Monday, August 1, 2011

Ain't Skeerd

I saw a truck that had an Ain't Skeerd sticker on it. Next to it, it had a sticker that said "Truck Protected by Smith and Wesson." Ironic that although someone isn't afraid of anything, he still carries a gun just in case something scary comes along. Julie and I were chatting the other day about just how fearful we have become as a culture. You listen to commercials, and they are full of motivating your fear. The dollar is going to drop, so you need to buy gold. That girl isn't going to like you so you need to drop some weight. Your friends won't accept you unless you clear up that acne. Someone is going to steal your identity, so you need a company to protect you. Ad agencies have tuned into a reality in American Culture. If you want to motivate someone, scare the pants off of they will buy your pants.

It's interesting just how often I am motivated by a spirit that is not given by God (2 Timothy 1:7), and see fear rise up in so many interpersonal things in my life that inhibit me from living well. I fear rejection. I fear that a down economy will cost me my job or that something negative will happen to my boys or their health. I would have to say that at times I fear failure to the point that I would risk for nothing of intrinsic value. It seems as though we as a culture are becoming increasingly Lifephobic, and when it all boils down to it, being afraid of all of these things doesn't denote a cautious lifestyle. It denotes a lifestyle that is chronically deficient of trust in the Creator of all things and the lover of our souls.

So maybe I should try and approach life with the spirit that God does give, that of love, power, and a sound mind, but I don't feel that this is something that I ask God for. He has already given it, but it's something that I haven't fully possessed. I haven't possessed the truth that we have been given such a spirit, but rather have taken hold of the lie that in certain scenarios, the flight reaction is more prudent than to fight. So out of fear, I don't confront well. I allow abuses to occur. I develop judgements of others that will remain true in my heart regardless of their legitimacy. I have seen the power behind taking possession of a lie. How much more powerful is taking possession of the truth?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Burning The Koran

So I am sure that by now, you have heard about the whack job out in Florida who plans on burning copies of the Koran on September 11th. Many Christian leaders, Army Generals, and media representatives have railed against this nut, pleading with him not to insult the Muslims with this action. It is simply ridiculous to do such a thing, and this guy needs therapy, or at the very least a small island where this congregation can live alone and not intentionally incite a riot. Many Christians believe that loving Muslims is the answer, which when emulating a life of Christ, that is certainly the answer, so many have expressed that concept in their rebuke of the Floridian pyro.

This pastor is going to burn some Korans. Nothing is going to stop him. Like I said, he needs help. It will be interesting to see how the Muslim community responds to it, and judging recent history with Danish cartoonists, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if people are marching in the streets, catching cars on fire, and calling for the death of all us American infidels. In fact, they already are with the simple notion. Throughout the years, there have been plenty of offensive actions enacted on Christians such as a crucifix in urine, Bible burnings, Bill Mahr, Perez Hilton, and a whole host of personalities that get Christian's proverbial "panties in a wad", but to my knowledge, with those instances, Christians did not respond with violence, and if they have, it has been isolated cases. They certainly haven't called for the death of the liberal media. Should Muslims justify violence by their offense, it will further support the vast difference between a religion of grace and a religion of law.

Now that is not to say that Christians don't respond in other ways that are equally as egregious. We got behind our God fearing president and started a couple of wars, and recently, the "taking our Government back" rhetoric has been ramping up. And then there is the "Ground Zero Mosque." It is true. Christians really need to separate their Church and state a bit better. That will be the subject of my next blog, but for now, my hope is that the moderate Muslim will sensibly look at this scenario and rather than condemning a nut job, condemn any acts of violence that will in all probability be enacted. What would be best for this scenario is if we would just ignore this fellowship. They are in the same ilk as Westboro Baptist, and the only reason why they have a voice is because we give them one. Just ignore these people and maybe they will go away.

There is a Facebook group out there for this the bonfire. My favorite quote is as follows:

"So what if some one burns a book, it just makes them show their stupidity. It will not make you more or less christian or Muslim. We should all get together and burn our books together, and have a big laugh."

But when you have a religion where places on a map, words on a page, and the rigorous actions of the religion are more important than the people who worship in and outside of that religion, it is doubtful that any collective burning will happen, and one thing is certain. No one is laughing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Bad Samaritan

I live in the bible belt, as it is so affectionately called, and here in Dallas, it is tough to see how the reality of that translates into the actions of people in any way that is positive or an asset to the community at large. There are slews of examples of how that is true, and I am sure a few examples of how it isn't, but I have to say that as a believer, there is very little about my community of believers that I can be proud of that impacts the culture at large.

