Archives For Christ

Preparing for the Storm

By Nate LaClaire —  August 28, 2011 — Leave a comment

Here in Maine, many people spent yesterday preparing for Hurricane Irene, the storm that at one point last week meteorologists were saying could be the worst hurricane to hit Maine in 20 years. Last I heard, it was expected to hit Maine this afternoon as a tropical storm, a downgrade about which we are very happy. If you live in one of the East Coast states, you might have already experienced the worst of this storm and, in that case, you are in my prayers.

All of this storm preparation brought to my mind how ill-prepared so many of us are for the storms of life. I am sure that there are people throughout the region affected by Irene who were fully prepared before the storm appeared in the weather forecast. You might even know someone like that. People might think them weird, but they are ready for a natural disaster or nuclear war. As Dave Ramsey would say, sometimes weird is good. Then there are those other people—I guarantee that you know at least one of them—who don’t even bother to prepare when they hear a major storm forecast. “There’s a ‘largest storm in X years’ forecast every summer and nothing ever comes of it,” they say, “why waste the time, money, and energy preparing?” Nine times out of ten, at least in Maine, they are right, but when they are wrong, it can be fatal. Most of us fall into a third category, though. We might have a basic level of preparedness for major storms (maybe a can or two of something in the cupboard, flashlights with batteries that aren’t completely dead, blankets in the closet and a tray or two of ice in the freezer), but we wait until we hear about an oncoming storm to truly prepare. The day before the storm, supermarkets are swarming with these people who, like me, need drinking water, food, and other supplies. Passersby see them in their yards picking up and tying down things that are likely to fly away in the wind. Gas tanks must be filled, generators purchased and/or tested, and leaky windows plastic-wrapped.

Unfortunately, this is also how many of us prepare for the storms of life. We wait until the brink of disaster before we cry out to God. Overnight, we become model Christians, reading our Bibles, praying, and being “holy.” Maybe when the storm is over, we say that we’re going to “do better,” but it seldom lasts for long. Oh, sure, some of us have made basic preparations. We’ve asked Christ into our lives, read our Bibles at least once a week, and pray before every meal, but that’s pretty much as far as it goes. What we don’t realize (or maybe we do in some cases) is that if we truly invested in God, we would be better prepared for the storms and they would be much less painful. The storms would still come, but we would be ready and they wouldn’t be so frightening.

I need to spend more time with God. I need to spend more time reading and meditating on scripture and praying. I need to give myself more quiet time with the One who created me and gives me life, the only one who knows what tomorrow holds and can get me through it.

How about you? Are you prepared for the storms of life?

I find it interesting to see which of my blog posts are the most popular during any given period of time and decided to share the information for July with you, my readers. A few of my more recent posts have been quite popular, but there’s one older post that has remained on the list month after month. Here it is, in declining order of popularity:

  1. Psalm 16:7-11
  2. Texas Bar Sues Church
  3. Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
  4. Sabbatical
  5. MuseScore and ScoreRender
  6. Stop Dating the Church! by Joshua Harris

Please read and comment!

Your Whole Self

By Nate LaClaire —  October 27, 2009 — 4 Comments

Several years ago, Christian singer Dan Haseltine (of Jars of Clay) challenged readers of Relevant Magazine to bring our whole selves into our relationships. I must admit that when I first read his article, entitled Your Whole Self, certain aspects turned me off. However, on closer inspection the truths found within overpowered the negatives.

There is a weight to the Gospel. There is a mass connected to the story of redemption. It is in the dark places – the addictions to pornography, alcohol, drugs, power and control. It is in our propensity to blame and abuse each other, our greed and our depravity. It is the substance of these things that gives us a place to speak about the slow road to recovery… In our church culture, there are behavioral codes set in place to give the appearance of victory. There are things that church people cannot talk about. There are activities that church people do not engage in…. There is not a darkness or a shadow to speak of… Because we have chosen to speak only about the victory from these things, we are left to promote a gospel that is feeble and moveable at best… Our Gospel is unbelievable because it is only half a Gospel. It is the resurrection without any signs of the crucifixion. I believe there are profound reasons why Jesus still carried the scars from the nails on His hands when He appeared to His friends. He was bringing the entire Gospel to His disciples…

The full article is available here.

