The Chip, the Serial Killer and the School Skippers

If the check engine light comes on and your car starts making a funny noise you can put a piece of duct tape over the check engine light and turn your radio up a little louder.  Problem solved.

If, on the other hand, a rock flies up and hits your windshield, leaving a tiny ding, you need to get that taken care of as soon as possible.  That tiny ding turns into the San Andreas Fault pretty quick.  I learned this lesson, along with a few others, several years ago.

The repair shop that I was using to fix my windshield was about 20 miles away.  This was partly okay with me and partly problematic.  The okay part was that the price was good and all I had to do was drive my car a few minutes up the road to get my new windshield.  The problematic part was that the job was going to take all day.

This left me with two options.

First, I could hang out in the shop all day with Dexter and L.C., drinking coffee and talking about NASCAR.  The second option was calling someone to pick me up.  I didn’t find either option too appealing so I created a third option right there on the spot.  I decided to walk 20 miles back to my house.

Dexter and L.C. thought I was crazy.

They were right.

Twenty miles is nothing when you’re driving.  It’s an eternity when you’re walking.  When you drive twenty miles, you usually only notice billboards and cop cars hiding out behind trees.  When you walk twenty miles you notice a lot of dead snakes and the strange noise coming out of the power plant.

Oh, and you also notice the potential serial killers in your community.  The one I encountered while I ran into a gas station for a quick break seemed nice enough.  Don’t they always?

“Sir, I’ve noticed you walking most of the day and I thought maybe you’d like a ride.”

Noticed?  Most of the day?  Man, why didn’t I stay with Dexter and L.C.?  Now this guy wants to eat my liver with a side of fava beans.

“Uh, no thanks.  I’m just going right up here.  Thanks anyway, Dr. Lecter.”

By, “I’m just going right up here” I really meant I’ve only got another 15 miles to walk.

Sometime after noon, I entered my town’s city limits.  Another 30 minutes and I would be home.  And that’s when I noticed a familiar car coming my way.  This time when the driver asked if I wanted a ride, I gladly hopped in.  In the front seat were two guys that belonged to my student ministry.

“Thanks for the ride!  What are you guys doing out of school?”

I never really got a straight answer.  Later, I found out that they were skipping.

“What are you doing walking on the side of the road way out here?”

I never really gave them a straight answer.  Later, they found out that I was an idiot.

I was more than an idiot.  My long walk home that day revealed a terrible flaw in my heart.  Even though I tried to spiritualize my twenty mile hike by comparing myself to Moses and thanking God for giving me the ability to walk that far, I couldn’t get away from the sin that was at the core of what I was doing.

I didn’t decide to walk back because I wanted to be more like Moses or even because I didn’t want to put anybody out by asking for a ride.  The reason why I walked so far that day was pride.  I was too proud to ask someone for help.

It’s like I gave grace an eviction notice from my heart and rented out the empty space to pride.

Pride convinces us that we’re better off than we really are.  When a need arises or someone offers their help, Pride’s favorite response is, “No, I’m good.”  Grace tells us that we’re much worse than we let on but that we’re still loved.  Grace doesn’t have a problem asking for help because it knows that a little help is the least of our needs.

Pride suckers us into believing that we can make it on our own.  It loves to tell us things like, “If you want something done right, you got to do it yourself.”  Grace shows us that, as Christians, we belong to a body and need each other.  It reminds us that our God has lived in a community called Trinity for all eternity.

Pride is a flatterer that leaves us stranded out in the middle of nowhere talking to a potential serial killer.  It’s like the friend that convinces you to do something dumb and then takes off when the cops show up.  Grace makes the call for help quickly because it knows that you’re at your weakest when you are by yourself.

Several years later I got another chip in my windshield.  This time I immediately called for help.  The next day a trained professional was at my house, installing a new windshield in the family car.  While I was watching this man do his job, I couldn’t help but think back to the time when my pride tricked me into believing that I could manage all by myself.  And I thanked God for allowing me to grow in his grace and learn that following him has nothing to do with how far I can make it on my own.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

This guy at church gave my son a trillion dollar bill.  It was one of those fake pieces of money that looks real but is actually a gospel tract.  How does the Secret Service not have a problem with this?  I guess they’re kind of busy at the moment.

