Posts Tagged ‘love’

Jesus is sitting with the disciples in Waffle House early one morning. Everyone is tired, but James and John just had to have waffles. So, they all went, packed into two cars. Murphy, the “13th” disciple came on his motorcycle.

Peter: Jesus, it’s late, but I need to tell you I did something I’m not proud of.

Jesus: I know, you ran a red light on the way here.

Peter: Well, that wasn’t what I was thinking about.

Jesus: You also had mean thoughts about Murphy.

Peter: Ouch! Sorry, Murph. You’re just so unlucky. But, that’s not it either.

Jesus: So, are we gonna sit here and play ‘guess my sin?’

Peter: No. I was the one who passed gas in the car, but didn’t claim it. I think everyone thought Bartholomew did it.

Bartholomew: See! I told you it wasn’t me.

Jesus: Guys, it should not surprise you at this point that I know all your sins. Right?

John (pouring blueberry syrup on his waffles): Yea. You know everything. Even about Peter. Glad I was in the other car.

Jesus: I even know what you are GOING to do wrong. For instance, Judas is going to undertip the waiter.

Judas: Uh-uh. I’m planning on tipping 20%.

Jesus (rolls his eyes): Truth is, I’ve already forgiven the sins you are going to commit.

Judas (surprised): Does that include me?

Jesus (gazing into Judas’ eyes): We’ll see. Those who love me will be loved.

Thomas: So you know that I’m…

Jesus (as Thomas empties the salt shaker): …going to dump out the salt shaker? Yeah. That was mean. Judas, tip 25%.

Murphy: So, when we pray for forgiveness, we’re only agreeing with what you already know.

Jesus (eyebrows raised): Yeah, Murph. That’s right. Well played.

Peter: I knew that. So, you’ve already forgiven us for what we haven’t, already, done yet.

Jesus: Yep. You guys are mine. In me, the price is paid in full. As long as you come back to me. You’ll be fine.

John (thoughtfully): As long as we come back to you. Cool. Are you going to eat the rest of your bacon?

Jesus: This is turkey bacon, and yes, I’m going to eat it and the rest of Nathaniel’s.

John (grabbing Jame’s last piece of bacon): That works for me.

Tr8: In Christ, the deal is done as long as you keep coming back to him.

Jesus and his disciples are on Peter’s front porch after dinner. Bumper, Jesus’ dog is sitting licking Jesus’ feet. Andrew is scratching the dog’s ears. The rest of the disciples are lounging around and Judas is annoying everyone with his cigar.

Matthew: Lord, which of us follows you best?

Jesus: Bumper.

Matthew: What? He’s just a mutt.

Jesus: You should love me like Bumper loves me.

Nathaniel: Dogs are unclean.

Jesus: Yep. They’re pitiful. Bumper thinks cat pooh is wonderful. Absolutely hopeless. To love him I have to overlook his nature. However, he’s happy with anything I give him. He’ll even try turnips if they’re from me.

Andrew (quits scratching Bumper and looks at his fingers): So, he’s unclean and that’s okay?

Jesus: It’s the tension again — the truth is brutal and grace is kind. Bumper is a mess and I love him. He follows me everywhere and is happy with everything but my absence. He’ll walk beside me all day just to have the chance to lick my (unclean) feet. I say, ‘Bumper come,’ he comes, ‘Bumper go,’ he goes. I say, ‘Bumper stay,’ and he’ll sit waiting for me indefinitely.

Peter (he raises his hand and Jesus nods): So, when you asked us to ‘follow,’ you were thinking about dogs?

Jesus: Well, sort of. Remember when I told you the ‘come as a child’ thing? It’s like that. Bumper is pure dog. He lives for me. His happiness is me. Remember the scribe who was arguing with me and grabbed my robe at the bus stop past Nazareth, near Sephora, where my Aunt Anne lives? Bumper was on…hackles up, growling and all that. Bumper processes HIS life through MY perspective.

John: Woohoo! So, you DO want us as bodyguards! I knew it!

Jesus (holding up his hand): Uhm, no. If you’ll remember, I told Bumper to sit and shake hands with the scribe, which he did, though the scribe declined.

