What’s the cuss all about?

The other day, I was listening to a podcast from one of the Believer’s Convention services that Kenneth Copeland Ministries puts on each year.  Gloria Copeland was the speaker and she was saying something about instead of letting the devil beat you up with doubt, you should use your faith and beat him up.  The she came out with “kick the devil’s toe!”  My brain went *tilt* – his toe?  What?!  Is Gloria Copeland trying to talk all tough?

She then explained that at her home, she has a device on her TV that will substitute cuss words in live TV with other “normal” words.  And the word that replaces “ass” most of the time on her TV is “toe”.  So, when she watches a Bruce Lee movie at home, they “kick toe”.  I thought it was hilarious!  (I tested out this substitute in my last blog, y’all let me know how you like it).

It got funnier when Creflo Dollar got up to speak and he made “kickin’ toe” sound all street, saying Goliath might be a big giant and you feel like a little David, but with God you can kick toe!

I didn’t grow up around people that cussed.  My mama wouldn’t let me say suck, screw, or freakin’.  I had a biology teacher in the 10th grade that would make students write sentences if they said “suck” in her classroom.  My best friend came up with a new phrase – “that rots” – so we started saying it. Since it was all biological and stuff, the teacher liked it and let us keep it.

Soon after we moved into our new house last fall, we changed some of our movie channels and started getting HBO.  During the evening on most week nights, they have a show called “In Treatment”.  Each episode is basically someone’s therapy session with their psychiatrist.  When you have to deal with people and you have no idea what it is that makes them tick, but you still have to learn to work and relate with them, this show gives you an inside look at a wide variety of people.  I was very intrigued by it when I first started watching it.

One of the first episodes I watched was a session with a 16 year-old boy who’s mom gave him up and he doesn’t know why.  He’s disclosed that he is gay and would sneak into gay bars to hang out with older guys because they make him feel needed and protected.  Previous to this session, he had done well with taking his meds right and not skipping school, until the day of the session.  During that session, the therapist tries to dig into why he “backslid” so suddenly.  Turns out, his birth mom left him a voicemail that she wanted to meet with him.  He traced her number and found out that she lived in Manhattan (aka she’s rich).  During this episode, he also uses the “F” word a lot (I know, it’s HBO, what do you expect) – but it was very strategic because he admitted to trying to make the therapist uncomfortable.

Then the therapist said something very profound: “Why would that word make me uncomfortable?  I want you to express how all this makes you feel, and if that’s the best word to communicate those feelings to me, then you’ve done exactly what I’ve asked.” (Now, what if I had watched that episode at Gloria Copeland’s house?  Would it have had the same profoundness as the original?)

After that episode, I said to Ken, “what if we took that approach with the teens we minister to and even all the people we encounter?  Would it make them communicate more openly with us?  Feel less judged?”

I’m not saying cussing is okay.  God tells us that we should bless and not curse and that the power of life and death is in the tongue.  He wants us to choose and speak life.  And yes I’m supposed to guard my heart (and my eyes and my ears) because what’s in my heart will come out of my mouth.  So, I’m settled that I don’t need to cuss and that I should protect myself and not have to hear it all the time.

But what if that 16 year old boy walked into your church or your office or your classroom… would he be able to accurately communicate his feelings to you without needing a “word substituter” or being judged by our “thou shalt not cuss” religiosity?

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Boys to Men

Today, in light of this graduation season, I’ve been reminiscing about a couple of our teens at church that will be graduating tonight.  I met these two boys when they were 6th graders coming into the middle school class at church.  And over the past 7 years, I have been able to watch them progress in school, progress in life, and progress in their relationship with God.  And somehow, these teenage boys thought I was cool – cool enough to allow me to participate and delight in the growth they have experienced.  So, here’s a little bit about the David and Josh I know – the dangerous duo…

David… he used to be a short kid, kinda skinny, and would always come up and hug me when he saw me.  When I was moving away to go to Pharmacy school, he wrote me a letter (and folded it in that origami way we all folded letters in middle school) about how he’d miss me and how he’d come to see me as a big sister (I still have that letter).  He would make me things and write me things – just like a good little brother.  Then, as I came back, he’d grown up – way up, but still skinny!  And as with all teenage boys, he had trouble at home, trouble at school, trouble with girls – just a lot of trouble.  But one thing that was obvious, he knew God was faithful and his sincerity in sharing his experiences with that faithfulness has affected the lives of his peers and his leaders.  It’s hard to believe this young “little brother” has grown into someone that I can now consider a true friend.  And even though this phase is over, his life has just begun!

