The Gospel According to Cletus: A Southerner's Comedic Guide to Practical Christianity by Patrick D. Williams - Read Online
The Gospel According to Cletus
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Summary

How can a modern Christian be in today's world, while not being of it, without losing his mind in the process? Contemporary Christian and comedic music performer Patrick D. Williams believes it all hinges on becoming "A Practical Christian." The term "Practical Christian" is used to describe someone that practices a lifestyle that marries scriptural teachings with realistic expectations. In other words, people who understand they are not perfect, but who live to serve, as best they can, a gracious, merciful, and forgiving God who is. Most of the chapters use teachings from the book of Proverbs as the platform from which the author expresses his comical and unorthodox points of view. The observations are as hilarious as they are insightful. So come along on a fun-filled journey of faith, outlandish humor, and good 'ol southern common sense. It is a journey toward... Practical Christianity.

Published: Patrick D. Williams on
ISBN: 9781465823939
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The Gospel According to Cletus - Patrick D. Williams

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Introduction

So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? Colossians 2:20 MSG

There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. Luke 6:26 MSG

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16&17 NIV

Hi-dee-ho, fellow Christians. It's nice to meet you. My name is Patrick, and like many of you, I am a practicing Christian (although I hope to turn pro after my senior year). I was born and raised in the Deep South, and I make no apologies for it. As the bumper sticker says, American by birth--Southern by the grace of God. I must confess to you that I’ve never been terribly religious. For me, it’s more important to know Jesus than to simply know about Him. To me, religion is a lot like Ex-Lax: it can be of benefit to people, but only in small doses. There, now that we’ve established that I’m a forthright individual, I’d like to add that I believe that it takes a certain amount of trust on the reader’s part to invest time, money, and attention in any book; consequently, it is my most fervent desire not to betray that trust. Because I respect you, I will not coddle you. I want you to walk away from this book with something of value, rather than simply feeling a hundred pages or so closer to death. I warn you, this book will lay it all out there: opinions that buck the norm; criticisms of our current Christian culture; amusing and bizarre anecdotes; and the one thing that is always sure to offend some while entertaining others: *Yankee jokes.

Christianity has become a very general and somewhat subjective term in our modern western society. I say this because there are so many variations on biblical truths between one denomination and another. Sadly, this has caused some divisions among Christians. It’s as if we all play within the same league, but maintain heated rivalries between the separate franchises. I’ve always appreciated what the Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination of record, has said on this very topic; In the essentials, unity; in the non-essentials, liberty; but in all things, love. Boy, if we could all learn to follow that creed, huh?

So, if, in the words of the apostle Paul and the lead singer for Casting Crowns, we are the body of Christ, why do we keep hitting ourselves? I contend that the collective body of today’s church would be far more effective if we allowed our differences to strengthen us, rather than divide and weaken us. This, of course, applies strictly to Bible-based churches. I believe that the first place to start is to accept that none of us are perfect; therefore, we should learn to not take ourselves so darn seriously. Aren’t we told in 1 Thessalonians to always be joyful? In fact, one of the things I’ve always loved about Southerners, particularly Christian Southerners, is our gracious ability to laugh loudest when the joke is on us. I hope you share that sentiment because this book pokes fun at the whole lot of us who call ourselves humble servants of Christ.

Let’s start with me. I’m as pitiful a sinner as they come. I am, for certain, a work in progress. I wasn’t baptized, I was pressure washed. Having said that let me share another honest admission with you: I still have a strong tendency to march to my own drummer. Unfortunately, that drummer is Keith Moon. That’s why I’ve found it necessary to create for myself a nice little niche to fit into while still being a part of the Christian whole. Let me explain. In his book Man in the Mirror, Christian author Patrick Morley divides Christians up into two separate and perfectly squared categories: Cultural Christians and Biblical Christians. I respectfully submit another category to be added: Practical Christians. This book was written for those of us who fall into this latter category.

