Jon Acuff's Blog, page 5
March 31, 2014
Years ago, my friends Tripp and Tyler did a video about the things you can only do in a pool. It was a hilarious look at those two guys spitting water at people on the sidewalk, making absurd underwater faces and in general being perfectly silly.
It made me think though, are there some things you can only do at church? Are there some weird things we take for granted that if you did other places would seem ridiculous?
I think there are and here are the three I came up with:
3 things you can only do in church.
1. Ask a stranger to scoot in to the middle.
If you’re late to church one morning, it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask a complete stranger sitting on the aisle to scoot in to the middle. You might not think that’s a weird thing, but try that same thing the next time you fly Southwest. If you’re in the B boarding group, walk onto the plane and find someone from the A group who has claimed an aisle seat. Walk up to them and say, “Excuse me, will you scoot in to the middle?” Let me know how the rest of the flight goes.
2. Hug people you don’t really know.
Your church might not do this, but I’ve been at plenty of churches where the pastor said, “Turn to the person next to you, give them a big hug and let them know you’re glad that they’re here!” (Cue collective introvert shudder.) Try this one at Starbucks today. As you wait in line, just turn to the person next to you, embrace them in a full frontal hug (no leg wrap please) and say, “I am so glad you are at Starbucks!” Please do not mention this blog post in the arrest report.
3. Shout phrases of encouragement when someone says something good.
I love when people shout “Amen!” at church when I am speaking at a church. I also like “That’s the truth!” I find both of those things encouraging. But next time you’re in a meeting at work, try that. When your boss reads off the plans for a new client, just scream from the back of the room, “That’s the truth!” Or better yet, scream out, “Devil is a lie!” Then email me and I’ll help you figure out what it feels like to be unemployed. (Technically you can yell at concerts but I don’t cotton to sitting near the guy who screams “Jesusssssss!!!!” directly in your ear canal all night.)
There are a lot of things you can only do in church. Those are my 3, what do you think is something you can only do in church?
March 26, 2014
Celebrity is the worst drug in Christian leadership right now.
The problem is, it often starts from a good place.
You’re a young Christian leader with a platform that starts to grow. Your church does well. Your blog blows up. You start speaking at a lot of events. And in the midst of that swirl, you quietly start to think to yourself, “If I get a bigger platform, God will get bigger glory.” But eventually as you start to believe your own hype, that mutates into “If I get a bigger platform, I’ll get bigger glory.”
This happens for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s because Christian leaders refuse to have people in their lives who can tell them no. A church where the word “no” is off limits is doomed. Sometimes the leader is trying to heal an old wound with new attention. I’ve done that. One day a friend said to me, “No offense, but if the attention you’ve gotten so far hasn’t healed whatever wound you think you have already, none is going to.” He’s right. That’s one of the reasons I go to counseling.
But I think there’s also a part of us that thinks God needs our platform. He needs our abilities. He needs us to win. Here’s the truth about that:
God will never be handcuffed by your failures or unleashed by your successes.
He doesn’t need me to complete him. He is already complete. He doesn’t need me to play my role in his story or it won’t be told. It will be, his plan will be done, regardless of my ability to do it. He doesn’t need me, he loves me. He invites me into his story and allows me to be part of it as an act of love not desperation. There’s a big difference.
For the last few years I’ve been coaching leaders, especially given the minefield that social media offers us. I’ve learned something. Influence is not a good thing or a bad thing, it is just a thing. It is a knife, useful for cutting through lies and clearing the clutter to show people the truth. You just have to make sure you hold the right end.
March 25, 2014
March 24, 2014
There are two things I don’t prefer to do with my hands at church.
I know you’re probably thinking that “throat chop” is one of them, but that’s not really in my control. If I run into a cat burglar stealing the offering, I can’t tell a killer whale not to be a killer whale. Nature tends to run its course.
And it’s not that I don’t like shaking hands with people. Our church doesn’t do the “turn to say hi to the person next to you,” but if they did, I would be pretty amazing at it. My greatest skill in those kind of moments is trying to shake someone’s hand who is trying to hug me. I am so awesome at that.
No, what I don’t particularly like doing at church is clapping my hands and raising them during worship.
I don’t judge people who do. (Except if you brought your own tambourine.)
I am glad you like to clap and happy you feel called to sing with your hands raised. I don’t and for years have felt what doctors call “lazy hand shame.” Have you ever felt that too? It’s the feeling you get when you find yourself sitting in a flock of hand raisers or aggressive clappers. You look at your dumb mitts and think, “Why do you hate Jesus so much?” But deep down you know you don’t have faithless digits. You know your hands are full of hope, but they don’t want to get down like everyone else.
For years, I suffered in silence, alone in my own Creed like prison. But no longer.
I have the solution my hand challenged friend. I have the cure to all your appendage woes. And it is so simple. Ready?
A coffee cup.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Next Sunday, bring a cup of coffee into church. You can’t clap with coffee in your hand, that’d be crazy! You can’t raise your hands when God is roaring like a lion, or raining down love like water or doing whatever like fire or something, it’s pretty early and I’m kind of tired.
I would love to, but look at my hand! It’s full of hot liquid that I would prefer not to spill on you or God’s carpet.
