Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

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Whoops

This year has been the year of life change. I got engaged, I started a new business and I’ve expanded my network.  I’m in the stage of life where things are changing in the most serious way.  I’m no longer in any sense of the word a teenager, I’m almost past the point of being labeled young person and to boot I’m in my late twenties.

Now I know what people say when they tell me “the older you get the faster time flies”.  Time certainly is moving and I’m more aware of how finite this life truly is.

Because of that, I’m also realizing how important our time truly is.  Time is something you can’t buy back, time is something you have no control over, time is something that has a beginning and an end….time is a law of the universe that is inevitable.  So because of that you bet I’ve been really re-evaluating how I spend my time, the people I spend my time with the time I spend on things that matter forever and the things that I waste time on that in the end are meaningless.

Arguing with people over the internet and tearing people down is meaningless.

Oh but I didn’t always think this way.  No no, there was a time where I pretty much used my social media platform to debate and to argue, there was a time where I had to have the last word.  Heck there are times where I still do it.  There are things I say to the world via internet that I just want to delete.  Things that I say that I think to myself “Tim, you are an idiot for posting that”. Yeah, I know the taste of my foot all too well.

But as the saying goes you reap what you sow and frankly the past few months what I’ve been reaping I really don’t like. People say things to me about me or my life choices and they say it while hiding in front of a screen.  For a little while I was offended and hurt until it dawned on me….who did I hurt? who did I offend?  What did I say to someone in front of a screen that really cut them deep that I never knew about?
Reality check Tim Whitaker..you can be a jerk.  Ouch.

But it’s true. I can be a jerk, I have been a jerk and I’m done wasting my time trying to prove people right or wrong over a medium that really doesn’t allow that to happen anyway.

So as I thought about that…I started to then think about real life.  I started wondering who or what I’ve said to people that i meant as a joke that maybe that person didn’t take as a joke.  Now, I realize that the past is the past and you can’t change it.  I also can’t think of a specific time or place where I said something to someone that I thought could be hurtful but I know there are times where I did.  Once again, Tim you can be a jerk.

I started a new business this year.  One that is very heavy on self development and the mindset you carry with you throughout your day.  I’ve realized that supporting the people in your life and encouraging them to be better people is a much better way of living your life than tearing people down via social media or in front of other people.

And so begins a new intentionality of sorts.  So begins the hard work of changing mindsets that don’t always want to be changed.  But one things for sure, this is certainly a better way to live

-TW

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What’s Wrong With Ferguson: Christians

*sigh*

We all know Fergusson is a very hot button topic right now in our country.  The death of Michael Brown has sparked outrage on all sides of every issue this event entails.

This post isn’t about the acquittal of the officer who shot Michael Brown or about race, or politics, or anything of the sort.  This post is about the Christian response to Ferguson and frankly, it’s been a little embarrassing at times.

Christians will often tell you that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  By saying that we are really saying that Jesus is the person who rules our life, and we trust in Him for eternal salvation as made clear in the Bible.  Any Christian who takes their faith seriously would agree that following the teachings of Jesus and using his life as a model for how we should live ours is basic Christian living 101.

This isn’t to say that we always get it right.  We are after all, human and are prone to our faults just like anyone else.  But the catch is that in our culture, Christians have become so publicly vocal about how to live that we’ve trapped ourselves by not being able to live up to our own standards that we preach from our bullhorns (usually Facebook).  When it comes to Fergusson I’m afraid we’ve made that same mistake.

If there’s one thing I’m seeing lacking in the Christian response to Ferguson it’s  empathy.  There is very little empathy from Christians nationwide for Michael Brown (and the people he represents).  When the jury announced their decision to not indict the police officer my Facebook exploded not with empathy or condolences to brown’s family, but to all the reasons why he deserved to be shot.  Well that’s not completely true.  Usually someone would say “It’s sad that he is dead but…”

“but he robbed a store”, “well he went for the officers gun”.  This might be true, but does that mean that a family is still not mourning the loss of their son?  Is there not a bigger issue at play here?  Why do Christians consistently seem to be on the side of harsh words instead of gentle answers and most importantly how would Jesus respond to all of this if he was here right now?

There are a lot of questions that seem to be lacking answers.  But the one that I’m most confident about is that if Jesus was here, he’d be part of the conversation to help change the culture we live in when it comes to racially charged issues and violence that takes so many of young ones.

Christians have no problem calling Michael Brown a thug yet Jesus chose a few thugs of his own to be his disciples and to change the world.  Tax collectors, violent revolutionary zealots and the like were part of the 12 Jesus chose to announce his Kingdom.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  We are all too often ungraceful in how we respond to such tragedies.

When Christians respond to issues of the day the world watches.  People notice how we say things, how we respond and they don’t forget about it.

Sometimes we can look so unlike the Jesus who said to love our enemies, who told us to love our neighbor as ourself.  We can be so unlike the Jesus who shook up the establishment because he was a bridge between racial lines not a builder of walls.   Yet, we often feel justified in our response to issues like Ferguson because well the facts are right there, and the facts are facts.  Let me tell you, I’m glad Jesus still acknowledges the facts about my life but offers me grace instead of what I actually deserve.

