Thinking Out Loud

April 26, 2013

Theology Lite: Max Lucado on Pretzels

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:59 am

So there I was driving home and listening to one of six Christian radio stations I can now get in my car, when Max Lucado’s Upwords radio minute came on.  This is essentially a sponsorship opportunity for radio stations; a vehicle for them to sell additional advertising.

Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful for all the books Max has written and the contribution he’s made to Christian literature, in fact I’ve given a few favorable reviews here.  Furthermore, I especially like Max on video. I think the warmth and tenor of his personality comes through the camera better than through the printed page, though, I must confess, I now read his material hearing his voice in my head.

But as I listened to Upwords, I thought, “As fluffy content goes, this is more fluffy than usual.”  So I looked to see if the text was available online to share here, and it was:

Max Lucado UpWordsYears ago I was traveling with my daughter, Jenna.  When I realized she and I weren’t seated together,  I asked the fellow sitting next to her to swap seats with me.  Surely he’ll understand, I thought.  He didn’t.  I was left separated from my 12 year old on a long transatlantic flight.

I began plotting how I’d trip him if he dared walk to the restroom during the flight. I turned to intimidate him with a snarl and saw, much to my surprise, Jenna offering him a pretzel. What?  My daughter was fraternizing with the enemy! As if the pretzel were an olive branch, he accepted her gift and they both leaned their seats back and dozed off.

I learned the lesson God had used my daughter to teach me. All of us are here by grace and, at some point, all of us have to share some grace. So the next time you find yourself next to a questionable character, don’t give him a hard time—give him a pretzel!

That’s the full text.

Now my goal here is not to take this apart letter-by-letter, punctuation-mark by punctuation-mark. (We’ll leave that to discernment ministry bloggers.) I did make note — especially if I’m ever near him on an airplane — that Max was considering tripping this stranger, and that even in the final paragraph, he still ranks as a “questionable character.”  Of course this is the same man who recently, in his book Grace, confessed to a week of drinking beer out of a paper bag in a convenience store parking lot, and an attempt to bribe an airline official.  Truly, I’m not making that up.

No, I was just concerned that the whole broadcast was a tad light, as in lite. No Biblical text, though I suppose that’s not the goal of Upwords. No deep theology. Not even a teaser for an upcoming book.  (This story is in fact from an older book, The Great House of God.)

I guess I have no major complaint other than perhaps I’d like my sixty-seconds back.  I do think the radio airtime could be better used. I think that Max himself could use it better. Especially in view of the program’s mandate as outlined on his website:

In 1991, Max Lucado was presented the idea of developing a radio broadcast that focused solely on Jesus Christ.

Perhaps there’s a philosophy to this radio vignette; possibly Max builds a listener following and then hits the spiritual home run on Fridays, or at the end of the month.

I just think people are tuning in for something more substantive than pretzels.


  1. Don’t shoot me. But have you never caught your feelings running ahead of your spirit? That’s what was happening to him in that little tidbit from his life.I have children (many of them) and would be extremely angry if someone were to deny me something so simple as sitting next to my child.

    I have also been in the situation where the presence of my children (or their own innocent reactions to someone’s bad behavior) has caused me to think twice before doing something that would not reflect the Light of Jesus.

    But when you turn on the radio and expect inspiration and even accountability (as we often get from Christian radio) in the privacy of your car, and you get instead – a tidbit about something that bears no resemblance to the struggles in your life…Well, that gives you the opportunity to be something less than lite as well.

    Seeing through someone’s eyes is what Jesus does. Max (while he can come across as “cheesy” – says my husband) certainly offers that perspective. He humbly allows you a look at his life. He holds nothing back. He lets you see his weaknesses. How you react to his humility shines a Light on your own heart. And that’s L-i-g-h-t.

    This thought comes, BTW, from a very real understanding of how you felt listening to something you considered trite when you needed something more. But if someone tells you that they have learned a lesson that you learned loooooong ago – don’t be irritated with their spiritual immaturity. Ask the Lord where your blind spots are – and pray. (Again – please don’t shoot. ♥)

    Comment by jamesandcindirunyon — April 30, 2013 @ 1:11 am

    • No shooting, your comment is fair and adds value to the discussion.

      I listened for a few days following, and the radio feature simply is what it is. Not what I do with the airtime, but that’s his choice, the production company’s choice, the radio station’s choice, and the sponsor’s choice.

      Thanks for writing.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 30, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  2. He’s human and so am I and I am no “Max Lucado” but I’m sure that I have many less than “great spiritual thoughts” to share. So in comparison to all the wonderful words he’s spoken, I can give him the permission for some “fluff”. It was a cute story and it made me think. Of course, I see your point. No scripture, no mention of Jesus, but maybe this little moment will open the door for someone to give thought to listening to more of Max Lucado and seeking out Jesus.

    I have had similar thoughts about Christian speakers/writers who offer short sound bites on radio, but I guess sometimes you just have to give it what you’ve got. Maybe that’s all he had that day!

    I like your thoughts though, but this has put a whole new perspective on “pretzels” for me! :)

    Comment by Winterville First Baptist Church Media Center — May 8, 2013 @ 8:25 am

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