I have been working for the better part of my professional career in distinctively Christian organizations. I’ll call it vocational ministry. In my jobs I’ve enjoyed working with gracious, unselfish people. My jobs have been overwhelmingly positive, but not without some stumbles and quirks.
Here and there I’ve seen a few controversies emerge from “differences of opinion.” There are some big things to get worked up about, e.g., deity of Jesus, authority of Scripture, one omniscient God, and other major tenets of the Christian faith. – – – Schisms, Diets, Councils, and Wars have famous names because of the big controversies.
There are other things. In my experience, there have been plenty of other things. I can tell you stories that would make you laugh and stories that you cause you to drop your chin and shake your head. (Like the family that left a church because the pastor used The Wizard of Oz as an analogy in his sermon.) I’ve got more, but that’s another day.
Tis the season to poke-a-stick at Santa Claus. For some the jolly fat man is completely innocuous, like Garfield the cat or Dennis the Menace, while for others he has become a cultural annoyance. And then there are the haters. “We don’t allow any pictures of Santa Claus in our building,” stated one Christian friend, and he said it with conviction and shoulders squared against such worldliness. “We don’t believe in Santa Claus!?!” You’ve heard it, and you may have heard it from me somewhere in the past. But I’ve flop-flopped on the issue. Continue reading Santa Claus for Christians→
Editor’s Note: This was one of our top 20 most read essays in 2010. We’re republishing it as we continue through our “revisiting 2010 the ‘best of’ series of 2010.” Thanks.
Like so many others born and raised in the buckle of the Oklahoma “Bible belt,” I was Christianized from an early age. My father was a pastor, and as a PK (Pastor’s Kid), I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Flannel boards, K-Love, VBS, purity rings, Precept Bible Studies, DC Talk, and potluck lunches – all of this just came with the territory.
Somewhere early on, I absorbed the basic Calvinistic idea that the material world, like the material body, was colonized with eeeeviil. Most importantly, I was hard wired for eeeeviill. Every thought, impulse, feeling, and desire contained latent Dionysian energies roiling within them.
I distinctly remember attending a youth bible conference where the speaker confronted us on masturbation. Gulp. Blanch. Awkward. Stare at the floor. Crickets.
Salt. What an amazing additive. Salt. Never set the table without it. Most of us handle a salt shaker each and every day. For me, it always made food taste better. In the right amounts salt will accentuate the natural flavor of an otherwise bland food.
The Salt of the Earth
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” What a brilliant description of His children— they bring the flavor of God’s Kingdom into the earth.
A playful paraphrase would be, “My children are in the world to accentuate the real purposes of creation.” What if society declared, It’s so great that we have so many Christians living in our city, they are such great fun, lively, gracious people; they just make everything a little better!Continue reading Barbershop Theology – Pass the Salt→
I first heard a small diatribe on the subject of faith while visiting Dad’s barber shop. I was a college student and had grown very interested in my parents’ renewed passion for Christ. I tuned in a bit more than usual when a fella that I barely knew started to deliver his discourse on faith.
As I recall his talk, I remember it as just that—a lot of talk. It sounded something like this…
“It’s all about faith, you know. When we get sick, God’s just testing us to see if we can get rid of all our questions and just believe in Him and his power. Why, just the other day I believed really hard that God could heal my aching back, and he did! I was tempted to doubt, but I didn’t let it get to me. My faith healed me!”
I listened as this customer in my dad’s shop proclaimed his conviction that “most of the world’s problems are really just because people don’t have enough faith,” and that poverty, sickness, and pain could be effectively wiped out if people would just extinguish their doubts with a fire hose of super-powerful trust in God.
His talk concerned me. Maybe he knew how to muster up that kind of super-strong faith, but I’m here to confess, I’ve never really been a person who’s been able to get rid of all his doubts or questions. In fact, I would give myself a C- if I had to submit a report card on myself. Continue reading Barbershop Theology: My Faith Hero→
I don’t remember a time when my parents didn’t take us to church of one kind or another. I distinctly recall when I was 11 years old and we started going to a non-denominational church in Newcastle. They were a charismatic community. They were “on fire for the Lord,” people raised their hands, spoke in tongues, and shouted a lot of “Yes, Jesus!” exclamations throughout the congregation. I thought it was a little weird at first. It was totally unlike anything I had ever experienced before. That soon became our church home and we were there nearly every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I even started volunteering in the children’s church because I loved working with kids.
Growing up in the Christian faith, I believed in God, quite frankly, because I always had. That’s the way I was raised. I’m thankful that my parents raised me in church. I was baptized, was involved with the youth group and never questioned anything I had learned. As I got older and started working, I went to church a lot less but I never stopped believing in God. I was raised in the Bible Belt, after all. I didn’t know anyone that didn’t believe in the same God I did. Continue reading Simple Sabbath: Why I Believe→
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