Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Christmas, how can you say no!?


For you and everyone I know, I have the proposition of a lifetime!! But first let me give you a little background.

As some of you might know, I work at Ridgeview Elementary school in Olathe. It has changed my life and how I look at people. That sounds cliche, but it's SO true. I have seen more abuse, neglect, poverty, pain, suffering, addiction, and bitterness than I've ever seen in my life. The children with whom I have come in contact have absolutely stolen my heart. I didn't know my heart could feel so much love and so much hurt for children I've known for such a short time. I came into this job with the mindset I would bless these kids and I would change their lives for the better. But God blew that idea out of the water. These children have blessed and changed my life more than I ever thought possible. Let me share a couple stories and then I'll give you my proposition.

It was a regular Tuesday when I clocked into work. I wasn't on my game. I didn't have a smile on my face and I didn't really want to be there. At 3:40 when the kids are let out of school they walk down to the cafeteria for a snack and the commencement of Y-care. But this day, as I stood ready to greet the children, (I'm hall monitor) my heart was heavy. I wasn't feeling ready or feeling able to deal with the pain that loving these children brings. As the children started streaming down the hall I saw little faces light up at the sight of me. A chorus of "Hola Miss Ruuuuthi!!!" greeted and warmed my heart. I felt a little hand slip into mine. Bright little eyes met mine with a smile that melted my heart. She said, "Miss Ruthi! I have something for you!" A brown paper bag was pushed into my arms. I knelt to be on her level and look into her vibrant brown eyes. I carefully opened the brown paper bag so as to preserve the delicate wrapping. I reached in to pull out a half empty box of expired cereal. "It was the last box in the kitchen!!" she exclaimed in Spanish. I looked up to see those beautiful brown eyes. My own green eyes filled with tears. She had given me food. In her mind she was enabling my existence. She was enabling me to continue to LIVE. She was showing me love.

Another one of my favorite memories is from a sunny day in September. He and I were playing with chalk on the blacktop of the playground. He drew a heart. I said, "What's that!?" He replied with confidence, "It's a heart! Es un corazon!" He paused with a pensive look on his little first grade face. "I have a heart! And you have a heart! My heart loves you, Miss Ruthi!" I wanted to take him home and make him mine.

If you haven't at LEAST teared up, I'm tempted to question whether you have a heart.

Now after dissing you, my proposition!

In my education class at MidAmerica Nazarene University, we are collecting gifts for the kids at Ridgeview. My professor is friends with the principal at Ridgeview Elementary. So we're collecting brand new clothes, toys and books for my kids! How exciting is that!?!?

So you might be thinking, "I'm a poor college student, I don't have money for those shenanigans!" I beg to differ. If you even buy one Starbucks cup of coffee a week, you have money to buy a toy or socks or a book for children who don't get "new" things. Their idea of "new" is a coat with holes in it. If you have ever looked at a person in need and recognized it and thought, "Wow, I'm blessed", then think that now! Buy a new book for a kid! Buy a new shirt! Buy a new toy! You don't realize HOW MUCH you will bless these children! You will put radiant little smiles on their beautiful faces! You might not be able to see their joy from this, but rest assured I will tell you all about it! And I'll probably cry when telling you!!

So don't think about it. Don't think it's a nice gesture that you should probably do. Follow Nike's advice and "JUST DO IT!" Bless a kid a stone's throw away from you! Please my dear friends, please, join me in blessing these kids.

If you join with me in this I am MORE THAN HAPPY to come pick up the items you buy! If you go to JUCO, bring them to school and I'll come pick them up! If you go to MNU, I'll walk over to your dorm, if you live in Kansas City I WILL DRIVE TO YOU!


But even if you don't buy a toy, clothes or a book: PRAY.
Pray for my kids.
Pray that they would see believers in their lives.
Pray that they would feel the love of our precious Jesus Christ.
Pray that they would love Him.

Merry Christmas, my dear friends. God loves us more than we can fathom. How fantastic is that?

