Thursday, April 21, 2005

Where'd You Get That?

I was at a range, on the firing line. Several of us had been wringing the best out of our pistols in preparation for a match later that week. Being a belt and suspenders kind of guy I had ear plugs and a headset on so that I could one day hear my grandkids' laugh... but I still heard something wrong. It was a bang, but not the right kind of bang. I looked to my right and saw a friend of mine standing there with a stunned look on his face and a smoking pistol. His pistol -- a Glock 27 in .40 caliber S&W -- was broken and in pieces. Glocks don't break. They are, arguably, the most reliable and simple firearms out there. I quickly went over to him, cupped his hand and removed what was left of the pistol, checked to make sure it wouldn't go "bang" again, and moved him away from the line and into a chair. I called for a ceasefire and we all surrounded our friend and made sure he was all right. He was; just stunned.

I asked him where he got his ammunition. He told me that his friend reloaded some bullets for him. I checked the load and found out that there were two huge problems with the reloads: they were lead (which are never to be fired in Glocks) and they had way too much powder in them. He had gotten his loads from an unreliable source and now had a bruised hand and busted pistol because of it.

It is very, very important to know where you got your stuff, your ideas, and your conclusions. You never know when the thing you think is good and right is ... uh... not.

I was climbing in the Tetons of western Wyoming with some friends when we came to a picture perfect, high altitude creek. It was incredibly cold and bright as it dropped down from some glacier we hadn't made it to yet. My friends dropped down to drink and encouraged me to do the same. I hesitated. "Is it pure?" They laughed and waved around us, "How could it not be pure? We're up well over ten thousand feet. This is the purest water you'll ever drink." For some reason I decided not to drink. I would wait awhile longer.

Twenty minutes later we rounded a large outcropping of rock and saw, standing in the creek, several cattle. Some of them did what cattle do right there in front of us. In the water. My friends began turning slightly green. I helped them feel better by laughing so hard I pulled a stomach muscle.

Years ago when I still lived in Scotland we faced a crisis. A divorced and remarried woman wanted to be baptized. I was raised in the Taliban wing of the church (Al Queda chapter, Osama Division) and thus had no idea what I should do. I had a friend send me a debate between two preachers in the church on the subject and read it in two days. My wife saw me finally lay it down and asked me, "So? What do you think?" My reply was "I know which one said what I have always said... but the other one sounded a lot more like Jesus."

That set me off on a search upstream. I wanted to know why I thought what I thought and where I got it. It was an enlightening and troubling search. I found out that the standard, old paths, ancient ways teaching I had always taught had not been taught in the church until the late 1920's and wasn't widely accepted until the early 1940's. I had been scammed. I had taken a big drink of water that wasn't pure. I had accepted ammunition that wasn't reliable.

For the last twenty years I have continued that upstream search. I don't always go far enough before drinking. Worse, I have been known to share water with others that ended up not being as pure as I'd hoped. That grieves me, but the search will continue. Somewhere up there is pure faith, pure life, and the Source.

In the meantime -- don't handle any doctrine until you know where you got it... and where it's been.

19 Comments:

At 4/21/2005 10:13:00 PM , Blogger Karen said...

Great illustration... I'm passing it on, and adding you to my blogroll.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

 
At 4/22/2005 09:12:00 AM , Blogger David U said...

Patrick, that is as good a post as I have read in a LONG time! God spoke a wise word thru you on that one, brother! Please continue to challenge us. Your post motivate us to be searchers, and that is a good thing.......a Godly thing.

Your brother,
DU

 
At 4/22/2005 10:39:00 AM , Blogger heidi said...

Fantastic. Thanks for the exhortation.

 
At 4/22/2005 10:58:00 AM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Patrick - Thanks so much for that uplifting and encouraging post.

As a Christian who went through a divorce several years ago in a little Mississippi town in a church that was part of the ultra-conservative branch of the "Taliban wing of the church (Al Queda chapter, Osama Division)," I suffered greatly, as did my children. You would not believe the persecutions that were part of that ordeal.

