Christian Living


Live and Learn

My life of crime began at age 5.  My older brother Chris would give me Matchbox® cars in exchange for money I would take from my dad’s change dish.  For those of you too young to remember what a change dish is, it’s a dish that dads put loose change in at the end of the day.  Moms never did this.  I’ll have to ask my mom why.  It’s probably not ladylike.  Anyway, back to the change dish.  Then, the next day dad would take the change and put it back in his pocket.  You see, he didn’t grow up with Xbox or Nintendo so he entertained himself by jingling his change.  It’s actually quite common for older guys.  It’s probably good stewardship too.  You could have countless hours of fun for just a few coins.

My dad began to notice that there wasn’t as much change in the morning as there was the night before.  So one day he followed me into the kitchen without me knowing.  After pocketing a few coins, I turned around and my face smacked right into his thigh.  He asked me what I was doing.  I did what any self-respecting five-year-old would do.  I said “Chris made me do it” and let the crocodile tears flow.  I didn’t get in trouble because Chris was supposed to know better.  Because I didn’t get in trouble, that experience didn’t deter me from stealing.  I did live and learn.  I learned from my mistake (getting caught).  As time passed I began to steal bigger and more expensive items.  That’s a microcosm of life.  We’re never satisfied.  We always want bigger and better things.   

When I was ten years old, I was allowed to go to the Twin City Mall.  There was a store called G.C. Murphy and I used to steal from there.  I never got caught.  G.C. Murphy is no longer in business.  I sure hope it isn’t because of me.  So, I continued to steal bigger and more expensive things.  I became addicted to stealing. 

When I was 15, my friends and I began stealing hood ornaments.  Some of you might remember a band called The Beastie Boys.  They wore Mercedes Benz hood ornaments.  I don’t know why, but who knows why most people do anything.  I don’t really know why I eat oatmeal in the morning.  Apparently, it’s healthy.  I’d rather eat Krispy Kremes.  So this fad of wearing hood ornaments was a goldmine for me and friends.  We would steal hood ornaments and sell them to kids at school.  One time, I ripped a bulldog off of a Mack truck.  I was the only one that could pull it off.  I was like a hood ornament stealing god.  I kept that one for myself.  I can’t believe I thought I looked cool with that on.  Like all good fads, this one died.  We had to improvise.  We began stealing radar detectors.  They sold for more and were a lot easier to take.  You would be surprised how few people actually locked their doors in the late 80’s.  I love the 80’s.  They should make a show with that name.  One, night after stealing two radar detectors, we forgot to turn our headlights on and were pulled over for suspicion.  The police searched the car and placed all five of us under arrest.

The situation scared me half to death.  The police put us through the ringer.  Mugshots, dirty holding cell, no food, one phone call.  It was just like it is on TV.  The one phone call was to my parents.  I had to call them at 4 am.  I asked the officer if I could wait until 7 am when they would have a cup of coffee in them, but he was much smarter than me.  Calling them at 4 am would be much worse for me and he knew it.  I finally got in trouble and truly learned my lesson.

I’m not ashamed of my past (as evidenced by my writing about it).  It has shaped who I am today.  I became a Christian as a result of getting arrested.  That was about 17 years ago.  It’s been fun seeing the change God has made in my life.  I often think of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

You have to learn from your mistakes.  Merely hearing or reading about the right thing may not help you.  Our phone lines and e-mail inbox are filled with stories of people who continue to make the same financial mistakes over and over.  Stephen Covey defines this as insanity.  They have lived, but not learned. 

If you continue to spend more than you make, you will continue to struggle financially.  If you fail to give back to God, how can you expect Him to bless you?  God can change your behavior if you will let him.  You just have to be willing to let Him.  I went from being a taker to a giver.  If He can change me, He can certainly help you change your behavior.  You just have to be willing to live and learn.

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