Cynicism is a shield. Hope is a hammer.

This is a verse I started carrying in my pocket last week.

Psalm Verse

Here are a few things I think about it.

1. “Taste,” seems like an invitation or a dare. I dare you to try. I dare you to believe for just a second. To not get wrapped up in every bad experience you’ve had with fake Christians or mean churches or any of the clutter that can accompany Christianity. Just taste.

2. “see that the Lord is good,” is one of the hardest things for me to believe sometimes. In my head I know it. I believe he is good, but there are days when I struggle to accept that. To rest in that, to let my guard down and be still in that. I think I’m often afraid that to believe he is good is to be too vulnerable. Cynicism is a shield. Hope is a hammer because it means knocking down the walls you built up to protect yourself from life’s disappointments.

3. “blessed in the one who takes refuge in him,” I like what this doesn’t say. It doesn’t read, “blessed is the one who fixes himself.” It doesn’t say, “blessed is the one with a life so perfect they don’t need refuge.” It says “blessed is the one who takes refuge in him,” as in, “You’re going to need refuge. Life is going to have situations that require you to take refuge, the need for refuge is not failure, it is reality. But be blessed, for there is a place to go.”

That’s what I read in this verse.

What do you read?

How to Hillbilly Up a Worship Song.

A few weeks ago, I made fun of my friend Sojourner because he wore a tiger shirt on stage. I teased him because I was jealous that he could pull off a shirt with a full tiger face with no degree of irony. He is simply that cool. He didn’t even reference the shirt during the announcements he was reading from stage.

Tiger

I am not nearly that cool. Even saying the phrase “Snapback” in reference to a hat seems like something I am not cool enough to do.

In retaliation, he bought me a shirt, the majesty of which is probably going to explode your computer. I have named it “Freedom,” here it is:

Eagle

There are three things I find curious about this shirt:
1. How closely they cropped in on the face.
I wish I could have been in that design meeting when the client kept yelling at the artist, “Closer, closer, closer! Crop it tighter on the eagle’s face!”

2. The colors do run.

3. It says, “Do not iron.”
I would love to meet the person who thinks, “If I have a night out on the town with Freedom, I want it to look crisp! Better get out the iron!”

I’ve been wearing it all summer at BigStuf camps and taking some epic photos with people. Like this one:

Bacon

How ‘Merica is that?

Bacon and Freedom!

Upon seeing the shirt, my friend Ben Snider confessed one of his favorite games to play as a worship leader. He didn’t have an official name for it, so I’ll just call it “How to Hillbilly Up a Worship song.”

The game is easy to play.

Step one: Take your favorite worship song.
Step two: Change the words, “Our” and “Your” in the lyrics to the word “Y’all’s.”
Step three: Sing the song.

It might not seem like fun, but I promise, it’s delightful. Watch:

“Our God Reigns” becomes “Y’all’s God Reigns.”

“How Great is Our God” becomes “How Great is Y’all’s God.”

“Blessed Be Your Name” becomes “Blessed Be Y’all’s Name.”

I could do this all day, but you get the point. It’s delightful! It helps if you sing it with a little twang, (As if you are gargling with sweet tea) and don’t turn it into a theological discussion about the trinity. (Is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, technically a “y’all?”)

What’s one worship song or lyric you’d like to hillbilly up? Share it in the comments!

Well actually, the Sabbath is Saturday.

It’s hard to believe that the World Cup is almost over. Soon we’ll have to say goodbye to loads of games, exciting international play, and … the friend who tells you to call it “football” not “soccer.” I love this friend, but only if they call the NFL, “American football.” And they better call the field “the pitch” and be able to name a player other than Ronaldo. If you’re going to chastise me for saying the word “soccer” which is Greek for “seriously, why are we arguing about this over a veggie plate at a World Cup party,” you need to fully commit. (Yes I know that FIFA has the word Football in it and if it was soccer it would be called “FISA” which kind of sounds like VISA’s crazy cousin who makes questionable tattoo decisions and lives by the beach.)

