Monday, April 30, 2007

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Two of my co-workers who do not regularly attend church came with me to Christ Covenant last night. These times always excite me as a) having company is usually more fun than flying solo and b) church is a great place to encounter God which I think is a good thing for me, my friends, and everybody.

At some point during these times however, dread consumes me. In my brief life experience, this happens without fail.

You see, I hate awkwardness. I had hoped to grow out of this as I got older, but it still has not gone anywhere. Aside from bad dates (not that I know anything about this), nothing creates more awkwardness than talking about Jesus around people who usually do not talk about Jesus - which, incidentally, is precisely what happens at church. If you watched the first Democratic debate last week, could you feel the awkardness when John Edwards talked about "his Lord"? Just imagine if he had talked about "Jesus." Yikes!

This fear attack hit me during the opening song and came upon me in wave upon wave of questions. What if my friends are bored? What if my pastor says something culturally unpopular? What do I do if one of them gets up and leaves? Should we have gone to a more contemporary church? Did I join the right church? Why did I invite them to come in the first place? What if my friends get offended? What if they tell everyone at work and they all begin to hate me?

My thoughts even drifted so far as to wish it were I who spoke from the pulpit that night so that I could ensure my friends remained comfortable. Nevermind the 30 years ministry experience and the numerous postgraduate degrees which differentiated me from the guy at the front.

I know the Bible says that as Christians we live as foreigners in a strange land, but when the rubber hits the road, I usually would prefer to be a native, thank you very much.

Fortunately, last night's service provided some intentional personal time for God to bring our sins to the front and for us to repent of them. Given the situation, it did not take me long to know exactly what I needed to confess to the Giver of Grace. As repentance is wont to do, it brought a peace over me and reminded me that my friends' encounter with the Lord does not rest on me. God is in control. Be free.

As it turned out, my friends had a wonderful experience. They seemed visibly engaged and moved during the service, and we had good discussion during the car ride home concerning our response to what we had heard. I believe they encountered Christ last night.

But I do not write here to bring out party hats and confetti because God made everything ok.

Yesterday I talked with my buddy Jeff, a frequent commentor on Redeeming Prufrock, about how we can find something in any bit of Scripture we read by asking the simple question, "What do I learn about God's character from this?". The same principle applies here. My joy in last night does not lie in the fact that we all left happy. If you live long enough, you know that this usually is not the case with life, so joy must be rooted in something besides circumstance. What's more, leaving happy is oftentimes not what is best for us. My joy last night was in God's revelation of his character:

God loves my friends more than I ever will. God knows exactly what's best for my friends. God is always working for what is best for them.

Releasing my friends from the figment of my hand reminds me that they sit in hands far more loving, far more powerful, far more adequate than I can ever imagine. This must drive me to praise, worship, and hope because it is always a good and hopeful thing when I must become less and He must become more. I have to learn to let go because freedom exists in the person of Jesus Christ. Herein lies the joy of last night and the joy that will be for all eternity.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Front Page Material

The fundraising training last weekend split into two segments. Friday night we looked at the Biblical basis for raising support while Saturday we discovered practical ways to go about the process. For the sake of efficiency and focus, we cleanly divided the two parts although, in reality, one without the other does the whole process an injustice. Unfortunately, the set-up of last weekend is indicative of how I often go about my life.

I naturally bend towards work and not love. I do not think I stand alone in this propensity which gives rise to famous songs like "Cats in the Cradle." Accordingly, I find a lot of purpose in having "official" (sorry for the vague adjective) ministry work to do. A past post of mine spoke of how I have struggled spiritually in the absence of these tasks this year.

So here I was last night plowing along through some work on my fundraising stuff when I realized I had not prayed before I began. Thinking back, I realized I had not talked to God before sitting down to work the night before either. I had gotten so excited and so wrapped up in the pursuit of completion that I had completely neglected the Lord. A form of idolatry exists in here somewhere. I said something not nice to myself, realizing I had defaulted on a commitment to not lose sight of God amidst this newfound work. An old ugly had risen its head once again.

One of the reasons Paul amazes me is that he did so much. He worked so tirelessly, yet his Biblical writings evidence that he rarely lost personal touch with his God.

Galatians 2:20 says, "The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Very few verses protrude like this one.

Galatains exists as a rather theological book. Paul writes it to address a theological problem in the church, to define again what the Gospel means. It is very heady. Yet in the midst of all the headiness, the last eight words of this verse reveal Paul's heart.

Paul worked. He traveled, he spoke, he prayed, he attended meetings, he ran churches. He did all kinds of things. I imagine him a busy man, like most of us today (or at least like most of us like to think we are). Yet Gal 2:20 shows that the good work God put before him to do never superceded Paul's relationship with the triune God. In all things, he remembered God loved him.

I need to remember that God loves me, that I am servant but also son. Last night, I slapped this verse on the front of the pamphlet I was creating to give to potential donors. It might move them to support me or it might be completely irrelevant to my goals or it might simply be an overlooked detail. Regardless, it will serve it's purpose because I will have to look at it every time I go to work.

Jesus loves me.

Jesus gave himself for me.

These truths have always been more important than the work. In fact, only from their foundations can any work come. Here's to remembering this front-page material.

"We love because he first loved us." -1 John 4:19

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Waxing Politique

We have Commies at Borders. You know, Reds, Soviets, Bolshevists. Commies.

I have written in past about The Sextion, the area in Borders that (Pent)houses books on sex. Some customers like to read these books without other people noticing them, so they snitch them from The Sextion and take them to far reaching corners of the store where no one will find them. A couple times a week, I'll be shelving in, say, Computers and come across a sex book left there by a purposefully unidentifed customer. I have come to call these books "Commies," as they attempt to redistribute the literarily sexual wealth throughout the store.

Thus, when I call out to my fellow invetory worker, "Hey Squeaks, I've found another commie bastard in the cooking section!", it has nothing to do with a witch-hunt. Unless it's one of those REALLY kinky erotica books.

In the midst of this sexual McCarthyism yesterday, Squeaky Bellows and I somehow stumbled into a serious conversation about capitalism and socialism. He began by saying he feels Marx got a raw deal. For a moment, however brief, it felt like Chapel Hill all over again. Good times.

