Fighting Conveniently

Note: the following post involves very morbid themes including unemployment, family disagreements, cat poop and sewing. To protect the innocent, the names and places have not been changed. Viewer discretion isn’t advised.

My Snubbly Wuggles and I have seen the Lord work miraculously so far, and it seems like we’re in a small bit of downtime to permit Him to keep working.

As much as my bold and intrepid personality dislikes revisiting things that have already been visited, a colleague of a friend of a wife has given the opportunity to dive back into the numerically pleasant and systemically rigid world of accounting. Nothing guaranteed, but we’ll see how this new adventure goes.

Accounting Tip: People think accounting isn’t adventurous or glamorous, but those people have obviously never discovered the joyful exhilaration of an audit or the beautiful intricate sexiness of a well-run inventory management system.

Along with that aspiration, we continue to fight the ever-flowing onslaught of crap in two ways. The first comes from our black cat’s inability to digest food like a healthy organism and the second comes from the two weirdos that made my Yummer Bumpers into the brilliant and PTSD-ridden beautiful young woman she is today.

In all sincerity, they’re trying their best, given that they refuse to change themselves or their views about how undeniably horrible I am.

They’re trying, though. They were able to make it to our wedding venue for our wedding only 7 and a half months late! When my Fuzzy Boo Boo Bunny Splitters didn’t reply back within a few days, they felt so obligated to micro-love her that they visited my parents’ house to make a public embarrassment of themselves in the hopes that she would come to reason and finally divorce my miserable self.

Family Tip: Dumb family needs love too, but there’s no shame in delivering a bit of hard love in a nice inviting package of bluntness. Actually, there’s a LOT of shame, but that’s them giving it, hence the packaging.

One of the funny ironies of guilt trips is that using one sacrifices any position of power you were holding. Therefore, if you really want to keep any dominance in the conflict, you’re basically hoping that the other person has a soft spot in their heart head that they can utilize.

They had commented on meeting that night, and upon discussion we figured we’d hustle and get this hanging to-do about their control issues out of the way. Unfortunately, we weren’t completely prepared for what happened next.

Writing Tip: All of a sudden, the unspeakable happened! From out of nowhere what everyone dreaded was more real than ever before, and nobody saw how it had happened. As the prepositions slowly subsided, they all saw that it was a really dumb way to pad the writing and make it feel more important than it actually was.

The two of them ran away. I left a very genuine and pleasantly confrontational voice message, and the two of them still haven’t responded. It’s a great way to wrap up a lame sitcom plot, but a lousy way to be people.

Anyway, that’s it for now, except that I’m also now trying out YouTube videos for fun. I made one here, and I’ll probably make more when I’m bored or not cleaning cat butt soup.

Cat-astrophic RV’ing

Well, the two of us have been hard at work. We finally rectified the roofing hole problem enough to survive most monsoon-grade rain by removing the carpet and installing tile floors, and have now fixed our lack of things to do with getting a cat with diarrhea.

Homeowners Tip: When picking pets, make sure it’s a foo-foo pampered pet that ate nicer food than you from one of those premium stores. That way, when they eat what not-rich people feed their pets you can remember how nice non-diarrhea is.

The best part of this cat is that he’s properly trained for the indoors. He walks all over everything with the assumption that it’s his property, uses the litterbox with all the finesse of a drunk man hungover in the bathroom and doesn’t have the decency to run away and chase something off in the distance just because it looked fun to eat.

We actually do like our cat, but we both forgot how utterly stupid cats are. It’s not that they are suffering from a genetically shared brain hemorrhage as much as they presume everyone else is dumber than they are.

Owning a cat is a great reminder of the Christian vice of pride. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, knowledgeable, gifted or clever you are; what matters is your ability to accurately estimate it in others.

It’s entertaining seeing Waylon (we didn’t name him) sprint for the off-limits bedroom and then stop as soon as I step in the way to pretend that he was just strolling that way without any particular goal in mind, but how many people do you know that do that with a bit more sophistication to hide it?

One such individual that has decided to connect with my Bimpy Blimpers was her mother. As much as I desire our reconciliation with her mother, it needs to be the type of reconciliation that doesn’t involve anyone self-abasing, self-abusing, repenting for things they didn’t do or making travel arrangements for guilt trips.

Relationship Tip: As fun as a guilt trip sounds, don’t go on one. It’s like taking drugs but without that initial kick that makes it feel all sorts of fun.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. My Gummy Yummers was raised to make an outright confession of all things at the first sign of silence, but that wiring went the way of the filament light bulb: it’s still there but fast going out of style.

