When God goes full circle.

Full Circle

Six years ago, Jenny and I lived in Alpharetta, GA. We had a small house with green carpet and a purple bedroom that I called “Purple Rain.” The older woman before us who had owned it had what I believe interior designer’s call “Thomas Kinkade Palette.”

We had young kids that were in that intense age where it’s impossible to leave the house, you destroy restaurants when you show up and you get roughly 92 minutes of uninterrupted sleep at night. In many ways we were in the survival years, but in others we were just starting to dream.

Every few weeks, we would drive to a planned community called “Vickery.” In addition to a collection of beautiful homes with the kind of sidewalks that beg for bikes and trikes and memories, it had a small downtown area. Shaped in a horseshoe, there were a handful of businesses, art galleries and restaurants. In the middle was a courtyard and a small gelato shop.

On nights when the hour commute home had not completely worn through my humanity, we’d visit Vickery and push strollers and hope around the pathways. We’d talk about living there someday, planning a future that would most likely require a meteor made of money to land in our driveway. We’d say, “Someday, it’d be amazing to live to here, wouldn’t it?”

That was six years ago and as I write this today, I’m sitting on the third floor of a brownstone overlooking that little gelato shop.

We didn’t buy a place here. That was not to be, but we experienced one of those round about, full circle moments that reminds you what a sense of humor God has.

Four years ago, though it feels like 14 at times, Jenny and I went on an adventure and moved to Nashville. It was a rocket ride of opportunity and challenge we will forever be grateful for. A year ago, God nudged us to do the same thing again. To dare anew, to dream again, to step out. Was it perfect? Nope, it was messy and beautiful, with mistakes and wins and ups and downs and all the things that always accompany stepping out.

And yet, this morning I laugh with God. I find myself doing that a lot more with him lately. For though we never bought a house in Vickery, we did get to join a family here. Reggie Joiner and the Orange Team, who I get to work with and dream with, have their headquarters in Vickery. While Jenny and I were walking these same sidewalks six years ago, his team was building their dream in this very same place unbeknownst to me. At least once a month I find myself spending the night at this townhouse, overlooking the gelato shop, across from the building where close to a hundred members of the Orange Team do amazing work. The townhouse is a creative space used for brainstorming, dreaming up projects, writing books and in my case, sometime reminding people who need a place to crash after a day of work that God has a wonderful sense of humor.

So I laugh, with a God who brings things full circle.

I can’t say where I will be writing from in six years from now, but I can say who I will be writing with.

A God who writes better stories than me. A God who calls me to build his kingdom not mine. A God who invites me into adventures and will not leave me alone in the fear that inevitably comes with doing anything worthwhile.

I hope you get to laugh with him in six years or maybe six days.

He’s got a better sense of humor than you can possibly imagine.

And he loves when we dare to dream with him.

How to write an amazing Christian passive aggressive note.

Someone sent me a picture of a sign they saw in a church.

It is perhaps the greatest Christian passive aggressive note I have ever seen in my life. Since we Christians are so into “teachable moments” I thought I might be able to redeem this but turning it into a teaching tool. Let’s do life together. We’re in a season. We should sit in circles not rows!

Sorry, I get a little carried away when I start down the path of the ole Christian conversation.

Here is how to write an amazing Christian passive aggressive note.

Sign

1. CAPS. YOU GOTTA GO WITH CAPS. You know who loves lower case? The devil. How do I know? Because hell is lower than heaven.
2. Start off by calling people “servants.” Come right out of the gate with a strong reminder that this note is not addressed to church members, it’s addressed to “servants.” How are you going to argue with whatever is in the note after that title? What you’re not a servant? Oh, you’re too good to be a servant?
3. If at all possible, get Jesus in the first sentence.
4. Put him in twice in the first sentence if you can and looking at this note, they could.
5. Three times if you want to slap the reader just they think it’s over. I love the completely unexpected … for walking with Jesus. Always come back to Jesus. We’re not thanking you for cleaning up like the disciples did when they had to pick up all those fish and loaves. We’re thanking you for walking with Jesus.
6. Do not worry at all about spacing or fonts or punctuation.
7. Throw a Bible verse in at the end. The one they used here is actually a curious choice because it’s about complaining. One could easily argue that the passive aggressive note is a form of complaining. That’s actually black belt note writing right there. They used a verse against the reader of the note before the reader could use it against the writer of the note. Brilliant. Bonus points for using a verse that makes it impossible for servants to complain. “See right there in the Bible? Says you can’t complain! Boom! Shot blocked your complaint with a Bible verse!”

A lot of people would instead suggest that you actually be in community with other people. That you write short, clear notes that don’t shame people but instead encourage everyone to pitch in. But that approach can take forever. It’s a lot faster and easier to skip that whole “be in messy relationships with people who are imperfect just like you” thing and instead write a passive aggressive note.

I appreciate you reading this blog post. Thanks … for walking with Jesus.

My new favorite license plate.

I have no proof that the owners of the car I am about to show you are Christians.

They didn’t have an official “Jesus fish” or Ichthus on the back. Although, that symbol usually doesn’t mean Christian, it means, “Worst driver ever.” If you’ve never been cut off by a Christian you have never driven in the Bible Belt.

I can’t prove they are Christian or homeschool or any number of other things that might qualify them to be a topic on Stuff Christians Like. But they are stuff and I do like them, which means they fulfill 66% of the criteria and if I hit .660 in baseball I wouldn’t have spent so much time on the bench in little league.

All that to say, well done owners of this vehicle.

If you’re going to have a 15 person van for your family …

If you’re to have a ton of kids …

If you’re going to go on epic family vacations and drive by a blogger, embrace the adventure and get this license plate:

Van

29 ways to plan the ultimate Christian Wedding.

Wedding

This is a picture of a picture from my wedding. We didn’t take it with a camera phone because they didn’t exist at the time. Though it’s not throwback Thursday, I thought I would share both proof I used to have brown hair and a post I wrote about how to plan the ultimate Christian wedding.

I know a lot about weddings. I used to write advertising for a company that specialized in rental tuxedos. One of my jobs was to answer all the emails that people sent to a fictional girl called “Jenny.” So on any given day I was emailing wedding advice to anxious would be brides about everything from what color cummerbunds would match a bridesmaid’s dress to how to politely ask groomsmen to pay for their own tuxes.

The idea of me giving girls advice about color schemes and wedding dresses is absurd. I was horrible at that part of my job and I regret if you ever got some ridiculous email signed by “Jenny.” That was me. I thought chocolate was going to be the new black and coral was darker than salmon. My bad.

But despite my woeful color schemes, I do think I can help you plan the ultimate Christian wedding. I’ve been in a few, I’ve spoken at a few and I’ve been married for 13 years. Plus, after “Surviving Church as a Single” became one of the biggest posts ever on Stuff Christians Like I felt like the married readers needed some love too. Without further ado, I give you:

The Ultimate Christian Wedding Scorecard

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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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