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I love these kids. They stole my heart. Thank you for praying for them, and loving them well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


worship |ˈwər sh əp|
the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity

Worship is the articulation of admiration for something or someone. Worship is often a word that is associated with religion. However, I would contend that everyone worships. If it's not God, or a god, than it's a something or someone. For some it could be money, sex, acceptance, success, or a myriad of other things. These are idols. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, they are idols. Worship is found in the lives of secularists, agnostics, believers and atheists alike. Worship reveals the somethings and someones we value most.

How do we truly worship Christ if we so clearly are torn and broken beings who worship somethings and someones? True worship of our Abba Father happens when we put God first.

Worship is often mistaken for emotion and feeling. But overwhelming emotions we can't explain aren't worship. Just like fuzzy feelings aren't love. Feelings come and go. The joy of the Trinity remains true for all time. In light of the Trinity's beauty and loveliness we everything else on the horizon of our attention takes its proper secondary place. Above and before all other good things remains the Pearl of great price, the King of kings and Lord or lords.

Brothers, worship Christ. He has loved the unloveable. He has forgiven the unforgivable. He has redeemed you. Open your eyes to His mercy and grace and worship!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Holy Communion

communion |kəˈmyoōnyən|
1 the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, esp. when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level

Communion. The table where we come to remember Christ's ultimate sacrifice for us. God's radical rescue of mankind and the Old Testament sacrifices of blood are tied together in this beautiful Supper of remembrance. Jesus was the innocent lamb who came for us. How could any human turn away from that gift? Christ opened a door from death to life, from disobedience to relationship, from detachment to unity. How lovely is the gift of His love for us. Communion invites us into relationship with Christ. This sacred table nourishes us and strengthens us with heavenly food. It is the table of eternal union and communion.

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Christian, delight in that fact. He will come again. He will come for you.

Participating in the the Lord's Supper is a lovely reminder for me. A reminder of the sacrifice my God has made for ME. He came to earth in human form to die for MY life. He died to save ME. Every time I take communion my heart breaks with joy for His ultimate gift to me. The only thing I could hope to receive from the table is what I do receive. Hope for a better life. Hope in Christ. Hope in Heaven. He gives me hope in Him. I receive Christ at His table.

The Lord of light stepped forth and said, "This is my body broken for you."

Christian, hope in Christ. Commune with Christ.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


gratitude |ˈgratəˌt(y)oōd|
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

How many days do I fill with complaints? How many minutes and hours and days do I waste thinking about the things I don't have? Too many. Every minute we have on this beautiful earth is a blessing. Even when it feels like a curse. God has given us everything. We owe Him our praise and adoration! But what do we do? We complain. Let's remember all we have today that we can be glad and have joy!

Think of this life as a quilt. Let's sow together all of the sadness and happiness, sickness and wealth with the thread of thankfulness. Let's create a beautiful quilt of joy from gratitude. Gratitude to our Savior who owes us nothing and yet so graciously provides us with all things! How lovely is His mercy. How thankful we should be! Gratitude is not because we have perfect lives and nothing goes wrong. Gratitude is because the Spirit of God is within us. He is ever present in our lives! That is reason to have gratitude!

Dispositions often influence our attitudes toward or against gratitude. For me personally my disposition is a huge indicator of whether or not my heart wants to be thankful. But why does what you want win over what you should do!? I should be thankful for all my Savior gives me. And yet, I complain. So many people are addicted to criticism, analysis and negativity; me included. Our world gives us a constant view of how things should be, what we should say, how we should look and if we're not up to their standards, we are criticized. Our outfits are analyzed and many times the first thing out of our mouth is not positive. Brother, change this. Be the example of Christ to which we are called. Be full of gratitude and thankfulness. Let it flow freely from your heart.

