Monday, May 26, 2014

Bird Turd-ed Rationalizing

I cleaned the bird turd off my car today.

To avoid the risk of sounding like I'm updating some social media status with a mundane detail of my life (think I'm-eating-a-sandwich type of thing), I'm going to explain my aforementioned comment a bit more.

This week, I had to be at church on Sunday morning about an hour early to help prepare for the worship service. One of the perks of showing up to church early is getting a primo parking spot. I'm talking the kind of spot where it's so close to the door, the walk doesn't even make you break a sweat in 95 degree weather in jeans and a button up. Now that's what I call living. Upon visualizing this parking spot, I got all excited:

"Boy, has Jesus shined His light on me! This parking spot is top-notch, good sir!"

This joyous thought process was interrupted by quite the intrusive thought:

"Shouldn't you give up that spot for someone else?"

But fear not! I would never be persuaded by such a sneaky conviction!

"No, of course not! I'm here early for one of the first times in my 10+ years of coming to this church! Why would I give my spot up? Plus, by parking here, I'm probably helping someone else along in their path to spiritual growth. Having them park farther away from the church will be a good tool to teach them patience! (I'm not kidding you, this is actually what I was thinking.)"

So I slid into the parking spot and walked into church without a drop of sweat and the most smug of all faces. Everything was great! Well, yesterday, I learned that the early bird actually just gets the bird turd. When I walked out of church and headed to my car, I was flabbergasted to find a... gift on my car. Or several gifts, rather. It seemed like an entire legion of pigeons had eaten way too much and then decided to role-play as World War II Bombers for the entire church service directly over my car. The war woulda been won a lot quicker if there were more bombers as talented as those pigeons.
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2)
I believe that's what they call getting roasted by the Scriptures. I love how, when the provocation of the Spirit prompts us to do something right, we immediately begin to rationalize it so we can attempt to make ourselves the exception to the rule. And when I say that I love that, what I'm saying is I want to punch that in the face-hole.

Anyhow, I think that God is working on sanctifying me and making me look more and more like Him. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to accept the consequences for my sin, keep cleaning the bird turd off my car, and learn to give up that parking spot.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lid-Flipping and the Prosperity Gospel

Certain things make me flip my lid (I can now say that because I just bought myself a hat).

Having my headphones get caught on something and getting forcefully ripped out of my ear. Lid-flipper.

Smashing my noggin against something when I stand up from a crouch. Lid-flipper.

Older people poking or pinching me as if I'm some 5-year-old kid (it's happened - don't ask). Double lid-flipper.

If I wanted to, I could go on. Lid-flippers abound. You've probably got many of your own. And if you're anything like me, you get frustrated at altogether too many random things. Like having someone chew cereal loudly next to you during breakfast. (Lid-flipper, by the way.) And yes, I know that getting frustrated quickly isn't a good thing...



UNLESS we're talking about the Prosperity Gospel. This may be one of my top lid-flippers. It's like a super-mega-ultra lid-flipper. It could flip my lid even if I was wearing a ten-gallon cowboy hat. You have not seen a lid flip until you've seen me talk about the Prosperity Gospel. And if you don't know what the Prosperity Gospel is, it is essentially the belief that God came and sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world AND for our material and physical comfort.

In other words, if you want that new house, Bugatti, healing from any sort of illness, or any material blessing, it has already been guaranteed for you, along with every other believer that has enough faith to believe that he will receive these things and gives enough money to the pastor that is spouting this message. Sounds great, RIGHT?!

Look, we could talk about how the Bible is filled with very few rich men, and those who were were typically very sinful. We could talk about how almost all of the men that pursued God in faith, giving of all they had, were destitute. We could talk about how 11 out of 12 (and maybe even all of them) died horrible, gruesome deaths for the sake of the gospel. But let me direct you to take a gander at this here verse.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. (Mark 1)
I know you can't see it here, but when you read through Mark 1 in your Bible, there is probably a divider heading that you see interrupting these few verses that separates "The Baptism of Jesus" from "The Temptation of Jesus." Sometimes, these headings and dividers distract us from seeing some pretty cool things by making us think that two sections are irrelevant from each other. Follow me here:

"And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'"


"The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness."

Maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness because He loved Him. So what does this mean? This means that I don't think life is supposed to be daisies and roses.

I think God calls us to brokenness and hardship because it strengthens us. I can personally attest to the fact that God uses hard times to grow us in ways that days of sunshine cannot. There is a purpose in the dark days, and just because you're in them, it does not mean that God has forsaken you. In fact, He's probably in the process of drawing you to a new level of nearness.

This may sound strange, but treasure the dark days.