When we were in Colorado, we were coming down from the mountain pulling a rented pop up camper. My good friend Ben Canon was helping me get the rental back to it's owner, and as we were turning onto the street where the company was located, his wheel came off of his truck! We hit the ground, and saw the wheel spinning out of control and glazed the bumper of another car. Fortunately, that didn't happen while we were driving down the mountain! Over the next hour as we were waiting for the tow truck to pick us up in Colorado Springs, at least 10 people stopped to see if they could help, all friendly and eager. Some offered cell phones. One offered his shop around the corner. Others offered rides, car jacks, or an informed inspection of the damage.

Recently, my wife was on a walk here in Dallas with our two kids and her mom with a heart condition. She was in our neighborhood, and stepped of a curb and badly twisted her ankle. They were on the side of the road, no cell phone, and scores of people drove by without offering to help. Eventually two Hispanic ladies stopped and lent a hand.

The Samaritan is supposed to be all of us believers. We are the ones who should have hearts of compassion and the ability to both recognize a need and meet it, but here in the bible belt, while there are a few good Samaritans, I think that for the most part there are bad ones. I do realize that there are circumstances that surround our tendencies to drive on. We live in a city and watch the news, and isolated cases of violence force us to live our lives in fear, although pretty much every one of us, including myself have neither been a victim of or known someone who was a victim of a violent crime, but still many live their lives in fear that the person on the side of the road may be setting us up. So we would rather be cautious than compassionate, even if that is a mom, grandma, and two kids.

Now this is an identifier of Americans that continues to press us to make fear induced decisions that greatly affect others lives. We exhibit caution rather than compassion with the Cubans, Iraqis, the black families in South Dallas, the Hispanics in West Dallas, our neighbor with the lazy eye and a creepy demeanor, and the list goes on and on. Certainly the Good Samaritan could have let the fear overcome him and not stop to help. Culturally there was much of a divide between the Jew on the side of the road and the half blood that would eventually stop to help. That cultural divide is just as strong between the white Christian culture of Dallas and the rest of the city, but unlike the good Samaritan, we live our lives being paralyzed by what might happen, or how we might be treated, or how that person might be violent.

Another reason why we don't stop is far more sinister. It's because we are just too "busy." Our time is too important to help those who need it, so we make an excuse as to why it is just not possible to stop, say a quick prayer, and figure that someone else with time on their hands will stop. And the of course, let's dare not explore the fact that one might just be a self centered jerk and could care less about anyone else. Nope, we are good Christians.

This week, at the fellowship where I work, we are talking about suffering, and I find it almost humorous for us Americans to ever have the ability to relate to Christ's suffering, because we live our lives in such caution that we dare not allow suffering to take place. We isolate ourselves with other believers. We go for the college education and work a job that we hate so that we can pay our bills and acquire "stuff." We do not confront the injustices that exist in our backyard, much less across our planet, but we weekly attend our gatherings, have lunch with our small group, and live in ignorance of the fact that there are people truly suffering, of which we have no desire to share in. But Christ did just that. The foundations of the Church were built with blood, but we consider a bad economy suffering, or the loss of a job, or our kids smoking weed, or living paycheck to paycheck, but this is far from suffering. This is far from the reality of the world that we live in, and that person who is on the side of the road or asleep on the sidewalk in a 100 degree day could at that moment be experiencing a great deal of suffering that we will never understand in our late model air conditioned sedan that we got a great deal on.

I know that in our beautiful cathedrals where we listen to messages intended to encourage the whole rather than challenge the chosen, it is difficult to see beyond that culture and get our hands dirty with those that Christ COMMANDED us to love and take care of. Stopping for the mom who is stranded with her two kids is a ridiculously easy way to be about that commandment, but if we can't do something as simple as that, there is no way that we can be able to connect with God's suffering over the status of the world today, and truly make a difference in the lives of those who are victims of the things that we see on the news.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Christian Hyper-crite

As many of you know, I have been working on a book for a while about me growing up in Christian culture. It is probably one of a few thousand of these types of books as so many of my generation have began to look at Christian culture with a critical/cynical eye. I have been diving into some websites that muse on Christian culture, and although I found much of the comments there very funny, I slowly began to see a real disdain for Christian culture. For me, I have tried to differentiate between Christian culture and the Body of Christ. Not quite sure why at this point. Maybe it's because I think Christian culture is disconnected from the culture that God calls us to engage. It truly does seem to me that God has called us to go to the culture and build His kingdom, and instead we have went and built a culture and called it His kingdom where we rule and reign, and "give the glory to God" rather than truly being submitted to the Father, living in His family, and growing that family by His Spirit.

