I want to express some theological ideas I picked up. I just recently read a book after hearing about it on a podcast. I will express how long I spent thinking this idea through, which may or may not really be the case. I will start with a radical idea or phrase that seems heretical to a certain religious paradigm. Of course, my readers will not find it too radical or challenging. They will post it on their Facebook walls where they will get a lot of comments about it, hopefully. If there is a disagreement about my ideas I will meet it head on in the comment section. My objectors will post many scriptures to point out my logical and spiritual missteps and tell me how they will pray for me. How pious of them.
At this point a quote will do.
“A quote that backs up my original statement. I don’t know the context or if this person said it, but who cares? This is the internet.” — Some famous theological thinker.
Just so you think I haven’t totally gone off the deep end, I will now hit you with a barrage of scriptures to support my ideas.
Something totally related – 1 Yadda 12:32
Something kinda related – Blah 4:4
This ones a stretch – Meeehh 1:15
Seriously? Am I really going to try to fit this scripture in too? – Hubbabubbah 7:4
By this time I’m loosing steam and getting tired of writing. I could go on but my reader has lost interest and is now on YouTube watching cat videos. I consider doing a YouTube video. Maybe I can get famous. Maybe my blog will blow up overnight. Maybe I can quit working at Wal-Mart. If they only knew how smart I was.
Dramatic conclusion. I will use a provocative word just so you know I’m not super religious. Shit. Take a quick stab at traditional and religious thinking. Say something to stay humble though… like “I use to think that way too.” I will wait for my readers to pat me on the back.
“I have come to the place where I look at the bible as ancient people struggling with ancient problems and coming up with ancient solutions. This doesn’t mean that I still can’t find value and inspiration from what they wrote. The things that is recorded that Jesus said has been life changing for me.
With that said, I look at our constitution. Again, ancient white men with ancient mind sets dealing with ancient problems. I find it funny when people quote the constitution as ways to handle our problems today. To me, its like someone quoting Leviticus. Not to say that they didn’t have revolutionary ideas, inspirational ideas, ideas that can change our lives. But isn’t there a day when we must move on? In another 300 years will we still be bound to the mindsets of the ancients?”
—-Abraham Lincoln… of 7-11
The room had a warm feel to it. Carmel colored walls, dark carpet, yellow lighting, wood furniture, and leather seats. Laying down on one of the couches was Dr. Hahn’s patient. He was one of the more difficult ones. Every session had its highs and lows. Dr. Hahn had her pen in her hand, taking notes on her yellow note pad. She had a different pad for each of her patients. Her patient rested his arms on his chest.
“How are we feeling today, Elohim?” asked Dr. Hahn as she adjusted her glasses.
“I have decided to reveal myself with a new name today. No longer will you refer to me as Elohim. From this moment on, you shall know me as Yahweh!”
Dr. Hahn scribbled some notes on her pad. “We go through this every time we meet. You have asked me to call you Elohim, El-Shaddi, Yahweh, Rapha, Jireh, Nissi, M’Kaddesh, Shammah, El Roi, El Olam, El Elyon. Do you think that you might be changing your name to deal with your relationship problems?”
Elohim thought for a moment. His brows furrowed. “I am…”
Dr. Hahn’s eyes opened in surprise. Finally a breakthrough! “I’m glad you are starting to realize…”
Elohim stood up. “I AM THE GREAT I AM!”
“That’s my name. I Am!”
“You are who?”
“No, I’m not who. I Am!”
Dr. Hahn put her pen down on her pad of paper. She took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. It’s not even a minute into this conversation and already she lost all the progress she made on her previous sessions. It took a great commitment to get the patient to pick one name. “Elohim, your constant name changing make’s it very difficult for people to have a relationship with you. The reason our relationship works is that you know when you come here, you will see Dr. Hahn. How do people know who they will be getting when they visit you?”
Elohim sighed. “It’s hard for me to commit to a name. I get bored very easily. When I make a mistake with one group of people… it’s just easy for me to start over and pick a new name.”
“How is that working out for you? Are you finding much success in this way of handling your relationship problems?”
“Well, it does seem to work for a while! When that doesn’t work I always go for the sacrifice of animals. I don’t know why, but there is just something about blood that gets my mind off my problems.”
