Jesusians

A Courteous Contrararian

Cultivate the Twinkle

Written By: Jon - Jul• 05•12

What are you doing Sunday morning?

Will you be spending a leisurely morning at home, surrounded by family? Will you spend it at church ? Or will you be alone?

Wherever you are, scan the faces you can see. Look first for love; the love you were meant to give and the love you might receive. If we start here, we are on the way to fulfilling the greatest commandments.

Then look for age. How old are the faces you see?

If you are alone, the only face you see will be the one in the mirror. But you are not alone in the looking. Ultimately, we all face the mirror alone. Look at that face with love, and look at it in truth, for that is how Jesus looks upon it. Only you and he can see your face in that way, noticing the inherent loveliness as well as the hurts and the decadence; seeing the skin but gauging the heart. Perhaps it is a young face, full of hope. Perhaps it is older, like mine, yearning for what could have been as well as what still might be.

If you are with family, start with your spouse’s face. It has your name written all over it. Are there laugh lines at the corners of the eyes? Are there frown lines at the corners of the mouth? Either way, some of those lines are yours. So, partially, is the twinkle in their eye or the furrow of their brow. Now study the faces of your children if they are still among you, for the same things; the twinkle or the furrow. How old are they, and are you still giving them hope?

For we are all in this together and we are all in this alone. It is the essence of the human condition.

If you are at church, the study will take a different turn. You can’t know many of the faces as intimately as your own or your family’s. Still, look for the twinkles or the furrows. It will slow you down. It will change your focus. To a small extent, a very, very small extent, those expressions are also yours. Someday, we may all be changed in the twinkling of the eye. Today, we can all be changed by the twinkling of an eye.

Notice the faces and postures of those around you. Look for someone standing alone, not making eye contact. There will be no twinkle. The far off gaze says, “Don’t approach me” but then, why are they standing there? Why not sleep in? If they wanted merely to worship, they could do that anywhere, in solitude, feeling less alone. I know because that stranger is often me.

If it is also you, or even if it’s not, there is only one good way out. For you and for the stranger.

Ask a question. If we truly notice the faces, good questions will come naturally. Ask what made them come to your church in the first place? Did they have a tough week? (Don’t ask if they had a good week, it will make them answer in Christianese. Everybody has had a tough week, even when they are not aware of it. Jesus reminded us that each day has trouble enough of its own.)

Now here’s the hard part: as they answer, listen. Don’t be thinking of an opinion that might help them. Don’t wait for them to stop so you can commiserate with a similar incident. Stop your internal dialogue and listen hard. Listening hard can allow an extraordinary thing to happen. It can allow you to ask another question.

This new question will not be one asked so you can know the answer, but one asked so you can better know the answerer. In the answer will be a bonding of your spirits. It is your reasonable act of service and your proper alms giving. It is how we can best be Jesus. Not by offering sage advice and not by offering a like vignette from your own life. By listening. This is how we can deny self, by squelching our internal dialogue.

Hebrews 4 says we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize. We, on the other hand, are unable to sympathize unless we listen. Jesus knows their thoughts but we do not unless they tell us. They won’t tell us unless we listen hard and ask good questions. If we can learn to do these two things (and it will be a learning process) somewhere deep within their soul they will recognize it, and they might respond. They may not, for it will be likely that no one has ever spoken to them like that before. But even if they don’t, they will take note. Church can become a new thing for them as well as for you.

Then, when they look in the mirror, they might see something different. They might begin to see their face through your eye’s, or better yet, through Jesus’ eyes.

If we cultivate the twinkle in the eyes of those God has placed before us, and in the eyes of our spouse and the eyes of our kids, a new twinkle might become visible in our own eyes when we look in the mirror. And, although we won’t see it, Jesus might twinkle a little brighter as well. Cultivate the twinkle.

 

Happy Birthday

Written By: Jon - Jul• 04•12

I have a problem every time I sing Happy Birthday. I mean, besides not knowing where to send the royalty check. It happened again today.

