Archives For Christian

“God, I just don’t have what it takes,” I blurted out and grabbed a sweater off the hanger.

The sound of my voice surprised me. I usually slog through mornings mute and zombi-like, but standing between the doors of my closet I felt trapped by my inadequacy—to deal with the politics at work, difficult patients, and another ten-hour day. Even worse, I was completely out of ideas—and had been for weeks—about how to connect my coworkers to the God who loves them. 

3005477839 3bbe16fbc1 bPhoto courtesy of Mark Grapengater via flickr.com

My inadequacy twisted around me, squeezing the air out of my lungs. But, as my words scattered onto work pants and blouses, I felt an answer—the kind you’d never think of on your own, the kind that feels green when all your thoughts are purple. The answer was colored like this: “You being adequate was never the point. Not at the beginning, and not now.”

Just like that, God torched one of the portraits of him that I’d been hoarding. It’s a picture of God up in heaven. Sometimes he’s cheering me on. Other times he’s drumming his fingers on the throne. Always he’s waiting for my graduation day—the day when I’ll finally master being a Christian and get everything right. On my own. Without his help Continue Reading…

“How much?” the pastor jolted upright in his leather chair.

“Forty-thousand dollars,” she said.

“But…” he readjusted his glasses, “…why would…that many wouldn’t even fit in the church.”

“You might be surprised how much it costs to ship the best orchids, gazanias, and cherry blossoms from Brazil, South Africa, and Japan. Specialty flowers, you know, are my business.”

“But…” the pastor’s hand, having left his glasses, hung in mid air, “why not donate that money somewhere else…the building fund…some missionaries…the homeless shelter?” 

“I want to give God something beautiful.” 

“But, they’ll just die.”

“I know.” 

He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it again. “It just seems…” He faltered.

“…like a waste?” she said. 

He cleared his throat and looked away. 

*    *    *    *    * 

Photo 1447279506476 3faec8071eeePhoto courtesy of Jorge Zapata via unsplash.com 

As American Christians, we’re likely to sympathize with the pastor—unless, we find the same story in Matthew 26. There we find ointment instead of flowers, disciples instead of a pastor, and a woman wanting to do something beautiful for Jesus. 


Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt, but when it comes to Bible, familiarity makes us numb to the shock of the story. A year’s wages for five minutes of worship. Hundreds of poor people that could have been fed for months. Religious onlookers who thought they knew better. How would Jesus respond Continue Reading…

 

The last couple years, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday has made me squirm. While I love listening to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it’s the other dream that bothers me, God’s dream, the one in Revelation 5, that salad bowl in heaven where people of every skin tone are tossed in together and worshipping side by side. It unsettles me, because my life and church look more like a bowl of Breyer’s Cookies and Cream, light on the cookies. 

 

Photo 1452693051753 f0acd4cfe723Photo courtesy of Pumpkins via unsplash.com

 

When I listen to King’s dream, I can feel good about the fact that two of my best friends have been an African American and Korean American. I can feel proud of my great grandmother from Canada who told me how her town, one of the final stops on the underground railway, helped runaway slaves integrate into society. 

 

When I listen to God’s dream, though, I find myself asking some hard questions, like whether my mostly white church should be mostly white. Or, whether it’s enough to enjoy diversity without taking any steps to heal the racial issues in my country Continue Reading…

If someone visited the churches in your city—let’s say the Protestant ones—what would they conclude about Christians, in terms of beauty? If the sanctuaries in your city are anything like mine, they’d assume that Christians don’t care much about it.

Sure, we appreciate beauty when it crosses our path—in a song by Adele or a handmade leather wallet—but only if we have time for it. In the hierarchy of life, there are more important things—like paying our heating bills, getting the brakes fixed, and telling people about Jesus. 

Photo 1443808709349 353c8b390400Photo courtesy of Artur Rutkowski via unsplash.com

But, while we might prioritize necessity over beauty, God never does. From the beginning, he wove aesthetics into the necessity of life. His new world wasn’t just sustainable and durable, it was also beautiful. We catch glimmers of that beauty when God observes his work and calls it “good” and when Adam enthuses after seeing Eve for the first time, but we run straight into it in chapter three—at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Continue Reading…