Dr. Hahn put her glasses back on and took notes. “I’ve treated haemophilliacs before. There are better ways to deal with your relationship issues rather than changing your name or requiring blood shed. We’ve made some good ground here today. I want to recommend you trying to stick with a name this week. And, if you find yourself in a relationship problem, talk it out instead of shedding blood. It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but I think you’ll find real lasting resolution when you do so.”
Elohim stood up. “Thanks Doc. See you next week.”
How do pastors every Sunday think of new things to say? One may think that they spend hours in meditative prayer, communing with God on the astral plane of the Spirit waiting for a download from heaven. I will give you a few steps that will give you the tools to have a sermon ready every Sunday.
Remember Something That Irritates You
If you ask me what the difference between preaching and complaining is, I would say preaching makes more of a profit. Think of someone or something that irritates you. Maybe it was at a prayer meeting and someone was screaming during prayer. Or maybe you preached your heart out and the offering plate came in a little light that day. Or maybe someone came to church late, or didn’t honor you as a member of the body of Christ. Or maybe it’s those icky gay people. The Democrats are always an easy target too. All of this is great material for a passionate sermon.
Just for the sake of examples, let’s take people coming to church late. Now, we have to spiritualize this topic.
Get Your Christianese On!
We can’t just call this sermon, “Get your ass to church on time.” We need to make this sound more holy. I will just list a few off the top of my head that would work… and probably make a hell of a teaching series. As a side note, you always want to pick a topic you can talk about for a few weeks. It just makes life easier when you have a series you can preach on. So, let’s throw some titles out there: Quenching the Spirit
Honoring the House of God
Faithful With The Little Things
God’s Timing vs Man’s Timing
Any of those topics will be sufficient to vent your frustrations on all those people who can’t show up on time and do so in a way that would edify them. By edify I mean make them feel guilty using the bible.
Find Scripture to Support Your Message
You don’t want to pull out a bible until you already know what you want to talk about. Then, you find scripture to support your message. The bible is great that way, you can make it support any position you want to take. Using Bible Gateway or Blue Letter Bible, finding scripture to support your message is easy. Just type in a keyword and WA-LA!
Colossians 3:32 would be a good one. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Maybe God will give you a revelation that when your late for church your showing your disrespect for God!
Philippians 2:3 is a strong one. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition… consider others better than yourselves.” Of course this isn’t asking you, the preacher, to consider those who are coming late better than yourself! Hah! As If! No, in their lateness they consider themselves better than the rest of the congregation and better than God. And we all know… “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Whats more humbling than showing up to church on time?
Watch Another TV Preacher
If they have a TV ministry it’s because people are buying what their selling. Why reinvent the wheel? Find out what successful preachers have said about this topic and use as much as you can in your own sermon. This will cut down your work dramatically. Not only will they give your scriptures but they will also give you funny and charismatic ways to say it!
Rinse and Repeat
Most pastors do this without even thinking about it. It’s an automatic thing. Practice my method enough and you too will be just as good as them! God Speed!
Yonkers and Smith Public Relations Firm were preparing for their next meeting. They were excited to get such a big name client signed with them. Their client, God, has run into major publicity troubles for the past few millennia. Yonkers and Smith were hoping to give practical advice and help God recover his reputation.
Yonkers and Smith prepared the board room by placing a bush in the center of the table. They shuffled through their papers as they waited for the conference call to connect. A small breeze started to flow through the room swaying the branches on the bush. A bright light filled the room as Yonkers and Smith shielded their eyes with their arms. The light died down and the bush that sat in the middle of the table was on fire, yet the flames did not consume the bush.
Yonkers cleared his throat as he tapped his pile of papers on the conference table. “Excuse me, God? Can you hear me? Do we have a good connection?” Yonkers and Smith leaned in awaiting a response.
“Yes, I can hear you. Am I coming in clear?” responded a voice from the bush.
“Yes! We can hear you. First, we are very excited to have you on board as a client. For this meeting, we will discuss what you hope to accomplish and also what we would recommend based on our research.”
“That sounds great,” responded God. “What I would hope to achieve is that people would let go of some of the things I did in the past… some of which isn’t true… and give me another chance. I feel as if the reputation given to me isn’t fair and what’s expected of me is beyond my capabilities. I’ve got so many prayers from so many religions, I’ve stopped checking them 200 years ago! I just can’t keep up.”
