After A Fashion…

Chasing after fashion trends is something we Americans do like no one else! We go to great lengths to express our status and identity through any number of vehicles such as cars, clothing, and even our religion! One flagrant example of this fashion victim mentality I’ve noticed is the practice of young adolescent males wearing their jeans pulled down over their boxer shorts…

“What’s the harm in it”  I protested to myself…don’t you remember? You certainly had your share of “youthful quirks” that were certainly much worse!  Recently I’ve began to notice I felt the same about other fashion statements I saw happening around me and so I started digging for the common element ‘d offence. In my attempt to sort out my feelings regarding the latest hip-hop urban dress styles, the first thing I made note of was that I didn’t really care that the young black men did it. I realized that my annoyance instead had to do with the young white adolescents who were doing it. Upon further analysis I surmised that my feelings were a product of my disappointment with a people who because of some cultural funk deficit became imitators of those who they perceived to be flush with the fashion.

I decided to look up the root word of fashion which I understood to be “fash” and upon doing so was gratified to discover that it’s definition (please click the link) quite accurately described the overall effect all of this fashion had on me. Although it may not technically be the root of the word fashion I found myself intrigued at the insightful comparison’s it’s definition invited, I’m yet to be fully convinced there isn’t an actual connection between them somewhere.

How curious it is to me that the key to the success of any fashion trend lies in it’s ability to evoke strong and yet divergent reactions in people. It hardly matters if that reaction is one of love or hate, the only reaction it can’t abide is one of indifference. Controversy is critical to fashion! I can’t think of any truly great iconic fashion trend that didn’t divide people. Remember long hair? How about “mini and micro” short skirts? Another curiosity is that it’s typically young people who’re the most fertile ground for cultivating these phenomenon however I suspect that regardless of a persons age theres still an element of rebellion at the core of these behaviors.

Even the lack of what’s typically considered fashion is a fashion. Amish people wear clothes that they make themselves that are mostly blue and black, do they have to do that? No! They make pretty good money around here, and so I’m pretty sure they could afford to buy well made modest clothing but they simply choose not to, at least in part I believe,  so that they stand out from other people. All of this is done in the name of their religious beliefs and customs.

What about people who have incorporated Jewish traditions such as the observance of the festivals etc…into their Christian expression of faith? This is another topic I have feelings about similar to the other’s I’ve mentioned. In my research regarding this matter I talked to Jews, messianic Jews or Judeo-Christians and “Christians” who perhaps see themselves as being more Jewish than Christian, to gain their insights. I read some of the works of Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) who wrote some very specific homilies which I saw as being both enlightening and freightening. I was directed to the works of Stan Telchin, who somehow managed to inspire practically every Messianic Jewish Leader in this country to band together against him and the ideas expressed in his book entitled,

“Some Messianic Jews say: ‘Messianic Judaism is not Christianity.'”

A Loving Call To Unity

Starting with the title it was a bit confusing to me, But it seemed to clear quickly. Here’s an excerpt from the forward.

“It is true that if one is a Jew,then he or she cannot be a Gentile. And if one is a Gentile, he or she cannot be a Jew. But you can certainly be a Jew and a Christian at the same time. This is what I am!”

I think that somehow the answer to all my questions and the explanation of the root cause of my feelings on the subject lie within this statement.  Could it be that my unsettled feelings have to do with my perception of Christians who seemed more concerned with being “Torah observant” than they are with being Christ centered? I’ve no doubt that this is a far more complex issue than is the juxtaposition of someones trousers and their undergarments, but in another way perhaps it’s not. None of us can be what we aren’t, but whether the goal is simply to be cool posing as someone other than yourself, or to have a relationship with our heavenly Father, in either case theres no need for any act! All of us have the same access to the Father through Christ and we’re definitely not fooling Him! The most important thing that any of us can do is to know who we are in Christ instead of trying to be something other than we truly are or being someone else that’s an imitation, that’s merely…

After a fashion!

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The Problem…

In some ways it’s the height of comical irony that a culture such as ours so steeped in the worship and reverence of love could have it so wrong…

but it does.

It’s often confused with sex, perhaps as a result of the perception that it’s somehow inherently explained by the misleading commonly used expression

“make love”.

Sadly, many settle for the red-headed step-child of love “attention” primarily because we don’t really know the difference. Children, both young and old, act out in bad behaviors that are really just cries for help or for “love”.

It’s sometimes described as a feeling, but that’s kind of like saying Gods creation is God and then worshiping “it” instead of Him. We’re told that love is a choice, which is true, but how does that help us to make loving choices? We’re inundated with a constant flow of dis-functional concepts and examples from every possible source! Through the song lyrics that brainwash us daily all the way back to the fairytale stories that were read to us as children.

I feel very comfortable in saying that all of the most screwed up things that you and I have done in our lives are directly related to our misunderstanding of God and of love, and our search for both.

Almost invariably, mans search for love and his quest for the understanding of it are motivated only by his selfish desires to marshal it’s great power for his own purposes. Man has become a master at peddling illusions and perpetrating lies on his fellow man in order to get what he wants. One is seen as being successful in this life by demonstrating an ability to manipulate others and more importantly to convince themselves that it’s love that they’re offering. None of which would be possible apart from the basic ignorance about the true nature of love that’s so prevalent. We’re like blind people feeling around in the dark who are stung, bitten and burned as a result of working through a process of elimination hoping to find the real thing.