Now I rarely wax politique here at Redeeming Prufrock. This is partly because I feel that no truth exists in politics - and I'm not talking Clinton/Lewinsky or Bush/Iraq type truth. I feel that many different ways exist to achieve our common goals. Conversely, I also believe that many different ways exist to send the country to pot. This makes the supreme arrogance and unwavering self-confidence that dominate the political scene seem foolish to me. This frustrates me to no end. More than that though, when it comes to politics, I know jack divided by squat. It would be foolishness for me to write on it all the time. Yesterday, however, an interesting irony emerged from our conversation that I thought merits sharing with y'all (thanks for the edit, mwk).

Capitalism works because of the sinful nature. The genius of Adam Smith's invisible hand (and I know we do not operate under a perfectly invisible hand system but work with me) lies in the fact that when all parties work for their own self interest, the community wins. Capitalism works because it accomodates our selfishness, our disregard for others, our sin.

Socialism, on the other hand, may have held water in theory but failed precisely because of the sinful nature. When people saw no personal reward for their hard work, they ceased to work hard. The well-being of others and of the community (ie, generosity) could not sufficiently motivate.

Hooray for oversimplification.

I believe the early church leaned socialist. In the early chapters of Acts, the Bible tells us they held everything in common. This was not pure socialism as we have come to know it, but the common underlying threads are there. It seemed to work rather well. We do not hear tell of rampant poverty and starvation among the early believers. Socialism seemed to work well in conjuction with prayer and sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Ironic, then, that communist governments have almost uniformly striven to eliminate religion from the culture.

What really fascinated me in our discussion was the modern church's defense of capitalism. My church experience is limited, but the white, American, suburban church I know defends capitalism to the last. We fly the American flag in many sanctuaries for goodness sakes. Often, if you listen to the television and maybe even many pulpits, you will hear capitalism defended more vigorously than the Gospel. What a pity. Ironic, then, that the church, which begins its current worldview with the basic statement that sin ruined everything, ascribes so strongly to an economic system that bases its success on that very sin.

What to do with all of this I do not know. The irony of it all and my blindness to it just struck me as supremely fascinating. One thing I do know: whatever adjective you want to put on it, I hope some of those early church leanings are still around as I begin to ask God's people for provision in my life next year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top 10 Reasons I Want to Move to New Hampshire

10. Moving to New Hampshire gives me an opportunity to make a Top 10 list, a favorite pasttime of my friend Chris Pappa. I hope this list appeases him and thus pays my way out of the purgatory known as Wieniedom (see last post's comments). I want out of Wieniedom.

9. According to license plates, New Hampshire's state motto is "Live free or die." This manifests itself in many forms:

-no required motorcycle helmets
-no required seatbelts
(Perhaps the state's motto should more aptly be "Live free and die.")
-no income tax
-no sales tax

I do not want to pay sales tax nor do I want to pay income tax.

8. Dunkin' Donuts. In New Hampshire, they give directions by Dunkin' Donuts's. I want more Dunkin' Donuts in my life.

7. I love nicknames. At Borders recently, I nicknamed myself "The Crowbar" and proceded to nickname my inventory colleagues "The Anvil," "Squeaky Bellows," and "Smitty." Together we are "The Smithery." We were real bored. However, the nicknames have stuck and provided more smiles than we had pre-nickname. Moving to this new location, "New Hampshire," allows me to refer to my old habitat as simply "Hampshire." This sounds cool. I like nicknames. I want to call my southeast Charlotte home "Hampshire."

6. A peer of mine told me a story at fundraising training about an unidentified staff worker raising half his/her required funds through online gambling (Ed.'s note: Online gambling only became illegal within the past year). We have not confirmed this rumor, but it made for a good story. I want to be a part of a ministry that, uh, thinks creatively.

5. I saw a moose in New Hampshire. I said, "Hey, look! A llama!"

I want to learn the difference bewteen a moose and a llama.

4. In New Hampshire, many people do not lock their doors. Last month, my car got broken in to and my stereo got 25'ed even with the doors locked. I remain uncertain that any place exists where one does not need to lock the door. However, I want to live in a place where some people think you do not have to.

3. The local grocery store is the "Durham Market Place" or "The Dump" for short. I want to buy my food at The Dump.

2. Two of my all-time favorite movies are "Gettysburg" and "Tombstone." What do these two films have in common (besides Sam Elliot)? That's right, great moustaches. See here and here and here. If there is one thing I learned this weekend it was this: New Hampshire has great moustahces. I, too, want a great moustache.

1. Cedar Waters Nudist Park. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Whimpering

I do apologize for this weak week of blogging here at Redeeming Prufrock. I offer no excuses, only apologies. Unfortunately, this week will end with a whimper and not with a bang because I must make haste to catch a flight to New Hampshire for the weekend - although not so much haste that I did not sit in my parking lot and listen to Tupac's (I think) "California Knows How to Party" on the radio after work. I remain indifferent towards California having never visited, but, man, that song is just fantastic.

I'm in New Hampshire this weekend to learn how to ask people for money for my new job. If you ask my parents, they'd say this weekend will be completely redundant and unnecessary. Nevertheless, I look forward to it for the knowledge and friendships I will gain.

Anyways, hope you all have a great weekend. Party like your in California since it knows how. I'll see ya'll Tuesday when I return south.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Soli Deo Gloria

A few folks have posted comments to ThinkChristian.net's link to my article concerning Zach Johnson's victory last Sunday at Augusta. I think they merit a response, and I want to use this space today to do that.

To begin, evangelism is perhaps the greatest area of guilt and failure that I observe in my relationship with Christ. This makes it a difficult subject on which to write. A failure to "practice what I preach" or a charge of hypocrisy may not be too far from the truth. Perhaps, ironically, this stands as the staunchest reason I SHOULD write on it. What's more, if all we ever spoke on were topics about which we had perfected, then, like Romeo to Mercutio, we would simply repeat to each other, "Peace, peace. Thou talk'st of nothing."

The Lord has called us to share the Gospel with the nations. His final command to his followers was to go and make disciples (Matt 28:19). Paul later explicitly uses the word "evangelist" (2 Tim 4:5). His life, and the lives of many of his contemporaries, purposed to spread this news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to others.

The kingdom of God is forcefully advancing. As my friend Alex Kirk says, Christianity is a movement not a monument. If life indeed consists of humanity futilely pushing a Sisyphussian ball up a rocky incline as people from the ancient Greeks to Camus have articulated, then the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a snowball rolling downhill with unstoppable force, collecting all those in its path and depositing them in a salvation of repentance and rest (Isa 30:15).

