I’m Not A Big Fan of These Clichés

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Christians use some pretty lame clichés. We use them over and over again. That’s why they’re clichés . In certain church circles, it’s hard for people to put together a coherent sentence that’s not a series of clichés strung together. There are churches (and church meetings) where speaking “cliché” language is the defining mark of one’s Christianity. If you don’t speak this way, something might be wrong with you. What if we took these clichés and placed them into a slightly different context? Perhaps we’d realize how ridiculous some of them sound?

Krispy Kreme has a “heart for” doughnuts.

They are really doing some “good work” over there at the Waffle House.

We put the lawn mowers behind a “hedge of protection” just to the right of weed eaters.

Since my car died three weeks ago, “my walk with God”, has involved taking two buses and a cab to work.

The Holy Spirit has “laid upon my soul” a calling to evangelize the virtues of bacon to vegetarians.

After the bounty hunter arrested my contractor, his last words to me were, “if you need to close the bathroom door, open the window first.”

The Episode In Which Richard Looks for Kleenex

Earlier today, I was meeting with someone in my office and realized I had no tissues in my office.  Can you imagine it?  I, a man of the cloth, with no Kleenex in his office; what is the world coming to?  The next thing you know, I’ll be unable to put my hand on a Bible.

After the meeting I went searching around the church to find some Kleenex.

Questions Piqued By Life On Ocracoke

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If Ocracoke residents occupy the eastern most island of North Carolina and drive on “NC Highway 12”, how far east do we need to go to drive on Highways 1 through 11?

Are there any golf carts on any golf courses carting any golfers anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the United States?

Has anyone actually seen a fig? Or am I being misled by part time naturalists, bakers, and practical jokers? I still don’t know how to identity a fig. The last time I tried, I turned out to be a beetle. If held at gunpoint, I couldn’t pick out a fig from an overripe date.

When Tesla’s self driving cars catch on and everyone tells their computer to drive to “My Paradise”, will that create chaos for the ferry system and maybe a few collisions?

How weird is that only one shop on the island sells the board game Monopoly?

The sea shells I purchased at a local gift shop are small. Is there a place to find larger ones at no cost?

Does SpongeBob SquarePants live in the waters off Ocracoke or on the Island itself ?

The Cantankerous Curmudgeon-I’m The Only One in My House Who Doesn’t Wear A Bra

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OK, I realize this isn’t news. I live with four women. One of them is my wife. Three are my daughters. I am not an Arab prince. I am middle class and Methodist. I am me.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, sometimes in the course of human events, we all end up doing each other’s laundry. I know our clothes dirty and clean. While my wife was out of town with the girls recently, the girls amassed a fair amount of dirty laundry. It’s taken a few days to get caught up. This happens to everyone when then get back from a trip or vacation. Multiple loads are placed multiple times into a single washer. Such is family life in middle class America.

Earlier this morning, when leaving the house, I noticed small piles beginning to form. All of our underwear and clothing were intermingled together in two or three separate stacks as they had come from the dryer. From their perch on the couch cushions, they waited to be folded after breakfast. Another sat glaringly in the large corner chair.

As I surveyed each clean load, I noticed several commonalities between the piles: T- shirts, bath towels, and bras. I don’t know what it was about the bras that jumped out at me but I noticed: we had a lot of bras. Everyone, but me, in my house, wears a bra. Everyone, but me, in my house, owns more than one bra. I know this intellectually. But this message, staring me in the eyes, like an unkempt underwear section at Target was not what I wanted to see. Our girls are bra wearing women. This means:

• They will start attracting men who like bra wearing women
• They will want to talk to such men
• They will want to date men
• They will want to buy more bras
• They will need to by fewer pencil sharpeners
• I will need to fund dates and bra purchases

Laundry can change your life; whether it is clean or dirty, whether you wear it or not, or if you like doing it or not. When you finally understand what your dirty clothes are telling you; it’s probably 90 degrees, mid-way through August, and far too late to do anything at all.

You Might Be A United Methodist If

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1. If you cannot conceive of raising money without the sacrificial-like slaughter of a pig, you might be a United Methodist.

2. When you leave reviews on TripAdvisor or Yelp, you do it under the names Francis Asbury or John Wesley; you might be a United Methodist.

3. If your family’s name is permanently mounted somewhere in the church where you grew up, you might be a United Methodist.
“Yep, Grandma spent a lot time in this bathroom so it was only fitting we’d name the new toilet after her.”

4. If you’ve ever asked if you can guzzle the rest of the Welch’s grape juice and eat the leftover communion bread, then you might be a United Methodist.

