No, not the movie starring Tim Allen. No this one stars you. That is to say it’s not a movie at, but rather your life. And it’s unfolding around you in living Technicolor©, blasting your ears with Quadrophonic sound.

You’re at church.

You’re a tither, a regular attender. It’s normally a safe haven–a refuge from the cares and worries of life. But it’s Christmas. And all bets are off. Because the place is packed. Don’t get me wrong–you’re glad all those folks are there. God knows they need to hear the good news.

But you wish they were just a little more attentive.

And that little Johnny (not his real name) behind you would stop kicking your chair. Where are his parents anyway? Then there’s the kid right in front you, whose parents have given him an iPhone to pacify him. You keep hearing the squawking of Angry Birds©!

But, you keep reminding yourself, this is church.

Time was, people knew how to comport themselves, how to keep their children well-behaved… But not, it seems, anymore. You’re just about ready to slay someone in the spirit, but then the rousing rendition of “Joy to World” is followed by the minister, who has come to speak about the “Colors of Christmas.” How what can such a dark time in people’s lives can be made light in Christ. You’re enjoying it, trying to listen, when the mom, who was talking to a friend ask throughout the song service, begins reading a story book to her squirming, squalling child.

Boy, it sure seems like all the bored, distracted, tired people all around you just don’t love Jesus like you love Jesus…

Then you catch yourself wishing that none of them were there… That you could just have a minute to engage with what the pastor’s saying. That people, who likely only go to church twice a year, would act more like you…

Then you swallow, draw in a deep breath, as it dawns on you that maybe, just maybe, the Christmas cranks aren’t the unruly masses all around you.

It’s you.

Bowing your head in silent prayer, you ask for forgiveness.

And you thank God for Christmas.

For Jesus coming to redeem such a one as you.

The Beggar’s Billions

randomlychad  —  December 20, 2013 — 7 Comments

“The Beggar’s billions,” he said. “We’ve got work to do.” It was then that his appearance changed before me: where a moment before stood Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, now stood a figure familiar to billions:

A rotund, jolly, jowly red-cheeked, bearded man bedecked in a festal red suit. Where there had been cloven hooves there were now black boots.

“Come along, Rancidspoor, we’ve the Beggar’s billions to deceive,” he said, donning his Santa cap. “Ready to be an elf?”

“Tis the season,” I replied, reflecting upon the chance encounter with Beelzebub in the lower echelons which led to this sugar plum of an assignment.

“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa said. “Let’s go.”

—————-

This piece is part of a sudden writing challenge issued by Joseph Craven and Ricky Anderson. The requirements were to:

Call the story “Beggar’s Billions”
Have a Santa cap
Include a chance encounter

I had fun doing this, and look forward to future challenges.

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Once upon a time, there was a man called Voltaire. He was a renowned atheist (the Dawkins of his day), and strident opponent of the church. As much as he despised Christianity, he never once (insofar as I know) tried to stifle Christianity. (He likely believed it would die out on its own. Not so much. Voltaire is dead, Nietszche is dead. God still lives. News at 11:00).

Voltaire, ardent liberal that he was, was a proponent of free speech.

He said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The folks at GLAAD (look it up–they’re the ones who pressured A&E to act) who issued the fatwa against duck commander, Phil Robertson, maybe have forgotten that. The much-vaunted tolerance is very one-sided. To put it bluntly, those that claim tolerance as a virtue are about as tolerant of their perceived opposition as that nutjob, Fred Phelps. (Point being there are extremists on both sides).

Where are those who, though they disagree with good ol’ Phil, understand that he’s entitled to his opinion? Where the Voltaires of our time who will “defend to the death your right to say it?”

[Crickets]

Oh, that’s right; my bad. This is the age of the thought police. Where statements are tried and judged by the vocal minority, rather than upon their merits. Orwell was off by about 20 years, but it seems that 1984 is finally here.

I for one will no longer tolerate this state of affairs. It’s time to rise up, and peacefully push back against the anti-Christian bias of the thought police. Because, what has the United States come to when a man can’t share his convictions without fear of reprisal?

Who’s with me?

PS A&E, you need to grow a pair.

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Scary Mermaid

Like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books of yore, today’s post is up to you. What is the story behind this mermaid? Is she bad, or was she just painted that way?

You decide.

You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine. But it won’t be pretty. 😉

Excellence Opens Doors

randomlychad  —  December 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

'Excellence' photo (c) 2012, Iqbal Osman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Yesterday, I posted about how we don’t need anymore “Christian” whatevers. In a similar vein, today I would like to talk specifically about art. If you read yesterday’s post, you would know that I’m off the mindset that what we need isn’t more Christian art, but rather more Christians who are artists. And of those, we need Christian artists who are committed to excellence in their art.

Gone are the days (if indeed they were ever here) where we can slap on a coat of Jesus varnish and expect the world to go “Ooh! Ah! Jesus!” No, mediocre art really only accomplishes two things:

1) It makes us look bad.
2) It makes Jesus look bad.

Excellence, however, opens doors. Excellence speaks for itself, and indeed invites conversation. It gets people talking, and provides organic opportunities for the artist to share his story. And make no mistake: that is what people today are looking for: to connect with someone’s story.

Yes, we’re supposed to share the Gospel. But more importantly, we’re supposed to live it. One of the ways to do so is to be excellent in all that we do. Because that is another thing excellence does: it elevates. It draws people into a shared transcendence.

But mediocrity does not. Mediocrity is boring, banal, and really not worthy of attention. And the thing is that, for those of us who would call ourselves Christian artists, our art isn’t ultimately for our fellow man–it is for us, and for God. And why would we, after he gave us Jesus, ever think that giving him less than our best is somehow okay?

PRO TIP: it’s not.

But excellence has a cost: it’s hard. Insanely so at times. Often we’re tempted to give in, throw in the towel, settle.

The world is full of frustrated artists who’ve settled.

But is that who you and I want to be? If so, let’s prepare to be ignored. If, however, you do not wish to be ignored, throw yourself into your art with abandon. Put your heart, soul, mind, guts into it.

Put your life on the line. Every time.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the watching world is waiting for.

So make excellence your everyday goal. If you’re a writer, beat your head against your desk until your forehead takes on an oaken sheen. If a painter, paint until your fingers bleed a rainbow of colors. If an actor, lose yourself in your roles.

If a plumber, plumb the depths until you reach China. You get what I mean.

Remember: the goal here is not to save oneself, but rather to lose oneself. And in the losing to find.

The great paradox of art, and life, is indeed that: in losing, we win. In giving up, we find. To borrow a phrase, excellence is one door away from heaven.

And by excellence we earn the right to be heard. We earn the platform.

Don’t settle for less.

“In all that you do, do it as unto the Lord.”