Seedy

From the I Am the Clay “Story” Series

coffee10

A farmer went out to sow his seed… Matthew 13:3-8 NIV

“Ally?”

“Oh my goodness—Jess? Hey!” Ally stood up from her small table and gave her high-school friend a hug. “What are you doing back in town?”

“I’m here for the women’s conference this weekend at the New Life Center at Calvary Memorial.”

“It’s so good to see you!” Ally motioned to an extra chair. “Please—join me.”

Jess sat down. “I thought I might run into you at the conference, but this will give us a chance to catch up.”

“What are you having? Cappuccino? Latte?”

“A cup of tea would be great.”

Ally flagged down the server. “Evie? Can I get a tea for my friend, hon?” She turned to Jess. “How about the mango/peach tea? It’s amazing.”

“Sure.” Jess turned to the server. “Mango/peach it is. Thanks.” She looked around the small restaurant. “This is really cute. I don’t think it was here the last time I was in town. Didn’t it used to be a gas station?”

And now for the rest of the story…

A merciful and faithful High Priest

From the I Am the Clay “Story” Series

mary-visits-elisabeth-large

It was necessary for [Jesus] to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17 NIV

The priest who is anointed and ordained…as high priest…is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for…all the members of the community. Leviticus 16:32,33 NIV

“Barnabus!” the woman called from the mouth of the cave. “It’s almost time for dinner.”

“Coming!” Her husband’s voice echoed from deep within the animal shelter.

He stepped out into the late afternoon sunlight holding a strip of cloth. “What’s that?” his wife asked.

“It appears to be baby swaddling. That young couple must have left it behind.” He handed it to her.

“My, my,” she said as she examined the cloth. “This is fine linen. Where did those poor children get this?”

“I don’t know. I guess they brought it with them, knowing she might have her baby while they were here,” he replied, closing the gate behind him. “And we don’t know that they were poor.”

“She had her baby in a stable.”

Our stable—warm and comfortable. I tried to give them our room but they wouldn’t hear of it; insisted they would be fine.” They made their way toward the inn.

“And they were fine—a beautiful baby boy and a story they can tell their grandchildren,” she said folding the piece of cloth as they walked. “Still, I wonder where they got this linen…”

And now for the rest of the story…

You gotta have heart

cliffside

…your old men will dream dreams… Joel 2:28

I sat there staring at the sky, trying to wrap my head around it. It was definitely blue, brilliant and stunning, but a blue unlike any I had ever seen before.

And the water—well, that was a whole other story. From my vantage point atop the cliff it could have been a sheet of glass stretching to the horizon; crystal clear, a little deeper blue than the sky. Sort of. Or maybe it was just reflecting the sky.

The people who name paint colors would have had a field day with what I was seeing.

Whatever the hue, it took my breath away. When I finally breathed in again, I caught the faintest scent of… something beautiful… like…

I chuckled. “I give up,” I muttered to myself. What I was seeing was vaguely familiar, but I wasn’t prepared for how intense it was. It wasn’t disconcerting—nothing had ever felt so concerting.

So I sat there—peaceful, content, oblivious to time—waiting for Him. He would come; He was why I was there. That much I knew.

And now for the rest of the story…

The Lamb

Shepherd

From the CLAY “Story” Series

And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come… Micah 4:8 NKJV

“Shimri—come quickly! Hannah is about to lamb!”

The young man came bounding up the hill, his tunic gathered so he could run and his torch held high.

“Hannah? You named a ewe Hannah?”

“Would you just come with me? We need to get her up to the birthing floor in the tower before the lamb comes.”

Shimri grabbed his staff and followed his younger brother down the hill.

“Nathanel, slow down—I don’t have a torch.”

Nathanel stopped while Shimri caught up. “If we don’t hurry—“

“She’ll be fine. Where is she?”

“Under the sycamore at the foot of the hill. This is her first lamb and I just—“

Shimri smiled. “So that’s why you named her Hannah. Good to know you’ve been paying attention in synagogue. Am I going to run into a Ruth or a Jochebed while we’re out here?”

“No. They’re both over in the far pasture.”

Shimri chuckled under his breath. “Of course they are.”

