Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Like I Was Saying...

Speaking of Bumper-Sticker Christianity, the fine, funny folks at Radio Free Babylon have done it again: taken a topic I could ramble on about and condensed it into four frames of comic genius.

Well, maybe not genius, but definitely in the 90th percentile of SAT scores.

Truth is...the character of Jesus in this strip probably sounds more like me than like the real Jesus, but I'm thinking the real Jesus gets the point and agrees.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sometimes, I Just Don't GET You

There's a danger in writing a blog with the title Truth Is....

One, you may get people thinking you know everything and are an authority on all things relating to Spiritual Truth.

Two, you may start thinking that stuff about yourself.

I suppose those same two dangers are present for Christian artists...especially Christian artists like Rich Mullins, who sometimes spent as much time talking during his concerts as he did singing.

It is reassuring, then, to reflect on the words of one of the last songs Rich wrote before his far-too-early death in 1997. In Hard to Get, Rich makes it clear that he did not consider himself to be an authority on anything and that the depth of Jesus' relationship with His followers is both personal and mysterious.

You who live in heaven 

Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth 
Who are afraid of being left by those we love 
And who get hardened by the hurt 

Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape 

To find the faith to ask for daily bread 
Did You forget about us after You had flown away 
Well I memorized every word You said 

Still I'm so scared, I'm holding my breath 

While You're up there just playing hard to get 

You who live in radiance 

Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin 
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was 
Still we do love now and then 

Did You ever know loneliness 

Did You ever know need 
Do You remember just how long a night can get? 
When You are barely holding on 
And Your friends fall asleep 
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat 

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted 

While You're up there just playing hard to get? 

And I know you bore our sorrows 

And I know you feel our pain 
And I know it would not hurt any less 
Even if it could be explained 

And I know that I am only lashing out 

At the One who loves me most 
And after I have figured this, somehow 
What I really need to know 

Is if You who live in eternity 

Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time 
We can't see what's ahead 
And we cannot get free of what we've left behind 
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears 
All these words of shame and doubt, blame and regret 

I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here 

To where I'm lost enough to let myself be led 
And so You've been here all along I guess 
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...the play on words between "just playing hard to get" and "just plain hard to get" is what got me to look up the lyric and find out exactly what Rich was singing/saying, but seeing all the words written out, I realize that the song is full of phrases that will strike different people different ways at different times. For me today, it's "I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here to where I'm lost enough to let myself be led." What jumps out at you?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bumper Sticker Christianity

Working part-time at a Christian retailer is having an interesting effect on my already-skeptical attitude toward what I've sometimes called "Bumper Sticker Christianity."

You know what I mean, right? Bumper Sticker Christianity is practiced by people who think God is their co-pilot, that Jesus is their homie, and the Holy Spirit is...um...apparently absent. People who angrily respond to a store-keeper wishing them a Happy Holiday instead of a Merry Christmas. People who attach a fish to their bumper, then treat speed limits like friendly suggestions instead of laws.

These are people who would happily agree with Calvin's statement...

...and not sense the sarcasm in Hobbes' response.

Truth is...there may be some value in condensing certain spiritual truths into easily-remembered snippets, but please don't settle for the snippet without exploring the depths of an actual relationship with a real, living Person.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Now's Not the Time to Wallow

I hadn't really planned on posting a series of journal entries connected to my reading of Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me?, but when there's truth to be shared that is impacting your life, and you're writing a blog called Truth Is...you kinda need to go with it.

In the daily reading titled "Get Up!", Rick J. Pritikin tells a story of letting down his Chicago Baseball Little League all-star team by massively striking out at a critical point of a game. He then relates that feeling to being in a time of transition between jobs:

The hurt and despair of being unemployed while in the "big leagues" of life, especially with a family to provide for, was far more devastating, since the consequences are greater than losing a ballgame. We're talking a loss of career, a loss of income, a loss of self-respect and a loss of identity. What's more, if we allow our emotions to go unchecked, failure in our career path has a way of leading to depression - especially the longer our job search drags on.

If anyone in the Bible had a reason to be crushed by despair it would have been Peter, a disciple of Jesus. Just before Jesus' arrest, Peter arrogantly proclaimed that he would never leave or betray Jesus - even though Jesus had just predicted that all of his disciples would fall away. (Matthew 26:33-34)

For those of us familiar with the story, we know that not only was Jesus right in his prediction, but Peter massively struck out in the Remaining Faithful department. The good news is, Peter didn't just wallow in his despair. He got up, allowed the Lord to dust him off, and walked bravely on the path set before him.

Is our transition journey so very different? I think not. We fight despair. We wrestle with the debilitating thoughts and feelings that no one wants our talents. We even toy with the idea of giving up on God's ability to provide for us.

Let me encourage you to get up! Your journey is not over. In fact, it may have just begun. With the Lord's help we must get up from our self-pity, our sea of regrets and our fear of failure, and proceed to the next opportunity. Don't allow anything to come between you and the assigned task the Lord has for you.

I don't think I have "lost faith" in God. I recognize His provision even in the face of not having a full-time job. (Hard to miss that...what with anonymous cash showing up in my church mail slot and out-of-the-blue checks from old friends!)

Truth is...the current challenge (for me and, I believe, for ANYONE, in job transition or not) seems to be finding "the assigned task the Lord has for [me]" in the NOW...even in the midst of job-searching. Am I learning what I need to? Is my character taking on the shape of Christ as intended? If "everything happens for a purpose," then the sooner I realize joblessness' purpose for my life, the sooner we can move on to the next thing, right?