That is the really super spiritual reason for it. It's the reason that I use to impress others, but I think that there is another reason that is part of the darkness in my heart. It is the fact that I do not love my brothers and sisters well. I have heard so many people say that it is easier to love the lost than other Christians (which by the way, I think that many of these people are full of it. They don't really love anyone other than their shelter rescued dog and maybe their Starbucks coffee slinger). I typically nod my head in agreement, as though it was all those stupid Christian who just don't get it, and are just too difficult to deal with. They are the Christians that have made it difficult for us to engage our culture. They are the Christians that have made other people not think that we are hip or with it, or even that we are condescending, arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical. I think that there is a growing population in my generation that really scares me far more than the hypocrites. They are the hyper-critical individuals whose experiences drive their beliefs, and they have no real foundation of truth. They are a group of people who really love the lost, but really view the majority of the Body of Christ with disdain.

My friend Brady posted something a while back that has really stuck with me.  

"There’s far more authenticity in bad coffee, hard pews, and people of all generations who aren’t very cool and often aren’t very intellectual than there is in coffee shops, smartly-dressed people, and haughty lounges with only folks from one generation who think they know everything." - Paul T. McCain

I can't stop thinking about that quote. I can't stop the nagging feeling that there are far too many influences in my life that are slowly eroding my faith and my desire to connect with other believers. I used to frequently comment on a blog, and not too long ago left a comment about how I believe that one day, everyone will believe in God as we stand before him.  When we were in Colorado, we began saying the word pre-believer as a profession to that reality. Even as a profession of faith that those that we love that are lost will come to know the Father in this life, and that God would use us as the guide. God did use us as the guide.

When I mentioned this word, I was rather viciously attacked by someone who used to be a believer. I guess I can understand why such a statement would set her off, and wasn't too phased by her comment. What did take me back was the reaction by the blogger on the site. In truth, when I went back and read the comment, it could come across as arrogant and condescending. So I owned it and apologized, but the hits just kept coming. There was no reasoning, and that was compounded by the unbeliever, dare I say pre-believer, as she relentlessly attacked someone that she doesn't know. Now I am a big boy, and realize that in reality, there is no way that someone who has left their faith and myself will ever see eye to eye, but I just can't get over the bloggers comments. I can't get over how quickly that person would rush to the defense of someone who has rejected their faith and the Christ that we so love at the expense of a brother who may have been wrong, but came about it honestly, and something that was completely based in my beliefs for which I am extremely passionate.

In actuality, I wasn't wrong. Not in the least according to the theology of all those who believe, we will all stand before God and give an account of our lives, but the question is, in making that statement on this site, did I act in a way that was good, regardless if it was right nor not? Did I act in a way that was loving? Am I required to love someone on a blog site that I will never meet, will never have in my home, or will never have a real conversation with? And how is it that for so many believers, the truth has become unloving?

I think that we live in an age where Christianity is being forced to fit inside of people's, albeit broadening, world views. A growing number feel that scripture is a guide, but not absolute and inerrant. Many feel that based on their experiences, that they have arrived at a level of faith that is beyond all of those other Christians who relate to their Father through being in His scriptures, frequent intercession, and submitting to one another (and by one another, I mean other believers). Most believe that Christ is love, and if they can just love the people that they come in contact with, then that will be enough. This concept is very true in its foundations. Love is the key, and what plagues the modern church, in that so many are involved in a loveless relationship with their Father, other believers, and the lost, but I think that we are in a pendulum shift that is so common with our culture. We see it in politics in whom we elect, where one person is extremely one way, and then the next person is the polar opposite, as though somehow the opposite will make everything right. We have seen it time and time again in the Church as we have reacted to the culture around us and within.

Examples include the exclusionary tactics following the Scopes Monkey Trials, where Christian culture went into a preservation and defensive mode. We saw it though the 80's as so many prominent believers fell, and Christianity further cocooned itself to be protected by the onslaught of public scrutiny, but at the turn of the century, something changed. Christianity became more powerful. Fellowships became huge in numbers. Christians were getting people elected, steering public policy, and growing into an imperialistic corporate looking giants that many Christians, justifiably so in many instances, feel is not the heart of Christ. The pendulum shift from this age of Christianity has been that of cynicism and ridicule, as the fastest growing blog publications are geared towards "musings" in that culture. They feel that if they can distance themselves from this culture, that possibly they can become more affective in reaching the lost, or at the very least being more Christ like to others.