When I sing Happy Birthday, it is always because somebody else started singing it first. Then everyone must join in, so as not to be rude. So first I have to decide whether to attempt the song in the leader’s octave or a new one. Rarely does anyone pick a key that is natural for my voice. Was this how the song was written – to be sung with difficulty – or does the type of personality that would initiate the song fit with a physiology that would naturally lend itself to an unnatural key?

This octave choice must be made quickly and instinctively, in the moment before I begin singing. If I make a bad choice, I still rarely switch octaves mid-song. I am married to my choice. Then I adjust my volume so as to not be too loud, yet not so quiet that the birthday person thinks I lip-syncing or phoning it in. I explore the possibility of singing harmony when we begin the next line. It might get me out of my mistaken octave choice. All of this has happened since the leader began singing and we are only about to finish the first line. Happy Birthday to You!

In the breath before we repeat the line, choices must be made based on these observations. Do I jump to a harmony? Do I give in and try the other octave? I choose and sing the second line. Now that I committed to my new choices, if any, i am free to sing and enjoy the honored’s reaction to our inspired song selection and distinctive talents. Happy Birthday to You!

A new thought occurs to me as we near the end of the line. Are any of the other singers likely to finish with the alternate ending, And Many More!? Because if they do, I’m for sure going for the harmony. I scan the personalities so to make an educated prediction.

And then it happens. My problem. Some people tell me I think too much. In this case I’ve thought too little.

I fail to anticipate, and so to properly calculate, the consensus relationship of the singers to singee. Happy Birthday BroPasDeartherter Bob!

It happened again today. I messed up the words of the easiest song on the planet. Three lines are the same and I always screw up the line that’s different. I’m not the only one. In a big group, you can get 4 or 5 different sets of lyrics.

Still, some people are very good at it. They properly assess the aggregate consensus of individual relationships and sing the same words as their newly realized and instantaneously formed majority. We should all be aware enough to do the same, shouldn’t we? When I sang it with my six year old to his mother, I was savvy enough to sing, Happy Birthday Dear Mommy!, even though my wife isn’t my mother…or, wait a minute…

Because we both sang Dear Mommy, I can surmise that those were the correct lyrics, or with a nod to our postmodern world, at least weakly assert that those were the correct lyrics for that situation. Why can’t I ever anticipate the correct lyrics for the given birthday situation?

123greetings.com

Even in a group of friends, when there are no familial descriptors to contend with, just a person with a name, to gauge the correct lyrics is harder than it seems. Is it Happy Birthday Dear Ba-ob or Happy Birthday Ba-ah-ob. Or is it what I, and only I, sang today?

Happy Birthday Pastor Bob! Happy Birthday to you.

(And Many More)

 

Hair and Contemporary Culture

Written By: Jon - Jul• 03•12

Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.

If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God. – 1Cr 11:13-16 NIV

 

To my mind, Paul is by far the most combative Apostle, and probably the most contentious writer in the whole of Scripture. Look at that last verse. Don’t argue with me. If you go to a church that condones woman with short hair or men with long – it’s not a church of God. Period.

That should have settled it but it didn’t. No iota of judgment flits through my mind when I see a woman with short hair or a men with long hair. Joel Osteen has long hair, yet that may be the one thing I’ve never heard him criticized for. Billy Graham had long hair in his prime.  So did Samson. Look what inadvertently following 1 Corithinans 11:14 did for him.

It seems as though God has always been interested in hair styles. Not only was Samson prohibited from crew-cuts, the Israelites were told not to cut their forelocks. The group of 70 (or so) that sojourned with Abram are listed, and there wasn’t a barber among them. But with the advent of Jesus, everything changed, at least according to Paul.

Today, I am careful to guard my eyes, especially at church. I don’t want to feed any possible lust. When I look at a woman, I concentrate on her face. I don’t look at woman unless she is looking at me. But I have one breach in my careful armor, a willful one. I look at the hair on the back of women’s heads.

How could I not? That is what is in front of me during services- the back’s of people’s heads. I look at the back of men’s heads, too, but as Paul boldly asserts, the back of men’s heads can’t compete with the back of women’s heads. Hair truly is one of a woman’s glories. It is shinier than a man’s hair of the same age, but that might be attributed to better care. It is also usually styled in a more interesting way. Men’s cuts compared to women’s are like rented tuxes compared to custom wedding dresses.

