After four years of young manhood, graduated from High School and working in a strip coal mine, life had beaten and bruised me up pretty good. The long 12-hour work shift at night was becoming monotonous and leading me to unhealthy habits. My physical frame seemed sickly—barely a 30-inch waist and 150 pounds.
When I walked into the small Pentecostal church, heads turned and eyes wide open, the faithful stared—even gawked. In a small town, I must have been a little bit notorious. My behavior was well known, especially to the few teenagers who sit in the first three rows, not because they wanted to but to prove to their parents the sincerity of their faith.
I took a seat at midpoint in the pews. I wasn’t a believer. I was visiting. I had never been to a church where the order of service included standing, singing, lifting hands, everyone praying simultaneously—out loud. There was the southern gospel singing, the handful of choir members, and a fiery sermon with a very long appeal for “sinners” to come forward.
I enjoyed it and found it interesting, but I didn’t respond. Nor did I respond at the Sunday night service, just before I went to work. When I came back for Wednesday night service, the pastor knew that I was serious.
When Pastor Taylor gave the altar call that night, he was determined. After several minutes with bowed heads and closed eyes, he gave up attempting to draw me to the altar—he left the pulpit and came to me. He sat down beside me and asked, “Brother, don’t you want to be saved?”
My response didn’t cause him to flinch, “Yes, but, if I am going to do this, I am not (expletive) with it.”
I stood up and walked to the altar with him, knelt down, for him to lead me in a prayer of salvation. I confessed, “Jesus is Lord.” I was saved.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know the rules and traditions to mimic. I failed to cry, which caused the “faithful” to question the sincerity of my experience. They seemed disappointed.
A few weeks later, I visited a county fair with some old friends, where a fight broke out and I got into the middle of it. When the skirmish was over, I looked over to see some of my new friends from the church. Without hesitation, I smiled and waved at them. Their look of disappointment was obvious.
By the time that I returned to the next service, I discovered that “Christians” love to gossip. They were already “interceding” for me because I had “backslidden.”
When I read the headline that the notorious actor Shia LaBeouf had become a “Christian man,” I was thrilled—and a bit concerned. Especially when I read the interview filled with passionate expletives, I knew that the “faithful” would have a hard time computing that testimony.
In the movie, Fury, with fellow actor, Brad Pitt, who grew up in a Christian family and attended a Pentecostal church, Shia plays a man of faith and this experience had a dramatic effect upon him, causing him to confess, “I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man.” Shia goes on to say, “Brad was really instrumental in guiding my head through this.”
Interestingly, even though Brad Pitt has said that he has moved away from his faith, he helped guide Shia to understand what he had experienced in a “very real way.”
Here’s my challenge: What are we going to do with men whom we reach?
How are we going to respond to them when they don’t immediately adopt our rules and traditions, and when their unsanctified language is filled with expletives?
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SOURCE: Charisma News
Neil Kennedy, FiveStarMan