Pretty sure the devil invented allergies.

Recently I tweeted:

“Spring, the time of year I want to punch Adam in the face because I’m pretty sure allergies are a product of the fall.”

I tweeted that because I am on lock down right now thanks to pollen. I can’t go outside or I look like I am crying from reading a really amazing poem about a pony. And there’s no way there were allergies in the Garden of Eden. I bet when God kicked out Adam and Eve he handed them a box of Claritin on the way. (Only one box though because even then, you could only get 15 at a time.)

I had a hard time capturing why I hated pollen so much, please don’t tell me about it’s importance for bees and flowers right now, until my friend sent me the image below. I don’t know who made it. If it’s you, let me know and I will give you credit. But this captures exactly why pollen is so deadly.

Question:
Am I the only one sneezing right now, or do you have seasonal allergies too?

Pollen

3 ways to be a better Christian hypocrite.

H

A few days ago, a friend texted me. Apparently a Christian band had been publicly ripping on him and he needed some advice.

Now at the bare minimum, that’s not the best use of time for a Christian band, what with all the spreading the joy of Christ they’ve got on their plate.

But the time management problem wasn’t the biggest issue. For me, the real challenge was the band’s twitter profile. You’d think, that given their penchant for not liking people, they’d at least have a twitter bio that reflected that. Alas, that wasn’t the case at all, as each line spoke to their hope to love people and share grace with them. Bigger than even that though, was that the band reminded me of me and my ability to be a hypocrite online. What they had actually said about my friend didn’t really seem that harmful. (I’ve said far worse.) But I think the whole thing stirred up something I’ve been wrestling with in my own life during the six years of this blog, online hypocrisy.

That might surprise you a little bit, that the way a Christian acts online doesn’t line up with how they describe themselves online, but it shouldn’t.

We now have one of the greatest opportunities to be hypocrites in the history of mankind. Think about the scale of our hypocrisy these days. Thirty years ago, your dad interacted with maybe 200 people in a given month. He knew people at work, in his family, his town and in his church. If he wanted to be a jerk to large groups of complete strangers, it was pretty difficult. I guess he could have printed up a newsletter or called a radio show but even then, that would take a lot of effort.

Now though, in the time you and I occupy, it’s so much easier.

We can proclaim Christ with our (digital) lips and then deny him with our (digital) lifestyle faster than any other previous generation and to more people than our parents would have ever dreamed! (Head nod to Brennan Manning and DC Talk’s What if I stumble.)

If this concerns you at all, it should. The damage we Christians can do with the Internet is unbelievable.

I’d love to think this blog post will radically change the world, but I am making my own images these days and they are just horrible. (A sunset has nothing to do with this post. Just ridiculous.)

Not everyone who reads this will give up their hypocritical ways.

So, if you want to be a hypocrite online, at least do these three things:

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4 questions everyone should ask.

I recently did a video with Relevant magazine. It’s a quick set of four things everyone needs to review in their lives. (I think the one I’ve had the most reaction to is the last one and it’s a question my dad asked me when I was growing up.)

It’s only 2:32 long but covers everything from social media to relationships.

Enjoy!

Finally, a church deals with gluttony.

When I saw this typo in a church bulletin I laughed. Mostly because I am not as mature as you. Things like this tickle me.

Bulletin

This isn’t my church. A friend sent this to me and I figured he’d like to remain anonymous. Or not, if he wants to be known I will put his name in here and he can be nonymous. (Pretty sure that’s right.) I also didn’t blank out part of the church’s name because I googled “First Free” and there was 3.7 million responses. If you are able to figure out which church is, congratulations, you are Inspector Gadget.

In my head I immediately thought about what it would mean to have glutton free communion.

It would probably take a special squadron of ushers trained to recognize the classic signs of someone who is about to grab too much communion. The clawed hand like a kid at Halloween scooping out too many treats. The greedy, beady eyes. The nervous laughter and rotating head to make sure no one is watching. The ushers would swoop in and …what? What would they do? My heart tells me “taser” but that seems too violent. And I recently took some heat for writing about violence.

Maybe they’d come in with sanctified squirt guns ablaze, showering that glutton in discount orange drink from youth group. Maybe they’d punish the offenders, sentencing them to church jail or as you might know it “volunteering at VBS.”

Hard to say, how do you imagine a church enforcing glutton free bread?

Watching HBO and R-rated movies but only if the content is violent.

A few months ago, my friend asked me a question, “How come we Christians get upset about the nudity in the show ‘Game of Thrones,’ but not at the violence? How come I haven’t heard anyone protest the idea that a little kid got thrown out of a window? On purpose.”

Great question and I should have referred him to page 18 in the Stuff Christians Like book. It pretty much explained it.

