Fluffy Faith

Two years ago at Christmas time our family adopted a Persian cat that our big kids named, “Tater Tot.” She enjoys giving us gifts. To obtain these gifts, she must go out into the backyard and kill them. Then she proudly drags them to the back porch and leaves them on display. I’ll spare you the details on the various gifts we’ve found on the back porch but let’s just say she really enjoys her hunting time outside. But her fur does not. It gets matted and tangled and recently we had to have her taken to the groomer for a little trim. It’s funny, Tater Tot has always looked so big to me. In fact, I’ve often given her a hard time about being such a big, fat cat. But because her fur was so matted from her time hunting, the groomer had to give her “the lion” cut, shaving off almost all of her fur excluding head and paws. Besides being just plain hilarious, I’ve noticed something else. Once you removed all the fluff, Tater Tot looks so small, frail even.

It might seem strange to you that the sight of my recently shaved cat, stretched out on my couch, reminded me of faith. But it did, at least of some people’s anyway. Because once you get rid of all that fluff that makes it look so large, it’s really very small and even frail.

There have been a couple of times that people have told me that their faith, their believing, feels small. One is when they’ve had the wind knocked right out of them by some circumstance in life, such as the loss of a loved one, an illness, a financial hardship, infidelity, etc.

The other is when the person’s faith has been chronically malnourished. It usually sounds something like this, “I’m just not sure what I even believe anymore.” Or “I’m not sure I even believe that stuff anymore.”

“Okay, what have you been doing to build your faith up, to feed it?” Blank stare ensues.

We’ve all been told that what feed will grow and what we starve will die.

We are all guilty of this at times. Feeding the wrong things, while starving our faith. But today I want to ask you a tough question. Beneath all the fluff, what does your faith really look like? What are you doing to feed it? Is your faith feeling weak because it is chronically malnourished?

Sometimes when our faith feels weak we ask our friends to pray for us and that’s great. But I hope your friends will also tell you, “Joker, you need to eat.” And maybe even load you up in the car and take you to that faith hospital called church. Because I would hope that if your friend saw you starving to death they’d do more than pray for you. I would hope that they would feed you and get you some medical care.

How is your faith feeling today? Fluffy? Starved? When was the last time you fed it?

After all, what you starve will die and what you feed will grow.


Santa Jesus

Dear Santa Jesus,

I think you will find that I have been a very good girl this year. Check out my church attendance. Spot on. I have even opened my bible a few times in between services. That has to be good for some extra credit points, right? I haven’t cussed much (mostly just in my head, and we all know that doesn’t count). I don’t drink, and I don’t dress like a street walker like those other girls, bless their hearts. I sometimes even put extra money in the offering. I talk at you and ask you to help the people I like, so I know for a fact that we’re in awesome shape, and I’m pretty much the best Christian of them all.

In return, I’m just asking for a few things- because, you know, that’s the deal. I’d really like a better job that pays more money that I can spend on myself. I mean, I work hard, and I feel like I deserve it. That’s the other thing. I’m tired of working so hard. I’d really like a break. So it would be super cool if this new job could pay more but I could work less. Thanks. Also, the people I work with now are a real bummer. I’m just so tired of hearing about all of their problems that I can’t do anything about. So, if my new job could be full of only awesome Christians like me that would be so much better. I need a new car. This one is almost two years old now, and I’m starting to feel embarrassed driving it, and I know that you died on the cross so that I’d always feel happy.

I’m still waiting on that perfect husband and family you promised me so that I can feel complete. I mean, I have a husband and kids, but these aren’t the perfect ones I was waiting on. So could you fix them? I’m so tired of waiting for them to get their act together.

One more thing, those homeless people who keep camping out at the front of our subdivision and begging for food are bringing down the property values, and I know you understand all about why property values matter so much. Handle it? You’re the best, Santa Jesus!


The American Christian

I fear this is what it has become. That somewhere along the way we confused Jesus, God who became man and died on a cross to ransom us because he couldn’t stand to let our sin separate us from him a moment longer and who set an example of love giving even unto death, with a fat guy in a red suit who rewards your good behavior by giving you whatever you want.

God’s ways are higher than ours. We don’t always understand them. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things. He works all things, even the things that don’t feel good or like what we want, for our good.

When did we stop letting him be God? When did we stop trusting and start commanding? Is he God or isn’t he? Do we believe or don’t we? Are we in is this for what we can get out of it? Or, like the early church, have we fallen so passionately in love with Jesus that we would rather be burned at the stake than forsake his great name? When did stuff become so important? When did we stop seeking him purely for the joy of finding him?

I so often find myself trying to fill in the blanks, to write the ending for God. Oh, he must be doing this or that. Because the waiting, the not knowing the ending, the trusting, I will be the first to admit that at times IT’S STILL HARD.

But he’s not Santa. He’s Jesus. Who died on the cross because he loved me, and I will go where he calls because I love him and I trust him.

What if today we stopped talking at him and simply said, “You are good and I trust you”? What if we stopped expecting to be rewarded for good behavior like a potty training toddler waiting for her prize and we just did what’s right because it’s right and we realized that holiness is its own prize?

What if today we put Santa Jesus on notice? Santa Jesus, you’re fired. We want the real deal. The passionate love affair with a Jesus already so in love with us that he came and died on the cross.

It’s not too late for the real thing, the real Jesus. A real living, breathing walk with him instead of a good behavior-based star chart religion.

It’s not too late…