How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

Chik-fil-A, Dog and Suds, and A Good Donut…my take on the controversy

August 3rd, 2012

If I were running a fast food restaurant chain, I would try to recruit the best and brightest potential employees to work for my company. I would not have someone’s political position on “gay marriage” as one of my criteria for employment eligibility. Not legal for a business and not smart, either. Chik-fil-A management would agree with me.


If I were running a fast food restaurant chain, I would welcome with open arms anyone who is hungry and has money, regardless of political position on “gay marriage.” That wouldn’t be legal and it would be dumb.  Chik-fil-A management would say, “Ditto.”


I would, however, draw the line and require shoes, shirts, and no dogs. Except service dogs, of course.


Wait a minute…Allow me a little side trip down the rabbit hole.


If I could get away with having a “dog friendly” fast food chain, it might not be such a bad idea. I am not aware of a chain like that. We had “Dog and Suds” when I was growing up, specializing in hot dogs and root beer, but it wasn’t about people and their dogs. Come to think of it, I can see the neon sign out front…


“Dog and Suds: No, Really!”


That’s it! A restaurant chain/ brewpub for people and their dogs! Welcoming customers with dogs to spend time eating, and sampling micro-brews (Sorry, Fido, humans only). Perhaps brews with dog names, like Poodle Pilsner, Beagle Bock, and Abyssinian Ale (I know Abyssinians are cats, but it is the one cat that looks cool enough to be a dog). And when you leave, you could even take home a growler!


I think I may be on to something. If you take my idea, just remember where you heard it first.


Alright, I’m back…


Because I am a follower of Jesus, He defines who I am and He did not tell me to define myself by my political position on “gay marriage” or “traditional marriage,” not by my political views in general, and not by my “sexual orientation.” I will not have political rhetoric dictate who I am.  I will not have post-enlightenment labels created in university psychology and linguistic labs in the last 150 years or so, be my primary identity choices and tell me how I have to define myself, either.


Labels like “homosexual,” “heterosexual”, “GLBT”, “homophobe,” “heteroist,” and such, have often become a means to marginalize someone else. Or these labels have become some overarching “Identity May Pole” that I need to dance around to be cool, so the “man” can tell me who I really am.   (Whoa there…Sorry, no pagan ritual or innuendo intended with the “May Pole” comment. Just a phrase, like, “Rally ’round the flag,” but, wait…whose flag?? See how hard this label thing is? O, and the use of the word “man?” If it’s a bad thing, it’s still good to use masculine nouns)


Jesus tells me to define myself by my Father’s love. I am His beloved! God is a Father who loves all- those who know Him, those who don’t, and especially those who don’t love him back. The concept of love includes “giving yourself for the sake of the other.” Who is more “other” than someone you differ with, or even more, someone who considers you the “enemy?” Think Jesus left a fairly clear example of this kind of love in his model of living and his journey to the Cross.


My central identity has nothing to do with the fact I am married to my wife, Nancy, and we have three awesome kids (note to loved ones: y’all are part of my bonus package, but I’m just saying…). My central identity is all about Jesus and joining Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit as we go out on a love adventure! Hallelujah!  Loving my Father with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving my neighbor, as myself. Glory! Doesn’t get much better than that!


My neighbor is everyone. Especially people who think way differently than I do. Honestly, if I am not in relationship with people who have viewpoints and lifestyles way different than my own, how will we discover how many shared values we do have in spite of our differences? That is a fertile field for even greater love. See, being open and respectful attracts love. It’s all about what we have in common. And, while we are at it, how will I get to see how amazing God is when He draws those are not far from Him to me who is not far from Him- or them, either?


So, stop with the labels. Stop with the angry and aggressive spirits that eat your soul. As rapper Brother Ali spits (that’s “says,” for my white over 50 friends out there. Wait, sorry- this no-label stuff is tough!),


“First of all, Scooter, take the bass out your voice.”


You are not being Christlike if I am describing you; if that means something to you. And if Jesus is not a model for you, take it from me, you still look totally unattractive and shallow. No, really, everyone, stop!


You want a label? Why not try, “Friend?” Radical, huh?


Now, here is a bonus, especially for those of you who are my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Friends not in that category, please go ahead and read along anyway. It won’t take long.


On Boycotting Businesses or Rallying Around Businesses as Political Discourse: “I’ll See Your Disney and I’ll Raise You a Chik-fil-A”


First, put aside your political positions or freedom of speech speeches on this issue. This is a restaurant chain and the market will decide the success or failure of the business. Always does.  Chik-fil-A will be fine. No one needs to bail them out, quite yet. We are talking chicken, after all, not cars.


It is not necessarily a compelling, persuasive gesture to eat at Chik-fil-A, now. It is understandable. Especially if you appreciate them. Maybe it will stir the political pot a little, just in time for the elections, but it is not that compelling from a faith influence standpoint. With one exception.