"Vocatus atque non vocatus, deus aderit." - Erasmus
"Bidden or unbidden, God is present." - Erasmus


Christian be grateful! Have gratitude to your Lord and Savior for He is present! Always.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Celebration |ˌseləˈbrā sh ən|
the action of marking one's pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social, activity.

God invented delight. Has that ever crossed your mind? He came up with the idea of delight, joy and celebration! When we celebrate in the Lord, we are a part of the divine life of the Trinity. Celebration doesn't have to be happy. It doesn't bank on our emotions and feelings. Celebration can be solemn or exhilarating, formal or spontaneous! But no matter how you feel, celebration enlarges our capacity to enjoy and serve our wonderful Father! Perfect circumstances and happy feelings are not a necessity for joy and celebration.

Everyday we are plagued with reasons to be downcast. But God's joy is an unbroken pulse. We are blessed people. We can be freely sorrowful. We do not have to have sorrow like the world's because we have the blessing of a sorrow with HOPE! We have a hope in Christ Jesus that overcomes all else! We are NOT alone---that in itself is reason to celebrate.

Brothers, CELEBRATE!

Two people in my life are phenomenal examples of celebration: my mother and my Aunt Jill. Both of them have a joy in Christ that is not matched by many. They exult in the Lord in everything they do! They are true Proverbs 31 women. They find joy in the dark. They find hope in sorrow. They know they have hope through the sorrow. How wonderful to live a life of hope through the sorrow?

Christian, exult the Lord. Be joyful! Celebrate!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Of vagabonds and vagrants and rest.


Those vagrants and derelicts.  They inhabit our very souls.  Something about them draw and allure us.  Though we deny it, they are at our very core.

Oh the life of a drifter.  To be tossed to and fro through life.  To live without care of time or place, status or the implied caste system that engulfs the subconscious of all cultures.  Oh to be free.  Free of the judgement, the worries, the stresses.  The ramblings of such people, when they unleash the inner vagabond, is a beautiful freedom and release.  The liberation of that part of the depraved mortal soul and heart, pouring out in various and sundry outlets is a beauty that cannot be matched or compared to any other.  The intricacy of those wandering desires and intentions is irrefutable.

The human heart is an organ unique and utterly necessary to human survival.  With that simple fist-sized organ, our very existence relies.  It literally pumps life through our veins.  It "stimulates" feelings even the most composed of mortals cannot always deny and repress.  It causes pain unimaginable to any beast without a soul.  
The beings who are known as little glimpses of the Father due to being made in His image.  We have been pronounced blessed creatures in the Potter's hands.
Blessed with the gift of emotions.
Blessed with a function we often wish to extinguish.
Blessed with the ability to praise with our gifts and talents.  Such gifts!  Such a blessing we so often mistake for cursing.  Oh Creator.  Thank you for such a function.  Thank you for the ability to express our deep love in a way dumb beasts cannot comprehend.  Thank you for worship!

So what will it be?  Continue to repress the amazing beauty that is creativity and feeling?  Or give way to the terrifying truth that seeps into our souls?
Let out the vagabond!

Embrace the vagrants and derelicts.  Rejoice!  Worship!  Seek the Lord!

And when you have found a peace that passes all understanding: rest.

Enter His rest.

I dare you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Keep asking.

I've been asking a lot of questions lately.

I'm learning that questions aren't a sign of weakness due to lack of knowledge; rather they are an indication of growth, development and maturity.
Growth doesn't end. Especially not spiritual growth. With spiritual growth we become more mature Christians, but we never reach a climax where we know all the answers, and comprehend everything Jesus has left for us in His word. I fear that if we do not feel the need to ask questions, we are in danger of giving ourselves much more credit than we deserve in regards to our salvation and our Savior.

Christians tend to be arrogant people. We tend to be arrogant people. We act like we somehow deserve the salvation that was given us. We act as though we are better than those unbelievers forever wallowing in their sin and self-pity.

As a Christian there is only one thing of which I am completely certain.

His redeeming love.
His never ending grace.
And his atonement that leaves me beautiful and shameless in His eyes.

