“What would Jesus do”

Said as a statement. Not a question.

I was work the other day and a man came and found me and asked for help with the patio furniture. He asked how big of a box this big wooden outdoor chair would come in. Unfortunately, the only one of those chairs that we had in stock was the display, so the box question was irrelevant.

I radioed my manager and was informed that I could not sell a display this early in the patio furniture season. Haha. Retail, am I right?
So I gave this information to the man and his wife, but I let them know that we would be getting more in the future, so they would be able to come back at a later date or order the chair online.
And the lady lost. her. mind.

“Why can’t you sell me this one?!”

“Because I can’t sell the display this early in the season. We just put it out. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t understand why you can’t sell it to me!!!”

“Her manager just told her over the radio that she can’t sell it, I heard the conversation.” (Her husband)

Then the woman starts saying, “What would Jesus do. What would Jesus do. What would Jesus do,” to herself.

And I could think was that Jesus would not lose his mind because a chair was out of stock. In fact, he was a carpenter, and he was perfect, so I’m sure he could easily make a significantly better chair. And I’m sure he could find a much better use of $230 than spending it on an outdoor chair. And if the chair was so necessary for his plan, he would probably send his disciples out and give them instructions about talking to specific people with donkeys or something and they would be sent on a wild goose chase and eventually be gifted the perfect chair.

It always blows my mind when people try to show how holy and Christian they are by mentioning Jesus in the same breath as being super rude to someone. Jesus got angry at the money changers in the temple, and he often mocked the pharisees, but other than that I’m pretty sure he wasn’t rude. He especially wasn’t rude to those he was going to buy something from. American Christianity, especially in the south, is so annoying to me sometimes.
Sure, go ahead and live your life with the WWJD motto. I have no issue with that. Except that most of those people don’t even know the answer to the WWJD question. They just know that they want to throw a toddler temper tantrum because something is out of stock. Something you would use in the spring and summer. Even though it’s February.

Her husband did come and find me and thank me for being helpful and apologized for her behavior. So at least there’s that.

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Maybe I was Brainwashed

I’m pretty sure I grew up in a bubble.  Most of us probably grew up in a bubble.  Up until high school, I only knew Christian people.  I went to Christian camp.  I went to Christian school.  I had friends from church.  Even the after school program I went to was Lutheran.
I was told that “non believer” friends would cause me to “stumble.”  And then, when I got older, I was told to bring those same people to church, but they couldn’t be my friends unless they were Christian.  How was I supposed to bring someone to church without first befriending them.
The Seventh Day Adventist private school I attended for most of my life told me that eating things like pig, or catfish, or any other “bottom feeder” was basically sinful and that it would make me an unhealthy person.  To this day I can’t stomach some of these foods if I’m aware of what I’m eating, even if they taste good, are made right, raised right, and are something I want to eat.
In high school, where a lot of people are discovering who they are and they’re sexuality, I was told that gay was not okay and that abortion was murder.  And I had gay friends that would come to church with me.  I used to be so sad because I was told they weren’t going to go to heaven, all because of who they loved.  If someone felt that they were born the wrong gender, they had to be wrong, or sick, or have some sort of hidden sin in their life, because God doesn’t make mistakes.  Yes, we are God’s creation, but I think a lot of Christians forget that our world is broken, so someone being born the wrong gender isn’t necessarily a God thing or a sin thing, its more of a fallen world thing.  God is in control, but he gave over the reigns a long time ago.

In Acts, God spoke to Peter and told him to not call anything unclean or impure what he has made clean.  Didn’t Christ abolish the law?  So why are we still so legalistic?  We don’t “get to heaven” by following a bunch of rules.  It’s not even really about being  a good person.  But I think if we started seeing everyone as created, seeing everyone as having a purpose, seeing everyone as worthy, maybe some of the hurt in this world would end.

By the way, bacon is awesome, gay is okay, I won’t invite you to church because I don’t have one locally, and I will listen with an open mind and open heart if you need to talk about abortion.