As unfortunate as ignorance is,there’s still cause for hope in that ignorance can be dealt with through simple knowledge. Whats most unfortunate are those of us who have allowed fear to take hold of our spirits. In acting out of fear we acknowledge our own personal insufficiency by believing that we are the source of our limited provision. We’ve been taught to look out for number one which is of course ourselves because if we don’t who will? certainly not a benevolent God, afterall, everyone knows that God helps those who help themselves right?. But in truth, God helps or comes to save those who absolutely cannot help or save themselves!

And that’s exactly the work I believe God is wanting to use His church to accomplish!

God Is Love!

As His representatives and ambassadors, disciples and followers, evangelist’s and ministers, church members and children, shouldn’t we have, based on our personal relationship with Jesus, a much greater familiarity with love than those who don’t or who aren’t any of those things?

Love is the answer!

Perhaps we as the church have forgotten that. We live in the midst of a world full of people who are crying out for answers, are we prepared to give them? Shouldn’t we be the ones teaching the world about love?  This world is a vineyard ripe for harvest, and the only real preparation necessary for us as Christians is to truly receive that love and those answers first ourselves! How can we say that we know the Lord, or that we’ve accepted Christ as our Savior, and then stand idly by in the presence of so much need in our own assigned area’s of mission field earth?

We’ve been given the perfect example of what love is in Christ.

I don’t think there’s any way that I personally could ever be thankful enough for what He did for me. If I really mean that, then what does it mean?

We need more than a “revival” what we need is a revolution! A love revolution…

And since love is an action word, a “verb”, that means we need to shift our focus away from merely talking about it week in and week out to one of making some thoughtful plans to implement it in some way scratch that, every way possible! I’m not talking about some token “feel good” project that doesn’t require much from us. What I’m suggesting here is that we work in earnest the great harvest that’s been prepared before us! Just as Christ held nothing back on our behalf, How can we do any less?

We can make the most of the opportunity before us by bringing everything we have to bear on this Kingdom battle for the souls of those around us who our Heavenly Father dearly loves!

Or we can listen to fear…

It’s a choice each of us has to make,there is no way to “abstain”

We can either choose to live in love or be imprisoned by fear.

We can choose to serve the One True God and His Kingdom…

Or be a slave to the one who opposed Him and who is also our enemy.

Is that a problem?


The “Real” Jesus

When asked about his taste in music, Ray Charles was once quoted as saying,

“There’s only two kinds of music, those kinds being good and bad”

and that’s a statement to which I wholeheartedly agree!

I’m not a big fan of most Christian music, sadly, like so many endeavors which are labeled as “Christian” it seems as though the quality of the products produced are lower than those of their secular counterparts. When people talk about books, music, movies or whatever which are produced by Christians inevitably you’ll hear their work patronized with statement’s such as

“It was pretty good, for a Christian writer,musician,comedian,etc…”

As if there’s an unspoken but well understood lower standard involved.

And that’s messed up…

I consider myself to be a fairly typical person, but then again perhaps I’m just caught up in my own “delusions of adequacy.”  I think perhaps a case could be made either way regarding me, but I digress. When I meet people I hope they notice something different about me, I would hope that they would perhaps feel loved in some way! I don’t wear a crucifix outside of my shirt for people to see or have a WWJD wrist bracelet on. If I’ve never met you before, I probably won’t ask you where you attend church within the first ten minutes of a conversation. Some people stress about sharing the gospel or “witnessing” as it’s called, but sometimes the most “Christ-like” thing we can do is just to listen to people.

When people meet me I don’t want them to see a stereotype, I want them to meet the real me.

I am a Christian, but I’m not “Ned Flanders”…(nothing against Ned)

I think that Jesus was a very real person!

Not only in a physical sense but also in terms of how He related to people out of a genuine love for them.

Throughout the bible Jesus’ personality is displayed in many ways. Some of my favorite examples are from His various confrontation’s with the scribes and pharisee’s. This one in particular speaks to me of His sense of humor in dealing with them.

Matthew 9:5

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

Jesus perceives their thoughts accusing Him of blasphemy after His forgiveness of sins. I can imagine Him being somewhat confounded by their attitudes, but His reaction is to love and teach them.  He begins by turning the question back on them by asking “whether is easier” which is actually rhetorical in that He knows they can’t truthfully say or do either. Jesus seems to be seeking counsel from these great scholars of the law while simultaneously proving Himself to be God and them to be fools!

Jesus, you crack me up!

Another of the more prevalent stereotypes of Christian people has to do with the idea that all of them are pacifists. The perception is of them being people who would never raise their voice in anger or resort to violence under any circumstances.  It doesn’t say in John’s gospel what if anything might of happened to Jesus that day as He traveled to Jerusalem to observe the passover but apparently,

“He was in no mood”

to discover what was going on in the temple that day…

John 2:14-15

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

During his lifetime here on earth Jesus was a real man with real feelings just like each of us! He had a sense of humor, He could feel pain and sorrow, He could even become angry! It’s a comfort to me to know that being a Christian doesn’t mean we should be always happy or always be serious and sad like the stereotypes portray. I just want to be the person God intended me to be, no more and certainly no less! Helping people do just that is something Jesus was very good at, He brought comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the comforted!

I think that it’s so important for Christian people to be “real”, and to not be perceived as being out of touch with the very real struggles that people they might meet are going through. Jesus had great compassion for people who were stuck in the “miry clay” of sin. He understood the temptation’s of this world and the depravity of mans soul that drives him to do something, even if it’s wrong, to fill that void in his heart. He didn’t judge people for having the need which I feel is a critical first step that’s necessary for people to be comfortable enough with us and to trust us enough to actually confide in us about the sin and spiritual needs in their lives so that we might have a “real” opportunity to share the real Jesus with them!