10/16/10 Al, about 55
After an early morning run with Marty (church elder) along Lake Michigan, we were talking by his car when a man (Al) walked by, headed for the shoreline. We struck up a friendly conversation and found out he had been the land surveyor for the newly renovated park we were in, and he was very gratified to see the results of his work. After a while I told Al that we are both from a nearby church and had just been talking about what a blessing it is to be sure of the faith of our loved ones, and I asked if he had any sort of spiritual beliefs. I just started out in general - "Do you believe in any sort of higher power?" Having grown up Catholic, he does - and it was very natural to go on from there. Al had an interesting belief that everyone has at least one moment in life where they rise to the occasion and prove themselves to God. For him it was his military service in Vietnam, and an incident where he saved a friend from a drug overdose. I wondered how to "break the bad news" of his guilt and God's judgment to a man who focuses on his more shining moments in life, but I let God's word do it for me. I told him of the verse in James that says "Anyone then who knows the good they ought to do and do not do it, sins" (James 4:12) I didn't focus sin from this verse, but on that word "ought". Al had only done what he "ought" to have done with the good things God had given him in life and as a man who believes in honor and duty, he agreed with me. This cleared away his fixation on his "shining moments" and allowed me to help him see his sin and the judgment to come. In the end he appealed to Jesus whom he had already heard had died for our sins, and I encouraged him to read the Bible and focus on Jesus, not his own self-righteousness.