Josh… until about a year ago, he was a shy guy.  I can remember him asking me “You’re a girl, what do girls like?”  To me, he was a big ball of paradoxes – big talk but shy actions, tough words but sensitive heart, had all the answers but unspoken questions.  He is a dreamer of big dreams and he has such a conquering spirit.  It was an amazing day when I watched him change from “are you sure God speaks to people? How do you know?” to “God is awesome, He talks to me!”  His genuine curiosity about the things of God is unusual for his generation, and it has been awesome to see him lead his peers back to God.

It has been an amazing and sometimes trying ride with these guys.  And even though I have been a “teacher” to them in the past, I can honestly say I have learned just as much from them.  I love you guys and I’m proud of you!

Family Group Hug

To continue my bragging on the teams at GBF, take a gander at this video of Fred and the Kingdom Kids team in a typical Sunday morning class.

If you’ve got any friends who have kids in the class, please share this video with them.

Act your age… and your grade level

I decided that I would share my latest pet peeve with everyone…

People who spell words incorrectly on purpose!

When did this epidemic of “uneducated is cool” take over our teenagers??

You know, I’m ok with the IMing and texting abbrevation rules; leave out the vowels, I can follow that.  Spelling “school” with a “k” and writing “kool” instead of “cool”.  I didn’t think they taught reading, writing, and spelling by phonetics anymore.  I really don’t understand it.  Do you really want the world to think you’ve made it all the way into middle school or high school or beyond and you can’t spell?  Do you really want people to think you’re uneducated?

Someone please explain this to me!  The truth is I know many teenagers and recent graduates that are very smart in multiple arenas, but their facebook pages have all kinds of signs that say “I can’t spell” and “I don’t know how to form sentences”.  The other thing is, nowadays, many employers do take a look at their employees facbook and myspace pages.  How would you like to get a call from a college or job you were applying to and find out you weren’t accepted because of what they saw and read on facebook? I’m not even talking about content wise.  I’m talking about spelling and punctuation and sentence formation.  Are you trying to tell me your education doesn’t matter?

Do you like looking dumb?  Do you want people to wonder how in the world you made it to the 1oth grade with the reading level that shows on your profile?  Do you take uneducated people seriously?  Most likely not, so then don’t complain to me when people don’t take you seriously!

And something that just hit me – if you rebel against the conventional spelling of words, what else are you secretly rebeling against?

Somebody told you “we don’t need no education” – but their bad grammar just proves that they do!

God is like the Chickenpox

When I was little, Chickenpox was a childhood disease that you just knew you were going to get and just had to tough it out and get it. But the good news was, that once you get it, you won’t ever get it again. (Don’t you wish the flu was like that?)

Nowadays, there is a vaccine for the virus that causes chickenpox and school-aged children are required to get it. Unfortunately, it has not been around long enough so we don’t know if it has the life-long immunity.

So, how does this relate to God? I’m about to tell you…

Just like Chickenpox (caused by a virus – Varicella) where parents have two options:
1) Get my kid vaccinated – relatively painless
2) Let them get chickenpox

With God, you have two options:
1) Come to church to get your “vaccine”
2) Experience God for yourself

You can get the vaccine – come to church once or twice a week, sit there and listen (relatively painless), and have immunity from Christian family and friends, and from getting into “too much” trouble during the week. But with this vaccine, it is not guaranteed that you will be immune from everything for the rest of your life.

Or you can get the “disease” – it can be painful and annoying, itchy and scratchy all over, lots of screaming and crying – thinking that you’re going to die, trying to remember which “medicines” to use. But as the initial pain subsides, you are now immune from the things that used to “infect” you so easily.

One thing about Chickenpox, once you have it, you’re marked. I have several scars from having the chickenpox. But also, the virus now hangs out with you for the rest of your life.