I get off track so easily. I have so many opinions and they are all equally valid in my mind. I meant to talk about Paul’s command.

We break it unthinkingly today, just like the early Christians broke the dietary laws. Various N.T. passages, especially in Paul writings and in Hebrews, explain the demise of the ceremonial law, but how did we ever justify ignoring Paul here? What was Billy Graham’s excuse?

Putting aside my personal considered opinion that Paul was having a bad day when he wrote this, I think the text leaves us a loophole. More properly, I think the Holy Spirit legislated a loophole and slipped it in, and Paul hadn’t the slightest notion that he was doing so.

We have no other practice–nor do the churches of God. This is a strange justification. Paul usually relies on his apostolic authority and doesn’t give a care what anyone else thinks.(Isn’t this the man who wrote of Peter and James, As for those who seemed to be important–whatever they were makes no difference to me. See why I say he’s combative?) Yet here he appeals to a contemporary consensus: Not only does Paul command no other practice, and not only does the church from which he writes have no other practice, the churches of God have no other practice. Paul’s last phrase is the Holy Spirit’s loophole, nor do the churches of God. Since it is one leg of a three-legged stool, once a leg is dismantled, the whole stool will topple.

What if we could show that a legitimate church of God does condone the practice? Does the stool stand? If so, perhaps Paul’s last reason wasn’t inspired. If the example of the churches of God doesn’t carry sufficient force to prove his argument, why would the Holy Spirit require it be written? My idea is that He required it so Paul would have made an unconscious appeal across different times and cultures.

Paul could not shed his inherent biases but showing or hiding them wasn’t his primary concern. His concern was their living witness. Women couldn’t wear short hair, or even speak in church, because it would have been viewed as unseemly by their pagan and Jewish neighbors. Just before this, he told the Corinthians not to eat food sacrificed to idols if it would offend someone. Whom would that offend but a Jew?

Paul was dealing with his contemporary culture’s expectations as they play off the Christian witness. The witness was more important than individual rights. A proper witness could bring people to Christ.

It was the same with slavery. He assumed it. His concern wasn’t to change anything but pagan opinions. Insurrection wouldn’t have brought others to Christ, but slaves and masters worshiping together was a potent witness. He wanted them to treat each other well, in and out of their times of gathering.

If Paul’s command was more a commentary on his cultural milieu, the Holy Spirit had the bigger picture in mind. The Spirit leaves another loophole in verse 10. By way of introduction to his little tripodal example, Paul writes, Judge for yourselves. I think he was being sarcastic, but the Spirit had other ideas. We can judge for ourselves, using Paul’s criteria.

The statement to judge and the appeal to the practice of other churches of God bracket this slight pericope. If, while judging for ourselves, we discover that the churches of God today have some other practice, we can disregard Paul’s pursuit of hirsute conformity. If we find in our churches short-haired women or long-haired men, all Roman era bets are off.

Might the same logic, the appeal to our contemporary Christian examples, apply to all of Paul’s cultural assumptions? We no longer prohibit women from speaking in church, either. Come to think of it, Paul didn’t even always heed his own advice. Look at this, from earlier in the same chapter,

And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. – 1Cr 11:5 NIV

How could a woman prophesy if she couldn’t speak? I guess she could prophesize outside of church, but then whom would she prophesize to? If it was to other believers, then by definition it was being done in a gathering. Gathering is the word in Greek we usually translate as church. So in chapter 14 Paul prohibits women from speaking yet in this chapter, he acknowledges that they do. And since their speech is prophecy, clarification from God, it would seem that they must.

This inconsistency is one of the reasons that I contend Paul was having a bad day when he wrote this letter. There are more egregious examples, but we’ll save them for another day.