We cannot avoid these truths nor should we try. Participating in the advancement of the kingdom and watching the Lord of the universe move, is a privelege.

Paul writes in 1 Cor 9:22 that he has "become all things to all men so that by all possible means [he] might save some." In stiving to share the Gospel, we must attempt to meet people where they are at, to enter into their world and earn the credibility to be heard. I think some of the commenters imply this in their words of acting in love to the world. I love the heart they evidence for this, continuing in the work John Milton articulated when he said he strove to "justify the ways of God to men."

At some point though, we must speak of Christ. We must move from the silent Peter of Good Friday to the vocal Peter in early Acts who boldly confronts a crowd of people with the Gospel.

In my post last week, I wrote, "[L]iving this life of relationship with Christ meant that Zach could not help but share the Gospel with the watching world. . . . he evangelized." One commentor disagreed with this assertion, saying, "I don’t believe that was Zach Johnson’s purpose because it did seem to be a natural response and not contrived to be a 'witness.'"

I think this viewpoint misunderstands the concept of evagelism and witnessing. It is not something to be "contrived." Contrived is fake, insincere, and frankly, unbiblical. When we live a life grafted into the vine of Jesus Christ, a life in truth, our witness takes care of itself.

And a vital part of this is giving credit where credit is due.

When we do good but fail to give credit to Jesus Christ, we feed the culture of humanism that stands at odds with the Christian worldview. Without speaking the name of Jesus, the glory for our good works lands on us. This, loved ones, cannot be. Herein lies the beauty of Johnson's words. Perhaps more than any other sphere of American life, the sports world exalts the humanistic individual accomplishment. The chest thump, the contract hold-out, the "Show me the money," all emerge from sports's womb. And in his moment to say, "Look what I did!", Johnson instead chose to say, "Look what Jesus did."

He DID NOT say Jesus won this tournament for him and did not win it for everyone else. He DID NOT say that Jesus was not with every other golfer every step of the way (in fact, just the opposite is true). He simply gave the credit where the credit was due - naturally, tactfully, and humbly. And yes, evangelism can take those adverbs.

In doing so, he revealed God's goodness to a watching world that wanted to bestow the glory upon him. It was not contrived or fake or manipulative. It was real, honest, humble, and true.

Some people may find this intolerant or oppressive, despite Johnson's tact. This should not surprise us, however. Nothing yet has been done that Jesus did not forsee, and this is no exception: "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).

The cited Campolo study in the comments does have great lessons for Christians in humility, love, and Christ-likeness. We should take heed. However, we should make assumptions from the study with great care. Perhaps the reason many people respond positively to Jesus is because they know the "Buddy Jesus" so widely talked about but not the fiercely loving, speaker of hard words which the Bible also portrays. Furthermore, the above words of Jesus in John 15 call into question the desirability of a totally positive response from the world towards us.

If the world loves us, we ought to question whose we are.

I do not find myself in a place to criticize someone for proclaiming the work Christ has done in his or her life. Cowardice too often creeps into this realm of my life and silences me when I should cry out. I need the lesson and example people like Zach Johnson set for me. Perhaps others do not carry this burden and find themselves able, in good conscience, to hold another opinion. I cannot. That is why I thank God for Zach Johnson.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

I was going to post today but have just heard about the shootings at Virginia Tech. I'm really floored by this. Life just keeps coming.

Please pray for those folks today before you leave this page.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Semi-Successful Submission

That title sounds hard, like something from UFC. I like it.

I sent a recent post entitled "From The Masters to The Master" in to Relevant, the online magazine which published an article I wrote in March about the NCAA Tournament. Here was the response I received this afternoon:

"Thanks so much for writing.
We’ll be contacting you if your article runs at Relevantmagazine.com

Thanks!
Jesse"

This feels like a crush saying she has too much homework to do to hang out tonight. . . . for the sixth night in a row. . . . in the summer. A truly nice way of saying "Thanks, but no thanks" if I ever saw one.

But take heart, dear reader! Fear not! We remain undeterred and shall make another attempt at publication when time and subject matter present themselves.

Redeeming Prufrock did receive some exposure on a website called "Think Christian" where "we talk about Christ, culture, and the ways that faith plays out in everyday life." Mine is the second post from the top, entitled "Witness on the Golf Course." The concept is unfamiliar to me, and I do not think this counts as an official "publication" as the site seems to exist as one huge blog. I will list the link under "Publications" down the right side of RP nonetheless. Ah, vanity.

I am excited the site thought enough of the post to link to it (the pre-editted one, no less!). A big thank you to whoever sent my writing to them. Please send me an e-mail at bhumps@gmail.com so I can know who you are and thank you personally.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stiff-Necked No More!

Odd Encounter of the Week: starch

I do not clean up well. It's not that I can't. It's just that I don't particularly care to most of the time. In ten minutes, I can look serviceable for nearly any formal situation, and that is about all the time I usually give to the process.

Early last month, I attended a wedding for which I had to dress up. I wore slacks, a sport coat, and a tie. Nothing special, but it got the job done. Two weeks later, I went to a funeral, and to mazimize efficiency, I wore the same outfit. The pants were black, and the coat was gray; once again, it got the job done.

Until. . .

The one couple who had attended both events spotted me in the parking lot. "Ben! [hand covers mouth in gesture of horror and mockery] That's the same thing you were wearing the last time we saw you two weeks ago!" The crowd of eight friends within hearing range smiled at me. One giggled. Another pointed. I blushed. Ugh. I had been outted. As communism has proven, sometimes efficiency is not the ultimate value on which to base our decision-making processes.

I guess it could have been worse. For instance, if she had known I hadn't had the clothes cleaned since the wedding.

Motivated by what could have been, I steeled my will against the filth in my life and decided to clean my dress clothes. Given that neither I nor my roomies own an iron, this would require a trip to the dry cleaners, a place I had never gone solo before.

So on Tuesday, I walked into Alpine Cleaners off a recommendation from the entire morning shift at Wachovia. They were all women, so I figured asking would make me look sophisticated, helpless, and cute which, in turn, might score me a date. This turned out to be about as good of an idea as giving Don Imus a microphone.

