Thursday, August 04, 2005

my God can beat up your god

This has been 'one of those weeks'.
Early in the week the AC in our house went out.
Over the weekend, someone busted the window out of one of our cars (tried to steal the radio, I guess).
Yesterday, the AC in the other car went out.
And then there's the busyness of playing catch-up at church from being gone so much this summer, preparing for changes in our ministry, explaining it all...

And it's only Thursday morning.

But yesterday I had lunch with some friends. We met at Burger Tex for a good 'ol greasy 1/2 pound mushroom and pepperjack burger. I walked in wearing a t-shirt that says 'My God can beat up your god". They guy behind the counter, Andrew, gave me the once-over.

I didn't know this guy, Andrew. He's tall, lanky, strawberry blond goatee and shaggy hair...actually, he looks alot like this guy, but with lots of prison tattoos. Down each forearm he has the words "Third" and "Coast", and across the knuckles on each hand is "hillbilly". A couple more tats peek out from under his t-shirt sleeves and the side of his neck.

He takes my order, then dryly says, "cool shirt, bro".

"Thanks." I get my greasy burger and DP and take off. But all the while I'm sitting, eating, and talking, I'm thinking about this guy and his story. So, I leave my table of friends and track down Andrew in the back of the burger joint. I tell him that I picked up my shirt downtown in a vintage shop and would pick up one for him next time I was there if he wanted.

He looked at me like a deer in headlights.

"Yeah, cool. 2XL if they've got it. ..." So we talked. Turns out Andrew was raised in Houston (5th ward) and just moved here. He tells me about giving his life to Christ at VBS when he was in 3rd grade, and about his involvement in gangs, drugs, prostitution....then he lifts his shirt to show me his favorite tattoo on his stomach: a picture of Christ with tears in his eyes and 'Jesus wept' written below it.

"Through all of it, I never lost my faith," he says. "Sounds strange, but I always knew I had to get back to God whatever it took. Some people don't understand that. But it was like He was in the back of my head through all of it saying, 'Andrew, you ain't gonna make it in life without Me. You know that.' And He was right. And when my mom and dad got killed.... I knew He was the only one I had left."

All of a sudden, the car problems don't matter anymore. The hustle and bustle of living, the frantic pace of ministry....are just pebbles in my shoe. Life is full of those moments. It's like Ferris Bueller said,"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't look around, you might miss it."

We talked while my burger got cold. I introduced him to my wife and kids. Darien gave him a high five. We exchanged smiles.

"Martha, Martha. [or "Tom, Tom"] You are worried about many things. But only one thing is necessary..."

(plus, I made a new friend.) :)

Monday, August 01, 2005

I survived the summer tour of Panama Beach, Middle School Camp, Mexico, and other random tests of endurance and sanity....anyone ready for school yet?

100 Things I've Learned About Church

Now that my summer 'tour' is pretty much over and the dust is settling, I can begin to blog regularly again... This morning I've pondered posting several things. However, perhaps most important to the conversation (at least, today) is the following excerpt from begin with grey.

  • Every argument can be turned back into a conversation by believing "It's okay if I'm completely wrong about this."
  • All of us are always in progress always, all the time.
  • Making a church look cool does not make it 'postmodern'.
  • When it comes to church; style does not equal substance. There are plenty of 'uncool' churches that are far more "postmodern"/"emergent" than the "cool" churches.
  • "New Look, Same Great Taste!" doesn't work if it tastes nasty.
  • Churches spend countless resources in pursuit of the perfect formula for getting people saved. There is no formula. There never has been, there never will be.
    You can't buy the formula, you can't sell the formula, you can't go to a 'cool' church and copy the formula. No amount of research will reveal the formula. So just step away from the [Saddleback].
  • Read the bible, everyone. Relentlessly discuss what it says with as many different kinds of people as possible. (is that a formula?)
  • The word "christian" means all kinds of things to all kinds of people. Very often it means bad things. Same with 'Jesus', God, Savior, etc.
  • Republican does not equal Christian.
  • Two steps towards irrelevance: one, hold an evangelistic event that will impress your christian friends. two, blame the 'unbelievers' if they don't get saved.
  • What works for another church will not necessarily work for yours. Especially anything with the number forty in it.

Sounds harsh, I know. I'm not sure I agree with the original post entirely, but it is good food for thought. How much of this am I guilty of?