To me, the question isn’t only one of hair length or who gets to talk. It is a question of just how much stock we can put in any of Paul’s commands when they are given against the backdrop of the culture of his day. We might almost turn them upside down. If the churches of God practice something today that is not a good witness within our culture, like not allowing women to speak, perhaps they are the ones that need to change.

agefotostock.com

 

 

 

John 1:13

Written By: Jon - Jul• 02•12

I love to read the Bible. I start the first thing in the morning, while I wait for coffee to brew. There is something about my physical state in those first minutes that is conducive to a different take on Scripture.

I’ve heard that the groggy feeling we experience in the first minutes after sleep is symptomatic of a short period of high blood pressure as the body readjusts from a time of rest. I can feel that the neural paths within my brain haven’t yet aligned to begin my accustomed mode of thought. I am not yet thinking as I usually do.

This is a valuable time for me, because I can read a passage through a purer lens, unencumbered by the subtext of what I have been taught a passage means. Without the colorations of doctrine or tradition, there is more room for the Spirit to illuminate. It’s almost ironic that the Bible can come alive in a new way exactly because my whole brain is not yet firing on all cylinders. I am weaker so the Spirit is stronger.

Here’s an example of what I mean. It comes from the first chapter of John.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – Jhn 1:12-13 ESV

We all know what it means when we read it. We are spiritually reborn as children of God. It is not a fleshly incident. When we are born-again, it is not of blood, like our first birth, it is of God.

One morning, I wondered about the middle of verse 13. It seemed an unnecessary  interjection, an expansion of the concept just explained. Without it, blood would have been contrasted with spirit just as well, and the work of God juxtaposed with the work of humanity. Why add the two additional phrases?

I think the phrases in question are there to show us something valuable: how God views human reproduction. He sees it as the will of the flesh or the will of man.

The will of the flesh is such poetic language. It is our hormones in high gear, testosterone and estrogen coursing through our veins until our better judgment takes a back seat. This sometimes leads to the Lover’s Lane conception, the fruit of the sins of our youth. This is David and Bathsheba, and perhaps even Amnon and Tamar. It is Isaac and Rebekah, meeting and marrying in short order. It is, for good or for bad, the passion and drive God has instilled in us, our instinct to go forth and multiply.

I originally thought of Amnon’s taking of Tamar as an example of the second phrase, the will of man. After all, she didn’t have a say in the matter. But to interpret the will of man in that way would show a low opinion of us, perhaps even lower than God meant to communicate. It would mean we were all conceived through lust or rape.

Now I think the will of man means something different. It can be the will of a man or the will of a woman, but it most likely means the will of both. It refers to the planned pregnancy. Often a child is conceived not as a product of passion, but out of a desire for a child. When we decide it is time, the woman discontinues birth control and the man conserves his potency, waiting for a period of maximum fertility. The desire for the child takes precedence over the desire for pure pleasure.

Evolutionary biologists would explain this second option as a matter of blood as well, or at least as a matter of our DNA. They hypothesize that is not a hormonal reaction so much as a desire to ensure the continuation of the species. The will of humanity as encoded in the depths of our bodies. If this view is even somewhat valid, not of blood becomes the headline and the will of man and the will of the flesh become subcategories.The categorization fits reality. Natural reproduction now is either planned or unplanned.

The interesting part of this meditation, to me, is how it would modify our view of who does what in regard to a precious soul brought to life. Genesis seems to teach that all children are a result of God’s planning. Isaac was a supernatural intervention from God. Sarah was barren and the prototype for a women of God. She was the first in a long line of barren women. God opened Leah’s womb. Rachel was barren. Samuel’s mother was barren. People were begatting all over the place, but it wasn’t so easy for God’s chosen line of humanity. It feels like God decided who would have what child and when. This is a far cry from the will of the flesh or the will of man. This is the will of God.

But there is a way to reconcile the view across the Testaments. We can view the barrenness of our women of faith as a withholding of the natural order, God sovereignly trumping the will of the flesh or of man, and doing so for a specific purpose. What could such a purpose be? Our stock answer is to bring himself glory. This could be true without being the Lord’s primary purpose. Everything of God brings God glory.

Perhaps God’s primary purpose for an extended period of barrenness was to instill a greater maturity in the parents. We know God brings us to maturity through perseverance, and maybe greater maturity leads to more godly offspring. I read once that the majority of geniuses are born to fathers older than 50. We think of genius as genetic, and maybe a fluke of nature, but the plus-fifty factor points to nurture component as well.

