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Speaking the Truth with Grace

Have you ever had the feeling that the world is just too far gone, and it’s time to become a hermit and get away from all the craziness that we see around us?  In other words, wouldn't it just be easier to sit back and wait for the Lord to come or call us home?
To be honest, I have those feelings on occasion, especially when dealing with folks that don’t like me very much or are just downright mean!  But, whenever that happens, I try to intentionally recall what the Lord has done in and through me in the past, and that helps keep me focused on moving forward even when I don’t feel like it.

Galatians 5:16-17
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."

One such memory is a conversation that I had with a gentleman named Dr. Graham, a self-pronounced atheist and professor who teaches global warming at a university in England.  His sister (a Christian) invited him to come with her to hear me speak, which is where our paths crossed.
After I’d finished the service, Dr. Graham struck up a conversation with me, which lead to multiple topics of discussion. Though he disagreed with me on quite a few points, we had a good time engaging in dialogue back and forth and challenging each other to provide answers for our positions.
As the conversation wound down, and we were about to part ways, Dr. Graham quipped, “You know, you’re not what I expected!”
I laughed and replied, “I could take that a couple of ways. What do you mean?”
He then added, “I expected you to get angry and feel animosity toward me since I don’t agree with you.”
To which I responded, “I don’t hate you just because you don’t think like I do. In fact, truth be told, I spent many years believing the same things that you do now. God doesn’t tell us to fight or argue—quite the opposite. He tells us to be ready to share with others the reason for our hope with meekness and fear (aka, respect), so that’s what I try to do!”
I continued, “When I see people harboring so much anger and hatred toward others who are supposedly so ‘stupid’ and ‘uninformed,’ I just don’t understand it.”
One person that I’d mentioned in my talk that day was the British anti-Christian activist, Dr. Richard Dawkins.  I’ve never met Dawkins personally, but from what I’ve seen on TV interviews and read in articles, he’s an angry man. He truly seems to dislike Christians, and especially those that believe in a young earth. Since I’d mentioned him that day and Dr. Graham was also from England, I inserted the topic of Dawkins’ demeanor into the conversation.
“Think about Richard Dawkins,”  I said.  “Why is he so angry? If he really thinks Christians are so stupid, he should feel sorry for us.”
“Put it like this, if someone walked up to me and told me that he believed the moon was made out of green cheese, and he was totally sincere, would I get angry and fight with him or call him names? No way! I’d pat him on the back and say, ‘I love you, Brother, but you may want to go get some help!’ The fact that Richard Dawkins is so angry shows me that the Holy Spirit is still working on him. I’m praying for him, and I still believe there’s hope for him!”
As we parted, I let Dr. Graham know that I’d really enjoyed meeting him as well as engaging in our discussion. We shook hands and parted ways. I prayed that he would consider the truths that I’d attempted to share with him.
It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important.  Typically, when I’m in those situations, my instinct is to “win the argument,” so to speak!  I confess that it’s my sinful nature coming through.  I spent 24 1/2 years as an air traffic controller—a world filled with “Type A,” aggressive personalities.  While employed at O’Hare in Chicago, I noticed that if someone showed weakness, they were chewed up and spit out. Because of that, I learned not to show any weakness!

We're to challenge each other to show love and do good deeds, not hurt others to get ahead.

Counterintuitive to my thinking, God tells us to live differently than the world.  He tells us to speak words of encouragement to each other (1 Thessalonians 5:10-12; Ephesians 4:29)—not to ridicule.  He tells us what is desirable in a man is “kindness” (Proverbs 19:22), not the ability to beat someone up because we’re stronger.
We’re to challenge each other to show love and do good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), not hurt others to get ahead.  If you’re struggling today with someone attacking and mocking you, hold on to what God said and allow Him to work through your obedience.  You may be surprised at what happens, just as I was.
Shortly after speaking with Dr. Graham, he sent me an e-mail that changed everything. I pray this note encourages you half as much as it encouraged me.
“Carl, you won’t believe this, but I received Jesus Christ as my Savior the Sunday after I met you!”
Wow!  His e-mail continued:
“You know what else? What really got me was what you shared about Richard Dawkins. You didn’t know this, but not long before I heard you speak, I had actually posted this on my Facebook page: ‘Richard Dawkins is God.’
Richard Dawkins vs. Jesus Christ??  God wins every time!  Only He can take a heart of stone and bring it to life.

Stay Bold!

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Read Carl’s testimony and his heart for ministry in his book, Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life. Available HERE at our Reasons for Hope Store.

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