Posts Tagged ‘God’

JonahGod: Jonah, I want you to go next door and invite your neighbor to church.

Jonah: Umm, God, he’s mean and he stole my rake.

God: Just invite him to church. If he doesn’t come, I’ll rain fire and brimstone on him.

Jonah: He has tattoos.

God: Invite him. Jonah slips out the back door, walks down the alley and catches a local bus headed downtown. The traffic begins to pile up and pretty soon the bus is stuck in gridlock traffic. Nothing happening. 1 hour. 2 hours. 3 hours.

Rider: What’s the deal here? Are we cursed or something?

Jonah: It’s me. I’m running from God.

Others: Throw him off the bus!

The driver opens the doors and kicks Jonah out into traffic. He gets hit by a Smart car and is thrown to the side of the road. The Smart car is totaled. The driver calls 911 and an ambulance shows up shortly. The EMTs put Jonah on a gurney, slide him in the ambulance and they drive off. Jonah is dazed and confused. In transit the EMTs spot a two-for-one at Chick-fil-A and pull in. Then, the ambulance drivers drive around and park, drive around and park, and drive around and park.

This goes on for three days.

At the end of three days the ambulance is in an accident at a drive-thru and the doors crash open and Jonah’s gurney shoots out. He coasts to a stop a few blocks from his house. A street person trades his grocery cart for Jonah’s gurney. Jonah pushes the grocery cart home. It has a wobbly wheel. Crossing the driveway, he climbs the steps to his neighbor’s door and knocks.

Neighbor (opening door): What?

Jonah: God told me to tell you you are doomed. You can visit my church, if you want, but you are screwed.

Neighbor (scratching his chin): Is this over the rake?

Jonah: No. God’s sending fire and brimstone your way.

Neighbor: Hmmm. Yeah, I’d like to visit your church. When are services?

Jonah (swearing under his breath): Tomorrow morning. Service is at 11:00. You’ll need to go early ’cause parking is sometimes complicating, but there will be folks directing traffic.

Neighbor: Okay, I’ll leave at 10:15.

Jonah (turns and walks away): Yeah. Whatever. 10:15.

The neighbor and his family go to church. They love it. After a couple of weeks they go to Starting Point and Next. The neighbor begins volunteering with a parking team and joins a small group. Not long afterward, the whole family is baptized and their video testimonies get a standing O.

Jonah missed all of this because he’s in a snit. He’s in his backyard working on his grocery cart hoping God will strike down his neighbor. As he adjusts the wobbly wheel, his neighbor comes out and waves.

Neighbor: Jonah! Thanks about the church thing. We’re loving it. Jonah storms toward the front yard, pushing his grocery cart.

Jonah (furious): God! I knew it—when I first heard your plan, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I got on the bus! I knew you were full of grace and mercy, not easily angered, abundant in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to forgive this creep!

God: So, what are you angry about? But Jonah just left. He pushed his grocery cart across the street and sat down in the grass median to pout. He put together a makeshift shelter of newspapers and cardboard and sat there to see if anything would happen to his neighbor. It was hot. God arranged for clouds to come and turned on the sprinklers. Shade and a mist swept over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry mood. Jonah was pleased and happy with the shade and mist. Life was looking up. Within 30 minutes the sprinklers stopped and clouds passed. The sun came out and God sent a hot, blistering wind from the east.

Jonah: @#$%^& this is terrible! I can’t stand this! No fire and brimstone and now, no sprinkler! Jonah goes in his garage, gets in his car and starts it.

God: What are you doing parked in the garage with the car on?

Jonah: Killing myself.

God: Why?

Jonah: The sprinkler. YOU turned off the sprinkler. I LOVED the sprinkler mist. And YOU turned it off. AND you saved my neighbor. He deserved fire and brimstone. Makes me so mad I can’t live another minute. And the sprinkler. I’d be better off dead.

God (turning off the car and opening the garage door): Seriously? How can you be so happy with sprinklers, then be so ticked off when they’re off? All you did was sit there next to your pathetic cart (which belongs to Kroger). So, why can’t I change how I feel about your neighbor and his family, to say nothing about his cat and dog?

