The Christian Email Signoffs Debate

I would like to raise an issue of critical importance that I have been considering for some time now, and that is the issue of Christian email sign offs. Let me explain.

When it comes to email, Christians tend to fall into two groups. The first group, which includes myself, concludes every email with a simple farewell, such as “thanks” or “sincerely”. The second group tends to conclude every email with a Christian sign off, a biblical John Hancock if you will, such as “blessings” or “grace and peace”. My question is: am I the only Christian who thinks it’s weird to end an email with a benediction?

I think it’s weird for several reasons. First, the benediction ending often doesn’t fit the context. I’ll get emails like:

Yo homey,

You up for getting some wings tonight and watching Monday night football? You better be there or you’re a loser!

Rejoicing in the abundant grace of God,

John

Or, as happened to a friend who asked for help moving (I assume the signoff was automatically inserted):

Hey Eric,

No.

Saved to Serve,

Nick

Second, I don’t talk like that in normal life. I don’t end my phone conversations by saying, “May the blessings of God follow you throughout the day.” People would probably think I’m a bit weird if I did that.

But here’s the thing: I have many godly, reasonably well adjusted friends who use Christian email signoffs. And they don’t think it’s weird. One friend, who I won’t identify other than saying that he is an assistant to C.J. Mahaney and that his name sounds like “Bony Deinke”, concludes his emails with the word “blessings”.

So could somebody give me a definitive ruling on this? Should I be concluding each email in the same fashion that Paul concluded his epistles, or is a simple “thanks” enough?

Are You Feeling It?

I remember the day in July 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren became the first men to walk on the moon.

I watched it with a crowd in the lobby of the boarding house I lived in that summer in Ocean City, Maryland.  I remember when it was over, I said, “Well, you seen one moon walk you seen ‘em all.”

Next day I was talking with the old janitor at the motel where I worked.  He didn’t believe we’d landed on the moon.  He thought our government staged the whole thing, a massive hoax.  He wasn’t there to see it with his own eyes, so he refused to believe it.

No matter how I tried to reason with him, he was unmoved.  “Our government couldn’t pull that off. Someone would leak it,” I argued.  “Besides, why would they want to do that?”  “To get more taxes out of us,” he said.

I asked him if he believed in Abraham Lincoln.  After all, he hadn’t seen him with his own eyes.  He didn’t believe in Abraham Lincoln either.  Or the existence of Europe, since he’d never been there.

Sounds like a guy named Thomas.

Resurrection Sunday evening Jesus appeared to the disciples, but Thomas wasn’t there. They told him they’d seen Jesus.  But Thomas refused to believe the them.  Nor did he believe the report of Mary Magdalene, who’d seen the Lord, nor the very words of Jesus who’d predicted his death and resurrection numerous times.  “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (JN 20.25).

What Thomas failed to realize is faith doesn’t come by sight and touch, but “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (RO 10.17).

This is how I came to faith.  At someone’s suggestion, I bought a paper back Bible and began to read John.  I attended some meetings where I heard men preach from the Bible about Jesus.  By God’s grace, eventually I believed.  But Jesus never appeared to me.  I never saw fireworks or felt goose-bumps.  I simply heard and believed.

Jesus told Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (JN 20.29). In other words, we experience God’s blessing not by seeing, but by hearing the gospel.

So John followed the Thomas story with, “these are WRITTEN so that you may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). We come to believe through God’s written word.

God is so wise to root faith in his Word, not our subjective senses.  If Jesus had appeared to me in 1973, I could doubt that experience now 38 years later.  Maybe I hallucinated.  After all, I used a lot of drugs back then.  Maybe I was just desperate for something to believe in.

A common expression these days is, “I’m feeling it.” (Or not feeling it).

Do you FEEL like Jesus rose from the dead?  Do you FEEL like his shed blood paid for all your sins? At times I’ve felt incredible condemnation for sin.  But God’s word says, “There is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (RO 8.1).  So do I believe my feelings or God’s word?

Do you FEEL like God loves you?  I don’t always feel like God loves me, but I know he does, because his Word says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (RO 5.8)

This is the whole fight of faith – are we going to believe what God says or our feelings and circumstances?

29 Things I Miss From My Childhood

Tonight I was reading a book to Charis, and one of the characters in the book said the word “snort”. Apparently Charis thought the word “snort” was the funniest word in the history of mankind, because she kept repeating it to herself and laughing hysterically. This event, combined with the fact that today is my 29th birthday, has me feeling a bit nostalgic. So I decided to compile a list of twenty nine things that I miss from childhood. Here goes…

1. Saying one word over and over, and laughing harder each time I say it. For example: “fart”.

2. Getting super amped up on Saturday morning to watch three hours of cartoons.

3. Watching Darkwing Duck, Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers, and Tale Spin every day after school.