It is comforting to believe this might be a consideration. Now, the barrenness these women suffered through was not God making an arbitrary point, but him molding and shaping the children he loved through an advanced maturity he brought about in the parents he loved.

This idea, once the coffee had kicked in, led to all sorts of speculation about childhood in early Genesis, but that’s a meditation for another day.

 

 

 

The Name of Jesus

Written By: Jon - Jun• 30•12

Do you know how often the name Jesus is used in the New Testament?

Of course you don’t, because there doesn’t seem to be a set number. It varies from translation to translation. The King James records 983 mentions. The New King James loses a couple. Other translations have fewer yet. The ESV has 966, and the RSV has 932. The ASV lists only 922, a veritable dearth of Jesuses.

It’s easy to understand the discrepancies. Translators might decide to add or subtract a few mentions to enhance readability. Let’s say a Greek verse reads, in the English, Jesus stopped at one of the shops at the base of the Temple Mount with Peter and he bought a hot dog with everything on it. (Admittedly, this is an impossibility because I’m sure Jesus kept kosher.)

One group of translators, based on the mentions of Jesus in the verses just before this one, might change Jesus to he. Another group of translators, striving for additional clarity, might go another way. They might insert a Jesus where none was before. Not wishing to leave the impression that it was Peter who bought the hot dog, they might change he to Jesus. The NASB seems to employ this tactic. It has extra Jesuses. 987 total.

The New Living Testament, a paraphrase, sees Jesus everywhere. It gives us almost 600 extra Jesuses! It wins the Mentions of Jesus Championship with 1522.

The most surprising result in this little survey is from the NIV. I’ve always thought of it as a translation rather than a paraphrase, but it uses the name 1275 times! That’s almost 300 more than the King James. That’s a lot more Jesus for your devotional dollar.

My go-to Bible when I want a literal answer is, perhaps not surprisingly, Young’s Literal Translation. It is hard to read but as accurate as can be based on the manuscripts available at the time he translated it, or so I’ve always thought. Young’s lists 967 usages…

When my curiosity got the better of me, I hefted Strong’s concordance off the shelf. I usually use the one within blueletterbible.com, but it won’t easily give me the total number of uses in the Greek. The book is so big and heavy, I’ve thought they should change its name to the Strong, as a warning. It was easier to count in the book version. Strong’s lists 978 uses, and ten more in the possessive; Jesus’.

My faith in Young’s was shaken. He missed a dozen. And then I figured out a way to let him off the hook: Young’s relied on whatever manuscripts that were available in the middle of the nineteenth century, whereas my Strong’s was from 1984.

Originally, Young and Strong were contemporaries, back in the day when Christianity was young and strong.

I’m not sure these musings have a point, though if I were looking for one, it would probably be this: none of the versions we’ve explored have exactly the same number of Jesuses as the original Greek. They’ve all seen fit to depart from the actual text to enhance readability. These aren’t instances of interpretation, where a alternate reading or word can be justified by context. This is Jesus’ proper name. there’s only one proper way to translate it. The translators are adding or subtracting a word deliberately, because of their opinion of their intended readership.

Oddly enough, our best defense against the opinions of translators is to use a lot of Bibles. Short of attaining fluency in the original Greek, we can become most certain of the meaning of a passage by checking it out in various versions, and then comparing the key words in any available concordances and lexicons.

Don’t, just…don’t

Written By: Jon - Jun• 29•12

 

Cartoon by sidewiseinsights.blogspot.com

Most of us dislike making decisions. Inherent in the process is the possibility that we can make the wrong decision, and so each looming decision is accompanied by a certain degree of dread. I wonder if Mr. Bush didn’t end up being the Decider because no one else liked the job title.

My pastor says we should never make a decision when tired or depressed. That seems like good advice. But what a person is always tired and/or depressed? it may be why some of us put off decisions indefinitely.