For Christians, we think it’s completely okay to watch R-Rated movies and HBO programs, but only if they got that rating because of violence. If they’re rated R because someone is getting their head cut off or there’s a wedding battle so gory that blood splashes on the camera lens, don’t worry. God’s cool with that. However, if the movie is rated R because of sexuality … well, I hope you enjoy your fold-out couch bed in hell. It’s gonna be a hot one, my friend. A hot one, indeed.

I’m not sure where this rule came from, but it’s true. Not only do Christians watch violent R-rated movies, we’ll quote them from the pulpit, build sermon series around them and even show clips of them during service. I call it the “Braveheart rule” and my theory is that it’s because of the Old Testament.

Have you read the Old Testament lately? It’s hardcore. Samson smashes people in the head with a donkey jawbone. A priest runs a spear through two people having sex. David carries Goliath’s head around like a bowling ball. It’s violent. I think that some Christians read that and assume, “Cool, God’s down with some wanton violence. R-rated movies, here we come!”

But if there’s any nudity, if a single nipple makes a cameo at any point, forget it. Throw that piece of nonsense in the trash. That is horrible.

That’s what makes Game of Thrones so frustrating for Christians. It’s got gobs of violence. Author George RR Martin kills characters like I kill beats. But, because it’s on HBO there’s also tons of nudity. HBO is the kind of channel that even does background nudity, where even during the main dialogue between two characters there are people in the background of the scene nude, seemingly for no reason whatsoever.

It’s a real pickle.

At the end of the day though, don’t forget this.

You can wait until they show the 37 minute long edited version on TBS.

Sometimes you only get 4 words.

Sometimes it feels like God is quiet. I want paragraphs of conversation and tweet length thoughts don’t even come through. It’s during these moments that I tend to run into people that tell me God is talking entire phone books of information to them.

Like the guy I’ve mentioned before who played a song at church in Birmingham. I asked him if he wrote it. He said, “No, God did.” Fantastic. That didn’t feel condescending at all. My friend is a musician and sometimes people will tell him, “God gave me this song for you.” The songs are usually horrible and my friend thinks to himself, “God probably gave it to you because he didn’t want it. Angels prefer to sing good songs.”

But there are moments of quietness in our lives and its interesting to see in the Bible that other people had similar moments.

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3 things you can only do in church.

Church

Years ago, my friends Tripp and Tyler did a video about the things you can’t do when you’re not in a pool. It was a hilarious look at those two guys spitting water at people on the sidewalk, making absurd underwater faces and in general being perfectly silly.

It made me think though, are there some things you can only do in church? Are there some weird things we take for granted that if you did other places would seem ridiculous?

I think there are and here are the three I came up with:

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Why some Christian leaders fail.

Handcuff

Celebrity is the worst drug in Christian leadership right now.

The problem is, it often starts from a good place.

You’re a young Christian leader with a platform that starts to grow. Your church does well. Your blog blows up. You start speaking at a lot of events. And in the midst of that swirl, you quietly start to think to yourself, “If I get a bigger platform, God will get bigger glory.” But eventually as you start to believe your own hype, that mutates into “If I get a bigger platform, I’ll get bigger glory.”

This happens for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s because Christian leaders refuse to have people in their lives who can tell them no. A church where the word “no” is off limits is doomed. Sometimes the leader is trying to heal an old wound with new attention. I’ve done that. One day a friend said to me, “No offense, but if the attention you’ve gotten so far hasn’t healed whatever wound you think you have already, none is going to.” He’s right. That’s one of the reasons I go to counseling.

But I think there’s also a part of us that thinks God needs our platform. He needs our abilities. He needs us to win. Here’s the truth about that:

God will never be handcuffed by your failures or unleashed by your successes.

He doesn’t need me to complete him. He is already complete. He doesn’t need me to play my role in his story or it won’t be told. It will be, his plan will be done, regardless of my ability to do it. He doesn’t need me, he loves me. He invites me into his story and allows me to be part of it as an act of love not desperation. There’s a big difference.

For the last few years I’ve been coaching leaders, especially given the minefield that social media offers us. I’ve learned something. Influence is not a good thing or a bad thing, it is just a thing. It is a knife, useful for cutting through lies and clearing the clutter to show people the truth. You just have to make sure you hold the right end.

 

How to not sing with your hands raised and still love Jesus.

There are two things I don’t prefer to do with my hands at church.

I know you’re probably thinking that “throat chop” is one of them, but that’s not really in my control. If I run into a cat burglar stealing the offering, I can’t tell a killer whale not to be a killer whale. Nature tends to run its course.

And it’s not that I don’t like shaking hands with people. Our church doesn’t do the “turn to say hi to the person next to you,” but if they did, I would be pretty amazing at it. My greatest skill in those kind of moments is trying to shake someone’s hand who is trying to hug me. I am so awesome at that.

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