I really hope no kids read my blog.  I’m not too worried, though, since I am pretty sure both of my readers are adults.  Either way, if you believe in Santa Claus, you might want to stop reading right now.
My wife and I recently started Christmas shopping for this year.  That, of course, leads to conversations of what gifts will be from us to our children and what gifts will be from Santa.  And we have to figure out how can we guide our children's gift requests to prepare them for what we actually bought for them

Many Christians dismiss Santa Claus and refuse to mislead their children with the idea of a fantasy philanthropic fat man that gives free gifts to all the kids on earth.  I’m not going to pass judgment either way.  But, no matter which side of the argument you are on, at some point you will probably tell your children that Santa does not exist.  I beg you, please don’t crush them with the “I’m sorry, I’ve been lying to you for years” routine I’m sure you were dealt in elementary school.

If you’re still reading this, then I’m sure you are well aware of how unreasonable it is for Santa Claus to exist.  You know that reindeer can’t fly, elves make cookies instead of toys, and the magical delivery of toys all over the world in one night seems incredibly unlikely.  To your children, however, this is what they have known to be reality for their entire lives.

As a math guy, I like to have logical, rational evidence about a subject before I make my final verdict.  Simply dismissing ideas because they seem implausible is definitely the easy thing to do, but it’s really no fun at all.  That’s why I have spent some time thinking about practical, logical reasons that Santa cannot exist.  This is how I intend to break the news to my own children in a few years.  I plan to present this list as though I recently figured it out and I will act as if I am as shocked as they are.  Feel free to use this list as you see fit.

1.  Copyright/Trademark Laws – This may not have been an issue in the age of custom wooden toys and trinkets, but in the modern age of branding and patents, toys being constructed by elves just doesn’t make sense.  Think about it.  Why on earth would Sony take on the liability of Playstation 3 consoles built and programmed at the North Pole?  Do you think Fisher Price would take a hit for a faulty Big Wheel the elves messed up on because they were rushing to make a quota?  There is no way that name brand toys could be constructed by Santa’s helpers.  That’s an impossible scenario.

2.  Lack of Duplication – Have you ever heard the story about the kids that got the exact same gifts from Santa and their parents?  Me neither.  Surely, with millions of homes being visited every year, there would be a last minute gift purchased that would be an exact replica of a Santa gift.  That.Has.Never.Happened.  The only possible explanations for this are:  a. parents do not buy gifts, b.  Santa magically comes up with something new when he arrives at each home, c. Santa doesn’t exist.

    a.  Seriously, look at my bank account.  Parents buy gifts.  This cannot be the correct explanation.

    b.  If this is the case, it doesn’t make sense for Santa to ask you what you want for Christmas.  Letters to Santa do not matter.  Elves do not construct toys “just for you.”  These are vital aspects of the story of Santa, so it would be a direct contradiction to assume that Santa does not determine gifts before his arrival.  This cannot be the correct explanation.

    c.  Since the first two options have been eliminated, the only explanation for the lack of duplication of gifts is that Santa does not exist.

3.  Home Security Systems – There are home security systems that have those crazy spy lasers where, if touched, set off alarms and booby traps.  Well, maybe not the traps.  But even assuming he could magically escape before the police arrives, there should still be an amazing increase in reported home invasions on Christmas Eve.  Based on my research, that is not the case.  So if Santa truly is a fat dude that physically eats cookies and puts gifts under the trees, it would be impossible for him to not set off an alarm or two.  Santa could not possibly enter millions of homes each year. 

4.  The Wrapping Paradox – In the month or so leading up to Christmas this past year, I saw countless conversations on Facebook about whether or not Santa wraps gifts.  Some believe he uses special paper, while others have never seen a wrapped gift from Santa.  This creates a large problem from my point of view.  If you are running an operation as big as delivering millions of gifts all across the world in one night, you would have to be organized.  Your processes would have to be streamlined.  So, for some gifts to be wrapped and others not wrapped, that just does not make sense.  This whole thing must be a sham.

