My Experience With Christians (and why it’s so hard to leave the Rogue Valley)

 

why are Christians so mean

The Sun Sets On The Rogue Valley

Why Do So Many Doctors Treating Ebola Have To Be Christian?

Not long ago I read this article on slate.com about how most of the medical care for Ebola patients in Africa comes from missionaries. And the author, who wasn’t a Christian, made some interesting statements about those missionaries. He said he’s uncomfortable with the missionary medical personnel in Africa because they don’t collect data the way some secular medical organizations do, and because they lack oversight. Then he said this,

“And yet, truth be told, these valid critiques don’t fully explain my discomfort with missionary medicine. If we had thousands of secular doctors doing exactly the same work, I would probably excuse most of these flaws. ‘They’re doing work no one else will,’ I would say. ‘You can’t expect perfection.'”

 

Kind of weird.

A Pastor Fund Raises For A Gulf Stream Jet Aircraft

Some of that bias is caused by people who identify themselves as Christians but don’t live as a Christian. I recently heard about a man who calls himself a pastor who’s organized a fund raising drive to purchase a 50 million dollar Gulf Stream jet aircraft. That’s kind of weird too. And that kind of weirdness leads to a bias among people like the author of that slate.com article.

But my experience with Christians has been different.

Relocating From The Rogue Valley

In the last post I mentioned that Kathy, Alex, and I are relocating. As I write this I’m sitting in our mostly empty house on Angel Crest Drive in Medford, Oregon among boxes, cleaning supplies, and an ironing board. Over the last few days we moved most of our belongings to our new (new to us) home in Portland, Oregon. We’ve lived in the beautiful Rogue Valley for 35 years and it’s a difficult place to leave. You can walk down any street in our neighborhood around Angel Crest and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valley. The physical beauty of Southern Oregon is amazing. But that’s not the only thing that’s amazing about this place.

Why It’s So Hard To Leave A Valley Full Of Christians

When I came here 35 years ago, I wasn’t a Christian. But the first crew I was assigned to on the Medford Fire Department was made up of a bunch of Christian firefighters. In a fire department you become very familiar with your crewmates because you live with them 24 hours at a time. It works out so you spend about a fourth of your life with your crew. When I got to know these firefighters I thought they were freaks. Up until that point I’d never met anyone so gracious, and honest, and of such high character. Their lives attracted me to Christ and I started going to church.

This church was full of people like the Christian firefighters. They were (and are) gracious, and lovers of God, and lovers of people. The pastor was the same.

Later I got to know the pastor fairly well because we bought the house next door to his. He never organized a fund raiser to purchase a Gulf Stream jet aircraft. In fact, today he and his wife live in a house that measures less than 1,000 square feet. We lived next door to him for more than ten years and he was the best next door neighbor anyone could ask for. He was just like the people in his congregation. He loved God, and he loved us, and he loved others.

Our pastor’s daughters babysat our kids. (Tragically, one of those daughters passed away in a car accident when she was a teenager.) Our kids told us these sitters were always playful and active. They never spent the evening on their phone or watching TV. And get this, when we came home at the end of our evening the house was cleaned from top to bottom. What babysitter does that?

And his church. His church feeds 1,000 or so people a meal after every summer Sunday service–for free. You can go on a personal retreat in a cabin on a picturesque mountain top most anytime you like–for free. You can attend group retreats at the same mountain top facility–for free. There are worship services offered 365 days of the year. This church is in a beautiful but remote location that no church consultant would ever endorse but thousands of people make the long drive to attend there every week. What church is like that?

Our electrician, our realtor, one of my doctors, our dentist, one of our bankers, our mason, our finish carpenter are all Christians. And they’re all really great at what they do and great people besides.

The Christian neighbors around us have all been great friends.

Over the years we’ve watched our family members who became Christians transform into better people.

I’m not saying these Christians are perfect. And I’m not saying there aren’t people who identify themselves as Christians, or even genuine Christians, who blow it. I’m just saying: Christians in my experience have been amazing. I’ve seen Christ in the lives of the Christians described in this blog post.

