Archive for September, 2011

Not Cool Enough For That Tattoo

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2011 by religionsucks

I believe I’ve mentioned it here before, but I do not have too many friends and I’m completely happy with that. I’d even be fine if I had fewer than I currently have. I’m one who does not need nor want a plethora of friends. Western culture cultivates shallow people and shallow relationships. I dislike both. My true friends have consistency. They understand there is more to life than what meets the eye and this often has come from their own burdened lives.

I’ve spent a lot of time in tattoo shops. Hanging out with friends, getting tattoo’s myself, or watching people acquire new regrets. I was visiting one of my buddies one day at a shop he worked at when he showed me a drawing of sweet Virgin Mary that he’d drawn up for a customer. And the customer was there. As I recall, she stood there, perhaps a little nervous about this new venture, this new ink, and looked at me as I told her something to the extent of  “You’re not cool enough for that tattoo”. I’d never met this lady before. Didn’t know her past, present or aspiration for future. Just another customer. Just another tattoo. No connection. I left the shop for my own venture.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in church. At times I would say “unfortunately”, other times I would say “thankfully” I was in church. Church has become typical for me most of the time. I would go as far as to say “devoid of the Holy Spirit”. There I often sit, trying to get some redeeming lesson from what the man up front is saying, more often than not wandering off into my own little Bible study of Colossians 1 and the supremacy of Christ over all. Church is viewed as learning from the pastor. Over the years though the greatest lessons I’ve been taught haven’t come from the pulpit but rather from the pew and often from the back row. The ones who don’t fit into church but love Jesus. The ones who know what “hard” means. The ones who have lived hard lives and don’t try to hide it. The ones who are beat up, drug around, kicked, laughed at. The chain smokers, the drunks, the tweakers, the bikers, the strippers, the forgotten ones. Unknowingly they have ministered to me. They have taught me what the pulpit could not.

When I walked out of that tattoo shop that day, I never thought I’d see that lady again. I have a knack for thinking incorrectly I would suppose. During that time, I was leading a small Bible study that was for those whom the churches have forgotten. Those years were difficult, but I will never forget them. None the less, in walks little miss Virgin Mary tattoo lady. Oh crap. I might also mention that my words often come back to get me and now I believed it was about to happen again. Pray to the Virgin Mary, pray to Jesus, pray whatever, I just knew she was there to give back to me what I dished out to her. I didn’t actually mean she wasn’t cool enough for the tattoo.

In the following months and now years, I would come to know Wendy. A young woman who has had her share of hell on earth. I would come to know her and the grace she gives to others. By the way, grace is giving something to someone who does not deserve it. Grace is what God has extended to us through Jesus Christ. The concept of grace has recently been taught to me through Wendy more than any pastor could have for the simple fact that she has not talked about it, she has lived it. I have watched from the corner, as I often do, as Wendy has given to others when she herself had nothing to give. She has extended love to the unlovely and compassion to those who hurt. Wendy is as tough as nails, but only because she has been forced to lay on a bed of such. To the heart though, she walks as a follower of Jesus. I’ve said that a follower of Jesus isn’t someone who just says a prayer and asks Jesus into their little heart, but rather someone who takes up their cross and follows him. That’s Wendy. Mere words do not describe how she has ministered to me and for that I am eternally grateful. I am honored to call Wendy “friend”.

Wendy, someday the wrongs will be made right by a good and just King. Until then we will continue to trod along through life, living to be a blessing to others and when the accolades come, we simply point to the cross. Thank you for being the friend that you are.

 

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Do You Hate Your Life?

Posted in Jesus, Lordship Theology on September 5, 2011 by religionsucks

“Cannot” does not mean the same as “may not”. If my child comes to me and asks for candy instead of dinner, I respond “You may not”. If my child comes to me and asks to turn into the moon, I respond “You cannot”, it is physically impossible.

So with this established I want to point out and perhaps I’ll write more later, about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. My intention is to alert people to something that should deeply trouble us all in regards to “being a Christian”.

First, considering the day and age in which we live, I would like to address a name that is used regularly in many circles today. “Christian” is a word that means Christ One. It is a word that once held significant meaning, yet today it means very little. Ask 100 people what “Christian” means and you will get many different answers. This reminds me of the saying “when the tide is low, every shrimp has it’s own pool.” So many people are so excited about their little pool, and occasionally, another shrimp will join in their festive splashing. Such happy little shrimp.

Nearly everyone refers to themselves as “Christian”. Those who claim to follow all ten commandments do it. People who never go to church do it. People who go to church on Easter and Christmas do it. People who never miss a church service do it. People who will only attend churches of a certain denomination do it. People who say they haven’t sinned in 26 years do it. All shapes and sizes and creeds and sexual orientations do it. We’re all freakin’ Christians! Fortunately though, we aren’t the ones who determine who is a Christian, and who is not.

I’m thinking of this guy who lived a while back who was pretty much a big deal. Oh ya, Jesus is who I’m thinking of. Pretty much a hardcore kind of guy. Didn’t own a home, not even a tent. Made stuff out of wood. Pulled together twelve nobodies and changed the world as we know it.

Lot’s and lot’s of people are excited about Jesus. Sure there’s a bunch of people who aren’t so excited, but perhaps that’s because they know more about what he said than those who are excited??? Probably not, but it’s fun to think that way. So people are excited about Jesus because he forgives sin like when you not only fantasized about sex with somebody other than your spouse (which is sin), but actually did it, last night. Now you’re thinking about it all the time (sin) and when your next little horizontal bop can happen again. And Jesus forgives sin like cheating on taxes and yelling “Jesus Christ” when your sports team sucks. People are so in love with Jesus because you got wasted at the bar and couldn’t keep your pants on. Jesus is so cool because he forgives and forgives and forgives and we can go to heaven. Yay, Jesus!

Luke 14:25-33 Jesus uses the word “cannot”. He uses the word in his definition of who can and cannot be his follower (remember that cool word we all use “Christian”). He says you cannot be his follower if you aren’t interested in losing everything in life that you hold on to. Not your mom or pops, your kids, siblings, degree, job or anything else. As a matter of fact, you must even “hate your own life” if you are a follower of Jesus.

Becoming a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean you say some little prayer and BAM! you’re in there like swimwear. To be honest, there’s no indication that you even say a prayer to become a follower of his. You just do it. You turn your back on your life that you’ve jacked up already (repent) and look to Jesus as your only hope. In the passage I mentioned, you count the cost. Look at the fact that following Jesus means that you hold on loosely to everything. It’s not yours anyways, so why hold on to it? The passage states that people who do not count the cost and then get in over their heads are laughed at. Christians have become the laughing stock of our culture and it’s not because of Jesus. It’s because most of them are half-hearted pansies who try to keep a tight little grip on the things of this world. When those things are taken away, they cry like an infant who’s had their rattle removed from their chubby little hands. Spoiled babies now fill church buildings, not warriors of the faith. Sadly, they still attend churches because cheap grace is spoken there. Itching ears get scratched and we feel good about it.