And now for the rest of the story…

It’s real

From the CLAY “Story” Series

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV

In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth (4:4), written about 20 years after Jesus died, he warned them about unbelievers being so blinded by Satan that they were unable – or unwilling – to believe the gospel of Christ. It seems little or nothing has changed since then and the “god of this age” is no less busy today – if anything, he’s had almost 2000 years since Jesus’ message of salvation to learn what makes us tick; what will give us a false sense that all we need is ourselves; what will keep unbelievers as…unbelievers.

Even when we encounter an unsettling brush with reality…

• • •

“More coffee, hon?” Erin stuck her head through the door from the kitchen to the dining room where her husband Ryan sat reading his Bible at the table.

“Hmm? Oh, yea – thanks, sweetie.”

She topped off his cup. “Whatcha reading there?” There was that cheery tone in her voice she had begun using when she wanted to feign interest in his new life.

“First Thessalonians. My mid-week Bible group is studying Paul’s letters.”

“Yea? Sounds like fun.” She turned to take the coffee pot back to the kitchen.

And now for the rest of the story…

Star of Wonder

From the CLAY “Story” Series

wisemen and star

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem…Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

“Stars don’t move like that,” the venerable Persian scholar said, never looking up from the scroll on which he was writing.

“Apparently they do,” replied his younger and obviously excited peer. “This one is most assuredly moving at an unusual pace.”

“Maybe you’ve mistaken one of the other worlds for a star.”

“I may have not have your longevity with the Magi, but I’m no raw apprentice, either,” replied the younger of the two, obviously indignant. “Our order have been watching the skies for centuries, recording the movements of every visible point of light in the heavens. Since joining our esteemed ranks, I have diligently studied those charts and bear more than a passing acquaintance with our knowledge of the celestial bodies.”

His elder associate glanced up from his work. “Is that so.”

“Yes. And this is definitely a new star and it is definitely moving.”

“So you may have discovered a new star—it’s happened before. We’ll name it after you.”

Struggling to retain his composure, the younger man leaned over the intricately carved table at which his colleague sat and spoke at a measured pace. “Will you come with me, please, and see for yourself?”

And now for the rest of the story…

Adop Me

adop me

From the CLAY “Story” Series

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… Ephesians 1:4,5

“Why not?”

“Because I said so.”

He stamped his small foot, the volume of his voice increasing. “That’s not a reason!”

“I’m your mother—that’s all the reason I need.”

“You’re not my mother! I hate you!” Tears… Running… A slamming door…

A sigh. One of those days, she thought.

He appeared in the doorway a few minutes later with his favorite stuffed animal, carrying a hand-lettered sign made from a piece of cardboard. She looked up from what she was doing. “Where you going?”

“I’m running away. And Sharky’s going with me.”

“What does your sign say?”

He turned it around without looking up. “‘Adop me.’”

She paused for moment, dashing off a quick, silent prayer for wisdom. “Be sure and zip your jacket up.”

Another slamming door…

Another sigh.

She opened the blinds on the front door just enough to keep an eye on him without being obvious. He sat down on the top step at the end of the walk—small, mad—his toy in his lap and his paper sign propped on his knees in hopes of flagging down a more lenient parent.

After giving him a few minutes to cool off, she slipped on her own jacket and made her way down the walk.

“Your sign is very neat. You have good handwriting. ‘Adopt’ has a ‘t’ at the end, though.”

He turned it around and frowned at it. “It isn’t ‘adop’?”

“Adopt—a-d-o-p-t. Here—I brought a marker so we could fix it.” She sat down beside him, took the piece of cardboard, and corrected his spelling. He watched her write. “If someone drives by, I would hate for them to not stop because you had a misspelled word on your sign.”

She handed it back to him. He sat staring down at it, his brow furrowed.

“How long do you plan to wait?”

“I don’t know. ‘Til somebody stops.”

“What if they’re just as mean as me?”

He shrugged.

“You wanna come back inside?”

He shook his head.

“I don’t want Sharky to catch a cold. Sharks can be really mean when they have the sniffles.”

“Sharks don’t get colds,” he mumbled, tracing the newly-added letter ‘t’ with his finger. After a minute he asked, “Why did you and daddy adopt me? I don’t even look like you.”

“It wasn’t about how you looked.”

“Then why?”

“Because we loved you. We knew before we ever saw you we would love you, that you would be our little boy.”