The other day my wife innocently referred to my son’s trillion dollar bill as “fake”.  He was devastated.  It was like finding out that Santa Clause, pro wrestling, man walking on the moon and Storage Wars was fake, all at the same time.  With just a single word, he went from being the U Can’t Touch This MC Hammer to the I Need to Borrow $30 Million Dollars MC Hammer.

To settle him down, my wife gave my son a polished speech about how money isn’t everything.  I just said, “Look son, mo’ money, mo’ problems.”  My wife’s approach worked much better.

As adults, we can be a lot like my son.  When we act like the small percentage of money we put in the plate on Sunday belongs to God while the rest is ours or when we go on and on about our house and our car and our status, we’re no different from my five-year-old.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the nice house and the nice car just like there’s nothing wrong with my son’s trillion dollar bill.  The problem comes when we act as if these things are more valuable than they really are.

The key to wealth management is figuring out as early as you can that as valuable as your assets may be, they really aren’t worth as much as you think they are.  If you can learn this lesson here on earth along with grasping the surpassing value of knowing Christ, then you’ve really found wealth (Philippians 3:7-11).  But if you never get it, if you manage to convince yourself that the opinion of others, the car in the driveway or the dream home is all that matters, you’ll be just another kid holding a phony trillion dollar bill.

“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’”  Luke 12:20-21 (ESV)

The Most Dangerous Show in Television History

Five Steps to Preaching a World Class Sermon

1.  Find a room with nothing on the walls.  A small closet will do.

2.  Get a few friends to join you.  You’ll need at least two, one to record your sermon and one to say things like, “Amen” and “Come on, brother.”

3.  Get a pulpit and stack a bunch of stuff up on it.  It makes you look busy.  People like to listen to busy people.

4.  Finally, now is the time to tackle the really tough issues.  And don’t be afraid to call people by names.  Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leonardo DiCaprio must be exposed.  This particular preacher probably isn’t the best example for us to follow since he didn’t mention Pat Sajak or the guy that played Nick on Family Ties.

That should just about do it.  Oh, I almost forgot step five.

5.  Be sure to launch a verbal assault on the most dangerous show in television history – Little House on the Prairie.

Happy pulpit kicking!

 

Broke Ain’t So Bad

I took my son to get some ice cream this week.  We went to one of those ice cream places that specializes in the trade.  Apparently, they’ve done well because they have a drive-thru window and give free ice cream to pets.  Who knew that pets like ice cream?

When I drove up to the window, I opened my door to place my order.

“Dad, why are you opening the door?”

“Because my window is broken.”

Our conversation was interrupted by the static voice coming through the intercom asking me what kind of ice cream I wanted.  I let her know and pulled around to the window where I opened my door again, waiting for my son’s cone.

“Dad, why don’t you get your window fixed?”

“Because it costs a lot of money.”

“Can’t you do it yourself?”

What kind of a question was that?  “Can I do it myself?”  Maybe I should have just turned the radio up real loud or told my son that he’s not allowed to talk anymore.  Instead, I just answered his question.

“I don’t know.  I guess because it’s a really hard job.”

As we sat silently, waiting for the ice cream, I stared at my door wondering how hard it would be to try to replace the motor that makes my electric window go up and down.  I started to think that I could probably get it done by myself.  And then I wondered what it would be like to drive a truck with no driver’s side door because I got in over my head and couldn’t finish the job.

The ice cream finally came and we were on our way home.  While we were stopped at a red light, a huge 18-wheeler that was carrying farm animals drove by and hit a bump that happened to be right next to us.  There was a loud noise and it kind of scared my son.  The noise didn’t bother me so much.  I was more concerned with the animal poo that splattered out of the back of that truck all over the side of my window.  You know, the window that can’t roll down.

My son thought this was the coolest thing that has ever happened.  For a five-year-old boy, there is no greater combination than ice cream and animal poo.  He could only stop laughing long enough to say two things.

