Tuesday, April 26, 2011

forgiven people forgive

about a month ago i traveled to georgia to visit mecca...i mean...north point. i'm kidding...kind of.

anyways, when i was down there, i went to brown's bridge community church which is a satellite of north point church. i've heard a lot about it and wanted to see what it was all about. and i'll be honest, i wanted to hear andy stanley speak...but he didn't. instead, pastor jeff henderson gave a powerful talk on forgiveness. his point was this: "forgiven people forgive." i don't know about you but that's pretty meaningful in my life.

in his sermon, henderson told the story of louie zamperini, an olympic runner and WWII prisoner of war. in short, zamperini represented the US in the 1936 olympics and later joined the US army air forces to serve in WWII. during the war, zamperini's plane crashed into the pacific ocean and he floated on a raft for 47 days with no food or water before being captured by the japanese military (that's not a typo, 47 days). not long after being captured and placed into a prisoner of war camp, zamperini was identified as a US olympian by the ruthless japanese

guard mutsuhiro wantanabe. on a daily basis, wantanabe sought out zamperini to beat him and torture him. at one point, wantanabe hit zamperini so hard with his belt buckle that it fractured zamperini's skull and left him unconscious. after the japanese surrendered and released all prisoners of war, zamperini came home to california. shortly thereafter, zamperini turned to alcohol to numb the painful memories of the war and to stop the horrendous nightmares he was having of wantanabe beating him. he eventually began plotting his return to japan to find wantanabe and kill him.

all of the rage, revenge, and hatred that had built up in zamperini was quickly replaced one night in a tent in LA. after the gentle persistence of his wife, he went to see a young man, billy graham, speak about the love of jesus christ. after accepting jesus, zamperini's life drastically changed and he forgave all of the japanese guards who treated him so cruelly, including wantanabe (it was actually his second night in the tent, read the book for the whole story). he began traveling around the country to speak on forgiveness and started a children's home for underprivileged kids. and then, in 1997, zamperini traveled to japan to meet wantanabe and forgive him in person (although wantanabe never showed up for the meeting).

to end his sermon, henderson brought 92 year old zamperini on stage to read a letter he had written wantanabe. in the letter, zamperini forgives wantanabe and invites him to become a christian. powerful.

what an amazing story of forgiveness. one that truly humbles me.

i just finished a book detailing zamperini's life, which is way better then this blog, called "unbroken" by laura hillenbrand. it's a powerful story of redemption, grace, reconciliation and forgiveness and it's a book that i highly recommend.

if you'd like to watch jeff henderson's sermon on forgiveness, you can find it here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the jesus juke

a few months old but still hilarious...this blog is from "stuff christians like" by jon acuff. check his blog here: here.

Weird things happen to me when I fly. If you followed me on Twitter you would know this because I tend to have “tweet explosions,” when I’m at airports.

Last Sunday morning, as our plane lifted off the ground, the person behind me started to play what sounded like a pan flute. Just as we began to soar above the clouds, we were greeted with a Zamfir melody from what I can only assume was some sort of satyr. In his defense, the flight attendant did not say, “Please return your seats to their upright position, carefully stow your carry on luggage and put your pan flute back in its elk skin satchel.” He had every right to play that beautiful wooden instrument and play he did.

At another airport I went to, a humongous bodybuilder spent his time in the terminal doing ferocious push ups right beside me. I tweeted about it and folks told me to prove it with a photo. Not likely. One of my rules for twitter is never snap photos of people who can snap you. And this guy could have broken me in half like a thin blogger branch.

But in all the responses from people asking me questions about the terminal B2 bodybuilder, one stuck out. It was different than the rest, but is something I am growing familiar with.

I call it the “Jesus Juke.”

Like a football player juking you at the last second and going a different direction, the Jesus Juke is when someone takes what is clearly a joke filled conversation and completely reverses direction into something serious and holy.

In this particular case, when I tweeted a joke about the guy doing pushups, someone tweeted me back, “Imagine If we were that dedicated in our faith, family, and finances?”

I was fine with that idea, I was, but it was a Jesus Juke. We went from, “Whoa, there’s a mountain of a man doing pushups next to the Starbucks at the airport,” to a serious statement about the lack of discipline we have in our faith and our family and our finances.

I don’t know how to spell it, but in my head I heard that sad trumpet sound of “whaaaa, waaaa.”

And that wasn’t even a bad Jesus Juke. I didn’t mind that statement at all. That guy seemed fine. I’ve heard much worse. I once tweeted about going to see Conan O’Brien live and how big the crowd was. Someone wrote back, “If we held a concert for Jesus and gave away free tickets, no one would come.” Whaaa, waaaa.

Chances are you’ve experienced this. Someone pulled the Christian version of the Debbie Downer, they threw out a bit of Jesus Juke on you. If you have, or even if you haven’t, there are three things we all need to know about this particular move.

1. It generates shame.

The Jesus Juke is a great way to tell a friend, “I wish you possessed the uber holiness I do and were instead talking about sweet baby Jesus in this conversation.” It’s like a tiny little “shame grenade,” you throw it into an otherwise harmless conversation and then watch it splatter everyone in guilt and condemnation.

2. It never leads to good conversation.

I’ve been Jesus Juked dozens of times in my life and I’ve never once seen it lead to a productive, healthy conversation. You might think it will before you juke, but what usually happens is just raw amounts of awkwardness, similar to how I felt sitting in a theater watching the Last Airbender.

3. I’ve never met someone who was “juked to Jesus.”

I once tweeted, “No one’s ever said: ‘The way you bitterly mock other Christians helped me begin a life-changing love of Jesus’ (Be kind).” I wrote that because I wanted to remind us that our jerkiness never led folks to Christ. I don’t think our jukes do either. I don’t really see it as a conversion technique. It’s more of a conversation killer technique.

I hope we all keep talking about Jesus. I hope we talk about him lots and lots. I hope he defines our life and conversations. But if I tell you that when it comes to My Little Pony, I tend to prefer Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie and that Toola Roola has been riding their coattails for years, please don’t respond, “You know who created ponies? Our Lord God did, that’s who.”

Has anyone ever pulled a “Jesus Juke” on you?