The Bruise, The Badge, And The Christian

   Growing up was fun, but hard at times. I can’t tell you how many times I would come running in the house crying because I was cut, banged up, or bruised. I guess it is just a part of growing up. We lived in Dallas, was 12 years old and football was ‘in the air’. We had a neighborhood gang of kids (that’s back when being a part of a gang wasn’t bad) and we’d all gather at the school yard and play flag football. Flag football was looked down on because we wanted to do the real thing. We used the flags anyway because our parents wouldn’t allow the rough style of football. Then it happened… I was tackled, went down hard on my shoulder, and was hurt. I can’t figure what got pulled but the next day my shoulder was red, black and blue (almost patriotic). Of course mom forbid football for a while.

   When I went back to school and showed off my bruise during PE (Physical Education), I found I was like a celebrity. Everyone wanted to see the bruise. It was my ‘badge’. “This is kinda worth the pain”, but I was a kid then.

   Christianity is not a game, although there is some growing up to do, and Christians get ‘banged up’ in the process. It’s not easy, because the main battle is with yourself. Jesus says, “count the cost” Luke 14:25-33. Bottom line is that when a person becomes a Christian, He wants to be #1 in life. Is it worth the pain to be a Christian?  Go figure. Jesus suffered and died… was it worth it?  Salvation is priceless. Nothing takes the place of forgiveness for the sinful heart. Nothing feels better than guilt being lifted at Calvary.

   Is ‘the way’ of the Christian hard? Is it worth it? Peter said in 1 Peter 3:14-17 “But in fact , if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.  15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

   The Christian’s badge is not how often he attends church, or how much he gives, but how far he goes, in spite of the difficulties. Finish the ‘race’. You don’t have to be first… just finish, (2 Timothy 4:6-8).


   Hast thou no scar? On foot or side or hand?

   I hear thee sung as mighty in the land.

   I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star –

   Hast thou no scar?

   Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers spent –

   Leaned me against a tree to die and rent,

   Like raven beast – they compassed me. I swooned –

   Hast thou no wound?

   No wound, no scar? Yet as the Master shall the servants be.

   And pierced are the feet that follow Me. But thine are whole!

   Could he have followed very far,

   who hast no wound, no ugly scar?


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Be A Learner

   Years ago when my brothers, sisters and I were in Ireland with mom and dad, as missionaries, I asked dad if I could learn to drive. I went through the registration process, and took driver’s education, learned the signs, and got used to driving on the opposite side of the road. They gave me a plastic sign for the front window of the van, on one side of the sign was a yellow “R” (meaning ‘restricted’) and one  the other side a red “L” (meaning ‘learner’). We placed the “L” on the window, and started off. I was now an official ‘learner’. Of course dad had to show me all the details of driving the van, clutch, gas, brakes, lights etc… One Sunday, dad decided to drive, and he took the dual carriageway (hi-way). We came to the red light, and we were on our way. All of a sudden, cars were coming at us, lots of cars! Dad realized he had made the mistake of forgetting what country he was in… He was on the wrong side of the road. We came to a screeching halt, and so did the other cars. Now there were several angry Irishmen coming at us, shaking their fists, and yelling some things best not repeated. Then one of the men stopped and pointed to the red “L” on the front window. “Give this man some room here. He is just a learner.” He took over the situation and began to motion to the others, to move back and let dad turn around and get on the right side of the road.
    Years have passed, and dad is gone now, but I still have the red “L”, that dad used from then on in his ministry to teach some special lessons.
    I can think of so many times when I could have used this little sign, just to remind me to be patient with people. Patience is hard to come by, because it usually means difficulties, and stress. When you pray for patience, God may send you a grouchy neighbor or a stubborn child or some difficult situation to ‘stretch your faith’ just a little more than last time. Patience means endurance. Endurance means to stand up under pressure. Pressure… well we don’t like that. We want everything to be peaceful, and calm. Life just isn’t that way. It is unpredictable and things happen. This is where Christianity is put to the test. Usually we react without even thinking. A harsh word slips out and then we remember, “I am a Christian”. The phrase, “What would Jesus do?” comes to mind and we feel shame for failing once again to be patient.
    You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect… just forgiven”. Well it is so true. Christians are not perfect. Righteous – because of the work and blood of the crucified and risen Savior… but not perfect in every situation in life. Others see the imperfections, and think, “You hypocrite”. Well, I don’t think that always fits. You see, Christians are LEARNERS. It takes time and focus and prayer and growth to be like Jesus. Not that we are asking for the world to be patient while Christians grow in Christ. That won’t happen. It will help reach the world for Christ though if those who claim to be followers of Christ will take it seriously.
    Is this growth process a bit frustrating? Sure it is. The Christian’s biggest battle is with himself. That is why the Holy Spirit was given to the Christian, (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 8). As frustrating as it is at times, hard times that come should bring to our minds, God is at work in us, (Philippians 2:12-13), and that is good, real good! Listen to James, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (patience). And let endurance (patience) have it’s perfect (complete) result, that you may be perfect (full grown) and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.

   The Christian life is an unbelievable adventure. Enjoy it, share it, grow in it, and NEVER STOP BEING A LEARNER.


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