Category Archives: Christians

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

I’ve known Jon Acuff for few years now. We have the same agent. And he’s even given me an invitation to write on his blog. (Here’s the post). I was a fan of Stuff Christians Like long before Jon wrote his first book, called, well, surprisingly Stuff Christian Like. And even long before he was selling ads to….what?! NBC… (what the heck? wow. whoa. Jon Jon, way to go.) Oh! and even way back (sort of ) when he was using his spy name “Jon Christopher”… seemingly to throw weaker fans off his scent.

This is all to say that this post isn’t to actually rival Jon’s awesomeness, or his blog. (Jon gets more views in two minutes than I get all week.)

In fact, I’ll tell you outright that Jon’s new book called Gazelles, Baby Steps, and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt promises to be awesome. And Jon delivers in a way that could compete with Octomom. Delivers.

Is this a “coattails post”… like something written to ride on another writer’s popularity and winsome humor to get more readers? Of course. [And frankly, I’d be surprised if you’d need me to ask such an obvious rhetorical question. Will I always ask rhetorical questions?]

Anyway: I highly recommend you order Jon’s book for a loved one for the holidays. It makes a great gift. A limited time special here will give it to you for only $10. Laugh, Learn about Money, and Linger on the comedic stylings of Jon Acuff.

If you’re a Jon Acuff fan, you already know all these things, and I hope you’ve stayed with me. We all must be on the same page. You know this. I know this. Jon knows this. We’re a fan club, er…  family, er…community…team. So we have to move like one. As. one.

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

Jon Acuff: Funny man. Serious man. Modern Legend.

 

 

1. Unlike Jon, I only rarely talk about orphans. Right now, I’m tearing up just thinking about a person (Jon) writing about orphans. So this has to be true. You need more proof, then click here. Orphans break out the water works like nothing else can. The only thing worse for your tissue stock pile is an orphan with cancer. That cute bald head. The sweet bloated belly. Horrible stuff. I’m changing the subject. ugh.

2. Jon can make plenty of us cry, just by being a tad more serious, on Serious Wednesdays. That’s skill folks. I’ll never do that to you. It just not in me. (I mean I don’t haz the skillz) For future notice, I happen to be sillier on Wednesday than Jon is, thereby making my ability to incite tears pale by comparison.

3. Jon writes touching things about his kids, that are profound and can make your eyes as moist and irritated as rubbing a hot chili pepper on your iris. Go ahead get a chili pepper and see for yourself.

4. Jon raises money for orphans. Frickin’ orphans, dude. If that’s not so sweet to be tear jerking, than you must be the Tin Man–pre-Emerald City–my friend.

5. When Jon cries, we cry. More proof here. Don’t miss the comments section. About 400 people admit to crying. Unbelievable. I never cried in an airport except when I’ve been with a TSA.

6. Jon loves his wife, and it shows. Witness this. Honestly, where the heck are my tissues? (I don’t know if people even know if I’m married-which I am. There I said it.)

7. Jon is generous. He’s always helping out struggling writers, ahem, and plenty of other people. Plenty. It’s almost too good to be true. (I have NEVER given iPads, or shuffles, or really any Apple products at all. I’m so lame, but unfortunately not lame enough to stir your tears of pity.)

Have I made my case?

(If you enjoyed this post, please come back soon, or click the “update button” for … you guessed it–post updates. Thanks.) 🙂

P.S.
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.

Is chocolate filling my God-shaped hole?

Biscoff Gourmet

WARNING: Like any good chocolate–which contains 60% cocoa–this post contains 60% tongue-in-cheek humor, and has been produced from a place they may be associated with nutz nuts.

So, about Chocolate…
Recently, I’ve asked myself the questions, “Can I see God past my love of chocolate?” and “Am I stuffing chocolate into the so-called “God-shaped void” of my heart?”

It’s. not. so. simple.

First, we have to answer the questions: What is “the heart”? And does this heart “place” have a vacuum (missing spot, hole, etc)?

Okay. No. Let’s talk about the phrasing first.
This “God-shaped hole” phrase could be more viable, in the first place, if God were like a product, and would act predictably as such. If God were a pill, or a tool, or a consumable, then selling him as “the thing that fills us” would work a whole lot better. God could be like sliced bread, or an Apple product.

Don’t get me wrong, God actually is sold this way by folks each day. He’s promised as the only thing to be the perfect fit, the best boyfriend ever, or the one who (like a class president with a Mexican heritage), will “make your wildest dreams come true.”

But how about the brass tacks?
Like Snickers, does God satisfy?

Snickers Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atlanta, GA, USA

Image via Wikipedia

Well, to be honest, I’d have to say “yes”, “no”, and “sometimes”.
Optimally, yes, God does. God has the potential to, but I haven’t seen anyone able to really take him up on all his selling features, and be “satisfied” too consistently–especially during God’s silent times, or terribly rough periods of life. Personally, losing my dad made me feel particularly not satisfied by God. For a long time. This most likely has to do with spiritual immaturity, but I’ve lived long enough to see it as a typical human response.