Mixed into this frothy foray of foreboding frustration is the need for more income. God clearly sent me out of my past job, but He’s been intentionally vague about what the next one is. The work was clearly to make an inhabitable RV our new home, but the new question is prevalently about how to pay for things like food and rent and clothes that can fit my Dippy Slippers’ ever-growing small person compartment.

Parenting Tip: If you’re pregnant and feel ugly and inadequate, just be happy about how much better things are now than they will be once the human goes from egg to larva.

Thankfully, the Lord has clear plans for us, and either we are a pair of pathetic believers in a false God or we will be redeemed once again. He was there when I lived homeless in my car, He was there when she nearly committed suicide because of Bob Jones’ cult-ure, He was there when my parents consistently overstimulated their autistic child into fits of rage that were blamed on him, and He is here now taking care of us as we walk.

Faith Tip: Don’t hope for miracles; live by them. It worked for the Soviet Union, and in Soviet Russia faith has you!

The Hole Problem With RVs

Our concept of time is defined more by new experiences than by the actual progression of minutes and hours that pass by. This is why summer vacation lasts for 3.2 eternities in elementary school and why small talk with anyone over the age of 25 involves some form of “it’s X already? I can’t believe X just passed by!”

Aging Tip: When you get older, you become less interesting. This continues until you either reach Critical Boringness or die of Oldness. There is no cure, but there are ways to hide this reality.

Obviously, as young newlyweds and new parents my Schnooberwongles and I have our work cut out for us, but it appears that God had special plans for the two of us specifically regarding how hard life can get.

For the past months, we have been renting out a room. For those of you that don’t know, rooms are great devices for shelter and storing things. If you combine enough rooms together you’ll have a house!

Unfortunately, when we consulted our bank account, budget and cash flow statement (I was bored) we discovered that the cost of living in Southern California is only marginally cheaper than the alternative to it if we choose to stay in Southern California.

Decoration Tip: Spice up your next festive funeral with a lovely wreath of gardenias, or go bold with red drapes across the threshold! Make sure to color-match the interior with the main event!

The two of us are not partial toward California, but that impartiality provokes a bold and audacious ambivalence. Since we know people here, and most of the ones we’re talking to are awesome people, there’s really no reason to roll out to the middle of nowhere unless God says for us to go.

Well, God didn’t tell us “go” as much as “get going” recently, starting with last Sunday:

SUNDAY

My Stumpy Dumpers and I visited my friend’s RV that he had promised to give us. He had indicated the work that needed doing on it, so our instinct was that the RV was a terrifyingly unstable hoop-tie with ghetto fixes, redneck improvisations and college student repairs filled to the top with others’ abandoned personal hygiene supplies and stains from things that would change the content rating of this website.

To our surprise, the RV is a beautiful 36-footer from the long-gone era of 1981, complete with a tape player and TV antenna cables. Our friends Chris and Chloe were loving and generous enough to have given it to us, simply because they saw our need and were being blessed with a nice home of their own to where they didn’t need it anymore. It needed work, but we could turn it into a home for us.

Coincidentally, I happened to have some temp work as a metal polisher the next day. The RV’s roof needed some massive repair, but we were determined to make the house into a home.

MONDAY

Boeing 737’s have two aluminum rings near the front of each engine that need to be replaced every 6 months. I was given this job as a contract-to-hire position, and was imagining it would hold together until I started working for the electrical union.

However, the ping-pong ball of fate wasn’t meant to bounce across the paddle of this job. Metal polishing work isn’t as challenging as I envisioned, and I learned everything to do the job on the first day. Though I was supposed to be oriented and report to a manager, I never actually did either of those things, and nobody really knew how that was supposed to work.

One of the benefits of the work is that it cured of Butt-sittingitis from two years of office work and gave me the chance to learn about a new trade I’ll never use.

Success Tip: The road to success isn’t straight; it was carved by a bitter drunken trailblazer intent on proving his surveyor ex-wife wrong about what direction the compass was pointing.

In the evening, we discovered that a major rain warning was coming in for the weekend, so we decided to change our tune. Planning and thinking with the brains ensued, the result of which haunts us to this day…

TUESDAY

I started work at the aluminum crap polishing factory dim and early at 5 a.m., oblivious to the cascading avalanche of stupid that was primed to collide with the ski lodge of crazy at the base of Life Mountain.