So what’s the difference between the three aforementioned categories, you may be asking? Here is a simple and concise example of the differences between these categories. Let’s say you are asked to enter a room where there are three people standing. One is a Cultural Christian, one a Biblical Christian, and the other a Practical Christian. Now let’s say you agreed to walk up to each of these three group representatives and slap them silly. I mean a really good, old fashioned, bar room, smack upside-the-head kind of ear-ringing slap. In doing so, here is what you would observe:

After slapping the Cultural Christian, he would become enraged, yell at you, and possibly threaten to sue you.

The Biblical Christian would not only allow you to slap his face, he would forgive you and then offer you his other cheek to slap.

The Practical Christian, upon seeing your open palm heading for his unprotected head, would simply duck.

That’s me, the Practical Christian, mixing faith, hope, and charity with some good ole common sense. If that’s you as well, then proceed through the next several chapters. If not, perhaps you can still get a credit back at the bookstore or maybe a coupon for a dollar off on a fruit smoothie at their coffee bar.

For those of you who are still a bit unclear as to what it means to be a Practical Christian, you may be wondering, So, what would you have done, wise guy, if the person slapping you in the illustration above had connected with your head? Well, friend, I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by dancing around this one. As you recall, I said I would not betray your trust. If you, the slapper, were to catch me right after church, I might still be in enough of a biblical frame of mind to hold my temper and possibly forgive you your transgression. Conversely, if you catch me later on the same Sunday afternoon after the Carolina Panthers have blown a 14-point lead in the last 3 minutes of a game, I’m liable to wear you out like James Brown wore out drummers. And if they lost to the Falcons, I might just use a two-by-four on you! See? A Practical Christian is not afraid to be brutally honest about his shortcomings. We are an imperfect group of struggling individuals who rely totally upon God’s grace, mercy, wisdom, and guidance to help us, as we grope helplessly in a darkened world for the nearest light switch. We’re also the people who care enough about you that we’ll risk embarrassing you by telling you when you have a chunk of broccoli roughly the size of a kayak stuck between your teeth. Do you get it now? Good, now go to the front of the class with all the other cool kids!

There’s one last thing I’d like to point out before we continue: although I hope this book appeals to both genders, I realize men will likely better appreciate my quirky sense of humor. With that in mind, this book offers two special features that should appeal to all you guys out there: 1) bold print which is easy to read in the relatively dim lighting of your typical bathroom, and 2) short chapters that last only as long as your average trip to said bathroom. So kick back, relax, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, and enjoy the show. See you on the other side—P.D.W.

* In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that a good many of my dearest and closest friends hail from the North. I’ve even bestowed upon a few of them the title of Honorary Redneck. What can I say? A loving family of friends consists of a variety of personalities. Also, it is important to note that I am, politically speaking, what you might call a fair-minded conservative. That means that I’m a right-of-center, well-reasoned, and politically savvy fella who thinks of the collective eras of Clinton, Bush and Obama as Tweedle-dee, Tweedle-dumb, and Tweedlee-dumber. There, now. Consider yourselves duly warned.

Chapter 1

Church Shopping

An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives; you’re smart to stay clear of someone like that. Proverbs 16:14 MSG

What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom! They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it! Proverbs 17:16 MSG

It is a sad, old, and predictable tale: someone cuts you off in the parking lot at church; the pastor hits a nerve during a sermon; an exasperated childcare volunteer puts your toddler in a headlock, and WHAMMO – you’re looking for a new church. None of these scenarios were the reason why my family and I felt the need to find a new church home. The truth is, we left on good terms, and we’re still quite fond of our former church family. Like others who have made the decision to go church shopping, we set out to find a place that met the spiritual needs of the whole family. In doing so, we asked a lot of the same questions that a lot of seekers ask: will the pastor’s sermons be thoughtful, interesting, and applicable to our daily lives? Will we feel a connection with the congregation? Will the praise band know any Skynyrd? Hey, you’ve got your litmus test, I’ve got mine. Regrettably, we had to kiss a few toads before we found our current church home. Some of the places we visited just felt wrong, while others seemed downright bizarre. One in particular, Buttermilk Bible Chapel, had a service that went something like this:

{The pastor takes the podium} "Good morning brothers and sisters, honored guests, and fellow hemorrhoid sufferers. I’m the right Reverend Billy Joe Smellum and I’d like