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Yee-haw! My New Open Bible arrived!

For a high school graduation present, my pastor gave me a New Open Bible, King James Version. It was leatherbound. I had it all through college, marking it up with notes and even having a page reserved for autographs from various ministers (Dr. Johnny Pope, Dr. Jack Hyles, Jim Schettler, to name a few). I also kept a record of those I’ve led to the Lord.

And then, during a move, it was placed in an unknown box in the basement. The sump pump quit working, flooding the basement and ruining the Bible.

I was very saddened, angry and frustrated.

A few visits on Ebay and Amazon have resulted in unsuccessful bids for New Open Bibles, cringing at how expensive the new ones are and then ordering one, only to learn it’s an Open Bible and not a New Open Bible. The newer version contains study notes I like, and, for sentimental purposes, I really want a New Open Bible.

Found one on Ebay on a buy option.

Received it in the mail. It has a hard cover and a few notes here and there. Otherwise, excellent condition.

Richard is very happy. 🙂

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

When God tries to get your attention

A few Sundays ago, I was woken up at 8 a.m. by a text message. That morning, due to not having done laundry and being too tired from working a lot, I was planning to not take my sons to church. Again.

The text was from a Christian friend, a lady who’s in her mid-twenties but conducts herself like she’s in her mid-forties. Very precocious spiritually and socially. She told me she felt the Lord leading her to contact me to see how I was doing.

We texted back and forth and I told her about my frustration of being out of church due to being very tired all the time. She politely suggested to me that my responsibility was to raise my sons up to be in church.

Wow.

We did not make it to church that morning since the boys had no clean church clothes, but I sat there and thought about this friend. It really was if God was using her to talk to me. And to get my attention.

Last weekend, while work kept me from church, I arranged my sons to get a ride to church. Both said they had a good time.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Do cliques exist among Christians? Yep

April 26, 2012 3 comments

For those reading this who don’t know me, here’s a quick description of who I am: a quirky writer who sees the world differently. I’m clumsy. Convention often bores me, and for some my sense of humor is far too esoteric. I am lousy with my hands, don’t smoke, don’t drink or don’t do typical “guy” things.

I became a Christian in 1981 at eight, but over the years still struggled to find acceptance. I wore clothes that weren’t stylish. I didn’t wear my hair in stylish ways. I was still discovering myself and often told non-sequitur jokes or made non-sequitur comments. I had strange obsessions (ducks, pens, certain movies, baseball). I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m actually a mixture of both ADHD and Aspergers. Attending Baptist churches in my teen years, I always felt there were some people who didn’t accept me because I didn’t behave in patterns they were accustomed to.

After attending a public high school and often feeling out of place outside my close circle of friends (Bob, Lorin, Joe, Valkena and Sean, to name a few), I shifted gears and attended a Christian college. Even at Pensacola Christian College, while I made many wonderful friends, I also felt a strong sense that some there did not accept me or even try to, simply because I’m different. 

Years after PCC, as I began to understand more of who I am and why I say and do the things I say and do, I decided to re-connect with lots of former PCC classmates at a website that was a chat board. Everything was open for discussion. And some of the biggest things open for discussion were how bad the administration had been, how many backstabbers there were and how wrong the college had been in its rules, doctrines and theology.

And after a few years of being on the board, it became apparent to me that I would always be an outsider due to my different sense of humor, my perspectives. Some were kind, many were very antagonistic. I left, concluding that in their overall rudeness and condescension, they were no different than the elite, “evil” administration they condemned.

And so was the case in other Christian circles. My soon-to-be ex-wife a few years ago told me my sense of humor caused some at our church bewilderment and wondered how she put up with it all the time. Well, if they’d bothered to get to know me or ask, they would’ve learned humor is my stress reliever. And at the time, I had a lot of stress in my life. They didn’t ask, because, well, men aren’t supposed to be high-strung or exhuberant. They are supposed to be assertive, be able to fix things, go hunting, and so on.

During my separation, I did something I’ve always wanted to do and got involved in a local theater. Currently, I am a member of the Clio Cast & Crew and for the past month or so have been rehearsing for a part in the play A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

And for this amount of time, I have had the time of my life as I’ve been surrounded by wonderful people who seem to accept me for who I am. Some are Christians, some probably are not, but what I enjoy is that I feel far more at ease among my fellow castmates and director and assitant director than I do among many conservative Christians.

And, yes, many of the above lean more towards the left politically while I remain an independent conservative.

It’s amazing to me just how easy it has seemed for me so far to gain acceptance in this group despite my issues, and how frustrating it is that I could go into the average church and probably be labeled different almost immediately. It’s almost like among thespians, diversity is not only accepted, it’s celebrated.