My wife has this funny habit of praying in ways that God listens. This time, she asked Him for clarity about what I should do. I had been growing frustrated at how I needed the time more than the money to repair the RV, but I didn’t want to disrespect my responsibilities.

Money Tip: Your relationship with God is worth more than money or self-respect, so listen to Him when He tells you to do something that your little mind thinks is a really stupid idea.

Around noon, I realized that the money wasn’t worth my time, that the work was simple enough that a well-trained monkey could do it, and that most monkeys were more well-treated than this company treated its temps. Though they expected 10-12 hours a day, I left after 8 to take care of what I needed to do.

I informed my career recruiter about my need to take two days off, and she wasn’t happy with the idea. Her response was that cute passively-voiced vagueness that says “come around again on Thursday and only take one day off if it’s convenient” but is really trying to say “take only one day off or you’re toast”.

Office Tip: Umm, yeeeeeaaaaaahhh, if you could do what I tell you to do without question, that’d be greaaaaaat, thaaaaaanks…

Whatever healthy relationship boundaries I hadn’t learned from my well-intentioned and poorly parented parents, I picked up when I was compiling the Philosopher Accountant and discovering a lot of truths the hard way, so I knew a thing or two about personal rights.

Apparently, this lady didn’t, and it’s apparently offensive to put down good boundaries when your priorities aren’t the same as the hiring company’s (which they never are).

However, the good news is that I got a chance to share the Gospel to that young lady! My priorities work as follows:

  1. God (the only one, really, though I’ve discovered recently that it’s likely we don’t really have his actual name and YHWH is more of a nickname)
  2. Immediate family (my Slippy Dimples and any small people we claim or she excretes)
  3. Extended family that are God’s people (my parents, my brother [I think], some of my uncles [maybe?])
  4. All the rest of God’s people (every friggin’ church that believes the Gospel)
  5. Extended family (most of them anyway, jury’s still out about what to do with the apostates right now)
  6. All the rest of the people (this includes my workplace)

The problem with this worldview is that it leaves a lot of room for other obstructions to interfere with work. Also, it puts God as the first priority. If the world likes money worship more than God worship, then God worshiping is a major hiring liability.

Thankfully, I made the right (and worldly unwise) decision and politely expressed to her how my pregnant wife’s home is more important than a few hundred bucks. The lady told me to either concede or go pound salt in the most lawsuit-evading way possible.

Fun Fact: You can say anything you want as long as you can legally prove you didn’t imply the thing you were actually implying. Only a complete idiot would notice the mispelling here.

The rest of the day went leisurely, with a huge trip to Home Depot and a ride up to the mountains where the RV is parked.

WEDNESDAY

I started tackling the work immediately in the morning. The big repair job was the roof. If we could get the roof repaired, we would be able to live in the RV even while it was raining. The project only needed buying ten 80-pound chipboard boards, several 5-gallon buckets of paint and hauling them by myself onto the roof.

As I prepped for the day, my foresight really paid for itself. Apparently, 15/32″ boards with 1″ nails isn’t long enough to penetrate the wood. I drove back down the mountains thinking about how smart I am with my Gummy Submarine and picked up a ton more supplies.

Around noon I was finally able to start working and got 1/3 of the boards up. I had to tear out an AC unit and skylight while I was working, but it was coming along.

The next day was going to be better, and my hopes were higher for it. My dad volunteered to help, and I imagined the work would go smoothly.

THURSDAY

The work went rapidly with my dad. He had power tools, which I hadn’t had, and it made the work go like cutting a knife with warm butter, especially as we carved around the fixtures.

Handyman Tip: Power tools are a lot like normal tools, but with more power behind them. They make life easier, but people forget that trade unions used to protest against their application in industry. People also forget the Mafia uses unions to extort, but nobody told you that either.

By late afternoon the wood had been cut and set, and my dad left me to hammer and tar the rest with the recommendation I revisit Home Depot again.

After hammering, I visited Home Depot again to confirm what I already knew about how roofing tar goes on a roof and how it doesn’t really matter how I apply it.

Repair Tip: Sealer/dampproofer tar is like really thick paint, and applying it is a combination of playing in the mud and finger painting. Some careers are built for Toys ‘R’ Us kids.

I was able to make quick work of the tar on the roof, and then proceeded to help my Wifer Knifer inside with cleaning in preparation for one of our awesome friends to visit. My logistical calculations were so precise that I only needed to use 1 of the 4 120-pound tar buckets, so I was able to return 3 of them!