“It smells like you, dad.”

And then my personal favorite.

“It’s a good thing your window doesn’t work.”

Sometimes, broke ain’t so bad.

Regarding Boogeymen and Electric Fences

Every movement needs a boogeyman.  The boogeyman is the person that, whether true or not, represents everyone in the opposing movement.  Sports is a good example.  In my own state, fans of the University of Georgia believe that all Georgia Tech fans are computer geeks while fans of Georgia Tech believe that all University of Georgia fans are drunks.

There are certainly plenty of drunk Georgia fans and a lot of Georgia Tech fans that like computers but these kinds of characterizations aren’t completely accurate or fair.  They don’t have to be.  In the dark corners of our minds where the boogeymen are created, accuracy and fairness take a backseat to advancing the cause.

The Reverend Charles L. Worley made himself a boogeyman this week.

On Mother’s Day, Reverend Worley preached a sermon at Providence Road Baptist Church where he said that all homosexuals should be gathered up, separated by gender and locked up behind electric fences.  I know that sounds very cruel, but don’t worry, the Right Reverend would allow food to be dropped into the fences.  Oh, the compassion.

The gospel that Reverend Worley was preaching that day sounded much more like the Gulag than the Kingdom of Christ.  His words were in stark contrast to the life of Jesus, a man that was known as a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19) and that spent the bulk of his ministry preaching a message of love and repentance of sins to people that Reverend Worley would have had locked away behind some fence.

In the two minute portion of his sermon that has gone viral, Reverend Worley comes across as arrogant, hard-hearted, self-righteous, bigoted and blood-thirsty.

And sooner or later, if you hold to a biblical view of marriage and sexuality, you’re going to come across that way too.

You may not have a hateful bone in your body.  You may have the ability to winsomely defend your position.  You may even love and serve those in the homosexual community while kindly preaching Jesus’ message of faith, repentance and submission to his Lordship.  But to a lot of people, because of your refusal to break away from what Scripture has to say about marriage, gender and sex, you’ll just be another homophobe.

You will be the Reverend Charles L. Worley.

You should ask yourself if that’s okay.  Are you okay with stating the truth with care and compassion only to be written off as just another homophobe?  Are you okay with continuing to believe what the Bible says about marriage, even if it means you get labeled as a bigot?  Are you okay with being the Reverend Charles L. Worley even though you are nothing like him and hate everything he said about locking away homosexuals?

Paul knew what it was like to be viewed as the Reverend Charles L. Worley.  In Acts 17, we see him conversing with philosophers, government officials and anyone else that would listen.  In verse 18, he’s called a “babbler” for his efforts.  In verse 32, after teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he is mocked.  Paul never said anything about locking the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers behind electric fences.  All he did was give a clear gospel presentation to a group of people that he loved enough to engage.

Eventually, this would cost him as it will anyone wishing to engage culture with the gospel.

I grew up hearing a lot about men and women who have been persecuted for following Christ.  This Sunday, I’ll begin preaching through the book of Daniel, a book that begins with four young men being persecuted for their faith in God.  These stories always make me wonder how I would react in those kinds of situations.  Would I remain committed to Christ if it meant certain harm to me or my family?  Would I die for Jesus?

I don’t know if I’ll ever be in that kind of a situation.  But I’m pretty sure that a different scenario will soon play out and it is forcing me to ask myself another question.  Am I willing to be labeled for Jesus?  Even though I don’t preach a gospel of hate, detainment camps and electric fences, am I willing to be treated as if I had said what the Reverend Charles L. Worley said in that two minute clip?

If all I really care about is winning the approval of other men then when the pressure gets tight, I’ll cave in like Peter did.  But if my main concern is lovingly preaching the full message of Christ’s gospel, I will face opposition like Paul did in Acts 17.  And like it did with Paul, that opposition will only mean more opportunities to share the good news that Jesus didn’t come to lock anybody away in prison camps (John 8:1-11).  Instead, he went inside the electric fence so that the people inside could be set free from their sin (John 8:31-38).

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  1 Peter 4:12-16 (ESV)

The Creepiest Interview Ever

You’re running for senate.