“I’m not little.”

“Our big boy. We asked God to send us the perfect son. He had a perfect son, so we figured He knew perfect when He saw it.”

“Am I perfect?”

“Not even a little,” she said, chuckling. He looked up at her for the first time. “As it turns out, we didn’t need a perfect son—we just needed you.”

“But what if you didn’t like me? What if I was handle…handed…”

“Handicapped?” He nodded. “It wouldn’t matter. I love you just the way you are and would love you just as much no matter what. There’s nothing you can do to change that—I’ll always love you.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you love me?”

“Because God loved me first. Because He adopted me into His family.”

“God adopted you?”

“Umm-hmm. That’s what the Apostle Paul calls it when we become Christians.”

“Why did God adopt you?”

“Well, it wasn’t because I looked like Him, because when He adopted me I wasn’t anything like Him.”

“Then why?”

“Because He promised He would. He said that if I trusted in Jesus He would make me part of His family.”

“Did you?”

“I did. I didn’t even have to do anything to earn it—there was nothing I could do. Jesus did the hard part.”

“What about Mimi and G-Daddy? Were they sad you were going to be adopted?”

“No, baby—they were really happy, because I was going to be part of their family and God’s family. It was the best gift ever.”

“Better than me?”

“God gave me you, too, which was a pretty awesome gift. But, yeah—even better than you.”

He was quiet for a moment. “Do you ever yell at God?”

“Sort of, but not in the same way you yelled at me today. When I don’t do what he wants me to do or do something He doesn’t want me to do, it’s kind of like yelling.”

“But you said you didn’t have to do anything for God to love you.”

“I don’t have to: I want to. He’s given me everything that’s good in my life—His Son, my son. So I want to show Him how much I love Him for that.”

“Does God ever yell at you?”

“No. Sometimes He asks me to do things I don’t want to do, though. When I ask Him why, sometimes His answer is just like mine today: ‘Because I said so.’ He knows what’s best for me even when I don’t understand why.”

“Mama, do you think God would adopt me?”

“Absolutely He would. Daddy’ll be home soon—do you want us both to talk with you about it?”

He nodded. His small hand found hers. “I’m sorry I said I hated you.”

“I know, sweetie. But that didn’t hurt me as much as when you said I wasn’t your mother. Because I am your mother—and you’re my son.”

“For how long?”

“For always.”

“I love you, Mama.”

She squeezed his hand. “I love you, too, baby. Are you ready to go inside now?”

“Yeah.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Is Sharky hungry?”

“He could use some tater tots.”

“How ‘bout peanut butter?”

“He likes jelly on his.”

“Grape?”

“His favorite.”

He gathered his toy shark and hand-made sign as they both stood up. She reached for the sign. “Do you still need this?”

He shook his head. She tore it in half and dropped it in the trash bin on the curb. They made their way up the sidewalk, small hand in large hand.

“Mama?”

“What, hon?”

“Are you sure there’s a ‘t’ in ‘adopt’?”

“I’m sure.”

“‘Cause it doesn’t sound like there’s a ‘t’ there…”

A smile…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

• • •

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First-born Son

From the CLAY “Story” Series

Joseph

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

“Young man, you wait out here.”

“But—”

“Have you ever seen a baby being born?”

“No, but—”

“No ‘buts’.” The woman scurried back through the wooden gate and disappeared into the depths of the torch-lit cave, muttering to herself as she went. “Cows everywhere—shoo!”

The young man stood helplessly outside the animal enclosure, straining to get a glimpse of what was going on inside. He reached to open the gate.

“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.” The young man hesitated and turned toward the older man sitting on a rock next to a small fire.

And now for the rest of the story…

For All the People

From the CLAY “Story” Series

 

“Who did you say sent you?”

The dark-eyed woman opened the door a crack as she spoke to the tall, lanky stranger, wanting to be hospitable but obviously wary of his intentions.

“Dumah – sells fruit in the market?”

“Yes; our family has known Dumah for years. Be sure and try his figs.”

The man smiled. “He said the same thing. They were so good I brought some for you.” He held out several figs he had tucked into his cloak.

She hesitated as she glanced at the ripe figs. “You’re very kind but he’s not really up to seeing anyone right now.”

The man furrowed his brow. “Is he ill?”