Smith was vigorously taking notes as God was speaking. Yonkers listened intently, nodding his head as God was talking. Yonkers addressed his notes. “God, if I may say something here. One of the major problems we have is the couple thousand years of bad publicity. We’ve got many different stories, from many different people, from many different religions, and it just seems like people can’t put their finger on you. In order to change their mind about you, we have to move them away from bad publicity. Have you thought about writing your own book?”
“I did try my hand with some writing. The only problem is I like to work through people. But most of the time their baggage becomes my baggage. All the sudden the people they hate, I hate. Their issues with sex become my issues with sex. It’s bizarre. The closest I’ve come to people hearing me clearly was with a movie script I inspired. It never got picked up. Damn Hollywood.”
Smith passed some papers to Yonker, pointing at some data. Yonkers whispered to Smith, nodding. “We did some focus groups, and we did center on some of peoples biggest issues with you. This relationship is about complete honesty, so we are just going to lay it all out and move forward. Most people have an issue with your anger.”
The sound of God shuffling on the other side of the line could be heard. He cleared his throat. “Yes, I have had some past issues with that. I’ve worked through them. I was such a perfectionist and I now realize that was unhealthy for me.”
“That’s great to hear, God! Maybe we can do some public service announcements where you can talk to people who have anger problems. Is that something you would be willing to do?”
God sighed. “I would like to but public appearances are not my thing. Every time I have tried to appear bad things happen. People explode and faces melt. Did you ever see Indiana Jones? That wasn’t fiction my friends.”
Smith put his hands on the table and leaned in. “Excuse me, God. I gotta call bullshit on that. This relationship is about honesty. We’ve had plenty of accounts of people meeting you without their face exploding. This brings us to our next issue, your hiddenness. This one really irritates people. Why are you hiding?”
“Listen, I have a hard time relating to people! Plain and simple. I’m not material. It’s awkward. What are their expectations of me? Do I look the way they want? What if they are mad at me? What if after I manifest myself they start another religion? It’s easy for you to sit in your board room and call bullshit, but I have a lot of struggles with this. And I haven’t appeared to anyone in ages! I don’t know what other people are seeing.”
“I didn’t mean to put you on the fence,” replied Smith. “I’m just keeping you honest. So, me and Yonkers and designed a two phase plan. You will have to stretch yourself for this, but we are confident you can do it. Phase one would consist of you asking people for forgiveness. We find that saying sorry does a lot for ones reputation. Don’t give any excuses, just say sorry and ask for forgiveness. Is that something your open to?”
“Absolutely!” God sounded excited on the other line. “If you think that will work, I can get over my hiddenness issues! I got over the anger, I can get over shyness. Whats phase two?”
A big smile crept over Yonkers face. “Phase two is a reality TV show called ‘God’s Next Prophet.’ It will be a group of people, all competing to be your prophet. Whoever remains will be your chosen one. It will be done really tastefully. We find that people who do reality TV are accepted by the public. They will see your sensitive side, your funny side, and see how much you’ve matured. It’s a win win!”
God was silent for a moment. “Let’s take the plunge! Grab me a heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. If you will cut those animals in half, we can seal this deal!”
Yonkers pulled out some plastic sheets from underneath the board room table. “You got it!”
Why is Jesus Always Coming Back Pissed?
Got on an air-conditioned bus this morning
Read every sign that passed along those city streets
Lady Poverty was in the streets a-borning
But folks still found the time to smile at those they’d meet.
Ahead of me and to my right there rose a steeple
In a world of hate and violence amiss
A symbol of love with a simple sign that read
“Jesus is coming back and boy is He pissed!” Tell me,
Why is Jesus always coming back pissed
In a never-ending rhetoric of apocalypse?
It’s always fire and brimstone that we always kiss
In a story whose love we miss.
Tell me, why is Jesus always coming back pissed?
I was reading yesterday’s bad news in the Post
But reflected that the world still held firm
Though I’m aware of our poison and evil
I don’t believe that we were meant to burn
You find you’re born, you eat, you sleep, you live, you drink, you die
And wonder if you’re worth anything at all
Sure life can suck and then you find it’s over
But who’s to say we didn’t have a ball
At least in the Sixties we had the Jesus movement
We danced and spoke of leave and peace and light
Now all that we’re left with are the dregs of believers
And God forbid, the Christian Right
“Jesus is Just Alright,” said the Doobies
And that’s more credible than most of the shit
You can hear on any given Sunday morning
From the thousands of angry pulpits, Oh tell me,
( (c) Michael Hardin 2010)