Saturday, March 21, 2009

Put Christ Back in Schools?

I came across this on Facebook the other day, "Put Christ Back in Schools". Someone had joined this group and had sent me an invitation to join as well. So I asked myself "who took Him out?". Where in the heck did they put Him? I have a bobble-head Jesus (yes, my baptist friends think it complete heresy) in my office on the shelf, and I had a mental image of someone moving him somewhere just to mess with me. I would start a group "Put Jesus back on the Shelf", but that wouldn't sound good either now would it.

Now I understand what people mean when they say "Put Christ Back in Schools". Its an expression of sentiment that their beliefs and freedoms of religion are being trampled upon by political correctness, culture wars, atheists, and whatever else, and in some measure I believe they are correct. It is a two-edged sword however, as freedom to practice ones religious beliefs is more inclusive than just chrisitainity, and I'm afraid those same persons who would like to pray to Jesus at football games would not be so inclined if the prayers were Islamic to Allah. Anyway thats another discussion.

So why isn't Christ in schools? Are you folks leaving him at home when you pack your lunches and grab your books and head out the door? Are you busy getting your gradebook and your lesson plans together and forget to pick Him up with your purse and ID card? Since there are no official clergy present in the lunchroom, are you not able to pray over your meal? Are you so focused on your sport that you don't take Him into the locker room with you?

So who took Christ out of the schools in the first place?

Yep. You guessed it. We did. We are responsible for "Putting Christ back in Schools". Christ is not a bobble-head that has been moved from my shelf to another location. He is not a morning prayer right after the pledge of allegiance. Christ is us. We are the hands and feet of Christ/Jesus. He dwells within us. Our actions are an outpouring of our hearts. So if anyone took him out, it would be us.

So let's take it a bit further. Put Christ back in our Families. Put Christ back in our Workplace. Put Christ back in OUR CHURCHES! And the way to do that is to put Christ back in your heart and take him with you. And you don't need the government for that.

Now if you want to talk about the legitimate assaults on Christianity from the culture, (as in the group suing in Texas over the moment-of-silence) we can do that in another post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

a day in the life of the prophet

So I'm camping yesterday with my lubberly lil' family at one of the State Parks when my eyeglass frames break. Fun times. I am officially a dork now with one ear piece missing and the glasses perched upon my nose held only in place by the other ear piece.

So off I go to the place where I purchased them to get another frame and we decide to go to the local chinese food place for lunch. I'm wearing my normal weekend camping attire, a pair of cargo shorts and a black t-shirt from my good friend's faith community (Journey IFC) and my gold chain with my United Methodist cross hanging from it. While I'm eating, an older fella with his company logo shirt comes in the door and our eyes meet. Somehow we seem to connect as we look at each other, and then he goes to another part of the restaurant. A little later on I'm interupted by the words, "Excuse me sir." Holding an egg roll in one hand and a mouth full of something that looks like chicken, I look up and its this same guy. He says to me, "Thank you for wearing that cross". I respond with something stupid I'm sure, like "Thanks" or "your welcome" or something, and he says, "I appreciate that". And its not the "politician smiling suck up way" of saying something, it was the "sincere somber I've got a story" way of saying something. So he turns and walks out of the restaurant. I resist the urge to follow him outside, due to my family being with me, but would really have loved to hear his story. To see where he is in his life. There was something there.

We leave and go to the place where I bought my glasses and they don't carry that frame anymore. I call the eye doctor and he loves me so much he works me in so I can get a new exam. We drive over and I walk in the lobby and have a seat. My family goes elsewhere. A lady in her 50s walks in and sets in the lobby as well. Just she and I. She looks over at me and asks, "Is that a United Methodist cross" and I replied yes. Thats all it took. She opened up like the flood gates of the Hoover Dam and begin telling me how her grandparents were the charter members of some baptist church in another community, how she had been a Baptist for 50 plus years of her life but is now going to one of the local United Methodist churches. I said "good for you" and she kept on... I was a Baptist for 50 plus years until I got a divorce. Then I was treated differently because I was divorced. This lady also had a story to tell and I listened. We talked about judgement of others and how different she now felt with a grace filled theology instead of the one she had grown up with. She said she wished she had known this earlier in her life because she actually liked to go to the casinos, have some wine and dance every now and then. I told her it was a beautiful thing that she was a recovering baptist and she replied "I'm recovered!". I tried to explain there was no such thing as a "recovered baptist", that its a process like AA, you are always in recovery, and she just laughed. She said she now teaches a sunday school class and thoroughly loves it. She wasn't allowed to at her Baptist church it sounded like.

She asked me if I had read "The Shack". Wow, yes I had read it and it was a good read. She said she was reading it now but some of her Baptist friends said it was heresy. We both agreed those folks would probably have a rude awakening when and if they actually met god. Then the lady who worked there spoke up and said she was reading it for the second time. It went on like this for a while until they called me into the exam room. I gave the lady the name of a book to read that lets her know its okay to be human, "Messy Spirituality" and she had me write it down on a piece of paper. I have no doubt she drove down the street to the book store and bought it. This lady, in her 50s, was all on fire with finally getting the chance to figure out who she is and what she believes and what God wants of her.

It was totally cool.

And this happens to me all the time. Another day in the life of the nonprofitprophet.

And that is cool as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

so I'm teaching over Matthew when...

I've been teaching over a study of Matthew for the past several weeks. Its a pretty good study and the group, as far as I can tell, is enjoying it. We try to mix our discussions up by studying a book such as Blue Like Jazz, watching a film clip and applying it to our daily walk (the last was Batman The Dark Knight), and then a study of one of the books contained in the bible. This gives us some variety.

So today's discussion was over Matthew 19: 13-30, where Jesus blesses the little children, despite the disciples trying to keep the kids from bothering them and Jesus. Jesus sets them straight and blesses the kids and then makes a couple of examples on how they need to be like these little ones to enter the kingdom. And then the story of the rich man asking Jesus what he needs to do to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now, I know you've heard this story at least a hundred times. And so have I. But when preparing for it this week, I just got tickled. You know, it struck me funny. So Jesus is standing there and this unknown person (presumably wealthy) asks Him what he has to do to enter the kingdom. Jesus says "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." And the guy replies, "Which Ones?". Man, I just laughed. "which ones?". So I'm thinking "all of them you moron!". Why would God give you commandments and then say, "uh, go ahead and choose which one of these you'd like to keep". And it reminds me of my conversations with my kids. "eat your french fries." to which they reply "do I have to eat them all". Or "eat your carrots" and they say "how many". So Jesus replies with six commandments the guy needs to keep and names them. Now I'm not Jesus, and I have no idea why He cut him slack and only said six of them, but I guess He had his reasons.

So the six have something in common, they are all centered around our relationships to others. How we treat and respond and respect and love each other. Out of the 10 commandments, Jesus chose these. And that tells me something about what is important to Jesus when he actually allows the guy to keep only six of the commandments. Jesus is concerned with relationship.

now there is more to the story of course. The young man says he has kept those six (don't know about the other four) so wanted to know if there was anything he hadn't done. Jesus says, "yep, go sell your stuff and give the money to the poor" and that would do it. The guy can't do it. He values stuff more than people. And the scripture says he is grieved by it.

So is something keeping you from the Kingdom? Is it possessions? Is it fear? Is it control? I wonder what Jesus would tell us if we asked, "what do I need to do?". I wonder if He would cut us some slack?