The Hardest Question was an experiment in preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. All posting is finished, but the content will continue to live here in archive form. You can discover new content by former THQ curator Russell Rathbun at Question the Text.


A Divine Game of Thrones

Just how much will pile up before we get it?

by Rev. Mike Baughman

Epistle Reading: Philippians 2:5-11

For Sunday, April 1, 2012: Year B—Liturgy of the Palms

We’re playing a high-stakes game in my household right now.

It’s an epic showdown of will, emotion, tears and joy all set in a sweeping coming of age story. I call it our “Game of Thrones”id est, Potty Training.

My Game of Thrones

My youngest son is three. His next oldest sibling is just about to turn six which means that we have been changing diapers in my household for about six years—that’s three Olympics, one and a half presidential terms and one crap-ton of diapers. If we average 4.5 diapers a day (I threw in the .5 to make it look really accurate), that’s nearly 10,000 diapers. If there are about 50 diapers in the big box of diapers at about $20 each, that’s about $4,000 spent on diapers. I have invested a lot of time and money into dealing with all that  sh*t and p*ss.

I am so VERY ready for my son to use the potty (can you tell?).

He’s much less excited about the prospect.

He shows no interest in the either the porcelain or the plastic thrones that I offer him. My patience is running out and I find myself frustrated. My mother tries to comfort me—“it will happen eventually. How many fourteen year-olds walk around with diapers on?” I hear that and think, “there’s a chance I have to wait till he’s thirteen!?”

Deep down I know that he’s going to accept potty training and I know it’s not all that far off, but I’m still sick of the sh*t and sometimes I run out of patience.

God’s Game of Thrones

I’m a dork which means that I’ve spent a significant amount of time reading the series of books by George R.R. Martin that begins with Game of Thrones. The series is all about who will “bend their knee” to whom.

Much of the Bible wrestles with the same question. Will we bow to God or pursue our own purposes, our own desires and our own glory? Will we worship God and God alone or turn to other idols?

Those are key questions, at least, until we get to Philippians 2:10-11. Paul offers a divine vision in which all eventually bend their knees at the name of Jesus. The question shifts from “will we bow” to “how long will it take for us to bow,” from “will we accept the Lordship of Christ” to “how long will it take for us to accept the Lordship of Christ.”

How Long Can We Play this Game?

I think about the game of thrones taking place in my house right now. The question isn’t really whether or not my son will start using the potty…it’s a question of when he will. Even though I know the inevitable outcome, still, I fret over the current situation.

I get aggravated over the sh*t I have to keep cleaning up. I wonder if God does too. I wonder if God grows weary with cleaning up our messes. I wonder if God grows weary with how long it takes us to finally choose God’s way over our own.

The Hardest Question

I know that God is far more patient than me than I am with my child. I know God can see the big picture better than I can. I know that God has dealt with a lot of sh*t over time and that the spiritual, economic and political poop of our modern day world probably isn’t any more disgusting than that of the past. Still, I’m sympathetic to what God has to deal with so I’m left with my hardest question:

What does it really mean to bend our knee before Jesus? How much sh*t are we going let pile up before we finally do it?

The Rev. Mike Baughman is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He is the co-author of one book and has contributed to a long list of books, curricula, resources and research. He also trains and consults with churches non-profits and small businesses on social media and how it can be used to help their work and ministry. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife (also a pastor) and four kids. You can learn more about him at , follow him on twitter @ireverant and read his blog,


  1. Samanthor says:

    Hey Mike! Love this one. I really identify with this blog post in that I feel like sometimes I’m only faithful when enough crap piles up in my life and that only a force bigger than myself, God, can clean it all up. Great encouragement for a stressful week, thanks.

  2. Habibur says:

    Before I say anything else, let me state this. I love the show. I am obesssed with it. Ok on to my issues. I think at this point, my biggest complaint with the show is their handling of Daenerys. She is NOTHING like in the books. Every definitive scene that we experience her in how she grows, how her relationship with Drogo develops, how she begins to believe and know she is Khaleesi, have been completely destroyed. Where she is in the show right now, by this point in the books, we know Dany is a force to be reckoned with, and her growth and development make sense. In the show, she is still this unsure little girl who is victimized at every turn. This is not Daenerys. Like the scene in this week s episode for example. In the books this is the first time we see her stand up to Viserys. There were two instances in that scene that were changed that drastically change the tone of the scene, and their relevance to Dany’s development. Why the writers are choosing to do this, only they know but I sure hope that we start seeing Dany come into her own because she is one of the main characters of these books, and she just doesn t feel that important to me in the TV show, even though she is getting the screen time. Another big beef I have is Drogo. In the TV show he is nothing more than a rapist barbarian, and in the books, he is so much more. He is actually one of my favorite characters, and it makes me very sad that he is not getting the treatment he deserves. The lack of importance given to the relationship between the Stark children and the dire wolves is also bothering me a lot, but I understand that there is only so much you can do here. Now -this week s episode. For a third episode I thought it did its job. It wasn t as fast paced or intense as the first two, but we were introduced to some of the major players at King’s Landing. I think one of my favorite scenes was Arya and Syrio. It felt very authentic though I disliked the fact that the scene with Ned and Arya that eventually leads up to Arya and Syrio was completely changed. Maybe I m being overly critical but for me, it is these nuances that the TV show seems to be skipping, that make these books so fantastic. Catelyn s arrival to King s Landing comes to mind. One scene that I loved but again, had issues with (I m such a complainer lol) was Tyrion and Jon Snow when the boys are putting their swords away. It wasn t a big deal to me that they removed the black smith all together, and gave Tyrion the lines instead, but this scene was important because it made Jon realize that though he is a bastard, he still has it better than most, if not all of the boys at the Wall and this was not as potent in the speech that Tyrion gives Jon. I have so much more to say, but I will keep the rest simple. The casting for Petyr Baelish is perfect. Renly left me a bit unsatisfied, Varys is perfect and I will leave off with the question I have been asking myself in each episode WHERE IS GHOST?????? (sorry if this is all over the place. wrote this at work. don’t tell on me)

  3. Kel says:

    Sublime! Do I hear you saying that the scatology will eventually collide with the oscillator? Reminds of a Malachi 2:3ff sermon I once preached titled “Divine Scatology”–with thanks to Norman Schwarzkopf’s “The reports from The Gulf are bovine scatology! Thanks for keeping it fresh and stimulating.

  4. Kel says:

    Sublime! Do I hear you saying that the scatology will eventually collide with the oscillator? Reminds of a Malachi 2:3ff sermon I once preached titled “Divine Scatology”–with thanks to Norman Schwarzkopf’s “The reports from The Gulf are bovine scatology!” Thanks for keeping it fresh and stimulating.

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