Archive for November, 2012

globalx.jpgToday’s entry is differenter than normal.

I’m SO blessed to be part of a healthy, loving fellowship of believers who care about others. I attend Watermarke Church, a campus of North Point Community Church. Our church is on a journey and people have been joining “Andy’s Big Experiment” for over a decade.

It’ll make your head spin.

About a week ago Andy asked everyone to give $39.95. Yep, that’s it.

$39.95.

First Sunday of Advent, check.

Christmas offering, check.

Target: $1.5 million, check.

It was so easy, I bought two.

As of 11/26/12, 9:52 AM: Our goal: 15,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Received: 18,448. Our goal: $1.5 million. Received: $4,682,369.01!!

Know what else I like about this? We’re giving the money, no strings attached, to agencies who serve others sacrificially and reliably all the time. You can even suggest groups (faith-based or secular) and we may assist them, too. They’re all terrific agencies with a track record of getting help where the hurt is.

Andy says,”One thing about being a large church is we can make a large difference. When we come together, when we’re generous, we can change our communities and the world. This year with our seven Atlanta-area churches and fifteen partner churches, we intend to make a big difference.

We have the potential to create our reputation in the minds of those who do not share our beliefs. We want them to look at us and say, ‘Those are the most generous, compassionate, and competent people I know. It seems as if they genuinely want something for us rather than something from us. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be one, but I’m glad they are in our community.'”

I’m not a terrific “fit” for traditional church and all. I’ve worked hard at it. Square peg. Round hole. If you don’t like church either, I know you understand, and odds are, you gave church up for Lent a few years back and haven’t seen it since. Wish you could join me this week. There’s North Point stuff all over the InterWeb and a link on this page somewhere. If you decide to commute from my neck of the woods, let me know, we can carpool, start a small group at Starbuck’s or something like that.

Call me directly at 555-itsmymoneyandineeditnow or leave a comment.

If when it’s all said and done you still don’t like church, that’s fine. It bothers me more than it should, too.

Tr8: Be a part of God’s love as it washes over others.

Want to see for yourself? Click here.

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Lazarus is eating breakfast (Captain Crunch) with Mary and Martha (Special K) a couple of days after Jesus raised him from the dead.

Mary: Take another bath.

Martha: Yeah, You’re still coming on a bit strong. Next time you die, put on your deodorant. You never know…

Lazarus: Okay. I’ll go down to the bathhouse again and try out that new, organic free-range soap.

Martha: Laz, what do you remember about being dead?

Lazarus: I told you, not much. Seem’s I was only there for an hour or two. Sat by the fireplace with Jonathan and David and a lady named, Lois. God made us some chocolate chip cookies with milk. We talked a while.  Moses joined us at a quarter til eternity and booted up a NetFlix movie — The Ten Commandments — Charlton Heston was just about to whack an Egyptian in a short skirt when Jesus beamed me back.

Mary: Did it hurt?

Lazarus: Not a bit. I was dying when I left, but came back feeling like a champ.

Martha: So, did God tell you how you made it? How you got over the hump?

Lazarus: There were folks all over the place, I think. I didn’t see anyone standing around in hell, but I saw a sign that said it was down the street. Tuesdays are free, but I don’t think alot of folks visit unless someone is getting out. Then there’s a party and a pounding.

Martha: I wish I knew what God wanted out of us. I don’t want to screw things up or disappoint him.

Mary: Makes me sad. At least you get two tries.

Lazarus: Don’t worry, Martha. Mary, don’t you weep. Here’s what I know for a fact. It’s not so much what you believe in, it’s what you be leavin’ when your’re gone. Our lives should leave a trail of all the stuff in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Martha: Say, what?

Lazarus: If love, joy and peace aren’t what’s found when you leave a room, you’re barkin’ up the wrong tree. It’s not about ‘gettin saved,’ rules, laws, sacraments or being moral, it’s about loving others. The moral stuff goes on automatic when we love as Christ does. The Law leaves you with Romans 7. Grace leaves you with Romans 8.

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Tr8: Leave a wake of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control wherever you go. That’s what paves the way for all of us to get back to Eden.

Jesus and Murphy (the non-disciple) are stopped at the Eastern or Golden Gate of Jerusalem. They just walked up the hill and stand looking at the gate. Today this is called the “Mercy Gate.”

