Thursday, April 3, 2008

If you're not reading this, shame on you...

I give you: Stuff Christians Like

Seriously, you're missing out. This is laugh-out-loud-in-your-cubicle-at-work funny. Good luck awkwardly trying to mask the chuckles as coughs...

Here are a few of my favorites:

I dedicate this to the fabulous church ladies that continuously chose flavoraid over koolaid:

#5. Bootleg cookies.

If you ever went to Vacation Bible School then you know exactly what I'm talking about. For some reason, Christians love finding ways to save money on cookies. That's why instead of Oreos you always had to eat "chocolate sandwiches" or some other cookie with a generic sounding name. And they aren't the same. I know they told you that "jungle crackers" were the same as "animal crackers" but you knew the difference, you knew.

#14. Dating God instead of me.

One of the things that Christians at my college liked to say if they didn't want to date you was, "I'm not dating anyone right now, I'm dating God." So the guy, who really just wanted to play mini golf or have a bowl of pasta at the Olive Garden, has to find a way to get you to break up with God. That's a tough assignment but I think it reflects something we like even more, which is bringing God into situations he might not be that concerned with. Granted, he should be infused in every part of your life, but before that guy asked you out, did the Alpha and Omega really say to you, "By all means, do not eat a bottomless salad with Mark Robinson. I have spoken."

Sometimes we like to use God to get out of stuff, like bad dates, just like I use my kids to get out of going to boring parties, e.g. "I'd love to go to your baby shower, but I couldn't get a babysitter. It's a shame, a dang shame."

#17. Unspoken Prayer Requests

I just wrote about this one on one of my other blogs, but it was too tempting to pass up. If you've never heard an "unspoken prayer request" then let me enlighten you. This is when someone has done something they don't want to share and instead of just swallowing it until they are able to share the specific incident they say they have an "unspoken prayer request." If you're being honest and intimate with a group of people it seems silly, but if you're in mixed company and feel shy about telling girls your junk I can see why you might use this method. Then again, maybe the bigger issue is why you're telling girls your junk in the first place. Girls, get some girls you can be real with. Guys, get some guys you can be real with.

P.S. Whenever I hear someone ask for an unspoken prayer request I think in my head, "that dude is having an affair, he laundered money, he is making meth in his basement or he is doing all of the above." That's why it's usually better to just be upfront.

This one goes out to Big Danny, for not pretending John Mayer's music is about God, but rockin it out anyway:

#26. Songs that sound Christian but aren't.

I'm really guilty of this one. Whenever I get tired of Christian music, I just listen to secular radio and imagine that the artist singing is not talking about his girlfriend in a song, he's talking about God. Try it sometime, for the most part it works. And any "I need to find myself" kind of song is perfect too. Colin Hay's, "Waiting for my real life to begin" is a beautiful picture of a conversation with God. Only it's probably about something he said to his wife or just the inner dialogue of his head. Sometimes though, doing this can create some awkward situations. One Sunday, my wife and I were at church waiting for it to begin when they played a song over the speakers by the band, Our Lady Peace. They're not a Christian band, but their song, "Somewhere Out There" kind of sounds like a God song. I mean this part does:

Down here in the atmosphere, Garbage and city lights, You gotta save your tired soul, You gotta save our lives.

But then, in the middle of church, with thousands of other people, I hear the singer say this:

Hope you remember me, When youre homesick and need a change. I miss your purple hair,

OK, I think to myself, that's a little weird. I'm not sure Jesus had purple hair but you know, when the sun is setting just right over the Dead Sea maybe it was kind of purple. And then the next line comes in:

I miss the way you taste.

I had a hard time tying that directly to Jesus or God.

I dedicate this to the not-so-secret midnight society (and by "midnight" I mean "we're-cooler-than-you-because-we-do-dances"):

#29. Not dancing

Know what song my wife and I had our first dance to at our wedding? It was a little ditty I call, "I was unable to dance at my wedding because we had the reception at a church and the church was opposed to dancing." The title's a little long, but I promise it has a really solid beat. Why is "not dancing" one of the things we like? I'm not sure because everyone knows that David was all about dancing and even did so in his underwear. I really hope I can remove this one from my list in the future because I think dancing can be a beautiful act of worship and it's silly to automatically be opposed to it. (Now if you're dancing to the song, "Da Dip" from back in the day, that's a different story.)