When we don’t empathize with people, we contribute to the racial divide.   When we refuse to hear other people out and we instead assume that they are imagining things, we contribute to the cycle none of us want.

As Christians, we should be the first group of people to sit down at the table and offer solutions on how to stop all kinds of senseless violence because we believe that we have major solutions to contribute but those solutions won’t be heard if we first don’t listen.  The Bible tells us as Christians to be slow to speak and eager to listen and it is so necessary that we put this into practice.

I don’t think anyone wants another Ferguson to happen.  But the only way we can stop things like Ferguson from happening in the future is if we take the time now to come together to listen to the needs of each other and our communities and find solutions together.

As Jesus said (paraphrased) ”

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

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Fighting The Wrong Fight…Again…..

Am I allowed to rant?

I suppose so, it is after all my blog and so I’m going to rant.

I’m frustrated

i’m aggravated

I’m fed up.

So what is it that it that I’m so fed up with?  What is it that makes me at times want to stop identifying with the word ‘Christian’?  It’s the mass hysteria so many christians get all frenzied up about. It’s the posting on Facebook to express how persecution is coming to America and posts some obscure article to prove it.

Usually the article talks about some big government move by some big horrible liberal politician and then explains how important it is that us Christians step up and fight this down!  The ironic part? Often, these articles don’t tell the whole story.  They just pick out parts that suit their needs to get their audience all riled up for no good reason. 

I wonder if I can find an article….oh wait here we go!

http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/major-u-s-city-demands-oversight-of-sermons/

It wasn’t long before I saw articles like this one all over my feed with christians posting the links with headings like “We warned you” “I called it” “This is the first step to our persecution” blah blah blah.

I’ll be honest, at the beginning of this story breaking I was concerned myself.  Are politicians really trying to snuff out a pastor’s right to free speech?  Can this really be happening?  The answer…no it’s not happening.  Articles like this (http://americanvision.org/11407/houston-demanding-oversight-pastors-sermons/) tell a much bigger part of the story and explain how what is happening in Texas is common law practice.

But this post isn’t about this story necessarily.

It’s about 2 things.

First, It’s about the deceptive nature of some christian conservative news outlets.  I see it all the time on my feed.  Some obscure news website that panders to an only christian conservative worldview will purposefully twist words and leave out necessary points to a story to rile up people into thinking that Christians in the states are being persecuted.  It really blows my mind to see some self-proclaimed christian news sites being so deceptive either intentionally or unintentionally.  I mean when Jesus tells us to be honest, to be people of peace, and to be salt to the world, I think the last thing he had in mind was “go ahead and rile people up with half baked truths”.  The hypocrisy between their name and their actions is so glaring, I can’t believe other christians actually find them legitimate news sources.

Second, Christians are still at war with the wrong thing.  Perhaps to be the bigger issue here is the kind of wording I was seeing with Christians replying to the story I posted above.  This verbage of fighting the good fight, standing up for our rights, fighting till the end, are all extremely anti-Jesus.  Paul talks about losing our rights as Christians, Jesus calls the peacemakers blessed, and Paul also tells us that our battle is NOT against flesh and blood.  How do we miss this?

Let me share with you some quotes regarding the story I shared above. And I’m going to respond to them underneath of each one These were taken from Charismanews

In light of this egregious example of gay-activist bullying—the very kind that I and others have documented for years now—I urge every pastor in the city of Houston to address the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism this Sunday, announcing this for the entire world to hear but at the same time, refusing to obey the unrighteous decree of Mayor Parker’s office to turn your sermons over for government scrutiny. (This should be done respectfully, in the spirit of Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29.)”

I really wonder if Paul, or any of the disciples felt bullied and what their responses were.  After all they lived in an extremely oppressive culture and most of them all died pretty terrible deaths by the hands of governments.  Yet Paul says it’s a joy to be persecuted for the faith.  The disciples willing went to death for the sake of the gospel.  No where do we read in the Bible “This oppression is wrong so I have become a politician to ensure my rights”.  So many of my fundamentalist friends have no problem claiming to go only by the word of God….but then have no problem fighting with other humans for what they deem are their “rights”.  Yes, legally we all have rights, which is why no one is in jail for their beliefs, but even if they were…would that give us a right to make enemies with people?  After all, Jesus said that the two most important commands that every other command hinges on is to Love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Notice here that the most important command is not to tell gay people they are super sinful.  Notice how the most important command is not to wage war on people.

“I also urge every congregational member in Houston to tell your pastors that you are standing with them, encouraging them to stand up for what is right in the face of bullying and intimidation.”

Yes, a legal request has become bullying? Urging the congregation to stand up for what is right?  This kind of talk just draws a bigger line in the sand.

I don’t know how much clearer the Scriptures make it. Jesus was a friend of people who had problems.  Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet when He is not here.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus getting political, or campaigning for his rights.

