Monday, July 30, 2012

I Shouldn't Be Allowed to Speak in Church.


It is pretty well known that I have somewhat of a way with words. I'm no Plato, but I like to think I have a slightly higher than average vocabulary, especially being in good ol' Oklahoma.

Sometimes I get a bit wordy when I'm leaning on things.
Every now and again I can put words in a certain order that will make some folks laugh, other folks cry, and piss others off beyond belief. Call it a talent, call it a gift, call it whatever you wish, but there is no denying that God has given it to me.

So why is it that I so frequently muddle my words in His house?

That's right, I'm going to give you the top three most offensive things I've ever said in a church building.

Having been raised in church my entire life, I'm no stranger to being behind a pulpit. In fact, I preached my first sermon at the tender age of 13, and it was exactly seven minutes long. I buzzed through three pages of notes so fast that the congregation wasn't sure if I had completed one point or the typical Baptist three.

Fortunately, the third most embarrassing thing I've said in church was nothing irreparable, but it did manage to make a whole slew of folks mad at me.

3. "The Revival/Basketball Game statement"

I was 16, I was athletic, and I had just recently gotten a team together for a church basketball league. I was excited, because I was basically the head coach, and I might have done a bit of "outside recruiting." You know the kind, where you have to search outside the doors of the church for a few players, players that don't really know anything about Jesus, but have a mean 14 foot jump shot, and so you sign them up all in the name of witnessing. 

Being proud of the team I had acquired, and not knowing yet that we would be spectacular failures in front of both God and men, I wanted to encourage the people of our good church to be in attendance for our first game. I stood behind the pulpit and addressed them, saying, "It'd be real nice of y'all to come out and watch us play tomorrow evening." Then I remembered something in the back of my mind. Weren't we having a revival this week? No worries, I can handle that. 

"I know we're having a revival tomorrow night, but surely some of you can make it out to support us."

You would have thought that I had just questioned the immaculate conception of our Lord and Savior AND mentioned predestination all in one breath. The sharp inhalation of all those old-timers in the congregation caused a mild vacuum in the building. My youth minister at the time practically dragged me off the stage by my earlobe. I'm pretty sure I had to sacrifice a small goat to make amends. 

But it gets better. 

2. "Pimp Juice"

I had just recently been named Youth Minister, and I was busy establishing myself as a "cool guy" once again. This took more work than I thought it would, and so I found myself hanging out with my youth, trying to absorb their culture, their language, and their customs. One of the things I really harped on was transitioning from secular to Christian music, and I knew that in order to do that I should listen to some secular stuff to get an idea of what the kids were being bombarded with. 

Some of you remember Nelly's song "Pimp Juice." It is a tale of unrequited love in which Nelly seems to have captured the heart of a beautiful young lady, but he is concerned that she only wants him for his "pimp juice," which I, at the time, thought was something served out of that big cup that rappers always carry around. 

Little did I know, "pimp juice" stood for something very different in the eyes of my youth. One Wednesday evening, as we were preparing to start the lesson, one of my kids was joking with another about how he thought this girl liked him, but the girl was in the room, and she was vehemently denying it. I looked up and addressed the situation by saying, "Yeah, she only likes you for your pimp juice, man." The entire youth group stopped and looked at me. 

I love this picture. 
It took two or three of the older guys in my group to take me aside and explain to me what their translation of "pimp juice" was. Suffice it to say, I could not look the young lady in the eyes for the rest of her days in the youth group. I was, to put it mildly, mortified. 

And it gets even better.

1. "The unknown sexual innuendo"

This took place only yesterday, and was in fact the inspiration for this post. 

We have a very diverse and incredibly awesome Sunday School class. I know I've raved about it before, and I'll continue to rave about it because it is amazing. The people are real. They have problems, we have problems, and everyone will share them with everyone else so no one has to feel left out or alone in their struggles. We are also...a tad immature. 

You know how when you were twelve and someone would say "sex" and you'd giggle for thirty minutes with your friends? Well, our class has never really grown out of that phase. In fact, I'd venture to say that those reading this from that class just giggled when they read the word sex not half a paragraph ago. 

At the moment, we are going through a series called "The Five Love Languages." This is a very popular curriculum in churches, and it honestly does help a lot of marriages. The five languages of love according to the author are quality time, gifts, affirming words, physical touch, and acts of service. In our class, you can pretty much substitute "physical touch" for "sex." Imagine that, a bunch of mid to late 20 year olds having sex. Anyway, when we start discussing physical touch, it inevitably leads to giggles, laughter, and someone, usually me, saying "SEX" really loud, just for the laughs. 

Anyway, back to the situation yesterday. One of the class members is the mayor of the fair town of Muskogee. He does the announcements for our class, and is sort of the "warm-up" act before the main lesson. He addresses everyone in the room with a question of the day, and gets everyone comfortable. Some days that works splendidly. Other days he has to fight for control like the producer of "Toddlers and Tiaras." So yesterday, Bob looked at me and, referencing a newspaper article I wrote last week, said "Travis, I bet you at a lot of peaches last week, eh?" 

"Absolutely not. Why would you eat anything with hair on it?" 

I stopped myself too late, as the duality of the words I had just spoken washed over me the way they can when a man offhandedly refers to cunnilingus during Sunday School. For a moment, some semblance of order was maintained as those around me began to grasp the painfully obvious. I just hung my head. Then the giggles started. And they kept going. And I just sat there, eyes downcast, wondering why in the world the good Lord lets words even come out of my mouth. 

Bob, I'm sorry. Next time I'll just talk about how much I love oranges instead.