What does it mean when the painter has a Jesus fish on his business card? Should I think that means he’s going to be really trustworthy? Or maybe detailed and passionate about his work? Is there some scene in the Bible where Jesus does a really good job painting someone’s two story great room? Because that’s what I’m looking for right now, just a normal painter that has workers that don’t have those jail tattoos that mean they’ve killed someone. Is that what the cross on the side of his painting van means? Very little chance of getting murder during the course of the project? So many questions and so few answers. Some of my favorite businesses are Christian, but they tell you that through their actions not their business cards. The worst time I ever got ripped off was by a super loud, formerly church-employed Christian. Whenever someone tries to validate someone’s quality by saying, “He’ll do a great job, he’s a Christian,” my first thought is, “I am screwed.”
I wish this one wasn’t true, but it is. I think there are maybe two good Christian songs to exercise to. Seriously, have you ever tried to play DC Talk or Jeremy Camp on your iPod and get angry enough to lift weights? It doesn’t work. I’m sorry Jeremy, no offense. Toby Mac you’re still my boy. But even when you guys try to get angry it still kind of sounds nice. I mean, I want to run to “Jesus Freak.” I want throw some stacks of weights around to some Chris Tomlin, but it’s not working. So when it comes to working out, I have to push pause on the praise and listen to Nas and Big Daddy Kane and Eric B. and Rakim. I don’t want to, but “I am a friend of God” blasting through my ears is just not doing it.
Prove me wrong. Post a great Christian exercise song.
(And if you suggest Switchfoot’s “Gone” which is a fine song but not a gym song, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.)
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Low blow. Where are the yuks, the sarcasm? How dare you! You sir are a scoundrel. Perhaps, but tell me it’s not true. Tell me us Christians don’t like ignoring the Sabbath. Maybe you can, but promise me you’ll honestly answer both of these questions:
1. Has a friend on Monday ever said to you, “I would have called you yesterday about that thing we all did, but I knew you would have said no because you were honoring the sabbath.”
2. Have you ever said to anyone, “I would love to go to that thing, help you out with that thing, spend time doing that thing etc. but tomorrow is the sabbath, so I need to focus on that.”
If you have, you’re a better person than me. I work. I email. I write on my blogs. I do everything else I would do on a normal weekday on Sunday. I’m in the process of changing that, but for now, that entry belongs on the list even though it’s not full of chuckles like some of the others.
My all time favorite example of this phenomenon came in the form of a book I once read. OK, it was a book I once skimmed. The book was about purity and lust and being faithful with your heart and your eyes. The minister that wrote it had clearly never severely struggled with any of those topics but that didn’t stop him from writing and publishing a book. How do I know? Here was one of his suggestions for why shouldn’t look at porn:
“The porn industry supports organized crime.”
There is not a man on the planet, that in the throes of lust, facing an endless supply of internet filth, in the midst of being intoxicated by dopamine and emotions, pauses and thinks to himself, “I can’t look at porn. I hate the mafia. I should just stop right now because I certainly don’t want to support any form of organized crime. No thank you.”
I think we’re afraid that our lack of knowledge reflects poorly on God. You know what’s worse? When we’re dishonest or steer someone in the wrong direction just because we don’t want to say, “I don’t know.” Let’s commit to giving real advice on the subjects we have personal experience with. Granted you don’t have to have been to jail for tax evasion to counsel a friend that they should pay their taxes. But you know what I mean.
2. Joel Osteen can bench press 300 pounds.
3. Joel Osteen once killed a polar bear with his bare hands while on vacation on Alaska.
I made up one of those facts, but the other two are from a 60 minutes special they did on Osteen. (Although I do have my doubts about number 2.) Someone as successful as Osteen was going to make the list at some point, but you might not have expected the reason. Is it because he’s got a giant globe on stage with him when he speaks? Nah, I like globes.
I don’t think he can bench press 300lbs. That is an insane amount of weight. Think about it, 300lbs is the equivalent of two small cars. There is no way he’s regularly putting that up. Me personally? I’m topping out at around 12 stones. What? You don’t measure weight in stones like our ancestors? Well then you and I are different.