I’ve done this; put off my decision altogether while a deadline passes, yielding my will to whatever the default decision happens to be. Examples of this are voting by not voting or staying with the phone company that takes an automatic draft from my bank account each month.

I’ve grown fond of an alternate method when faced with a choice; I put it off until I have time to consider all sides. Then, when the deadline arrives, I often find that I haven’t spent much time on the problem anyway. I decide, hoping that my unconscious has had a chance to work on it, or better yet, that the Spirit will answer my last minute prayer arrow and imbue me with momentary Heavenly Wisdom.

I’ve been thinking about decisions because of the damage we can do when we force another human being into a decision, especially one they’re not prepared to make. I’m talking about our Christian witness. The verbal kind.

How audacious we can be, some of us, and how presumptuous. To decide for or against Christ is a life changing decision and yet we think little of foisting it on acquaintances, or even strangers. We wouldn’t ask a stranger to invest their life savings with us, after 20 minutes of testimony. We wouldn’t ask an acquaintance to allow us to change the dynamics of their marriage. Why would we think we have the right to force people to make an even more important choice? Because in our mind, we are making them choose. Choosing against making a choice is a wrong choice under the very parameters of our presentation!

No wonder people get miffed. They instinctively feel this logic trap, although they may not identify the gambit. We tell ourselves ‘the world’ is offended by the very name of Jesus. That’s probably not it. Unless they have been forced to make this choice previously, and then the mention of Jesus would be their first clue that it is happening to them again. With no way out. Because no matter at what point they stop us, we have by our own definition made them reject a shot at eternal life again.

We take evangelism classes and keep an eye out for homework. We think forcing someone into a decision for or against Christ is a good thing. It can’t be. Here’s why.

Choice is a blessing, a wonderful gift from God. Unless he is deceiving us, or has an unfathomable sense of humor, he allows us to make real choices. Deep inside, I know my bad decisions are mine, and so are a fair number of the good ones.

God even tells us about the choices some of us have made, they interest him. A & E had the first choice, Cain had the second, and it’s been choice, choice, choice, ever since. Most of the choices aren’t either/or, with both alternatives Sovereignly Arranged. Usually we have a wide range of choices.

Once we choose, however, God – being God – can attach a blessing or a curse. If he decides to attach a curse, he always warns us first. In the Bible. The book that believers are expected to read. He also warns unbelievers in the Bible but he doesn’t expect them to read about it.

So here’s the thing. There are intimations in the New Testament that, when taken together, seem to warn that there may be a worse fate for those who reject Christ than for those who never hear his message. The man who knows the Master’s will and doesn’t do it will be beaten with many blows, while the ignorant man will be beaten with few. This infers that punishment is relative, which only seems just.

You may take exception to my example, believing it only to apply to believers, and you may be right. Except that the same man under discussion, the one beaten with many blows, was also assigned a place with the unbelievers. This complicates our theology greatly. Was he a believer, as we just postulated, sent to Hell? Or did he join those unbelievers in some other place? Maybe Purgatory.

If a Christian can’t go to Hell, and there is no Purgatory, then we would have to surmise that either unbelievers can go to another place, or that they face gradations of punishment. If Jesus is speaking of gradations of punishment, then the person never faced with a choice will fare better than the person who was witnessed to and rejected the message.

A more compelling argument, although admittedly a more obtuse one, exists in the early chapters of Romans, where Paul tells us of four different types of people and their eternal fates. There are the reprobate (Romans 1:18-32), the Jew (2:17 to 3:20), the Christian (3:20ff), and the person who has never heard about God (2:6-16). That last type of person has a better shot at an honorable immortality than the one who rejects God.

So, when it comes to witnessing to others, don’t. Just … don’t. You’ve been warned. We can no longer say, “Forgive me Father, for I knew not what I’ve done.”

 

I’m not suggesting we become secret agents for the Lord. One of my goals in life is to make as many people as possible aware that I believe. (I’m also on a quest for mercy. I absolutely love mercy.) By proclaiming my status as a believer while looking to give and get mercy, I fulfill my responsibility. In my mind that’s it, I’m done, that’s the rule.

