Monday, April 21, 2008

Why I am back in counseling.

Why I am back in counseling.

Last week I started seeing counselor #3 for the first time in about a year. The reason I am going to see him again is that for reasons beyond my understanding and ability, the site stuff christians like has exploded. And to tell you the truth, I fear that without surrounding myself with wise counsel, I will become an arrogant jerk. Or more of one, since some days I am already there.

Arrogance is one of those traits that we sometimes give a free pass. We say someone is "driven" or "focused" instead of calling them prideful. But I read something in 2 Timothy that challenged me this morning. Here is what 2 Timothy 3:1 says:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.

That's a little scary sounding and for good reason. In the Old Testament, when things were terrible, people did horrible things. They murdered pregnant women, ate their children to prevent starving and killed each other for false Gods. So when the verse warns of terrible times it's difficult not to think of a particularly dark and bloody future. But here's what the next verse says:

People will be lovers of themselves,

Wow. I thought that threat of "terrible times" would be punctuated with an example of something horrible. Murder. Genocide. Cannibalism. Certainly those things are available in other parts of the Bible, but Paul didn't pick them. He picked arrogance. Out of the pantheon of sin, the one he referenced first as a sign of the last days was that "people will be lovers of themselves." In the next few verses he further drives home the point by calling out the words, "boastful, proud and abusive."

That's why I am in counseling again. It has been a joy and an honor to be part of stuff christians like. And soon I am going to announce some really cool things that are coming down the road. But I hear the siren's call of arrogance. I hear the temptation to think this is about me and not about God. I see love letters written from me to me. And I realize that alone, I am not strong enough to ignore them. Alone, I will help usher in terrible times with my arrogance. Alone, I will fall again and again.

That's why I am back in counseling.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What this weekend holds.

If past behavior is a predictor of future behavior, I am not good at making decisions. I will make many, many bad decisions in the future. I will fail. I will choose the wrong door. I will go for option 3 when clearly option 2 was where God was waiting.

But recently I read something in 2 Timothy 2:4 that shook my snowglobe so to speak. It was not some massive revelation. I did not hear the pitter patter of angel wings in my ears. I was not instantly enrobed in a beam of heavenly light. I just realized something that I think you might realize too. Here is what the verse says:

"No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs."

Feel free to insert your own "I'm in the Lord's army joke," but I think there's something else to this idea. I think that when you look at this a little closer, a simple truth jumps out:

In the wrong activity, all the options are bad.

Sometimes I get so focused on making a good decision that I don't take the time to even look at the affair. I worried about which job God wanted me to take in Atlanta for the longest time without even asking him if it was the right time to move. The reality is that every job was the wrong choice because at the time, the move was not the right affair. The move was a civilian affair. The move was something I shouldn't have even been involved in.

It's easy for us to casually drift into circumstances where we have to "make the most of a bad situation." Where we choose the lesser of two evils. The dating relationship that is better than the horrible one, but not really that great. The lie that is the whiter of the two, but still a lie.

I think instead of analyzing our options we need to pull things back and ask, "Is this the right affair?" I think we need to pause and say, "Regardless of my decision, should I even be involved in this activity?" Because the best of the worst is still less than the best can be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's time for beauty.

It's time for beauty.

I recently wrote about feeling convicted to throw away my copy of the movie, "Fight Club." I wrote that for years I threw it away only to buy it again. And the post got a lot of responses. People had lots of different opinions about throwing things away in general and Fight Club in specific.

I didn't do a very good job explaining why I might not need to watch Fight Club, but Paul does. Here is what he writes in Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Forget Fight Club, I think this verse is bigger than that. I think this changes the filter with which I look at the world. You see, I judge things by their potentional to hurt me. I look at movies and books and friendships and magazines and conversations and think to myself, "Is this poison?" Will this thing or person damage my walk? It's a "how can I not fail" way of looking at things.

But Paul flips that idea on its head. He says I am wrong. He says, the question is not, "Is this poison?" The question I should be asking is, "Is this art?" That is, is this something so lovely, so excellent, so pure that it will elevate my walk with God?

It's not about sorting through the snakes until you find one that isn't poisonous. It's about seeing the sunset and the things that are beautiful and true and powerful and bigger than me.

I like the book Fight Club. I think it says something powerful about men and our needs and where our culture is headed. I recommend that book all the time to Christians. But if I ran the movie, with the nudity and the sex and the violence and the destruction through the Paul beauty filter, what would I find?

I'm not sure.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why I am writing about stuff.

Why I am writing about stuff.

So about a week ago I started a new site called "Stuff Christians Like." I thought it might be a fun way to poke some fun at my faith and the things I do. I could not have anticipated the two things that happened as a result.

The first was the growth. In a single day, that site had more traffic than four months of Prodigal Jon combined. Readers from more than 80 countries have read more than 50,000 stories. I am truly blown away and humbled.

But those are just numbers. What has been amazing is the reaction from non-Christians. The comments they have been writing have really encouraged me and I wanted to share one with you today.

On one of my posts, I jokingly said that I think Christians are slightly less nice than Mormons. The point I was trying to make was that I know a lot of mean Christians but have never met an unkind Mormon. I argued that when we don't allow Christ to change our hearts, we can sometimes justify rude behavior with false holiness. That is, some people use Christianity like a bully uses karate. It's just one more weapon to judge or attack you with. It was a simple post, but one gentleman named Eric responded by writing:

Absolutely brilliant. These posts are so honest it's stunning. I wish every religious person I knew approached life with this attitude. It's unflinchingly Christian but not arrogant, and #62 gives incredible insight as to why. It takes a humanist approach to God, which is what Christ is anyway. No offense to anyone reading this, but if I weren't an atheist, I'd strive to be this kind of Christian.

It's always nice to hear things like, "you are brilliant," but it is the last line of his post that spoke loudest. "If I weren't an atheist, I'd strive to be this kind of Christian." That is why I am writing that site, that is why I am penning silly things to a wide audience. I want people that would never read Prodigal Jon or 97 seconds with God because it's too "churchy" to know that "this kind of Christian" exists. I want people that maybe don't know how much God misses them to know that he is watching the road for their return. I want atheists to see that we can be funny and real and maybe even honest.

I will continue to write on all three sites but since many of you have been with me when no one was with me, I wanted you to know why I have been writing so much on

I hope this post makes sense and that you'll tell all your friends that aren't Christian that there's a different "kind of Christian" with a different kind of site that just might challenge their understanding of our very different God.