Could someone forward this one to John and Sherry Rivers?

#46. Super, happy shiny Christian radio.

Boy of boy, I get cavities when I listen to Christian radio in the morning it's so sweet and sugary. Not that I'm asking for negativity, but for some reason, we want our morning radio to be like a big hug from a teddy bear. Who is riding a pink unicorn with his friend the fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar, while licking one of those giant frisbie-sized lollipops. I think that Christian radio is the audio equivalent of that poster that has the cat hanging on a rope with the line, "Hang in there." And it doesn't have to be. I think that Christianity is a lot more interesting than we make it out to be. I think it's real and honest and beautiful and ugly. But when in one of our most popular mediums we sugarcoat it, we give the world a really weird reflection of what it means to be Christian. And that's just not cool.

#106. The side hug.

Yes, God wants us to be compassionate and kind and tender with each other. Not only that, but he wants us to love our enemies and serve our neighbors. As long as there is no body on body action. I'm talking of course about a "full frontal hug," one of those sinful abominations where you just wrap your arms around a friend and embrace them. That's why Christians the world over have pioneered the "side hug." In the side hug there's no risk of two crotches touching. Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their's. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you're taking a photo and you're both looking at the camera together. The side hug, or A frame as it is also called, is safe for the whole family, friendly and above all holy. I don't know the exact scripture reference but try the book of Psalms.

Let the truth be told:

#78. Using the Christian "F" Word

Sometimes, we Christians, worry that if we admit things are not going well in our lives you will assume that our God is not good. You will see our struggles as a reflection of who our Lord is. So instead of being honest, we will drop the Christian "F" word, which of course is, "Fine." Even though you can see on our faces that we were up all night arguing with our wives we will tell you "things are fine." How's the new project going? Fine. How's the family? Fine. How are things with your wife? Fine. The problem with that approach, in addition to being really dishonest, is that we're called to comfort people in the way we've been comforted. We're called to roll up our sleeves and show our scars to other people and be real about them. Jesus came to heal the sick and when we pretend we aren't, we're just lying. (My other site is like a mistake parade based on the lessons I've learned.) Life doesn't have to be "fine." You are not failing if it isn't "fine." God is not less loving or powerful or great if you tell someone the truth. If anything, when you open up and are honest, you get to share how even in the midst of something sucktacular God is carrying you through those times.

And finally, this is for my Ellen:

#110. Donald Miller

Whenever I sit down to write, I silently and automatically think in my head, "WWDD?" By that I of course mean, "What would Donald Write?" There's a part of me that so loves his writing style that usually my first draft of anything is simply the "Donald Miller" draft. But it's fake, not because he is, but because what I've written is not the truth but rather what I think a Christian author should say. And so what I write sounds really holy and Godly but is actually a pack of loosely packed lies. But Donald Miller is great.

And I think he's great because he's honest. He was one of the first Christian authors for me that really seemed to share his scars, to roll up his sleeves and expose his bruises. Whether that was about his absent father or his dreams to move some where that had more "green places" on a map. He writes like a friend talking to a close friend, not like a Christian on a platform sharing wisdom. And he's a really nice guy. My parents are friends with him. Before "Blue Like Jazz" exploded and he moved on up like the Jeffersons, beans don't fry in the kitchen, he stayed at my parents' house for about a week writing. I spoke with him once on the phone, a story that I have admittedly tried to make more out of in the hopes that other Christians that like him will in turn like me. He was kind and encouraging and told me my background in writing advertising would serve me well when it came to writing books and inside the cover of the issue of Blue Like Jazz he gave me, he wrote, "I can't tell you how much I love your parents and home." And that was a really cool, unnecessary thing for a guy about to sell a million books to say.

So I heart Donald Miller.

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