I have friends who do the same exact thing when it comes to the Sabbath. They couldn’t tell you a single thing about the Bible or Jesus or God or anything remotely spiritual. But if you ever say, “This Sunday, I’m going to really focus on living according to the Sabbath” they will instantly blurt out, “Well actually, the Sabbath is a Saturday.”

It’s one of those Christian technicalities we love to be right about. Like arguing about tithing gross or net or the most accurate version of the Bible or whether the wine Jesus made from water was actually wine or just special, completely different, New Testament style, grape juice not Cab.

And if you’re one of the readers that posted a comment or emailed me about which day the Sabbath is, we’re still friends. I love that you’re even reading and taking the time to connect. I hope someday we get to watch some futbol together.

The “everyone is on vacation, anything goes church service,” AKA tomorrow.

(I can’t believe we’ve been kicking around this site for 6 years. It’s become a tradition that 4th of July weekend I repost the piece that started the Skittles running joke and let the cat out of the bag about how church is going to be. Consider this your guide to what’s going to happen at your church tomorrow if you live in the United States.)

It is a poorly kept secret that the weekend before or after a big holiday, your church is going to do things a little differently than on most Sundays. That is, with a large portion of the congregation out on vacation, they’re going to mix it up a little.

For instance, at a lot of churches, the younger ministers are always asked to preach the day before Memorial Day. Senior pastors know that it’s a lot safer to have some rough-around-the-edges minister saying something crazy to 400 people than 800 people. Same goes with music. Go tomorrow (in the United States) and you’re bound to see some guy who’s always been in the background step forward for a totally unexpected guitar solo. Or a woman that’s always wanted to lead worship will suddenly be behind the mic for the first time.

I call it “Vacation Weekend Syndrome” or VWS. (Not to be confused with DVS)

And because I am a huge dork, I thought I would offer 8 ways your church can spice up tomorrow and avoid VWS:

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31 Signs You Might Be a Pastor’s Kid.

(Today is a guest post from Barnabas Piper. He’s a pastor’s kid, just like me. You might have heard of his dad, Bill Piper. I’m kidding, it’s John. If you’d like to write a guest post, click here!) 

Back in the 90s, comedian Jeff Foxworthy did a bit called “You Might Be a Redneck if . . .” What followed the “if” was something like “ . . .your wife’s hairdo has ever been destroyed by a ceiling fan” or “ . . .you refer to the 5th grade as ‘my senior year’.”

I have developed my own set of criteria to help pick out pastors’ kids (PKs). Without further ado, and in the inimitable Jeff Foxworthy spirit:

YOU MIGHT BE A Pastor’s Kid If . . .

. . . you can explain the difference between a narthex, lobby, fellowship hall, and the commons.

. . . Psalty, the Donut Man, and McGee haunt your dreams at night.

. . . you won at least 12 prizes in your life for scripture memory feats.

. . . you snacked on communion bread.

. . . you knew where the janitor kept the church keys and took full advantage.

. . . December 31 isn’t New Year’s Eve, it’s “I hope people give a lot from their Christmas bonuses” day.

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Finally, a church knows how to pray.

Well done church.

Photo via 9gag.

Photo via 9gag.

Of the many problems our feet will face, lego is the worst. (Is it lego or legos? What’s the plural of lego? Legi? Legon? Kenny Loggins? I feel like this is turning into a Brian Regan routine. Can we get a ruling on that one?)

I personally don’t need that prayer. I never step barefoot on legos. I step on them, all the time, but now that we live in Nashville I wear cowboy boots. Non stop. I don’t take them off. In the shower, in the pool, in our house, you can take my cowboy boots when you pry them from my cold, sweaty feet. (Even in death I will probably find a way to be too sweaty.)

I’m like a foot version of Tobias, in Arrested Development. I’m not a never nude, I’m a “never de-shoed.” We have rights you know. And lefts, both are covered in boots.

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3 reasons we need Vuvuzelas in church.

Every four years, when the World Cup rolls around I think about 3 things:

1. I wish our country had a sport that united the whole country like the intensity you see when France played Italy in the finals.