5.  The Cookie Dilemma – At my house, we leave cookies out for Santa.  Perhaps that is only to ensure that I get some cookies, but they are left out regardless.  I would think that most homes with young children that are expecting Santa do the same.  To be safe, let’s assume that only half the homes visited by Santa leave cookies for him.  Let’s also assume they each only leave out one Oreo cookie (I realize the types and brands of cookies vary, but I really like Oreos).  Being even more conservative, let’s assume he only visits five million homes here in America. 

Let’s do the math.  If he visits five million homes, that means two and a half million homes leave out at least one Oreo cookie.  It is absolutely impossible for one person to consume that many cookies in one night.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  Thus, Santa Claus does not exist.

Is this an exact science?  Not really.  Will it be enough to convince my children that Santa doesn’t exist without me telling them I’ve been lying to them?  I sure hope so.  Have I spent too much time thinking about cookies?  There is no doubt.

Do you have any interesting stories about how you or someone you know found out that Santa does not exist?

 
Ah…the Olympics.  It’s such a magical time when dreams are fulfilled and we all live vicariously through our countrymen.  It brings us all together in a sense of camaraderie.  Whether you are cheering on the athletes, a fan of the obscure sports, or just really excited to have something to talk about, the Olympic Games provide us all with a reason to rock the red, white, and blue.

However, I do get a kick out of all of the random games that they play.  I feel like most of these things were invented out of boredom while they were waiting for the real games to start.  That kind of makes me want to invent some games.  So here we go….the Christian Olympics.

1.  Communion Races – Teams of deacons from all over the world compete to see how quickly they can get bread and cup to a congregation of 1000 people.  Every person must have a wafer and cup of grape juice, and the trays must be stacked neatly for the clock to stop.  Penalties will be incurred for spilled juice and dropped crackers.

2.  Walking on Water – All competitors are welcome to walk across the river to see who can reach the other side the fastest.  If they fail to walk the entire way, they are welcome to swim.  Penalties will be incurred if contestants fail to get out of the boat.

3.  Ultimate Frisbee – Yeah, you read that right.  Jon Acuff makes a very convincing case that ultimate is God’s favorite sport.  So we have no choice but to put it in the Christian Olympics.

4.  Prayer Marathon – The gold medal in this event will be given to the Christian that can say the most words in a prayer without repeating things the pagans.  Penalties will be incurred for speaking in old English

5.  Potluck Cookoff – I know that Olympic events are supposed to be athletic.  But the finesse with which Christian women create gooey-filled pastries rivals that of any gymnast.  Seriously, we could break this thing down into categories like entrées, potato-based dishes, green vegetables, breads, and a variety of dessert events.  Penalties will be incurred if any entry is sugar-free.

6.  Interpretive Dance – This could be great...like really great.  Folks could create their own interpretive dances based on Christian songs, hymns and contemporary style.  It would be judged by a panel with representation from each denomination.  Penalties will be incurred for anybody that tries to “Dougie.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends.  There are so many possibilities.  What other games would you like to see happen at the Christian Olympics?

 
Being a Christian is hard.  There is no doubt about that.  However, different aspects of walking with Christ seem to challenge individual Christians on different levels.  Some folks have specific sins that they struggle with.  Others have real trouble staying disciplined in their quiet time.  Still some find it difficult just to make it to church every week.  There is one issue, however, I feel led to discuss in detail:  why is it so difficult to drive like a Christian?

When I got my first car after college, somebody gave me a magnetic cross to stick on the back.  As that was a period of great spiritual growth in my life, I was more than happy to slap it on there and represent Christ with my ride.  When a friend of mine noticed my new car art, he made a comment that I will never forget.  He said, “I would love to put something like that on my car.  But if I did, I would have to drive like a Christian.” 

Since he told me that, I have spoken to many other Christians that feel the same way.  Since I have struggled similarly in the past, I can definitely empathize.  That is why I have decided to write this guide to walking the narrow path while driving on the open highway.  Hopefully this short list of driving tips will help you be more like Christ on your next journey.

1.  Crank the music – This may seem contradictory to what you would think, but hear me out.  I know loud music usually gets your adrenaline cranking, but if you are rocking out to Christian music, the benefits far outweigh the risks.  First of all, few things can get your soul in a holy place like listening to your favorite praise and worship tunes.  And if your soul is in the right place, it is much easier to imitate Christ.