Though God’s perfect, the reality of the situation brings to bear the bigger question, and probably more important question: What relationship DOES satisfy us? Or, is satisfaction even the point? I’m going to buck the popular belief and say, “No. It is not the point. The situation probably cannon come to resolution this way.”
How do you see it? Maybe I can be better enlightened.

Now, back to the first point: “What is the heart?” The common, and I will add contemporary, understanding of the heart has to do primarily with our emotions, affections, feelings, or loyalties. Do you agree? But, if we consider this meaning was not AT ALL a Biblical understanding of the word “heart,” a whole bunch of things can do a 180º, like K.I.T. in Knight Rider.

Heart, in Hebrew terms, was synonymous with the word “mind”, or the decision center of a person. “Heart” was considered fully tied to the choice of will. So, our phrase, “follow your heart” is a modern day example of the opposite connotation of one’s “heart” in the Bible. With the Greek language, the same understanding remains for the Hebrew understanding: The “heart” is we think of as “the mind”. All those verses, like “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can trust it…” Well, that is speaking about the mind, not that thing that “falls in love” or gets sentimental. WE are deceitful partial by nature and partially by a choice of will. That the blunt accuracy version of the topic.

With this in mind (unfortunate pun #1. Ugh sorry), is there even a “hole” to fill? Do any heart-type voids have more to do with desire, or something of a more fleeting variety? Weigh in on this, if you will. (Pardon unfortunate pun #2.)

In conclusion, can I come to the answer for “‘what chocolate is filling for me”?
No. Unless you allow “empty calories” or “once loose fitting jeans” for answers.

One more question:

Milk or Dark chocolate?

Evangelicals and Lack of Tradition

This year, the Christian calendar begins November 28th. It is the Season of Advent.

Advent House

Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and many mainline churches observe the Christian calendar. The topic for each Sunday is predictable. Scripture from the lectionary guides the themes, liturgy, sermon, art, and music of that particular time. Traditional? Yes. Useful? I do believe it is.

It provides congruence. Most Evangelical pastors are accustomed to, more or less, speaking about what’s been on their mind recently. This is carefully referred to as “what God has laid on their heart.” (And you’d be a fool to question the movement of the Spirit, right? Maybe a fool, or maybe a blasphemer…if you spoke your thoughts.)

In general, it’s not a terrible thing to follow the leading of the Spirit. (If that is truly what is happening. But, that’s another post entirely!) But does this unformatted contemporary formula help cinch together the Story of God, the Christian Story, and bring a cohesive message of the Gospel, in history and depth, in a palpably connected way? Or, is the shoot from the Holy hip often more of a “bang here and a bit there,” approach?


I’d like to hear your take on it?

I tend to think a healthy mix of several Christian traditions could be very spiritually useful in contemporary times. We are already malnourished on a sound bite way of life as is it.

Chaplain Mike, a one-time Southern Baptist preacher, who blogs at imonk does the whole topic much more justice than I can. I strongly encourage you to link to his specific post with the link at the bottom, if you’d like.

Witness this poignant quote found there:
(It really hit home with regards to my Christian church experiences.)

“Part of the problem is that evangelicals really don’t have traditions,” said Carter. “Instead, we have these fads that are built on the strengths and talents of individual leaders. … But a real tradition can be handed on to anyone, from generation to generation. It’s hard to hand these evangelical fads down like that, so it seems like we’re always starting over. It’s hard to build something that really lasts.”– Joe Carter as quoted by Terry Mattingly

My main resource for this post and a really helpful article is here at imonk. It is most helpful for Evangelicals, and I challenge you to consider a deeper appreciation for the Christian calendar year, starting this Sunday, November 28th.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday Meditation – Thanksgiving

Pa. 1942 Thanksgiving (creative commons)

Book of Common Prayer
A Litany of Thanksgiving
836    Thanksgivings


Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so
freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and
sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and
our friends,
We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering
and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and
promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

See also The General Thanksgiving on pages 58 and 101.
From the Book of Common Prayer online: here.

Chocolate

Wilbur Chocolate Company

Image via Wikipedia

What you see here is a cup of “Turbo” and the Dark Chocolate Crepe (filled with mascapone cheese, fresh strawberries & dark chocolate truffle ganache. Served with more strawberries, fresh cream & chocolate drizzle) from Cafe Chocolate in Lititz. I only wish I had more than my poor quality camera phone to capture it.

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. If church were like this place, well, we’d all go a lot more, and be heavier. Heavier, but probably happier too. Jolly. We’d be jolly.