Unfortunately, the work may have been too quick…

FRIDAY

Water is an amazing product, and I give my hats off to the guy who invented it. One of its more unique properties is surface tension. It allows water to trickle down surfaces and defy gravity. Another remarkable invention is wood. It uses water’s surface tension properties and other voodoo magic to leech water upwards through it’s grain.

Wood is also a stupid awesome building material. It’s cheap, very sturdy and renewable. In fact, you’ve probably seen it before in your day-to-day life!

Fun Science Fact: Most “fun facts” have been scientifically proven to not be that fun, and their factual state can lead to controversy when political agendas like cosmology, creationism and gravity’s existence muddy the waters.

Chemically, though, wood is annoying to work with when faced with water. It acts like a big sponge. We got a chance to see nature firsthand when the mountain sky turned our home into a sieve.

This wasn’t the worst rain, but it was raining buckets. Thankfully, we used all 12 of our buckets to catch it, meaning the cycle technically completed itself.

This was a very depressing day. The first rain we saw implied that I had done a good job, but 5-10 minutes of sponge-wood proved that my little victory was short-lived when water dripped into our champagne.

Rain Tip: It really sucks to be caught in the rain. It’s even worse to be caught in the rain when your bed is where you’re getting wet.

Chris was kind enough to open up the neighboring room he had, and we had a miserable and restful night, mostly dry and partly shaken up.

Remember those 3 120-pound buckets? I bought another one to hit all the small spots I figured didn’t matter (they did). After descending the mountain and coming back to the roof with it, I forged ahead and slathered that business over the wet surface in all the nooks and crannies.

Cleaning Tip: Tar on clothing is impossible to get off without more intensive cleaners, but it makes for good costumes, especially blackface.

The good thing is that you can apply tar in the rain. The bad thing is that it’s not as good of a job and you get soaked. Overall a just payment for my minutes upon minutes of roofing experience I’ve had over the years.

That friend canceled on us from the unsavory weather conditions, but it freed us up to do more work. We were able to move more of our crap from our room to the RV, since the roof wasn’t completely drenching everything, and so we were motivated to at least accomplish something.

At the same time, it was getting discouraging. As much as God reigns, we were getting frustrated with how much that cloud rained. Our morale started dripping away as the fog started rolling in.

SATURDAY

It was a cloudy day for the both of us, and our spirits sank as we worked tenaciously to clean the inside of the trailer. We blasted away at it like a tribe at an elephant rotisserie, and were able to put away about 60% of what we own.

However, the length of the week had us fatigued, exhausted and in a protracted state of unrest.

SUNDAY

We finally took a day of rest today. God made the Sabbath for man, and not the other way around, and 6 days of working like a rented dog leaves a person either as a frazzled workaholic or an exhausted pile of organs strung together with limb-tape.

The true opportunities for life were here, though. The rest of the week is simply survival, and though there is dignity in it there is no moral greatness. Our wealth and blessing comes from the relationships and spiritual opportunities that come in our interactions with our spiritual siblings.

Christian Tip: Following God is actually pretty simple. Just do life stuff and trust He’ll provide everything for it, then shut up and stop bothering with how it’ll happen.

Trumped By God’s Will

Today I’m going to post something non-political, but I certainly want to talk about the social justice issues going on today. Namely, it’s an act of injustice that I can’t socialize in public without politics becoming someone’s topic of the evening.

Life Tip: Just because you have no direct influence over current events or a background in politics doesn’t mean that nobody wants to hear your thoughts! Go on, tell everyone how our president is both evil and incompetent somehow at the same time!

Instead of that big ball of wax, today we’re going to talk about God’s timing.

God has a unique form of timing. Sometimes it seems like He waits until the very last possible second to give answers to our problems. More often than not, those solutions string us along to the next thing without a lot of guidance on the big picture He has in store for us.

Against all reason or common sense, God told my Honey Dovers and me that I needed to leave my job. At this current moment, our finances had been running rather low, and eating was becoming a potential logistical difficulty.

Husband Tip: Steer clear of a hungry pregnant woman. You will lose limbs.

Thankfully, we have a God that feeds us, and this time it’s coming in the form of contract work. I will soon be polishing my craft by operating a large-scale buffer, and I think I’m taking a shine to it!

As well, I’ll be interviewing with the Orange County electrical union soon, so exciting things ahead!

Of course, with this money, I will give my Bunny Boogers a place to make a home for our child. An amazing godly couple has given us a fifth-wheel RV trailer that needs some love, and we’re planning on renovating it into something cute and homey and all those other things that make women coo and men cringe.