Secondly, one of the primary triggers of my own road rage comes from people honking and yelling at me.  If they are drowned out by Todd Agnew blaring from my stereo, then I will be none the wiser.  (Note:  I realize it is dangerous to drive with your music too loud.  That is a risk I am willing to take, but I urge you to do so with caution.)

2.  Practice being selfless – How can you be selfless while driving?  It’s very simple.  It’s call right-of-way.  The best way for you to rid yourself of selfish driving habits is to regularly give up your right-of-way.  You get to the four-way stop first?  Let the other car go anyway.  You turning right while they are turning left?  Give them the friendly wave of driving approval and let them be on their way.  If you make this a regular practice, it will be much easier to contain your fury when it happens on the fly.  I do not believe that practice will make you perfect, but it will definitely make you better.

3.  Remember God’s love – I know God loves me.  I can feel it.  He shows me His love often.  However, I have trouble remembering that He loves everyone else, too.  That is especially true when somebody is doing something stupid that has a negative impact on me.  So whenever somebody runs the stop sign by my house and cuts me off, I often have to say out loud, “God loves that person.”  If I say that, and actually take the time to process it, I find it easier to keep my road rage at bay…most of the time.

4. Obey the law – I know this may sound absurd, but you should obey standard traffic laws.  Come to a complete stop at stop signs and lights.  At least consider driving somewhere in the neighborhood of the speed limit.  Your vehicle has turn signals for a reason, so you should use them every now and then. 

Believe it or not, I am fairly certain that Jesus would do these things if He ever got behind the wheel.  And if you are trying to be like Him, you should probably start working on those rolling stops.  (Note:  I'm also fairly certain that Jesus would drive a Chevrolet.  So...there's that.)

5.  Athletic tape – Whether people choose to follow tip number one or not, I think it is safe to assume that people in cars cannot hear each other clearly, even in a shouting match.  Perhaps that is why many people choose to express their frustration with a simple hand gesture…a California Howdy as we call it where I’m from.  So how do you keep yourself from using this classic piece of sign language?  The answer is very simple: tape your fingers together.

If your index finger is taped to your middle finger, any attempt to flip somebody off would result in what would appear to be a lazy attempt to wish them peace in their journey.  It would be impossible not to laugh at yourself if you went to throw up the finger and inadvertently gave a Boy Scout salute.  And you know what they say, “laughter is the best medicine.”  Well, that and Pepto-Bismol.  I don't know what I would do without that stuff.

6.  Pray – I know it may feel silly, but if you spend some time in prayer before you head out into a congested area, it will be easier to keep your cool.  Asking God to help you be patient (which is different than actually asking for patience) before you go out into a high traffic area that you know will be frustrating will help more than you can imagine.  God wants us to ask Him for things, and I know that there are many things we want more than being able to curb our road rage.  But if this is really something you struggle with, you may want to move it up to the top of your prayer list.  (Note:  If you choose to pray while driving, please keep your eyes open.  It’s okay…I promise.)

Being 100% serious, I honestly believe that driving with a Christian attitude can go a long way toward showing others the love of Christ.  If you are afraid of contradicting a Christian vehicle magnet with your actions behind the wheel, you may want to consider changing your driving habits instead of re-gifting the magnet. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

 
As a Christian, I often find myself hanging out in Christian circles.  However unfortunate that may be, that is the culture of contemporary Christianity.  Many of my best friends are people that I go to church with, used to go to church with, or have crossed paths with through ministry events.

My involvement in Christian circles explains a lot about how I spend my time, the fact that I often speak Christian-ese, and the burden that I feel for not being a friend of sinners.  However, there is one thing that it does not explain.  Why do I hear people misquoting the Bible so often?

