You’ve Heard the One About the Bad Tipper


We’ve heard time and TIME AGAIN about the waitress at Applebee’s that posted the receipt from a pastor. The receipt had a note that said, “I give God 10%. Why should you get 18?”

Bad Christian! BAD CHRISTIAN!

Then, the blogs and comments on blogs, and comments on Facebook fly: “See? This is why people hate Christians.”

Oh… really.

THIS is why… they don’t tip.


All this proves is the old adage that if you get good service you may tell one or two people. If you get lousy service, you tell 10 people. Only, we’ve upped the game thanks to social networks.

If we get good service, we RARELY mention it. If we get bad service, we blast it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo… any place we can try and land it.

So, allow me to say something that will go completely unnoticed.

I, as a Christian, am a good tipper. Actually, I’m a GREAT tipper. And it’s all because of Jesus… so there! 😉

Let’s be real: we can ALL be good tippers and it STILL doesn’t reflect Christ!

But good tipping is a nice reflection, so allow me to brag on a few good examples (out of hundreds I know of). This will be ignored, but I just don’t care. I’m tired of people bashing away.

Several years ago I was in a meeting with some other pastors… and we were all lousy tippers. Right? Pastors are THE WORST!

Well… no.

It was in a hotel room and the hotel had arranged for us to be served breakfast in the room. As the server is bringing us our breakfasts, the leader of the meeting asked the server, “Do we leave the tip here for you?”

She said, “No. The hotel is taking care of that.”

The leader thought about it, then told the rest of us (when the server was out of the room), “I’m not sure we’ll get the opportunity to tip on the bill, so let’s make sure we take care of that.”

There were probably eight really tight-wad pastors in that room (because, you know, all pastors are tightwads and bad examples of how to really tip good, thus making us targets of hate by waitstaffs all across America). By the time we finished chucking in money at the middle of the table, she probably walked away with $75 in tips. And, quite frankly, I doubt the bill was $750.

This weekend my wife and I were sitting at a Perkins with a huge group of InterVarsity students from University of Minnesota Duluth. You think pastors are bad tippers? How about college students that go into a restaurant and order water and mozzarella sticks? What a bunch of cheapskates!

Well… again… NO.

I listened to several of the leaders in the group talk to each other and say, “Make sure you tip her well. She’s working late because of us.”

I’m sure those students made it well worth her time and effort. What had been a slow night turned into a nice ending for the server.

How about turning the tables a bit? How about showing off good service? How about letting people know Christians and other good people know HOW TO TIP!

Because we do. Millions of us do. And there are a thousands of servers who are glad to see us come into their restaurant.

The Dream in My Heart

This particular article by Richard Stearns captures the dream that has been stirring in my heart. I only wish I had been able to find a way to act on the stirring as well as the pastor in the story.

But that dream is still there. I’ve known in my heart the shift that has been happening and I’ve known to prepare my church, but in the past two months the stirring I can’t get away from is this huge dream to “own” a country. I’ve been praying and asking about which particular country, but the dream is very much like this pastor’s dream. Change a nation. The how doesn’t even bother me. This story gives me some great ideas, and I’m grateful.

Yet this dreams bursts in my heart. Our church is called to change a nation. Another nation. Some would argue, “Why not THIS nation?” I can’t argue that. I just know I am called to pastor my city and “own” some nation somewhere. In the next 20 years some nation is going to be radically different because our church stepped up in prayer and action. Like this pastor did with Lesotho.

Help me dream. Help me ACT.

Lord, stir this up into reality.

Journalism as a Dying Trade

I grew up thinking I would be a journalist. Lou Grant, the TV series after Mary Tyler Moore, was a favorite of mine.

Print media is dying, dead, beyond dead… whatever. However, does that mean we have to kill journalism as well?

The internet is a wonderful tool for me because I can access all kinds of viewpoints, but I can also access excellent writing and good journalism.

In my current hometown we have the Startribune. I haven’t read a print edition in years, but even when I did, I much preferred The New York Times. The Startribune doesn’t do journalism very well. Their writers don’t write. They repeat facts. And the facts aren’t always facts.

A great example is today’s news.

I still check up on the Kansas City paper online because I have to see how bad my old KC Royals are doing… but I will occasionally read their news articles because those folks can write. Consider two stories.

THIS ONE is about a Minneapolis cop accused of assault and the assault is caught on video tape. The piece online is incredibly short, though this assault happened about a month ago. Very little detail.

THIS ONE is a tragic story in rural Missouri about a guy high on meth who killed two sisters. It happened just this weekend and the story reads like a crime novel.

Good writing should still be a standard, even if it’s online. We shouldn’t give up on good journalism, but we, as a public, have quit demanding it. We do care for quality. We don’t care for facts. We care about our viewpoints and gathering sources that share our viewpoints.

And good writing is hard to find.

Two Words Can Change a Life

Last week at the Kiwanis International Convention we heard from Sean and Leanne Tuohy, the real life couple featured in the movie The Blind Side.

Sharing the first time they saw Michael Oher, Sean Tuohy mentioned his wife said two words that changed their lives. They were driving down the road and saw Michael walking in the cold.

