The Jesus I Thought I KnewBy ERNIE HEAVIN
I grew up believing in God but as I aged began to have doubts about His existence. In my late teens and early twenties, I became agnostic. I then came to have faith and eventually surrendered my life and will wholly to Him. During this process, my thoughts about who God/Jesus is and what He desires of me and from me, since childhood to this moment—well, to say there has been a transformation of thought is quite the understatement.
I had not seen my biological mother more than five times in twenty-one years. I learned she lived in Fort Collins, Colo. and she invited me to pack up my bags and go west. She was atheist (or at least claimed she was) for she had a deep hatred for God and anyone who claimed to belong to Him, mainly Christians. I was agnostic and so during the short time that she allowed me to live with her and Ben (her third husband), she was doing her best to convince me that there was not a God or at best He was a God of little use to humanity. She made three mistakes in her presentation that led to my conversion to Christ.
Mistake #1: You should never plan to give your lectures or arguments against the existence of God while immersing that person in the mighty, awesome Creation of God. Some of her best lectures were given right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It was like taking me to a jewelry store with hundreds of watches and clocks ticking, chiming and coo-cooing and insisting there was no such thing as a watchmaker. Creation kept chiming and ticking as I observed the awe-inspiring view of the mountains, the lakes, the snow fall, the creatures, the stars and the moon that silenced her line of reasoning time after time. I entered the Rockies agnostic and left believing in God.
Mistake # 2: You do not lecture someone about your intolerance for Christians and how incredibly stupid they are while you continue to immerse that person in the company of believers. Although my mother detested Christians, she liked people until she discovered they were Christians. I had told her I was weary of the party scene and wanted to live a new or different way of life that did not include getting drunk, doing drugs and everything that goes with it. She told me of some wonderful young people that actually worked with her and how much she really admired them. What she did not realize was she was introducing me to a group of Christians, who befriended me and started studying the Bible with me. After less than a month, she threw me out of her house in the middle of a Colorado winter. I was baptized into Christ on the evening of Jan. 20, 1985. I had around $200 to my name and was staying at the El Palomino Motel on 1220 North College Avenue. My dad tried to convince me to return home to Kansas but I had found something too good to leave and decided if I had to live in my car then so be it I was here to stay.
Mistake #3: You cannot convince someone of your view if you choose to have nothing to do with someone with a different view. After that, my mother had nothing to do with me. She kicked me out of her house but the Lord led me to a man who was at my baptism, a man I had never met before who told me I could live with him. She refused to attend my wedding and never met her beautiful granddaughters. Over the next ten years, my understanding of the true nature of God/Jesus continued as I studied the scriptures. However, there were some in the leadership who tried to convince me and others that our denomination or group had the corner on truth and understanding the nature of God/Jesus. They made three mistakes as well….continued next week.
A police officer’s storyBy KHANT MINN
As a traffic police officer, he does not make much money. If his parents had not let him and his wife live with them, it would have been impossible to live on his salary of sixty thousand kyats (approximately sixty dollars) a month. As the end of the month comes closer, they will run out of money and struggle through the last few days of the month, dreary and destitute. He has been patrolling the main road of the township all afternoon and is about to go back to the police station when he sees a bicycle speeding into the left-most lane of the road. Bicycles and trishaws are to be kept to the right side of the road. But not many cyclists follow this rule since the two outer lanes of the road are adorned with potholes.
The leftmost lane is also not without potholes but at least it is serviceable. He has always thought that it does not make any sense to pull a bicycle over just because it is on the only lane where it can travel with ease and safety. But then, what makes sense in this world of disarray? He catches up with the bicycle on his motorbike and asks the man riding the bicycle to pull over. He senses a surge of anxiety and desperation in the man. He is not surprised that the man is apprehensive. Everyone knows what will happen to the bicycle once the bicyclist is pulled over. It will be confiscated for three months and a fine of ten thousand kyats will be imposed on the owner. Confiscated bicycles do not receive careful handling and at the end of three months, at least a broken or twisted wheel is to be expected of any confiscated bicycle.
He makes the man cycle along with him beside his motorbike to the station, which is only five minutes away. The man is pleading to let him go, “My son needs this bicycle to go to school. I can’t afford to buy him a new one. I just can’t let him walk to school every day. It’s too far.” As much as he wants to help, there is nothing he can do. He says to the man, “I will give you a receipt of confiscation when we get to the station. You can pay the fine and get your bike after three months.” The man is in despair. “Three months? My son needs to use it every day. Without this bike, he will have to walk three miles to school. Sir, please, please help me. I will pay the fine but please do not take the bike.” He feels a twinge of discomfort. He wants to help the man.
When they reach just outside the police station, he stops and tells him, “I’ll see what I can do. I will talk to my chief and maybe he will let you go with just a fine. Do you have the money with you?” “No. But I don’t live very far. I can get it in ten minutes.” “Then go and get it now. Leave your bicycle with me. I will wait for you right here. I can’t guarantee that you will get to keep your bike, but I’ll give it a try. Chief is a pretty nice man.” After the man leaves, he asks the owner of the tea shop next to the station to keep a watch on his bike and pushes the man’s bicycle through the gate into the yard of the police station. Then he disappears into the building and returns fifteen minutes later. The man is already waiting for him. “What does the chief say?” the man asks in anticipation.
He smiles to the man and replies, “You are lucky. Chief is in a good mood. Give me your identity card and the money. I’ll get it done for you and fetch your bicycle.” He takes the money inside the station and after a while comes back pushing the bicycle along. “You may keep your bike now. But I am afraid we can’t issue you a receipt of your payment because we do not usually accept payment here.” Overjoyed, the man could not care less about the receipt. “It is okay. Thank you very much for helping me out. I’ve got to go,” says the man and leaves on his bike in a hurry. Looking at the back of the man, he feels the thick wad of cash in his pocket and murmurs, “Thank you too.”