His Idea

Christ is personal
He’s been here since the beginning
First God
Then Man
Two in one
Making me complete
Picking up my pieces
Putting me together
Crafting my very being
Ever since the beginning

Before time
He made time
Living outside of it
Experiencing all of it
And no matter what
He understands
He creates
He saves
He loves, first

Christ is first
Christ is last
Christ is forever

He thought it all up
Existence was his idea
And what a great idea it was
That we get to live and breathe and learn

So teach me
Show me who I am again
Show me who I can be
Created in this image
Built to last forever
From the beginning
To the end

Not that Patriotic

I don’t remember often doing the Pledge of Allegiance growing up.  I went to a private Christian school up until high school, and we may have saluted the flag once a year or something, but it was never a priority.  I didn’t know the words to the National Anthem until I was in high school and was trying out to sing it at the football games.  My school was so unorganized though, that they forgot to schedule me anyway.
They sang the National Anthem before every swim meet that I was a part of, but never at any of my soccer games.  I can’t remember if we did at the track meets at all.  And it’s really never been that big of a deal to me.

Growing up, I always wanted to be from a different country.  Travel has always been something that I’ve loved, and other countries and other cultures are always so enlightening.  Learning different ways of doing things keeps us from becoming too ignorant.  There is no shame in adopting someone else’s way of life if it seems like it might work better.

I remember when I played soccer if there was an injury, or a death, or anything else going on, we would take a knee.  This showed respect for what was happening.  Last year, to peacefully protest racist police brutality, Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the National Anthem during his football games.  This eventually started what they’re now calling the “take a knee protest.”  He was showing respect for the lives that were lost because white police officers “felt threatened” when they had no reason to feel that way at all.  Police officers who were not often being punished for their lethal mistakes.
So, this protest has been going on for  more than a year now.  But for some reason our president has decided that this protest is about him.  And people have decided that this protest is about disrespecting American soldiers.  Because to them, our country is more than a country, and our flag is more than a flag.  It’s something to be worshipped.  Maybe they believe that our country is more important than the God who put them here.  Maybe they have decided that our flag is more important than Isis brutally enacting a genocide.  Maybe they have decided that attacking a peaceful protest that they want to make violent is more important than helping the families that have been affected by the several hurricanes that have rained down on this planet in the last several weeks.
Or maybe I’m wrong.

I never really wanted to be American.  But I was born in America, thus I am American.  And that doesn’t make me better than anyone else.  If anything, it makes me more ignorant, and probably more privileged than I deserve.

I just wonder what this country would be like had Rosa Parks stood and moved to the back of the bus.  I wonder what this country would look like had Martin Luther King Jr. stayed silent.  I wonder what this country would feel like had Abraham Lincoln decided not to back the civil war.

I hope that in the future, our country will care less about attacking those provoking change, care less about flags and symbols and their decided meanings, and care more about what we say we stand for: freedom.  If this country was really free, speech wouldn’t come with such a cost.

The Worst of These

I think that all Jesus wants is to give us eternal life so we can spend it with him.  I think all he wants is to love us.  No matter what.  I think that he came to the world to save it, to save us, from death.  That’s all.  And what began in the garden, what began with sin, was death.  There’s no escaping this, because although Christ came to save the world, and although he succeeded, we did not suddenly become perfect.  But we do get to have a choice now.  We do get to choose him, if we want to.

It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten the “if we want to” part.  It seems to me that some people swing to the side of “you must choose him or you deserve to die.”  As if they forget that we all deserve to die, whether we choose Christ or not.  Because you do not suddenly become perfect or sinless just because you call yourself a Christian.  Yes, your slate is wiped clean in his eyes, but he still knows you.  He still knows the judgment in your heart.
In Matthew 18: 21-35, Jesus tells the story of a ruler who decides to collect on his debts.  He calls a man before him who cannot repay him, and the man falls to his knees, begging for more time, begging not to be thrown in prison.  The ruler has mercy on the man and forgives him of his debt completely.  But then the man seeks out someone who owes him money, as if he has learned nothing, and demands the money be repaid.  When the money is not repaid, he has him thrown in prison.  When the ruler hears of this, he throws the first man in prison to be tortured until his debts are repaid.
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
I think a lot of us forget that we have been forgiven already.  We forget about our sin as if it never existed, as if we had never done anything wrong, as if we had never been in debt, and then we try to force others to “turn or burn.”  We tell people little one liners like, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  HELLO! WE ARE SINNERS TOO!!  All have sinned and deserve death.  And all sin is equal, because all sin is deserving of death.  
So we do things like telling someone, because they’re gay, they’re probably going to hell.  No.  Because they were born into an imperfect, sinful world, they might miss out on eternity with the Creator.  And you telling them their lifestyle is wrong does not allow them to see the loving God you claim to serve.  Who wants to follow a God who will not accept someone for who they are?  I honestly don’t believe anyone wants to be gay.  Nor do I believe anyone really wants to be straight.  I think you just are gay.  You just are straight.  You just are short.  You just are tall.  You just are lanky.  You just are stocky.  You. Just. Are.  I cannot make myself taller unless I add something that is not myself into the mix (tall shoes).  I cannot make myself love a woman unless I pretend to be something I am not.  Wearing high heels is masking who I really am.  Someone pretending to be straight when they’re not would be masking who they really are.

