life

The Man in the Van

Someone posted a “Christian” meme today. It was meant as humor – no ill will intended – but it struck me as humor of the judgmental. Humor of the log-eyed.  You can decide for yourself:

not that funny

The blogger – a decent guy – captioned it with a “Yep.”

I would have captioned it with a “Nope.”

But it did remind me of something good and noble.

There is a man (I don’t know who he is yet) who picks up a van load of people from various locations around the city every Sunday morning and brings them to church.  Because they cannot get to church on their own.

He was sick yesterday and people were counting on him.

So he picked them up, delivered them to church and then waited for them in the van while they partook of the two hour service. So he wouldn’t spread his germs.

Shortly after the pastor began to preach, he remembered to call the man in the van and then he laid his cell phone on the lectern so the man could listen to the sermon.

“God’s sick servant deserves to at least hear the message.”

Everyone cheered.

As the pastor preached his interesting, challenging and inspiring sermon, I could hear intermittent hacking – sometimes prolonged, uncontrolled hacking – coming from the cell phone.

Bless his hacking heart.

Today, as I read the cartoon, I wondered three things:

  1. Would God say, “Since you listened to church in a van on a cell phone…”?
  2. Would the man in the van type, “Yep”?
  3. Will we ever stop judging those in whose shoes we’ve never walked?

 

 

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church nonsense, life, Light, Revelation

Or Maybe It’s the Church’s Sins

I wasn’t going to write about the unholy trinity this week because I’ve been feeling kinda’ lazy. But then, just before I left for church this morning, I saw another “Why You Should Be in Church” post. This one posited that perhaps the reason “you” aren’t in church has to do with your sins.

Or the church’s sins, was my first thought.

And then, for the whole twenty minute ride, I kept thinking. Out loud. The hub didn’t mind.

So now I’m writing after all, but I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Revelation 13 opens with the defeated dragon standing on the sea shore, contemplating his recent failures. His failure to destroy the woman and his failure to destroy her offspring. He needs a new plan and he needs a couple of recruits.

A beast arises from the sea. A Jesus-wannabe. It has a fake fatal wound on one of its heads and that fake wound is fake healed. Everyone is in awe of it. People start to worship the dragon because of it. The beast imprisons some of God’s people, it kills others.

A second beast – another cheap imitation of Jesus – comes out of the earth looking like a lamb. It acts more like an unholy prophet.

These two beasts gain political power through intimidation and economic sanctions. One requires everyone to get a tattoo on his or her forehead or right hand in order to participate in commerce.  They use spiritual deception.

And here’s the part I was telling the hub: The second beast – the unholy prophet – made the inhabitants of the earth worship the first beast – the one who faked a resurrection.

Forced worship. Spiritual intimidation. Guilt trips. That’s the m.o. of the beast.

It’s not God’s m.o.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Perhaps some aren’t going to church because they find no rest there.

To the experts in the law Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

Perhaps some aren’t going to church because church just piles on. Or because it feels smug. Or because the Spirit just isn’t there.

I was not going to a church like that. To a church that was just playing church.

But I’ve found a new church. One where Jesus bids me to come and learn from Him. Gentle, humble-in-heart Him.

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life

A No Diego, Slows & Astro Day

The Diego Rivera exhibit is cheaper if you go on a Friday, but it is impossible to get a parking spot anywhere near the art museum – or anywhere in the city at all – on a weekday.  Every lot, every garage is full.

So after squeezing my Escape through the torn up, road-construction-narrowed streets and failing repeatedly to find a spot, we abandoned our plan and headed to lunch.

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I had been wanting to try this place.  It did not disappoint.

A few doors down was a groovy coffee shop and you know how the daughter and I love the groovy coffee.

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It was while I was eating my half of our sea-salted, hazelnut, chocolate chip cookie and sipping my mocha that Daughter pulled out her phone and had me read this quote:

When we speak of the wife obeying the husband, we normally think of obedience in military or political terms: the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them. But while this type of obedience may he appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage. The obedient wife does not wait for orders. Rather, she tries to discern her husband’s needs and feelings, and responds in love. When she sees her husband is weary, she encourages him to rest; when she sees him agitated, she soothes him; when he is ill, she nurses and comforts him; when he is happy and elated, she shares his joy. Yet such obedience should not be confined to the wife; the husband should be obedient in the same way. When she is weary, he should relieve her of her work; when she is sad, he should cherish her, holding her gently in his arms; when she is filled with good cheer, he should also share her good cheer. Thus a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.  – St John Chrysostom 

“Yeah, that’s pretty good,” I said, “but I think he could have just said, ‘Obedience has no place in the intimate relationship of marriage’ and left it at that.  Because good marriages don’t talk about or define mutual respect and consideration, they just naturally do it.”

But being young and not yet married, she liked that someone spelled out the fact that marriage is a two way street.  Because so often godly Christians insist that the only godly street is a one way street.

In the car on the way home she said, “Maybe I shouldn’t urge you to play it so safe in your writing.”

And then she read a quote from Anne Lamott:

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”  – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“Right,” I said, “because the whole beauty of me is that I don’t need to be liked. I’ll still run some of my posts by you for your yawn-o-meter, but I won’t let your people-pleasing nature stifle me anymore.  Someone has to be a voice for the people who think like me, even if we are only 1% of the population.”

Solidarity INFJ sisters.  And brothers.

