“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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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

Waste of Time

You can watch the grass grow
And be lost in it
You can be broken by overwhelming love
You can spend years just wasting your time
But it’s not a wast of time at all

He teaches you to chase
And to be chased
He chases you as you follow him
And every time you fall apart
He puts together all your pieces

So wast your time here
Dedicate your minutes
Dedicate your hours
Know him
Know yourself
Fall in love again

Remember when he called you?
Remember who you were?
You can be that again
It never was just a waste of time

You Come in Close

You come in close
I can feel your breath on my neck
Breathing your life into me

You come in close
Loosening these chains that bind me
Watching my shackles fall to the ground

You come in close
Lifting me to my feet so I can stand with you
Preparing me to run

And we’ll run
You take me on a wild ride
Over mountains, through valleys, crossing streams, conquering deserts

You come in close
You take me on endless adventures
And let me rest when I grow weary

You come in close
You carry me out of the holes I dig for myself
Teaching me not to fight anymore

You come in close
You piece together my aching heart
You make me whole again

You come in close
Wrap your arms around me in restoration
Your warmth is unmatchable

You come in close
And it’s like magic without the tricks
And it finally all makes sense

You come in close
You love me as your own
Because that’s exactly what I am

You come in close
And I can feel you

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.

 

 

When an Invitation Becomes a Sale

One thing that I’ve really learned over the past few years is that my relationship with God is a personal one.  And I really believe it should be that way for everyone.  Your relationship shouldn’t be pinned to what church you go to.
I live in the South now, which means that I live in the Bible belt.  There are literally churches everywhere.  And that’s fine.  But every single church here believes that you should attend that church.  It creates a competition.  That competition between churches is one that exists everywhere, but I notice it the most here because the volume is so much higher.  Most Christians believe that everyone should go to church.  The problem is that churches want you to go to their church.  Don’t go to someone else’s church, come to my church.  There’s a sign outside the church near my apartment that says, “Need home improvements?  Bring your family to church.”    

My boyfriend and I visited a different church today.  It’s a fairly new campus here (as far as I understand).  But he attended this same church when he was in college in Tuscaloosa, so he’s been wanting to visit it here, since he enjoyed the church so much before he moved back to Florence.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the church, and I actually enjoyed the sermon.  It was a type that I missed, because it was just theological enough for me to follow.  It was the first time I’ve been in a church with a bulletin for a while.  But this church is huge.  There’s campuses with multiple services all over Alabama.  So they have money.  It’s practically a mega church, and the sermon was live streamed from the main campus, which is not my thing.
They kept talking about how next week is Easter, and Easter is the perfect opportunity to invite someone to church, which technically is true.  Unchurched people are most likely to visit church on Christmas and Easter.  Those are the two times a year that people go to church.  But every time they talked about inviting people, it was like a pitch.  It was like they were selling something.

I personally don’t want to sell anyone on whatever church I go to.  I don’t even really want to sell someone my savior.  Yes, this is a consumer society, but faith isn’t something that should be bought.  It’s not something that should be pitched.  It should be personal.  Yes, salvation is something that I believe we all need, but telling someone that seems so impersonal.
I’d rather be introduced to a loving God in the same way that I’d introduce someone to my best friend, my dad, or my boyfriend.

I was afraid to talk about visiting a new church today, because it feels like people get so offended when you don’t go to their church, or if you even miss a week.  I didn’t visit a new church to offend anyone, or even because I’m unhappy where I am.  It’s not because of the worship or the sermon or anything else.  Church services, to me, seem to be a way to teach someone about God.  But I know about God.  I paid to study the Bible for four years.  Then I spent another year paying to focus on my relationship with God and his Spirit.  I don’t want to be taught.  I don’t want to be bored.  I want a family.
I have a family where I am.  They’re there when I need them.  But we’ve become a bit estranged, because I got used to a certain routine, and that routine was then disrupted.  I got used to the community that came from life groups that happened once a week.  It was something that gave me life.  One of my favorite things is doing life with other people.  Community is something that I have craved for a long time, and every time I seem to grasp it, it’s almost like it pulls away from me.  But I’m not going to blame anyone else, because I easily get too tired to chase a community that changes with the flow of the river.
“Life groups” are starting again, but not in the way that I’m craving.  They want to read a Bill Johnson book together.  I just don’t feel like going to a book club.  I don’t want to read another Jesus book that’s going to bore me.  Which is okay.  It’s okay that other people find life in an environment that drains me.  We are all different, which is something that I recognize and do my best to celebrate.  I believe that everyone who goes to these new life groups is going to get something out of it.  I’m just not sure that I would.

One of my favorite classes that I took in college was Teaching Small Groups.  Yes, that sounds boring.  The point of the class was to learn how to teach small groups.  But the class was so small, we actually got to be a small group.  We actually got to do life together as we learned.  That’s the kind of community that I’m craving.
So no, I’m not switching churches.  That’s not what this is about.  I’m not even trying to bash churches, like I have done so often.  I just don’t want to be told to sell my church.  I’m a terrible salesman, and I’m not even usually sold on church.  I don’t even always want to go to church, but that’s where my friends are.  I want to be sold your small group.  I want to buy your community.  So pitch it to me.  And I’ll invite you into mine, when I find one.

You can invite me.  And maybe I’ll invite you.  I just wish it was more about community and growing in relationship with God, than about selling all of the great programs and resources your church can provide.

And who knows, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m just too darn cynical.

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