Light, Beer

There’s a convenience store in my town. Here’s what the sign out front says this week:

“WE SELL
BEER ON
SUNDAY
NOON TO 8PM
1 JOHN 1:5″

One sentence, no breaks.  Just a beer advertisement and a scripture reference.

The family that owns that convenience store is clearly Christian.  There’s even a cross on their logo.  And this is not the first time they’ve posted a scripture verse on their sign.

This is just the funniest.

Do you notice that they wait until noon to start selling beer?  I wonder if that’s to catch everyone on their way home from church? I suppose that’s better than folks picking up a six pack on their way to church that morning!

Seriously, though…

These folks have a sign with five lines, and they reserve one of those lines for sharing scripture.  That’s double tithing of their space!

And the single-verse scriptures they’ve picked are good.  I like this one especially.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  –1 John 1:5

I wonder what it would mean to someone who got curious about that “1 John 1:5” line, and typed it into Google?

“God is light; in him there is no darkness”.  That’s a statement of God’s immense power and goodness.  It would definitely leave me wondering: Who is this God?

And, think about this:  While there are many out there who can drink beer responsibly, there are others for whom alcohol has become a source of great darkness.

What a strange twist, then, to have this verse of hope at the end of a advertisement for Sunday beer sales?

It seems to me that this family is undermining their own ad–with something, Someone, who brings more joy into the world than anything else.  Even beer.

Well, the store’s sign has gotten a few chuckles in my town.  Who knows, maybe it brings in the Sunday afternoon crowd as intended.

For me, I’ll keep watching for signs to come,

and raise a glass to people who put Good News into the world…

Even when it isn’t a Convenience.

Have a great week,

Mitch

This Bible Belongs To:

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I have inherited another Bible.

At our 11am Sunday service, we have a basket with free bibles for people to take.

One Sunday after church a young woman, an awkward, occasional attender, brought up one of these Bibles and a pen.

“Can you sign my Bible for me?”,  she asked.

I wasn’t sure what to do.  Was this like an autograph situation?  That would be kind of weird.

Would signing this Bible make it feel like I wrote it?

Still, this struggling parishioner wanted my name in her Bible, and so I opened the front page and wrote:  Pastor Mitch Todd.  Who knows?  Maybe it will help her remember who her pastor was.

She thanked me and headed towards the door.

– – –

Somehow, In the twenty feet between where we were standing and the exit, she must have misplaced her new Bible.  Because on Monday morning, guess what was in my office mailbox?

Yep.

Somebody found the book, had looked inside for a name, and there was mine.

I couldn’t think of anything to do except to keep it.

That was several weeks ago, and I haven’t seen the young woman again.

I already have a good 15 Bibles.  I didn’t think I needed another one, but apparently I do.

– – –

This Bible is sitting on my desk right now.  I decided to consider it a gift from a parishioner.

I pray for her when I hold it.  She’s had a very difficult life.

I flip open the front page, and right beneath my name, I write hers.

There.  This book belongs to both of us now.

It’s here whenever she needs it.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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HOT NOW.

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I wonder.

How many customers show up at Krispy Kreme when the “Hot Now” light is on, compared to when it’s off?

I’m guessing the difference is…gastronomical.

Come to think of it, the only time I show up at a Krispy Kreme is when that light is on, because it’s an entirely different eating experience.

I mean, you put a day-old doughnut in front of me, chances are I’m gonna eat it.

But when those things are hot?  Fresh off the conveyor belt?

Now that’s something special.

Something Life-changing.  Transcendent.

The kind of thing I might be willing to hop in my car and go buy a box of.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking.

Maybe we should get one of those “HOT NOW” signs for the church!

Instead of “Krispy Kreme” in the center, it would say “CHURCH”.

And we’d light it up every Sunday morning so the whole community would know something truly special was happening here.

Can you imagine the results?

Attendance would skyrocket.

Folks would fill up the parking lot to get their hands on what we’re offering.

(Something Life-changing.  Something Transcendent.)

When people saw that sign, they’d make it a priority because they’d know we were offering our very best.

There’s only one thing…

We’d have to truly be offering our very best.

I mean, can you picture people showing up at Krispy Kreme expecting 30-second old donuts and instead getting something stale and old?

If we lit up that “HOT NOW” sign for all people to see, then the experience of church had better be something extra special.

Something that would have people coming back for more.

So what does that mean we’d have to offer?  What’s our equivalent of a hot and fresh doughnut?

A great sermon?  A stirring anthem?  Well, they’d have to be pretty good.  But there’s more.

A “HOT NOW” Sunday morning includes amazing hospitality, excellent learning opportunities for all ages, and a real and powerful invitation to receive the love of Christ.

And there would be great excitement, and passion and vulnerability and faith bursting at the seams of the building and back out onto the streets.

And there would be a sense of community and support far more nourishing than any doughnut could ever be.

That’s a lot to pull together on a Sunday morning!

That makes doughnut frying look like child’s play.

Still, it’s what we’re called to do.  Some Sundays we do better than others.

I wonder.

If we had a “Hot Now Church” sign in the window…

How often would we turn it on?

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Whispers and Flickers

billboard

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs.

But none of them are the one I’m looking for.

Sometimes I just want a sign from God.  Ya know?

A big ole billboard on the highway.  A crystal clear message in great big letters.

“GO GET YOUR DOCTORATE”

or

“TAKE GUITAR LESSONS”

or

“YOU’RE DOING GREAT.  JUST STAY ON COURSE.”

Instead, I get whispers.  Hints.  Little flickers of insight.  A song on the radio.  A touching post on Facebook.  Tiny little messages that speak to me, and MIGHT be from the Holy Spirit.

Why do God’s signs have to be so small like that?  So subject to interpretation. Maybe I don’t WANT a flicker of insight.

Maybe I want a burning bush! Maybe I want a rainbow.  Or a pillar of fire.

Or a voice speaking my name.  Clearly.  Sounding something like James Earl Jones.

Is it wrong to want a SIGN?  I mean, if God can do anything, why not give me some marching orders?

Hmm. Maybe God has no further information to impart at this time.

Maybe God just wants me to keep marching.  Could be.

Or maybe God figures I’ve learned enough stuff to figure it out on my own.

I do have the Bible, as do you.  Definitely some good stuff in there.  And my church talks about faith and grace a lot. I have lots of God-given resources to help me find my way.

And when I look back at my life I can see how God’s been there for me, time after time.

Subtly, most of the time.  But there.

You know, as I think about it, there is a difference between being subtle and being silent…

And God hasn’t been silent.

I may want a billboard with instructions on it, but God prefers whispers and flickers most of the time.

I get that.  And, honestly, most of the time I guess I prefer that.

There’s something marvelous about a God that gently guides,

as opposed to one that hollers

“Do this. Don’t Do That”.

Have a Great week,

Mitch

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