Church visit

I visited a church yesterday.  I’d been there once before to hear a guest speaker (Sy Rogers), but hadn’t heard the regular pastor speak.  I did listen to a couple sermons online to get a sense of the guy, but it’s hard to tell about someone from just an audio recording.  Anyway, the short version is that it was a pretty good sermon.  Pastor Jurgen discussed the breaking of vows, which was interesting, considering the Eldredge passage I wrote about the other day.  The only thing about that place, though (Christian City Church), is that it’s a little more charismatic than I’m used to.  He did an altar call at the end, and asked people to come up if they wanted prayer, or needed to break some vows they’d made.  I saw some of the ushers kind of standing behind people, and after a moment, I realized why.  Three or four of them hit the deck after he laid hands on them.  Hadn’t seen that before.

Still, it was an interesting sermon.  And the main thing I wanted to say about it was this.  The pastor said something that really stuck in my mind.

“Unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.”  Or words to that effect.

How true is that?  Lord knows I’ve spent enough time trying to forgive people.  I need to think about that some more. 

Like taking poison, and hoping the other person dies…..



woke up thinking….

This morning I woke up thinking about someone who I haven’t thought about in a very long time.  She’s not in my life anymore, but she played a very significant part in helping me find Jesus again.  I don’t know where I’d be today if it weren’t for her.  And I don’t think I ever said thank you…

I met Tikva about three years after I became a Christ follower.  The honeymoon part of my relationship with Jesus was over, and the struggles had begun in earnest.  I had stopped attending church for the most part, and my devotional life was non-existent.  I didn’t talk to God, and he didn’t talk to me.  Or at least I wasn’t listening when He did.

In summer 2002, I had this part time job as a projectionist for Regal Cinemas, and one day I had a casual conversation with one of the box office girls.  The first thing I noticed about her is that she was really tall (5′ 10″), and she was also really pretty.  Blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes.  And one of the nicest people I’d ever met.  But she was young (18 at the time), and a freshman college student.  Over the course of the conversation, she happened to mention her faith–said she was a Christian.

Me, too, I replied, and didn’t think much more of it.  A few weeks after that, I was at a Padres game when they still played at Qualcomm Stadium.  After the game, some of the players that were believers on both teams gave brief testimonies.  I hadn’t known this was going to happen, but my friend and I had stayed afterward because we were trying to sober up.  I remember looking down over the railing, and seeing Tikva in the section below.  I sunk back in my seat, not wanting her to see me all wasted.  So listened to a few of the testimonies, and my friend squirmed in his seat. 

 I don’t remember feeling particularly convicted by any one of the testimonies, but seeing Tikva there and feeling embarassed made me feel more than a bit self-conscious about some of the things in my life, though I did not yet feel like I needed to change anything.  I was fine, I thought.

A few days after that, I saw Tikva at work again, and mentioned that I’d seen her at the game.  She remarked how she loved hearing the stories that had been shared, how it was nice to hear that people for whom it would be so easy to give in to the world, instead gave in to Jesus.  And then she took a long look at me and said, “you should come to church with me sometime.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“You look like you need it,” she replied.  I tried not to be offended, but had to concede she was right.  How does a person look when they need church, or need God, I wondered?  I never did get around to asking.  But we exchanged numbers, and a couple weeks after that I called her (in her dorm, no less), and we went.

She attended the Rock church, back when it met in Golden Hall at SDSU, and it amazed me how quickly God began to work in my life after that.  The first thing that came back was curiousity about His word, and the deep need to have Jesus working in my life.  It came in increments, and it took a little while, but it came, and it felt awesome.  But it also became obvious the Rock was not for me, and after a short while, I began to attend a Sunday morning group at Shadow Mountain with another couple of friends, while also attending Sunday evenings at the church of my friend from college.

And Tikva and I began to spend a great deal of time together.  We were briefly involved, but nothing much ever came of it.  We did not become sexually involved at all, we just really liked each other’s company, and it was great to have someone to go to church with.  But that ended, like things sometimes do, and I eventually committed to Calvary Baptist full time, getting baptized in January of 2003. 

I kept working at the theater, and Tikva and I remained pretty good friends.  I was cruising for a while, and felt good most of the time. I’d stopped filling the gaps in my life with crap, for the most part, and I was talking to the Lord pretty regularly.  It was great.

And then I began to spend time with a young woman at the theater who was going through some difficulties in her marriage.  Her name was Kristin, and she would be another person who had a profound effect on my life, but that’s a story for another time.

For now, I’m just grateful that God sent Tikva into my life when He did.  I know Garth Brooks said it first, but I guess the Good Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all…

so thanks, Tikva.  I hope you’re well!