In spite of all of the buttons, flyers and bumper stickers sporting your name, things just aren’t working out for you.  It looks like you’re going to lose.

So you do what any politician would do in this situation.

You go after that coveted demographic of five-year-old voters by dragging your own five-year-old son into your campaign.

And what results is quite possibly the creepiest father-son moment since that guy told us that his kid got abducted by a hot air balloon.

0:13 – Watch the dad’s lips.  I never liked ventriloquists but this is much, much worse.

“Son, when the man asks you a hard question, just look at daddy’s lips just like that time when the nice people from DFACS wanted to talk to us.”

0:43 – Little Hudson is about to turn into Chris Farley.

1:08 – Just over a minute into this interview and we hear what every parent like this always says.  The classic He Loves It Phrase.

“Oh, don’t worry about Hudson.  He loves getting his face pinched by strangers in seedy diners all day while his friends are back home watching Backyardigans.  Just so long as the campaign doesn’t get in the way of the 32 hours a week he spends doing golf lessons, I think he’ll be fine.”

1:38 – Here’s the part where little Hudson brings daddy’s campaign crashing to the ground like that empty hot air balloon I talked about earlier.  It’s looking like a couple of dozen extra laps are in store for Hudson after water polo practice is over tonight.

2:33 – Oh.  Okay.  I was starting to think that this was really creepy until he said that his own sister named these two The Nerd Herd.  Now it all makes perfect sense.  When can my kids come over?

2:40 – What does Hudson want to be when he grows up?  Right now, I’m guessing that he’s going to be the Todd Marinovich of politics.

2:41 – More reverse ventriloquism from daddy.

2:56 – Actually, little Hudson may grow up to be that kid from The Shinning that talks to his hands.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’ve got to go work with my 3-year-old.  He’s preaching my sermon for me this week.

 

How to be the Next Big Thing In Country Music

If music had a smell, country music from 1960 to the mid 1980s would smell like some combination of a pool hall a bowling alley and a garage.  The new country music would smell like that Hello Kitty store in the mall that sells lip gloss to 3rd grade girls.  If you want to be a star in the new country music, the Hello Kitty country music, you should follow these steps.

1.  Address Your Head

You’ve got three options here.  First, you can go with the standard cowboy hat but that may be too country for today’s country music fans so tread lightly on this one.  Your most likely option is to stick with the trucker hat.  You know, the kind with a logo for Crazy Ned’s Truck and Tractor Service or American Eagle on the front and fishnet on the back.  Back in the day, men didn’t so much wear these hats, they just sort of placed them on the top of their heads.  Today you’ll need to beat it up real good to make it look like you’ve been working and pull it down real low over your eyes.  Either that or turn it sideways with one side of the hat covering one of your ears.  This way, if country music doesn’t work out, the rodeo clown industry is calling your name.

Your third option is a bit more risky and could be ahead of it’s time but it’s still worth a shot.  Pick the hat that works for you and cut a hole in the top so that your hair sticks out.  This way people will be able to see your blonde highlights.  This could be a complete disaster for your career or you could get invited to open up for Rascal Flatts.

2.  Listen to Boy Bands

Songs about trains, fighting and boys being named Sue don’t get much love from the kind of crowd that likes to shop at the Hello Kitty store in the mall so you’ll want to stay away from those themes.  Instead, you should find a few old songs from the Backstreet Boys and make them your own.  Here’s how it works.

Backstreet Boys lyrics:

“Quit playin’ games with my heart

Before you tear us apart.”

These lyrics are sung over techno sounding computer music.  You’ll need to change that but not too much.  Just add a banjo and fiddle so that you can tell everyone that you’re, “getting back to your roots,” and throw in a fake country accent and you’re all set.

“Baby, quit yer game playin’ with my heart

Or, darlin’, you gonna tear us apart.”

Congratulations!  You just won yourself a Grammy.