There are certain phrases that people spout off at their convenience assuming that they are straight from the Bible.  I suppose they heard it from somebody else that told them it is in the Bible.  But since most of us are too trusting to question what we hear, we assume these phrases must be straight from the Word.  Here are a few of the ones I hear the most:

1.  God won’t give you more than you can handle– I hear this all the time, mostly from people that are entering a trial that they know will be challenging.  I suppose it is more wishful thinking than anything.  It is actually a somewhat warped understanding of 1 Corinthians 13:10, a passage that tells us God will never let us be tempted without a way out.  If we aren’t careful, this phrase can compromise our understanding of who God really is.

2.  God helps those that help themselves. – Also an optimistic viewpoint, it seems this idea may have been manufactured to help with motivation at some point.  Surely being told that God will bless you if you work hard would put a little skip in your step, right?  However, this idea did not come from any of our beloved Bible scribes, but from none other than Benjamin Franklin.  Perhaps that lightning did a little more damage than we thought, cause this concept actually contradicts many of the Bible’s teachings.

3.  God works in mysterious ways. – I hear this one a lot, and I actually agree with it for the most part.  God’s plan is a mystery to us because we are not capable of understanding it.  Thus, the things He does toward carrying out His plans are often incomprehensible to us.  We aren’t meant to understand everything about God, and that is okay.  William Cowper was spot-on when he coined the original form of this phrase in his hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way.  Yet, you won’t find it in any translation of the Holy Bible.

4.  God blesses the bald above all others. – You got me.  That is not something I hear a lot of people say.  However, I have some pretty solid anecdotal evidence to support this one.  Besides, this phrase is in the Bible about as much as the others.  So whaddayasay we work it into a Christian rap song or something?  Awesome.

I am sure I am missing a few commonly quoted phrases that aren’t actually in the Bible.  If you can think of one, please share it in the comments below.

 
This may come as a huge shock to most of you, but I don’t consider myself a snazzy dresser.  I know I always look good, but it’s mostly genetics.  Sorry to spoil that for you.

Seriously though, I’d say about 40% of the time I end up changing clothes before I leave my house because my wife informs me that my clothes don’t match.  I know little about color schemes, and even less about fashion.  That’s what makes me the perfect person to write on this subject.

The way I see it, there are four different categories of church outfits.  Each has its own merit, but none of them are perfect.  Which one of these categories do you fall into?

1.  The hipster – Blue jeans.  T-shirt.  Sport coat.  Shiny shoes.  One of these things does not belong, but they work so well together.  Usually, the hipster also rocks some sort of think-framed glasses.  More often than not, they don’t even have a prescription.  This category is meant for a person that desperately wants to look cool, but does not want anybody to know.  (Note:  No matter how disheveled your hair looks, we know you did it on purpose.)

2.  Business casual – Just like it sounds: nice looking shirt and “good” jeans, possibly khakis but they must be accompanied by sneakers.  This look screams “I want to be wearing pajamas” and whispers “I care enough not to.”  There is a good chance that most of these folks wore the same outfit to work on casual Friday, and they really could not care less if anybody notices.  These people value comfort above appearance…obviously.

3.  The rebel – Old faded t-shirt, ripped up blue jeans, last summer’s sandals.  These people dress down just to show you that dressing up is not necessary for worship.  Unlike the hipsters, the rebels actually do have “bed head” and there is a good chance they slept in their t-shirts.  They want to pull off the “hobo” look with as little class as possible, and they hope somebody has the guts to confront them about their attire.  Rebels value their right to worship as an individual, and they take the song “Come Just As Your Are” literally.

4.  The Sunday best – Pretty simple: the nicest thing in your closet.  This is the most well known category for church attire, as its common name is derived from standard church etiquette.  Some of these people look forward to looking their best as give their all to worshiping their creator, while some of them are just too worried about being judged to wear anything else.

While I tend to alternate through categories, myself, I usually fall into "business casual" out of sheer laziness.  However, I really don’t have any problem with any of them.  I think you should dress in such a way that it does not even become an issue when you worship.  If you start thinking about your clothes during the service, then it becomes a problem.

That is why, while I am all for wearing whatever you want, I have real trouble dealing with the “Sunday best” mentality…and even the phrase itself.  I believe it gives off an elitist vibe that turns non-believers off when it comes to church.  If they believe they will be judged for any reason, especially something as silly as clothing, they are much less likely to be open to the love we have to offer.

