Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Most Important Person on Earth

So the Holy Spirit can be pretty confusing sometimes. For the Christian layperson, only one resource is more valuable than a book that concisely explains the Holy Spirit and how He works.

What resource is this, you might ask? Try a book that concisely explains the Holy Spirit and gives you a chance to win a free Bahamas vacation (and, depending on his schedule, lunch with Dr. Myles Munroe himself).

That's right. Today a customer bought Myles Munroe's The Most Important Person on Earth and, affixed prominently to the front was a sticker that announced that Myles Munroe was partnering with the Bahamas ministry of tourism to offer you the chance to win a free Bahamas vacation. Some days I have the hardest time keeping a straight face while ringing in customers (admittedly I had a harder time when an elderly couple couldn't remember the PIN for their chip reader VISA and started thinking out loud about what it might be. "Try 7263. That's the number for our debit card...").

Here's the best part, though. The warehouse sent us the book (with the promotion sticker) about a month ago. However, when I looked it up online, I found that the promotion had expired in July of 2007. So, unless time travel is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you won't be able to take advantage of this offer. Oh well. It was an...interesting thought anyway.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Christian Posters (or How to Sanctify Your Dorm Room 101)

So that's it. I'm officially done my first year of university. I finished my history exam 1 hour and 13 minutes ago. It wasn't a very fun exam, chiefly because I drank a Pepsi beforehand so I could stay awake and it made the last 2 and a half hours of the exam rather unpleasant since we couldn't leave the room till we were done. But now I'm done and somehow it's all worth it. My dad and sister are coming to pick me up tonight and we'll be going out to dinner, but in the meantime I'm celebrating by eating chocolate pudding (or trying to without a spoon since I packed my dishes two days ago) and blogging about Christian posters.

There are three different kinds of posters at the bookstore where I work. There are the Rose Publishing poster, which have heavy duty theological stuff like maps of the Holy Land and Timelines of Christian History. There are some smaller, cutesy ones with cartoon pictures of woodland animals and cutesy slogans like "Jesus makes me smile." Our best sellers, however, are put out by World Christian Posters. They're the more mainstream Christian pop culture posters and they range from genuinely deep (for a poster anyway) to amusingly awkward. Either way, they're great, so I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you.

Prayer: It Hurts the Devil's Feelings

Because, of course, that's the best reason to pray.

I <3 Boys (Who Love Jesus)

I wasn't a fan of this poster at first. It still strikes me as rather shallow, but I've moved from being semi-scandalized to amused by it. Don't you love how the "Who Love Jesus" part is just kinda tagged on as an afterthought? The sad thing is that it's actually pretty reflective of how a lot of Christian girls approach relationships.


Because, of course, iWouldn't be a good Christian if iDidn't get onto the iBandwagon.

If People Give you Lemons, Give them Jesus (and then Make Some Lemonade)

This is a prime example of people trying to Christianize a cliche that was already semi-Christian in the first place. Technically speaking, it's good advice, but it comes off as awkward. And that's just compounded by the pink and yellow color scheme.

"God is dead." - Nietzche, 1883 "Nietzche is dead." - God, 1900

I laughed at this one when I first saw it. But on further reflection I see one of two options. 1. Nietzche turned to God in the moments before his death (unlikely, but I'm not ruling it out) and is now in heaven or 2. He died in his sins, in which case his fate is more sad than funny. But the poster is still clever.

Animal Pranks on the Ark

Someday I may have to do a post with just Bible comics.

"Where You Live Should No Longer Determine Whether You Live" - Bono

I love this poster. I put it up in my dorm room (as well as the next 2). I'd comment on it, but it kinda speaks for itself.

"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

So I know this is like the theme verse of 75% of Christians under 30. But I still love it. Plus the graphics are pretty not bad.

Jesus' Faithbook Profile

And there it is folks, the piece the resistance. My personal favorite poster. I love it because it's got about 60 jokes on one poster. My personal favorite is the "View More Paintings of Jesus" link. Plus he's friends with All the Children of the World.

