Posts Tagged ‘grace’

LLHJesus is sitting at Starbucks drinking a tall French roast – black. Andrew and Peter walk in, order a couple of double-shot espressos.

Peter (looking at Jesus): What if I didn’t pay for my drink?

Jesus (smiling): You’d be in trouble, but I’d forgive you.

Andrew: What if I lied on my income taxes?

Jesus (shaking his head): I’d forgive you, too.

Peter: What if I cheated on my wife?

Jesus (raised eyebrows): I’d forgive you.

Andrew: What if punched Peter in the face?

Jesus (still smiling): I’d forgive you.

Peter (shoving Andrew): What if I threw Andrew off a cliff?

Jesus: I’d be sad, but I’d forgive you. Here’s the deal: Whatever the crime, I’m lettin’ you know I’ll forgive you ahead of time. The Father and I love you unconditionally.

Andrew: Isn’t that dangerous? We could go do whatever we wanted and then come back knowing you’d accept us and forgive us and everything would be fine.

Peter: Yeah, What’s the point of the rules if we know in advance we can get away with anything? You ARE saying we can get away with anything, right?

Jesus: Yep. And see, everything would be fine…but you’d know it could be better. That’s the whole thing. I want you to see what you’re REALLY like. It’s like watching people when they think no one is looking. My forgiveness produces the ‘no one’s looking’ context. It makes you choose between, ‘Can I get away with this?, or ‘Should I want to get away with this?’ If you go ahead and do something you KNOW I don’t like, you HAVE to ask yourself, what kind of love is that?!

Andrew: Of course, you’re right. As usual. When our love is transparent, others’ actions also become transparent.

Jesus: Ahh, Andrew. Yes. Unconditional love requires grace, mercy and sacrifice, but yields pure love. The Father and I bring you love and life, but it’s not in you, it’s in us because we are the ideal — we’re perfect. You do the will of those you really love.

Peter: Actually, your forgiveness is a little dangerous! It exposes bad love.

Jesus: The unforgivable sin is to not love others in this way — to be totally self-serving and self-consumed. People who can’t think beyond themselves act like god. I am the way, truth and life. No one comes to the Father, except my way — the way of love.

Peter: Jesus, I know you love that cinnamon coffee cake. Can I get you a piece?  Rew, you want one?

Tr8: Love one another unconditionally. Live unconditionally.

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.

RiuniteMurphy (the non-disciple) plays croquet with James, John and their mom, Salome in Mary’s front yard in Jerusalem. Salome has just penalty hit John’s ball under the pigeon coop as Jesus watches.

Jesus: Hey, Murph, I need you to run down to Roma’s to pick up three big bottles of Lambrusco and some French bread.

Murphy (the non-disciple, dropping everything): Sure, but first, I wish you’d…

Jesus: Granted.

Murph: Wait! You didn’t even let me finish!

Jesus: Okay, finish.

Murph (sighing): I wish you’d forgive me for my sins–I’ve tried not to, but I’ve been lusting.

Jesus: You wish you weren’t that way?

Murph (dejected): Yeah…

Jesus: You’re forgiven, stop doing that.

Murph: I try, but it’s like the weather almost…morning, partly lazy with a 60% chance of lust before noon, then gluttony turning into murderous thoughts by afternoon, then scattered guilt and 100% full guilt by sunset.

Jesus: Follow me a bit closer.

Murph (stepping closer): Okay.

Jesus (eyes rolling): I mean in your head, spiritually–stay close.

Murph: Oh…  After your Mountain Sermon I’ve been thinking…about offending parts. I figure I need to cut my feet off, then my hands, cut out my tongue, poke out my eyes–I guess my ears are okay…

Jesus: Led Zeppelin?

Murph: Yeah, gouge out my ears, too.        I’m a mess. I’m really sorry.

Jesus: Murph, who am I?

Murph: Well, you’re the Messiah, God’s anointed, Son of God…God among us.

Jesus: So, I know it all Murph. What you’ve done. What you will do. Everything. And I forgive you. Stop worrying about it. Go get the wine and French bread. I’m going to do something special tonight. It’s going to be a crazy week.

Murph (doubtfully): I’ll go, but I bet I’ll sin on the way….

Jesus: Murph. Keep your mind on me and what I have you doing. I appreciate your concern, but you’re going overboard. I need you to work with me and be of some use. Just don’t get confesstipated like Judas, he’s rarely sorry.

Murph: Oh, nuts! I called him a fool and an idiot about his cigars. Murder…

Jesus: Forgiven.

Murph: I

Jesus: Forgiven.

Murph: We’re okay?

Jesus: Yeah, Murph. We’re okay. I forgive everybody of everything, if they’ll just believe I can.

Murph (hugs Jesus): Okay, three bottles of Lambrusco and French bread. Some pastries or pasta? Their cannelloni is amazing.

Jesus: Murph, you’re blessed ’cause I’m here with you. People in the future are going to have to trust me without seeing me. Blessed are they that mourn their condition–they shall be comforted.

Murph: This has been a weird week, with the donkey and palms and hosannas and stuff.And, this weekend’s execution of the rebels and Barabas gives me the willies.

Jesus (winking): Well, things are going to get bad, but I have a big surprise for you on Sunday.