Marriage Tip: Women, don’t criticize a man’s sense of decor if a broken table also doubles as a chair. Men, even if the home looks like a glitter truck crashed into a doily factory and exploded, don’t say anything about it.

So yeah, a few things going on.

Navigating Politics

If you’re in the United States and not dead, you’ve heard about our new president Trump. He’s moving and shaking a lot of things, the most notable lately being an executive order that prohibits everyone who’s not a U.S. citizen from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Trump Tip: Terrorists are bad men, very bad. It’s a yuge problem, and we need to fix it, very yuge problem. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but the terrorists are yuge threats to American security, and we. Will make. America great again.

Now, let me put this out here first and foremost. I’m a Christian first and an American second. That order is important.

Trump isn’t an idiot. Bully, maybe, but it’s hard to tell when the media seems to be doing more of it these days. Bigot, probably, but no more than anyone else who was raised an American or born with a sin condition. One thing I can say for sure is that he’s moving fast!

This man doesn’t seem to waste time! If he’s not meeting with world leaders he’s making executive orders, meeting with administrative staff, holding press conferences or updating his Twitter account! Say what you want about the man’s morality, but I honestly don’t think America has seen one so productive.

I’m not “pro-Trump”, I’m pro-Christian and pro-American. As a Christian, I support the man running the show, since God makes it very clear that He put them there (Romans 13). As an American, I value our electoral system’s usefulness to prevent the tyranny of the majority, and apparently people weren’t paying attention to Reagan taking over from Carter or that silly Adams/Jefferson fiasco a few years back.

Politics Tip: The American government has nothing on British Parliamentary proceedings. Bureaucratic process permits House of Commons Order Papers to be sufficient for bludgeoning.

If you want to be a Christian, stop trying to be an American first. “From sea to shining sea” can’t happen without a sea, and Revelation 21 does away with that particular attribute of geography. Instead, live for the eternal kingdom that God has created without hands and is building within the hearts of anyone who believes in Christ.

The situation in our personal lives has served to highlight the absolute necessity of staying spiritually focused. New developments make life more worth living, but boy do some of them hurt!

A few days ago I called my Yooby Snoobers’ mother to bury the hatchet and reconcile whatever injury I had or had not potentially caused in some perceptible or imperceptible way, shape or form towards her.

Marriage Tip: Reconciliation requires two people. Role-playing as the other person to reconcile on behalf of them causes more mental sickness than answers, and usually makes you lose friends, especially when with them in fancy restaurants.

I would say I wasn’t going to speak negatively about her, but then I’d have nothing to say about it. The short answer is that I don’t anticipate much family drama during the holidays from her side of the family.

In-Law Tip: Only speak well of the extended family of your Sweetie Nuffers, even if they’re so full of crap that they get the carpet dirty when they stand up. You never know when they’ll grow up and talk to you with the boundaries and respect becoming of adulthood.

I’m not angry, and neither is my Honey Blunders. She actually saw it coming, and I’m one of those people that are lousy to go to those haunted house carnival things. Sadly, life will go on like nothing happened for her.

Life Tip: To keep living, avoid things that might kill you or overwork something in your body so that it fails. Parenting is the same thing, but with smaller and faster versions of you.

As the certainty that my Wobbly Frumps and I are Third Culture Kids sinks in, we have realized that our ministry just might be the country we were born in! We’re already kicking around ideas of traveling through the RV lifestyle, which will become even more certain if I can secure an electrician’s apprenticeship.

Oh, by the way, I’m trying to secure an electrician’s apprenticeship to help feed my ever-growing Preggy Bumpers and the ensuing third person that will help my Funky Groaners drop 50 pounds in only one day!

Diet Tip: The second-quickest way to lose weight is to not eat. The fastest way is to give birth. Provided, Method #1 requires being pregnant first, but that’s the best way to trim off pounds for your summer swim bod. This also assumes, of course, that you were thinking ahead enough to get pregnant the previous fall, but the details don’t matter.

In light of all this, God has been cranking up the relevant life and love lesson learning, alliteratively!

One of the most recent developments has been in the discovery and confirmation of a rather hard-to-follow logic:

  1. God is love, and that is an essential characteristic of Him
  2. Man was created in God’s image, meaning man is built to love and be loved
  3. Love forms through making meaningful connections with other people
  4. All of man’s dealings are inherently one of 3 possible things:
    1. The effort of making meaningful connections with other people
    2. The sin of self-promotion through pridefulness
    3. Some perversion of the first by either mixing in the second or relocating the first to a non-human object

Let me elaborate from another angle. If you came from a dysfunctional home like my Whopper Snobbers and me, you’re going to live with the ambition that something you don’t have yet is going to provide the fulfillment of connection with those around you in some meaningful way.

