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Offending Jesus: The Christian Response

To celebrate seven years of success, Chapel Bar in Aucklund, New Zealand, did what any respectable establishment would have done.

They reduced the crucifixion of Christ to a pizza-fueled sexual escapade.

Nothing says We’ve made it, like a bit of old-fashioned sacrilege. I saw this image on Buzzfeed with the caption, “If you’re a devout Christian, prepare to get your knickers knotted.” Naturally, I clicked. As a Christian, I have to admit I was offended. Turning the perfect image of agony and grace into a shameless sexual innuendo is pushing the envelope a little far, in my opinion. Consider the context.

Imagine an ad agency turning the slaughtering of Native Americans, or the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. into an edgy ad for potato chips.

How about a billboard for the Fall opening of a coffee shop featuring a sad-faced scarecrow hanging on a fence, mimicking the brutal death of Matthew Shepard? Why not a few Holocaust jokes commemorating the anniversary of a local bakery? Read More…

How Not To Handle Politics

I seldom wax political, but in light of the impending election, and the gross amount of vitriol dripping from the social media machine, I have decided to toss my hat in the ring and offer a simple How-Not-To list. A penny for your thoughts…

1. Make politicians into 2D caricatures of themselves.

These days, we rely on soundbites and smear campaigns to inform our decisions. This reduces candidates to cardboard cutouts on which we pin medals or throw darts. We strip them of all humanity and nuance, but people are more complex than that. We know this of ourselves. We hate to be painted with broad brush strokes, but that is exactly what we do to politicians.

Spend a little time with fact checking. Research voting histories and career track records, and avoid placing blind trust in the mainstream media. If your assumptions are confirmed, vote accordingly, but don’t cast your ballot based on the emotional appeal of a thirty second commercial.

2. Satan or Savior

He’s either the savior of the world or the devil in flesh… My vote will decide! – Jonathan Martin (on voting logic)

Looking at the Internet, it is hard to locate middle ground. The candidate is either the hope of the world or its ultimate destroyer.

For some, Obama is the love child of Oprah and Captain Planet—Clean air for everybody! And you get a car, and you get a car. For others, he is a closet Muslim Socialist working on a plan to provide every female citizen with an in-home abortion kit.

Read More…

It’s time to kill this lie.

The hardest lies to kill are the ones we want so desperately to believe. They just sound right. Like this one.

God will never put more on you than you can bear.

You’ve heard this before. It’s like a warm shelter in a snow storm.

If only it were true.

I listen to a radio show called This American Life. Every week they take a theme and share various stories surrounding that theme. Last week’s episode, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” featured incredible stories of survival through some of the craziest experiences.

The show opened with a clip from a stand up routine. The comedian started her set with this greeting:

I have cancer. How are you?

Straight deadpan. You have to hear the delivery to appreciate it. It gets worse from there. This is what the last four months of her life have looked like:

  1. She was hospitalized for a condition where bacteria started to eat her digestive tract. She then got Pneumonia.
  2. A week after she was released, her mother died in a tragic slip-and-fall accident.
  3. She then went through a break up.
  4. Finally, she was diagnosed with stage two cancer. Read More…

Good Deed Ninja Caper

Have you ever been shocked by the love and generosity of another person? Someone who showed up at the perfect moment to bless you in a way you weren’t expecting.

There is always an initial feeling of guilt—You shouldn’t have done this— followed immediately by an overwhelming sense of gratitude. You’re in no position to repay them and you can tell they don’t expect you to. They are just happy to do it.

My wife and I have been experiencing cool moments like that lately, and it makes me think of two things:

  1. It reminds me of the character and nature of God. He gives, redeems, and sustains life, clothes the earth in beauty, and sacrificially loves people who couldn’t pay him back in a thousand infinities.
  2. We should all do a caper. Bob Goff, author of the book Love Does, talks a lot about the idea of doing capers. He’s not referring to the prankish, illegal enterprise sort of caper, or the delicious condiment. He means spontaneous adventures that add value to the lives of others.

Here’s my idea: What if we figured out little ways to sneak blessings into the lives of those around us? 

Something special for a family member, friend, or complete stranger and execute it without revealing your identity, like some kind of Good Deed Ninja.

You can plan it out or be spontaneous. Go extravagant or keep it modest. Make it a team effort or fly solo. Be creative, but just make it happen. Read More…

Words Kill People

It was fifth grade and I was the new kid at school. I was sitting about three rows back and a girl in the front turned and looked in my direction.

“Do you hear that?” she said. Not sure if she was talking to me, I shook my head confused. Looking in my eyes, she smiled. “I think I hear a Twinkie calling your name.”

The class erupted, and she just turned around like nothing happened. I sat there horrified for the rest of the day. Another time, she asked if I had been outside with my shirt off recently. “My Mom and I were driving the other day and I thought I saw you. It was disgusting to look at,” she said.

“Not me,” I told her. I was lying. I knew exactly what she was talking about.

She wasn’t the only one to tease me. Several people wanted a piece of the fat kid in class. I remember begging my mom to let me stay home from school. “You’re not fat, Son,” she would tell me, honestly believing it. But I knew better. They were right, and I was a mess.

I changed schools my sixth grade year, becoming the new kid once again. This is a terrifying experience for anyone, but all I could think was, “Am I gonna be the fat kid here too?”

I was, and people quickly began reminding me, in case I had forgotten. I learned something that year. I’d like to say it was to ignore the teasing or to pray for my enemies. Nope.

Read More…

We need to talk about your neighbors.

My neighbors are pigs. I should say, my neighbors own pigs. Five of them.

I’ll never forget when they first moved in. My wife and I were headed somewhere, and when we stepped out of the house, this guy was blocking our way to the car.

At the time we thought he was alone. We were shocked to learn he was only one of five, and that they lived inside the house.

Talk about pigs in a blanket! (See what I did there?)

Things quickly became awkward. The pigs constantly wandered into our yard, eating the grass and leaving “treats” behind. We were getting frustrated. But after time, and a few calls to the owner, they put a fence up. Now all we deal with is the occasional visit from their sweater vest wearing Siamese cat. I can’t make this stuff up.

Living among others is tricky isn’t it? Maybe you live next to the couple who always fights or yells at their kids, or the neighbor planting a car-part garden. Perhaps you enjoy a neatly groomed lawn and you’re convinced the guy next door has never used a lawnmower.

Maybe you are that neighbor. That’s an interesting thought. What do my neighbors think about me?

What kind of neighbor am I?

For me, it probably depends on who you ask. Beth, the sweet lady across the street might say I’m a nice young man. The pig owners may have a different opinion. I’m not sure. I don’t even know their names.

Not good for someone who takes the Bible seriously. Read More…

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