What if (and it’s a big what if).  What if those Texan pastors requested lunch with the mayor? What if they requested a meeting with her to hear her side of the story, hear where she is coming from and asked the mayor to hear them out and see where they are coming from to get better clarity on an issue that has divided so many.These pastors have a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus to someone directly and instead they are throwing it away because they were taught that there is a huge culture war and it’s their job to fight for good morals in the world.  (Hint: It’s the wrong battle)

You don’t change people by legislation and you certainly don’t change them by telling them how to live their life.  Life change is a fruit of a relationship with the Holy spirit.  If there’s no holy spirit then you can’t expect life change and guess what our job is in this? To introduce people to Jesus.  That’s it.  It’s not our job to judge the world, it’s not our job to tell people (especially those who are not Christians) how to live their life.  It’s our job to be the tangible hands and feet of Jesus and to tell the world that there is hope.

To the Christians who insist on waging war on humans even though the Scriptures tell us not to; it’s time to start building bridges to reach lost people, not burning them.  I never want to be the reason why someone turned away from Jesus and his infinite mercy and grace that he extends to every human.

Let me put it this way (and I’ve said this before).  If you tell a person how they’re living is wrong, that they need to change or else, and that person dies without knowing Jesus, you still failed your mission.  Our mission was never, ever, ever, EVER, to become American Pharisees, but to humble ourselves before others to show them the hope we have found in Jesus.

-TW

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Marriage 201 (Written by Michelle Capizzi)

Tim’s Note: This post is from my friend Michelle who has known me since I was about 12 years old.  Michelle and I both were involved with the same organization (CEF) and I’ve come to know he entire family extremely well over the  years. Michelle also just started her own blog and you can check that out here (https://mountainsandvalleysofmommyhood.wordpress.com) -TW

 

About 3 months ago, Tim wrote about watching the perfect marriage while growing up. As I read it I was reminded of my own childhood and living with my parents, who had a great marriage too. Like Tim’s parents, mine were rarely angry at each other and never fought in front of us. They disciplined us, loved each other, worked together, submitted and lead properly and pointed us all to Jesus. So in my naive mind I thought all marriages, with Jesus’ help and a Disney flair of happily ever after, were perfect. But since getting married almost 7 years ago, I’ve realized that marriage is a divine gift given to very fallible humans who have unrealistic expectations and think that they can wade through these treacherous waters by themselves! I’ve also learned that while my parents were great, my marriage will never look exactly like theirs.

So here’s what I’ve learned from watching a great marriage and living one that will, hopefully, be great too:

  1. My husband and I are NOT ever going to be the same as my parents.

My parents are both middle children in big families and while I’m also from a big family (the oldest of 9, yes nine!) I am a first born and by nature not as laid back as my parents and some of my younger siblings. My husband is also a first born, but only of two. He was also raised in a very different family dynamic than me or my parents. So just our personalities and upbringing play a huge role! As first born we both want to be in charge and lead. We’ve had to learn when to let the other person take the lead and to trust each other. (Btw… for those of you who aren’t first born, trusting another person to lead, even someone you love a lot, is REALLY hard! As a side note, if you’re interested in birth order and personalities it can be an interesting study.)

  1. Not going to bed angry is important, but learning to say “I’m sorry” is even more important.

I always wanted a marriage where we never went to bed angry and since I rarely saw my parents disagree and never saw them fight I thought that was a possibility. It is possible, but it takes a lot of humility and commitment to working things out. And since I never saw my parents fight and rarely saw them disagree I also never saw them make up! So I didn’t learn a lot about conflict resolution. I’ve also been convicted lately about having a pride issue. But my husband is great at apologizing! He has actually taught me and our kids more by his humble example than anyone else. He says sorry to me and our children whenever he needs to.

  1. Marriage is A LOT of work!

I’m sure my parents worked hard to make their marriage what it was, but I probably wasn’t paying attention till I was much older and they tended to talk about anything important away from little ears. So I never understood how much work it is, especially the first couple years! Since my hubby and I are from such different family dynamics it has added to our work load. Like Tim, I’m from a fairly stable family and never dealt with divorce, mixed families, etc. But my husband has dealt with step parents, divorce, abuse, and then some. We’ve had to learn to be able to disagree and work through it, to understand that we have completely different points of view sometimes, to realize that it’s not about “winning” but about doing what’s right & best for our family.

  1. Being submissive and loving each other sometimes means calling each other out on our sin.

We know each other better than almost anyone else and we know each other’s weaknesses, struggles and hurt better than anyone. But we have to because those things effect both of us! We are married; we are one in many ways and this is one of them. So when one of us chooses to wallow in our own crap it hurts us both. We are learning to call each other out on the sin in our lives, hold each other accountable, tell each other everything ASAP and forgive each other. This takes a lot of humility! (Did I mention I have a pride issue?) It also takes a lot of wisdom and prayer!

