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trinity

I really don’t like that Trinity chose to buy a recorder. Not my favorite instrument in the hands of a ten year old. Or maybe anybody. She could have chosen something cool like the cowbell, but no. It had to be a recorder.

So, for the past few days, morning and night, we’ve been regaled with her halting, squeaky attempts at Hot Cross Buns, Mary Had A Little Lamb, and tonight, a new classic, Frere Jacques.

I love Trinity dearly though, so I encourage her. To throw the thing in the ditch behind our house. Seriously though, I am very proud. That at least she’s good at math and reading.

Seriously, seriously though – she is trying really hard, and actually getting better at it. Will she be going to Juilliard one day? Not for music I don’t think. But she’s having fun doing it, and I could totally see her going to MIT one day and creating some kind of nano-tech warp drive and living on the moon. She is really just that smart.

Her attempts at the recorder remind me of my spiritual journey. You know we basically all start at the same place – newborns. And we are so excited about it, we are sometimes “squeaky” and our attempts at things such as public prayer, evangelism, and even personal devotional time may seem awkward. But, like Trinity is getting better with practise, so do we become better at being children of God.

For most people though, they stay in the newborn stage. They begin with excitement, and get a sense of the awkwardness and give up. They lack encouragement, they lack accountability, and give up before they get to the really good stuff.

I don’t want Trinity to give up! I love her and I love her excitement! So I will encourage her and tell her how proud I am. And I really, truly am proud of my beautiful little girl.

I want to encourage you, too. No matter where you are on your path, keep going! Don’t give up! It’s worth the struggle! Find someone who can walk along side of you and be a mentor and guide and teacher for you. Keep doing what the Lord has shown you is right, even if it feels weird. Becoming a Christian is a major shift for most people, and even if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, sometimes trying something new can feel weird, too.

Trust in the Lord, follow his leading and be what he has called you to be! Those feelings will pass, and you will learn to live in the destiny he has created for you!

Take a minute and think to yourself – what is God asking you to do? How has he gifted you to accomplish this task? Can you do it on your own? Pray that he would enable you to do all that he is asking you to do, trust him to do what he said he would do, then step out and do it! You’ll be changing your life, and the lives of those around you!

Pig in hat

A recent study revealed that about 78% of Americans consider themselves Christians. Mixed in with that number, in order, are Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox (both Greek and Russian) and then a line item that comes in at .3% that’s just called “other.” I wonder who those people are?

I know you probably know this, but not everyone who cries out “Lord, Lord” is actually a Christian. Where I live, there’s a little Baptist church pretty much on every corner, except for the corners with a CVS or a QT. But thinking about it, we can get pretty religious about our pharmaceutical and convenience store needs.

Think about it like this – why is the world so screwed up if all those people are actually followers of Jesus Christ? The best, easiest answer is, it wouldn’t be if they actually were.

I remember in high school, people who were in the running for Homecoming King would always have their bio read during a school-wide assembly, “Yes, he’s the greatest and he knows it! He loves the foosball, hang gliding, galivanting with all his foosball friends, and he’s a member of the [local Christian denomination left unnamed to protect the innocent].” Then all of us who were members of that church would look at each other, and say, “I’ve never once seen him there, how about you?”

I’m thinking back to something I read in Mark the other day. Jesus was beboppin’ around, hitting town after town, doing his thing – a few miracles, some sermons, he fed a few folks, told some stories, and then one day, around dinner time, some of the local preachers and church staffers came up to him and questioned him real good about his heathen, sinful ways.

You see, Jews believed you had to wash yourself in a particular way before eating, or you would be ceremonial unclean.

And now for three short vignettes:

When I was a kid, if you came to church with shorts on, you’d be shown the door. Didn’t matter if you were lost as a goose and had never been and the Holy Spirit himself drove you to the front door and said go in. Shorts were not allowed. Not at church, not at the church office, not at church camp, not on a church trip of any kind. KNEES WERE SINFUL DID YOU NOT KNOW THIS??

A few years back, I was a youth pastor. I met a great guy at a school event, invited him to come to church, and he showed up with a hat on. On a Wednesday night. In the youth building. I had so many people complain about that hat! I thought at first they were kidding, but no, they were dead serious and quoted me scripture that said people can’t wear hats to church. I asked one guy to go study I Corinthians 11, then instructed him to make sure his wife shaved her head before leading prayer before the Wednesday night church supper next time.

In another church we had a youth band. Kids were coming in from everywhere, getting saved, getting fired up, bringing friends, leading bible studies at school – and the catalyst for all that was the band. Sure as heck wasn’t a middle aged bald headed youth guy. Well, there was some praying, too. Anyway – a church member told me if I didn’t “unplug those evil drums and guitars” he would unplug them and they would stay unplugged forever. I think he meant to go all Keith Moon on them.

Anyway.

How many of you were told by your parents as a child, and to this day tell your children, to wash up before dinner? It’s all about the hygene, right? They could have some unknown sand box pathogen and end up on an episode of House.

How many of you are Jewish? Well, they’re the ones that started that. What we call hygene, Jesus called something else. In Mark 7 the religious leaders asked Jesus why he didn’t wash up before eating. He flat out called them hypocrites. Look it up. Wow, right? Way less than tactful, Jesus.

Thing is, he wasn’t there to placate the pastor of some crappy little church. He wasn’t there to uphold the traditional, or to make the religious people happy. He didn’t come to bring peace – he came with a sword. He came to cut his people free.

How can you know someone is who they say they are? Well, a doctor wears a white lab coat, a leopard has spots. Birds fly and bees be. Generally.

“Well, Christians read the bible and pray a lot, and go to church a lot. Sometimes they don’t eat for whatever reason, and some of them when they pray it’s not real words coming out of their mouth. And they have a bunch of bibles.”

No.

There’s only one way to tell a Christian. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

When we can get over ourselves, get past our traditions, give up our hurts and our past, when we can actually love like Christ loved – sacrificially, unflinchingly, unapologetically, wholeheartedly, unconditionally, and without regard for personal safety – then everyone will know! There will be no doubt who and who’s we are.

How do you love? Like a regular person? With strings attached? You can love like that, but don’t call yourself a Christian if you do.