Oh Jake.....

The church lady… Or guy

by on May 13, 2008

Every church has one. You can’t not notice them, even though you try with all your might. They bring banners, tambourines, bells and whistles to service and make a glorious ruckus. In spite of best intentions to glorify God, they mostly manage to distract everyone else around them. The conservative eyes roll while the teens and their younger siblings point and giggle. I’m talking about THAT person. Yes, I’m talking about the individual(s) who like to truly worship God by bringing their own instruments, objects to wave in the air, and occasionally dance.

I mention this individual because of an experience I recently had at a Sunday service. There I was, singing, probably off key, but quiet enough that nobody else would be able to tell, enjoying my time rocking out to Jesus when I looked up and saw her. Now, I must admit that this particular escapade is a little different, because somehow this one managed to get into the choir where everyone could see her dance, so she wasn’t out in the crowd like usual. Anyways, I look up and see a woman whose dance featured arms clasped at her sides, feet together and a most distinct rocking back and forth from the waist up. The look on her face was reminiscent of Christina Aguilera’s when she’s doing one of those roller coaster notes. The kind that starts low, goes really high, bounces around like a dropped ball for a second or two and ends with a wave of the index finger. Add to this my immaturity, and worship has officially been interrupted.
Of course I laughed, then I hit my neighbor in the shoulder to point her out to him. He thought that I was just raising my hand, so I had to hit him several times to get his attention. He laughed too, poked his wife in the shoulder, and it continued on from there. I can imagine that if any of the singers were to look at my row directly in front of them, they would see something similar to the wave, but instead of hands shooting up and promptly falling again, this wave included more pointing and giggling, followed by genuine attempts to get back into worship.

Nine out of ten times, when I have experienced this type of distraction, the only way to get back into worship is to close my eyes and imagine Jesus standing there two feet in front of me. I close my eyes really tight, and sing louder because the pressure’s on. The Big Guy is right in front of me! More than likely, this is to the disdain of those around me because as I mentioned earlier, I was probably singing off key to begin with!

To justify my making fun of other peoples’ worshiping, I will say this: I imagine that God allows these amazing opportunities for laughter out of His generosity and love for us. He sees all of our ridiculous faces while we worship and perhaps I notice because HE “tapped” me on the shoulder and told me to look because He saw something funny. Just imagine the Almighty saying, “Hey! Look at her!” Not only that, but I know that their hearts are with God at this point. Who cares what we look like when we worship? I don’t. I just don’t express myself as freely as other people do!

I only hope that someday I can be that person for a weekend or two. Perhaps it’s time to bust out that little drum that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for a while. It’s got a neck strap, so why not?

Oh Jake.....

The New Fire and Brimstone?

by on May 12, 2008

This morning, I was considering how sensitive we have become and how we are so easily offended . At times I include myself in that statement. I wonder if the ministerial approaches of the past are no longer as effective as they used to be because people don’t want to feel bad about themselves. We all desire acceptance, we all want to feel like we’re doing well, and we hate being told that we screwed up. When another person’s words convict us, the natural inclination is to want to kick them in the face, or something like that.

Sin is part of the gospel. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) so we’re obviously working toward dropping dead at any given moment, and waking up in a place that smells like burnt hair, among other things. That is, until we pull our heads out and realize that we’ve been offered something to get us out of it, with no cost to us.

How do we get people to that point of understanding that they are sinners in need of a merciful God though, without making them hate Christians and our God because apparently, we judge? Did it ever occur to people that we don’t judge, that perhaps we just notice sin because we’re good at it too? (I’m amazing in this area) What do we say? I genuinely don’t have a clue! I think that they (we) should feel bad about themselves, even just a little so that they (we) can gain that understanding that Jesus died for that particular reason, that we are all sinners! But if you take that approach in conversation, you’ve got another thing coming!

I guess I say all this because I go to a state university with a lot of people who aren’t Christian. I love it, they’re all amazing. In my attempts to witness to my peers, I have seen some success, but I have also seen doors slam shut in my face! I can speak of eternal life and pearly gates, and love and I’ve got their attention, but when I throw that three letter word in, and it makes a mess of things! Oh sin, why do you mock me? I’ll get you someday, or something like that. I suppose that I want my friends to know that I screw up, and if you’d admit that some aspects to your life that you claim as lifestyle, aren’t necessarily just that, but something against the nature of God, that you have wholly given yourself to, then things might change. I know it sucks giving certain things up. Addiction is powerful, independence is more so, so why would we want to cause ourselves suffering of any sort and give by trying to get something out of our lives that we have grown so fond of?

Instead of talking to people, I would rather beat the hell out of them ( I mean that in a Biblical sense). I think that it would be easier.

There is power in offending people. I’m not talking about that sick sadistic power exercised over another person, but in making them cringe a little, momentarily taking their comfort away.

Making them think.

Any kinda sorta smart-ish person will wonder why they’re angry after something made them so, won’t they? I’m not sure. I wish. I think that if people looked at the motivation behind their emotions (especially in this area) we’d get a lot further. Then again, a world of retrospective people does seem a little on the emotional side. Perhaps I wouldn’t like that so much either. Not sure, but making people mad can be fun.

Oh Jake.....