Tr8: Don’t rejoice in another’s pain or judgment. Be gracious and merciful. “When theology becomes an obstacle to your mercy, adjust your theology,” Andy Stanley.

—- Read how the author nearly kills himself.

Originally blogged on April 29, 2012.

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basketballJesus and the Disciples have just finished a few games of basketball at the temple courts. They absolutely schooled the lunch crowd scribe and pharisee wannabees. Jesus coached (or all comers would have been shut out). They’re toweling off and knocking back Gatorades. Jesus has his eyes closed and appears to be resting or praying.

Nate: So, what’s God like?

Jesus (opening his eyes): Whadyamean?

Nate: You know, the Big Guy, the one you pray to.

Jesus: That’s me. It’s complicated, but it’s not. The Father and I are one.

John: No, Nate’s asking about the Father. What’s he like?

Jesus: Well, when I say ‘Father’ I’m alluding to a greater part of me you can’t comprehend. I am God.

Peter: Yeah, we get that, but you pray. Who are you praying to?

Jesus: I’m getting in touch with the ‘Father’ — the part of me that runs the universe and makes miracles possible. In about 300 years the Nicene Council will settle on the idea of “Trinity.” People still don’t get “I am.” “‘I am (blank),” but no one and no word can fill in the blank. ‘Father’ is the best I can do for you.

Matthew: So, then, you’re like the Father’s hand puppet?

Jesus (shaking his head): I catch your meaning — interesting analogy. Think of it this way: There’s the concrete reality of God, that’s me. There’s the abstract reality of God, that’s the ‘Father’. And there’s the expressed reality of God, that’s love and light. The Spirit of God is love — I’m the example, love is the abstract and grace and understanding are the expressions.

Judas (raising his hand): What’s biology?

Jesus (rolling his eyes, smiling): Later, Judas.  I’ve made it as easy as possible. Follow my example and the rest falls into place. It’ll make people in the future mad, but really, the deal is: live like me. My way is THE way and leads to truth and life and connects you with the greater me you cannot see.

Peter: I’ve had an epiphany! I understand the “I am” thing with Moses. It’s impossible to name the greater part of you we can’t see. Whatever term we use, it’s insufficient — Yahweh, God, Allah, Almighty, Glorious One — as great as they may be, they all fall short. It’s foolish to name what’s beyond naming.

Jesus: Rock, upon that I’ll build my church! The reason I am is so you can see what cannot be seen. I am light. I am love. I am all that matters.

Tr8: Know Jesus. Know ‘I am.’ For non-bible-thumpers, try reading one of the Gospels (Jesus histories) in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John).

History of Trinity Doctrine

Jonathan, teenaged Prince of Israel, is sitting on a rock sipping his morning coffee (breakfast blend). His armor bearer, Zarrow, is with him. Things are quiet.

Zarrow: Why do they call a small a “tall?”

Jonathan: ‘Cause they can. If it’s good coffee you can call it anything you want. Where’d you get the name, “Zero?”

Zarrow: It’s ZARROW. My dad was an archer and said my name is the sound an arrow makes. You know: pull, release, “zarrow.”

Jonathan: Hmmm.

Zarrow: Are those Prince of Egypt pajamas?

Jonathan: Yeah, Dad gave ’em to me for Christmas. I think he slid over the edge a bit, but I humor him. He’s been real moody lately. He liked the movie a lot.

Zarrow: They’re not too bad, I suppose (grinning).

They sit for a minute in silence. Jonathan sips down the last of his coffee and throws his cup into the recycle bin.

Jonathan: Let’s attack the Philistines. Right now. In our pajamas.

Zarrow: What?

Jonathan: Let’s attack. You and me. In our pajamas…with sharp sticks.

Zarrow: Not a good idea.

Jonathan: Are you kidding? If you KNOW God is on your side, why not?

Zarrow: The guys up on that mountain are hardened warriors…with axes and spears and swords…

Jonathan: But we KNOW God is with us.

Zarrow: We’re just two guys. They have thousands up there.