If you “catch” God. You’ll be marked – visibly and invisibly. The people around you can see the scars you have from your “disease”, but also, the unseen parts of you are changed too (your thoughts and emotions).

Just like Jacob, who fought with God. He ended up with a limp – he was marked by his experience with God.

So, who wants the Chickenpox?

Get an STD from God

Yeah, it was funny to watch the teenagers’ faces when I said that Sunday morning in the teen room!  But you know, I think they got the point…

Over the last month, we’ve been talking about being contagious – are we contagious, what are we contagious with, and how do we become contagious.  So, Ken taught the last Thurs night of the series and I got to do the last Sun morning (so cute – husband and wife, long-distance tag team).

So, here’s my notes from class – enjoy, laugh a little, and maybe even you will catch the STD from God (Spiritually Transmitted Disease).

Living things have a natural desire to reproduce…

Infections attack the cells in your body, why? To reproduce

Plants produce colorful, fragrant blooms, why? So I can pick them and put them in a vase? No, to attract pollen-carrying insects – To reproduce

Birds grow crazy features, sing crazy songs, and do crazy dances, why? To reproduce (Planet Earth’s Birds of Paradise) – Yes, I did this dance that I have come to call the “Egyptian Chicken Dance”

Elks and Lions fight, sometimes to the death, over a female why? To reproduce

Why do they want to reproduce?

Survival of the Fittest – biggest, prettiest, strongest, fastest

Continue their breed/species – avoid extinction

As believers, we have a desire to spread our “epidemic” (The Great Commission). But God has called us to be leaders and as leaders we have a natural desire to reproduce.

Reproduce what? Infected people

How do I reproduce infected people? Get an STD (Spiritually Transmitted Disease) from God

You are called to be a leader so your initial infection comes from God – not teachers, parents, or friends who experience God

How do you get an STD? Intimacy

with God, you have to let Him into places He’s never been before, even the places you don’t want anyone to see

How do you spread an STD? Intimacy

with people

Epidemics are airborne – Ken talked about the symptoms that cause the epidemic to spread (sneezing, coughing, vomiting) – even people you don’t know can catch it because they see/watch you, walk by you, listen to (eavesdrop on) you, but may not talk to you

STDs are contact diseases – you have to be in relationship with someone to give them a STD

Once you have the STD, as you build relationships (this takes work, they don’t “just happen”), they get the STD, but also as you reproduce as a leader, those things you reproduce will also have the STD (be it dreams or people)

And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also. – 2 Timothy 2:2 (AMP)

How do you know you have this type of relationship?

Do they see the good?

Do they see the bad?

Do they see the ugly?

This isn’t a “let’s be friends” type of a relationship. This is a “I need you, I see God in you, I need the God in you” type of relationship.  It’s also a “I love you, but I’m mad at you, you hurt my feelings, you broke my heart, you betrayed me, you didn’t do what I wanted you to do” type of relationship. (And yes, you can say those things to God). And a “I have a secret” type of relationship (and I’m not talking about gossip)

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. – Proverbs 27:17 (AMP)

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. – James 5:16 (AMP)

These relationships don’t start out at this level, they may start out as “hey, my name is…” And that’s what the time before classes is for, and that’s what our small groups are for.

Who is the person in your life right now that you need to start this type of relationship with? Let’s take the next few minutes

  1. If you don’t know God at all – If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
  2. If that person is God
    1. It may be the “Hey God, my name is….” convo (ppl in Group #1 are now in this group)
    2. It may be the “I love you but I’m mad at you” conversation
    3. It may be the “I have a secret” conversation
  3. You may already have the a STD from God and now it’s time to start building relationships and reproducing
    1. Think of that person that you may want as a mentor, or someone on your team that God is calling you to this type of relationship

i.    “I need you”

ii. “I love you, but I’m mad at you”

iii. “I have a secret”

You have to start with one person.  Grab a sheet of paper and write a letter – either to God or to that one person you want to start reproducing with as a leader.  Write down all the things you would want to say to them.

If you wrote your letter to God, He already knows, He just needed you to say it.  If you wrote your letter to a person, I challenge you to give it to that person and have that conversation to start you on the path of spreading your STD and reproducing infected people.