD. YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THERE CAN NEVER BE ONE TRUE RELIGION, OR ONE TRUE
ANSWER-REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU ARE TOLD TO BELIEVE.
I LOVE YOU AND RESPECT YOU. I AM CONCERNED THAT YOUR ACTIONS ARE NOT ALL OF
No, I don't think he was yelling at me. May be he was trying to make a point, but I don't think he was yelling. As you can see, most of what he said falls right into the naturalistic/pluralistic handbook. While he speaks of God like he exists, he at the same time disavows God's importances. In other words, he doesn't know God or God's values, thoughts, etc. Being a Christian, I believe God has revealed Himself through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, through creation (as He is the creator of the earth but is separate from it) and in Jesus Christ. I do not think these are based on irrational thinking, but reasonable faith. I also do not lower Jesus to the rank of just a man or in lesser substance than God the Father. Trinitarian, there you go. My brother is implying that if I'm praying for him that somehow I'm taking away any good God could be doing for the rescue workers and the victems. This view would put severe limits on God.
I also never said anything about the bombings being a message from God specifically for him. I already know that God does not need to blow things up and indeed God did not blow anything up. Humans did that in disobediance to God. "You shall not committ murder" is the sixth commandment and that's exactly what the terrorists did. I did answer my brother on all of these points. So far I have not received any response. Two times he assumes that I am being told what to believe. A Christian obviously can't be a thinking person. Well, I already know that's bogus and it's bogus to think that there's many ways to God. At this point, it doesn't really matter if some people slam me based on that statement because the way I see it, the only punishment I'll ever receive in believing that is not being liked them. Compared to what potentitally could be lost for unbelief, I think I'll side with Christ. What I'm discovering now is that there's always something behind the arguments that people use to deny following the God of the Bible or even aknowledging that He exists. If you can cut to the heart of the issue, then may be they will be cut to the heart and it's then that God can do His work.