For example, my Yipper Gimpers and me hoped that we’d never feel the rejection of inadequacy by becoming the best accountant ever and being accepted through creative works. My Philosopher Accountant site was made in the hopes that some unknown guy would sidestep my dumbest life decisions, my video game hobby and her beach pastime was an escape into the connection with an inanimate object. I can name anything under the sun, from pets to food to work to money, and it’s the object of affection that predominates a relationship above all else.

This should all be on God above, first and foremost. If we place the relationships related to our children, jobs, networks or hobbies above the One that made us breathe and eat and learn, we are making an idol of that person/place/thing/animal/mineral/vegetable. Since it’s our sin condition bred into us with the original fall of man, we all have one. Mine is my intellect, my wife’s is her experience; what’s yours?

Encouragement: If you’re reading this, you conceited hunk of sinful man, you should be aware of your pathetic nature. I’m in this too, so I’m just as dirty on this one as you, you pathetic piece of spiritual refuse fit for the kingdom of heaven only through God’s powerful saving grace!

Third Culture’s A Charm

My Hooba Stankers and I have still been decompressing from the side effects of the mission conference earlier this year. We can confidently say together that we are unified in our joint confusion about what we really know or truly understand. However, we’ve slowly been accepting a few truths.

First of all, it’s heavily evident from several sources that a missionary’s job is to head out into a foreign territory with the mentality that it’s a defined project. This is contrary to the mentality that a missionary is simply traveling somewhere to integrate their life into that culture.

This sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but my Whopper Snoggins had grown to the belief I had held that a missionary’s life was simply a full-blown relocation of everything into another region. This new viewpoint paints a missionary as a temporary visitor to another realm, with continued work in the region simply being extensions of that temporary stay. When a missionary gets older they’ll often retire in their home country, and they often maintain perpetual ties to that home country.

The reason why this changes our thinking is because we are both adopted into being Third Culture Kids.

A Third Culture Kid isn’t raised in the same culture that either of their parents were raised in. This creates a uniquely new approach to life that inhibits them from being able to blend into any particular culture that they were raised in.

The two of us have never fit into anywhere in a fully meaningful way, though we have both tried our best to do so. Through the missionary conference, we discovered we have more in common with hybrid dual-culture missionaries that don’t connect with anyone either.

One of the realizations about our life in the past few months is that we’ve grown to live like poorly supported missionaries. The tragic irony is that we feel this way among our own countrymen!

The missions conference may not have given us a direction for my career and our living situation, but it certainly congealed our understanding of the reality of the situation. The reason we don’t fit into a church is because we are “the least of these” even with honorable titles and well-connectedness. It’s because we are foreigners by birth in our own country.

I’ve been following up with an electricians’ training course, and I’m now prospecting leads for a job again. The missions conference wasn’t a mistake, and God clearly told me to quit my job. We often make assumptions about why God does something, and then become frustrated over how His reasons didn’t match what we thought were His reasons. Take that far enough and someone will assume God betrayed them.

The experiences we’ve had have mended many of the mental holes we’ve grown accustomed to possessing, and we are still thinking about what sorts of possibilities we have to bring the Gospel to the least-reached parts of the world. For now, though, we have to pay attention to what’s right in front of us.

Just yesterday we got a chance to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and it makes the experience more real for my Hippy Dippers. We don’t know what the next steps are, but God was gracious to give us the next single step.

Husband Tip: Don’t make fun of your pregnant wife. Even though her scattered brain and whale-like appearance set her up for the best jokes of all time, you can only save those jokes until after the baby comes.

Evangelism: Public Witless

It’s Sunday again, and my Wobbly Flobbly and I aren’t going to church today, and it’s not for the same reasons you may expect.

Since the missionary conference, a slew of dynamic ideas has rocked both of our worldviews, leaving the two of us with more questions than answers and more frustrations than placations. At the same time, God’s peace is on us like a big fluffy blanket in a rather dumb storm.

Survival Tip: Blankets are not only insulating, they are also a great source of warmth!

One of the most uncomfortable realities is that our family has been contending with the realities of being spiritually homeless.

Spiritual Homelessness (noun): the state of disconnect from a routine assembly of believers engaged in meaningful fellowship with each other

This reality has been magnified by the fact that we are being commissioned by God (and apparently nobody else) to go into some spiritually treacherous waters, and that would imply that we need a support system to help us.