Anyways, a cute elderly lady came to greet me upon my arrival at the cleaners. She looked so sweet that I immediately felt soothed, though deep inside I was terrified. I had no way to defend myself in this place. If they wanted to charge an arm (sleeve) and a (pant) leg to dry clean my clothes, how would I know that was not standard fare?

I handed her the clothes. She said they would be ready Thursday after 5:30. Hey, this wasn't too bad! I felt more and more comfortable at every passing second.

Then everyone went to pot. "Do you want starch on your shirt?"

Uh oh.

I had no clue how to respond. My default in this situation is to ask "What would Jesus do?" but I could think of no biblical precedent for this situation. I moved down the list to "What would Dad do?", but I did not know the answer to that question either. So I blurted out, "Yes!" which was not so much an answer to her question as a panicked facade to try to show that I was not an inadequate idiot.

I soon recovered and realized that my "Yes" could bring about disasterous consequences. The only time I had ever encoutered starch was when labeling my favorite food group, the one that includes tater tots, french fries, and mashed potatoes. If anything of this sort came on my shirt, I would no longer be able to clean up well. Plus, it would defeat the purpose of having my clothes cleaned. So I humbled myself and meekly asked:

"Wait, what's starch again?"

As if at one point I had known what starch was.

Before I got to the question mark, the woman's sweetness turned sour. Bitter even. She gave me a look that bellowed, "You don't know what starch is?!?! GET OUT!!!!" Fortunately, her mouth only explained what it was which was of no help. I still had no idea what I wanted, or more precisely, what I was supposed to want. She had said no starch would make my collar looser and less stiff. "Stiff" has always equaled "uncool" in my cultural thesaurus, so I chose no starch, grabbed my pink reminder ticket, and moved quickly for the door.

The fresh air felt better than I had remembered. It's funny how catastrophe makes you appreciate the simpler things in life. I breathed a sigh of relief and continued on my errands.

I guess one could say I was stiff-necked in not dropping my manpride and asking for help when the dry cleaner initially asked the question. My subsequent humbling will ensure that I will never be stiff-necked again when walking into new situations.

So will the lack of starch on my shirt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

False Alarm, Again

My fickleness must be dizzying to you all. I had a change in heart and decided to send in my article on The Masters for publication after some fantastic editing help from Redeeming Prufrock celebrity Jenn Pappa. The edited version is posted below.

The article is now at the whim of the higher-ups at Relevant as to whether it finds their favor or not. I'll keep you all posted as to what happens. In the meantime, my farewell remains constant as a lighthouse amidst the fickle waves of change:

See ya'll tomorrow.

From The Masters to The Master

This past weekend, Zach Johnson won The Masters, arguably the most prestigious golf event of the year. He was an unsuspected upstart, having won only one previous tournament in his PGA career. His best finish in a major before Sunday was 17th place.

Now major golf tournaments have often brought me to tears. The wet laundry list includes Payne Stewart defeating father-to-be Phil Mickelson at Pinehurst in 1999; steely-eyed victor Jim Furyk walking up the final fairway weeping at the 2003 U.S. Open with his father shadowing him stride for stride; Ben Curtis trying, and failing, to keep it together in order to thank his girlfriend for her support after his surprise win at the 2003 British Open; and Phil Mickelson calling out a legion of monkeys from his back by winning his first major on Augusta's 18th green in 2004.

The accomplishment of victory and the achievement of a dream moves me. Golf exists as particularly striking in this respect because it is an individual sport. These golfers spend lives working on their games, practicing and practicing in the pursuit of perfection. Avid golf fans know the famous story of Vijay Singh hitting range balls on Christmas day. What's more than this though, these golfers dream. They desire something great regardless of the outcome's probability. They risk failure for their dream. This, dear reader, is rare.

So here we have Zach Johnson, whose golf career has been defined by "not's". Not the best golfer on his high school team. Not the best golfer on his college team. Not good enough for the PGA Tour. Not good enough to win a major. And on Sunday, his hard work paid off. He was number one. He was the best.

His response in his first interview to CBS behind the 18th green:

"I was not alone out there. Jesus was with me every step of the way."

His voice broke, and he cried as he moved seamlessly from The Masters to The Master.

What's most amazing about Johnson’s comment is that it was in no way coerced. The CBS reporter did not ask him, "So Zach, what divine being do you give credit to for your victory today?" or "Would you like to give mad props to Jesus Christ on live television right now?" In fact, Johnson avoided the safe route in committing cultural blasphemy and dropping the J-Bomb, as evidenced by the discussion his comments created on the inside of Tuesday's "USA Today" sports section.

It seemed that Johnson diverted the glory for his victory towards Jesus because it never crossed his mind not to. In the midst of great personal accomplishment, of work ethic’s satisfying fruit, of the achieved American dream, Johnson refused to feed his pride because he knew of his own inadequacy. What's more, he knew of the perfect sufficiency of the one he called Lord.

What a lesson in humility for me. I shelve books for a living. Upon completion of a cart, I often suppress the desire to thump my chest, give a fiercely intense look to the nearest customer, and release a primordial scream followed by the question that is a proclamation, "Who's the man!" I suppress this urge not out of humility, mind you, but because I do not want to look silly.

How can I claim prideful accomplish in the face of overwhelming grace? May God forgive me and forbid it.

What's more, living this life of relationship with Christ meant that Zach could not help but share the Gospel with the watching world. On Sunday, he told the truth, that the strength for his victory came from the presence of his Jesus. Certainly this ruffled some feathers, as Jesus told us it would when he said to the disciples in John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” CBS refused to ask a follow-up question concerning Zach's faith, and many of the aforementioned "USA Today" readers responded negatively. For Zach, no other way seemed possible. He answered the question honestly, and in doing so, tactfully told the world about the goodness of God in his life. To use a word that is tantamount to cursing these days, he evangelized.

How I often try to hide Christ's glory when I refuse to articulate his work in my life. How I often say that I am "lucky" when God's grace, and certainly not luck, sustains me. How I often hinder people from seeing how great God is when I balk at giving the deserving credit to him.

I thanked God Sunday for the example of humility and faith that Zach set for me. Here's to moving from The Masters to The Master as fluidly as Zach Johnson did. In reality, no movement is required because the two are inseparable.