“Just old. Tired.”

The man didn’t want to press but also didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to speak with the man she was protecting. “I have a little medical experience – maybe I could take a look and suggest something to help him get his energy back…?”

A raspy voice called from the next room. “Who is it, Abihail?”

“A man asking to see you, father. I told him you were resting.”

“I’m always resting these days. Show him in.”

The woman opened the door further. The man handed her the figs, which she tucked into a fold in her garment. “I’ll cut some of these up for him later.”

“You’re a good daughter.”

She smiled. “Granddaughter, actually.” Her smile faded as she lowered her voice. “Promise me you won’t stay too long.”

“You have my word.”

She swept aside the thin curtain hanging over the entry to the spare, but neat, back room and motioned for the man to enter. Inside, a weather-worn old man sat up on a woven mat laid over a bed of straw to cushion his thin frame.

“This is Nethanel, my grandfather.” The woman knelt down and tucked his bedding in neatly around him. She pulled out a fig. “Look father – some of Dumah’s figs. Would you like me to cut one up for you?”

The old man leaned around her to address the visitor. “She already knows the answer to that.”

She smiled. “I’ll be back,” she said, quietly disappearing beyond the curtain.

The old man looked at his visitor. “Sit down, sit down,” he said, motioning to the floor. “I wish I could offer you a more comfortable seat.”

“This will be just fine,” said the man, as he lowered himself to the ground and leaned back against the wall.

“You’re a tall one,” said the old man, smiling. “And you’re not a Jew. Why are you here?”

“Dumah said you knew something about the night the Christ was born.”

“I do,” said the old man, his face brightening. “I was there.”

“I’m very interested in what happened that night. Do you remember?”

“You don’t forget something like that no matter how old you get.”

The stranger leaned forward. “Tell me about it – please.”

“Of course. But…” The old man looked searchingly at his guest. “Most have tired of hearing my stories about that night by now. I imagine Dumah mentioned that. Hardly anyone who was alive when it happened is still around and the younger ones – well, I see the looks they give each other. Are you here to scoff at an old shepherd’s fantastic tales, too?”

“No, sir – absolutely not. I’m here to know the truth.”

The old man smiled. “Then you’ve come to the right place.”

“Figs, anyone?” The woman entered carrying a small bowl holding several slices of the fresh fruit.

“Perfect timing, dear one,” said the old man. “This strapping fellow was just about to help me up from here so we can continue our conversation outside in the shade of the sycamore. Can you fetch my sandals?”

The woman set the bowl down on the floor. “Are you sure, grandfather?”

“Well I wouldn’t be much of a host if I entertained him in my bare feet, now would I?” He winked at his grinning visitor.

“You know that’s not what I…”

“My precious granddaughter, I know exactly what you meant – and I don’t know what I would do without you. But I’ve lain here in this bed for the past four days. I could use some fresh air, a fig or two, and a nice conversation with this gentleman who appears to be foolish enough to hunt me down and then sit and listen to me. Now – do I have your blessing?”

The visitor clamored to his feet. “Kind woman, I promise that, at the first sign of fatigue I will have your grandfather back in bed and will take my leave with great haste.”

“There – you have the word of a gentleman. Sandals…?”

“They’re here beside your bed.” She knelt and fastened the worn sandals on her grandfather’s feet.

“Thank you, daughter.” He held out his hand. “A little help, sir?”

The visitor half assisted and half lifted the old man to his feet and the woman helped him put on a robe over his thin undergarment. She handed the bowl of fruit to the visitor. “I’ll be right inside if you need anything.”

“Thank you for your kindness.” He offered the old shepherd his arm and the two of them made their way outside, settling on a bench under the shade of a tree. The old man helped himself to a piece of fig, savoring the fruit while his visitor waited patiently for him to begin.

“We were living out in the fields at the time, my two older brothers and I, not very far from here – about an hour’s walk to Bethlehem. It was after midnight and the sheep had finally settled down; so had my brothers. Both were sound asleep by the fire. But that would soon end…”


“How’s the writing going?”

“Hmm?” The tall man looked up as his host entered the room, his quill poised above the parchment.

“The testimony from the eyewitness – the shepherd you found. I’ve hardly seen you since you got back from Bethlehem.”