3.  Patriotism

Write a song about America.  More specifically, write a song about how if America got in a fight with any other country, that other country would get a broken arm and a bloody nose. The Hello Kitty crowd will only kind of like this but here’s the key, their father’s will love it.  This is the best of both worlds for an artist.  Now, when there’s a family fight over whether to watch Duck Dynasty or The Wizards of Waverly Place, both parties will go to their room, slam the door and put on your music.  Jackpot!

Oh, I almost forgot.  In the video for this song, be sure to wear a shirt that looks like the American flag, ride a motorcycle and have a gospel choir singing in the background, preferably while floating in the sky.

4.  Topics

Don’t write any songs about what it’s actually like to live in the country.  This would really alienate your target audience.  I’ve checked and there are no Hello Kitty stores in the country.  Only Ingles.  Instead, write songs about what music executives in Los Angeles and New York think that people in the country do.  This includes but is not limited to the following: watermelon races, chasing greased pigs, having a crush on some girl named Ellie May, being friends with a boy named Cleetus and checking one another for ticks.  (Editor’s note: Nobody knows what a watermelon race is but it doesn’t matter.  It sounds like something somebody might do in the country and that’s good enough.)

If you follow these easy steps you’re sure to be the next big thing.  You may not have talent or a story to tell and that’s okay.  Story telling was for the old guys and talent went out of style with the advent of the computer.  This formula will give you much more than either one of those things.  You’ll have mareketability.  And blonde highlights.  And that’s two things Hank Sr. never had.

 

The Joys of Fatherhood

Being a dad can be difficult.  It involves a lot of cleaning gross stuff off of walls, answering tons of questions and praying for patience.  Sometimes these difficult things and others like them can be emphasized at the expense of the joys of fatherhood.  The joys of fatherhood greatly outweigh the difficulties.

Here are a few of those joys.

1.  Toys

I really struggled around the time I entered middle school.  I had all of these cool toys but I was starting to think that I was too old to play with them.  I was right.  (Note: This was in the mid 1980s, before it was fashionable for men in their 30s to play with action figures.)

Twenty years later I’ve been set free.  Because I have two boys, I get to play with some really sweet toys and it’s called being a good father.  It’s sort of like getting paid to test mattresses.

“I really love seeing you and your boys playing with all of those action figures and pretending to blow stuff up.  That’s such a good example.”

“Wait.  My kids are here too?  I mean, thanks.  It’s the least I could do.  Fathers have to make sacrifices and this is just one of many.  Pray for me to persevere.”

The only time this backfires is when I’m playing something with my kids and they leave the room and my wife walks in on me still playing with their toys.  There’s no way out of that one.

2.  Man Time

My wife deserves breaks.  The boys and I call this Man Time.  Man Time typically involves wrestling, loud music, mud and firing our AK-47.  Just kidding.  About the playing in mud part.  Worms lay eggs in that stuff.

Our most recent Man Time took us to the grocery store where we picked up a few things for dinner.  I know, it doesn’t sound very manly until you know how we picked up those things for dinner.  My boys don’t sit in the shopping cart like they’re supposed to.  No sir, they’re standing on the bottom rail and hanging on with their hands as the wind blows through their hair and we zoom down the beverage aisle.  The ladies that work at the store hate this.  But we can’t be stopped.  We live on the edge.  Ridin’ dirty.

3.  Raising Young Men

My wife hates bugs and my boys aren’t too fond of them either.  But if one of my boys sees one, that bug is dead within 30 seconds.  A bug in the house is seen as a threat to my wife’s safety and my boys have made it their job to protect mom.  This is only a problem when we’re outside and every living creature is seen as a threat to mommy.

“No son, the puppy is our friend.  Put the AK-47 down.”

On our last trip to the store, the one where we were ridin’ dirty on the shopping cart, my sons asked if they could buy their mom some flowers.  This made me just as happy as if they wanted to buy me flowers.  Wait, I don’t like flowers.  Bad example.  A cordless drill.  Yeah, that’s it.  What I’m saying is that I have a responsibility to raise boys who will respect women.  When I see them respecting and caring for their mom, I know they’re on the right track.

4.  Gospel Lessons

My youngest son hasn’t been talking for very long.  But at least once a day, when we all sit down together for a meal, I ask him to pray.  He always responds the same way.