They all laugh.

Judas (blowing smoke rings): Bumper is a good dog. He sleeps at your feet, eats anything, obeys, is house broken and even herds sheep. We could rent him to shepherds.

Jesus: Yeah, Judas, he’s a good dog. Bumper would die for me. But, here’s the important thing: Bumper is just a beast that’d be nothing without a master. When I named him, I CREATED him. I gave him an identity. He finds meaning and purpose through me, his master, who loves him. Bumper is completed by me. When your life is me, you will be the most you that you can be. I’ve come to give you life and give it completely.

Tr8: You ARE defined by your master. Choose Christ as your master. You become you when you are known by  Jesus.

followerMurphy, the non-disciple, stood speechlessly steaming as his wife, Harpreet, walked away. He’d just smacked her a good one in the middle of an argument. Harpreet, from a former abusive relationship, also just smacked him.

This was something both thought would never happen. But, in the heat of the moment, under the circumstances, both vented their frustrations physically. This was not the first time either received a smacking, but it was the first time between THEM.

Murphy (to himself): I can’t believe this…

Harpreet: I can’t believe this.

Murph: I’m sorry, I…

Harpreet: Either the pub goes or I do!

Murph: There’s nothing wrong with the pub! It’s how I make a living and take care of you!

Harpreet: No, it’s how you avoid me and leave me on my own!

Murph: You know I love you. How else am I to pay the bills?

Harpreet: Find a way that doesn’t require you to tend bar all hours of the day and night.

Murph: This isn’t fair…

Harpreet walks out.

Murph (as she goes): I’ll work something out. I promise.

Harpreet: Yeah, sure. What’ll you do?

Murphy, moodily locks up his pub and heads up to the nearby highlands to seek wisdom from the Oracle of Galilee, Madam Roberts. She lives in a cave and is locally known for her wisdom.

Madam Roberts (rubbing her brow knowingly): Ah! You have a problem and come for the Wisdom of the Oracle. Sit.

Murph (sitting across from Madam): Wow, how did you know? My marriage is falling apart. I need you to help me.

Madam: The Oracle needs inspiration.

Murph (pulling out a few denari): Here’s an offering. My problem is…

Madam (holding up her hand): Stop. The Oracle knows all. You have fought with your wife.

Murph: Well, duh. She thinks I don’t…

Madam (closes her eyes, sways, rises and lifts her hands: The Oracle speaks: “Love not the circumstances dictate actions.” Go. Next.

A man with a goat enters the cave.

Murph (startled; as he’s leaving): Hey, can I buy a comma?!

Murphy is pushed out of the cave.

Murph (heading down the hill): Well, crap. Love, not the circumstances, dictate actions?Love not, the circumstances dictate actions? Love not the circumstances, dictate actions?

When Murphy returns to his pub he turns around and finds Jesus following him.

Murph: Hey, Jesus. What are you doing?

Jesus: I’ve been following you.

Murph: Really? I’ve been up to the Oracle. She wasn’t much help. Wouldn’t give me a comma.

Jesus: Well, what did you expect? I’ll give you the comma–it goes after the first word.

Murph: Love, not the circumstances dictate actions.

Jesus: Yep.

Murph: I love Harpreet but that doesn’t change the circumstances.

Jesus: If love can’t change your circumstances, you are stuck.

Murph: Why can’t Harpreet change and work within our circumstances?

Jesus: Whose love do you control? Figure out what part of the problem is yours and begin working with that.

Murph: Harpreet will only be happy if I give up the pub!

Jesus: Love is most evident in sacrifice. Think about those who love you and you’ll be thinking of those who have made sacrifices for your sake. They’ve followed you all your live. Only love can inspire such sacrifices–it’s not natural or rational.

Murph: Hmm. You’re right, but I don’t know if I can make the kind of sacrifices needed in my case.

Jesus: Follow me. You and Harpreet, follow me.

Murph: But what if she won’t?

Jesus: Love follows. It’s the sacrifice. You follow me, she follows you, you follow her, I follow you…love follows. If she loves you, she’ll follow you. If you love her, you’ll follow her. If you love me, you’ll follow me. If you follow me, I will care for you.