We’ve only stopped going to our former home church for a month, but this problem has been brewing for four months. It’s only been in light of our ready desire to follow Christ in a more unconventional way that the awkwardness has been made complete.

There are two halves to this issue, however, and today I’m going to talk about the half that seems inherently endemic to the American Church. This list of things is by no means complete, but I hope that it outlines what stops any church from really acting like the Church.

1. Clergy are discipling, and the congregation are disciples

The Great Commission makes it abundantly clear that believers are to “go make disciples everywhere and dunk them in all 3 persons of the Trinity” (paraphrased). This starts by finding people who actually want to be your disciple!

If you read the previous verse, the “therefore” at the beginning there implies that it’s because all heavenly and earthly authority has been given to Christ.

Now, if you’re aware of that level of authority, and of how freely that authority is given, and of how completely insane everything changes because of it, then you’re going to have a certain level of authority in how you deliver yourself!

Unfortunately, the whole experience of becoming a minister often involves getting a college degree, which can make it hard to distinguish between authority in Christ and authority in self-knowledge.

Minister Tip: Apparently all it takes to become a minister is to fill out an online form and fulfill certain requirements, and even that’s a pretty dang low bar sometimes!

It really doesn’t matter if it’s in business management, NPO leadership or pastoring, the rules of leadership are the same:

  1. Influence is the only measure and power of a leader
  2. People feel influenced when a leader does what they say should be done
  3. Genuineness is required in any presentation or image, which requires openness and transparency
  4. Information driven by passion is more genuine than information spoken without conviction
  5. People act when they have enough evidence that the conviction is real and it’s grounded in truth

It seems like every American church is filled with teachers that dilute the Church’s extremely basic mission of “make disciples friggin’ everywhere” through over-thinking it and finding ways to justify or “apply” it to the congregation. A theology degree ensures accuracy of doctrine, but also provides a risk for intellectual pride, and an intellectually prideful teacher will treat the congregation like they’re brain-damaged.

Life Tip: Brain damage isn’t all that bad. On the one hand you lose all higher-reasoning skills, ability to eat solid foods or create solutions to problems, but on the other you don’t have to worry about existential crisis and can find a very comfortable job in the public sector.

A poorly led church can still have strong believers, but it won’t act as a collective body.

If you’re a pastor, ask yourself if you’re being a worthy leader. When nobody’s listening to you, it’s probably you. I don’t care if you’re speaking God’s truth, you might want to dial up the relationship with Him if you want to have His authority when you say things.

If you’re a layperson, please don’t get bitter over it. God has a more intense fate for them than you ever could imagine. All you can do is keep it real. Who knows? Maybe He’ll call you to vocational ministry or to the even greater blessing of leaving the miseries of this world through martyrdom!

2. The Great Commission isn’t “go and make disciples if they’re worthy”

Jesus has a tendency to work through unqualified individuals. His ministry started with a few misfits:

  • The whole thing starts off with a hobo prophet that lived off of whatever was in the desert that was yelling and dunking people in river water
  • Several of them were working-class fishermen and Matthew was a tax accountant, but for all we know some of them could be mooching off of their parents, and all of them left “good paying jobs” to follow some dude before He’d really started His serious ministry
  • Peter wasn’t exactly tactful or cordial in his approach, and seemed to be missing that vital filter between the brain and the mouth
  • The apostles started off rather selfish, most notably James and John
  • None of them had any ministry background and never received any formal institutionalized training for it
  • The only one who had any solid financial or business sense was Judas Iscariot

There’s a Christian cliché that bears stating here: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. As hokey as this line is, it’s also true. A good Christian isn’t marked by oodles of expertise as much as oodles of change and oodles of failures.

The severely under-rated Neal Pirolo gave a workshop at the missionary conference, and he said that Paul would probably not have gotten much missionary board support from how he was in prison most of the time. This is a good point.

Bible Tip: If Paul wasn’t getting dragged off to prison for “proselytizing” or “disturbing the peace” or some other such haberdashery, the New Testament would be considerably shorter.

With respect to how a church operates, it’s not that safe for some untrained plebeian to use his dirty mitts and guileless disposition to greet future prospects new attenders or to permit the hardly trained guitarist to publicly use the sparse series of chords that he learned back in high school to impress some girl that he now doesn’t remember the name of, but isn’t that how the whole Bible was formed?