  1. Kid’s change everything!

Losing sleep, having to decide how you will discipline your kids, and dealing with the daily stress of little people driving you crazy will test a relationship like almost nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, we laugh at them every day and love them so much! But like anything that’s worth doing well, being a parent is hard. This is also an area where our different upbringings can hinder us, because we have to be clear about our plans and expectations. I’ve learned to relax about what my kids see and hear (we didn’t have a TV growing up… another story for another time.) and talk to them about everything, while my hubby has had to learn to be more careful about what they see and hear. It’s a balancing act.

  1. Lastly, marriage isn’t a fairy tale!

Please talk to your kids (once they’re old enough to pay attention) about what a real marriage is like. Feel free to work through things and say I’m sorry in front of them. Most fairy tales portray a princess and a prince riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after. I love the fact that so many animated movies have focused on other relationships (sisters, mother and daughter, etc.) lately. I wish some of those had been around when I was a kid. I also wish someone had reminded me that Christian romance novels are FICTION!!! I don’t know anyone whose marriage looks anything like I ever read in one of those books. Marriage is real life; dirty laundry, paying bills, changing diapers (once you have kids) and all the day to day mess. It’s wonderful if you work at it, but you do have to work. (I agree with Tim that our generation doesn’t like to work hard. I have to admit there are times when I’d rather not “work” at my marriage.)

I know I have a lot more to learn. Being married less than a decade is not much time. We hope to have many more years to get to know each other, raise our kids together and figure out this crazy, wonderful life.

 

 

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Language of Love by Paul Joseph Cheeseman

Tim’s Note – This was written by my friend Joey. Although we do see the world very differently we not only coexist peacefully, but we have learned a great deal of other perspectives that we did not inherently grow up in. As a follower of Jesus I have learned that before I can speak into someone’s life, I must first be genuinely interested in their life as Jesus is so genuinely interested in our lives. I hope these words are heard and that we as Christians continue to build bridges instead of burning them. -TW
P.S interested in writing a post for us? Shoot me an email at Drumminelsewhere@gmail.com

When there is breaking news, I tend to check all of the major sites. Just to get an idea of what each individual site has to say. And I also (shudders) check the comment sections. That is never a good idea, for anyone. What I find so maddening, is that each one takes their respective side. Offering partisan talking points. Glossing over important information to further absorb a story into a rhetorical philosophy. A political war between the left and the right. Between democrat and republican. Between one side and another. It’s 24 hours a day. 7 days are week. On the radio. On the internet. It is an endless cycle. It can create a cloud of confusion and misinformation quickly, which in turn tends to turn the conversation from a lively debate into a personal bloodbath.

I met my friend Tim about 7 years ago. We worked together at Starbucks. Tim and I are two people with a vast ocean of differences between us. Tim is a Christian. I am an atheist. Tim is straight. I am gay. Tim was homeschooled. I went to public school. Between the two of us we have lived uniquely different lives. We have both been fortunate enough to see some of the world outside of our tiny east coast lives.

Our entire relationship as friends is rooted in the sincere fascination and exploration of our differences. And guess what? While we may disagreed on a number of issues throughout our friendship we have allowed each other the space and dignity to express our thoughts and feelings without arguing. Without trying to win the debate. Instead, we both said what we had to say and then (this is the important part) We shut up and listened to what the other had to say. We didn’t talk over each other. We didn’t try to dehumanize the other. We opened our ears and we opened our hearts.

Despite all our disagreements we are two equal individuals who sit down at the table in the name of fairness and brotherhood. We try to understand the other. Including our backgrounds. Our upbringing. Our strengths and weaknesses. So that we may try to understand where the other is coming from. It is precisely why Tim and I have learned so much from each other.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night isn’t just one star. If it were the painting probably wouldn’t be remarkable. It’s a painting full of stars. Van Gogh’s style and vision created something remarkable. As people we are not just one star. We are a sky full of them. We are complex. We are nuanced. We have flaws: sometimes we make mistakes and we are wrong – and that’s ok.

The point is that socially, we need to be better. Let go of all that anger. Let go of the incendiary language both sides equally use. Start talking to each other with more respect. Because it’s not about taking sides. It’s not about Pro- this or Anti- that: the only label that really matters is Human Being. It’s not about taking our country back. It’s about taking our humanity back. Our charity. Our kindness. Our ability to live with one another despite all those things that make us different.

We need a reconciliation. A new language and way to speak to each other. A new dialogue with our brothers and sisters in this world. We are not inspired by those who are just like us. We are inspired by those who challenge what we think we know. Those people who allow us to grow. Those who motivate in us to be better.

Consider this: There is is rise in new narratives. For liberals you have a re-emergence of populism with the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. And for conservatives you have Rand Paul and Nick Gillespie and many voices for populism and libertarianism. The old system does not work. We are not simply a liberal or conservative. We are more than being a democrat or republican. We are much more complex. We contain much more depth and nuance that these old machinations of representative democracy allow us. We are being held back by our rather easy habit of falling to one side or another. More than anything we need balance.

We live in a fast moving fast changing world. We do not resemble past generations. It is time to let go of all the old world thinking that limits us from moving forward and facing the tough challenges that indeed lie ahead. The moment you think you have all the answers Life will turn it all upside down. In this life we must commit to learning. I learn something new about this world and myself everyday. I encourage you to do the same. Seek out those who challenge you. Seek out those who reveal and teach you lessons you did not know you needed to learn.