We are forgiven. Why then, do we not act as His forgiven children? We are blessed with His favor. Remember that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

To do list.

There are so many things that I want to do.

1. I want to start a bakery called the "Pie Hole". I want it to be in the inner city and I want to love the community.

2. I want to be a jazz singer. I want to sing for weddings.

3. I want to pick up and move to Boston. I'll live in a one room apartment with a make shift wall separating the bathroom from the rest of the room. I'll have paints, one suitcase of clothes, a few make shift canvases, and maybe even a piano I found on the side of the road. It will be right on the harbor so every morning I'll wake up to the sound of the fishermen and the market and the smell of fish. EW.

4. I want to be a writer. Maybe someday I'll publish a book of stupid things I did with morals at the end. It would be funny, of course. Or maybe I'll just have a blog that people all over the world read. It will be heartfelt and funny. I will write the type of things I like to read.

5. I want to go to Nashville and work with Charlie Peacock. I want to learn about loving Jesus and how he incorporates that with music. I'll learn about recording and studio stuff. I'll record an album. NBD.

6. I want to direct a movie. Preferably the Spirit Flyer Series, by John Bibee. I have a vision for those undiscovered books. Just lemme at 'em.

7. I want to be a wife and mother.

8. I want to be a wedding photographer. I'm not competitive enough to ever really do this. But I would love to capture their special moments!

9. I want to open a coffee shop. I want to love the community where it's located. Coffee as a profession? Yes please.

10. I want to be a teacher. I want to teach elementary school in the inner city and love people to the best of my ability so that I can make a difference in my kids' lives.

11. But right now more than all of those things, I want to go back to Guatemala.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Maybe my life just changed....

I can't seem to get Guatemala off my mind.  

Fireflies dance and blur my vision as I sit on the back patio, thinking.  Just thinking. 

You hear the cliche, "It was life changing" phrase a lot.  And you wonder how much of that is true.  You ask them, "Really?  Wow!  What made it so great!?"  And oftentimes, they give you a shody, cop out answer.

I felt a lot of emotions when I got home last Friday from Patanatic, Guatemala.  I stepped off the Boeing 737 into the heat of the Houston terminal.  The shock of the heat was paralyzing to the lungs.  I was used to 60's and chilly mountain weather.  Not humidity that made my lungs want to die.  We made our way to the baggage claim so that we could hurry through security and customs in order to wait four hours for our connecting flight from Houston to Kansas City.

I had no idea Guatemala would effect me like this.  I had no idea those people would get a hold of my heart the way they did.  I had no idea those children's smiles would be engraved in my memory.  I had no idea that my bracelet would remind me to pray for them every time I look at it.

A couple of things really struck me in the airport.  1. You could flush your toilet paper.  You might have just chuckled.  But I'm serious.  The water pressure in Guatemala was horrid.  If you flushed toilet paper there was a good chance it would end up on the bathroom floor shortly thereafter.  2. You could literally buy anything in the Houston airport.  Need a watch?  Fossil'll cover you.  Hungry?  You have your choice of any kind of food!  How about your shoes?  I think they need a little shining....

Americans are always going somewhere.  We have a schedule to keep.  We have to get where we're going without interruption so that we can move on to the next item on our to-do list.  We are frivolous with our money.  We buy silly things.  How much do we buy and think, "I need this!"  Malarky, you do!  I've seen people live with the necessities.  I've seen them live with less than the necessities.  It puts a spin on how I view our culture to say the least.  And it puts a spin on the word necessities and what that actually means.

But despite the drastic differences between their culture and my own one things rings true: people are people.  They still have maternal and paternal instincts and they fiercely care for their own.  Humans are incredibly similar.  I think it's our cultures that set us apart from each other.