I don’t know why it’s been this way. Maybe the Rogue Valley is an anomaly, a place where virtually every Christian is Christlike. I don’t know. I just know, reflecting back over the last 35 years here in the Rogue Valley, in my experience, the Christians I know have been filled with the Spirit of Christ.

I’ve been richly blessed to know them.

And that makes it difficult to leave.

What is your experience with Christians?

 

*You might also like: Why Is That Christian So Appalling?

 

References:

Applegate Christian Fellowship

Brian Palmer, In Medicine We Trust, Slate.com

Dee Parsons, Slate.com writer: Too many doctors who treat ebola are Christians, Faith In Practice Blog

Couples With Amazing Marriages All Do This One Thing

great marriages all do this one thing

…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

A Spirited Exchange Of Ideas (An Argument) Between A Husband And Wife

Kathy and I are in the midst of transition right now, including relocating to a city nearly 300 miles away, the sale of our vacation rental business, and investing in a new area. And of course along with transition of this nature comes, shall we say, spirited exchanges of ideas between husband and wife. And that has me thinking about Continue reading

Why Didn’t God Heal Me?

Why didn't God heal me?

So last post we saw my friend Mike’s miracle: how he had a heart attack but was healed. It really was remarkable the way things turned out. But when you read that post, you may have said in your head, “Yes, that’s great that your friend Mike was healed. But what about Christians who aren’t healed? What about Christians who have a thousand people praying for them, but then they die anyway?” Continue reading

My Friend Mike’s Miracle

miracle prayer

Last post we talked about one reason God was so responsive to Jesus’ prayers was because he loved God so much. And because he loved God so much, Jesus was always seeking to give Him glory. If you’re interested you can check it out here: The One Thing You Can Do To Give Life To Your Prayers

Well Monday, two days after that post I received a text from my friend Mark. He and another friend Mike host a podcast called Solomon’s Porch Radio. And Mark’s text said,

“Hey Kurt …..let everyone know to be praying for Mike….he had a heart attack. ..and just went in for surgery.”

So I just arrived home from Portland late the night before and I missed that text. But another friend, Luke Salyer, sent me a DM on Twitter about it, so I called Mark and asked him to keep me up to speed on Mike’s condition.

Then Wednesday morning I received another text, and this one was from Mike (via Mark). And this is what it said: Continue reading

The One Thing You Can Do To Give Life To Your Prayers

The One Thing You Can Do To Give Life To Your PrayersThe one thing you can do is at the end of this post. It’s worth it, I promise. If you do it, it will change your life.

Taunts From An Atheist About Praying In Jesus’ Name

I have this friend who’s nearly an atheist. What I mean is, he’s the most atheistic leaning agnostic I know. And around the fire station he sometimes loved to taunt Christians. One time he said to me, (in the snarkiest tone possible), “So the bible says if you ask for anything in Jesus’ name that he’ll give it to you. Right? So ask for a Mercedes Benz tonight. And see if it’s in your driveway when you wake up tomorrow morning.”

In Jesus’ Name: What That Means

Now there’s an obvious answer to that taunt. Asking in Jesus’ name Continue reading

Why Did Lazarus Have To Die? (And why do I have to suffer?)

Why do I have to suffer?

Why Did Lazarus Have To Die?

I’ve been reading Eric Metaxas’s Miracles again and there’s a section where he addresses the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And Metaxas really made me think. Why did Lazarus have to die anyway? Why did Lazarus have to endure the suffering? Why was it necessary for his family to mourn? I mean, Jesus could have shown up earlier and healed him as he did for so many. But he didn’t. So Lazarus suffered–and died.

By the time Jesus got there his sisters and his friends were weeping. And in answer to anyone who would say that God is some sort of impersonal metaphysical force, Jesus, God incarnate, was overcome with grief himself. And he wept for his friend, and for his friend’s family, and for his friend’s friends. Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, had been dead for four days. Four days. That’s significant because there was this idea in Jewish culture at the time, that when a person died their spirit hung around for three days. And here we find Lazarus dead beyond that time period. In fact when Jesus directed the men to remove the stone that sealed the tomb, Lazarus’s sister Martha protested.

“Hang on, he’s been dead for four days. He’s been decomposing,” she said, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench.”

But Jesus went ahead with it anyway.

He prayed out loud, not so God could hear him, but for the benefit of the people there.

