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

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

My Desperate Prayer (and how God answered)

Meaning of LifeYes, I know. Last post I said it was the last post on suffering. But I couldn’t let the series end without a short word on prayer. Prayer and suffering are just too connected to end it without addressing the issue of prayer.

My Desperate Prayer

I walked alone into the woods of the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. I wasn’t a Christian, but I was there to pray. I was making that hike and praying like that fairly often, because I was desperate for two things. One, I needed a job. Kathy was eight months pregnant with our first son Gabe. We were living in an 8′ x 24′ travel trailer and borrowing from my parents to make the rent. The shower was so small, and Kathy was so pregnant, that she couldn’t pick up a bar of soap if she dropped it. And I was unemployed.

The second thing I prayed for was strange because I wasn’t a Christian. The second thing I prayed for was Christian friends. Peculiar, I know. But I was so intrigued by Jesus that I wanted to learn more. And I felt the need to connect with other Christians so I could find out all I could about him.

I never saw God’s answer coming. The way He answered that prayer was completely outside of my imagination. I’ll share what He did Continue reading

The First, The Last, My Everything (What Barry White’s song has to do with suffering)

God First

This is the last blog post in the series on suffering and what you’re about to read are the most important words written in the series. You can do everything written so far concerning suffering, but if you don’t have this right, it all falls apart. (To read the whole series, just click on Suffering under the CATEGORIES heading in the right hand column of the God Running home page.)

Barry White’s Take On Love

Barry White used to perform a song called You’re The First, The Last, My Everything. And in that song, he’s singing about a woman, and here are a few things he says about her:

You are “my everything, …the answer to all my dreams.”
You are “…my sun, my moon, my guiding star, …that’s what you are.”
“You’re all I’m living for, you’re love I’ll keep forever more”
“…see so many ways that I, can love you ’til the day I die.”
“You’re the first, you’re the last, my everything.”

When a young man loves a woman like that, nothing else seems to matter. The head gasket blows out in his car, so now he has to borrow his parents’ champaign colored 1998 Lincoln Continental with a torn headliner, but he doesn’t care so much. Because he has her. And like the song says, she’s all he’s living for.

Then the new video game he bought arrives from Amazon. He’s excited about it until he finds it doesn’t work with one of the components on his home built computer. But that’s not so bad. Because he has her. And she’s his sun, his moon, his guiding star.

Then his best friend tells him he lost his trilogy of the Rings DVD set (Blu-ray). But it’s not such a big deal. Because he has her. And she’s his first, his last, and his everything.

But, what happens when it’s over?

It’s worth noting, Barry White’s first wife Continue reading

Do This In 2015 And See What Happens

bible study new years resolution 2015Life And Growth vs. Lifeless Rearrangment

Living things grow and change. A redwood tree begins as a seed in the ground. Then it grows, it changes, it transforms into a noble conifer more than 300 feet tall. An eagle begins as an egg. Then it grows, changes, and transforms into a great bird who can see what others can’t, and can soar where others aren’t capable.

Things without life don’t grow. They don’t transform. Things without life, they just rearrange. A sand dune shifts its shape in the wind. The waters of a flood are really just waters rearranged. Even an avalanche, as awe-inspiring as it may be, is just rearrangement. It’s not alive.

But you are.

Do this in 2015:

Continue reading