My name is Dan Paulson; I hope not to come off “too preachy”. Some of what I have to say may offend some but that’s who I am. Before you fire off your hate mail or letters of complaint, I’ll save you the trouble. I know I am the biggest sinner, most violent hypocrite, and whatever else you can call me. Just make sure you add “forgiven” to all of those names.
I am guilty in the past of (name any sin here) and still battle my dark side on a daily basis but God knows all and I am forgiven. I don’t like to glorify my misdeeds through a retelling of my past in an attempt to make a case for turning over a new leaf (I’m also not sure about the Statute of Limitations on some things). For those who have known me, you know where I’ve been. To those who have only known “of” me, most of that stuff you have been told has been blown out of proportion, both the good and the bad. To those who don’t know me at all, you’re probably better off that way.
Most of my stories start with the phrase; “I was out for a ride”. The reason for this is that I live in Southern California where the weather is perfect and the state government has found a way to charge for it. This particular day started out like any other afternoon but soon took a strange turn. While on a ride with my wife on my Victory Cross Country, we ended up stopped at a traffic light next to another couple on a new Harley. I said hello and was greeted with a question / statement from Mr. Harley, “Do you like your bike?” he asked. Before I could reply, he informed me that he had ridden a Victory and hated it. As I was about to respond with the whole “different strokes for different folks” line, his wife chimed in and said that I was rude.
I asked her why she thought I was rude and she informed me that it was because my bike didn’t have a backrest like their bike and I was not being considerate of my wife. I tried to explain that my wife doesn’t really care for backrests but it fell on deaf ears. Mr. Harley began to tell me I needed a windshield like his. While explaining that I was happy with my stock windshield, the light mercifully turned green and I couldn’t wait to leave them in the dust as they wobbled through the intersection. As I blasted away, I thought about how I should have explained to those newbies how I had been riding motorcycles since the 1960s and have worked in all aspects of the industry as well as having competed in motorcycle racing professionally for several years and I have forgotten more about bikes than they will ever know! That would have shown those self-righteous jerks… I said self-righteously!
Then I posed myself the big question. What would Jesus do? That was an easy answer to me; He would respond to them like He did to the Scribes and Pharisees by referring to them as a “brood of vipers”. Down the road I went feeling vindicated with my precious ego intact but somehow I didn’t feel right, like someone was trying to whisper in my ear.
Heading for the coast on a scenic highway, ten minutes after encountering the pleasant couple on the Harley, two riders were approaching from the other direction and as we passed each other, I gave my customary wave. These two fine young gentlemen vigorously extended me their middle fingers in a display of their IQ. I must have not looked “Biker” enough to be worthy of a wave from these guys. My initial reaction was to flip a U-turn and chase these punks down and explain to them that sitting on the couch drinking beer and watching Sons of Anarchy reruns while wearing an “M.C.” shirt from Walmart doesn’t make you a tough guy. Some people consider me a tough guy since I own a martial arts studio / gym and spend my days sparring and working out. Despite this I don’t go around flipping people off.
I live the “Judged by twelve or carried by six” lifestyle and have no interest in courtrooms or funeral parlors. Since I am a Christian it leads me back to the same question. What would Jesus do? Do you remember the fig tree? It didn’t have fruit so with a simple word He cursed it to wither and never bear fruit again. Those two punks don’t seem like the fruit bearing types so if I see them again it will be time to make them wither! Down the road I go justified to do as I please but somehow I didn’t feel right, as if someone was trying to whisper in my soul, again.
After I got home that afternoon and cleaned my bike, I replayed the day in my mind. That whisper in my soul became loud and clear. I thought of all of the times I have been a member of the brood of vipers and all of the times I did not bear fruit (the entire 1980’s). All of the many sins I have committed and continue to commit daily came flooding into my mind. I realized that I am worse than any of the people I stood in judgement of. Thank God for His grace and forgiveness. Even for a wretch like me.
We need to be careful when using biblical references to build our case or to serve our own purpose. It’s a good thing Jesus isn’t the mean guy I excerpted him to be while I tried to get Him to fit my purpose. He is not mean but instead is kind, loving, and forgiving while still being the ultimate tough guy.
When faced with any temptation, He was able to resist it. When faced with abuse, He could have called in legions of angles to protect Him but chose not to. At any time he could have used His true strength to show his persecutors who the real boss was. Jesus was meek by choice not necessity. Let’s not forget that He also flipped over the tables of the money changers and drove them out of the temple with a whip because He had zeal for His Fathers house. Jesus never defended Himself; He was only angered when His Father in Heaven was disrespected.
My non-believing friends love to try to excerpt God’s Word (the Bible) to bolster their case that there is either no God at all or at the very least that he is bad in some way. They routinely misquote or take verses out of context from a book they have never read. It always amazes me how the same people who deny God’s existence are the first to blame him when a tragedy strikes. In a world or country where God has been pushed out of every aspect of life, don’t be surprised if He honors your choice and leaves you alone. Make up your mind folks, either He exists or He does not. I’ve got news for you, He does exist and He is good all of the time!
Some of my Christian brothers and sisters excerpt the word of God to serve their purpose, usually to fit their liberal or pacifist beliefs. They are meek by necessity because they can only cower to the forces of evil rather than to stand up to it. They hide behind the whole “coexist” thing, which should be respelled as “cowardice”. Right and wrong are clearly defined in the Bible. We should boldly proclaim the truth. If you profess to be a Christian that is how you are to live regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court says. You either, accept the entire Bible or you deny the entire Bible, you can’t pick and choose parts of it.
Why would you want to edit the Bible? It is the most awesome book ever written. The Bible contains the best news ever reported. Can you imagine if you woke up one day and someone had paid off all of your debt? No more mortgage, car payments, credit card balances, etc. Wouldn’t you be happy? The Bible tells the good news that Jesus has paid off your debts! The difference is, it was a much bigger debt paid for at a much higher cost. The debt was your sins and the cost was His life. For this simple fact we as Christians should spend every day happy and thankful living with an attitude of gratitude. The world has done a good job at portraying us as a bunch of “holier than thou” types who, walk around with a black cloud over our heads.
Unfortunately we have helped them form this opinion with our sour behavior. My friend Brother Bert used to call that type: “Constipated Christians” because of how uptight they are! Let’s show the world how happy and blessed we are by being salt and light. We should live lives that make people wonder why and ask us how we are so happy, giving, kind and unflappable. This will bring to light the true joy of Christianity to the unbeliever. Let’s be a porch light on a warm summer night and attract some bugs! (Don’t be a bug zapper)
All of that from a little afternoon ride! You never know what God has in store for you hidden in the most mundane moments. I believe we are presented with situations to help us grow in our faith and are given opportunities to improve our walk. One of the most amazing things about God is that He could vaporize us with the sound of his voice but He instead chooses to whisper in our ear, as if someone is trying to whisper in our soul. It is our choice to listen or turn a deaf ear to him.