Jonathan: Whatever. I’m gonna go up and see what God’ll do.

Zarrow: If you go, I go.

Jonathan calls up a couple of chariots and they storm across the valley toward the Philistine position on a cliff, above. No stealth. The Philistine guards are standing, looking over the ledge, scratching their heads.

Philistines (shouting down from the heights): What are you Israelite wusses doing? The porta-potties are down the valley. You could get hurt here. Are those Prince of Egypt pajamas?

Jonathan (shouts): YES, THEY ARE! Okay, Zero, here we go.

Zarrow: Z-A-R-R-O-W. What about swords? Armor? Shield? Bow and arrow? More men?

Jonathan: Nope. Sharp sticks. Think. What would you do if you KNEW, beyond any shadow of doubt, God was with you?

Zarrow: Well. If I KNEW God was with me, I suppose I’d attack ’em in my underwear with a pocket comb.

Jonathan: Now you get it!

Jonathan begins to shed his pajamas and nods toward Zarrow. Zarrow reluctantly sheds his pajamas, too.

Jonathan: I wouldn’t have guessed you were a briefs guy. Got a comb?

Zarrow: No comb.

Jonathan: Okay then. Sticks or rocks?

Zarrow: Sticks, I guess. We have no pockets.

Jonathan and Zarrow climb the cliff up to the Philistine emplacement. They charge into camp. In an area about the size of a front lawn they kill 20 Philistines. The enemy camp becomes terrified and scatters.

Jonathan: That’s what I’m talkin’ about. It ain’t no thing when you KNOW God is with you.

Jonathan and Zarrow head back to camp for a wrap-up cup of coffee. While sipping their coffee the Israelite scouts bring back news of the Philistine retreat. King Saul turns off the DEFCON 5 light and sends his infantry up the mountain to mop up after Jonathan and Zarrow’s attack (see 1 Samuel 14).

Tr8: Do what you’d do if you KNEW God was with you.

The Father-Son-Spirit idea the Disciples embraced had tension — life comes from living in the Spirit, who is Christ, who is the Father, who can be known, who is love.

John tells us over and over Jesus said he and the Father were one. According to John, Jesus said he only did what the Father told him to. Jesus believably lived out God’s character before Jews, Greeks, and Romans for about three years. The first church was watching and taking notes.

After Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love, he stuck around a month or so, then, ascended to the Father. According to most creeds, he’s sitting at the right hand as we speak. He left the Spirit to handle things here.

Jesus and the Father upstairs. Spirit downstairs.

These days, I think the Spirit gets ignored a lot. Everyone’s looking upstairs. Wondering about what’s going on up there–what’s God up to? Is Jesus vacuuming heaven with the angels? Are they watching us?

We can’t see because we’re downstairs.

The Spirit is downstairs. With us.

If we’ll tune into the Spirit maybe some really crazy spiritual things could start happening on earth again.

The 1st Century church understood a lot. They followed Jesus and saw his spirit in action — a spirit focused on the Father — and Jesus trained them to be like himself. They could say, “Oh! See that? THAT is SO Jesus!” They knew how to be SO Jesus, too.

In The Acts of the Apostles, one of the things that stands out (and confuses us) is that the Holy Spirit was observable. Paul and Barnabas come back to Jerusalem and tell the home team, “The Gentiles? They’ve got it.”

Got what?

I’m guessing here, but I think they saw people “doing” Jesus. They saw Christ in someone else. They were so familiar with Jesus’ way, truth, and life (John 14:6) they could spot it anywhere. When believers got really good at doing Jesus, wired into the Father’s love, they started to heal, raising folks from the dead, turn bottled water into Sangria, and spoke in tongues (I don’t know what that means, but I know the Disciples saw Jesus do it).

Don’t see much of this today.

Because we don’t have enough faith? No, because we don’t have enough Spirit. We wouldn’t know Jesus if he thumped us on the noggin. I think it’s because we’re all standing around looking upstairs, trying to imagine Jesus, the Father, streets of gold, etc. When the Spirit is here, in the house.

Tr8: Take the slack out of your relationship with the Spirit.