Jesus (pointing to a large rock nearby): Murph, take a load off. Let’s rest.

Murphy: Sounds good to me, I have a wine skin, here, want a sip?

Jesus: Sure (sips). What do you think of those Pharisees coming up the hill?

Murphy: Which one?

Jesus (smiling): All of ’em.

Murphy: Hmmm. Hard to say. I have two ways of lookin’ at things.

Jesus: Tell me about it.

Murphy: If you’re talking about one Pharisee, I’ll withhold my judgment and try to be as gracious as I can. If you’re talking about the whole pack of ’em. I’m down hard on Phariseeing.

Jesus: What’s the difference?

Murphy: I’ve watched you a bit and you’re hell on institutions and gracious with most individuals.

Jesus (nodding): Hmm. I guess I can see where you’d get that.

Murphy: Yeah, you always shoot straight with the truth, but you always end up inviting folks to follow you — to join up.

Jesus: Murph, I’m glad you made this trip. You catch a lot some of the others miss.

Murphy: I’ve seen clouds from both sides now.

Jesus (smiling again): …yet still somehow, you don’t see clouds at all….

Murphy: That’s probly true. I love plenty of people in groups I hate. I even like people I don’t like. The Chief of the New Faith Tabernacle, Molar Wisenart, is a piece of work, but he takes good care of his family and is a veteran. He has things to answer for, but I can’t say as I hate him.

Jesus: You always surprise me Murphy. I’m not crazy about what’s going on with the Temple, leaders and Judaism in general, but I do love the people. I sometimes wish I was a mother hen and could take Jerusalem under my wing.

Murphy: And what about the Jerusalem Masonic Lodge?

Jesus: Same deal. Did you know Peter was a member of the Lodge in Capernaum?

Murphy: Seriously? There’y’go.

Jesus: Wait until you see a church. It’ll make your head swim for all the inconsistencies.

Murphy: Yeah?

Jesus: Yep. So-called ‘Christians’ will do sooo many stupid things in my name.

Murphy: I wouldn’t join any group that’d have me for a member.

Tr8: Know the difference between institutions and people. Institutionally, stand with integrity. Personally, love with graciousness.

Jesus is in Jericho on a preaching tour. He and the Disciples have just finished a standing-room-only gig at the synagogue. During the after-service evaluation several older women from the Women’s Synagogue Union (WSU) walk in.

Jesus (looking up): Good evening, ladies. What can we do for you?

Mary Stein (WSU President): Rabbi, we have a problem here in Jericho.

Jesus: Yes.

Mary Robinette (Vice-President): There’s a new brothel across the street and the patrons are using our parking lot. It’s called, ‘Rahab’s.’  Disgusting!

Jesus: Well, what have you tried so far?

Mary MacGruder (Hospitality Chair): First, we took a basket of unleavened muffins over with a note that said, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood. Don’t use our parking lot.’ Nothing happened.

Mary Stewart (Mission Chair): Then, we picketed on the sidewalk in front of their building. But, the police came and told us to move, so we continued picketing on our parking lot. Didn’t do much good. I don’t think the ‘You’re all going to hell!’ signs were very effective.

Mary Stein: We’ve tried putting up saw horses and traffic cones, but our synagogue can’t afford someone to put up and take down the roadblocks, much less monitor the parking lot full time.

Mary Stewart: We’ve even discussed burning the place down and other extremes — marching around the block with vessels and trumpets, but we don’t want to crumble the neighbors. In fact, who knows where the crumbling will stop? Mary and I live in the next block over.

All the Marys: Rabbi, help us!

Jesus (thoughtfully writes in the dust as he answers): Truly, whoever is without sin, may judge the ladies across the street. (Jesus looks up and smiles.) Love your neighbors as yourselves.

The Marys looked down and shuffle toward the door.

Jesus: AND. Put signs up in the parking lot saying, ‘This lot is under 24-hour camera surveillance and may be viewed at http://www.synalot.tv.’  Sin thrives in darkness and secrecy. Most folks turn away in the light.

Ten Marys walked away happy, but only one returned to give Jesus thanks, but that’s another story. After the women leave, Rahab frowns at Jesus and rises to leave.

