Monday, April 8, 2013

Organized Religion

Our son David, and his wife, Margaret

Today's post is another one by our son, David, who lives in Midland, Texas. This one has a lot to say and I hope you enjoy reading it. Makes me proud to be his mom!
A few days ago I preached at the memorial service for Jeff, a college professor from our community. Have you seen those TV ads featuring ‘the most interesting man in the world’? They are based on this guy’s life. He truly had some amazing experiences. I met Jeff one time, at the home of one of our church members who is also a college professor. It was this church member who asked me to preach his funeral. The service was very well planned and attended and was a fitting tribute.
I talked to several people about Jeff as I prepared. They said he was a Christian, but that he didn’t go to any church because he didn’t believe in ‘organized religion.’ I never learned the reason behind Jeff’s attitude, but I’ve met many people over the years with this same opinion. Sometimes they are people who have been seriously hurt by someone from church—sadly, usually a minister or other church leader. Sometimes they are people who have a well-developed independent streak, and don’t want to be told how to do anything. Sometimes they are people who know they have issues in their lives, but they don’t want to be told their behavior or attitudes don’t square with the Bible.
I was thinking about this as I put in my 40 miles on the bike yesterday. At the halfway-point I stopped at a 7-11 and refilled my water container. When I stopped, my legs felt pretty strong. After the break I got back on the bike and started to pedal—and wow, did that hurt. I was 20 miles from home and I wondered if I could go two more. But, since the options were ride or call and get a ride, an embarrassing prospect to be sure, I decided to ride. I was struggling along into a headwind, going about 12 or 13 mph when a bike zipped by me. “Have a nice day,” I thought—or something like that. The cyclist was young and skinny and his bike looked like it was worth three times what mine was. A few minutes later I was passed again, but this time by a guy older and fatter than me! My pride kicked in and I decided to see if I could ride with him for a while.
I caught up and he was going about 17 or 18 mph, a very good clip under the conditions. I positioned myself so he was blocking the wind for me, something we call “drafting.” When cyclists ride together this is the usual strategy. We take turns as the lead rider, who works the hardest. When we combine like this, we can ride much faster than we could alone. This is one reason the riders stay together in the “peloton” in the Tour de France—everyone stays fresher and stronger. When a rider or a group of riders break away from the group, they are working much harder and this is why they are usually “caught” by the peloton late in the day’s stage.
After drafting a while I started to feel guilty—I knew it was my turn to lead. “I’ve taken advantage of you long enough,” I hollered. “Let me lead a while.” I pulled ahead and he moved to the position I had taken when he was leading. I was surprised that I was able to keep the speed up, but there’s that whole male ego thing which most likely accounts for it.
We stayed together from the edge of Odessa to FM 1788. When we came to the light, my legs were jelly. I told him to enjoy his ride and dropped my speed back down.
Coming out of Odessa, I knew—I KNEW—there was no way I could go more than 12-14 mph into the wind. But, when teamed with another rider, I rode at 17 or better, getting as fast as 19, for a long time. On my own, I never would have been able to do it, but when pushed, encouraged, pulled, or motivated, however you want to put it, I did it. With a partner, I rode better and faster than I would have alone.
That’s when it hit me. Organized religion is like organized riding. As a team, we can do much more than we can alone. I think most people need the discipline of regular church attendance and enjoy the camaraderie and strength felt as they serve together rather than individually. It’s the whole concept of synergy, the idea that what we can do together adds up to much more than the sum of what we could do individually. I am constantly telling anyone who will listen that church is a team sport, that all of us have a role to play, and only when we all work together can we begin to accomplish what God has planned for us to do.
What’s your role? Are you striving for excellence? Do you encourage and support your teammates? My encouragement to you is that you don’t have to do life alone. One of the reasons we exist is to “share the journey” of life together. As a group, we want to help each other as we journey through life. When you're struggling, pull in behind someone and draft a while. When you're strong, take your turn in the lead and help someone else keep going.

Thanks, David, for your wisdom today.
David is Lead Counsel for Dawson Petroleum in Midland, Texas. For several years he served as Minister to Singles at First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas, and in two other similar positions. The articles I am featuring are ones he wrote during his time as a Singles Minister. They were published in papers given to the people in his church.

David's wife, Margaret, is a professional quilter who works from her home. If you are interested in checking out her work, go to

Margaret and her Long-Arm Quilting machine

Here's a T-shirt quilt she made.

This is a quilt I made. Margaret will quilt it for me and it will be even more beautiful.


  1. Beautiful quilts!

    I agree with you, David, that church and organized religion do have their perks. However, sometimes I do get frustrated with what I see as close-mindedness by many who attend churches and I think that's where the problem comes in. The important thing to remember, IMHO, is to love one another!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Margo. And of course I have seen that, too, having been a pastor's wife for many years. I've seen people come and go in many churches. I agree we need to love.