“Turn around.”

Two words and a life was changed. They had no idea at that point who he was, what was going to happen, anything. But something happened inside Leanne and she responded.

You never know what two words may do. Michael Oher was ignored for years by everyone in Memphis, TN. We pass people just like that in our own towns. A simple urging inside can bring change. You never know.

A New Play on the Last Week of Christ

Kingdom Undone is a new production in the Twin Cities. It takes a look at the ministry of Christ and his purposes through the lens of Judas Iscariot and a young zealot named Isaac.

The play was well done and a fresh take. The first act added in some great humor, but the refreshing look was seeing how Judas might have thought of what was happening in the life of Jesus.

The great thing I came away with is we all think we have the great idea of the Kingdom in our minds. We think of our ideas of justice, liberation, who is “in”, etc. What we sometimes forget to do is actually listen to Jesus.

The acting is tremendous. The music blends in quite well. I honestly think they could develop the music a bit more. The songs were few, but powerful. Working on that piece would enhance the power of the moments the songs are done.

If you are in the Twin Cities, I would suggest seeing THIS play rather than the normal portrayals we will typically get this time of year. We all know the story… or so we think! Try this one for a fresh view.

Speaking Truth to Power May Cost You Your Head

The utopian thought we have with the “Occupy” movement (and other things) is the beautiful thought of “speaking truth to power.” It is so bold.

Unless, of course, it’s not.

Too often that phrase just really means, “I’m looking for a photo op.”

Speaking truth to power costs.

Ask Gandhi. Ask Martin Luther King, Jr. Ask Abraham Lincoln. (And Lincoln was “power” in a certain sense.)

Ask John the Baptist.

14 Herod the king heard about these things, because the name of Jesus had become well-known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and this is why miraculous powers are at work through him.” 15 Others were saying, “He is Elijah.” Still others were saying, “He is a prophet like one of the ancient prophets.”16 But when Herod heard these rumors, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised to life.” (Mark 6:14-16, CEB)

Sometimes you speak truth to power and you lose your head. It’s not quite as glamorous then.

Is it really time for civil disobedience?

The issue in the last couple of weeks with the Obama administration and the Catholic church has been over healthcare policy and contraception. Originally, the Obama administration was going to enforce the policy that any organization over a certain size had to provide a health insurance policy for employees, including the option for contraception. This would apply even to religious organizations. The Catholic Church was up in arms because that would affect their schools, hospitals, etc.

It is an unnecessary position by the Obama administration, because states like Hawaii demonstrate ways to get around it.

Some have said this is an outright attack on religious liberty. It might be. Those early salvos have to be tested because there will continue to be issued where human rights will clash with “religious liberty” in our society. If you always want to land on the side of your version of “human rights” you will have to battle “religious liberty” at some point. This is quite possibly a way to test the waters early.

Those who have called this an outright attack also say it may be time to think about civil disobedience. THIS POST links to several other articles and calls.

This is a tough call and it is certainly yet another opportunity to truly understand who we are as Christians.

Immigrants and Strangers

As James K.A. Smith would say in his book, Desiring the Kingdom, everything calls for allegiance. All of life has liturgies all around. Which liturgy will call out for our allegiance and we will respond?

We are in the thick of political season in the U.S. Let’s face it, as long as there is a media and as long as there are lobbyists and politicians, we are always in the thick of political season. It’s the only way to fill up a 24 hour news cycle.

And in this season we are once again hearing the calls of allegiance to one party or the other. Certainly on the extremes are those who say voting for one party is actually voting against God. (This is on the right AND the left.)

Political parties call for allegiances. Every election cycle the fate our nation hangs precariously in the balance and if we don’t vote correctly (insert your party beliefs here), America will blow up. (And so it has gone for over 250 years.)

Christians in America play this game. We play and get played. For all the frothing about evangelicals being in the back pockets of Republicans, there is simply the same to be said in the other direction as well. On the extreme left or right we really act like the government is our own little theocracy. We want to the government (which is secular) to act like the Kingdom of God. On both extremes, if one is willing to admit it, that would equate the president as pope or bishop. Since neither extreme is willing to admit that, we cloak it in more “righteous” terms.

This is not some plea to NOT be involved in voting or your duty as a citizen. It IS a plea, as believers, for us to continually evaluate our allegiances. We need to be reminded more than ever that our citizenship is in a different place. As such, we need to pick up the signals from the Kingdom we should be serving.

11 Dear friends, since you are immigrants and strangers in the world, I urge that you avoid worldly desires that wage war against your lives. (1 Pet. 2:11, CEB)

The liturgy of political games is a strong liturgy. The liturgy of consumerism and materialism is a strong liturgy. We have strong liturgies all around us.

Which liturgy will win your allegiance?

Not letting the song die in our hearts

The quote I reflected on yesterday from Thoreau was this:

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

Are we going to the grave with a song still in our hearts? Are we going to the grave with a work of art still waiting to be formed? Is there a symphony to be composed? A book to be written? A song to be sung? Music to be formed? A film to write?

What is the dream that is in you? What is that God-given gift that this world really needs to hear? Don’t let the song go to the grave with you.