I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising: one song says that if Jesus showed up in the average church today, some parishioners would gripe that His bloody foot prints were staining the carpets. As my friend Lisa pointed out, others would gripe that Jesus’ disciples reeked of fish.

I take comfort knowing from the Bible that God often worked with the outcasts. Abraham had trust issues. Moses hated public speaking and probably stuttered. Jacob was a con man. David was the youngest son who probably wasn’t taken seriously by his older brothers, and later he would become an adulterer and murderer. Jesus’ ancestral bloodline contained incest, prostitution, murder, ungodliness. Paul had anger issues while Peter was very impulsive. And yet, God loved them and worked with them all. What is important to God is that we desire to follow and serve Him and make Him first in our lives.

The Bible gives us a set of clear rules to live by, and while these rules are important, sometimes the lines blur and subjective views of conformity magically turn into Biblical convictions, God wants a relationship with us, and as we get to know Him, we start to see things from His perspective.

And one thing I believe is God loves us despite all our quirks and flaws.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian for 30 years and is still learning. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Reading the Bible, finishing Job, Psalms and Proverbs thoughts

January 18, 2012 1 comment

To paraphrase the famous Wolf Brand Chili commercial: How long has it been since I’ve updated this blog…[brief pause that’s not long enough for anyone to respond]…well, that’s too long.

2011 saw me do something I hadn’t done probably since graduating from Pensacola Christian College in 1995: I read the Bible completely through. About 66 percent of the time I read daily and the other 33 percent I either didn’t read or had to catch up and read several days’ worth.

It obviously is better to read every day so you can focus on quality rather than quantity.

I’ve read of some Christians who read 20 chapters a day and others who read the Bible cover to cover in a month. Perhaps someday I’ll try that, but at this stage, the more I read, the far less I retain and comprehend. After all, the Bible’s not a Archie comic book. When you read in Romans about faith and salvation, each chapter seems like it should broken down over a week’s time…

Today, I finished reading the Book of Job as, in 2012, I’m reading the Bible chronologically. Fascinating book. Job was a godly man who lost everything, wrestled with the question “Why?” while his friends accused him of having unconfessed sin and pride. After all, God never punishes the righteous, does He?

Wrong.

I think of one godly friend, Terry, who while in his early 30s died of cancer. He left behind a wife and young daughter. I don’t know why and won’t know until eternity. Maybe this planet simply didn’t deserve him.

Job learns two things from a discussion with God: 1) Job isn’t not God and 2) Job is going to have to trust God. While the first two chapters indicate why Job went through what he did, nothing at the book’s end indicates Job knew why. It’s possible he did, but it’s also possible Job had to wait until heaven to find have his “Why?” question answered: Because God simply wanted to prove to Satan that humans serve God out of love for God and a desire to know Him rather than how much money and possessions He gives them…

A friend suggested I read Psalm 5 recently. It reminds me of that advice from PCC given to us from Pastor Jim Schettler about reading through a Psalm or Proverb every day. I figure through diligence you can read through both books twice in a single year. Granted, the Psalm 119 is long, but there are several Psalms that are shorter than I am (for the record, I’m about 5’8″).

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer who feels it’s best to be a Christian first and a writer second. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Caught up again, then a little behind

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes I think my Bible reading could be summed up by this television theme song

I was about two weeks behind at one point on my Old Testament reading, then got completely caught up both, and then the procrastination and sleep bugs hit and tonight I’ll have three day’s worth to read to catch up.

One thing I am looking to add is reading from the Psalms each night. Starting next year, I may even break it down further and, every day of the year, read a Psalm or Proverb. Psalm 119, of course, would be split up into about four days.

What is it that makes it so difficult to maintain consistency? We just get too busy in our own lives, perhaps. And, of course, the devil is always there to let us know of the many other things we could be doing with our time…surfing the internet, sleeping, eating, relaxing, watching TV, visiting social sites.

In an effort to get caught up on my reading, I “read” through the entire Book of Joshua. No, I don’t recommend that. The quantity versus quality approach to Bible reading never is successful. Spiritually, you feel far better when you relax, focus and read.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

An Aussie friend talks about how witnessing can be effective

July 14, 2011 5 comments
It’s been a few years since I did door-to-door evangelism, and it’s because I got spooked.
 
About 15 years ago, I and a gentleman from church visited an apartment in Beeville, Texas and witnessed to the young man who answered the door. I presented the gospel to “Juan”, who seemed very receptive. He then prayed the sinner’s prayer.
 
Juan nodded when we asked him what he’d done. I recorded his name in my Bible as one of the people I’d led to the Lord.
 
Great news, right?
 