And if you attend a church that doesn’t allow coffee, all the better. People will be so offended that you are breaking the rules they won’t even notice you are not clapping. Win to the win.
So grab a cup. Kick lazy hand shame to the curb.
Do you sing with your hands raised?
The post How to not sing with your hands raised and still love Jesus. appeared first on Stuff Christians Like.
March 22, 2014
I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I’d still attend one but when you register a wordpress blog they make you start going to a non denominational church. I digress. Today I got a book in the mail that made me laugh a lot.
A talented guy named Jess MacCallum printed this. He said it was the new Jesus fish for the Southern Baptists. If you disagree, please try to go to lunch at a restaurant in the south on Sunday afternoon. Let me know how that works out for you. He actually had about 40 other designs so don’t worry that he was just picking on us. But well played Jess!
March 19, 2014
The irony of sharing this cartoon on social media and therefore phones, is not lost on me. But cartoonist Liam Francis Walsh knocked it out of the park with this one.
Do you need this cone too or am I the only one?
March 17, 2014
One day, I asked my buddy which church service he went to, the 9:30 or the 11:00.
Instantly he said, “The 9:30.”
I asked him why and he replied, “At the 11, the pastor has no backstop.”
Although he was using the wall behind a catcher that stops the baseball in an unusual way, I knew exactly what he meant. At the last service of the day, the pastor has no governor. There is no other service waiting to start. There is no satellite uplink or next commitment that must be filled. It’s just all sermon, all day.
I get it. At 99% of the conferences I speak at they give me a hard finish time. There’s literally a clock that turns to angry red that I can see if I go over. And there should be, they have a whole day of other speakers that need the stage time. (I once learned this simple lesson, “Never follow a gospel singer with an active crowd.” That dude turned a 3 verse song into 27 minutes beyond his allotted time. I basically had time to get up and say, “Jesus loves you. Good night.”)
Now it would be easy to say, “If the pastor goes long that’s just the Holy Spirit showing up.” That might happen sometimes but what are we really saying? The Holy Spirit doesn’t attend the early service? The Holy Spirit likes to sleep in? Maybe get some sort of complicated coffee first from “The Father, Son and Holy Roast?”
Perhaps, but you’ve been warned. If us speakers don’t have a backdrop, we’re going old school, long form, good luck playing Oscar music to get us off the stage.
Without naming names or churches, have you ever had a pastor turn a single sermon into a long form revival?
March 13, 2014
Over the last three years I’ve written a lot about haters. I’ve done this in part because it’s weird to have strangers hate you.
It’s strange that people who have never met you, talked to you, texted with you, skyped with you or had any other personal interaction with you attack you personally. That’s a new thing too. For years, we’ve been able to privately hate people in the comfort of our own homes. But for the first time in the history of mankind, we are able to publicly share our hatred without leaving home or writing a editorial in the newspaper.
Talk radio might have provided some access to this activity, but you only had a 1 in 100 shot of actually getting on the air and they cut you off quickly. Now though, we get to roll around in the mud of our cynicism for as long and as often as we want.
But there’s a problem, one that’s been pointed out to me by a few people.
People who disagree with you are not always haters. Most of the time they are just people who disagree with you.
There’s a massive difference. Just because we have different opinions does not make you a hater. It makes you a person who has a different opinion.
I’ve wrongly labeled people as haters who weren’t and I’ve contributed to one of culture’s biggest mistakes. Right now, our culture offers two options, wildly agree with everything I agree with or be labeled a hater. There’s no “debate and love,” option on the table anymore and that’s a shame.
So today, I apologize. I unfairly judged people who disagreed with me as haters. I regret that.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that only about 10% of the people who criticize me are really haters. And for those folks I will continue to write things like this. (A hater being someone who wants to create a wound not a conversation, who wants to attack an individual as opposed to discussing an idea.)
I’ll do better going forward, but in the meantime, thanks for having an opinion different than mine.
March 10, 2014
Over the years, I’ve blogged a number of times about counseling. I’m a fan and have benefited from it both as an individual and a couple.
Yesterday, my friend Angie Smith sent me these photos. It’s from an ad for a new service called “Wolf Therapy.”
I have so many questions.
I myself am more a Kodiak Grizzly therapy guy, but you say tomato.
I’ve honestly heard great things about dog therapy and completely understand that these are wolfdogs, not purebred wolves. My friend has a couple of wolfdogs and says they are wonderful pets. But there’s still something pretty amazing about the phrase “wolf therapy.”
The bio of one of the beast therapists is pretty awesome as well.
There are three things that jump out at me are:
1. Some family thought it was a good idea to send their kid to college with a wolfdog. Can you imagine being that kid’s roommate? “Hey, I’m Tim! I brought a TV for our dorm. What did you bring?”
2. The wolfdog is able to read people’s emotions. Me too, that’s pure terror you’re reading.
3. That is the scariest picture ever.
If this is your company, I honestly think it’s awesome that you’re trying alternative approaches to therapy. Bravo. And I hope you have a sense of humor. I try to never offend someone who access to wolves.
As a reader, do you have any questions about wolf therapy?
March 7, 2014
A friend of mine recently moved to Jordan to work with Syrian refugees. This video, comprised of one second clips, reminded me why it’s so important that he and many others continue to do things like that.