Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Welcome To the Show

This morning as I lay in bed, I began thinking about how differently my faith expresses itself these days. Whereas I once thought that faith had to be expressed with great fanfare and exuberance, I know see that for what it was…a show.

Let me explain.

I bought into the Pentecostal tradition that said you couldn’t “have church” without tongues, loud singing and other demonstrative acts of faith. Some churches in that tradition took it a step too far and encouraged crazy activities like snake handling. For the record, I never attended a church that had snakes or encouraged this insane behavior. But the churches I attended DID place a heavy emphasis on the demonstration, whether it was speaking and/or singing in tongues, shouting, dancing or wailing. The point was, you couldn’t truly expect to get God’s attention without a showy presentation.

In modern charismatic churches, and even some mainline ones, this show takes on the form of a pop music concert. You have polished musicians, some of them hired for a fee, performing radio-worthy tunes on a stage before a large audience. This is meant to get the people worked up emotionally, so that they’ll walk away with a sense that they experienced something spiritual.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that it is all superficial and emotional. Some of these people, myself among them, were genuine in their show of emotion. I thought that it was the proper way to express my love for God. I mean, what else was I created for if it wasn’t to put on a show for God? Didn’t Jesus warn that the rocks would cry out if I kept silent?

This morning, I actually began considering the practicality of that kind of “worship.” If God were to reveal Himself as say…my wife, would I constantly serenade her and make a big emotional show of my love for her? I mean, she is the person I’m supposed to love most in the world, but I don’t make a big show of it.

My point is, love has to be demonstrated…just not in the flashy ways we often think make the most impact. Haven’t you heard it said, “Sometimes the little things make the biggest difference?” Didn’t Jesus say, “I was thirsty and you gave me drink?” That’s a little thing, isn’t it?

I can demonstrate my love for my wife by cleaning the bathroom. That simple act of service tells her that I care about the things she cares about. Likewise, I can do the same for God. If I take my favorite wool blanket to a homeless man out in the cold, then I’m showing God that I care about the people He cares about. And Jesus even took that a step further. He said that by helping someone in need, I am actually helping Him! Isn’t that a much truer, more practical, more God-centered form of worship?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Subculture Memorobilia

When I was deeply entrenched in the Christian Subculture (aka the Christian Ghetto), I used to wear "The Lord's Gym" T-shirt, drive around with a fish symbol on the tail end of my car and eat lots of Chick-Fil-A. Okay, confession, I ate at Chick-Fil-A just two hours ago. Regardless, I counted these indicators of my deep and undying faith as treasures, virtual witnessing tools, if you will.

That was sometime ago.

Today, on my way back to work from Chick-Fil-A, I saw a bumper sticker that resembled the above JPEG. It made me want to pull the driver over to ask them if they really work in a woodshop for a guy named Bluestein...or to ask if their current employer knew they were working for a carpenter on the side?

I also thought about another one of my favorite bumper sticker declarations of faith:
God is my pilot.
How do those drivers think that makes their passengers feel? As a sharer of the roadways with these people, it unnerves me a bit. What about you?

Do you buy into the bumper sticker theology of these people?

Do you have a Lord's Gym T in your closet????

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Click the link above. It's the new Jack Black movie from the producers of Napoleon Dynamite due out this summer. It looks "stupider" than all get out--IDIOT!--but I'll probably go see it at the dollar cinema.

Friday, February 03, 2006


This week, I found out that one of my newest co-workers attended school with my wife through grade and middle school. They were childhood friends. This led me to peruse my wife’s old yearbooks for incriminating photos with which I could tease my co-worker.

I guess perusing those old photos put me in a retrospective frame of mind.

This morning, I was thinking back to a job I lost 4 years ago. It was an important job with the state emergency management agency. I liked the job and was well-suited for it. The only problem was my immediate supervisor. To many of my colleagues it seemed that this person was just biding his time until retirement when he could collect his state pension and spend his time on personal pursuits, like saltwater fishing. Well, I thumbed my nose at his authority once too often, thinking I was in good graces with the division director and bureau chief above him. That didn’t work out the way I had hoped, and in September of 2001, I found myself looking for another job.

I didn’t miss a beat, employment-wise, as I landed another job in the same field with a different state agency. I did miss a beat in the emotional arena, however. My feelings were hurt and I underachieved at the next job. Heck, I checked out and was again let go just three months later…the week before Thanksgiving.

I was so embarrassed about my situation that I didn’t even tell my wife until AFTER the holiday weekend. During my brief unemployment, I had a few weeks to re-evaluate my priorities. That was a God thing, no doubt about it.

This morning, as I sat in traffic pondering the what-if’s, I realized that losing both state jobs in that three month time span was a blessing in disguise. Had I stayed on that career path, I could have made a name for myself in the field of emergency management. I would have been a high-profile state official during the record-setting hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. I may have earned promotions and accolades, but at what cost to me and my family…my priorities.

Three jobs later and I’m in a place where I am very happy and my needs are met. I’m on pace to make more money than I would have made with the state even if I had stayed. I have not spent my life on the road or dealing with reporters and angry, displaced citizens. I do not get pages and phone calls in the middle of the night or on holidays, nor do I have to leave my family for weeks at a time to sweat in places like the Everglades.

Funny how much clearer I can see in retrospect God’s hand guiding me along life’s path.