Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

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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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.

bowling in jerusalemJesus and his disciples are sitting outside a bowling alley near the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem. News has just broken about the death of eighteen people when a tower collapsed near Siloam.

John (holding a newspaper): Man, this stinks. Imagine those families. One minute they’re here, the next they’re gone. How sad.

Andrew (looking questioningly at Jesus): Yeah, Jesus, what’s with that?

Jesus (rubbing his chin): What’s with the tower collapsing or what’s with death and sadness?

Andrew: Well, both.

Jesus (stacking pebbles): The tower collapsed for natural reasons. In this case they’ll find that the foundation was built with inferior materials and the last earthquake set the tower out of balance. If people had been paying attention, they could have seen this coming.

Nate (nodding): That makes sense. And I suppose it’s God’s judgment?

Jesus (looking up): The eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

Matthew (frowning slightly): I think not. No, they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

John (nodding): Agreed. That’s not the way you work. You are merciful almost to a fault.

Jesus (smiling at John): Yes, I love mercy. However, the laws of nature are consistent and one event leads to another. Everything a human does sets a chain of events in motion, too. Humans don’t accept all actions have consequences. Laziness, neglect, substance abuse, fighting, stressing out and ignorance lead to messed up minds, bodies, and relationships. I’m sure the builders of the tower had no intention of it falling, but poor materials and design coupled with minor earthquakes — a natural event for this area — led to disaster.

James: So everything is random? We are at the mercy of a threatening world?

Jesus (shaking his head): No, it’s anything but random. If you live on a beach, you’ll be at risk from storms, floods, tsunamis, and erosion. You can count on it. Humans and nature obey principles — every dynamic action has a consequence. Nature and humans are dynamic and dangerous. Everyone is at risk. Daily. You truly can’t comprehend it all. Since Adam and Eve, the dominoes have been falling. This age is tragic, but know I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also. There is hope in the midst of tragedy.

Andrew: What about death and sadness?

Jesus: Death and sadness make people seek peace and hope. We all live in the shadow of death. All die. I bring life and bring it abundantly. I will take creation back to Eden someday. I am the source of peace. I am the hope for tomorrow. All peace is found in my unconditional love. Tragedy draws people to me as naturally as water runs downhill. There’s no greater faith than trusting in me to turn bad into good. It takes time. I stand with survivors as they face shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, then acceptance and hope.

Bartholomew (shaking his head): That seems a bit formulaic and trite.

Jesus (nodding sadly): Yes. It seems that way on the outside and one would be crazy to call tragedy a good thing. But inside, reality is altered and people grow closer in love and grace. I heal. I loved those who died at Siloam and they are in my care now. My peace and love can comfort those left behind.

John: Seems like a real leap of faith.

Jesus: It is. It takes boldness and time to ask, ‘Where’s the good in this?’ Now you are looking in a dirty mirror, but in my kingdom you will see things clearly. What is unclear now will be clear in my kingdom. I am in the process of redeeming all of this.

Peter: How will you do it?

Jesus: Through a tragedy. You know me and what I have said. This temple — me — will be torn down, but it will arise in three days. Through tragedy you will see my love and redemption made complete.

Tr8: In tragedy, have faith and find peace in Christ. Share love and the source of peace with those who suffer. Jesus has experienced death so we might live in and with him.

Paul and Barnabas were walking through the marketplace in Antioch after church. They are going to Olive Garden for soup and salad. As they walk, a young girl and man are right on their heels.

Girl: 6×6=36!     16×23=368!    48,588×455=222,307,540!

Barnabas: 55×32?

Girl: 1,760!

Paul: 7×5?

Girl: 35!

Man with girl: She’s my slave. She can multiply anything. I rent her out as a calculator.

Paul: 9×9?

Barnabas (just ahead of the girl): 81.

Man: Want to hire her for some calculations?

Paul: No. We mostly add.

Man: You’re already into me for 6 calculations.

Paul: No way! We didn’t ask for the first three and Barnabas answered the last one.

Man: Hey, everyone! These….CHRISTIANS…THEY don’t want to pay for their calculations! I’m being oppressed!

A group gathers around them.

Man: Wilbur, how much did you pay me for calculating how many casks you could move with your crew?

Wilbur: 50 cents. Yeah, 5 men, 5 trips, 25 casks. I remember.

Man: There! See? You owe me $3.00.

Paul (steamed): Here’s $1.50 for 2 questions.

Girl: $1.00

Paul: Did that one count?

Man (thinking): Of course. That’ll be $1.00.

Paul (handing over $1.00): Okay, here. This ain’t right. No one should have to work as a calculator. Girl, do you like this?

Girl: I’m so tormented. All I can do is…multiply…if only I were free!

Man (slapping the girl): Shut-up, winch!

Paul: That’s it bub. Demon, identify yourself and come forth!

Girl (falling to the ground): Aghh!

Demon: Paul of Tarsus, servant of Jesus Christ! I am the Demon of Multiplication. Please don’t send me to the pit! Please!

Paul (looking around): Foul fiend! Go! Into that donkey, you minion of evil!

The girl sat up, in her right mind, smiling calmly at the crowd. The people were amazed.

Man (startled, looking at the girl): What’s 13×120?

Girl:  I don’t know.

Donkey: 1,560.

Tr8: Multiply your grace by helping others. Boldly help the helpless.