Last winter, a series of events reminded me of his article. I was reminded of the importance of being authentic. It is only in our total authenticity that we are able to testify to what the Lord has done for us. Too often we Christians give an air of perfection. Several years ago, I heard a testimony that the giver was saved from a life of “terrible sin” at the age of five and had lived for Christ ever since. Twenty years of the person’s life was missing. Twenty years of struggle, twenty years of growth. As someone who was at that point very much teetering on the edge, suffering from addictive behaviors and very nearly ready to give in at any moment, the testimony left me with a sour taste in my mouth. “Terrible sin at the age of five,” I thought, “you don’t know terrible sin – I’ll show you terrible sin!” At the same time, I knew better than to believe that someone so close to my own age hadn’t struggled over the previous 10-15 years with certain sins that were very much a reality to me. It seemed insincere. And yet, that testimony reflects the norm for our sterilized church culture. In fact, if you had asked me yesterday you probably would have heard a similar response: saved somewhere around the age of five, forgiven for my sins, now I’m a new man and look forward to eternal communion with my Savior. Is it untrue? No, not at all. I believe that I was forgiven for my sins once and forever when I accepted Christ at around the age of five, but there is so much more to my story. The fact that I don’t have much of a pre-conversion story (due to my young age at the time) doesn’t mean that God hasn’t been working in my life.

Funny thing about sterility: it tremendously inhibits the ability to reproduce/multiply/spread the Word. Seeds that aren’t planted will never grow, stories that aren’t told will never inspire, and pain that is never shared will never give hope to another hurting soul.

So, what now? I’m going to work harder to bring my whole self into my relationships. It might hurt – probably will – but anything else is a lie and will inhibit my ability to serve Christ.

PS Despite my initial reaction, I don’t question for a moment that a five-year-old can be saved from a life of “terrible sin.” All sin is terrible. Life in sin is terrible. I am confident that the person giving that testimony was referring to this fact. I don’t mean to suggest that my own sins have been worse than anyone else’s, but rather that our struggles as redeemed children of God are very much realities that we should embrace in the name of authenticity. Failing to do so shortchanges those around us and fails to give God the glory for the progress He has made in our lives.

Temptations

By Nate LaClaire —  August 13, 2008 — Leave a comment

O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the vict’ry to win.
– Elisha A. Hoffman, “I Must Tell Jesus,” verse 3

A few months ago, during a worship service, I was playing “I Must Tell Jesus” and singing it with the congregation. Now, I have sung and played this song many, many times before – many tens if not hundreds of times – but this time, those words from the third verse stood out. Sometimes it seems to me, especially with hymns, that the words are wonderful and spiritual, but lack reality. Like when we sing hymns about raising hands in celebration in a very conservative church with no one raising any hands. Or when we sing about giving up everything for the cause of Christ, knowing full well that few if any of us will ever make such a sacrifice. Not this time… those words fit me exactly at that moment. My eyes actually teared up as I was playing, which seldom happens. It was a moment from God, a reminder that only through Him can I ever hope to find victory over my temptations. I praise God that He brought those words to me when I needed them most and, most of all, that He will give me the strength to stand up against my selfish addictions. Praise the Lord!

Portland’s "Holiday Tree"

By Nate LaClaire —  December 15, 2006

Officials in Maine’s largest city have decided to call the traditional Christmas tree at Monument Square a “holiday tree,” citing a desire to be sensitive to other people and religions as the reason for their decision to avoid directly referencing the Christian holiday. But Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine (CCLM), notes that the Portland officials apparently have no problem with insulting 850,000 Christians who live in Maine.

On this issue, I have to respectfully disagree with Mike Heath. The city’s political correctness is ridiculous, for the reason Kiera McCaffrey mentions (below), but why does it really matter what they call the silly tree? We Christians focus all of our energy on whining and complaining about every little thing that secular culture does and we miss the important part. The Christmas tree was originally based on a pagan ritual. Even the date of Christmas was taken from pagan culture. I love many of our secular Christmas practices and symbols - including the Christmas tree – but we need to get real: they are a part of secular culture. Jesus never said that we must celebrate His birth on December 25. He never said we should erect evergreens in our living rooms for the month of December. He never suggested hanging mistletoe above our doorways. And for all we know, he was born in July.

Like I said, Portland’s move is a stupid one:

But Kiera McCaffrey, a spokeswoman for the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights — a group that has been tracking the issue for some 12 years — says Portland’s renaming decision will not fool anyone. In talking with the Herald, McCaffrey asked what other religions take evergreen trees indoors and decorate them. “They are Christmas trees,” she said. “Everybody knows that.”

However, they don’t know any better. They are blinded by their hatred. What’s our excuse?

Source: Bows of Folly: Portland Blasted for PC Pandering With ‘Holiday Tree’

links for 2006-11-30

By Nate LaClaire —  November 30, 2006 — Leave a comment

links for 2006-11-03

By Nate LaClaire —  November 3, 2006 — Leave a comment

links for 2006-06-09

By Nate LaClaire —  June 9, 2006 — Leave a comment

links for 2006-06-06

By Nate LaClaire —  June 6, 2006 — Leave a comment

links for 2006-06-05

By Nate LaClaire —  June 5, 2006 — Leave a comment