Though it’s long been my policy not to mess with Texas, I still can’t believe Joel is benching 300lbs. If I ever finish my arm wrestling challenge with Texas pastor Matt Chandler, Osteen will be next. I’d write more, but I gotta go do some push ups.
I’m a huge fan of abstinence, especially now that I’m married and don’t have to follow it. But I almost left it off this list because I think despite how much we like the idea of abstinence, we’ve done a really poor job explaining the benefits. Here’s what usually happens for 13-year old Christian boys. Their parents or their youth leader says, “Look, you should stay pure and not have sex so that you keep your marriage holy.” That’s their first option. Then the world says to them, “Look at me! Sex is wild and fun and neon and loud and whoa Spring Break!” And as a 13-year old that was an easy decision for me to make. (And if you believe that the pursuit of holiness alone will inspire your 13-year old son first let me say that’s adorable, and second I honestly hope he does not come in contact with one of the 25% of teenage girls in this country that has an STD.)
Here’s what we should be saying about abstinence. The best reason not to have sex until you’re married is that it makes your sex life so much better after you’re married. When you don’t bring baggage into a sexual marriage relationship things get wild a lot faster. You get to have crazy, awesome, Prince type sex. There’s no memories of other people, no hang ups to work through. It’s just you and your wife getting ridiculous and enjoying the hot sexy good time that holiness makes possible. This is what it sounds like, when doves cry.
You don’t like hymns. We know this. When you come to church for the first time in a long time and you see a musty off red hymnal faded from sun and sweaty singing hands you’re a little disappointed. We understand. You want something more upbeat. More “today” if you will. More “phat” as the kids are saying. So we created “contemporary” services for you. And by that, I mean we added a drummer to the stage. His name is Darren and he used to be in Journey. OK, it was a Journey cover band called “Oh Sherry” which doesn’t even make sense because that was when Steve Perry was solo but Darren’s a good guy. And for a while everything worked well. We sang a lot of Chris Tomlin. I mean a lot. But then it wasn’t enough. You wanted more, needed a more relevant service. We’re happy to say we added a new service. It’s called Xtremtastical Worship. We know that you like words that have X’s in them. So we added one. We were going to start it with a lowercase “i” like Apple but that seemed a little over the top. We hope you like it because we’re at 11 on the scale of 1-10 when it comes to rocking out. We can’t rock any harder. This is it.
You know what would be a great idea? Let’s get like 80 hormone-drunk, emotionally and mentally immature 9th graders, hype them up on caffeine and cookies, give them some water balloons, shaving cream and toilet paper for pranks and then lock them all in together overnight at church with like 4 chaperones and then just see what happens? That would be a good idea right? I think we should do that. Like tonight, we should do that.
I have a confession. I don’t know where in the Bible it says you can’t ever have a drink. Ever. Ever. Ever. I do know that it says a lot about drunkenness and that God is not cool with that. But if you have a verse that says, “don’t drink beer,” by all means send it my way. In the meantime, one of the things some of us like to do is find sneaky ways to see if you drink beer too or view people that do as sweaty philistines on the fast track to the fiery pit of hell. We rarely come right out and ask you if you do, instead we look for subtle hints. Is that a bottle opener on his key cage? Was that a bottle cap on his porch? A few months ago we had a get together with some friends from our small group. I remember pulling a friend aside and having the following conversation:
Me: “Did you see that Corona box in the corner?”
Friend: “Yeah, I did. That’s a good sign.”
Me: “Agreed. Well let’s not say anything and just see what happens.”
There are few things we like as much as raising our hands during the middle of worship. Second only to this move is singing with your eyes closed. I don’t regularly do either but I can understand someone getting caught up in the moment and enjoying themselves. My friend Meghan says that her mom used to make a runway for God to land on. And I think that’s an amazing way to look at it. But to tell you the truth, I would much rather someone raise their hands and close their eyes instead of seeing people dance next to me. There’s nothing that snaps me out of the worship zone faster than seeing a middle aged soccer mom grooving along to a praise song as if she was at a Bonnie Raitt concert. There’s no call for that. Please stop.