wednesday night church

hello. my name is judson. and this was my night 

so it’s 10 mins to closing and we are D E A D bc it’s wednesdays and wednesdays = church nights so we can close early and get out of the kitchen by 9:10 when it usually takes us 30 mins. i’ve done all my work (cleaning the grill and fryers and sweeping) when this arby worker stops me while i’m taking out the trash and is like “hey man, can you help me i think a cat is stuck in my muffler.” there was a cat stuck in his muffler. a very angry cat. i get my coworker to tape rags around my arms and i layer up on some gloves and i straight up end up having to lay in a puddle to start hand feeding this cat grilled chicken in attempt to coax it out. the cat ate the grilled chicken. it did not come out. every time i got too close it sank its teeth into my hand which, by the way, four layers of vinyl gloves do nothing against a pissed off cat. so i’m laying in a puddle, looking like the fucking michelin man, and basically yowling along with this cat in attempt to save one of its damn lives. i’ve attracted all of my coworkers out alongside everyone from arbys and they’ve formed some weird fast-food support group which was mostly them making fun of me and taking snapchat videos instead of any real encouragement. i’ve managed to wiggle myself a little closer when something else happens. all we hear is tires squealing, a car horn, and then a huge crashing noise. i look up just as this fucker sinks its teeth into my finger to see a truck literally spinning down the highway like a fucking beyblade let loose. my coworker, austin, takes off sprinting to make sure the man inside is okay while i’m yelping and trying not to lose a digit. the man walks out completely unharmed but his car is completely decimated. just as a cop shows up, 10 seconds later, i manage to grab the scruff of the cat and yank it loose. everyone starts whooping and hollering until we get a good look at it. it was a fucking raccoon. i have to get rabies shots now. 

my mom’s not even 50 and she remembers when it was a Big Hairy Deal over whether women should wear pants or not 

like she remembers as a teenager a church in her area telling grown ass women to go home from wednesday night church because they dared to show up wearing pants instead of skirts or dresses. this was in the 80′s. 

it just blows my mind how recently this shit happened

anonymous asked:

Honestly, I don't really 'get' religion. To me it sort of seems like a assortment of ways to explain the unexplainable, and a set of rules. I would love to know your thoughts on the topic :)

I don’t get religion either. 

Religion, as I would define it, is a set of rules and traditions that people follow in an attempt to gain God’s favor. The problem with religion is that if you miss the mark by breaking even one tiny rule, you’ve missed the whole thing altogether.

I tried religion for a long time. I grew up in religion. I was the epitome of “good church kid”. My mama worked for the church, my granddaddy was a deacon, and my grandma taught Sunday School. Our family bought the church its amazing pipe organ 30+ years ago. We are a religious bunch who wouldn’t dare to take a bite of Sunday lunch before Granddaddy said his scripted prayer. I was in the church every time the doors were open. I participated in Sunday School, learned the books of the Bible, learned about Adam and Eve from flannelgraphs (what y’all know bout them flannelgraphs?), sang in children’s and youth choirs, went to Wednesday night activities and summer church camps, and yes, I was even in one of those awful mid-90s Christian puppetry groups. I even got baptized when I was eight because all of my friends were doing it and because my step-dad told me it was time for me to “join the church”. 

That was religion. 

Every single one of those things I did because I thought it was what Good Christians were supposed to do. I followed the rules so that my grandma wouldn’t give me the stank eye in church and so that God would declare me Good and would let me into heaven. I even started reading my Bible at dark-thirty every morning and going to Bible study 2 days a week before I went to school. I was a legalist about it, too. If I slept late and missed reading my Bible one morning, I was uneasy all day because I felt like a Bad Person who deserved hell.

The truth was that I was and still am a Bad Person who deserves hell. Following the rules of religion never changed that truth. A relationship changed that truth. 

When I was 14 I was pretty fed up with following rules. I did everything I was supposed to do and I never felt like it was enough to earn God’s favor. I was constantly uneasy and I prayed these little “just in case” prayers all the time, telling God, “hey, um… the Bible says that if I believe in you then I’m safe right? So… just wanting to let you know that I believe in you. Just in case you forgot. So I’m saved, right? I’m not going to hell right? I dunno I still feel like I’m going to hell. Help me figure this out, God.”

All that time that I spent pursuing God through rules, I was blind to the fact that He was pursuing a relationship with me. While I thought I needed to go to Bible study and read my Bible every morning because He would punish me if I didn’t, God was trying to say, “hey there - I’m just trying to have a conversation with you. Wake up and listen to me. I want you to get to know me.” He was making himself available to me but I wasn’t making myself available to him. I knew a lot of things about God, but I didn’t know God. I knew in my head that I was a sinner and that Jesus had died on the cross for my sins but I was still stuck in the Old Testament, following rules so God wouldn’t smite me. I had missed the whole point of the New Testament - that the rules would never be enough and I could never follow them perfectly, so I needed a perfect Savior to take my punishment for me so that God could declare me Good. God didn’t want my tainted sacrifices. He wanted my heart. 

On March 28, 2001, I stopped praying my “just in case” prayers. I had been to revival the night before (since all Good Christians go to revival) and felt a tug on my heart like I never had before. It wasn’t some emotional plea from the preacher. I’ve heard that same preacher many times since and I don’t think he’s really anything special. He was preaching a hellfire-and-damnation, JEE-sus-is-comin-back-soon sort of sermon. But all I heard was a little voice saying, “give up. Following the rules is never going to give you peace or security. Follow me.”

So I did. I had a conversation with God. Not a scripted, flowery prayer, but just a regular conversation. I asked Jesus to forgive me of all my sins–the “traditional” bad stuff and my sins of legalism and hypocrisy–and to take over my life. And he did. And I mean to tell you that immediately I felt a weight come off of me. The weight of following all those rules and of continually missing the mark was gone. 

I still follow many of the same rules I did before I started my relationship with Christ. But now I do them for the same reason a husband or wife might sacrifice something for their spouse - because I love Him. 

So you see - I tried religion and I didn’t get it either. But a relationship with God? That made all the difference. 

TL;DR: 

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
   the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. - God’s word to Israel in Hosea 6:6

 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” - Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 9:13