Jesus (to Rahab): Wait, want a coffee? There’s a Starbucks near the well on the Jericho road.

Tr8: Live in the Light and shine the Light. Love your neighbors. Beware the darkness.

John 8:1-11, Luke 8:17, Joshua 5:13ff, Luke 17, 11-19

Jesus and his disciples are at the Temple in Jerusalem after his resurrection. Murphy, (the non-disciple) tags along. Soon-to-be deacons are having a bake sale for the Greek widows in one of the outer porticos. Jesus takes his disciples (and Murphy) into the Temple outside the Holy of Holies. Some priests are standing quietly looking at the curtain.

Murphy: Are we invisible? I don’t think the priests see us (waving his hand in front of a priest’s eyes).

Peter: No, they’re like the guards at Buckingham Palace. They can’t move or they get in trouble (he touches one priest’s nose and the priest swats at his hand as if it were a fly)

Andrew (tickling one’s ear): No! We are invisible!

The disciples begin to mess with the priests. Simon is about to give one a wedgie when Jesus stops him.

Jesus: Knock it off! (He points at a big strip of duct tape running from top to bottom of the curtain.) Check this out. Tearing this apart was the last thing I did before Easter. Watch this…

Jesus waves his hand like a magician at the curtain. The disciples are frozen.

They watch…

closely…closely…and…

nothing happens.

Jesus (watches and smiles): Gotcha! (He puts his hands down.) Now, watch.

The duct tape begins to slowly uncurl and fall from the curtain.

Bozar the Priest (jumping up, grabbing a stepladder out of the closet): Hot dog! There it goes again! Zebar get more tape!

Jesus (aside to the disciples): God’s altar. Keep it open. Peter, guys, when you get your churches going, I want you to remember two things.

Bozar holds the ladder while Zebar pulls a strip of duct tape, but the silver tape folds on itself and is useless. Zebar swears. Bozar pulls the hair on Zebar’s legs. Zebar swears again and kicks at Bozar.

Peter (watches and nods then turns to Jesus): What two things?

Jesus: It’s complicated. (The priests freeze.) Peter, you’re going to be a Catholic and Andrew you are going to be a Greek Orthodox and some of you other guys are going to be anabaptist, presbyterian, and what not. Just remember churches are for people with needs, not big holy off-limits altars, like this.

James: Will our churches be as big as the Temple?

Jesus: You wouldn’t believe! Here’s the two things: 1. No sacrifices, no death, no blood on the altar. 2. Everyone is allowed to come to the altar, and 3. The church is to be a sanctuary for anyone seeking refuge. You are to be a place of refuge for those in need.

Nathaniel (holding up his hand to Jesus): That’s three things, not two.

Jesus (pointing a finger at Nathaniel): Wanted to see if you were paying attention. The third one is prime. Wherever you guys worship and fellowship, make it a sanctuary for the rest of the world.

Bart: Sanctuary?

Jesus: It’s a place where one finds grace, love, safety and protection from the world. As the Father sends me, so I send you. Be a sanctuary for the oppressed.

Matthew: What if they’re sinners and are guilty?

Jesus: Sin oppresses. Keep an eye on the ideal, but be real — know the truth, but act in grace. Remember this: God will judge all. YOU are my disciples. Murph, you watch your sanctuality, too. I don’t want you kickin’ anyone out of church who is seeking refuge and forgiveness.

Thad: What about liars, thieves, murders, adulterers, cheaters, and Rastafarians?

Jesus: Love ’em.

John: What about greedy, proud, gluttonous, angry Germans?

James: What if a pharisee or scribe comes seeking refuge?

Jesus: Love ’em.

Murphy (the non-disciple): What about pigeons?

Jesus (shoves Murph’s head): Repeat after me: Repenters of sin, let ’em in.

Disciples: Repenters of sin, let ’em in.

Jesus: You trust me to judge and do what’s best for everyone. I’m trusting you to accept others as I accepted you. No exceptions. No is sin too big. Be love. Even if you meet in an auditorium or warehouse. You are my ambassadors. Reconcile to world to me.

Tr8: We are sanctuaries of unconditional refuge and love. Draw others into a growing relationship with Christ. Have faith, trust God.

John 20:21, 2 Corinthians 5:20