Murph: How can I follow you AND follow her?

Jesus: Murphy, we are good friends, right? Do for Harpreet as I would do for you. You found me here for you today. I’ll always have what you need. You be me to her. The key: Start over. Whoever follows, always gets another start–another chance to get it right.

Murph: Okay, I’ll restart. I’ll follow. If all goes well, we’ll both follow, but no matter what, I’ll follow.

Tr8: Love follows.

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.

cybeleMurphy, the non-disciple, is on his way to the hardware store to get some drywall to fix a wall in his pub in Caesarea. He decided to drop by Starbucks on the way. After ordering a tall, French Roast he sits in one of the two comfy chairs near the window and reads his iScroll. Luther, a metalworker from Antioch, talks to the barista who, in turn, points toward Murphy.

Luther: Mind if I sit here?

Murph: Have a seat. D’ja see the headlines? The Persians beat the Indians in the World Cup semis in a shoot-out.

Luther: Yeah? I’m not from around here. Is that a big deal?

Murph: Well, sorta. My wife is from India.

Luther: Oh, I see. (Sits quietly for a second or two.) I came here looking for a guy–Jesus of Nazareth or Joseph or somebody. You know about him?

Murph: You’ve come to the right guy. I know him well. If I weren’t a gentile, I think I could’ve been a full time disciple of his–but he only chooses Jews. I’m Irish. But he treats me like one of the guys.

Luther: Then you’re just who I need to talk to. You know, we’ve heard a lot about him in Antioch. Though I’m sort of surprised about his disciples being all Jews.

Murph: Really? Well, there you go. What do you hear?

Luther: Well, I’ve heard Jesus is everybody’s brother. Kind and gentle. Doesn’t offend anyone. A holy man who accepts everyone and has practically no rules for his group. He’s compatible with all faiths–Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Stoics, Epicureans, Caesar–whatever. You know–he’s just spiritual. Not religious. He’s a gentle giant who could draw us all together…

Murph (holding up his hand): Whoa, campadre! I don’t know who you’ve talked to, but you’re not talking about Jesus.

Luther: But…

Murph: Jesus is more like a loving tornado. He puts everything on its head in the most paradoxical ways. He makes the Pharisees and Sadducees see blood–absolutely shreds hypocrites. He takes Jewish law to an absurd degree–he says, “Whatever is not from God is sin.” Don’t mistake his mercy and grace for agreement with all spiritual gurus–he’ll not have it. While he loves Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Druids or whomever, he preaches repentance and a relationship with God, his father.

Luther: “God, his father….”  That’s a bit much.

Murph: No. He says it right out: “I’m God’s son.” “I’m the Son of God.” “I’m the only way, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  “The Father and I are one.” “I only do what the Father says.” He even said that he won’t remain dead when he dies!

Luther (frowning): Well this is disturbing! He’s not compatible with all the other religions? He’s not tolerant? We have a goddess in Antioch, Cybele, our Mother Goddess–surely believing in her HAS to be okay.

Murph: I don’t know where you got your information, but you have it all wrong. The Cybele worshippers may want Jesus to join ’em, but he won’t have it. You don’t really know him if you think he’s all sunshine and happiness glad to sit in with all the other gods and teachers. He’s the epitome of grace and truth. He’s brutally honest, but his grace is all about unconditional love and forgiveness to anyone who will repent and follow him.

Luther: So, you’re not a disciple because you are not a Jew?

Murph: I’m not one of THE 12 disciples, but I  follow him anyway. He treats me as if I were.

Luther: So, this Jesus is not going to make you a real disciple and unite the world in love?

Murph: Don’t know. He said a pharisee from Tarsus, not far from you, would straighten things out for the gentiles and would work in Antioch. Can you imagine that?! A pharisee leading gentiles in Antioch?!

Luther: That’s intolerable. I’m really disappointed that Jesus isn’t who I want him to be.

Murph: Get over the disappointment. Come with me. I can’t wait for Jesus to meet you!

Tr8: Jesus is always preparing a way, but he’s no everything to everybody. He is God among us, but will not be limited by our scruples and imaginations.

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