About 10 years later in the public records of the newspaper, I saw Juan’s name mentioned in a crime.
 
Now, it’s possible he received Christ but backslid, and it’s possible we never properly discipled him. It’s also possible he just said some words because that was the path of least resistance.
 
It made me think that door-to-door evangelism is completely useless unless there is a solid method of follow-up and discipleship.
 
Recently, I spoke about this on Facebook with Lyndee, an Australian Christian who also attended Pensacola Christian College. (We never met, but I knew who she was).
 
I told Lyndee: “You know, one thing life has taught me is that there is a very wide spectrum in Christianity. God needs people everywhere. I mean, do you really think an Independent Fundamental Baptist fresh from Pensacola Christian College would succeed trying to pass out gospel tracts at a biker bar?”
 
Lyndee replied with a thoughtful respose:
 
“why waste your time passing out Gospel tracts when they will only end up littering the parking lot. Rather use that money to buy a couple of biker mates a round of beer and sit down and talk with them… not about Jesus at first, but about them. Everyone loves talking about themselves. Find out who they are, what they love, what they hate, and eventually where they hurt. Prove to them you care about them and not some notch in your christian belt (which i know is not what you want, but is how they perceive many witnessing Christians). Witnessing is not a numbers game, its a life long process of relationships in loving people exactly where they are, not where someone else thinks they should be.”
 
You know, even though I don’t drink beer (to be honest, I hate it immensely), I honestly cannot find anything I disagree with in Lyndee’s assessment.
 
It makes me think that if there’s a Christian who prefers this approach, go for it. Bars aren’t my thing, but I’m sure God has others He can use.
 
Tell me, Richard’s Two Shekels reader, is what Lyndee suggests really radical or is it radically filled with theological common sense?
 
I believe it’s definitely the latter.
 
Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Interview with blogger and fellow PCC alum Nolan Bobbitt: Part 1 of 2

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Nolan Bobbitt, a fellow Pensacola Christian College graduate, is a great example of someone I knew of at college (but not on a personal basis) but have, in recent years, exchanged e-mails with him every so often. I remember at PCC he had a reputation as a friendly, wonderful guy who loved people and wanted to serve in the ministry.

After I graduated from PCC and spent time in the proverbial real world (which included a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, where so many forbidden things at college were done by most as an afterthought), I began to discover the internet and websites that were both favorable and not favorable to PCC.

On one website I discovered an essay by Nolan titled: “ISOLATIONISM: The Gospel of the Fundamentalist Movement.” Sometime in the near future I will post it on my blog, as it is much-needed reading about how Christians should be insulated but not isolated from the world.

Nolan Bobbitt

These days, among Nolan’s ministries is a website, where he blogs. As I’ve read his blog I have grown to admire both the content and the design. Just a few years ago, I learned what a blog was, how to choose a server, how to post, how to create one working within the allowed parameters. And, yes, how to deal with angry readers who think I’m far crazier than I actually am.

Since blogging is still relatively new to some Christians, I decided to ask Nolan a few questions about blogging, how he got into it and how Christians can use it as a ministerial tool…

Richard Zowie: When did you first start using the internet?

Nolan Bobbitt: I started using the internet back in the dial-up days, around 1995.

RZ: When did you start blogging?

NB: Wow, it’s hard to believe, but I started blogging back in 2005.

RZ: What types of growing pains did you have when you first started blogging? Do you still find yourself wanting to tinker with your blog’s layout, format and what you write about?

NB: Sure I went through the typical blog growing pains, and the funny thing is, there are still some pains there from blogging, but they are a different kind. In the first couple of years, I was really consumed with growing an audience and trying to get high-profile “celebrity Christian” bloggers to read my stuff or write a guest post so that I could have their readership come my way. I obsessed over having a cool blog layout and header.

These days, it’s a little different…I obsess over writing something of substance and value, rather than growing a broad readership. I actually have taken an unintentional break from blogging. I was getting into a really good rhythm and posting at least 4-5 times a week, and then, I just stopped writing. At this point, I really need to update the “look” and layout of my blog, but I’d actually rather just have something that’s worth reading posted there more consistently.

RZ: Do you run across Christians who are opposed to blogs or to being on the internet? If so, what do you tell them?

NB: Oh, I am sure that there are a few Christians who are opposed to blogging or the internet, because they think that it is too “worldly.” I would tell the opposed that the internet may be one of the greatest evangelism tools that the 21st century will see if harnessed to further the Gospel in a compelling way!

In Part 2, Nolan will discuss his thoughts of how blogs can be used for Christian ministries.

Richard Zowie has blogged at Blogspot, Livejournal and now primarily uses WordPress. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.