If Christians who support “gay marriage” would line up at Chik-fil-A, that would be something. That would preach.


You see, I have a little secret of my own. Something I do often. I seek out businesses that are owned or connected to people who have viewpoints or lifestyle choices way different than my own. I seek them out.




I WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE VIEWPOINTS AND LIFESTYLES WAY DIFFERENT THAN MY OWN (Please no comments about strip clubs and such. Why did you go there right away, huh?).


Why do I do this?


Simple. When I frequent your business, it is a positive gesture, even if it is subtle, or even if you don’t see it as such. It’s not all about you; it’s about me, too.


“Loving my neighbor” certainly includes being gracious and respectful to people, and the more I have to stretch, the better. More opportunities to bless them which becomes a blessing to me. And more opportunities they have to bless me directly, which again, blesses them. I don’t get my affirmation or validation from how people respond to me. I am already my Father’s beloved. But, it doesn’t hurt to discover new friends.


I’ll tell you what else happens.


Frequently, walls begin to crumble- all around.


So, if you are a baker who is hostile to followers of Jesus in general, or who thinks Christians are absolute hate mongers, if that’s you, then, as Doc Holiday said (in “Tombstone” w/ Val Kilmer),


“I’m your huckleberry.”


Where is your bakery and when do you open? I’m so there. And you don’t have to have huckleberry Danish, but it wouldn’t hurt!


And this certainly includes brothers and sisters in Jesus who may see things different than me. For example, if you own a bakery with the name “Manna from Heaven,” and you have a fish on your sign out front and a “Beam me up, God” bumper sticker on your car out back, and you might look rather askance at a brother who is a slightly irreverent/ Old Earth creationist/ mildly sarcastic/ “intellectualist” on occasion/ pentecostal-type- all with Lutheran roots showing- Whew! Let me catch my “labelist” breath here- Well, if you can bake a cruller that melts in my mouth, I will be there directly and I am bringing friends. We are going to get along just fine.


O.K. Friend?


Alright, that’s enough for now. I’m getting hungry. I can’t help myself…


Does anyone know where I can get a good chicken sandwich?



What If You Don’t Want God?

August 1st, 2012

Self-worship affects every part of us. The final impact is on everything we are. The soul, that holds it all together, is in ruin. When we mistake ourselves for God, then God becomes meaningless or an enemy. We cannot want him. If we work against God in every part our being, we become the kind of people who cannot want God.

Jesus speaks about hell often. “Hell” is to be separated from the presence of God forever. When you have soul ruin, hell is the destination. It is not so much God sends people to hell. In many ways, hell becomes a choice. It is the logical destination for those who cannot want God. We are given the choice of being in relationship with God and if we choose to turn away, God honors that. He will never force himself on us.

Often people will speak of death-bed conversions where someone denies God all their life, and before they die, they repent and seek him. Is this authentic? That person may have been seeking all along and it just finally surfaced in the light of day, so, yes, I think it is possible.

Yet, probable? No, not likely. If life away from God is the life we are living, being with God is not an option that is within our realm of choice. God has an infinitely flexible will; we do not. No one “just misses out” of heaven. Life without God is a constant choice that keeps a person focused in a destructive direction. In the end, God is faithful to our choices.

To paraphrase a thought from C.S. Lewis, Instead of one who trusts saying, “Thy will be done,” God says to the person in soul ruin, “Thy will be done.”


“Spending so much emotional energy on those who don’t want God, results in less focus and energy reaching out to those who do.” Comment.


the secret to evangelism in 3 words

April 21st, 2009

Whenever I hear people talk about Christians “trying to shove their religion down my throat,” I ask for specifics. What exactly happened and when? In most cases, they are referring to what someone else said happened to them.

If you are under 30, it is not likely you had a Christian trying to share the gospel with you at all. There is research that suggests by age 26, only 12% of young adults who were actively involved in their faith life at age 16 have any connection to an Christian community ten years later. Not every one of them is trying to share their faith. So, more and more, except for individual anecdotal evidence, the idea that “Christians are shoving their religion…” and such, is nonsense.

That doesn’t matter. As the common phrase goes, “Perception is reality.” What is the remedy for all of this? Jesus set it up as his method for evangelism and we might want to join him.

“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you…”
-Luke 10: 5-6

That’s the secret to evangelism. A three-word summary.

Person of Peace


I have really focused on this term after spending time with Mike Breen of In HTBACWBAJ, I use the term, “Those who are receptive.” Here is one of my branding phrases.

Share the compassion of Jesus with everyone. Share the gospel of Jesus with those who are receptive.

Since being introduced to the language, “person of peace,” I like to interchange the terms.

Tomorrow I will say more on the PoP.

How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life