The Fool’s Bench at Easter

It’s early Easter morning as I write this at Starbucks.  Husband John has already come and gone to church to proclaim, “He is risen!” at the second of six services (The first was last night.  Weird, but I guess it was already Easter somewhere in the world)

 

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As I sit here, some come in dressed in their Easter best – pastel and fancy.  All patent leathery.  Others wander in their scruffy Sunday morning grunge – either clueless or apathetic or defiant.  I wonder which as I watch them.

Last night John got an email from some friends who have had no use for church.  It started, “You probably hate those ‘dicks’ who just show up at Christmas and Easter, but ___________(his wife) has had a rough month.  Her dad died and she may show up at your church tomorrow.” Continue reading

Easter and a Lunch in Jerusalem

It’s Easter week and I do NOT have the gift of evangelism.  Easter delights me.  Evangelism…well, not so much.

Can you relate?

I was part of a Christian organization in college that taught us to “share our faith” (read: tell people how messed up they are and scare the Hell out of them.  Literally).  We had to go out and practice “sharing” the 4 Spiritual Laws with people (read: random, confused strangers).

It may have scarred me for life – not the tract, the way of “sharing”.

Or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse.  I have nothing against the 4 Spiritual Laws as a resource.  Ironically it is how I came to faith in Jesus.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was sitting around a table in Jerusalem eating lunch with a very diverse group of people.

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There were other Jesus-followers like me (you know, kind, sensitive, careful to not offend).

And there was our host, who pastors a church of mostly Messianic Jews.  He is passionate about bringing Jews into a relationship with Jesus – accepting Him as their Messiah.

Lastly there was a Jewish couple at the table who do not buy the Jesus as Messiah line.

I sat in the middle of the table with the “Burdened pastor guy” at one end, and the Jewish couple at the other.

What if the Jewish couple felt offended, uncomfortable, or judged?

What if the pastor “preached” at them (or served pork?).

What if my friend Matt Moberg asked a question that stepped on someone’s toes somewhere at the table and they slammed down their fork and stormed out?

I know that the Gospel can be offensive even if we don’t make it offensive with our delivery. (1 Cor. 1:23, Romans 9:33)

But it didn’t happen.  What also didn’t happen was an honest conversation where real questions were asked respectfully from both ends of the table.

The pastor shared his prayer – that the Jews would come to know Jesus as their savior.

The Jews at the table did not fall to their knees and “pray the prayer of salvation”.  Everyone was respectful and no blood was shed.

Afterwards it prompted several conversations in our group about our posture towards non-believers in Jesus, or explorers, or people of other faiths.

Augustine said “Preach the gospel everywhere. If necessary use words.”  Most of us, I think, have decided that words are really never necessary.

Are we actually denying our faith by our uber-sensitive silence?

I’ve been thinking…What if we, as Christians, saw ourselves as hosts at a luncheon, around a table with guests of varying experiences, just like the one I attended in Jerusalem?  Maybe we’d prioritize

  • People over projects.  If you’re getting to know someone, you want to KNOW about them and have them know about you…authentically.  Build on what you have in common, but be honest about where you have different perspectives or experience.
  • Love language over foreign language.  Genuinely care for the other.  Ask yourself  if you’re speaking a “language” they’ll relate to.
  • Conversation over conversion (which means more asking than telling)
  • Appetizers over All-you-can-eat Old Country Buffet. Offer tiny bites (like those mini desserts in shot glasses they have now).  Don’t try to cram a whole meal down someone’s throat.

Like I said, I’m really not good at this, so I’m trying to learn.  Are there experiences or thoughts you can share?

“But in your hears revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect…”  1 Peter 3:15

 

 

No More Bozos For Jesus, Part 2

People often ask me who my target audience is when I write this blog.  Well, I’ll tell you.  The person I think of is a twenty-something who is sitting down at a desk in a secular job and just needs a little reminder that God is there and intimately interwoven in the fabric of their day if they have eyes to see.  I pray that it will be encouraging and that it will help us take God seriously, but ourselves not so much.

That said, of course I’m grateful that anyone shows up here, regardless of my “target”!!  I write this also to pay attention to the work of God in my life and hold myself accountable too.  There are universal themes we all struggle with regardless of our age or season of life.

Anyway, all that to say that yesterday when I wrote about the extremes of being afraid of being a “Bozo for Jesus” or of denying my faith, it was because it’s something I need to pay attention to and try to get better at.  I’m going to take a risk and share a tiny way that played out in my life yesterday… Continue reading

No More Bozos For Jesus?

This morning I was praying for some twenty-somethings I know who have kind of wandered away from God.  They’re really enjoying the partying hard thing, the sex without strings thing, and carpe without commitment.  I was praying that God might draw them back to Himself – remind them of the grace and meaning and joy to be found in dependence on Him.

But I have a Confession:  I don’t have the gift of “evangelism” and I often think I don’t care as much as I should about the souls of those far from God.  The culture of “live and let live” has immunized me.  Plus there’s the risk of making anyone feel like a “project” or being labeled one of “those” Christians with pat answers and tracts in place of candy at Halloween that scares me.  Unknown-1

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Who’s in, Who’s out, and the Last 10%, part one

Awhile ago I was sitting around a table with a bunch of people with job titles, and advanced degrees, accomplishments out the wazoo, and years of valuable experience.  And I felt like the outsider.  Not a valid contributor to the discussion.  A toddler sitting at the grown-up’s table.  Not a big deal.  It happens.  A good exercise in humility.  But it made me think…

I’m not a Bachelor/Bachelorette addict, but I have watched enough with my daughter, Maggie.  I know when the girl doesn’t get the rose and is in the back seat of the limo crying or angry, it’s not about losing the true love of her life.  It’s about not getting chosen.  Feeling “not good enough.”  Suddenly on the outside when others are still in.

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Isn’t this why reality t.v. is so popular?  We are a culture of insiders and outsiders.

We love judging.

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Bicycle Rules and Listening to God

Ever have God just show up and startle the bejesus out of you? (and where did that word, bejesus come from?)

First a little background…

Did you know that Minneapolis is the number one biking city in the country?  Yeah!  Even more than any of the twig-and-bark-eater cities out west!  We have more bike paths than any of them.

And there are a heck-of-a-lot-of bikers out there.  I know because most of them pass me on their slick road bikes.

When you pass someone the unspoken rule is that you say “On your left.” so they’re not startled and don’t swerve and end up causing a 10-bike pile-up with blood and need for super-hero bandaids.

The problem comes when people (and by people, I mean me) have earbuds in and are listening to other stuff.  I get startled a lot.  And the other day I got startled when I was listening to a message about hearing God’s voice.

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