False Alarm

I thought about yesterday's post most of the day at work and came up with a new entry for the Humphries Imaginary Literary Catechism:

"Q. What is accomplished when you mash three small pieces of crap together?

A. Despite the illogical and mostly subconscious thought and hope that, if you combine enough waste together in a centralized location, diamonds or other items of value will emerge, you will, in reality, accomplish only the compilation of a pile of crap."

This is how I felt about yesterday's article all day, the three logs being shampoo, golf, and some still undefined human lesson. Per the HILC, I felt like I never moved towards anything of value.

This is what I wanted to say yesterday:

-I love Zach Johnson.

-He won The Masters and gave the glory to Jesus.

-I want to give glory to Jesus in my life too.

-Johnson and Johnson is a corrupt corporation that lies and makes little boys cry.

Instead, I spent 1200 words muddling up these points. Like my homebody J. Alfred Prufrock, I found it "impossible to say just I mean."

As I re-read it this afternoon, I still do not like it. It feels forced, so much so that I found myself uncomfortable a third of the way through it and have yet to finish re-reading. The humor, the style, the content all seemed forced. You can see moments where the organic flow of the writing wants to push through, but the weeds of forced effort continuously stifle it.

In light of this, I will abstain from today's promised edit. The post has its moments but would take a lot of re-working and even re-writing. This is hard to do when looking at the text throws me into discomfort. So I shall leave it be and flush this feeling out of my system the best way I know how: with a rainy-day, up at 5:00am nap.

See ya'll tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Editing on the Way

Dear reader, I must subject you to more editing in the coming day. I wrote tonight's post as a first draft for something I wish to submit for publication. Hopefully, we can fool "Relevant" into thinking that I am cool or "rad," as I hear the kids are saying these days, once more.

I am currently unsatisfied with this post. For one, it is too long according to Relevant's standards and according to those of any reader who wishes to maintain sanity. Secondly, I'm not exactly sure what I'm saying. This, above all else, is a problem.

So tomorrow I edit! It should be an adventure. You are welcome to come along with me. Suggestions are always welcomed, as comments or as e-mails: bhumps@gmail.com

I do hope you come along for the ride, as verbose and confusing as it may be. And in case you do, you now cannot say you haven't been warned.

From The Masters to The Master

I remember moments. Certain indelible events take place during the course of my life that sear themselves into my brain and do not leave. I cannot remember what came before the event, what came after the event, or even precisely when the event occurred. I simply remember the moment.

I remember the first shower I ever took. More precisely, I remember the moment I first washed my hair in the shower. I used Dad's Johnson and Johnson shampoo, the kind that looked like the amber which held the dinosaur DNA in Jurassic Park. The disasterous fate which awaited me that morning superceded even that met by Jeff Goldblum and company.

The Johnson and Johnson brand of shampoo proclaimed the unique characteristic that it was "No Tears," meaning one could get the goo in one's eyes without the violent pain that often brought about tears in young people. That morning, I put Johnson and Johnson to the test, as the shampoo ran into my eyes when this first-time showerer stuck his head, backwards, under the nozzle so that the water ran past my face and not away from it. The pain burned. Tears came.

I did not brave this thing called "shower" for months after that.

This past Sunday, my eyes took in some more Johnson. As in the day of yore, the tears came.

I like golf. Especially the majors. This past weekend, Zach Johnson won The Masters, arguably the most prestigious golf event of the year. He was an unsuspected upstart, having won only one previous tournament in his PGA career. His best finish in a major before Sunday was 17th place.

Now major golf tournaments have often brought me to tears. Payne Stewart defeating father-to-be Phil Mickelson at Pinehurst. Steely-eyed Jim Furyk walking up the final fairway weeping at the U.S. Open with his father shadowing him stride for stride. Ben Curtis trying, and failing, to keep it together in order to thank his girlfriend for her support after his surprise win at the Brittish Open. Phil Mickelson calling out a legion of monkeys from his back by winning his first major on the Augusta's 18th green.

The accomplishment of victory and the achievement of a dream is what moves me. These golfers spend lives working on their games, practicing and practicing in the pursuit of perfection. Avid golf fans know the famous story of Vijay Singh hitting range balls on Christmas day. What's more than this though, they dream. They desire something great regardless of the outcome's probability. They risk failure for their dream. This, dear reader, is rare.

Golf exists as particularly striking in this respect because it is an individual sport. Victory is an individual accomplishment. When I received a technical foul for cussing with 45 seconds to go in the championship game of the church league basketball playoffs, my teammate picked me up and hit the game-winner, letting my ass (don't give me a technical) off the hook for one of the dumbest plays in the history of church league basketball. When Geoff Ogilvy plopped consecutive shots in the drink at 15 on Sunday, he had no one to pick him up and return him his dream.

So here we have Zach Johnson, whose golf career has been defined by "not's". Not the best golfer on his high school team. Not the best golfer on his college team. Not good enough for the PGA Tour. Not good enough to win a major. And on Sunday, is hard work paid off. He was number one. He was the best.

His response in his first interview to CBS:

"I was not alone out there. Jesus was with me every step of the way."

His voice broke, and he cried.

In his book "Blue Like Jazz," Donald Miller writes of a friend, Alan, who once asked a pastor named Bill Bright "what Jesus meant to him. Alan said Dr. Bright could not answer the question. He said Dr. Bright just started to cry. He sat there in his big chair behind his big desk and wept."

When speaking of Jesus, Zach Johnson cried too.

How seamlessly the champ moved from The Masters to The Master. CBS renaissance man Jim Nantz must be getting tired of hearing about this Jesus guy, what with Tony Dungy and Zach Johnson earning all these interviews after colossal sports victories.

What's most amazing about Johnson comment is that it was in no way coerced. The CBS reporter did not ask him, "So Zach, what divine being do you give credit to for your victory today?" or "Would you like to give mad props to Jesus Christ on live television right now?" In fact, Johnson avoided the safe route in committing cultural blasphemy and dropping the J-Bomb, as evidenced by the discussion his comments created on the inside of Tuesday's "USA Today" sports section.

It seemed that Johnson diverted the glory for his victory towards Jesus because it never crossed his mind not to. In the midst of great personal accomplishment, of years of work ethic paying off, of the achievement of the American dream, Johnson refused to feed his pride because he knew of his own inadequacy. But what's more, he also know of the perfect sufficiency of the one he called Lord.