Peaceful coexistence is entirely possible. However we must stop choosing sides and condemning the other. The old adage of walking a mile in another’s shoes is still to this day the stepping stone to a deeper level of compassion. Which inevitably leads to a stronger sense of connection and love in this life.

-Joey

We Don’t Want Freedom, We Want Victory.

I’m getting political in this post. Well….sort of political anyway.

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In this post I’m going to attempt to cut through the hyper-partisan culture we live in with some logic. Once again, I must emphasize that I’m attempting here. I make no promises that I’ll succeed in doing so, but I can’t just sit by anymore and watch the partisan venom spew from people. I also can’t capture all that I’m trying to say in a simple Facebook status so I’m taking to my soapbox known as Coffee Theology and Jesus to throw my tiny opinion into a massive ring. This post also might be more of a rant than a post…whoops.

Here’s what drives me crazy, people on both sides of the aisle (read Conservatives and Liberals) are so incredibly biased that they refuse to see any good in the other side.

I grew up listening to a lot of conservative talk radio. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are the two talk radio juggernaut who dominate the radio waves and feed the conservative machine with daily rhetoric. It really does impress me that these guys say pretty much the same thing for 3 hours a day 5 days a week and somehow find ways to dress it up in new words. Yes Sean we get it, Obamacare is going to ruin the country, Obama is ruining the country, anything Obama says is wrong and a lie. See Sean? I just summed up your three hour show in a few words.

Liberals don’t exactly fair much better either. All one needs to do is to turn to MSNBC to see the complete opposite venom being spewed. We know the talking points: gun control, pro abortion, welfare, expanding certain government programs, cutting certain government programs that conservatives like blah blah blah.

The irony about both of these parties? Neither of them really want freedom at all. They just want victories that secure more control for their party.nThe inconsistencies on both sides of the aisle are glaring and no one is willing to point out that maybe their side isn’t right on everything.

Instead we live in a talking point culture that thrives on rhetoric and a media that overall panders to their audience instead of reporting straight facts. I mean it’s no secret that the Fox News slogan is “fair and balanced” when in reality is should be “we are pandering to a conservative audience and we know it “. MSNBC is the opposite side. So what do we have? We don’t have two news networks, we have two entertainment networks that spin news stories to pander to a certain audience. *Sigh*

Anyway I digress. So what does this mean for the Christian? Because when it really comes down to it I care much more about how Christians respond to this than I do any other people group. Why? Because Christians claim to follow the Bible and claim to follow and believe in the same resurrected Jesus as I do. Therefore, I am much more critical of Christians because that’s who I identify with and I think frankly, that too many Christians have bought into the lie that to be a Christian means to also hold mainly conservative views

In the Bible there’s no such thing as a “Christian conservative” let’s not forget that.

I can’t emphasize this next point enough. If we claim that our worldview is from a Biblical perspective then we must be consistent in that perspective. Do you know what James says is true religion? Here’s what James says:

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Instead of letting the whole Bible shape our worldview, we have allowed politics to shape how we view the Bible. Do you know how many people I see on my news feed who claim to be a Christian call our president a clown? An idiot? A dumbass? Call liberals stupid, dumb, retarded? (their words not mine). I mean these are people who in one breathe praise God and in another breathe curse men. Hmmmm…sounds familiar doesn’t it? Oh yeah I know why! Because James as an answer for that too

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Nailed it.

Sure we want the government not to tread on us, yeah we want lower taxes, but you know what? The Bible says the opposite of that. Jesus tells us to pay our taxes (and don’t forget he was telling his people who were being oppressed by a government to pay the massive tax to Caesar) and Jesus tells us that for us to understand His kingdom we must lay down our rights.

I’m tired of allowing certain politics to influence Christians to be incredibly selective in how they apply the Bible. I’m tired of hearing people try to explain how yeah, Jesus says to love our enemies, but we have a right to bomb other countries and kill civilians. I read Jesus telling us to love our neighbors and I hear the Church tell us to take care of yourself, that the poor are lazy and don’t want to work so don’t help them out because it’s their fault anyway. Ironically Jesus never puts such a stipulation in the Bible when it comes to those with less than us.

Jesus doesn’t give exemptions to loving our enemy, loving the poor, and forgiveness. But we have instead bought into the political lie that somehow these things are conditional. Thank God (literally) that Jesus’s forgiveness is not conditional, thank God that Jesus didn’t tell us to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps first and then he will save us. But this is how we treat other humans. This is how we treat other people made in the image of God.

I could go on, and on and on….but I won’t. There’s enough stuff here to write a book about so I won’t belabor the point of this post. Here’s the question I want Christians to ask themselves;

Is my allegiance to Jesus first or is it to country and political ideologies first?

This is the time to check your views and compare them to the book we claim is the word of God. If we really believe that, then our views must match what’s in that book, not the other way around.

If you like this post then share it!