At first I had all of these emotions and feelings of frustration for our culture and people.  I was so angry that we could have so much and waste so much when people outside of our country are living under such difficult circumstances.  They don't have all the technology we do.  They don't have all the fashion distractions.  They don't have the worries that my culture tells me I must have.  They're happy.  They have nothing with which to compare their lives.  I go there and I think, "How can they live in these conditions!?"  But they aren't coming from my background where I have indoor water that's completely drinkable, and internet access, and my own laptop that cost more money than they might see in a year, and any kind of food I want within a five-mile radius.  God put us each in different situations.  I did not choose to be born in the United States to the amazing family that I have.  God put me there.  Or here, rather.  I didn't know how to deal with our wealth.  Do I get mad?  No.  Do I sell all my possessions?  Maybe.  But maybe not.  Maybe I just need to love.  Maybe I just began to open my eyes.  Maybe that trip was more of a blessing to me, than it was to them.  Maybe God used Guatemala to pull the cloth from over my eyes.

Maybe my life just changed.

My desire is to go back.  My desire is to love.  My desire is to bless and teach.  I can't imagine my life without those things.  And right now, all I can imagine is all of those things in Guatemala.

I have much praying to do.

Maybe my life just changed.  Correction: my life just changed.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

With my luck Guatemala customs won't let me leave and I'll have to walk 127 miles to the American Consulate.

Big red suitcase.  Check.

Nalgene water bottle.  Check.

Passport.  Check.

Bible and notebook.  Check.

Gameboy.  Check.

Camera.  Check.

Anti-diarrhea medicine.  Check.

Well folks.  It's here at last.  June 6th.  The day I fly internationally for the first time EVER.  I'm heading to Guatemala!  I'll be there for two weeks with four girls from MidAmerica Nazarene University.  We'll be changing water filters, working in the clinic, teaching children English ( :) ) speaking a butt ton of Spanish and just loving the people!!

It's really quite pointless to try to tell you how excited I am.  I. Am. Stoked.

There are a few things you could do for me if you think about it.

1) PRAY FOR ME.  And my team.  Maybe this is selfish but I really don't want to have to use that anti-diarrhea medicine.  Pray we have servant hearts.  Pray I don't lose my Spanish words.  Pray the people feel our love.  Pray that Jesus will be glorified.

2) Send me an e-mail.  This isn't so imperative.  BUT, I would LOVE to see your name in my inbox.  Any sort of encouragement would be wonderful.  (I get homesick easy....) (

3) Safety.  Eh.  I'm not too worried.  Yea, third world country.  Yea, maybe a little dangerous.  But we have Jesus!  As long as we're not stupid, I'm pretty confident we'll be okay.  (That was not supposed to be as arrogant as it sounded....)

I am so excited to go praise Jesus in Guatemala.  I'm also very excited to come back and report on my adventures.

Peace out, Olathe.  See you in two weeks.
Ruth. Jeff.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Faithless Bride

Ezekiel 16.  Read it.  And see yourself as His bride.  Let the sweet gospel wash over your heart and soul.

Israel.  The Lord's Bride.  You.

You were unwanted.
You were despised and rejected.
Covered in blood, my heart had compassion for you as you struggled for your next breath.

You were covered with blood, no hope of a future, abandoned little wretch, thrown away in the trash.

But my heart fell in love.
When I saw your pathetic form.
I breathed my breath of life to fill your lungs.
I loved you.

The years flashed by as you grew to be a beauty.
The world stood in awe as you simply took a breath.
I was in love and I took you to the alter.
Jewelry and silk, crowns and anointments.  None could compare to your unmatchable beauty.

But my heart fell in love.
As I vowed to you my whole heart.
Forever yours, you became my queen and love affair.
I loved you.

Then one day you stood gazing too long in the mirror.  
You trusted in your beauty.
You became a whore.
You stripped yourself of respect, beauty, even true love.
You became what you wanted.
My faithless bride.

But my heart fell in love.
When I saw you in the Brothel.
My tears fell freely as my heart shattered 'round my feet.
I loved you.

You were a whore, you were a tramp, you were a slut, you had betrayed me.
You adulteress wife.
You faithless bride.