2. Didn’t I once write a post about the World Cup?

3. I want to, want to be crazy about the World Cup.

I don’t know if that first idea is fixable. I think because of the size of our country we divide into small mini countries or as some people might call them, “states.” I think Alabama vs. Auburn or Duke vs. UNC might be as close as we get to two nations fighting each other in sports. (Please post your school’s rivalry in the comments below as I am positive I missed at least 47 other good examples.)

To the second idea, the answer is “yes.” I did write about vuvuzelas, which is why I’m updating that classic post as we speak.

And the third idea? Well for the first time in my life, I have to admit, the World Cup is fantastic!

 

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My only problem with the KJV.

This is a weird bumper sticker to me.

photo-81

Maybe you’ve seen one like it before. You’re stuck in traffic, look up for a split second from you iPhone and this question dances across your field of vision.

You forget that the origin of this is decades old. We have dairy cows to blame for all the variations of “Got ____,” for it was they who first asked if we “Got milk?” Some of us did. Real milk, not that pale white water skim either. The kind of milk an Oreo could float on. A real Oreo too, not a fruit punch or watermelon version. I feel we are flying too close to the sun on cream wings right now with all the iterations of Oreo we’re cranking out.

But milk started the “Got revolution” and years later it rages on in highways and byways across the nation.

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3 ways to avoid getting tricked into volunteering for VBS.

VBS

Lean in close, I don’t have much time to tell you this idea and if they catch us, we’re both in trouble. Even as I speak, zig zag scissors are cutting construction paper, glue sticks are being rolled up, angry badgers are being jammed into bags and colorful thumbtacks are being counted. We’re on the cusp of Vacation Bible School season, which is why I’m reposting this idea. In the next few weeks, the Swiss Army Knife Volunteers that run VBS are going to be recruiting new helpers.

If you want to do that, great. Have at it. Noah’s Ark the summer away my friend. But if you don’t want to volunteer, if you’ve got flannel graph phobia, keep a sharp eye out for these important signs:

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A response to the “Are you following Jesus this close” bumper sticker.

I often see the bumper sticker that reads “Are you following Jesus this close?”

bumper sticker

Photo via Kulfoto.

My first thought is that somewhere my wife Jenny is dying because it’s supposed to read, “Are you following Jesus this closely?” Jenny is full of grace and love, but has a difficult time extending that to grammar mistakes. (Pray for her please.)

I am willing to overlook the missing ly, but my second thought upon seeing this sticker is usually this:

Actually, I am following Jesus this close. In fact he lives in my heart, so I’m completely baffled by the proposition of your bumper sticker. Is this like that scene in Austin Powers when the Scottish character says ‘Get in my belly!’ (Keeping it relevant.) Are you asking me to get in your heart? I have to imagine you mean lyrically, much in the same way Bobby Brown’s song “Tender Roni,” gets in your heart and refuses to leave. (Two for two on topical!)

If it’s not that, which I suppose it must not be, what are you saying to me?

Is this some sort of weird invitation to live in the backseat of your Toyota Camry? I went to college. I’ve slept in cars before. That is no treat my friend. I have to refuse kindly.

What option does that really leave us? Trunks are pretty uncomfortable as well and dangerous. If that’s what you’re suggesting, that I climb in your car trunk, I fear we’re once again at odds. I don’t want to get in your car trunk and you would prefer that I do. Let’s agree to disagree.

Or perhaps it’s just the opposite, you actually want me to back away from you in traffic and tail gait Jesus instead. Is he commuting today? Are you intimating that should I but crane my neck I might notice him in the right hand lane, driving, what I can only imagine is a burro, and I should follow him instead? But that’s unlikely, because once you’ve ascended there’s no way you’re driving on the Interstate again. You think Elijah or sah, whichever one got the fire chariot ride, is ever getting in a Kia after that? You can’t Sorento after you’ve fire chariotted.

It’s all rather perplexing.

Perhaps if I follow closely for a few more miles, this riddle will solve itself. Feel free to do what I do when someone is tail gaiting me, drive slower. I’m almost positive that tail gaiting is a silent cry from the people behind you to slow down. But don’t quote me on that. I might be misinterpreting that. I’m not following Jesus that closely.

Question:
Have you ever seen this bumper sticker?