Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Men

I was contacted separately in the last two weeks by two men whom I baptized in Los Angeles in the 1990’s. Each is doing very well, which was a joy to hear. They are as different as night and day.

Jeff came to the Culver Palms congregation in his mid-40’s with a history of drug and alcohol addiction, estranged from his highly successful father and family, newly sober and barely hanging on. He managed to stick to the worshiping life of the church long enough to be discipled and was eagerly baptized in 1998. He remained sober and stayed connected to the church, working odd jobs and scraping together a living, but left after a few years to move north in search of better work. I was sad to see him go.

Bob came to church in his early 30’s with a lady he was dating who was a member. I was struck by how accomplished, confident and friendly he was. At a Singles group barbecue at my house, when everybody else brought a hamburger patty for the grill, he brought a steak. (Can you believe I still remember that?) But that’s Bob; he has a little Pierce Brosnan in him. He immediately showed a strong hunger for the Christian faith and life and in the Bible studies we had together was very receptive. Within weeks of his baptism I was calling on him to lead prayers or read scripture in the worship assembly. But he was commuting a long way, and when the dating relationship ended he decided to find a church closer to home. I was sad to see him go.

Jeff called me two weeks ago and left a voice mail message out of the blue. He just wanted me to know he was doing great, the best he’d ever felt, and was reflecting on his ten years as a Christ-follower. I was deeply touched. When we finally talked on the phone I found out that he has been working as a self-employed contractor in the central coast area, is still clean and sober, and has grown deeply in his faith. He will always be an independent, non-conformist, free spirited guy not fully at home in a mainstream church. He is happy and hopeful in his life and committed to his walk with Christ.

Bob is one of those guys who radiates confidence and competence. He left his large company a decade ago to launch a new venture with two partners. Recently he left that company to strike out on his own. He has kept me on his email list so I hear about his moves that way; when I respond electronically we share a little family news and wish each other well. He is at the top of his game, running his own firm, happily married, and very involved in his church.

Jeff and Bob are each faithful followers of Jesus. This is one of the great things about being a preacher, seeing all types of people respond to the love of Christ. Bob is part of a megachurch in his upscale area. Jeff worships in a more charismatic church with a strong recovery emphasis. Two very different churches. Two very different men. Same Lord.

“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. (Ephesians 1:6)

It is a beautiful thing.


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