Being a Goody Two Shoes in a Wrong-Footed World

shoes“Hey, Brandon,” she said, bouncing up to the counter – not a coworker, but the girlfriend of one, whom I didn’t know from Adam – and said, “Do you know the difference between a cheeseburger and a [sexual reference]?”

I groaned.

No. I do not know the difference between those two things, and I’ve as much desire to find out as to go dumpster-diving in full view of Main Street on rush hour. Which I suppose is not altogether unrelated.

I looked at them with what I hoped was my (increasingly common) world-weary half-grin.

“C’mon. Enough for one night,” I said.

They relented good-naturedly.

I’m trying to be gracious here. I don’t want to be THAT Christian, the one who gets all stunned and debilitated because unbelievers are acting like unbelievers. You have to let this stuff slide off your backs in environments like my second job.

Plus, I actually enjoy this particular coworker. He’s got a lot of character (other than the one-track mind), we work great together, and I do consider him a friend. Burning bridges over this stuff would not do. Not when I’m called to share Christ with the people in my life.

But this stuff does get tiring. Perhaps you relate.

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4 Ways to Glorify God in a Dead End Job

fryerAs long as the lost are working in dead-end jobs, God will be sending his people there.

That should be encouragement – and an alarm bell – for those of us who think that God’s “callings” end in cushy white-collar jobs, or even in sweltering, malnourished foreign nations. You want to get out of your comfort zone? Some of us are far more bugged working the Taco Bell drive-thru than building houses in Mexico. At least Mexico feels like a mission. Service-sector jobs feel like a waiting room at best. Leftovers. And for those who somehow keep circling back around to the same jobs, they can start to feel ominously like destiny. Like the best it’ll ever get.

The glorious reality is that they’re an opportunity. Fertile ground for the gospel of Jesus.

Dead-end jobs are stacked with struggling souls. Some of God’s most inspired evangelists are needed in dead-end jobs. The debt-wracked, the terminally ill, the criminally marred, the addicted, the newly divorced, the ostracized…there are booming, famous preachers who couldn’t begin to understand this stuff. They make their money at a safe distance from the streets. But you’re a different story. You could reach where they couldn’t dream of reaching – and don’t really want to.

Here are four things that a Christian can do to bring the light, and please, don’t let me overstate my own success in these areas. I’m still learning.

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Whaddya Mean, “Are You a Missionary?”

soldierEver since I started talking about my recent Czech mission, a number of brothers- and sisters-in-blogging have asked the same question: “Are you a missionary?”

I know what they mean: am I a long-term evangelist. Nope; the trip was only two weeks long (though I’ve returned a few times).

But what I wanted to say (without being rude – I love y’all) was, “Aren’t we all missionaries?”

(Most people, including the folks who have asked me this question, would totally agree with what I’m saying. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it again!)

My church teaches variations of this theme: there’s a certain danger in treating our earthly residence as “home”. It’s the danger of mistaking our true situation. We are all behind enemy lines; none of us are home yet. It’s thinking of this earth as “home” that gets our focus off of heaven; it’s thinking of our personal comfort zone as “home” that causes us to miss opportunities to share the Gospel with those in our workplace, our school, or our street.

I’m as bad as anyone else. My focus are constantly on earthly goals, so much so that I have a hard time dreaming about anything else.

But when I consider thousands of people plunging daily into hell, well, it becomes a burr in my shoe. Hopefully more.

Because it’s actually harder to witness in America, precisely because of the fact that I live here.

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When 1 Samuel 16:7 Rescues a Disappointing Life

crossingI’m not where I hoped to be.

That’s a common phrase amongst us, but there are seasons that echo it louder than others.

It used to be that when I looked around and saw others living larger lives than mine, I’d console myself with the knowledge that they were older than I. You’re young. Just give it a few more years, I’d say. Then I’ll be there.

Didn’t happen.

Well, I overstate. Getting a bachelor’s degree and being almost out of debt from it is an elephantine blessing. I could certainly be in worse health. I’m not desperately miserable at work. The list goes on. I’ve known for a while that there will always be someone better off, and that chasing that is chasing after the wind.

But the battle rose to a new pitch recently when I took another look around at the powerful men surrounding me and realized with a start…they’re all my age.

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Take Christmas Back From Your Pain

15542081_10154850484279695_2005805105793914489_nThis weekend, I put up my first Christmas tree. It was a three-foot-tall noble fir Charlie Brown tree, and it got just a simple arrangement of bulbs, lights, and miniature star.

And yes, that’s totally a Darth Vader ornament. Impulse buy. Be jealous.

I’ve never put up a tree before. Part of the reason was living alone, who else was gonna see it, etc. But part of it was my typical attitude towards Christmas. It wasn’t a holiday I’ve particularly looked forward to. Not for a while.

It was on a December 27 that I received news of my parents’ divorce. I don’t blame anyone anymore (because forgiveness doesn’t let you); I don’t even blame God; I just kinda blame life. But the fact remains that I haven’t gotten into the Christmas spirit much, either.

Some of you who have faced loss this time of year, or taken hits to that precious refuge of family, can relate. It can be frustrating to feel pressured into joyfulness by the radio stations. A friend of mine is bracing for her first Christmas without her father, a good man who passed on last February. That one carol comes on telling us From now on our troubles will be miiiiiles awaaaay and we’re all like…

orly

Because that’s TOTALLY what Jesus said in John 16:33, right? Well, not really.

So naturally, Christmas has not been my favorite time of year for a while.

But what does the rest of John 16:33 say?

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33b)

We’ve got a game-changer here. That’s where God wanted to take me this Christmas.

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Singles Training #4: How to View Others

US_Navy_101112-N-9132C-184_Sailors_from_the_engineering_repair_division_perform_jumping_jacks_during_group_physical_training_in_I have a confession to make.

When I got into a relationship a few years ago, I caught a distinct sentiment running through my head:

“Now it’s my turn to shut people out.”

And sadly, for a while, I did.

Perhaps I’d been roasted too often by some friend disappearing into their own little world upon finding someone. We all know the pain of finding ourselves on a friend’s back-burner. Once we find someone who really gets us, it’s amazing how expendable everyone else suddenly looks.

And that betrays a pretty awful assumption: that relationships are about us.

I’m making an assumption: that we singles are training for our future marriage with our eyes on God. We’re seeking what he wants for us, revealed through Scripture, believing it’s best, choosing even in our relationships to practice as many marriage principles as we can.

So what if Scripture led us to train as if marriage isn’t about us?

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