The tall man looked at his host as if seeing him for the first time. He laid his quill down and rubbed his eyes. “I’m so sorry. I’m afraid I’m totally engrossed in what I’m writing and am being a terrible guest. Please forgive me.”

“No apology necessary. After your journeys and what you’ve been through I would be surprised otherwise.” He turned to go. “I’ll leave you to your work.”

“Actually, I could use the company.” He motioned to the seat on the opposite side of the table.

“Gladly.” His host sat down and reached for a piece of fruit from the plate in front of him. “Other than these figs, was it worth the trip? Did the shepherd corroborate what you had already learned?”

“He did. His memory was amazing. Everything he told me was rich with detail – the angels, the stable where they found the newborn Jesus. He even described Mary perfectly.”

“Did she remember the shepherds when you spoke with her?”

“She did. She remembered they were very shy and didn’t want to intrude. Joseph asked them to come in – they couldn’t take their eyes off of Jesus. She said the young one told them what had just happened out in the fields. That would be Nethanel, the shepherd I spoke with.”

“It sounds as though her memory was amazing as well.”

“Yes, it was – considering she had a lot on her mind that night.” The tall guest laid his quill down and leaned back in his chair.

The host eyed him for a moment. “It appears you do, too, my friend.” He indicated the fruit. “Have a fig and tell me what’s on your mind.”

His guest paused. “Nethanel asked me if I knew what became of the baby.”

“Truly?”

“Yes. Even though he and his brothers never stopped telling what they saw that night, they had no idea what happened after that.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him everything; the same thing we’ve told countless thousands for the past – how many years? Who Jesus was, why He came, the significance of His death, His atoning blood, God’s gracious gift of salvation – everything.”

“And…?”

“And he came to faith in Jesus, he and his granddaughter both.”

“Praise be to God! That’s great news!” He looked searchingly at his guest. “ Isn’t it?”

“Yes – yes, of course it is. But how is it that all we’ve done to spread the good news all these years – the traveling, the preaching, the sacrifice – how is it that there are some who still don’t know that Jesus was the Christ and why He came? Nethanel was one of the first people to see Jesus, the first to tell the story that a savior had come. But that’s where the story ended for him. How could he not know?”

His host answered, “You have always been faithful to our Lord in sharing the gospel, but remember what Matthew wrote that Jesus said to the disciples? ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’”

His guest sighed. “And getting fewer.” He began to straighten up his parchments. “I know what we did wasn’t in vain. Many came to faith in our Lord Jesus during our travels. But now that Paul is gone there must be another way.”

“There is – you.”

“No – Paul was the preacher. That’s not my calling.”

His host tapped the stack of parchments on the table. “But this is. You’re a diligent historian and a gifted writer. But more than that, you’re a committed follower of Jesus. You have an opportunity to tell His story so everyone will know. Tell of His humble birth, His grace and gentleness, His love for all people. Finish what the shepherds started.”

“Matthew and John Mark have already done that. What do I have to add?”

The host smiled. “Did either of them interview a shepherd?”

“No, but…”

“Will you at least seek the Father’s will in this?”

“Of course. And I’m sure you’re right, but I’ve just struggled with how to continue since Paul died.”

“I understand. But you were there with him for a reason. And God has a task for you – I know it. You know you’re welcome to stay here and write as long as needed. It’s a big house. I would welcome the company and the chance to make a small contribution to your work.” He indicated the parchments in front of him. “Do you mind if I read some of what you’ve written?”

“Not at all.” The guest thumbed through the stack of parchment. “Here – this is what I’ve been working on today, the story the old shepherd told me.”

His host took the parchment and began reading:

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’”

He glanced over the top of the page at his guest. “This is good; very good. I look forward to reading it all.”

“Then you’ll be the first.”

“I’ll leave you to your work. Let me know when you’re hungry for something besides figs.” The host turned to leave, pausing at the door. “And Luke?”

“Yes?”

“Remember the old shepherd and all who’ve never heard. Write it for them – for all the people.”

“I will. Thank you, Theophilus.” Luke sat for a moment, then dipped his quill in ink and continued writing:

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men…”

© 2012 by Dusty Teague

di-a-logue [dahy-uh-lawg] n.