4. Getting really into something for a very short period of time. Examples: Pogs, Star Wars trading cards.

5. Manipulating my parents into buying me an action figure when we went to the store.

6. Breaking that action figure when we got home from the store.

7. Backyard wiffleball.

8. Being coated in sweat and dirt after a long day of playing freeze tag and kick the can.

9. Going to sleep still coated in sweat and dirt.

10. Having a simple faith in the power of prayer. Like the time I prayed that God would allow me to fly.

11. Wearing sweatpants for days on end without one ounce of shame.

12. Watching movies with my dad and having dad try to cover up swear words by saying “BABABABABA” really loudly.

13. Watching movies with my dad and having dad accidentally put the bad parts in slow motion instead of fast forwarding them.

14. My special blanket that had the power to take away all fear and sorrow.

15. Bologna.

16. Being really excited to tell my friends that I had watched a movie rated “PG”.

17. Getting a toy with a McDonald’s meal. (Why don’t they do this for adults?)

18. Playing games with my friends that involved hurting each other.

19. Thinking that I might be a professional basketball player someday.

20. Wearing short shorts and tube socks and not knowing any better.

21. Anticipating the newest release in the “Ernest Goes To…” movie series.

22. Riding my bike to Sheetz for the sole purpose of purchasing a 44oz Slurpee.

23. Getting a refill on my Slurpee.

24. Beating Super Mario Bros.

25. Getting excited about flying on an airplane.

26. Getting a free lollipop from the bank.

27. Drawing intricate designs on my arms and legs with a ballpoint pen.

28. Getting really excited about my first pair of name brand shoes.

29. Not worrying about making lists.

What do you miss from your childhood?

Finding Contentment As Children Of God

I have a little girl who is two years old, and the affection I feel for her is almost overwhelming at times. Everything she does makes me grin. She pushes Winnie the Pooh around in a stroller, and I grin. She points and giggles at low-flying airplanes, and I grin. She passes gas in that innocent “did I do that?” sort of way, and I . . . you get the point. I love this little girl with all my heart. And my love doesn’t hold a candle to God’s love for us.

In Zephaniah 3:17 God says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Our lives have a glorious soundtrack. God loves us so much that he exults over us with loud singing. He is so glad to have us as his children that he is singing over us.

Every morning we wake up as children of the King. We’re adopted, loved, treasured, and blessed. No trial, circumstance, need, pain, or heartbreak can ever separate us from the intense love and compassion of our Father. God’s love pursues us relentlessly and zealously. Paul describes this hurricane of love when he says in Romans 8:38–39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s love for us is invincible, unbreakable, and unshakable. The legions of hell can’t defeat it. There is no future we can imagine apart from it. Even death itself buckles before the almighty love of our Father.

You may not have an earthly father, but you have a heavenly one who loves you far more than any earthly father. You may not have a husband to shelter you, but you have a heavenly Father who shelters and protects you (Ps. 36:7). You may not have everything that you want, but your Father promises that he will meet all your needs (Matt. 6:26).

This truth is life-giving for the discontented heart. Do you want to be more content? Spend a day or a week or a month or a decade marveling and wondering at your divine adoption. You are a child of God. The Creator of the universe really is your Father, and he loves you with an intense, fatherly affection. He cares for you with the heart of a father. He hears your requests with the heart of a father. He watches over you with the diligent eye of a father. Reflect on and rejoice in every difference between your former state (rebel) and your current state (son or daughter of God). Thank God for adopting you instead of sending you to hell. Thank God for calling you “child” instead of “enemy.” Fill your mind with the massive truth of adoption. You’ll soon find yourself dizzy with joy and gratefulness.

Excerpted from The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment On Your Side of the Fence

Ever Full Of Sap And Green

They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

(PS 92.14-15)

It’s Easter Sunday and the whole family comes for dinner.

My 92 year-old Dad, JJ, arrives wearing pink sport coat, bolo tie, western belt buckle, hat that looks a little too small for his head with upturned brim all the way around.  He’s a walking fashion statement.

As we’re eating dinner he says, “Well I have to go over to the home tonight to preach to the old folks. I’m older than most of them.”

“What are you preaching on?” we ask.

“Gonna preach on women.”

“Women?  Why are you speaking on women?”

“Well, most of the folks who come out on Sunday nights are women.  There’s a few men.  So I thought I’d speak on women.  After all, there’s going to be more women in heaven than men.”

We jump on this.  “Wait a minute, Dad how do you know there’s going to be more women in heaven than men?”

“Well, you go to most churches and it’ll be mostly women there.”

As discussion ensues, I think of Dad’s idea many years ago that no one would know each other in heaven because we’d have new bodies.  He thought he’d be wandering around heaven asking people, have you seen my wife, Jonalee?

After we discuss the merits of whether there will be more women in heaven than men, Dad says he’s going to be talking about godly women.  And then he says that for his final example of a godly woman he’s going to talk about my mom, who died in 2001.

I think, what a blessed man I am.  I was so blessed to have a godly mother.

It’s Easter.  My mom is before the throne worshiping the Lamb.

My godly 92 year old dad puts on his pink sport coat and heads out to talk to the “old folks.”

One of my sons says “Grandpa sure is a servant.”

I think, I want to be like him.

Except maybe for the coat.