“Daddy, you help me?”

And it’s always my joy to help.  This is a repeat-after-me prayer that I actually like.

I’m pretty sure that he has no clue what he’s saying when he follows his dad in thanking God for food, big wheels and Jesus.  But one day he will.

One day my son will probably have his own family to pray over.  And when starts out with “Dear God” and finishes up with “In Jesus name, Amen” maybe he’ll somehow think back to the times when he was a little kid, the kind that liked to hang on to the sides of shopping carts, and his dad taught him how to pray.

On my worst day, I get to teach my two boys how to approach the Living Creator God in Jesus name with the help of the Holy Spirit.

And I think that’s the greatest joy of fatherhood.

 

You Should Question Your Faith

This is a good time for people who call themselves Christians to question their faith.  I don’t mean that in the sense of questioning the legitimacy of Christianity.  I mean it in the sense of questioning the legitimacy of their own devotion to Christ.

Gay marriage has been the one issue grabbing all of the headlines over the past week or so.  This may be something that Christians have wanted to ignore for a while in hopes that it goes away.  It’s not.  It has crashed on the church’s lawn and is banging on the front door wanting to come in and stay a while.

After President Obama’s announcement that he supported gay marriage I heard several people, professional pundits and friends alike, say that he just committed political suicide.  The black community, more specifically the black church, would no longer support Obama because of his stance on gay marriage, thus greatly weakening his base.  November is a long way away and time will tell but for now it looks like that hasn’t happened.

Some people were surprised by Jay Z’s recent announcement that he was with Obama on this.  It’s not too common to see a relevant rapper speak out in favor of homosexuality.

But what’s more surprising is the response of those in the church.  Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church subtly agreed with the president during his sermon last Sunday.

“There are gay sisters and brothers all around us.  The church needs to be honest about human sexuality.  Some of them are on the usher board.  They greeted you this morning.”

Dr. Ralph Watkins, Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Seminary was more direct with his support of gay marriage.

“As I sit at my table and look into the eyes of my wife, the love of my life for thirty-three years and thank God for the rights we enjoy because of our marriage vows, I can’t imagine a God who wouldn’t want the same for my friends who love as deeply as I love Vanessa but happen to be in same-sex relationships.  I believe that my God wants them to have the same rights, privileges and protection that Vanessa and I enjoy.  I can’t imagine a God who would discriminate against my neighbors.”

One of the common links we see from those churches and church leaders in support of gay marriage, regardless of race and denomination, is the appeal to Jesus’ love for all people, specifically the outcasts of society.  Another is their refusal to accept a literal understanding of those biblical texts condemning homosexuality.

As I said, this is a great time to question your faith.

If the substance of your faith is based solely on Jesus being a God of love and acceptance, you should question your faith.

Don’t get me wrong.  Jesus is a God of love (Ephesians 5:25) and acceptance (Mark 5:1-20).  But he is also a God of wrath (Revelation 19:11-21) and a God that takes marriage, his invention by the way, seriously (Mark 10:1-12).

If all Jesus cared about was loving and accepting people, why was he crucified?  Nice guys that never call anyone out don’t get the death penalty.  Even the most liberal interpretation of the Bible cannot get around the fact that Jesus confronted sinners.  You can call it confronting government officials or the religious elite but the fact remains, Jesus confronted sin.  People didn’t like him.  He made a lot of people uncomfortable.  He went against popular opinion.  Why do some expect him to be any different on an issue like gay marriage?

If you allow yourself to decide which passages of the Bible you will take literally, you should question your faith.

I hear and read a lot of people who say that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9, where the Holy Spirit through Paul says that those that practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God, are not to be taken literally.

I’ve never heard a Christian say that a passage like John 3:16 should not be taken literally.

“Well, God didn’t really mean ‘love’ in this passage.  Love was more of a metaphor for his strong emotions.  And he didn’t really give ‘his only Son.’  It’s more like he lost him and really wants him back.  This was really all just a big misunderstanding.”