-TW

What I Learned From Watching the Perfect Marriage

I was extremely fortunate to grow up with two loving parents who not only loved all three of their kids (who definitely pushed their love to the limits), but also loved Jesus like crazy.  The older I get I realize how solid my parent’s marriage actually was.

 

In a day where so many kids grow up without a mom or dad, or in abusive situations, I felt very lucky to grow up in a house that was overall peaceful with two great parents who were willing to learn and adjust to not only each other but to their children’s temperaments and attitudes as well.   

 

Here are a few things I learned about marriage through them.

 

1. They Never Went to Bed Angry – I honestly can count on one hand the times I remember my parents arguing.  I can count on one finger the time it got so heated my dad left the house to cool off.  In 25 years I can’t think of one time that my mom or dad slept on the couch because there was a disagreement between them.  My parents were quick to forgive each other and to put any heated situation in the past.  When my dad got angry the few times I remember, he was quick to apologize and my mom was quick to forgive.  As their marriage progressed they got better and better at forgiving each other. 

2. They Are Growing Old Together – It’s no secret that my dad is not the same person he was when my parents first got married.  My dad grew up in a completely different house than my mom did.  While my mom’s family was all about…well family (oh, and pasta), my dad’s family was more of the ‘do whatever you want’ type.  When my parents first got married it was a major shift for both of them.  My mom was used to having people over all the time and my dad…well he most definitely was not.   Over the years they changed and adapted to each other’s needs and personality types and they are both better because of it.  My dad is a much more personable person these days not because he was forced to but because he loves my mom and wants to meet her needs.  Which brings me right in to my next point

 

3. They Meet Each Other’s Needs –  Oh sure, they are still two different people.  My dad has no problem working on his motorcycle in the garage for hours by himself (something my whole family would pay money to see my mom do), and my mom has no problem talking to her friends either in person or on the phone for hours (something we’d all pay a lot of money to see my dad do), but they sacrifice for each other and they cross over into each other’s needs to meet them.  My mom encourages my dad to buy the toys he wants, she has never once fought him on it.  My dad hosts more people at the house more often, not because he necessarily wants to but because he knows it meets a need for my mom.  It’s mutual submission to each other and what the other needs and it works wonderfully. 

 

4. The Never Fought About Money – My parents have owned a small business for almost 30 years.  Once again I can not think of one time they fought over money.  As far as I know they never had their own personal checking accounts and their were no secrets between them regarding where money went.  My mom was the book keeper for the business so she knew more about how our house economy worked, but my dad never once doubted where the money was going.  My dad was also the sole provider of the family for the past 25 years and he was always extremely generous with the money he made for us.  I once again can’t think of a time where my dad told my mom no (unless they were mutually going on a budget).  Trust me, my dad didn’t want the  pool, but my mom did….and now we have a pool.  The things that my mom wanted and my dad didn’t (and vice-versa) was never used a weapon in their marriage either.  My dad was more than happy to give my mom the world if he could regardless of who was making the money. 

 

5. They Disciplined Their Kids – Yes, I was spanked as a child (I know I’m really mentally scarred) and you know what? I’m a better person because of it.   My parents never ever ever spanked me out of anger or hit me out of anger.  I spanked on my cute little butt and was always told that my parents loved me and they wanted the best for me.  I truly never thought I was being abused, and I don’t have nightmares about being spanked….ever.   I was a little punk as a child and I needed to learn that I wasn’t the one running the shots, my parents were.  I’m so grateful for it now.

6. They Are Still In Love With Each Other – My parents marriage is like a well oiled machine.  If you walk into our house on a week day morning you’ll see my dad at the kitchen table running through all of the paperwork for the job that day and planning out all the materials he will need and then getting his employees together and sending them out to get supplies while my mom is running between the kitchen packing lunches for all of us while going into the office to get details my dad might now have.  They communicate like pros and you can tell that all of the hardwork they put in to their marriage early on has paid off immensely.  I know my dad still sees my mom as the most beautiful person who has ever lived, and I know my mom is still head over heels for my dad.  

7. They Mutually Submitted to Each Other – Let’s not confuse things here. I know that many non-Christians think that Christianity teaches the woman to submit to her husband and for the husband to rule over her like a king but this can’t be farther from the truth. The Bible teaches mutual submission with distinct roles to be fulfilled in marriage.  My dad sacrificed so much for my mom and consistently put her needs before his own.  My mom absolutely loved being a stay at home mom and she kept a CLEAN house even with three tiny terrors living there.  My mom wasn’t forced to stay at home, she wanted to stay at home and my dad will tell you that she took the much harder job.  Trust me, raising three kids, running a business, maintaining a house, and being involved with a local Church is no easy feat.  My parents both knew the two essential roles it takes to have a family and the fulfilled those roles flawlessly. 

