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Me and my first grandchild, Ever Grace, 2011

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

– Romans 6:1

I somehow found myself alone on New Year’s Eve. Teenager was with her friends. We were in Orlando for a national cheerleading competition. My hotel room was across the street from a florescent-bright tattoo parlor with an “Open” sign and no customers. Husband at work. Married daughter with baby far away. A few personal incidents this year threw me off kilter and I … lost my mind for a minute. What can I say?

And, I’ve been a little too preachy lately. Too preachy. I need to loosen up. Maybe it’s the devil bringing me down. When my family saw it, Teenager said, “I’m confused. You don’t believe in them.” Husband sweetly said, “It’s fake. It’ll wash off in three days, right?” Married daughter loved it but said, “That’s called a job-stopper. You’ll never get a corporate job or a Christian schoolteacher job with that unless you cover it up with a big bracelet and long sleeves.”

Maybe subconsciously I was afraid of this new Christian schoolteacher job I’d applied for.

My Baptist friends would say I’m “back-slidden.”

It seems like every time I take a step toward God, I take two steps back.

It wasn’t because of “peer pressure.” None of my peers have tattoos.

Maybe I’m trying to look like a liberal so I can infiltrate, befriend them and then – aha! – sway them to my side! Nah. I already tried that … in Hollywood. They kicked me out.

Maybe I am in desperate need of attention … love.

["Angry Woman" "Tonight Show" appearance, 1983:]

Tattoo Artist: Ever Grace?

Me: It’s my new granddaughter’s name. Maybe I’m afraid to be old. I shouldn’t be doing this. It also reminds me of the Bible verse, Ephesians 2:8,9. “For by grace are you saved through faith. …” I know Christians shouldn’t get …

Tattoo Artist: Whoa! You’re a Christ … then why are you …? (he stops)

Me: Well, I know theologically – Ouch! – we are under grace and not “the law” since Jesus came, you know, the ultimate Lamb, like we don’t sacrifice sheep for our sins anymore, and Leviticus, the law was to – Ouch! – show us our need of a Savior, but … God doesn’t like tattoos because it makes us look like “the world,” you know, the pagans who worship other gods, Ouch! But nowadays Christians look just like the world anyway, right? Miniskirts and bikinis at the beach … Ouch!

(My brain tells me: You are justifying your “worldly” behavior by reporting that all Christians look”worldly” now! Have you lost your mind?)

(Tattoo Artist’s wife enters. Her arms are covered with tattoos. She is tall, thin, blonde and “worldly” looking. She has a smoker’s voice and is non-judgmental.)

Wife: Well, what are you gonna wear at a beach?! (sweetly) Doesn’t God look at the inside and not the outside of a person?

Me: Yes, He does. (I try to think of the Bible verse … because I’m preachy.)

(Tattoo Artist is focused on piercing flesh. I notice his big American flag on the wall.)

Me: Are you a conservative?

Tattoo Artist: (almost leaps up, needle flying) (suspiciously) In what way?

Me: (pointing to flag) Like, do you love America?

Tattoo Artist: I love America!

Me: Me too.

(My brain thinks, maybe if the tattoo is a Bible verse, it isn’t a sin. Married daughter said, “It’s a sin if you think it’s a sin.” I’m a hypocrite.)

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is what is wrong with the world today.

Everyone does a different thing than what they preach or say.

They drink and deny it. They drug and they lie,

“Oh now I am a crispy, clean guy.”

They pronounce their purity while wearing something sultry.

They lust after a woman while abstaining from adultery.

Oh Hypocrisy! What shall we do?

Don’t ask me. I’m a hypocrite too.

As I struggle with being “in the world but not of the world,” I decide that yes, I have been too preachy. I should “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words” (St. Francis of Assisi).

As I sit here wasting time talking myself into a sin, Christians around the world are being tortured and killed for our faith. I am so shallow. I think about the Chinese man and his wife I had lunch with last month. His bilingual son interpreted as I asked him question after question. A few years back, this Christian went to jail, twice, for a total of 14 years, simply because he believed in Jesus. He said China is being a little more lenient to Christians lately, but the government still strictly controls it, and it depends what section of China you live in. After asking this giant of the faith, this humble, gentle hero that I am not worthy to dine with, if I could write an article on him, he said please don’t. He didn’t want to put his fellow Christians still in China in any danger. (Voice of the Martyrs is a wonderful organization that reports on Christian persecution.)

Grossly underreported this week was the New Year’s Day massacre of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

“The attack in the ancient Mediterranean coastal city was the latest in a wave of violence against once-resilient Christian communities in the Muslim world, some of which date back to antiquity. Christmas Eve assaults by Muslim extremists killed dozens of Christians in the Nigerian cities of Jos and Maiduguri. And Iraq’s Christians have endured a relentless campaign of attacks and intimidation by the local branch of al-Qaida.”

In the book “When the World Will be as One,” Tal Brooke describes how Hitler gradually swayed a country to murder a certain group of people. It started with public ridicule in cartoons and entertainment. Isn’t Hollywood doing that right now? Isn’t the mainstream media? It’s so prevalent; I don’t even notice it anymore. I have to concentrate to pick out the Christian-bashing jokes in a movie. Isn’t America headed toward the Christian underground? DefendChristians.org came up with a list of the top-10 ways Christians were persecuted in America in 2010. Here’s the link.

I got a tattoo. It’s seems like a liberal kind of a thing to do.

I went to my employer, pulled up my sleeve and showed her my secret. I gave her a chance to fire me. She didn’t. She was kind and understanding. She said that a lot of teachers are hiding things.

Husband said, “Um, if that’s not henna that washes off in three days, um, what if you have … like … 12 grandchildren?”

Liberals embrace sin. Conservatives shun sin and then occasionally sin and look like hypocrites. I’d rather be a conservative.

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