So while I encourage everyone to dress however you want, be careful in how you discuss church attire.  If anything, aren’t we trying to send the message that what is on the surface doesn’t really matter?  Let’s be very clear about that, and we may be surprised by the number of people that feel more welcome in our worship services.

 
I write a blog.  I tweet.  I post on Facebook.  I occasionally pin something on Pinterest.  For all intents and purposes, those are all public statements of who I am and what I believe.  So I try to be pretty careful about what I put out there. 

Sometimes I have to scale back the sarcasm for those that may not understand my sense of humor.  I try to avoid being negative at all costs.  And I usually try to not make everything about “me.”

I have learned many lessons about how to present myself from church signs.  Sure, there are creative things churches do that give me ideas.  Unfortunately, though, I have learned a great deal from the mistakes that churches make with their signs. 

Here are a few common mistakes that churches should try to avoid when brainstorming sign ideas.

1.  Spelling errors – Nothing says “those people don't know what they are talking about” like misspelling a common word.  I know church signs are not programmed with spell check, but whaddayasay we give it a dry run on Microsoft Word before putting it up by the highway?  Is that cool with everybody?  Good.  (Note:  This also includes the common "there, their, and they're" mishap.)

2.  Don’t be corny – I know “knee-mail” is a creative word for prayer and it sounds "cute," but when I hear people say it I really want to pat them on the head and say “bless your heart.”  The fact that I had to use so many quotation marks in the previous sentence should tell you there is a problem.  And even if “God’s floss" does help treat "truth decay,” I am really not interested.  I am also already aware that “we will be toast without the bread of life.”  But for real, there is no reason to be cute.  Church signs don’t wear it well.

3.  Read the whole sign – If you have upcoming messages titled “Jesus walks on water” and “Searching for Jesus,” you might want to consider the implications of listing those phrases back to back.  Every line needs to be put in context with everything else.  Then we wouldn’t end up with a sign that says, “Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands."  I love a good laugh, but I’m not sure this is quality evangelism.

4.  Don’t be scared to tap into pop culture – Quote popular movies.  Reference current (and appropriate, of course) songs.  These things catch people’s eye.  And it makes it seem like you are putting forth effort to reach out.  It shows that you care enough to not just recycle old ideas.  It’s appealing and interesting.  Isn’t that what church signs are supposed to be?

What do you think about church signs?  Are there other rules churches should follow when deciding what to put out there in big, bold letters?

 
Do you have ushers at your church?  I think most churches do in some form.  They are the people that greet visitors, hand out bulletins, answer questions about where things are, and they usually help folks find a seat.  They are pretty much the “go-to” guys leading up to the service each Sunday.

The ushers at my church do a fantastic job.  I feel adequately ushed each and every Sunday.  But I always feel like they are overlooked for their service.  In a setting where thankless jobs unfortunately grow on trees, ushers are rarely, if ever, recognized for what they do.

As a person that thrives on encouragement, it is difficult for me to see ushers everywhere go unnoticed for their ministry.  Thus, I have come up with the following list of things we could do to get ushers more attention.  I am not sure they would agree to the things on this list, but it is worth a shot.

1.  Unique Uniformity – I know that makes it sound like they would blend in, but hear me out.  I’m talking about giving each of them the same article of clothing or a common accessory that stands out for all to see.  Right now, the ushers at my church have a sticker on their shirt that has the name of our church and says “usher.”  Boring!

But how about giving them all reflective “hunter orange” crossing guard vests?  Or maybe providing them with top hats?  Seriously, if you walked into a church and all of the ushers had on plum colored sport coats that said “You Got Ushed” on the back, you would never forget that.

2.  Accents – This would take a little more work.  I say we have an usher retreat where we teach everyone to talk with an Irish accent.  Or a British accent.  Or a Russian accent.  Actually, let’s go with a Boston accent.  Unless you live in Boston. 

I think it would be awesome to walk into a church in Central Kentucky and hear all of the ushers speaking with a Boston accent.  I would sign up for membership on the spot, regardless of denomination or worship style.