8. My Parents Introduced Me to Jesus – I can’t speak on behalf of my other two (awesome) siblings, but I can say without a doubt that my parents are the ones who introduced me to Jesus and changed my life forever.  They didn’t just tell me about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian, they modeled it in every area of their life.  My parents were always honest, they always paid their taxes,and  they gave money to those in need.  They didn’t just send a few bucks overseas here and there, they gave money to people who couldn’t pay their mortgages, or couldn’t put food on the table.  My mom ever single morning has that Bible out and is reading it taking notes.  As a kid she would often tell us proverbs (usually when she was angry) that still stick with me to this day.  We were heavily involved with a local Church as well.  This gave me my foundation for life.  I owe my relationship with Jesus all to my parents modeling a life after Christ and building their entire lives around it. 

 

 

 

My generation doesn’t like hard work (just ask my dad he will tell you all about it), but marriage is hard work and when you put the time, effort and commitment into it, the result is a beautiful strong thing that binds two people together.

 

 So thanks mom and dad for being the best examples of marriage that I’ve ever seen.  You’ve raised three great kids and built a great life together.  Thanks for being the model marriage that so many people look up to. 

 

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-TW

 

 

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Popping the Christian Dating Bubble.

Well the unthinkable in my life happened; I started dating someone.  Yes pick yourself up off that chair, brush your dusty knees off, no you’re not dreaming.  It’s true.

 

 

About two months ago I started seeing a wonderful person.  It was kind of sudden, very unexpected but truth be told it’s been a great journey thus far.   Yes, I’m well aware it’s only been two months, but already I have learned a great deal about myself and mindsets I had that I didn’t even know I had.  This post really is for you single people out there.  Especially the Christian ones because I have news for you…you probably have mindsets and disney fairy tale views that you don’t even know you have.  Trust me when I tell you the past few months have been a complete rewiring of everything I thought I knew about romance, ‘healthy’ relationships, and expectations.

Here are a few things i learned.

 

1. You’re dating a human, not a fantasy – “oh Tim” you say, “of course I know that”.  Only you really don’t until you start dating someone and realize that this person can’t read your mind.  That this person doesn’t fit into you’re nice, neat view of that special someone.  Do you know why? Because they are a human being with their own thoughts, desires, habits, attitudes, preferences, and views.  You’re dating another human being, not the person you made up in your head.  Seriously, stop wondering what it’s going to be like because you’ll be pretty much wrong.  I mean you can day dream about being with someone all you want, just understand that you’re mostly wrong about the actual person you’ll be dating because the person you’re thinking of isn’t a person..it’s a daydream.

 

2. No matter how much I knew that hollywood gives a false view of romance I still bought it – I mean can you blame me? We are bombarded with it everywhere.  Yes Yes I know that we Christians think we see through it…..but we don’t. Instead we combine Jesus with Disney and the result is crap like this. We are saturated with culture’s view of love and romance and no matter how much we tell ourselves we don’t buyit but secretly we do. Yes of course I knew that no woman will be my answer in life but it wasn’t until i actually experienced it that I understood it.   You might think that you see through hollywood’s smoke but you’ve still inhaled it.

3. He/She Won’t be your ultimate fulfillment – Understanding that this girl will never fully answer all my questions, never calm every nerve, and never be perfect is at first terrifying and then completely relieving because you realize that you’re not her end all be all either.  My relationship with Jesus is my center, but she is with me on this journey, not my journey.  Of course I couldn’t be more thrilled to be pursuing this person and yes, it’s great to be with her and I love to spend time with her.  But I don’t have to see her every single second of every single day. This person isn’t my answer.  Jesus is and because of that we have healthy space in our relationship.

4. No butterflies does not equal I’m falling out of love – I imagine anyone in a serious relationship or marriage is laughing at me right now.  Truth be told it sounds ridiculous.  But one day when I woke up and didn’t have raging feelings for the person I’m dating I thought to myself “well this must be it, for some reason I don’t like her anymore” which of course is complete poop.  Once again I bought the lie that feelings = relationship. This another great mirage of our culture and especially our media.  From movies alone we are left to assume that to like someone, or to love someone means to have strong, constant, crazy feelings for them 24/7/365.  What a shock it was to me when that didn’t happen. Once again I knew it wasn’t true, but I didn’t understand until I experienced it.

5. Friendship is just as important as the romantic – Another mind blowing revelation that I’ve learned in these past few months.  My friendship with this girl is just as important as the romance.  I’ve had fun just being with her not having to hold her hand every second of every day.  We’ve had moments where we’ve laughed so hard we both started crying, these moments that our often overlooked in our culture’s view of dating have often been the most intimate and important in our relationship.  Sure I take her out , we go on dates, but most of that time is spent as great friends enjoying the company of each other and usually ends up with us laughing till our heads explode…or binging on a few Office episodes.

Look, I don’t claim to be some relationship guru because I’m two months into a relationship after 5 years of being single. That isn’t the point of this post.  The point of this post to wake Christian singles up.  Dating Sarah is so much better than dating the person I made up in my head because Sarah is a real human being made in the image of God and the person I made up was made in the image of me.

 

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-TW

 

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The Christian Hypocrite

 

 

It’s been a while.