What a lesson in humility for me. I work in a bookstore shelving books. Upon completion of a cart, I often suppress the desire to thump my chest, give a fiercely intense look to the nearest customer, and let out a primordial scream followed by the question that is a proclamation, "Who's the man!" I suppress this urge not out of humility, mind you, but because I do not want to look silly. How can I claim prideful accomplish in the face of overwhelming grace? May God forgive me and forbid it.

What's more, living this life of relationship with Christ meant that Zach could not help but share the Gospel with the watching world. On Sunday, he told the truth, that the stregnth for his victory came from the presence of his Jesus. Certainly this ruffled some feathers. CBS refused to ask a follow-up question concerning Zach's faith, and many of the aforementioned "USA Today" readers responded negatively. Yet for Zach, no other way seemed possible. He answered the question honestly, and in doing so, tactfully told the world about the goodness of God in his life. If you will permit me another dirty word often deserving of a technical foul, he evangelized.

How I often try to hide Christ's glory when I refuse to articulate his work in my life. How I often say that I am "lucky" when God's grace, and certainly not luck, sustains me. How I often hinder people from seeing how great God is when I balk at giving the deserving credit to him.

Here's to moving from The Masters to The Master of my life as seamlessly as Zach Johnson did. In reality, no movement is required because the two are inseparable. I thanked God Sunday for the example of humility and faith that Zach set for me.

Like my first encouter with shampoo, a tearful moment I shall always remember.

Monday, April 09, 2007

40 Days After Easter

Easter and the Masters dominated my weekend. I feel obliged to write about them both today. Each remains fresh in mind, but the Masters stands as an easier subject on which to write since trivialities always require less time and energy. Plus, Easter involves the word "resurrection" and its double consonent, my old arch nemesis. Misspellings would run roughshod over RP. Still, can one put golf in front of the resurrection of Jesus Christ without consequence? Redeeming Prufrock does not want to find out.

This Easter Sunday, I picked up a bulletin entering church and quickly glanced at the sermon title:

"The Ascended Christ"

Sweet, same old Easter sermon, I thought to myself. I'm on comofortable, familiar ground. Talking about the resurrected Christ and the empt. . . .

Wait a minute, Pastor! That adjective says "ascended," not "resurrected"! What are you trying to pull? This is Easter, for goodness sake! Certainly this must be a typo.

Then, lo and behold, thirty minutes into the service, my pastor starts firing away on the importance and meaning, not of Christ's resurrection, but of his ascension into Heaven 40 days after the resurrection.

Now, I must admit, this subject was as new to me as a green jacket was to Zach Johnson. I have never given the ascension much thought. Of course Christ ascended after rising from the dead. What else was he supposed to do? It could not have happened any differently.

But things could have always happened differently. When I fail to grasp this, I miss the purpose that God has in doing things exactly how they were done. Jesus could have done any number of things after rising from the dead. He could have wandered the earth for 2000+ years, playing a huge game of "Where's Waldo?" with mankind. He could have vaporized and simply disappeared to only God knows where. He could have re-entered the grave after proving his mastery of it. Yet, he did not. The biblical text explicitly says he bodily ascended into Heaven in front of his disciples to take his seat at the right hand of the Father. He did so with great consequence for us.

When Jesus took his place at the Father's side, he gained ultimate authority on Heaven and on earth, as the Lord handed my Lord the scepter with which to rule. Jesus Christ has ultimate power. He can go anywhere he wants and do anything he wants. This is a great comfort to the believer.

When Jesus took his place at the Father's side, he began his eternal priesthood, cleansing us from sin and continuously praying for us. Jesus prays for you and me, and he always desires what is best for us.

When Jesus took his place at the Father's side, he became our advocate, our lawyer in a trial we all must one day stand. At our deaths, when the accuser of the brethren, Satan, brings forth a case against us complete with Exhibits A through infinity of all our sins along with the witnesses of his demons to corroborate, it is Jesus Christ, the son of God, who will step in when we can say nothing on our own behalf and simply say, "The prosecution has no case. It says right here there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ." And we will win.

I believe the world has Christ wrong when they implicitly and explicitly portray him as a Mr. Rogers, nicest-guy-in-the-world type figure. For one thing, I doubt Jesus ever wore a cardigan, and if one object defined Mr. Rogers, it must be the zip-up/button-up sweater. But more than apparel, this characterization misses a great deal of Christ's character. Jesus is powerful; Jesus is fierce; Jesus is victorious.

We hear this quite loudly on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We see it at the ascension as well if we stop to look. And with Jesus, the Lord of Lord and King of Kings, reigning from Heaven for all eternity, we will know and experience this forever more.

Friday, April 06, 2007

He fell asleep quickly that night, exhausted from two consecutive early mornings sandwiching an undisciplined evening. Sleep came very easily.

Time moves awkwardly while we sleep. It does not move slowly or quickly. The morning sun does not arrive the instant sleep overtakes us, and yet sleep never lasts as long as we wish. Sleep is not long, but it is not short either, a walking contradiction like his new co-worker at the bookstore, Squeaky Bellows.

Sometime soon, but not too soon, he found himself high. It was dark, and night stretched out into 360 degrees of horizon. He saw it all from the air, as if he were floating. High.

He remembered he hated heights. He was afraid of heights. His photographs from a recent trip to Paris had proven as much. Every picture from the Eiffel Tower showed the guardrail in the foreground, always in view because he never approached the edge to snap over it. A rush of weight dropped in his stomach, that feeling one gets when terror seizes.

Panicked, his mind rushed to find the reason for his elevated status, taking an inventory of his surroundings. He discovered he clung to the top of a solid metal pole. He felt his feet for the first time, standing on a platform, a small platform maybe a yard in diameter. The pole stood as part of a suspension bridge, spanning not water but a neighborhood of a large city below. Looking down, his stomach dropped again. How? It seemed it had hit bottom the first time. And yet it would continue to drop and drop and drop. . .

There he stood, hundreds of feet above the ground, hugging the pole and shivering. It was cold, but what's more, he was afraid.

He composed himself and glanced around. A city surrounded him, the lights offering the appearance of life in the darkness of night. But there was no life, no people, no sound. He looked at this grand city where America had taken her first bold step into freedom as if the scene were on television, muted and paused. The lights stretched as far as he could see. Except on one side where the lights abruptly ended. Darkness, the Atlantic Ocean, stretched on for eternity. The watery trail seemed so empty now, the one that once grounded the first footstrikes of the early colonists eager to brave the unknown.

