Jul 31 2011
A 401k Plan You Can Tickle

(I wrote this while in Africa last year. I just got back from Rwanda, and am still thinking about the little kids.  And the God who loves them, and... my money.)

So we're visiting village after village today, and playing with a whole lot of very sweet little kids.  Sweet little kids, I should say, with not a thing to play with.  Literally no thing.  

Nothing.

So we play tickle monster (standard operating procedure for a dad, of course) and we twirl and I laugh and they giggle.  And we take pictures with our digital cameras, and show them what, for likely the first time, is a first look at themselves in a photo.  Their eyes brighten, and they smile, look away -- then look again, and smile.  Thank God they don't think what I thought when I first saw them:  These children are not eating well.  Many have hair missing...in clumps.  But they see themselves, and they smile, and so do we.


It says on our money, "In God We Trust", and many Christians pass emails around, protesting rumors of the removal of that phrase.  Understandable?  Okay.  But so is wondering, of course, if we who protest really, truly trust God with our money...or whether it's easier to have our coins say it.  

I say we don't, really, trust God with our money.  If we did, we'd invest in His ultimate retirement plan:  "He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord WILL repay him."  -- it says that in Proverbs.  I may not be exactly quoting -- don't have my Bible right here -- but I'm darn close.

Our entire banking system -- our entire economy! -- is based on just that:  trust.  Shoot, the root word for "credit" is the same as "credibility".  It means "trust".  You have money, so who do you trust with it?  Maybe you trust a banker you've never met, a broker you'll never see, or a corporation that, God promises, will vanish, eventually, like a vapor.  

People are now struggling to find a trustworthy place, with a solid return, for their money.  May I propose, for those who say they subscribe to "In God We Trust", that they actually trust God with their money?  Maybe that's you.  It's certainly me.

God says:  Give to the poor, and you're lending to me.  And I WILL repay you.  That's a guaranteed return.  God says He WILL repay you.  

Give to the poor.  Give to the poor.  Give to the poor.  God WILL repay you.  GOD will repay you.  He promises it.  

Take it to the bank.

Or don't -- take it to these children, or others like them.  God will repay you.  When?  How?  I don't know.  But He promises it.  Still worried about your retirement years?   Listen to one of these children giggle, smell their milky breath, hold their dirty little hands...and wonder, with me, if they'll even see high school.

God says He WILL repay you.

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Jul 29 2011
Dear Makers of P90X Extreme Exercise Regimen

Dear Makers of P90X Extreme Exercise Regimen,

Thank you for your excellent "extreme" product.  I have been trying it for five days now.  You promised "extreme" changes to my body, and you've already delivered in startling ways.  You promised I'd experience "muscle confusion", and, indeed, my muscles are very, very, confused.

I can't move.

Your advertising includes many testimonies:  "I've lost thirty pounds and four inches off my waist," and "I've lost ten pounds of fat, and two inches," etc.

Well, I'm not sure about my weight loss, since I can no longer summon the energy to roll across the floor and onto a scale.  Nor am I sure about losing any inches.  I can't put my pants on.

I have, however, lost a lot:  My ability to perform routine tasks.  My hopes and dreams.

Control over my bladder.

My will to live. 

Thank you, P90X people.  Like you say on the videos, I'm just "pumped" to "bring it" every day and it delights me to no end to see your smiling, toned faces as I flicker in and out of consciousness lying on my living room floor.  Thank you.

Love,

Brant

Jul 26 2011
A Few Tipping Points

It's not a secret, and it's not a small deal.  We talked about it on the show, yesterday:  Church folk are rotten tippers.

It's not "church-bashing", it's reality, and it's confirmed by listeners to the show who are churchgoers, themselves, and waiters, and who wind up apologizing to their coworkers for their fellow Christians.  "Oh no...here come the Jesus people..." -- they actually hear this.

It's mind-boggling, and here's why:

1) We're being served, people. 

Jesus, whom we presumably worship and seek to emulate, is s Servant to servants.  And make no mistake, when you go take yourself out to a restaurant, you are hiring servants for yourself.  Previously, in human history, this was something only royalty could dream of, actually HIRING people to find and prepare your food, and bring it to you, responding to your wishes.

If you suspect you are owed this, that this is a right and normal order of things, having other humans wait on you, you haven't quite "gotten" this Kingdom thing yet. 

2) We're supposed to be the generous ones.

And, in fact, church-folk, particularly conservative, Bible-belt people, ARE more generous than others, and not to just to church-related causes.  (See the book Who Really Cares, by Arthur Brooks)  But that generosity, for whatever reason, hasn't extended to the very people in front of them, working for a living.

We're the ones who believe, presumably, our security doesn't come from money, and that we're given money to bless others with it.  So here's a golden opportunity.

3) People somehow still think it's "better" to give wait staff a tract, because "giving them Jesus is so much more valuable than giving money."

Fine, give them a tract, if you feel compelled... next to a hundred-dollar bill.  I'm serious.  A "Jesus" that doesn't demand sacrifice, isn't radically and joyfully loving, and rewards service with propaganda isn't a Jesus many will be attracted to.  Sorry.  Plus, he doesn't actually exist.

4)  It's great practice.

Being radically generous in everyday situations merely breeds more generosity.  I love what Dallas Willard says:  "What you believe isn't what you SAY you believe, it's what you actually do."

5)  A generous heart isn't all about "tithing"

I actually heard this, more than once:  "Why would I give a waitress 15% when I give God 10%?"  Seriously.

Nevermind that you give yourself, apparently, 90%, by this calculation, and that you just took yourself out to dinner, to be served hand-and-foot by, perhaps, a single mom trying to put food on her own table. 

(Funny/sad:  A mom and waitress calls in yesterday, saying she gets the occasional tract-instead-of-a-tip.  "I'm a Christian -- I'm actually hoping for some money for my labor.")

Tithing, in the OT, takes various forms, and adds up to more than 30% of agricultural crops.  In the New Testament, church-folks should know, it's quite clear:  God owns 100% of your money.  Enjoy being radically, freely, cheerfully generous with it. 

See if God lets you go bankrupt.

6)  Wouldn't it be kinda awesome if Jesus-lovers were the crazy-generous tippers, the ones who most rewarded hard work, the ones who were the servants of servants...?

I say we do it.  Perhaps, someday, the servants near the kitchen actually say "Sweet...here come the Jesus people..."