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life

Sitting on a Throne of Lies

I was sitting in my ophthalmologist’s office this morning waiting for the numbing drops to take effect.  I started fiddling with my scarf and felt something stuck to the back of it.  A curler.  It happened in church not too long ago, too – curler stuck to the back of my sweater.  I actually didn’t discover it until we were in the restaurant after church.  I have got to start getting dressed after I take my curlers out.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about lies.  All kinds of lies.

I got my hair cut Wednesday.  Yesterday I mused, “I think my hairdresser hates me.”  Overhearing, my husband replied, “I think you look good.”  Bless his lying heart.

This is how it goes:

If it is 8 am on the morning of an event, and I try on the outfit I plan to wear that night, I want honesty:

Me:  “Hubby, does this look good?”
Hubby:  “What else ya’ got?”
Me:  “Thank you for your honesty.”

Why?  Because I still have time to go shopping.

If it is 7 pm on the night of the event I want lies, lies, lies:

Me:  “How do I look?”
Hubby:  “You look GREAT!”
Me:  “Really?  Thanks!”

Why?  Because there is no time to shop, no other options.  And because if he says it convincingly enough I can almost believe it.  And confidently walk into the event thinking I look pretty darn good – whether I do or not.  Confidence is key.

Same goes for my hair.

I want him to lie to me about other things, too.

Picture this: We are driving through a posh area.  I look out the window and say, “Oooooh, honey, buy me that house… on that lake… with those servants quarters!”

The truth is we cannot afford that house.  But I do not want to hear the truth.  So I have trained him to say, “Okay.”  Just a simple, cheerful okay.  Then I can resume looking out the window, smile and imagine us living there.  No harm, no foul.

zharth, Creative Commons

zharth, Creative Commons

But what I really want to talk about is Santa Claus.  Remember in Miracle on 34th St. when the wet blanket of a mom believed in complete honesty, no fairy tales.  Thank goodness she changed her tune by the end of the movie.

When my daughter was young, the church ladies in my young moms group were totally against Santa.  “He takes away from the true meaning of Christmas”, they said.  So I complied and banished him from my mantel.  But I let my daughter believe.

I saw believing in Santa (someone you cannot see but who loves you and gives you good gifts) as sort of a precursor to believing in God (someone you cannot see but who loves you and gives you good gifts).  I did not see Santa as the enemy.

When she was old enough to question, she did not hate me for “lying” to her.  I told her St. Nicholas was a kind man who gave gifts to poor children.  And that is exactly the sort of thing Jesus wants us to do.  Santa does have a place in the Christmas story.  And wasn’t it fun to believe that he flies through the sky to bring us presents?   And that he knows each of our names? And wasn’t it fun to listen for him on our roof?  And leave him cookies?  He’s back on my mantel.  And my daughter, now all grown up, believes in a God who gives good gifts.

One of my friends back then, a staunch no-Santa supporter, was about to buy her fifth grade son Grand Theft Auto.  “Are you kidding me?”, I asked.  She had no idea what Grand Theft Auto was, but it was on her son’s Christmas list so she was going to buy it.  Until I clued her in.  Sorry kid.  My point is, Santa Claus – a kind-hearted individual – was banned from her Christmas but Grand Theft Auto almost was not?  Think people, think.

How about you, young Christian mommas, what’s your take on Santa?

Now, to answer the daily prompt, by all means yes – benevolently lie to me about my hair, my outfit, my dream house and Santa.

And my writing.  You can lie to me about my writing, too.

“Sweet Little Lies.”

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faith

Accuracy Might Be Too Much to Ask

septuagint

Every Thursday morning I go to a Bible study at a church that is of a different denomination than mine.  Ordinarily it is very refreshing.

But yesterday, during the video teaching segment, I started to look up some words.  The popular Bible teacher, whom I like a lot don’t-get-me-wrong, suggested we look up the original Greek word for “revealed”.  She was teaching on 2 Thessalonians 2.

I’m sure she meant for us to look it up some other time, but since I had my iPhone handy I looked it up right then and there.  And then I kept looking.  And when I did, I discovered some things.

I discovered that the original words shed a new and interesting light on the passage.  I had always assumed the “man of lawlessness” was one evil man but perhaps the Scripture is referring to a whole movement of deceptive, destructive people.

I thought it was worth pondering and investigating further, so when the video was over I said, “Hey guys, you might want to take a look at those verses using the Blue Letter Bible’s Interlinear tool because it looks like they might refer to a group of people rather than to one man.”

You would have thought I said, “There is no God,” based on the way the women looked at me, packed up their Bibles, put on their coats and left without saying a word.  Not even a polite yet insincere, “That’s interesting” or “I’ll have to look into that.”

So now I am wondering this:  Do people go to Bible study to actually study the Bible, or do they go to have what they have already been taught – which may or may not be accurate – regurgitated and affirmed?

Do they go to have a bit of spoon-fed Scripture with their fork-fed pie?

If so, can you trust a big name Bible teacher to be your sole source of nutrition?  If her study of the Scriptures reveals something other than the commonly held understanding of the scholars, would her publisher allow it?  Would she be brave enough to share it?

Jesus kept Himself beholden to no one but His Father.  He kept Himself free to tell it like it is and let those who have ears hear.

Anyone else frustrated by this or am I just a Bible study freak?

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