Their signature beverage is the Turbo. Made with West African %60 chocolate cocoa, frothed with organic milk, and infused with a shot of smooth Espresso. Image a rich, creamy, chocolaty goodness that sort of shoots you into euphoria, on a Japanese magnet propelled train.
Pleasurable? Yes. Think of your best worship experience with God…and then add fudge.
Okay, don’t do that. I think I went over the line there, plus, it’s like comparing apples with oranges, or chocolate bars with communion wafers.

It’s the kind of drink that can make you cry or sing (or in my case, both). Since God made chocolate, it was eventually a worship moment for me.
And thank goodness for smelling salts!

Lititz, Pa is also the home of Wilbur Chocolate, a very superior confectioner, and the now famous yearly Chocolate Walk. With Hershey Chocolate close by, this whole area of Lancaster County is sort of a Mecca for chocolate lovers. Also Sturgis pretzels is there in Lititz; and they boast America’s first commercial pretzel. You can make your own pretzel on their tour, and eat in fresh out of the oven.

Oh happy day! 🙂

HAVE YOU BEEN TO LITITZ?
What is your favorite chocolate goodie?

Whacky Wednesday. Groovy Girls of Faith: OTHER Stuff Christians Like

Hi. Welcome.
If you’re here to get your Wednesday funny fix, because Jon Acuff is serious on Wednesdays, thank you for stopping by. Everybody else, I think you’re pretty great too.

hint. I’m now plugging shame-free for this entire paragraph. If you click the Alluring Button (on the top left) you won’t miss anything funny on Wednesday–when you need it most. No funny from Jon on Wednesdays threw me into early onset seasonal depression this year. You too? I feel your pain. So, these Wednesday posts are really just my way to survive. Enjoy.

EXHIBIT A: The Faith Tones.
Bad girls of 1960s Christian Music. Y or N? You decide.

Singing hairdressers for Jesus?

10 Things I LOVE about this album cover:

1. Big 60s hair. The higher the groovier, baby!

2. Healthy (I guess) round faces, like the Campbell’s Soup Kids.

3. Prophetic sense of bowling shirt fashion (as seen below with Lavern and Shirley). (Also could be hairdressing attire. Your guess?).

Lavern and Shirley, behind the times in fashion, compared with the Faith Tones

4. Subtle use of colorful, patterned or floral fashion, 60s hip blouses (under the matching uniform shirt) that says to the cool kids, “We know how to have fun…the way Jesus wants us to.”

5. Good vintage example of how you could be a Christian singer and still have crooked or subpar teeth. (Seriously. I defy you to spot a Christian album cover with an unattractive or crooked-toothed girl on it now, or for the last 20 years.)

6. Almost daring use of the album title, “Jesus Use Me,” and maybe just a hint of double entendré to spice it up for the Christian male audience. The 1960s were a time of sexual experimentation. Not so much in the Christian sphere, but a “clever” or edgy title couldn’t hurt sales. (Remember Stryper, “To Hell with the Devil”?) What do you think, was it purposeful, or just piety shinning through?

7. Girls use high tech (for the time) Stereo enhancement for our listening pleasure. Rock it, out, ladies.

8. The middle girl looks like she knows how to party. Whoot.

9. A vintage reminder that Aqua Net (not flower children) is what held the 1960s together.

BEEHIVE IT, BABY!

10. This shows us that 50 years ago, much like today, music ministry tries too hard, but–sometimes–in a lovable sort of way.

Do you dig this photo?
ANYBODY have audio sample of the faith tones? Please, please, hook me up!
I’d like to hear them.
Golly, I sense some boss three-part harmony a-comin’!

Praying the “Daily Office”?

The Manuscript Room:  Book of Hours

Image by peterjr1961 via Flickr

Marine of the Korean War in prayer

The Anglican (Protestant) tradition uses the ancient Christian spiritual practice of praying the daily office. The daily office (aka Conical hours, divine hours, Liturgy of the Hours, or fixed hours of prayer) are fixed times of prayer set throughout the day. Millions of Christians the world over are in prayer at these times, and this routine allows space for communion with God, and the potential for continual spirit of God-awareness in regular life.

It encourages followers of Christ to accomplish that which the Apostle Paul admonished, to “pray without ceasing.”

Here are the “divine hours”:

The daily offices of prayer

 

This practice is particularly powerful when done in community. A retreat, or trip with others could include the teaching and experience of the daily office. And, one does not need a priest or clergy to “do it right”. If a group is devoted to celebrating the offices, all that is needed is the cooperation of others to commitment to it in heart and mind; and reverence and regularity.

To learn more, I offer these good resources:

Basic Helpful and  Informative article.

Daily Office, which one can follow online.

Praying the Daily Office I:  (Anglo-Catholic Style Daily Office) Traditional Anglo-Catholic Offices in the American PDF

 

Book of Common Prayer (England, 1559)

Praying the Office II. (Quick Reference Guide To the Prayer Book Offices)

 

Have you ever prayed the offices/divine hours? Would you consider praying the ones that wouldn’t interfere with your sleep?

To be continued…