But my heart fell in love.
That's why I have to crush you. 
I must strip you bare before you see your own despair.
I loved you.

I beat my breast.
I tore my robes.
How could I harm you whom I love so much?
It is for your good.
Because I loved you.

I devote myself to you, my bride.
Your shame still brings tears to my eyes.
My covenant with you is strong and will hold fast.
Faith love, is all you need to get somewhere.
Put your past behind you and take my hand---
As we walk, let us walk through the Promised Land.

Now my heart falls in love every day.
When I see your shining face on the pillow mere inches away.

You faithful bride.
You loving wife.
My heart is yours.
My love, you are my pride and joy.
As your husband, as your head I devote myself.
To you forever.
I love you.

He will keep His covenant with you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Stall Seat Journal: 1st Edition

Today I became a germophobe.

I began an endeavor I don't plan on repeating in the near future.

I attempted to replace the wax seal under the toilet.  You know, the one that ensures no leakage.  The one you don't even think about as you sit on the throne, doing your business.  The one that should never ever ever ever need to be replaced.  But alas, the brokenness of the world ensures that it will indeed break, and some poor soul will have to replace it.

Before I continue, I would like to send up a prayer that you NEVER have to go through the nasty process that is anything to do with plumbing and sewage systems.

I'm  flushed with excitement to get this blog started!  Time's a wasteing, so water we waiting for?

So, we began the dastardly deed by draining the toilet.  I reached down to turn the water off and flushed the toilet.  Most of the water drained out of the tank.  But as I leaned over to check the progress it was soon evident that not all of the water would drain.  Sigh.  And so the nastiness began.  I got out two sponges.  And yes.  You can see what's coming next.  I hand sponged the rest of the water out of the tank.  That's right.  I physically plunged my hand into the murky water to empty it of the remaining water.  I thought the worst was over.  HA.  Oh, how naive.  I lifted the lid of the toilet.  My father leaned over, handed me the sponge and said, "Got for it."  Sigh.  So, I went for it.  I had to sponge the water out by hand.  The thing that got me through?  Kittens and puppies.  They're all so cute.  Kittens!  My goodness, litters of kittens are SO cute!  But alas, having your hands in water where poop has been?  It'll tear down even the most disgusting human being on an episode of Fear Factor.  It is nasty.  So I then proceeded to get out this weird metal lamp thing that got hot in about .234 seconds.  It shone brightly as I began to unscrew the two bolts that hold the toilet to the ground.  Then lo and behold, one of the screws doesn't unscrew.  Did you hear?  It didn't unscrew!  Therefore, I am reduced to cutting the bolt.  
I have to cut the bolt.  
So I put the project away for Easter weekend and I will attack it again on Monday.

That does it!  All bets are now off.  
The next time I finish and fix the toilet, I will indeed reach into my back pocket and pull out a bird-flu mask.   You know, the kind that only allow the sun to reach my eyes!  Now hear me out, I didn't always used to be the person who kept a bird-flu mask in their back pocket.  No no!  Indeed I used to ignore the vestiges of illness and even on occasion was the type who might extend an acknowledgement of blessing should someone sneeze in my company!  But never again I tell you!  A toilet, when the lid is left open during a flush can discharge as many germs into the air as a full-on open-mouthed cough by a snotty-nosed-five-year-old directed in your face!  The foul lung discharge when not accompanied by a preventative barrier can be as repulsive as the toxicity of a freaking land fill!  You might as well be standing next to Typhoid Mary in an elevator!  Do be terrified.  It is their germ mission to land on and find any means of entering your body.

I've almost completely ruled hand-shaking out of the question.  I will say, "Nice to meet you!"  And I might even blow them a kiss for good measure!  And public doors!?  Are you kidding me!?  Handrails?  Escalators?  We're pretty much talking about a conveyor belt of pestilence and filth!  It's pretty much a buffet of maladies that would rival any petri dish in any scientists lab!  You're pretty much toying with unleashing the apocalypse if you touch one of those things!

