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That’s an attention-grabbing title…now seriously, stop snickering and listen for a minute.

Yesterday I was riding in my car, listening to the radio when I heard about Burger King’s new add campaign called ‘Whopper Virgins‘.

whopperpic4

The idea was that they would take a Whopper and a BigMac to remote villages all over the world that had never tasted a hamburger before – some didn’t even have a word for hamburger – and they would perform the ultimate taste test. They wanted completely objective opinions of hamburgers.

That go me thinking, There are very few Church-Virgins out there.

Everyone we come in contact with, especially in America, has had some encounter with a church.  Some good.  Some bad.  Some weird. Some scary. But it’d be hard to find a true church-virgin in America.

The people that walk into our churches have preconceived ideas of what churches are.  For some church is a place of hope.  But for a lot of them church is a placed to be embarrassed, hurt, judged, mistreated, abused.

For this reason I want to help make their next experience a good one.  I want them to feel relaxed, refreshed and I want the service to be relevant to the issues they are facing.  I want to make their next first experience one they will never forget…in a good way.

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What, not Why

John 9:2 – Jesus and his crew walk by a blind guy.  The guys ask Jesus whose sin it was that caused the man to be born blind.

I’m not sure how these guys knew he was blind from birth.  They just assumed it.  1553

Then they asked one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard – Whose sin caused this?  His or his parents?  Imagine that, a man who sins prior to being born and it causes him to be born blind.  Crazy.

One thing is for sure, Jesus’ crew was more interested in WHY the man was blind rather than WHAT they cold do to help it.

We do this a lot don’t we?  ‘Why is that guy homeless?  Is he lazy?  Does he drink every dollar he gets?  Does he have a drug problem?’ or ‘How did she get pregnant?  Where’s the father?  What does she plan to do with the baby?’

Rabbi Kushner said God is more interested in our response to pain than giving us an explanation for our pain.  We always want an explanation.  WHY?  But Jesus is saying, WHAT?  WHAT are you going to do?  WHAT can you do to fix it?  Religious people are interested in WHY.  Christians are interested in WHAT.  Its WHAT, not WHY.

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Its been a while, but I’m back and here’s a thought that hit me recently in my daily devotional.

How many times a day are you asked, “How ya doing?”  Doesn’t matter.  More than likely you answer the way I do, “I’m doing good.  And you?”  The only thing is, we’re lying.  I don’t mean that your life really stinks and your trying to hide it.  Your life probably is great.  But you’re not doing good, You’re doing well.

Quick grammar lesson:  

Well = state of satisfaction or contentment

Good = charitable act, kind action

Remember, Superman does good.  You’re doing well.

You see, most of us are doing well (we’re healthy, financially ok, somewhat intelligent) but few of us are doing good (helping others, visiting the elderly, serving the poor, etc.).

Contrary to popular TV theology, God doesn’t care if you’re doing well, but he does want you (and me) to do good.  The Bible says if you know what good is and you don’t do it, you’re sinning.  That kinda sums up my everyday life.  I’m good at not doing bad, but bad at doing good.  Confused?  Just don’t worry about how well you’re doing, but do lose sleep over how little good you’re doing.

God bless,

TJ

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You never know where you’re going to get inspiration.  I’m a firm believer that God can use any thing to get our attention and teach us a lesson.  This morning on the way to work, that lesson came in the form of a song by one of my favorite artists of all time.  It was through Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue that God reminded me that a curse may really be a blessing.  Its just a matter of perspective.  I’ve listened to this song a thousand times before.  This time was different.

 

If you don’t know the song I suggest you buy it and listen to it over and over again.  But not while drinking a carbonated drink, because you’re likely to laugh and have the fizzing liquid escape through your nostrils.  That burns.  I don’t suggest that. 

 

The song is a story about a boy named Sue, obviously.  His father named him that just before he walked out on the baby boy and his mother.  The boy has a tough life, being made fun of and beaten up.  No matter where he went, he couldn’t escape the shame of his name.  He vows to find his father and kill him.  Eventually he finds his father.  They fight.  It ends up that Sue has a gun and has the chance to kill his father.  But just before he can his father gets in a few final words:

 

Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.

 

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.  Yes, I know God is nothing like the father in this song.  He doesn’t pull mean little tricks like this on us.  He’s not sadistic and cruel.  But he does allow things into our lives that sometimes seem like they just don’t fit.  Or maybe they seem like a curse rather than a blessing.  We get upset.  We get angry with God.  But its those things that build character, develop us into better Christians, and leave us stunned when we see how it all worked out in the end. 

