Let’s face it, the reason most of us came to Christ was because our lives were so screwed up. And that’s not a bad thing. After all, lots of people came to Jesus because they had oppressive circumstances that only he could alleviate. God has a habit of using our rough times to direct our attention his way.
However, continuing with that M.O. makes for a shallow Christianity.
Though I know better, I still hope for a premature happily ever after experience. Maybe we love the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) because those salvation stories seem to end at the same place in the fairy tale where the slipper fits and Cinderella ends up marrying the prince. I think it’s Les and Leslie Parrot who write about how that fantasy doesn’t take into account the difficult road Cinderella will have learning how to be a princess, having servants instead of being one and, of course, being married to a guy she hardly knows. We want to be saved and slide right into our hunky-dory Christian experience.
English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here’s a thought my daughter Jessica brought home from school a couple of weeks ago. It goes something like this: Only in America do we take a day off to thank God for all that he’s given to us and then take the next day off to fight each other to get more.
Of course, that must have been written before this year. Like that old movie The Blob, Christmas has been surrounding and absorbing its lesser celebrated holiday neighbor for some time now.
Did you love this, or what? You may not be a fan of these types of shows. I’m not. But when someone who is so openly hateful and arrogant against a certain people group finds out he’s actually a member of the group he’s been hatin’ on . . . well, that’s just beautiful.
I’m skeptical about the whole thing, though. In time we may hear that the results were intentionally skewed for publicity. Either way, it’s the reaction to the findings that interests me. Not HIS reaction, mind you, but everyone else’s (including mine).
Sometimes society is thrown a softball in our sweet spot – a situation 99% of people can agree about. The silliness of Westboro Baptist church has been an easy target of late. The 9/11 disaster resulted in our country and many others to have the same opinion about Osama Bin Laden. And what about Ariel Castro, imprisoning three young women in his house for so many years? It’s easy for us to hate all of these evil doers, and we love to hate them in unison.
An illustration of a character from a story; also, an illustration of illustrations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Substitute teaching has taught me another lesson. The school system I’m in is an alternative learning place. There are two teachers in every classroom. So when I sub there’s an educational professional in there too.
A couple of weeks ago I was in with a science teacher named Pam Foster. She had written a recommendation for one of the students to be on a robotics team. One particular accolade intrigued me: “He is good at letting go of unsuccessful hypotheses.”
If I remember correctly, a hypothesis is an educated guess. It’s a theory scientists come up with based on knowledge in their fields. An experiment is performed to either validate or refute it. Science students are regularly given a scenario and instructed to offer a hypothesis. For instance, if you drop a bowling ball and a baseball from a window three stories high, which will hit the ground first? You could create you own hypothesis. Then you’d actually drop a bowling ball and a baseball from a three-story building several times to see if your hypothesis was correct.
Jon Fowler, a friend of mine, posted a Bible verse on fb last week. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people use social media as a marketing tool for their faith. They slap on a bit of scripture even though there’s no evidence that the carefully typed testimonies match up with the rest of their lives. But that’s not Jon! He’s the real deal.
There’s another reason that this particular update spoke to me, and it has something to do with a very different idea he’s involved in at our church. First, here’s what he wrote:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1, 2 NIV)
”Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15, NIV)
My son, Zach, is in fourth grade. During the first week of school he brought home an assignment he had completed during school. It was one of those get-to-know you things.
There were several sentences the teacher started that the kids had to finish however they wanted to. I’ll bet she laughed a lot when she read them! Here’s some of what Zach had to say. The underlined parts are what he filled in: Continue reading →
We were on our way to Walmart last weekend. About a mile from there I changed lanes as if I was planning to turn right. That’s because I was. Target was on the right about a half mile away, but Walmart was on the left further down the road. We almost always go to Target. I had gone into auto pilot mode and Vanda knew it. She reminded me, “We’re going to Walmart.”
My first thought was to respond, “I know,” but after sixteen years of marriage, I’ve learned my lesson. She knows me too well.
I almost never get lost going to places I’ve never been. But I will go the wrong way when I don’t have to think about where I’m going because it’s somewhere I’ve been many times. I’ll give my mind a break and start thinking about things other than navigating to my destination. It’s particularly bothersome on the highway. The signs are right in front of me, but I miss them because I’ve stopped looking for them.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
(Plato 428-c 347 BC)
Timon and Pumbaa taught me something about myself. A few years back I was watching one of the extra features on a Lion King DVD and was shocked to hear Pumbaa describe what I’ve experienced all of my life without explanation. Though I don’t remember exactly what he called it, he was referring to Photic Sneeze Reflex.
Basically, I sneeze at the sun. It mostly happens when I go outdoors on a sunny day after having been inside for a bit. It’s only when I first get outside. I could sneeze up to seven times. My kids – who have the same affliction, just not as severe – will say, “God bless you,” several times in a row between my first and second nasal expulsions of air just to cover their bases.
English: “Mountain of Despair” — part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC. Image is that visitors pass through the Mountain of Despair to the “Stone of Hope.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hope is overrated.
It’s a crap shoot that gambles away our perseverance against the odds that one day our circumstances will improve. It’s a blind wager that spiritually bankrupts.
It has no substance. There’s little reason to believe that things will get better. We just want them to, and we naively believe that’s enough.
English: A boy with autism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There was some free time at the end of class one afternoon. When the students in the Autism Unit (AU) at Summit Academy in Youngstown, OH, have behaved well they are sometimes afforded a few minutes of down time before changing classes. Mike* had been arm wrestling everyone he could find and had run out of competitors.
“Mr. Knick,” he asked, “do you wanna arm wrestle me?”
I don’t like to turn the kids down if they want me to participate in what they are doing. So I obliged.