Tag: way

Things I Learned from God’s People

As I have mentioned before, I was raised in the “Christian” faith, namely the “Assembly of God” variety. I have never found the concept of denominations to be of any use to me on my search for truth. I’ve always found them to be a crutch or a wall. In either case a hindrance to the truth of a real God. I’ve always held to the idea that although there is a wide variety of followers and seekers of God, they are all just different parts of the same body. Despite being a very unpopular opinion, especially among other folks who take great pride in their specific denomination, I have never felt comfortable joining any religious organization in any official capacity. I have attended many different religious buildings, gatherings, services and the like, but never formally joined, and Lord willing, never will. Just like there is no library that can contain every written work on the planet, there is no religion that can contain every iteration of God. I believe that choosing to allow myself to be taught under only one brand of God, is to deny the whole nature of God. I have yet to find a religion, sect, or denomination that doesn’t have its own “saint of the faith” to which almost Godlike qualities or honor are bestowed. This really makes me squirm in my chair. I believe in the basic tenants of the “Christian” religion, which is to say I believe the Bible. I think that some of the things that were documented in the Bible, whether historical, prophetic, poetic, or philosophical, are crazy enough without someone else coming along side to add their own version of craziness to the mix. That said, I think that not all the writings, teachings and ideas of more contemporary folks are a load of bunk. There are morsels of truth in the works of several people across time, however that doesn’t make their opinion equal or greater in holiness to the Bible. They are just people, like I am people, like you are people, like that crazy Uncle so and so is people, like those that came before and those that will come after are people. With people comes trouble in as many varieties as the religious groups, sects, and denominations that they subscribe to. Here are a few of the unholy untruths about “Christianity” that I’ve encountered along my path.

  • Christians don’t go to movie theaters, dance clubs, etc.
  • It is better to appear holy than be honest about your unholiness.
  • Christians don’t struggle with things like alcohol, drugs, porn, etc.
  • All sin is equal in the sight of God, but not your fellow Christian.
  • Grace and forgiveness abounds above and beyond all sin, except those you don’t confess quick enough to beat your own death or the Second Coming.
  • When you need an answer, healing, forgiveness, assistance, or a polite excuse for not helping someone else, “Pray about it.”
  • It’s not gossip if you call it a prayer request.
  • Don’t bother doing something with your own two hands when you can pray for it to be done for you and then give God the glory for it.
  • If you want people to donate time or money to complete a task, call it a “ministry opportunity.”
  • If you can’t convince others to jump on board with your particular religious project, threats and questioning their salvation sometimes works.
  • Don’t take responsibility for any mistake that you make. Likewise don’t try to hold any other “Christian” accountable for mistakes that they have made, otherwise suffer the consequences of being an “Accuser of the Brethren.”
  • If your wishes aren’t granted by God, it’s most definitely because of some secret sin in your life.
  • Don’t use logic or intellect to make decisions in life, trust that God will provide your every need.
  • If you really have no faith that God is going to answer your prayer, use the phrase “if it be God’s will.” Then if it doesn’t happen the way you asked, your reputation won’t be sullied because it wasn’t a fervent and effectual prayer of a righteous person, it’s that God had other plans.
  • When praying publicly, remind those listening (including God) how much holier you are by randomly interjecting the words “Lord,” or “God,” or “Jesus,” or any combination of the three with an occasional prefix of “Dear,” or “My,” or “Our.”
  • When possible, make sure your prayer is in the King’s English. Hearing words like “thou,” “shall,” and “hath” will standout against our current vernacular and cause God to stop playing Angry Birds on His iPad and take note of what your asking for.
  • Don’t worry about what the Bible actually says, instead focus on what you were told that it might have implied.
  • Some parts of the Bible aren’t really that important (ie. the fourth commandment, gluttony being an abomination, any verse that defines tithes, etc.).
  • If you think the people next to you are judging your holiness, speak in tongues, that’ll show ’em.
  • Wearing shorts inside the sanctuary is one way to get a direct flight to Hell.
  • When giving a testimony, make sure that it is a 15 minute bragging session, masked as humility and blessing.
  • If someone comes to the front for prayer, it’s never to pray for someone else, it’s to ask forgiveness for something scandalous. Feel “led by God” to go ask for details so that you can pray more specifically for their needs.
  • When “laying on hands,” either for healing or deliverance, the more force you use to grip or hit them with, the better chance you have of seeing your prayer answered by God.
  • When praying for someone younger than yourself, it’s necessary to pull their ear so close to your mouth that they will feel your hot, stale breath condensing in their ear canal.
  • Everyone in your church should have the exact same gift of the Spirit, that way it breeds competition among the brethren, and contempt for those who are blessed with a less popular gift.
  • Although we are all the body of God, some parts of the body probably aren’t going to make it to Heaven, and if they do, their crowns will be greatly outnumbered by ours.
  • Being baptized in this denomination’s church means that you are being baptized into our social group, not into God’s family.
  • Verily, verily, I say unto you, thou shalt readeth from thine King James Version of the Bible, lest thine holier than thou brethren condemneth thee, and thou shalt surely perish socially.
  • Knowing what you believe is more important that knowing why you believe it, or whether it is actually in the Bible or not.
  • Missionaries are called to go to Dakar, not Detroit.
  • If you forget the lyrics to the song, close your eyes, bow your head, and whisper a faint, yet audible prayer. That means you’re sensitive to the move of God, as opposed to just plain forgetful or nervous.
  • If called to preach before a congregation, emphasize all three of your sermon points by slamming your Bible on the pulpit or the pew of those who have lost interest. As a side note, it helps to add the suffix “-ugh” to the end of key words and phrases.
  • Any time that you are in any secular public venue or eating establishment, make sure that those around you realize how much better you are than them by showing them that “Children of God” deserve to be waited on, hand and foot, with absolutely no hope of a decent tip or common kindness during your stay.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t pay your bills, that’s a sign that the Devil is out to get you for being so holy, not a sign that you should have budgeted more money for food and heat, as opposed to lottery tickets and a new Mercedes.
  • As a “Child of the King,” expect those around you to bow and praise your holiness any time that you perform a common act of decency toward another human being. Of course you deserve a cookie for treating others with common courtesy.