And this last one leads me to ponder (and ask you guys) if Jesus did have a Facebook, what do you think it would look like?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The End of the Story

My friend "Susa" from Navigators recently started a "group journal." She passes it from person to person and everyone gets to write an entry with their thoughts at the time. She handed me the journal over the Easter weekend, so my thoughts kind of turned in that direction. I thought I'd share what I wrote with you guys.

The End of the Story

"The first thing I read in just about any novel is the last few pages." From the reaction I get when I tell people this, you'd think I just said "I club baby seals for fun" or something. Apparently peeking ahead violates some cardinal rule of fiction reading. I'm not sure exactly when it started, but somewhere along the line I read a book with a crappy ending and decided that I would no longer invest time and emotional energy in a book without first making sure it was worth it.

Over the past few weeks, as Easter season has come and gone, I've been thinking more of the first Easter, and it struck me this year that what I do with novels I also do with the Easter story. The only way I could sit through Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was knowing that the agonies of that awful Friday weren't the end, that their purpose was fulfilled in Resurrection Sunday.

The people who followed Jesus during that first Easter, though, didn't really know what would happen. Jesus did know, He knew that both the horrible crucifixion and the glorious Resurrection were His destiny, but even He struggled with the road He'd have to take. The more I've been thinking about what those days must have been like for those first Christ followers, men and women like Peter, John, and Mary, the more I've seen in them facets of my own experience and that of other Christians.

Friday: For those on the ground on that first Good Friday, it was anything but good. That Friday was the day they saw their dreams for themselves and their country die a bloody death before their eyes. I think of Mary especially, who must have felt every whip lash on her son's back and every nail shattering His hand as though it were happening to her. They had such prayers and hopes for Jesus. They were sure He was going to restore justice and peace to Israel, drive out the Roman oppressors. Instead, the Roman oppressors were slowly killing Him before their eyes. God had never felt so far away. Even Jesus cried out from the cross "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" On a smaller scale we can identify with that experience, the experience of pinning all our hopes on something, of being sure it would take place only to watch our hopes deflate. Maybe we even thought it was God's will, and now suddenly He seems so far away and we feel all alone.

Saturday: Jesus is dead and buried and now doubt, fear, and confusion have settled in. Everyone feels numb, some are angry with God, some doubt that He is good or maybe even that He is out there. No one quite knows what to do now; no one thought thins would end this way. Some, like Peter, are blaming themselves for failing Jesus. Maybe some even blame Jesus for not using His power to defend Himself. One thing is for sure: the hope they had felt just days before as they followed Jesus and heard Him preach is as dead and one as He is. Doubt is something many a Christian has wrestled with, even those of us who know the end of the story.

Sunday: Jesus conquers death itself and His followers realize that their hopes for Him weren't too big after all, they were too small. Instead of just saving the Jews from the Romans, Jesus saves the whole world from sin and death. And here's the most astounding thing: the victory of Easter Sunday is made possible only through the piercing agony of Friday and the deadening doubt of Saturday. Easter Sunday stands forever as a testament to God's ability to take the worst crap the world throws at us and turn it into something far more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. I see so many churches today going around telling people how life with Jesus is one big joyride, one wholesale experience of victory over everything that binds us. But trying to experience the victory of Easter Sunday without the agony and doubt of Friday and Saturday is a cheap and tawdry substitute, like settling for a cheap strand of plastic costume pearls instead of the real deal. Jesus' victory over sin and death cost Him everything He had to give, but the victory is all the sweeter for the cost.

For the record I still read the last few pages of a book before I tackle it. I don't think I'll ever break the habit. What I love most about Easter Sunday is that it not only shows me the end of the story for Jesus and His followers, it shows me the end of my story. Because of what Jesus went through for me, I have hope that the crap I encounter in my life will be temporary, that God can make something beautiful even out of that, and that one day I'll get to share Jesus' happy ending with Him.

P.S. I promise there are some funny posts in the works and I will bring them to you in the near future.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm Back

Well, after my first try at giving up something for Lent, I am back on blogger. I hope you all had fantastic Easter.

It's rather unfortunate that my return to blogger coincides with finals, so I'll have to give it a few more days before I write a proper post, but in the meantime I thought I'd leave you with an episode of one of my favorite TV shows. The show is called Corner Gas, the episode is called Blog River. I'm not sure whether or not you have to be Canadian to get it, but I love it.