Murph (excited): What?! Tell me!

Jesus: You’ll see everything–really you all will SEE I can’t not be alive. We’ll talk about it at dinner tonight.


Tr8: Confession is good for the heart, but don’t become useless confessing when you ought to be walking in faith.

Last supper coming.

negotiatorJesus, Andrew, John and Murphy (the non-disciple) are at the Chicken Shack in Bethsaida. The other disciples followed Judas into Los Hermanos across the street because he had the moneybag.

Murphy: Jesus, are you a white meat or dark meat kind of guy?

Jesus: White, mostly. I liked drumsticks when I was a kid. Not so much now.

John: Yeah, I was like that, too. I guess all kids are. Our parents were playin’ us for the good stuff.

Andrew: I still like drumsticks, but I’m gettin’ strips and fries this time.

John: Me, too.

Murphy: Sounds good.

Jesus (to Maggie, the cashier): We’ll have four of the chicken strip combos.

Maggie: To drink?

Jesus: Three Dr. Peppers and a Sprite Zero.

Andrew: Who’s getting the Sprite?

Jesus: You. That’s what you wanted, right?

Andrew (shrugging): Well, yeah…that’s what I was thinkin’.

Jesus smiles.

Murphy: Jesus, I’ve been having some trouble at home with Dirk, my sixteen-year-old. If you’ll separate him from the circle of friends he’s with I’ll give you anything or do anything. Is there some sin I need to clean up to get straight with you?

Jesus: There’s nothing you can do.

Murphy (disappointed): Well, I’ll promise to go to synagogue every Saturday.

Jesus (looking quizzically): And I need that because…

Murphy: Come on, work with me, please!

Jesus: Murphy. I don’t want anything from you. You and me? We’re good.

Murphy: But what about my kid?

Jesus: You don’t have to ask me to care about you and your problems — I already do. I’ve been watchin’ Dirk. That said, I’m glad you think I can do something about it, ’cause I can and I will.

Murphy: So, what do I have to do?

Jesus: Nothing. I don’t want something from you, I want something for you.

Murphy: What’s that?

Jesus: Life. Full of grace and truth. Full of joy and peace. I want you to have it as a gift ’cause I care about you. And Dirk. In this world you’ll have troubles, but I’ve overcome the world and I’ll give you the same thing. All free. All grace.

Murphy: So, Dirk’ll be okay?

Jesus: Yes, I’m already on it, you’ll understand in time, but thanks for coming to me.

Murphy: How could I do otherwise? You’re my best friend.

Jesus: Yep. Just trust me, Murph.

Tr8: God doesn’t want to take something, he wants to give something. Remember, it’s not about what you should or shouldn’t do, it’s about how good a friend you want to be with Jesus.


Posted: August 30, 2013 in Between the lines, Truth and Grace
Tags: , , , , ,

Salt shakerJesus is outlining how he wants his disciples to work.

Jesus: Guys, I want you to be like salt and light.

Peter: Right. You want us to preach like Johnny B.

Jesus: Well, sort of. Think about salt for a second.

John: We’re with you. Salt.

Jesus: How much salt do you put on your eggs, James?

James: A sprinkle. I prefer a bit more pepper. Want us to be pepper, too?

Jesus: Umm. Let’s stick with salt.

Judas: Salt burns on cuts.

Jesus (looking askance): Yes, hold that thought about burning, but the point I’m making, is, salt is seasoning. It’s not the main thing. It’s the thing that makes the main thing better.

Andrew: You’re talking about moderation, right? Be gentle, like you.

Jesus: Bingo. I want you to make everyone’s lives better. I want you to love, spread grace, forgive, heal — just be there to help.

Matthew: Doesn’t take a lot of salt to ruin food.

Jesus: Good point, Matt. Don’t go overboard with this. SEASON lives, don’t make them taste like the Dead Sea.

Bart: Yuck! The Dead Sea tastes really nasty.

Thomas: I don’t like salt in water at all.

Judas: Or iced tea. Can we be sugar?

Jesus (shaking his head): This is an analogy or metaphor. I want you to be in the world loving people, but don’t be obnoxious. Salt preserves and you guys will preserve my kingdom by acting like me.

Peter: What about light? You want us to be salt and light.

Jesus: Light’s a good analogy, too.  How much light brightens darkness?

The other James: Just a little bit — a few stars can light the night. A lighter or match can reveal a whole room.

Bart: Yeah, it’s like salt. A little bit goes a long way. A lot burns you up.

Jesus: Yep. I want you to reveal my love and grace, but don’t burn up others with my truth.

Peter: What I hear you saying is that we can go overboard by being too pushy or confrontational.

Jesus: If you major on truth and skimp on grace, you’ll burn folks for sure. In the future there will be schools just like here where the people will sit around eating salt and burning stuff up in God’s name — like the pharisees. Sure, they’ll mean well and some will be really good people, like Gamaliel, Joe or Nick. But as a general rule, it’s better to live love and grace rather than study it.

John: So, we’re to be subtle?

Jesus: Be like me. Truly, you’re going to freak out when I die and come back. You’ll be out preaching and teaching like crazy. That’ll be fine, but remember to be humble and serve. The first shall be last.

Tr8: Be salt and light. Make the lives of those around you better and brighter curtesy of Jesus.