I'm considering investing in a haz mat suit.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I clicked the new post button.

I don't know what I'm going to write about.

Starbucks.  You have this effect on me.  To write.  WITH NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT.

Me and my venti hazelnut misto are bonding over my indecisiveness.  I was sure I wanted the misto.  The rest was cloudy.  Just like the weather.

I am determined to be a good writer someday.  Someday.  Maybe that someday will include the pacific northwest, some mad musical skills, and a bakery/coffee shop that I own and manage.


Maybe someday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birthday Bliss

How loved can one person feel?


As all....eleven....of my followers know, my birthday was last Sunday, March 27th.  Nineteen years ago on  a cold Friday morning in March my Momma heard my loud, unforgettable cry.  She had a baby girl with more dark hair than you can imagine.  My mother and father like to tell me about how I kept them up ALL night long.  My poor, poor mother was in labor all night.  And so, my life started out with a hassle.  haha.  I wasn't even breathing air and I was already a nuisance.  Just wait till I started talking and having opinions!

For nineteen years I have been more loved than I can fathom.
My friends love me and for some odd reason put up with me.
My brothers love me and tease me and feel the need to protect me from the male side of population.
My sisters love me and taught me the delicacies of coffee and will stay up at ungodly hours of the night talking with me.
My parents love me.  There are too many things my parents do for me to list.  They have always and will always be my biggest supporters.  I have no doubt that my parents will be behind me, building me up in Christ, urging me to love Him more daily.

I have a blessed life.  Yea, so there are day-to-day struggles.  But I wouldn't have any character or back bone if God didn't give me strife.  (Although my Pop would say I'll always be a character. Ba doom ching.)

I love my friends.
I love my family.
I love my life.
But most importantly, I love my maker.

Open your eyes.  See how blessed you are.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Trendy Jesus and His Hipsters

Be forewarned:  I might come across as offensive, or too opinionated.  That’s the beauty of a free nation, baby!  I can think whatever I want.  So can you.  Feel free to disagree with me.  I won’t mean to offend anyone, but if it happens, skip to the bottom and read my last sentence.  Also, this is a long post.  So hunker down.  Preferably with a drink in hand.  Maybe even a writing utensil and paper?  Yea, I knew it was too much to ask.

Dig this.

Too many Christians these days seem to think that the only way to bring the lost to Christ is by being cool.  
Helloooooo hipster nation!  Why do we need to give Christianity a vintage makeover?  Why does it have to be cool to be accepted?  These are my questions, and my sassy observations.

1. Of congregations, labels and denominations.

You know the place.  The big church building on the corner.  The one your grandma has gone to her whole life and her parents before them and their parents before them and the only reason the parents before them weren't a part of the church was because the town wasn't established yet (but don't worry, that brings you to a fifth generation __________).  The church where bingo meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The one where you're pretty positive you're the only person who has ever even considered voting democrat.  The one where all the old women from your grandma's quilting club call you by your older sibling's name.  The one where they sing all traditional hymns and use an organ and you are for sure the only person to be reminded of the Phantom of the Opera by organ usage.  
This church isn't cool by the new standards.  No true Christian hipster would step foot in one of these places.
Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian.  Labels.  The dreaded labels.  It's not cool to go to a denominational church.  The Emergent movement is sweeping America (which is really a whole other blog in and of itself).  I guess my biggest comment on this topic is, why is it SO uncool to be a part of a denomination?  I understand that some people are turned off by denominations and church in general.  But, my thought?  I can't harden or soften the heart of an unbeliever.  God can.

2. Calling oneself “progressive” rather than “liberal’.

The word liberal (like evolution and sex) carries a negative connotation in the Christian subculture.  It is often used in the context of play-by-play accounts from pastors or Sunday school teachers about the dangers of competitive slippery slope sliding.  Is progressive better?  The hipster Christians sure thinks so.  People like Jesus and Donald Miller are considered progressive.  Progressive communicates the fact that we’re not headed down, but forward…and a little (slash a lot) to the left.  Or you can just be like me, and be blatantly conservative.