Chikfila

From the CLAY “Story” Series

Something about the event that is the subject of the dialogue below troubled me – particularly our response as followers of Jesus. Although this is a bit of a departure from my usual posts here on “clay,” God laid this on my heart.

I know it’s been a month, but maybe this will serve as “looking back in retrospect” food for thought…


August 1, 2012, 11:45 a.m.

“Accounting, this is Matt.”

“Hey – you had lunch yet?”

“No, and I’m starving.”

“Pick you up out front in 10 minutes.”


 

“Oh, man, is it good to get out of there. This new project is about to wipe me out. Where we going?”

“Chick-fil-A.”

“Today? I bet it’s going to be ridiculous in there.”

“It’s our duty, bro.”

“Duty? How do you figure?”

“Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, man – standing up against gay marriage.”

“Duh – I know what day it is. It’s just that there’s something about that whole thing that bothers me.”

“Wait – have you switched to the other side?”

“What other side? Dude, no – of course not. I support Biblical marriage, you know that. And I support Chick-fil-A 100% – their standing up for what they believe, the way they contribute to the community. They’re a great organization.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“It’s not Chick-fil-A, it’s this whole ‘us’ against ‘them’ attitude. So the pro-gay marriage supporters got upset with what the guy said. We acted like we were all hurt and surprised. Did we expect them to suddenly say, ‘You know, since the chicken guy said it, maybe gay marriage is wrong. I sure do love his waffle fries – maybe I’ll like his world view, too.’ Is that what we expected?”

“So what do you think our response as Christians ought to be? I think we’re doing exactly what Jesus would do in this same situation.”

“I think you’re wrong there. Jesus would have gone to wherever the gay marriage supporters were having fast food and sat down with them and ate with them. He would have had a dialogue with them and discussed why marriage between one man and one woman is God’s plan. That’s what Jesus would do – and that’s what we should be doing.”

“I don’t know anybody who supports gay marriage.”

“Nobody?”

“Well, except this one woman down the hall in HR.”

“What’s her name?”

“Who?”

“The woman in HR.”

“I don’t know. Starts with an ‘M’.”

“There are only, like, 8 people on your hall. Have you never talked to her?”

“Of course – somebody had a birthday once and we all sang and had cake. And I know what you’re getting at here. I’m not like that.”

“Then why does she support gay marriage?”

“I don’t know – when I get back to the office she and I will sit down and have a latte and talk about it. Do you have a point?”

“You just made my point. ‘We’ are against gay marriage and ‘they’ are for it. There’s no dialogue, no ‘speaking the truth in love’ on our part as Christians – it’s just a standoff. Do you think this whole Appreciation Day is going to make a difference? Are lives going to be touched? Are hearts and minds going to be changed? All the Christians are going to huddle up in Chick-fil-A just like we huddle up in church on Sunday, shutting those out who think differently than we do, waiting for them to come to their senses and beat down our door. And if they clean up enough before they knock and promise to oppose gay marriage and vote Republican we might let them in.”

“The Bible says we shouldn’t forsake the ‘assembling of ourselves together’.”

“It also says, ’Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’.”

“At some point we have to stand up for what we believe in.”

“You’re right, we do. And while we’re doing that we also have to lovingly and compellingly and winsomely be prepared to give an explanation for why we believe what we believe, ‘to give a reason for the hope’ that we have. We need to sit down with the gay marriage supporters and be sure they know we love them and Jesus loves them, but that we can’t join them in their quest – and be sure they know why. Not that they’ll change their minds and embrace us, but at least they’ll know.”

“’Do good to those who hate you.’”

“Exactly.”

“Here we are – are we going to eat here or not?”

“Look at that line. I wonder how many of these people have ever stood in line this long to feed the hungry or help the homeless?”

“Probably not many. I never have.”

“Me either. And it’s begun to bother me lately.”

“Jesus would have – He did, actually. So what do you want to do?”

“About lunch or this conviction I have lately about not being a totally committed disciple of Jesus?”

“Let’s start with lunch…and start praying about the other.”

“Good idea. Subway?”

“Sounds good. We can get it to go and eat in the break room down the hall from my office. Maybe Miss HR will be in there and we can sit down and have a ‘dialogue’.”

“You know if she’s in there I’m going to ask you to introduce us.”

“You do and I’ll pretend to choke on a waffle fry…”