Here's the question:
Who is/was the most influential man in your life? Tell us about him?
I'm going to answer this and then change a word and answer further. You'll see why. It's probably going to be a bit lengthy, but it needs to be.
Probably the most influential man in my life is my stepfather. That is simply because he was the one around during my formative years. My mother and father divorced when I was young and my memories of my father when I was a child are him tolerating our weekend visits. Those memories are likely viewed through foggy, skeptical glasses. But the fact remains that we weren't close until I was in my late 20's. We don't talk often, but he knows I love him because I told him nearly causing a heart attack and I know he loves me because he smiles when we're around each other. For me, that's a good story, but he's not much of an influence on me.
My stepfather was. And not for the good in most instances. He is/was an alcoholic and drug addict. He was mean. He was unable to be happy, so he made sure no one else was either. He said it out loud once that was his goal. There was constant fear and anger in our home. I didn't leave until I was 21 except for 2 years of college.
Gee, Mark. That's cheery. Thanks for sharing.
Here's why I tell you that small part of my youth. Because without that man in the house, I wouldn't have ended up in church or meeting the men who inspire me. I say inspire rather than influence because when I look at my life, I see more stepfather than these men. But I want to be more like them as they exhibit Jesus Christ in their lives.
My stepfather's family was very involved in their local church. So, we went. At some point, we stopped going to their church and began attending Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes. Bil Gallatin was the pastor then. He taught the Word of God straight up. Line by Line. Here's what it says. Here's what it means. Here's how to apply it. Never mind opinion...just God's Word. That's still the only way I want to hear the Bible taught.
My mother forced me to go to youth group. That's where I met Ray and Brian. Two men who are only a couple of years older than me, but always lived with integrity and honesty about who they are, making no excuses or compromises. They just love Jesus with all their hearts.
That's also where I met the Capozzi family. They basically adopted me. They called me their Sunday son. Nearly every Sunday after church, I would go to their home and do chores, play sports, just be part of the family. That family holds a big part of my heart. Their youngest son, Ken, is a couple years older than me and is my best friend. We are truly brothers from a different mother. I think we talk once a year. But we always just pick up where we left off. No offense, no "you'd call if you were my friend" nonsense. Brother's in Christ first. I watched Ken struggle with some of the same stuff I do. And he was victorious in areas I never was. He has an amazing family of his own with a wife and kids who love Jesus. He's hard working and honest. I admire him greatly.
Kens older bother I didn't see often. He was already married and had kids when I met him. In him, I saw some of the most amazing grace and mercy in parenting I've ever witnessed. He's a HUGE man. Real lumberjack looking...like he could break me like a twig. Watching him with his kids was amazing. More so now that I have my own and know how easily they can get under your skin. But he never lost his temper. There was always love, even in discipline. He's an inspiration for how I would like to be as a father.
Then there's Pa Capozzi. Godly, honest, forthright, funny, loving. His children and grand-children are a testament to his (and his wife's) success in this world. I love to remember him sitting in his kitchen listening to Under Midnight. It's a Christian band from the early 90's. Industrial Rock (think Nine Inch Nails). But the album tells the story of redemption. He listened to it and said he liked it...maybe not the music particularly, but the story. If it glorified God, he was in.
Those are the men in my life that inspire me. I pray that the qualities of Christ that they exhibit will become more of an influence in my life.
That wasn't so long, was it?
Thanks for visiting.
I haven't written in quite a while. But this one's really interesting to me b/c I have similar questions that I can't answer.
Here's a link to the topic. There's too much to copy to this post.
Here's the gist:
Are there certain folks that should not be allowed into a church because of their sinful behavior?
I actually do think there are people who shouldn't be allowed in a church due to their behavior. I am thinking of pedophiles. However, I should temper that by saying that the church I grew up in had an individual who was gay and worked in the children's program. The individual was confronted and removed from the ministry (not the church). After a period of time and counseling, the person said that things weren't going to change (unrepentant) so the individual was asked not to return to the church for the safety of the children. It was sad because that was a friend of mine, but it was done in a biblical way. Obviously, there's a ton of background that I won't go into, but suffice it to say that this was repetitive, sinful behavior that can't be tolerated and it threatened the kids.
So do I think that homosexuals, or any other person for that matter, shouldn't be allowed in church? NO! That's sanctimonious and ridiculous. The instance above was a specific situation of repeated, unrepentant behavior. And I think that holds for any sin. I don't like sin lists. They tend to imply that a murderer is worse than another person. But Jesus said that if you are angry with someone without cause, you are in danger of the same judgment Matt 5:21-22. All have sinned and missed the mark, Rom 3:23. And forgiveness is available to "whosoever shall believe in Him." John 3:16.
Here's what I think question is/should be...how long does the church tolerate the behavior? Forgiveness just keeps on a-comin', which is good, because we all fall and some of us fall for the same thing over and over again. The point is that there must be evidence of repentance and effort to grow in Christ. If that's not the case, certainly the person isn't fit for ministry in the church. You can read First and Second Timothy for behavior and qualifications for those who serve.
I have heard a lot recently about the "new Christianity" where showing love to everyone is the main focus. What I haven't seen is a direct answer from these people about their stand on sin and how it is to be dealt with in the church. You just get, "We just love everyone. We want people to know they are welcome."
I don't see that as new, really. That's what Jesus did. I would point out the woman at the well and especially the woman caught in adultery as relevant to this discussion. When Jesus met the woman at the well, he was treating her with respect just by talking to her. In that culture, a Jew wouldn't have spoken to a Samaritan. In fact, they would not have gone that route to get to Galilee, they would have gone around Samaria. In Mark 7:24-30, Jesus goes all the way out to Tyre and Sidon to heal the Syrophenician woman's daughter. His life was lived loving everyone, not just his friends or just Jews.
The woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8:1-11 offers, I think, a good answer to the question about whether certain people should be in the church and what it means to love others as it relates to this "new" Christianity. This woman was clearly caught in sin. Jesus doesn't really say much during this interaction. The Scribes and Pharisees want to stone her and they wanted Jesus to sanction it. Rather He asked them, in so many words, what gave them the right to judge and execute her? Then in Jn 8:11, He tells the woman that He doesn't condemn her and that she is to go and sin no more. In my opinion that is what's lacking in many churches and relationships today. The willingness to tell someone to stop sinning (in humility) and then of course the maturity of the person on the receiving end to appreciate the rebuke and learn/repent/grow from the situation. It's an extremely difficult thing to do well. And I have found that if you are going to be that kind of Christian, you will lose a lot of friends. But if God is telling you to warn that person, you need to do it.
I could go on and on as usual, but I will just net out my feelings on this. I think anyone should be welcome in church (Jesus came to heal the sick, not the well). However, if a person is living in open, unrepentant sin, it must be dealt with. Read 1 Cor 5:1-13. But be careful. Certainly Paul talks about removing the person living in sin, but the idea is to restore the person. What's at issue is living in sin and not being repentant. When there's repentance there must be restoration. And don't we owe it to people to lead them to repentance and a closer relationship with their Savior?
Thanks for visiting.