Romance Tip: Chicks dig things men play, in sequential order:

  1. Guitar
  2. Piano, drums, bass, trumpet
  3. Tuba, “tribal” drums, flute
  4. Accordion, sitar, keytar

3. The Great Commission starts with “go”

There’s a churchandising term that’s about as despicable as “synergistic actualization”. It’s called “fostering church growth”.

If you want a church to grow, you want more people in it. If you want more people, then go hire some people to sit in it. For $5 a head per week, you can literally double your attendance rates!

That sounds a bit sickening, right? That sounds like it’s missing the point, right? If that’s the case, then why do most churches have a significant expense item on their books called “marketing expense”?

The Gospel is shared to complete strangers, and evangelism is about being ready to preach Scripture even when it’s not convenient. This is guaranteed to be offensive to anyone who’s not a Christian and doesn’t understand why you are a Christian. If you lose your reputation, that’s good. If you get sent to prison, that’s good. If you get killed, that’s great!

Satan has really done a number on this one. Don’t expect an old-timey denomination like Presbyterians or Episcopalians hitting the streets to share Jesus. Some of the Evangelical Free Churches of America even believe that open door-to-door or street evangelism is not consistent with what would be best for the Church. They should just rename themselves to the Free Churches of America if this is a denomination-wide matter!

Personal Thought: Pentecostals get the evangelistic message-spreading correct, though some of their hyper-anti-Calvinism and emotion-based theology really get under my accountant-ey skin.

An old pastor friend of mine brought an interesting idea to this discussion:

If you work at Coca-Cola and want to get more customers, what’s the easiest way to get them? You don’t go to tea or water drinkers, you go to Pepsi customers. Pepsi is so similar to Coke that it’s the easiest thing to do compared to convincing people to drink Coke from their tea. The same thing happens with the Church: it’s easier to advertise people to go to your church from other churches than to make new believers.

The past few days have been extremely busy for my Yoober Smoopy and me. My mom retails books, and I’ve been helping her restructure the inventory to accommodate a more internet-based approach. There are a few new challenges in the Amazon.com marketplace that we’re assessing:

  1. Any yahoo with a cell phone can sell things on Amazon.com, and zero barriers to entry means that profitability can be difficult on many popular titles
  2. Profit margins have become even more difficult for individuals and small organizations in recent years from very large companies taking advantage of the economies of scale to routinely undersell smaller competitors
  3. Amazon.com themselves now uses a largely robot-based system to manage the more brainless operations, further slashing profit margins for everyone else
  4. To prove that they’re horrific monsters, Amazon.com has now stapled random fees to private sellers to shove them out of the market

This, in turn, has created a diminishing market for the smaller vendor. Obviously these changes will price my mom out of most meaningful operations through Amazon.com. Thankfully, the Invisible Hand works in mysterious ways (economics, not God, well both kinda I guess) and multiple other markets exist on the internet (eBay, Craigslist, Etsy, Netflix, etc.).

The American Church is surrounded by a culture that is almost finished becoming post-Christian. I put it on my Profiting Much site in more detail, but the Church and society naturally transition through an infinite cycle:

  1. Upon first hearing the Gospel, the government is fine with it
  2. Something triggers society’s outright rejection of Christians
  3. Christianity’s persecution fuels rapid church growth (this is the Middle East)
  4. Eventually, the Church is a large minority in the country (this is China right now)
  5. The Church gains power naturally through some believers gaining political influence
  6. An entire society has unprecedented political and religious freedoms (most of the West in the 20th century)
  7. Time passes and everyone forgets about the Christian basis
  8. More time passes and the morals of society decay without a basis (the USA right now)
  9. Christianity becomes an unpopular impotent minority belief (most of Europe right now)
  10. Go back to Step 2, do not pass Go And Make Disciples, do not collect 200 Souls

The absurdly rapid spread of information with this Internet thing I’ve heard so much about will likely speed up each of these steps from being measured in decades to being measured in hours, but the idea still persists.

Evangelism needs to be a staple of a Christian life. I want you to find and name 1 successful Christian who didn’t use their lifestyle combined with their words to share the Gospel.

Right now, sharing your Christianity is culturally taboo, but that’s an even greater reason for it! Time is running out, the list of prophecies that need to be fulfilled before Revelation are getting smaller, and I promise your career aspirations really suck in comparison to God’s plans for your life!

Career Tip: Following Jesus doesn’t mean you will make a lot of money, but what good is money anyway? Can money buy you clothes or feed you or take care of you when you’re sick? I rest my case.