There are three exceptions to the rule, as far as I can tell. The first is for an evangelist. The evangelist knows they are an evangelist. Dave the Webmaster has seen hundreds of people graced with Christ, maybe more.

The second is if the Holy Spirit compels. We should know if he does. Compels is a strong word. We should be led, like the prophet who said,

But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. – Jer 20:9 NIV

 

The third exception is the best of all, the one that can be the most fun, and indescribably exciting. It is when we are asked about our status, the one we’ve made people aware of. Then we can  be ready with an answer for the hope we have within. Then we can become a witness.

Does a witness stroll through the courtroom and help herself to a seat in the witness box? Or does she perhaps prop one buttock on a railing or the court reporter’s desk, and launch into a monologue? No. She waits quietly out of the spotlight until called. And then she answers questions she’s been asked. She doesn’t ask many questions and she doesn’t force the prosecutor to make a life-altering decision.

My way is kind of simple, huh? When we get saved, we automatically tell someone. We declare our status. They tell us getting saved makes us a Christian, and from then on we tell others we are a Christian. We are only giving some form of our profession of faith whenever the opportunity allows. Jesus’ yoke tends to be easy.

After that, we can either to wait for some exciting question as we live our witness, or we can force ourselves to force someone else to make the biggest decision they will ever make, whether they are ready for it or not. Whether the Spirit has made them ready or not.

 

 

 

Slave Labor

Written By: Jon - Jun• 28•12

I am being forced to write this against my will. And against my better judgment.

This heinous act, this enforced servitude, has been perpetrated upon me by my ‘best friend,’ the administrator of the blog. He published it as a blank blog and has warned me, repeatedly, ever since, that Google (apparently a nefarious multinational corporation of the type we see in the latest summer blockbuster movies) will ‘pick up’ the default content and I will be ‘stuck with it’ forever after. It seems as though even errors of omission become part of our permanent record.

Since he is my bestie, he does not want such a thing to happen to me. He badgers me by e-mail, by text, and by phone. If I do not answer, he leaves a message. It may well be that he believes that together we can thwart the worst intentions of this Google Company and somehow alter the course of history. To accomplish this, he has cast me in the role of the reluctant hero; deeply flawed yet somehow lovable in his way. I do not accept this mantle yet I seem to have no choice.

Not wanting to leave a blank legacy then, I am forced to write something and write it today. I’m a born again believer and a great fan of the Sermon on the Mount. As such, I attempt to live with purpose and deliberation. My twin horrors would be to not follow the Lord and to not make a difference in my tiny sphere of influence.

Since he (his name is Dave) knows this, he has published this blog against my will, knowing I would not leave a blank legacy, and perhaps hoping I can bring this Google to its knees. I will do my best.

He has also given it an insipid name, The Jesusians, and an incomprehensible  tag line. As if there were a large army of people called The Jesusians out there someplace, just waiting to do battle with Googles. This is clearly not true. To my knowledge, I am the only Jesusian in existence.

I used to be a Christian but I became disillusioned with much of the message being advanced within Christianity. Not wishing to identify with some of the unthinking pap being perpetrated upon us, or at least upon me, by our leadership, I renounced my Christianity. At the same time, I try to love Jesus and know he loves me. Not wishing to disappoint him (again) by my break with Christianity, I thought to honor him by becoming a Jesusian. This allows me to identify myself as a follower while distancing myself from some of the more grievous concepts being showcased to the world at large. It is also a good conversation starter.

I tried to change the name from The Jesusians to something better, but all that came to mind was Jesusian. Still, thinking it better than the alternative, I used what Dave called the ‘back door’ to change it, but the change didn’t take. Apparently, Google in not unaware of my schemes. Or perhaps they are in cahoots with a company called Word Press, which may have pressed my word change out of existence.

Since Dave is a wonderfully talented techie, perhaps he might do battle against one or both of these oppressive giants and make the name change for me. Especially now that I have succumbed to his will and made this first post. Perhaps he might also find a way to change the insipid tagline. If he is even reading this. I propose The voice of one crying out, occasionally from the wilderness, but most often from the suburbs.

There, Dave. Are you happy?

Dave?