Thinking Out Loud

June 5, 2009

Only it Wasn’t ‘Once Upon a Time’

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:32 pm

Once upon a time,  or maybe some of it happened just a few weeks ago,  there was a very personable, very charming guy who we’ll call Grant.   Grant lived in a place very much like the place that I lived in when I was much younger and not too far away, so as happens when people share common interests and live in similar locations,  I actually got to know Grant, even though he’s a ‘once upon a time’ character in this story.    People often tended to get to know him quite well at first, and then later on it would be at more of a distance.  But he did make a great first impression.

Grant always had a project cooking.    He was your typical “Type A” person, except that we didn’t use the term “Type A” back then.

One day,  Grant convinced a number of people to join him in a really big adventure, but the adventure didn’t work out the way it was supposed to — not even close — and he found himself in debt to a very large number of people and decided that he would be happier living in a place that was very different and actually quite far away, and where they didn’t know about the adventure and wouldn’t be asking for their money back.

So he moved to a place that rhymes with ‘blessed toast.’

This suited the very large number of people to whom he was indebted quite fine, since they were rather upset with him, and for a few of those, this wasn’t exactly the first time.

For nearly thirty years, Grant was completely off their radar, until a more recent time, when there were rumors that he had moved back closer to his original location.   (This of course, leaving some wondering if he had run up some debts there and now had a new set of people rather upset with him.)

When he returned, the idea may have been to make a fresh start, but the problem with that logic is, we tend to take ourselves with us every time we move.   Unless God really does a work in our hearts, and unless he is shaping and us into his character, and conforming us into the image of Jesus, our actions tend to resemble someone who is caught in a loop, running the same sequence over and over and over, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.     So if somebody you haven’t seen in decades meets you and says, “Wow, you haven’t changed a bit;” …well, if you’re a Christ-follower, that’s actually a bit of an insult.

Because Grant was a bit of a schemer, it wasn’t long before he started telling people stories about some magic beans, and people were giving him money to get the magic beans, and the way the scheme worked, some people did think they saw a hint of magic.

Then, he sold some beans to his neighbours, Jim and Jack.   Jim and Jack were the co-pastors of a very large church.   They had a very big congregation.     People trusted them to be wise.   But buying the magic beans wasn’t the wisest thing you could do.   Jim and Jack felt very bad when the beanstalk didn’t materialize and so did their board of directors.    So they decided to take some time off church to reflect.

The problem was,  for a few Sundays, everybody came to church and said, “Where’s Jim and Jack?”   Good question.   People started making up stories involving Jim and his secretary and rumors that Jack had a drinking problem.    That’s what happens when you don’t tell people things.   It would have been better just to tell everybody about the magic beans.    But sometimes a magic beans story is so stupid that you figure it’s better to let people go with the secretary and the drinking stories.   Or you don’t know what to think.

Furthermore, there were already people looking for a different church, because in the 21st Century, church attendance tends to be somewhat personality driven.    The problem was, this church needed people to stay, because summer was coming, and we all know what the air-conditioning bill is like in a large church in the summer.

Meanwhile, Grant was told to stop selling the beans.    It turns out he sold a lot of them, maybe as many as 14.1 million  (and those are U.S. beans which translate into about 16.7 Canadian beans).    But his bean scheme could bring down Jim and Jack’s big church, which, even if you don’t like big churches, would still be rather sad for the people who enjoyed going.

The good news is, that up to a certain point, very few people know anything about the bean story.   The scribes figured Grant would be more interesting if he’d sold a few hundred million beans, and they didn’t think Jim and Jack’s bean buy was all that significant, because in their Kingdom, churches weren’t all that significant, period.   Newspaper revenue from advertising was down, and there wasn’t enough black ink to devote to a little bean bungle.

The bad news is, that sooner or later, if you’re a public figure, or especially if you’re two public figures,  you gotta come clean with everybody.


  1. Thats quite a story and jam packed with grand advice…I have a feeling though that it may be alluding to a new story I missed…

    Comment by Cynthia — June 5, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

    • No, you’re not missing anything. It’s a story that has yet to come out here, but when it does, it will be somewhat major. I had the option of breaking the story online, and decided to pass; for now. It’s a mostly Canadian story but with a couple of U.S. connections. You’d probably know of the two people represented by the two pastors in the story.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 8, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  2. ouch!

    Comment by al c. — June 6, 2009 @ 10:37 am

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  7. From the time of the Garden of Eden, man has not yet learned that power, money and sexual lusts are three things that will cause man to fall? You cannot serve God and mammon–quite a story–quite a lesson.

    Code 10-5 is that God’s Ten Commandments are our guide, unbelief, disobedience, power, money and sexual lusts are the five (5) warnings Ge. 3:6). “A little leaven–leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9)

    We have 10 fingers–5 on each hand; 10 toes five on each foot…so Code 10-5 should be easy to remember as we walk and do.

    However, in this case, the wives of the two men have not been foolish and therefore they should not be kept from 100 Huntley Street/Crossroads broadcasts–they did excellent jobs. Let’s have them back. After all, 1 Cor 7:14 speaks of the wife sanctifying the husband and we do not want broken marriages to result from all this–the devil will make a volcano of this indiscretion.

    Then, of course, there is FORGIVENESS. Let us pray–and fast.

    Dr. Olga Graham

    Comment by Dr. Olga Graham — June 13, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

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