5. If you’ve ever sold tickets to a meal people can easily prepare at home, you might be a United Methodist.

6. If you hear that, “the Choir is in the Chancel” and you believe the church has bought a new 15 passenger van from France, you might be a United Methodist.

7. If taking your shoes off and crawling under the pews still seems like the most exciting thing to do at church, you might be a United Methodist.

8. If you know the page number to the hymn “Shalom to You” in the United Methodist Hymnal, and you think it’s funny as Hell, you might be a United Methodist.

9. If you have no bumper stickers on your car because Methodists are not really sticker people, then you might be a United Methodist.

10. If you’ve ever been asked to give a play by play of your infant baptism in a Baptist church, then you might be a United Methodist. “There I was, my mama handed me over to this man in a big black robe, and suddenly, he was pouring water all over my tiny head…”

Shalom To You-Prayer

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God’s peace is not a catchphrase, a cliché, or a phrase to throw around lightly. God’s peace creates a sacred bond between the person offering peace and they who receive the gift. O God, your peace is the most important gift in the world. It is the most precious thing we can receive and then share with someone who is hurting, broken, in pain, or walking a path of sorrow. Tangible yet immeasurable, easily said but hard to grasp, Shalom does what we alone cannot do. God’s peace leads us to places we would never journey on our own. It is like a road sign we see and hear, urging to go just a few paces further.  Yet the further we travel, O God, we realize the gift of shalom is where we are and where we received the words. Shalom is here and now. Shalom is never something we can hold on to. We say, “Shalom to You”. We receive it and we must, in turn, give it away to someone else. God’s peace is not ours alone. Our pain is not ours alone, it is shared by God. As we share our pain, may we now share God’s peace.

Amen.

Take the “You Might Be A Christian Test”

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Richard’s “You Might Be a Christian” Test

Answer as honestly as you can. Remember this is a safe space.

1. Have you ever walked by a church and said, “What a cute little church?”

2. Did you go to Vacation Bible School? (You may have been 5 or 50. It doesn’t matter.)

3. Did you pick your nose in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School?

4. Have you ever used crayons, markers, or glue (or a booger) to create something for a family member to display on a refrigerator?

5. Have you ever thought, “Jesus would be an asset to any social gathering I’m holding.”?

6. Has riding on a boat full of circus animals in the midst of a storm ever seemed appealing?

7. Would you like the ability to catch fish without the aid of rod or reel, only by walking on water?

8. Do you like to sing with all your might on the chorus of “Joy to the World”?

9. Have you ever fought for the right (or on behalf of a relative) to play Mary, Joseph or Jesus in a play?

10. Did you (do you) have an invisible friend?

If you’ve answered yes, to any of these questions: you might be a Christian. Welcome!

Common Misconceptions About Christianity, Churches, and the Bible

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Here are 10 misconceptions held by Christians and non-Christians about the Church and Christianity. Let me try to clear them up.

1. The Bible is inerrant. In reality: It’s full of mistakes, contradictions, and historical errors. In that way, the Bible mirrors life itself.

2. God wrote the Bible. In reality: ordinary people wrote the Bible.   They made “typos” and spelling mistakes, some of which have led to people believing in weird things which have nothing to do with God.

3. In most of the churches I’ve served there is a painting in which Jesus looks as if he’s a northern European man wearing a bed sheet.  Is this true?  In reality: He was a dark skinned Palestinian Jew.  I cannot speak to Jesus wearing a bathrobe or bed sheet.

4. Jesus spoke English. In reality: He knew only Aramaic.  As far as I understand, Jesus never met King James, William Shakespeare, or studied their English.

5. Jesus was a Christian. In reality: The term “Christian” came into use well after his death.  Jesus never heard or used the word.  Jesus was Jewish; like Mel Brooks, The Apostle Paul, and Jerry Seinfeld.

6. Post-resurrection Jesus was a zombie.  In reality: Jesus was not a zombie.

7. The Christians you see on television are just like your Christian neighbors. In reality: your neighbors aren’t the narrow minded doofuses seen on television. Yes, we can be a little strange at times but we do try to love our neighbors.

8. Being a pastor means years of schooling and substantial student loan debt. In reality: For $35.00 anyone can get ordained. However, online ordinations do not offer a pension.

9. In little churches all across the South, Christians handle snakes in worship. In reality: I have never touched a snake in church.  I did kill a spider once.

10. Church people have favorite pews and seats which they prefer and will rarely move from for newcomers and visitors.  In reality: This is not a misconception.  Take that pew, expect a fight.