3.  Give them their own event – I’m not talking about an ice cream social on a Sunday afternoon or a brief recognition before a service.  I am talking about inflatables, live music, and all you can eat chicken.  I am talking about engraved plaques thanking them for their service.  I am talking about renaming potlucks.  (Note: I think I was just fired from being Baptist.)

4.  Usher moments – At least once per month, there should be an Usher moment where all of the ushers interrupt the weekly announcements with a flash mob.  Are there any clean Usher songs we could use?  Maybe “U Got it Bad” or “Let it Burn.”  Seriously, that would be awesome.

There are so many groups that serve in our churches and communities that always go unnoticed.  They do thankless work, and they never expect to be recognized for it.  While that is 100% the right attitude to have, we need to make sure they feel appreciated and loved.  So I hereby dub this coming Sunday “Thank An Usher Day.”  Let’s make it happen.

 
My car is full of junk.  And I don’t mean that I have some things in the trunk that I use on occasion.  I mean there is stuff in the cab that I haven’t seen for months.  I have to move things around for people to be able to get a ride with me.

It isn’t necessarily trash that occupies my floorboards.  It is stuff that, once upon a time, I put in my car because I needed to take it somewhere.  However, I really just never feel the need to clean it out.

There is one exception.  About once every three or four months, I remove a stack of church bulletins from my console that would rival the thickness of any encyclopedia.  If I did not do this regularly, my car would quickly be overtaken by these weekly announcement sheets that I can’t bring myself to leave at church.

I realize that church bulletins are useful.  I understand that they serve a purpose.  I get important updates and friendly reminders from ours every week.  However, I can’t help but to feel wasteful every time I dump a Trapper Keeper full of those bad boys in the recycling been. 

So I have decided to make a change.  I want to do something different, something productive with the church bulletins after I am finished with them.  Here are some options I have come up with.

1.  Bookmarks – Half the time, I leave church with the bulletin wedged somewhere in my sword anyway.  So I may as well keep it in there so I don’t lose my spot as I plunder through the book of Judges.  You can hang onto them and use them for other books as well, like the book I plan to have out by the beginning of the year.

2.  Paper mache – I know it’s messy, but paper mache stuff is really cool.  Especially piñatas.  They have candy inside.  So yes, paper mache church bulletin piñatas filled with candy.  That idea is hard to beat.

3.  Windshield handbills – On your way out of church, find a random car and quickly stash your bulletin under one of the windshield wipers.  Maybe that person will think God is trying to speak to them and they will reread the bulletin tirelessly until they have it memorized.  Maybe they will notice an event announcement and decide to attend.  Maybe they will take the time to correct the typos and alert the church office.  See, sharing your church bulletin is a lot like paying it forward…and a little like littering.

4.  Cut and paste notes – You know those cool cut and paste notes where people use words from different magazines to make a message?  Sure, you mostly see them as ransom notes in movies, but they are still really cool.  And magazines are super expensive these days, so it is kind of a win-win.  The bulletins get re-used and you save money on magazines.

What do you do with your old church bulletins?

 
Remember chain letters?  You’d get a letter telling you that if you did not forward it on to however many people that you’d be cursed, have bad luck, get pregnant, or die.  (Note: Out of all of those consequences, I am scared the most by the thought of getting pregnant.  Seriously, has Arnold made a good movie since Junior?)  Then when you talked to your friends, you heard about all of their distant relatives that had all of these bad things happen to them because they refused to forward the letter.  So then you had to skip lunch for the next week just to save up the money to buy stamps for your chain letters.  You did that too, right?

Nowadays social media and online communication have essentially eliminated what was once known as the chain letter.  Sure, you’ll get the occasional chain email.  But, at least in my inbox, they are much more rare than they used to be.  The new fad is to post something on Twitter or Facebook that says “Retweet if you love Jesus” or “Share if you are a Christian.”  Some of them even go on to tell you that God is watching and this is a test to see if you really love Him. 

You may be one of those people that chooses to retweet or share, and that is your prerogative.  You may choose to ignore them and pretend you never read them.  But each time I see one of those posts, I have to fight the urge to reply and tell the individual that posted it why I think their request is ridiculous.  Here are a few things I would like to say to them.