3. Assuming our daily fair-trade latte from our trendy locally owned coffee shop, makes us committed to social justice.

I may drive a gas-guzzling clunker from the 80's to Wal-mart to buy a trunk full of fruit and veggies from the good ole U.S. of A. but I’m certain that the steam pouring off of my free trade Chai Tea Latte is a sweet aroma to God. Revocup, Bluestem Bistro, Radina's.  Don't deny it.  You know the places.  Starbucks?  Please.  We like the trendy, hole in the walls.

4. Thinking the only way to bring people to Jesus is by being cool. 

Why?  Why is this the case?  Why is it that we have convinced ourselves that only the cool, trendy and hip will draw the unbelievers into community with Christians?  Why is it that we are working so hard on our image so as to intrigue the unbeliever?  
We, as Christ followers, believe in the power of the Lord of the universe.  He seeks.  He saves.  If we speak this truth, we speak love.  We act love.  (The last two sentences might be the most hipster sounding sentences of my life.)  Through our lives, the Lord changes and calls, softens, and pulls the unbeliever's hearts to Him.  

We freak out way too much.  What was I thinking about earlier today?  What I would wear.  Who would see me.  What they would think of me.  I want desperately to be liked.  To be accepted.  To be "in".  Don't EVEN try to tell me you're not the same way.  

But Christian, it's time you heard this news! If you've been reading the Bible at all you'll know this: Jesus was not cool.  Isaiah 53, people!  He was "despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering."  Ya hear?  Hated.  Despised.  Rejected.  Does that sound fun?  Or cool?  Or trendy?  More proof?  The Old Testament is full of examples and times when God the Son was treated like poop.  I said poop. (Kudos if you get that reference.)  Do we need to talk about the douche bag Pharisee's?  Or better yet, have we forgotten about the Jews (His own people) who killed him?  He definitely didn't win the popularity contest.
I almost envy believers in countries with significantly less freedom than our own.  I fear the persecuted believer might know the personality and character better than the hipster nation Christian.  People were drawn to Jesus because he loved them passionately and fiercely, not because he was cool.  In the end, we need to realize that we are not the ones doing the saving.  Jesus is, and we are the ones who are supposed to show others what living life for him is to look like.  I hate to break it to you, but it's not always cool, but instead real and true and fulfilling.  Let's try some authenticity on for size.  

Don't misread me.  I like hipsters.  I like their style.  They aren't by any means bad people.  I might even consider myself mildly hit with the hipster stick.  What I don't like is where our nation and generation seems to be taking Christianity.  I strongly believe the Lord calls us to be strong men and women who will take up His cross.  But if we're too concerned about how used our keds look, or how many people notice our Hebrew tattoo that of course means something spiritually significant, or contemplating if your new dress is even vintage considering you got it from American Apparel then when will we find time to be concerned with the Lord?  When will we adore our Creator more than the life that is a gift to us?  We are so blessed.  The preeminent Father of all, loves us.  Let's start acting like it. 

Now an excerpt from a note my dear friend Candace wrote, "I would not be surprised if some churches have a 'cool team' consisting of people wearing chunky Rob Bell glasses who discuss how to make worship sound more indie-rock. I can almost see them sitting in a coffee shop drinking americanos, with at least one of the guys hoping the barista they think is cute will ask him what his tattoo means, which is of course spiritually significant, and he will be able to invite her to church, and hopefully later, a date!"

I want us to value our beliefs and love of our Maker more than our style.
That's what I want you to get out of this blog.  Just take this one thing.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love Him fully with the life He gave to you.

To finish off, I want to tell you something else my dear friend Candace once told me.  "If you're offended by this, I sort of want to say sorry and sort of want to tell you to grow thicker skin."