Eating Fireworks

“THERE EXIST BEINGS WHO…spend more money, waste more time, take more trouble, than would be required for ten good actions, and that gratuitously, for their own pleasure, without receiving any other payment for their curiosity than curiosity…Why? For no reason. A pure passion for seeing, knowing and penetrating into things. A pure itch for talking. And often these secrets once known, these mysteries made public, these enigmas illuminated by the light of day bring on catastrophes, duels, failures, the ruin of families and broken lives, to the great joy of those who have “found out everything,” without any interest in the matter, and by pure instinct. A sad thing. Certain persons are malicious solely through a necessity for talking. Their conversation, the chat of the drawing-room, gossip of the anteroom, is like those chimneys which consume wood rapidly; they need a great amount of combustibles; and their combustibles are furnished by their neighbors.” —Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

The world feasts on fireworks served daily by those who love to watch the world burn—a blue-plate special of flaming bad news and gossip full of all kinds of artificial ingredients.

When will it end?

Jesus is coming.

What can I do?

Bring a heaping course of truth to the table—it’s full of all the Good stuff—hope, life, salvation, Jesus. Show it, tell it, live believably.

Though many have lost their taste for truth, it’s still the main course—and we’re still the waiters.

—j

Death by Cupcake

A.W. Tozer’s opening line caught me off guard. When the shock wore off, it began to make sense…

“Make sure that you don’t substitute prayer for obedience. Prayer is the oxygen of Christianity, but if we pray without preaching the gospel as we have been commanded to, we are drawing near to God with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. Make sure you put legs to your prayers and reach out to those who are going to Hell.”

It seems that Bono of U2 agreed…

“Christians who prize “politeness” over candor may end up living a trivialized life. You’ve gotta be very careful that grace and politeness do not merge into a banality of behavior where we’re just nice—sort of ‘death by cupcake.’”

Pray to proclaim.

—j

It’s Only a Dollar

True story? No clue. Good story? Definitely…

Several years ago a preacher moved to Christchurch, New Zealand. Some weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his home into the city. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a dollar too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You better give the dollar back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a dollar. Who would worry about this amount? Anyway the bus company already gets enough; they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from God and keep quiet.” When his stop came, he paused at the door, then he handed the dollar to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.” The driver with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher just arrived in the city? I have been thinking lately about going to worship somewhere. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change.” When he stepped off the bus, he grabbed the nearest power pole, held on and said, “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a dollar.” Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read.  —Author Unknown

As Jesus’ followers, what we do says who He is; what we say becomes His voice. Be kind and love. You just never know…

—j

My Favorite Poem. Ever.

My favorite poem (to be read in the meter of my favorite poet—Dr. Seuss)…

When I Became A Christian
by Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen—I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds terrific, Lord, I say Amen—I think.

But, Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with the sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen—a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not entirely sure, can we just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say, Amen—a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you want to follow me, I said, Amen—tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You say that I will need the joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say Amen—tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit,
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said Amen—I quit.
I’m very sorry Lord I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.
Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry?
When nails break your body-are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again?
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen; Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

Amen.
—j

No Trivial Pursuit

Following Jesus is no trivial pursuit; neither is it a religious duty reserved for the devout. Following Jesus is capitulating (in ashes) to who He really is and doing what He said to do. Christians may find this somewhat optional (if we’re honest) or even imposing, but followers of Jesus follow because they came to the shattering realization of just Who—and What—they are following…

“To follow Jesus is to pay the cost of discipleship, and then to die to ourselves, to our own interests, our own agendas and reputations. It is to pick up our crosses and count the cost of losing all that contradicts his will and his way—including our reputations before the world, and our standing with the people and in the communities that we once held dear. It is to live before one audience, the audience of One, and therefore to die to all other conflicting opinions and assessments. There is no room here for such contemporary ideas as the looking-glass self, and no consideration here for trivial contemporary obsessions such as one’s legacy.” —Os Guinness

Blessings,
—j

The Clout of Christian Nobodies

The success of the Gospel isn’t measured by the popularity of its people or it’s appeal to the world, but by the obedience of simple folks to the Holy Spirit. The cost is often high, but the results are beyond measure. Think you need a big name to shake the world? Think again. The Holy Spirit and a bunch of nobodies—nameless people who were frequently abused—were a staggering combination…

“The early church didn’t have a Graham, a Finney, or a Moody. It didn’t have Promise Keepers, a Great Awakening, or User Friendly Churches. Furthermore it had no concise spiritual laws to share, no explosive method for talking to the unconverted. What it had seems quite paltry: it had unspectacular people with a hodgepodge of methods—so hodgepodge that they can hardly be called methods, and rarely a gathering of more than a handful of people. The paltry seems to have been enough, however, to make an emperor or two stop and take notice…nameless Christians [who brought] the Name of Jesus Christ to the attention of pagans—not a phenomenon that filled stadiums; just enough to begin converting the whole known world…” —Mark Galli

Blessings,
—j