Not only do I understand that reaction.  I live it often. There are times when I have disdain at the waste and moral corruption in Christian culture. There are times when I look at some of these leaders on billboards with disgust, and rail against them as part of the reason why people aren't coming to Christ. It is true, much of the Body of Christ is dysfunctional, made up of believers who have fallen short, which includes every one of us, but we cannot remove ourselves from the Body because a portion of it is sick. If our human bodies acted like that, we couldn't survive a common cold. Rather than fighting against the portions of the body that are sick, we have to fight for those people, and that is where I have failed miserably.

It is easy for me to criticize on this blog, but not be fighting the real battle that is not against flesh and blood. It is easy to form opinions of these people, draw broad assumptions, and dismiss them rather than interceding, allowing the Holy Spirit to give light to the situation, and pray in faith, believing that the creator of the universe and the head of the Church can manage the affairs therein far better than my opinions. It is also extremely easy to educate myself based on the isogetical (forcing scripture to fit your world view) opinions of others rather than allowing the scriptures and the knowing of Jesus to be the foundation in my life that never moves.

It seems to me that many blogs, books, and movements in Christianity provide the fast food of Christianity. It looks and tastes amazing, but it has very little substance that is truly sustaining, and while it is at times a necessity to consume this type of information, if it is all we consume, then the damage done can be very difficult to reverse. So I am not saying get rid of your blog roll (shameless self promotion), but I am saying that in and of themselves, these blogs will not sustain you. Your small group will not sustain you. How much you serve and how much you worship will not sustain you. There is only one living water. There is only one Word that is fully nourishing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BJU, A University for U!

I ran across a Bob Jones University poster today, and had to share it with my friends in order to eliminate any talk that may be swirling around about the sexual innuendo in this poster.  I just don't see it. BJU is a beacon, and is above such ridicule! 

And now a message from our sponsors, Bob Jones University.

At BJU, we encourage you to come and go. At BJU, we expect you to Learn, Meet, Grow, Achieve, Impact, and then share your experience with the rest of the world. If you have any questions, feel free to call our toll free number, 1-800-BJ AND ME and speak to one of our receptionists.

Now that in no way should be misconstrued, and anyone who does is gutter minded. 

I wish you could see the fine print down at the bottom, which states that Bob Jones does not discriminate against race, color, age, sex, national origin, disability, or veteran status. That just goes to show that this university accepts all peoples and welcomes them with open arms,  unless you happen to be black, female, under the age of 18, and/or aren't from a nation that has white people in it. Notice that they didn't mention sexual orientation. Be forewarned, you will be discriminate against if you are gay, but you would expect that out of any upstanding Christian University. They do protect your veteran status though.  Now I hope that we can put all of this course talk to bed. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Protective Grill for a Snare Mic

I thought this was pretty funny.  This protective shield was deployed on the latest Rob Thomas tour. That should get it done!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Good job Pat! Now let's make it GREAT!!!

Dearest Patrick,

As always, thanks again for your insightful comments! It seems like these letter are becoming a common place, and it is great to see that we are able to scratch one another's backs with such ease. You really hammered God with this one, making him and his followers look mean spirited "I told you so's!" Home run on that one. Reminds me of Katrina. Although Ellen makes me laugh, the more people that think that God and Christians hate gays the better!

This is just a heads up. In the future, this is how I roll. If I am going to make a pact with someone, I do it with style. Range rovers, huge houses, fake boobs, and the like are typically part of the deal. I call it my platinum package. It doesn't take much convincing to get them to sign on that dotted line. People typically just want to get more and more, so I don't need the tyrannical French to make that happen. Truth is, I just cannot be associated with an 80% poverty rate. It's just bad for my street cred and hurts my bottom line. I am not saying that we need to discontinue this relationship. This is but a minor hiccup, and I am sure that you will be more cognizant of your misgivings in the future.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit up my cell, or you can visit the FAQ section of the website, and I do appreciate your subscription to access the premium content! Did you enjoy your "God Hates Chavez!" t-shirt and door mat? Those are still flying off the shelves.

Keep up the good work!


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