All is not perfect in the world

by on April 15, 2008

Who am I saved for? Myself, Jesus, or the world? I can’t tell. I hear messages proclaiming prosperity, joy, peace, and love, and me just enjoying the crap out of life. I love these messages. They make me feel good about who I am, and tell me that everything is going to be OK. I step away from these messages into warm days with beautiful blue skies where even if everything isn’t perfect, it’s headed there so I have nothing to worry about. Forget about child molestation, rape, murder, and everything else that is happening in my neighborhood. Forget the old person in front of me who can’t manage to push hard enough on the pedal to accelerate to the speed limit, I’m certainly not shaking my fist at them calling them names that I shouldn’t. Forget those hourly occurrences that now answer to the title of “mistake”. At one point in time, we called that sin. The list will continue to grow about everything that isn’t right. There are ugly people out there! They will get you! Of course I’m kidding with that (somebody has to lighten the mood)! What I’m working toward here is when do we remember that we are sinners in a world that daily is raped and pillaged by the devil? When will we stop seeking joy, happiness, peace and calm?

My disclaimer is that there is nothing wrong with peace, joy and happiness. I pray for them daily. Not only that, but Jesus has won the battle, so ultimately, everything is going to be all right. But, when do we treat the positive emotions as painkillers and facades? How often do we take a couple of Tylenol, not realizing that we have made nothing better, we have only managed to shut out the pain? Pain tells us that something is wrong. Pain motivates us to change something. Pain cries out to us on a level that we used to have to acknowledge, but now we have found ways around it. Pain is imperative to a Christian walk. (I contest that anger is too, we’ll see if we get that far right now). When I avoid pain, who do I rip off? God allows certain events to happen in our lives for any number of reasons. We screw up daily, and our mistakes come with consequences. Herpes anyone? I understand that might have been vulgar, but in many cases, that statement holds a lot of truth! The mistakes that we make carry consequences with them. God forgives us, Jesus Christ died on the cross for those very sins, but He never said that He’d (always) take our consequences away (sometimes he does though, praise HIM-that is generous)! That’s a way to avoid greasy grace, is to understand that even if we don’t experience immediate results due to our propensity to sin, there ultimately can be a consequence. God also allows pain into our lives for the purpose of growth. Working out sucks. If anyone were to see me, my pale thin form would prove that I live out my convictions to that statement. Working out is no fun because it hurts, and will make you sore, sometimes for days! But lifting weights, running, and all that lovely torture associated with exercise makes for a “great body” with lots of rippling muscles, or at least no love handles. How many of us want that body without the effort? I know I do!

God has emotions too. I know, He’s perfect, and you’re probably quoting 1 John 4 right now, but love is more than an emotion. In Genesis chapter six, we see that God, “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” Our evil caused him pain-He wasn’t even working out! We too will experience pain due to our own evil inclinations.

What happens to people who don’t know Christ when they see fake Christians forcing smiles through life? I don’t think that they believe us. Not only do we smile through everything, but Christians seem to have a illegitimate fear of anger. I will tell you right now that I’m angry (You’re not shocked). Not all the time, but stuff in life makes me mad, and I tell people. Proverbs 4:4 says, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah” God even ends with “Selah”- meditate on that for a while, is what the almighty is saying to us. The Genesis account of creation tells us that we are created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). God gets mad. We will too. God becomes angry at sin, and so should we. I get mad at my own sin, I become irritated at others’ sins sometimes, but I try not to judge (not always successfully, mind you…I try though). I mess up, so do others. Are we supposed to be fine with it? Put rape or molestation in that context and see how passive you are then? Sin is sin. There are no varying degrees to it, no one sin is worse than the others. People grade sin. I got an A in wrath the other day! (That is nothing to be proud of Johhny) When someone who has no clue who Jesus really is sees passive, empty-headed religious folk who don’t KNOW how to react to certain events, they don’t get a good picture of Jesus. I get mad, and I think that sometimes, God is proud of me for it. I get mad and sin though too, so don’t take this to any extreme, or I’ll fight you.

Getting back to my original question, “Who am I saved for…?” I ask again? Who do I put up a front for? Me, Jesus or the world? I seek my own out of selfishness, and therefore am taking the gift of salvation for me, not being a light to the world. I don’t represent Jesus accurately, and I don’t offer any saltiness (which I equate with anger, it just seems so fitting) to the world! I didn’t become a Christian for myself, but to glorify God and to lead others to the salvation offered at the cross by Christ. When they see that I’m not perfect, and that life continues to be a little challenging, but understand the grace and mercy that accompany salvation, they get a good picture of what it means to follow Jesus. I want to show people that. I want to be offended by the right things (I mean offended, not in the Christianese sense) and show some righteous indignation sometimes! It’s more genuine, and I feel a little more Christ-like than when I just smile at people. Emotional confusion is not righteous confusion. There is nothing righteous about it, so don’t do it.

Heresy is taking any doctrine or principle too far, so I’m going to plead with anyone who reads this, please don’t run too far with it. That too would be bad. Christian Drama should be limited to the passion plays and movies. Don’t create any in your own life, because like I said earlier, crap will hit the fan, you don’t need to make any more come along or blow it out of proportion.

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