And Lazarus walked out of that tomb.

And here’s where I have to ask: Why? Why was that necessary? Why did Lazarus and the people who loved him have to suffer that way? Why couldn’t Jesus have just healed him?

And the answer is found when we ask the question: Continue reading

How One Mistake On Twitter Destroyed A Woman’s Life (And what we can learn from it)

This one mistake on Twitter destroyed a woman's lifeMorbid Fascination

Last night (at the time of this writing) I read this very insightful article in the New York Times. I was so morbidly fascinated I just couldn’t put it down. It was about a woman traveling from New York to South Africa to visit family. While she was on a layover in London, she sent out a tweet. This tweet of hers, it was an awkward attempt at humor. But it had to do with AIDS and race–and it was definitely more awkward than it was humorous.

After she sent this tweet she checked for a response but there was none. She only had around 170 Twitter followers, so that’s not too surprising. But what happened next was very surprising.

During the eleven hours she was in the air between London and Cape Town, South Africa, a writer and editor of a blog with 15,000 Twitter followers got wind of her tweet. So he posted it on the blog he edits, and this began a chain of events the woman never anticipated. Continue reading

The Thing I Never Noticed About Jesus, Why Christians Are Creatures Of Two Realms (And what that has to do with praying together)

Praying Together

I Never Noticed This About Jesus

I recently noticed something about Jesus I never realized before. He never talked much about how to preach (or how to blog), but he did talk about Continue reading

Malcolm Gladwell’s Secret To Math (and what that has to do with the secret to prayer)

Secret to PrayerGladwell’s Secret To Math

My family and I were recently discussing what makes people good at math. My son Nathaniel, who’s in his early thirties, brought up something he read in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. Gladwell talks about a woman in her mid twenties named Renee who’s trying to solve a math problem as part of a research project. Renee is sitting at a computer that allows you to type in x and y axis values to produce a curve. It’s basic rise over run math stuff that we all learned in junior high school or high school (but nearly all of us have since forgotten).

If you’re like me and you’ve forgotten, Gladwell provides a brief example. If the value of the rise on the y axis = 5, and the value of the run on the x axis = 5, then the slope = 1. Because the rise over run is 5 over 5, and 5/5 = 1.

So this woman Renee is sitting at the computer trying to solve a problem. And while she’s doing this, a Cal Berkeley professor and researcher named Alan Schoenfeld is sitting next to her. Schoenfeld knows the problem Renee is trying to solve is impossible. But she wasn’t told that it’s impossible. What she was told, was to enter values that will create a line that is perfectly vertical. But the problem is impossible because a vertical line requires a rise value of infinity and a run value of 0. And infinity divided by 0 doesn’t produce a number.

So she’s sitting there at this computer. And she starts entering in values. And she fiddles around. And she enters some more values. And then she fiddles some more. The whole while she’s talking to herself. And as she fiddles and experiments, her values for y get larger and larger. And the larger they get, the closer the line gets to the y axis. But no matter how large a value she assigns to y it never gets there.

Finally, after twenty-two minutes of trial and error, Renee experiences a eureka moment and she says, Continue reading

The Fire That Burned 11 Homes (and what that has to do with praying to God)

how to pray

The Fire That Burned 11 Homes

One time I was on a fire that destroyed eleven homes in Ashland, Oregon. One of our tactics on that fire was to use helicopters to drop water on the burning houses. When the helicopters began operating it was important to keep them from dropping water on one particular house where firefighters were working inside. That’s because a helicopter water drop can push fire in all directions, in spectacular fashion, which is very cool to watch. Most of the time when it happens, if the house is well involved, fire just explodes out of every window and door in the place. But because it blows fire all over, a water drop from a helicopter can cause serious injury or even death to anyone fighting fire inside.

So with a couple of crews inside this house and with the helicopters flying all over doing their water drops, I became concerned that they would drop on the house with my guys inside. So I called command on the radio.

“Command from Oak Knoll Division,” I said. “Direct the helicopters NOT to drop on the house directly across from 8106.”

Command responded, “Copy, send a helicopter to drop water directly on the house across from 8106.”

Of course that was exactly what I did not want them to do. Continue reading