No one says that.  Christians love John 3:16.  But if we get to decide what we take literally and what we will not, where does it all end?  The resurrection?  The virgin birth?  After all, both of those things happened because of our sin.  At their core, Christmas and Easter are really uncomfortable holidays.

If you’re not willing to love homosexuals, you should question your faith.

The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin.  The Bible is also clear that gluttony, pride and adultery are sins.  I do not say this so that we can look past them all.  Instead, I say it so that we will remember that there may be acceptable sins in your church but there are none in the kingdom of God.  You can be an adulterous, arrogant jerk that can’t drive more than 30 minutes without stopping at a Burger King and still be a respected leader in a very conservative church.

“Praise God for Brother Billy.  I know he’s eating himself to death and is cheating on his wife but he sure does love Jesus.”

If it turned out that Brother Billy was gay, he’s suddenly not the man we thought he was.

Christians should not support or look past sin.  But we are called to love the sinner while confronting their sin, like Jesus did (John 4).  If you can’t follow his example by loving even the most flamboyant homosexual, maybe you’re not really following Jesus.

The real issue here is who God is and what you believe about him.  This goes much deeper than one’s opinion on homosexuality and gay marriage.  If God exists solely to teach a lesson to those in power and help the needy get their fair share, what President Obama and Jay Z are saying will make a lot of sense.  Anyone will make a lot of sense if you want them to because you get the final say.  You get to determine how your god feels about things.

But if God has always existed and is currently at work restoring his creation that was damaged by sin and if he demands faith and repentance in his Son Jesus Christ, then we must take what he says seriously.

Even if it means questioning our faith.

Five Things

Five Things You Will Never Hear Me Say

1.  “I haven’t had any time to go hunting this year.  I’ve spent all my free time working on my truck and watching WNBA games.”

2.  “That new P!ink song really moved me.”

3.  “If the weather stays nice I might go get a hook wet later this week.”

4.  “Boys!  Stop being so quiet.”

5.  “That girl on The Bachelorette is one classy lady.”

Five Things No Wal-Mart Employee Has Ever Said

1.  “Sorry, we don’t sell camouflage underwear.”

2.  “Can I help you?”

3.  “So if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that you don’t like standing behind 37 other people in the only functioning check out line.  I feel your pain.  Dale, open up the other 60 check out lines.  These people have got places to go.”

4.  “Sir, we’re going to have to ask you to put on some clothes before coming in here.  No sir, your bathrobe doesn’t count as clothes.”

5.  “Thank you for shopping with us, Mr. President.  Please come again.”

Five Things You Will Hear At Wal-Mart

1.  “Look!  The S on the sign at Wal-Marts must have fallen off.”

2.  “John Walter!  If you don’t put that gun back I’ll knock you from here to the potato chip aisle.”

3.  “There’s a good parking spot, baby.  But when you pull in, take up both spaces.  We don’t want nobody dinging up the Mustang.”

4.  “You stay here and pick out your engagement ring while I go get the Funyuns and Big K Cola.”

5.  “Thank you for shopping with us, Mr. Kid Rock.  Please come again.”

Five Words and Phrases You Will Use During Vacation Bible School That You Would Otherwise Never Say

1.  March

“Let’s march to the craft room.”

Unless you’re a drill instructor for the U.S. Army you never tell someone to march.  Do they have craft rooms in the U.S. Army?

2.  Craft

“Sheila, where’s your husband?”

“Craft time with the boys again.  You know how they are.”

3.  Activity

“Let’s go to our next activity.”

What exactly constitutes an activity and why does it sound so boring?

4.  Criss-cross apple sauce

“Everyone sit down criss-cross apple sauce.”

This was known as sitting indian style until Rage Against the Machine made us come up with something else.  This is the best we could do.

It has been scientifically proven impossible for anyone over the age of 4 to use the phrase criss-cross apple sauce while maintaining a straight face.

5.  Streeeeeeeeeeetch.

“Okay, everyone reach for the sky.  Streeeeeeeeeetch.”

Across denominational lines, if there’s one constant at VBS it’s that kids will be asked to streeeeeeeeetch.  How’s that for some unity?