Dark waves buoyed up and down, up and down, up and down. He could feel the tumult of the waves in his gut, that intangible place that rules the rest of the self. The platform on which he stood seemed to sway in the breeze. He jerked, moving with the pole, but also with fear.

Sometime later, before his awakening, a ladder appeared. Hope! Though it would require risk. He could not see the bottom of the ladder, the place to where it led. It was sturdy though, three feet wide with closely spaced rungs of solid wood. But, lo, the ladder's beginning was suspended in the air four feet from the platform. He could reach, but he would have to let go.

Anything was better than his current situation. He hated heights. The weight in his stomach dropped again. Fear. He had to move.

Slowly sliding one foot off the platform, he moved it towards the ladder but still clung tightly to the pole, both arms wrapped around it. He shivered. The platform swayed. His foot could not reach. He tried and tried to make it reach but it would not, not with two arms locked around the pole.

Slowly pulling one arm away, he reached his foot again. The feeling of a fall, a fall that seemed to be coming and a fall that seemed to have already happened, fell through his mind. What would it feel like? It would feel like his stomach, once again bottoming out at the reemergence of fear. He stretched his foot a little farther.

Contact! His foot pressured the top rung. It held! The first step proved the ladder, or at least the top rung, sturdy. His faith stregnthed. For now.

There he stood, one foot on the suspended platform, one foot on the top rung four feet away. One arm remained hooked on the pole. His legs formed an inverted V, like the stretch from high school track practice that prevented what was, for high boys, the unthinkable, unimaginable pain: the groin pull. An injury no man could take.

One foot, one arm on safe ground. Ground that led to nowhere, but safe ground nonetheless.

One foot, one arm reaching for a ladder. A ladder that led to God knows where, but somewhere nonetheless.

Stretched between the two realms, he felt the wind kick up, exposing the facade of stability his platform had created. He looked around at the lights of Boston which stretched below him, far, far below him. The instability of the wind and the height of his perch paralyzed him. He became aware of his fear once again. And his stomach dropped.

And he awoke. The alarm beeped, hinting that 5:10am was upon him. He rolled out of bed, grabbed the day's clothes and headed to the shower to begin another day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ganked!

Odd Encounter of the Week: gankage

My friend at work likes to tell me I live "in the 'hood." He does so jokingly, as I live in the Southeast part of Charlotte known for its "young professionals," to put it euphemismingly. If these people knew someone had called their area such a derrogatory name, they would undoubtedly run one over in their SUV's or pour a scalding latte over one's head or pummel one with soccer balls. As a tangent, these people as a whole also form a primary reason why I'm fleeing to New Hampshire next year. But I digress. . . .

Anyways, my friend likes to pretend he lives in the 'hood, but he really does not either, despite the fact that he lives off of Charlotte's (Dirty) South Blvd. On Friday, I got to finally prove to him that I do, in fact, live in the 'hood. Ha!

I left my apartment at 7:15am that morning to go to work. Approaching my Nissan Sentra, I noticed the driver-side door was slightly open, as if a three-year old had attempted to shut it but lacked sufficient strength to make it flush. "Hmm, I need to hit the gym," I thought. As I opened the back door to toss my peanut butter sandwich in, I noticed that the passenger side window sat shattered in the passenger side seat as if a 25-year old bouncer had shut it but with too much force to keep the glass in one piece. "Man, I must be one buff stud," I thought.

Lost in thoughts of muscles, I looked forward and discovered a gaping hole in my dashboard where my stereo had formerly been. Apparently, the door and the window had nothing to do with my brute strength - or lack thereof.

My stereo had been stolen, or lifted, or ganked, depending on how old you are and which coolness caste you belong to (or pretend to belong to). Now if you, beloved reader, decided to rob someone, I would stand as the last person you would choose as a victim. I buy my clothes at Kohl's. I grocery shop at Bi-Lo. I work at Borders. Needless to say, I do not own many nice things, surely not enough to risk incarceration. The stereo these folks ganked (note the coolness caste which I claim) cost $100. . . . three years ago when I bought it. I doubt the pawn shop that now has my stereo gave the perp enough money to feed his/her family even one meal, which undoubtedly he/she did with the booty.

After calling the police and my insurance company, I returned to my car to drive to work. I was going to put a trashbag up for a window. I had always wanted to do this. Entering the parking lot, I encountered my neighbor who was looking for her car. That's right, looking for it. Apparently, the male of the household had returned from bowling around midnight the previous night, potentially in some sort of stupor. He thought he had left the car two spaces from mine but was not sure. During our search, we stumbled upon other neighbors, turns out to be ten others, who had had their cars broken into as well. Stereos and electronics stolen.

As the police sergeant said later, it seemed the perps had used the bowler's car to haul all the stuff away. Honda Accords are easy to steal and easy to sell, he said.

I met a lot of my neighbors that morning. Given the circumstances, everyone seemed in good spirits. I know I was; I got to go into work two hours late! It was like missing class without the make-up work except it cost me a couple hundred bucks. Maybe this is a commentary on my job. Regardless, the news came out and interviewed a couple of us. We thought we were hot stuff. Famous! Nevermind the reason was because we got our stuff ganked. It is still a more legitimate reason to be famous than being on a reality television show, which is widely viewed as socially acceptable.

Jesus once told us to love our enemies. I really do not have many enemies, besides the obvious like Osama Bin Laden who I believe would murder me right now without hesitation if given the chance. These folks who ganked my stereo qualify, I guess. So thanks to them for giving me enemies for whom to pray.

And thanks also to them for giving me quiet, music-less car rides during which to do it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The F Word

Almost by defintion, blogs exist as very self-centered entities. When one has a chance to express oneself daily, one tends to speak about oneself quite often. Indeed, the pronoun "I" has popped up on "Redeeming Prufrock" more often than your author would like. "RP" orbits as a very Benocentric universe.

