Selection #1 from “I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”

The book listed above is this great read that I just finished.

We’re going to be reading it as a church and in our small groups.  I’ve decided to post a few of the thought provoking, provocative, and otherwise interesting passages from the book.

“Little Emily looks cute in her souvenir shirt that proclaims “My parents went to Florida and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”  But there’s something sad about it.  Emily missed out on the journey… as I’ve gone to church and met Christians and lived as one, I’ve realized something. 
We are all Emily.
When I read about the lives of the first Christians in the New Testament, I see people who actually went “on vacation to Florida” who truly experienced the ups and downs of the trip.  But when I look around at Christians today, I see people who just wear a T-shirt for a journey they missed out on.”
I’d love to hear what people think of this passage and the book!!!


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “Selection #1 from “I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy t-shirt””

  1. that’s so true Jeff. I know many people who look at missionaries like my brother and people who sacrifice their careers, family, money to chase the dream God has given them and say “wow, that’s great, but I sure couldn’t do something like that, I would love to be able to, but…” and the list begins with I’m too old, I have a family, I have this job, I have responsibilities…

    as though any of those other people who decided it was all worth it didn’t have a family, a job, responsibilities, and we all were just young. God has given all of us a passion to accomplish something. Most often it is living out being a Christ follower everyday where we’re at, and sometimes there’s going to be those moments where we can take hold of opportunities to increase our faith, take risk, and let God lead, those moments that ask whether we are a true ambassador for God. It doesn’t have to be becoming a missionary or starting your own non-profit, but just chasing your passion that God has given you in those moments.

    “Most opportunities get missed by most people because they come with overalls and they look like work.”


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