 

My mentor used to say, You don’t judge a parade by looking through one hole in a fence.  You have to see the bigger picture.   Some things just do not make sense without God’s wisdom.  So, stick it out.  Wait on the answer.  And just be glad your not a boy named Sue!

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There’s this game that my wife and I like to play.  When we’re out with friends or with a group that has a sense of humor, we almost always get around to playing it.  Its called Would You Rather.  You may have played it before.  The basic idea of the game is to present two options to the group, both equally as undesirable as the other, and make everyone in the group choose one.  For instance, here are a few that we’ve used before:

 

         Would you rather have a permanent unibrow or a permanent mullet?

         Would you rather fight Mike Tyson or talk like him?

         Would you rather take your mother to the prom or have to admit you like the New Kids on the Block’s new single?

         Would you rather ride in a car with Ted Kennedy or go hunting with Dick Cheney?

 

You get the idea.  The choices are hard.  There are no right or wrong answers.  Basically it boils down to which option you could tolerate more than the other.  Luckily God doesn’t make us choose between mullets and unibrows, or anything like that.  But he does give us some tough choices sometimes.  For instance, ‘Should I take this job?’, ‘Should I watch this movie?’ or ‘How much, if any, alcohol should I drink?’

 

Christians tend to view things as either right or wrong.  But sometimes the choice is neither.  Sometimes the choice is between wise and not wise.  I think this is what Paul was talking about when he said that he’s allowed to do anything he wants, but not everything he’s allowed to do is beneficial.  There are some things that just aren’t that smart to do.

 

I think there are two levels of questions to ask here:

1. Does the Bible allow this?

2. Knowing what I know about myself should I allow this?

 

First, ask yourself what the Bible has to say about this issue.  If the Bible prohibits it, then you stop there.  Do not pass GO.  Stop.  If the Bible does allow it, then try to view this choice in the context of your life and how it would play out for you.  Do you have an addictive personality?  Do you suffer from depression?  Do you have a disease that might be triggered by this?  The list goes on and on. 

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It was a rare occasion that I watched Dr. Phil the other day.  He was counseling parents who had out-of-control kids.  You know, the ones that are always in line next to you at Wal-Mart?  Apparently these parents were well off financially.  Their houses were very nice and they drove nice cars.  One of the things they would do to appease their children was buy them basically anything they wanted, toys clothes, electronics, etc.  I think one 12 year old had an iPhone.  I admit I was jealous.

 

But Dr. Phil said something that really connected with me.  He said pacifying is one of the most selfish acts a parent can engage in.  Indulging children to get them to behave or act nicely towards you is more about meeting the parent’s needs than its is out of concern for the child.  Dr. Phil said ultimately your hurting the child by not teaching them boundaries and moderation, etc.  The more the parent indulges, the worse the child develops socially.

 

This goes great with what I read yesterday in Hebrews.  The writer was saying that God disciplines who he loves.  And that if a father cares for his son, he’ll discipline him.  In fact, the writer says those who are not disciplined are like illegitimate children.  Historians say that many Roman noblemen of this time had illegitimate children that didn’t receive the same education and military discipline that legitimate children did.  Discipline was a privilege!

 

There is something intimate about discipline that we tend to overlook.  The word discipline definitely doesn’t carry intimate tones.  I think the negative connotation comes when we think of discipline solely as correction for wrong actions.  But the author of Hebrews uses the term in relationship to athletics.  Discipline is training, not unlike a runner or a football player. God is our coach.  Discipline is the loving act of exercising our character to bring us to spiritual maturity.  When we take time to see the results of discipline (or the lack of discipline) we see that it really is a loving act. 

 

So, (as usual) I had to ask myself:

What spiritual disciplines am I engaging in at the moment?

How do I respond when God tries to stretch me or teach me a lesson?

Do I see training and discipline as a privilege?  Or as a burden?

 

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This post by Perry Noble really inspired me this morning (his blog is much better than mine).  As you may know, I’ve made simplifying my life (‘life’ being a very broad term) a major goal.  I don’t want my life to be cluttered with things that take away from what is really important, my relationships.  Perry challenged me to think of the simple things in life that I tend to overlook and to be intentional about where my joy comes from.  So, here are six things that make me extremely happy, but rarely do I take the time to acknowledge them:

1.  A relationship with Jesus.

2.  I wake up every morning with a healthy body.

3.  I wake up every morning next to a beautiful woman…with a nice body 🙂

4.  I can read. (approx 25% of adults in the world can’t)

5.  I have a brain. That’s more than the Scarecrom can say. 

6.  I’ve had the same best friend since I was five years old.

These six things should keep me going every day.  Instead, these somehow get stored in the part of my brain that acts out of routine and not intentionality.  And sometimes the only thing worse than being ungrateful for something is not acknowledging it at all.

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