I have of course taken the liberty to poke fun at some of the more prominent issues that exist in the churches I have attended and visited over the years, and trust me there are plenty that go unmentioned. I do this to bring our attention to some of the items of concern that folks not raised in this crazy culture we call “Christianity” have issue with, are confused by, or are quite bluntly repulsed by. Any group of people will have issues due to nothing more than the mere inclusion of people themselves. These are the same issues that have existed within church bodies since the dawn of time, and they’ll be with us until the end of time. So as we enter this Easter holiday weekend, let’s just accept each other, believer and unbeliever alike, for what they are, and then make sure we act accordingly in deed, not just in word.

Enjoy!

…and if you don’t, please write me to tell me how horrible it is and what parts you merely dislike as well as the parts that you utterly despise.

~ matt

Bible Babble (Genesis 8:1-22)

Before you get into this post, you should probably read the disclaimer from the previous post, Bible Babble (Genesis 1:1-31).

Genesis 8:1-22

Go ahead and read through that real quick, I’ll wait…

Ok, so far we’re moving right along in the whole ‘Noah’s Ark’ story that we’ve all heard, over and over, since birth. I realize that this isn’t something new for most folks, and that if you are anything like myself, you just skim right through this chapter. We’ve all heard it, we’ve all seen this story on felt ‘Children’s Church’ boards, we’ve all read it and/or had it read to us since we were old enough to be dressed in uncomfortable outfits and shoes and made to sit next to the old ‘I bathe in floral perfume’ lady at church. So why bother even trying to find something clever, something funny, something relevant here, right? Rather than turn it into a skit, or a show, I just want to walk through it and let you in on what it speaks to me. Unlike some, I don’t hear God’s voice booming from the heavens, with perfect diction, and a slightly British accent. God speaks to me in a biting, sarcastic, humorous, and humbling way. He knows me well enough to know this is the way I will understand, appreciate, and apply His lessons for me. So please bear that in mind as I share my thoughts.

Right from the git go, we’re told that God remembered what was going on with this whole global flood situation and the remaining living things aboard the ark and then turned on the galactic blow dryer to dry the place out a bit. My first thought was, ‘And God Remembered’? Really? Like He had kinda dozed off there for a few months, basking in the overall decrease in earthly ridiculousness that had caused Him to get fed up enough to flood the planet in the first place. Kinda like when you snap out of a really good daydream and realize that it’s way too quiet in your kids’ room, or that you haven’t seen the dog in while, or that you left the water running in the bathtub. You know that you’d better go check things out to make sure your few moments of peace weren’t wearing a price tag with the cost of new kids’ room walls, new couch cushions, or new bathroom carpet. That said, I know that wasn’t the point of this first verse. The point was, that no matter what kind of hot water you find yourself in, God remembers you, and He will send a breath of fresh air to pass over your situation, when the time is right.