1.  Seriously?!  You really believe that a chain social media post is the way God would choose to test me?  Is a casual click of a button really going to display my character and reveal the depths of my soul?  Come on, man.

2.  On what authority are posting this?  Did you feel lead by the Holy Spirit to share this post or are you succumbing to social pressure?  Are you doing this because you love God or are you simply afraid not to post it?  If you write that this is a test from God, and God did not lead you to write it, I dare call that blasphemous.  Be careful when you are speaking on behalf of the almighty.  He don’t play games.

3.  I appreciate the fact that you are trying to spread the word about Jesus.  I really do.  But please take a moment and think about how this may come across to non-believers.  Sure, you will get a few shares and retweets from friends and others that feel obligated to do so.  However, do you think people see the love of Christ in what you are describing as a test?  Or do they see a religious obligation that has nothing to do with a personal relationship with Jesus?  Is there another way you can get your point across without seeming like you are trying to guilt people into following your lead?

4.  I believe that God cares about every aspect of our lives because He loves us so much.  The Bible says that He knows the number of hairs on our heads (zero here).  However, I would be more than surprised if Facebook is a primary area of His concern.  With all of the poor, hungry, imprisoned, widowed, orphaned, and non-Christian people in the world that could use our time and resources, I tend to question the importance of clicking “Like” if I love Jesus.  If I love Jesus like I say I do, I would spend less time on Facebook and Twitter and more time loving my neighbor as I love much as I love myself.  Retweet that, holmes.

Alright, venting session over.  Honestly, I believe the people that post these things have good intentions.  I think that, in their minds, they are spreading the gospel.  However, I have a hard time believing it is an effective way to show people how much God loves them.  To me, it seems like it probably does more harm than good by giving people a ritualistic view of Christianity and taking up time that could be used for ministry (or relationship building).

What do you think?  Are you a Christian chain-post sharer?

 
If you know me at all, and I’m sure both people reading this do, you know that I am a huge University of Kentucky sports fan.  Football, basketball, and even baseball.  I watch all of the games, follow the sports writers on Twitter, read all related blogs, and even keep up with recruiting.  For most of the year, UK sports are something that I am pretty passionate about.

There are times, though, when I wonder if I am wasting my time with something that is really not that important in the grand scheme of things.  I wonder if I should be focusing on things that are more eternal, or dedicating more time to the important relationships in my life.  I think about the service I could be doing in my community, or even the endless list of projects I have planned for my home.  And then I hear this little voice in the back of my head…”OOOHHHHH…..C-A-T-S, CATS, CATS, CATS!”

Man, I love Kentucky sports.  I can’t help it.  So instead of putting my effort into trying to find things I should be doing instead of representing the Big Blue Nation, I shall now focus on finding a way to justify this passion of mine.  Join me on this journey, will you?

1.  Fellowship. – There are very few things in life that bring people together like sports.  Whether you are just trying to break the ice, or you are looking for a friend for life, sports is never a bad place to start.  And if you believe life is all about relationships, and I certainly do, you have to agree that sports can be a great venue for fellowship and relationship building.

2.  Life lessons. – Okay, so being a sports fan may not provide life changing lessons.  However, being a member of a sports team does.  And as I hope my children will someday learn valuable lessons in discipline, hard work, humility, and teamwork, watching sports with them now will go a long way toward getting them interested in playing when they get older.

3.  It helps my witness. – If I am going to live in a world full of sports fans, I need to be able to play the part.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV)

4.  God cares about sports. – That may be the most controversial sentence I have ever written.  I am not saying that God prefers one team over another or plays a part in who wins.  However, it is undeniable that God loves each and every person involved in every sporting event.  And if a sport happens to be a large part of their lives, I truly believe that God cares about that. 

I believe God cares about the interactions that coaches and athletes have with teammates and other players.  I think He provides opportunities for those involved to serve Him in ways that others simply can not access.  After all, He gave them the talent.  Why would He not want them to use their platform for His glory?  Oh yeah, God cares about sports…just not the same why I do.

There, now I feel better about watching sports so much.  How about you?