Christ did not come so we could point out people’s differences, flaws, or downfalls.  He did not say to Peter, “stop being so zealous and causing trouble,” he said, “follow me.”  He did not say to Mary, “don’t sleep with so many people,” he said, “follow me.”  Follow me.  The rest will get figured out along the way.
I had a professor in college who told a story about when he first gave his life to Christ.  He went to his pastor and said, “Well, now that I’m a Christian, does that mean I have to stop doing all these things,” and he listed off a bunch of “sins.”  Because he didn’t want to stop.  The pastor told him that he didn’t have to stop doing anything.  It was more about what he started doing.  He started spending time with his savior.  He started serving more.  He started worshipping.  And a lot of those sins?  He stopped doing them when he felt he needed to, when he felt led to, through his personal relationship with the Spirit.
That’s how I honestly believe God wants it to be.  Not every person is the same, so what is “sinful” for one person might not be for someone else.  Yeah, murder in cold blood is probably always a sin, and infidelity, and anything else that can hurt someone else.  But having a few drinks?  Loving someone of the same gender?  Eating shellfish?  Probably not across the board sinful.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”  Paul equated himself with every other sinner, while we like to call him a saint.  In fact, he put himself below everyone else, because he knew his sins, knew himself, better than he knew anyone else.  Yes, he did his fair share of judging and calling people out.  But you know who he was calling out and judging?  Those who had already turned to Christ.  He was calling out those in the Church!  He wasn’t finding random strangers and telling them they were going to hell because they weren’t in the pews every Sunday.

Be like Paul.  Be like Christ.  And never forget who you are.

 

 

Body, Mind, and Soul

We are told to love ourselves.  We are told to stay healthy and eat right.  We are told to exercise.  We are told to go to church and to find a good community.  Because all of these things are important.

But I think we get too focused and forget the main point.  Love yourself.

I set a New Year resolution to go running and do yoga four times a week.  And I’ve done great.  My mileage is up, and I am stronger.  I look better.  I feel better.  But I’ve also been opening at work almost everyday and not sleeping the best.  So some afternoons I’m just tired.  And the last two or three weeks I’ve felt almost under the weather, but not quite, so I’ve napped, and then not felt good enough to go out on a run.  My boyfriend tells me it’s fine, and that it’s good to give myself a rest, but instead I beat myself up over it.  It depresses me that I’m so tired, and I’m so tired because I’m depressed.  I keep feeling like if I miss a day of exercise, I will be fat.  I’m terrified to lose my routine again.  It’s like I forget why I’m doing it in the first place.

I want to be healthy.  And it’s so easy to just focus on one realm of health.  It’s so easy to focus on clean eating and an exercise routine, but then forget to nourish your mind and your soul.  It’s easy to get caught up in a mantra of a having a healthy mind, but neglect your spirit and body.  It’s easy to beat yourself up if you miss church, so you focus only on that, but forget that your body is a temple and your mind a control center.

I am one, whole person.  I have a mind, a body, and a soul.  (Some would say I am a soul, but that’s beside the point.)  I’m not going to get fat if I occasionally skip a run because I’m exhausted.  My happiness is just as important as my appearance.  And no one hates me, especially not God, if I want to stay home and sleep in on the occasional Sunday morning.  Church is for community, not salvation, anyway.

Love yourself.  Body.  Mind.  Soul.

Within Love’s Grasp

Within love’s grasp
We can rest
We can dance and sing
Wait and see
What this brings

Love pulls you in
Love holds you close to its chest
Lets you feel those heartbeats
Reminding you that love is alive
And love is for you

Close your eyes
You don’t need to see the future
To know that love will still be there
Holding you in its grasp
Taking you on countless adventures

Because love is adventurous!
And love has got its eyes on you
Love has dreamed about you for so long
Waiting for the day you would be within its reach
Just wanting to grasp you

Love understands you
Stands with you in freedom
Cries over any bondage
Fights for what is right
Desires better than the best

Love has got you
Within its grasp
And will hold you there
So you can relax
And be loved
Finally