A book sits on the shelves at Borders (placed there by yours truly) entitled "No One Wants to Know What You Had for Lunch." This work details how to create and maintain a successful blog, beginning with this first command. I have not read said book, but I have tried to avoid writing on my lunch menu, both literal and metaphorical. It is quite boring actually. Usually either Chef Boyardee's Beefaroni or a peanut butter sandwich with pretzels. The key determinant: whether or not I have time to make a sandwich and bag the pretzels before work in the morning. This may seem trivial, but when trying to squeeze even sleep's pulp out of evening's orange, sometimes seconds matter. So it's usually peanut butter or Beefaroni, unless I have leftovers, in which case. . . .

And I have just spent an entire paragraph talking about what I have for lunch, partly as a joke but also partly to show you what could be.

Only on rare occasions do I aim to spend an entire post talking about my personal life. Say, for example, my first publication. Today though, "Redeeming Prufrock" is all about me. And what's worse, it's about me in relation to that horrible "F" word.

For a 22-year old taking a year off after college, I consistently get questions about my "Future" (cue dark, intimindating music). I have grown to despise this word. If one called me a mutha-futurerer or a goat futurerer or if one told me to go "Future off!" or "Future myself!", they could say nothing worse. 'Tis really a dreadful word. Yet today, I address it because it has dominated my thoughts these past 24 hours.

Yesterday, I accepted a position as a campus staff worker with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of New Hampshire in (gasp!) Durham, New Hampshire. If the Lord provides the funds for me, this previous sentence answers the constant question: What are you going to be doing next year?

The journey to this decision goes back a year and a half. You would find it as boring as what I had for lunch today, except it would take a lot longer. In particular though, this past week, the time between when IV made the offer and when I accepted it, has been crazy and worthy of note (and consequently, of post). Since they called me with the offer, a friend of mine has died in a freak pedestrian accident, I have continuously flirted with sickness, I have entered the realm of division in the academic Christian body for the first time, and, get this, I was robbed (more on this to come tomorrow; stay tuned!).

Now my universe is not so Bencentric that I believe all of these events happened because of me. This would be arrogant foolishness. However, I would fail to grasp the magnitude and importance of God's kingdom and his desires for my role in it if I chose to say these things did not constitute some sort of attack. I have always believed in spiritual warfare, and every major decision I have made since accepting Jesus as my Lord has entailed some sort of difficult circumstance, resistance if you will. But man, what a week.

A pastor once told me that Satan will leave you alone if you do not pose a threat to him. I have experienced this myself and heard about this from others. When entering into ministry or some other endeavor which strives to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, resistance arises. Satan's ground stands as threatened, and he will fight with all of his God-allowed power to defend it.

Fortunately, our Lord is a warrior. Satan flees at the mere mention of his name. Through these situations and apart from these situations, the Lord has provided me clarity, even to the point that as I prayed over this Sunday night, all valid reasons for not going fell away. Only fear remained. When only fear remains, we must act. In an attempt to redeem the life of J. Alfred Prufrock and rage against passivity, I said yes.

So there you have it, my dear readers. The question of the dreaded "F" word settled, at least for now. Alas, off to bed I head. The time draws late, and I must arise early for a 6:00am shift tomorrow morning.

Beefaroni, here I come!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Call of the Saturday Speakers

The weekend's events remembering the late Jason Ray went about as well as they could have gone. The Friday night visitation that purposed to last from 6-9pm ended up continuing on for six hours with some visitors waiting in line for three hours. The funeral the next day drew 1000 people; Jason's youth pastor joked that Jason would have loved to know that he "drew a crowd."

In particular, the speakers at Saturday's service performed admirably. They joked without triteness. They grieved without despair. They shared the Gospel without shame.

Though it has embraced Jason and his story, the world does not love this Gospel presentation that has so often emerged from his death and did again with the Saturday speakers. The newspapers will quote much, but they will not quote the pastor's proclamation that they best way for anyone to honor Jason in his death is to investigate who the person of Jesus Christ really is.

I must confess that I, too, became uncomfortable when I felt this Gospel presentation coming on. Possessing a strong past and an all too occassional present knack for people-pleasing, I find myself in tune with how people will respond to what I observe. "Why make people uncomfortable during a time when we all so desperately just want to feel good again?" my flesh quickly asked before the indwelling Holy Spirit politely told it to shut the hell up.

Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be the most important information anyone can know, that's why. Peter exhorts us to "[a]lways be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Always. Even at funerals. Especially at funerals.

In our melting pot, we have the opportunity to reject Jesus without ever actually feeling like we reject him. We live in a vast Sam's Club where we can have any purpose in life we want, at low cost and high volume. Sports. Politics. Career. Education. Oprah. Family. Partying. Capitalism. You want it? America's got it. Jesus simply sits on the shelf like everything else. We can choose to ignore him, to walk right past him, without ever actually looking to see what he offers. Without ever actually having to say "No" to him.

The speakers said that Jesus stands as our only hope in times like these, and do not be fooled, times like these await us all. Our coming calamity, as John Piper puts it. If you have lived long enough, you have experienced this. Many of us did for the first time this past week. 21-year olds die in freak accidents. Two Charlotte police officers in their mid-30's with families are shot on a routine weekend call. Elizabeth Edwards and Kay Yow encounter the devastation of cancer. Death comes to us all.

We must acknowledge these facts. No secret or positive thinking can circumvent them. The way we deal with them will, to a large extent, define our lives.

This is why what the speakers did at Jason's funeral was so vital. They told anyone who would listen that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. They told anyone who would listen that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, among whom we are the foremost. They told anyone who would listen that Jesus said the only way to the Father was through him. They told anyone who would listen that Jesus offers us a way to engage all of life, to find purpose in it, to find hope in it.

We in the audience could choose to continue shopping without encountering Jesus. But they sure made it harder for us to do so.

In the spirit of the Saturday speakers and in the spirit of the life that Jason Ray led, I encourage all of you out there to encounter Jesus. Take him off the shelf and look at the packaging. Maybe even open it up. Have an opinion or decide to go form one. At the very least, give Jesus the respect of telling him he's out of his mind.

My e-mail address is on my profile if you have questions. Most of my frequent commentors would love to chat too if you think me to be a prude, a moron, or a jackass (and do not worry, I have been called worse).

Ignoring Jesus is saying "No" to Jesus. Putting the decision off until tomorrow is saying "No" to Jesus today. Waiting until you do not have the pleasures of youth to enjoy before encountering Jesus is saying "No" to Jesus, even if you plan to check him out later.

I thank God today that JRay did not take any of these routes.