It was so bad my younger son and I had to leave town and I left the cofC for about four years and never thought I would go back.

Fortunately, I then moved to where we (I've remarried) live today and have been part of wonderful fellowships for the past 13 years or so. I thank God every day for the wonderful husband I now have and for the wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who have, along with me, sought and found a more Godly way to live and more Godly attitude toward all around us.

May we ever strive, for as long as we live, to be more and more like Jesus and less and less bound by harmful "traditions" and legalism.

 
At 4/22/2005 11:36:00 AM , Blogger Keith Brenton said...

An excellent reminder to go to the Source. Thanks, Patrick.

 
At 4/22/2005 02:49:00 PM , Blogger JP said...

Great post Patrick, food for thought.

 
At 4/22/2005 03:09:00 PM , Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the holy water. Great comments. Makes me want to keep searching as well.
Keith

 
At 4/22/2005 05:25:00 PM , Blogger Serena said...

It is exciting to see all those that Father is working in to become like the Bereans and to search the scripture to see what they are taught is true. I think one of our problems is that we look at things from the mindset of the day in which we live and we fail to learn what the mindset was of those who penned the original words. We also fail to study the history. When we start doing that, it changes us as we start seeing that what we have been taught is not the truth. It is a shaking, but such a good one. Sometimes you feel as if all you have know is flying apart, but what you get when you get through another shaking, is the Truth ( as well as the Way and the Life and ultimately the Father) and He is well worth getting.
Shalom,
Serena

 
At 4/22/2005 10:34:00 PM , Blogger Steve Duer said...

As a friend of mine used to say "that'll preach"! Outstanding post. Thanks for sharing.

 
At 4/23/2005 12:07:00 PM , Blogger Jared Cramer said...

Patrick, that was an excellent post and good illustration. Thanks a lot.

 
At 4/23/2005 10:02:00 PM , Blogger Alnot said...

Good illustrations as a reloader and shooter I can really relate. As a Christian and labeled member of the right wing religeous nuts that one left winger actually posted he would like to see all of hunted down and executed because I believe abortion is murder of innocents and yet I also believe in the death penalty conditionally that I am the one who is messed up. Excuse me? Thanks for having a nice blog to visit.

 
At 4/24/2005 03:45:00 AM , Blogger Arielle said...

I'm still smiling about the cattle in the stream...

God is such a wonderful teacher, isn't He?

 
At 4/24/2005 01:34:00 PM , Blogger JD said...

Excellent principle Beautifully taught...thanks for sharing.

 
At 4/24/2005 09:13:00 PM , Blogger DJG said...

That Taliban wing of the church blindsighted alot of us! I am thankful that God is patient with me and some wrong ideals I bought into.

Thanks for the reminder to examine all my beliefs before I go shooting others with them!

 
At 4/25/2005 09:27:00 AM , Blogger Neal W. said...

Patrick,

Great post...I agree entirely and think it's a great illustration...oddly enough though, a similar water-based metaphor has been leveled at me by the Taliban wing of the church. All depends on your perspective, I guess. God bless

- Neal Whitlow

 
At 4/25/2005 10:58:00 AM , Blogger TCS said...

I join the chorus of praise. A great post. I'm swimming upstream with you.

 
At 4/25/2005 02:04:00 PM , Blogger lee said...

I confess I've been checking in since your first post.

With convicting words, you paint pictures that look like open windows, but are really mirrors.

I'll be back!--Lee

 
At 4/26/2005 08:40:00 AM , Blogger Cheetah, the cheetah said...

Your post is excellent. I, too, have been hurt by the Taliban. I never want to kill anyone with what I believe the Word says! And, I too am searching for the truth of the Word rather than the truth of what I was taught the Word teaches. I will continue to pray for wisdom and to search....

 
At 5/18/2005 12:04:00 AM , Blogger Laurie said...

Hi there Patrick, I think I was raised in the same division as you, however, I think I might have been a bit more rebellious. Nevertheless, I plod on! The good thing about being upstream a bit is that time alone with God. Be Blessed.

 

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