After enduring the high level security searches and questioning to get in, I anticipate the arrival of my friend on the other side of thick Plexiglas for our two hour visit. We each value the consistent communication weekly by mail and monthly at the prison.
As I continue to look around the visitation area, I realize our common mission work is what is important, not the sometimes competitive vocalization of fundamentalist to liberal faith identities.
Paul nails authentic Christian identity in his letter to the Philippians: "Let your gentleness be known to everyone" (Phil. 4:5) as in, let it be evident in how you live. In Christian terms, that is living the Gospel. Paul also says not to worry about anything. Have you ever noticed the guarded sense of anxiety and preoccupation accompanying assertion of religious affiliation?
Paul points to Jesus as the model for love, care, and service with humility, practically and every day. This true Gospel is easy to understand but difficult and costly to implement, in part because it is hard simply to walk and not talk. The first chapter of Mark, the earliest New Testament gospel, provides an instructive glimpse into the daily life of Jesus. He taught, touched Omega Seamaster For Ladies
We live in a culture churches included that emphasizes distinctive personal branding. Although spiritual identity through a contemplative process is Omega Seamaster Deville Gold an important part of any faith journey, immersion in advertising ourselves and our beliefs can stifle true ministry. Practical service to others, not verbal articulation, is the superlative expression of effective faith.
When I enter the prison "zone" each month, no one cares who I think I am, how much money I make, my level of education, what I do for a living or my personal best in the marathon. They could not care less if I declare, as I too often am inclined to do, that "I am a moderate, true historic Baptist" in a futile effort to set myself apart from other "types" of Christians and people of other faiths.
As I leave the prison late in the afternoon to re enter what feels more like my life, I wonder about divisions in my own faith tradition. Why do we care so much about our image and invest so much energy tagging ourselves publicly? Sometimes we insist on announcing our identities to make sure others know who we are, and perhaps more importantly, who we are not.
It was the one Sunday a month when I teach Sunday school wearing running shoes and jeans before heading north in my car. Omega Seamaster New
Walt Shelton is an environmental attorney, a part time professor at Baylor Law School and an adult Sunday school teacher at Highland Park Baptist Church in Austin.
Christians should focus on authenticity rather than labels
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and healed the sick and outcast, and sought solitude for prayer and reflection. What he did not seek was attention.
The New Testament provides helpful counsel about early Christian factions with unshakable differences of opinion. For example, Paul implores Christian cliques in his letter to the Romans to prioritize love. These groups were divided over issues such as dietary restrictions and the observance of special days. Apparently, one group claimed to be "strong," while the others said their opponents had no scruples. Paul and I suspect God himself cared more about how they treated one another than who might have the "right" opinion, as if there were one.
The world seems so bright and open on these days until I turn west off of Interstate 35 at Temple, when everything progressively narrows and darkens en route to the Omega Speedmaster Pro Moonwatch
I have been going to this prison long enough to see familiar faces among other visitors, including many from the spectrum of churches and other faith based organizations. I expect we must have very different views on a host of religious and contemporary issues. We smile at each other and occasionally speak: "Have a good visit." "Be careful going home." We have no interest in theological squabbles or making sure the other knows our religious badge. Rather, our kinship is rooted in imperfect yet similar efforts in a sometimes uncomfortable setting to reach out to prisoners one at a time who simply want to talk meaningfully with another person not wearing a uniform.
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