 

 

Facebook is a great place for Christians to show off their hypocritical ability. I mean it doesn’t take much effort for me to find the guy who in one breath posts lyrics about grace and love and in the next breath posts how much a certain politician is ruining America, or how the barista messed up his or her drink AGAIN, or how people just really tick them off because they drive slow in the left hand lane (My pet peeve) or how rude customers are to them at work. In fact, the other day I saw a particular person who had one status filled with a couple of F bombs about the way people drive followed by a status with a Bible verse about God’s grace and love.

 

 

We do this while claiming to be an ambassador for the ways of Jesus.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Christians are humans too. Christians will do things that can be at best be described as unwise.  Christians will be hypocrites because deep down everyone is a hypocrite at some point and time in life. Sure we all strive to be consistent, we try to have our actions line up with our words, but they don’t all the time do they? Maybe that’s why Paul wrote these brilliant words in Romans:

 

 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…”

 

 

Nailed it.

 

 

But (and there’s always a but) what irks me here is that we act like we are ok with being this way. We claim to be a Christian, we claim to affirm the death and resurrection of Jesus and by default we affirm his way of living, but instead of following his way, we follow the culture’s way. We vent to Facebook about dumb people. When someone gives us attitude we give people attitude right back. We don’t put ourselves aside for the sake of others, or give people the benefit of the doubt. We are not quick to forgive, we are quick to hold grudges and you know the kingdom we build when we live opposite of Christ? I’ll give you a hint..it’s not the kingdom of God.

 

 

Listen, if you are a Christian then you’re telling people that you’re following a different path than most people. You’re telling culture that you subscribe to the ways of Jesus whether you recognize that or not.

 

Being a follower of Jesus is not always an easy life to live, but it is a better way to live. Let me also mention here that when I say Christian or follower of Jesus I’m not referring to praying a prayer, going to ‘church’ once a week, reading your Bible every now and then, and trying to vote for those good ol’ Christian ‘conservative’ values.

 

That’s the easy stuff. Anyone can do those things. I’m talking about costly grace here. The kind that you give your life for. I’m talking about loving the people who don’t treat you nice. I’m talking about laying yourself down for the sake of others. I’m talking about taking all of Christ’s words seriously, not just the popular cliché one liners.

 

Let me put it this way; if you believe that Christ is the son of God and that every word in the Bible is God breathed, then please take the words “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” as seriously as you take “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me”.

 

Jesus’s way of living calls us to abandon ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. Will we miss that mark at times? Yes we will. What do we do when that happens? We repent to our gracious Father and we repent to those who we wronged. A Christian apologizing for their fault and for their wrongdoing in a situation speaks volumes more than doing all the right things ever could. Why? Because people know that no one is perfect. People know that we all make mistakes and sometimes frankly, We Christians don’t think that we are ever at fault. We are quick to play the persecution or “hey what about MY RIGHTS card” while forgetting that Jesus tells us that for us to find our life we must first lose it.

 

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-TWImage

 

 

 

 

You’re Not One in a Million

My friends and I…..well we can really get our nerd on when it comes down to it.

 

 

 

We love our superheroes, we’ve shown up at the movies in full blown costume for movies like The Avengers, Thor 2, and Iron Man.   Some of my friends will have comic book days that includes a couch, a few people, and dozens of comics as they sift through them reading about the newest adventures of their favorite hero.

In fact, we got so absorbed in the superhero world we starting giving each other characters that strangely resembled our own personal strengths.  My one friend is Thor, another one Iron Man, I happen to be the Hulk (the best superhero btw) and so on and so forth.  At this point we have handed out about 40 different characters to 40 different people.

 

What makes superheroes so cool is that they can do something that we can’t, and that they have abilities unique to only them.   Batman tackles problems a different way than Superman does,  Thor has a hammer, Iron Man has his tech.  They all have unique abilities that make them….them!

 

 

Why am I saying all this?  Because people are unique.  People are so unique that no other you has every existed.  Ever.

You know why you’re not one in a million?  Because you’re 1 in forever.  No one on the planet has your exact personality, your exact traits, looks, talents, abilities.

 

This is what is so amazing about people is that God makes no replicates. He doesn’t run out of creativity when it comes to His creation.   You are made by God, and there’s only of you.  Your soul is unique to your body and no one else can ever be you. We can often feel like we are not worth it, that we are so flawed, that we are just 1 in a couple billion.  But the truth is that no one else is your combination of human.  You have been created, set here on earth at this exact time and place because only you can handle the situation your in.  Only you have the ability to handle where you are, and no one on earth is living the life you are living.

 

You are truly unique, handcrafted by God only once, never will another one of you come around.   This doesn’t make you superior to other people but it makes you unique in  the midst of people.

 

So many times we can be envious of other people, wishing we were them, wishing we had their position in life, wishing we had the talent that they have, all the while neglecting ourselves and the abilities God has given us that no one else has.     To be envious of other people is to tell God that the body, traits, and personality He gave you is not good enough.  The irony of that is thinking that the clay knows more about pottery then the potter does.

 

 

Walk in confidence in who you were created to be because you are once in a lifetime.

 

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-TW

 

 

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