The second verse tells us that God not only dried the place out a bit, but that he turned off the faucets. Making the point that it’s not enough to repaint the kids’ walls, or restuff the cushions, or dry out the bathroom floors. You have to deal with the source of the situation, as well, unless you want to inherit a lifetime of repainting, restuffing, and recarpeting.

Verse three reminds us that world changing situations don’t go away in a day. It’s a continual process that takes time. God has it well within His power to clean up every ‘disaster’ in our lives at the snap of a finger, with a word, in the twinkling of an eye. However, like any good parent, good teacher, or good mentor, He chooses to use time to coax, teach, and guide our understanding of what we are coming out of, and in process dump a little appreciation in our laps along the way.

‘The ark rested…’ Even though the process of drying out the entire planet was not yet complete, He allowed the ark to rest from the constant motion of the waves. He knows when we just need a rest from the constant roller coaster ride of life. When your world takes a turn for the worse, He wants to clean it up for you. Sometimes it takes a flood to clean up the messes we’ve made, and sometimes we feel like we’re stuck in a boat, being thrown around by the waves, getting a little sick of the cleansing process. Even before your world is restored to Godly order, He gives you a place to rest. It’s not safe to exit the boat just yet, there is still a little more work to be done, but at least the constant motion is over. It takes time to get used to solid ground when you’ve grown accustomed to the rock of the boat. God knows that, whether you do or not.

Finally the tops of the mountains could be seen again. You’ve been on one long, crazy ride, and now you can rest, and see the world being revealed in a new light. The reassurance that you will walk on solid ground again soon. Just be patient.

After the rain had let up, Noah was ready to get off that boat. He sends out a raven to search for dry land. He sends out a dove every week, on a repeat mission for land, for viability of life after the flood. The first week the dove comes back empty handed. Noah knows that it’s not over yet. Week two, better results, olive leaf. Noah knows that the end of this cruise is near. The third time was the charm, no more dove. Noah knows that the dove found a new, safe place to nest, or at least had found a place better than stuck inside that boat. Either way, a success, and Noah knows that he can open the doors and start his new life afresh and anew. God knows that we have trouble with the unknown, with patience, and affords us grace as we start to send out feelers to test the stability of this new world we encounter after a trial. He affords us to take baby steps as we learn to trust Him. He allows us to taste and see that He is good.

Finally, the door is opened, the cover removed, and the new world, dried from the previous flood, awaits. God speaks to Noah and tells him to empty that boat and get to work. Take your family and all your pets and release them. Let them start over. Let them free from the confines that had bound them through the trial, to explore the world renewed by God. God will let you know when to open the door, when to remove the cover and start over. Sometimes it seems like God hasn’t spoken to us in ages while we’re riding out the storm, but the truth is, God is speaking in the storm. Sometimes we have to go through the flood before we can hear his voice clearly. Sometimes the old Etch-a-Sketch of life needs to be turned upside-down and given a good shaking before we can start anew. When that’s been done and God opens the door, get right back out there and make a difference in your world.

After Noah had released his family and the animals back out into this recreated world, the first thing he did was have a barbecue, and God thought it smelled great. Noah recognized that God had picked them up from the mess of the world around them, protected them through the storm, and put their feet back on solid ground. He knew to give God the credit and thank Him for what He had done. This is also good advice. Celebrate when God pulls you through a ‘disaster’ of a situation. Have a cookout and give God the credit for His help, protection, and guidance.

God said that He wouldn’t punish the earth or other living things because of the stupid decisions of man again, like He had done with the flood. From now on, for as long as the Earth itself remained, it would have regular days, seasons, weather patterns, and the concept of sewing and reaping. This is what God does. After your world has been messed up, after you’ve been taken through the storm, he wipes it all clean, gives you a new start, and restores balance and order to your world. Let Him do what He does best.

Remember, it’s not about what you’ve done, but about what He did. God will take your messed up world, wipe it clean, and recreate a new world for you if you have sense enough to get aboard.

Chapter 8 ends there.  Chapter 9 continues next.

As always, feel free to comment or ask questions about any of the ideas shared in this post.

Find Me

21   6 23 8   22 19 3,
21   6 23 8   2 21 26 23,
21   6 23 8   8 21 11
7 19 25   26 23   15 19   10 17 19 8
26 11   13 19 5 23   7 19 25   11 19 4,
22 21 22 11   2 14 25 13.
13 19 19 18   7 19 25   21   22 19 3,
8 17 23 25 23   15 17 23   13 21 10 15   2 21 26 23   22 23 2 21 6.

Good Luck Gorgeous!

~matt

You Did It!!

A new box,
A new game,
A new way
for me to show
my love for you,
baby girl.
Look for a box,
where the last game began.

Find Me