Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Name

My family's always done some pretty different things. After two years of sending me to school as a child, my mom decided to homeschool me. Now, when I say, "I was homeschooled," people usually conjure up an image of a mom sitting with her children for 8 hours a day and teaching them as if it were a classroom. They come up with blindingly ingenious jokes like, "So, going to the store musta been like a field trip for you!" If I had a penny for every time I heard that, I could make a statue of myself out of all the copper.

No, my mom decided that I would learn to teach myself. She purchased my learning materials and expected me to go through them and have the knowledge down. Granted, she had to step in a lot when I was younger, but as I grew, I learned how to do things on my own.

Another thing? My parents were always big believers in the family unit. That's where everything started. This means that we did not live as individuals who simply lived under the same roof and ate at the same table. We did everything together. Especially vacations. My parents refused to go on these long "getaways" without me and my brother. If they "got away," it was with us. As a result of this ideology, we've been one of the most tight-knit families I've ever seen.

However, one of the more interesting things we did differently is that, in the past few years, we've repeatedly turned down movies that use the name Jesus Christ in a flippant, or derogatory manner.

"Oh, come on now, you're being legalistic."

Really? So you're telling me that I should watch movies that throw around the name of the Savior who bled and suffered for the glory of His name? You're telling me that it's OK to sit back and be "entertained" by people who think blaspheming the sacred name of Christ is a good way to get laughs? You're telling me that, for the sake of a "good story," it's all right to let some Godless actors pervert and abuse the name of the person who bought my freedom?

I'm sorry, but that's crap.

I've been reading through some Old Testament stuff lately, especially Leviticus, and I've noticed that every time God issues out a command, it follows this basic structure:

"In the land of Israel, My people shall ____________. I Am the Lord."

And you see this a lot. The Law was God's special, intimate gift to His people, and He chose to sign His name to almost every part of it. It was as if part of the gift was simply His name in and of itself. It is for this reason that the Jews would never say God's most precious name, "YHWH" out loud. When reading the Law, they would use the name, "Adonai," instead, for "YHWH" was too sacred to be said out loud. Granted, that's not what I'm suggesting, but simply get this one thing I'm trying to say:

If believers bear the name of God, it becomes their responsibility to make sure it is never perverted.

When telling Israel not to offer their children as sacrifices to the false god Molech, the warning for the man that does so is this, "I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name."

Hear me out. We, as a Christian culture, need to regain this idea of the weight carried in the name of God. Intrinsic in His Name is the vastness of the universe, the breath of life, the richness of creation, and the mass of absolute, unrelenting, infinitely self-sustaining glory.

And it is this name we bear, engraved in the very muscular fibers of our heart, animated with every beat and colored with every surge of blood.

Monday, June 25, 2012

RMP: I Need Ham

Jimmy Needham, that is. See what I did there? Eh? Eh? All righty... well, anyway.

Jimmy is pretty much one of my favorite musicians. Not only is his music on point, but his lyrics blow me away every time. He has a real skill for articulating on the matters that everyone thinks about, but never puts into words. And this is the song that made me discover this.

I have two bookmarks in my Bible. One is a New York Metro card. (It looks cool, trust me on this one, chief.) The other is just a piece of paper folded into thirds with some stuff written on it. One of the things are the words from this song:

And so I sit here and stare at this page and wonder
At what age it will become clear to me
So for now I am clueless to how You do this
And how You move this Spirit in me.
 It's always a reminder to me that God works how He wants, and that, in due time, He will be the Revealer of all truth.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Smell of Your Own Brand

As far as clothes go, I've had some some pretty weird tastes. As outlined in Charlie Chaplin and Conformity, my cane-hat-pocketwatch days lasted for a good amount of time. Then, something weird happened where if it wasn't a polo, I wasn't wearing it. Yeah. Not sure where that came from, but it is what it is. Sure, I had a short fling with Aeropostale and American Eagle, but doesn't every teenage white male? Anyways, then came the glorious years.

"What constitutes the glory years? High-priced fashion?"

Nope. Walmart. It was around this time that I discovered the white walmart v-neck. I couldn't get enough of them. I believe I had 10-15 of them - some for work, some for home, and some for hangin' out. However, my tastes slightly matured and I changed the solid whites up for some bright colors.

In all the years of going through these tastes, there's one thing I can say for sure. I was never huge on high-fallutin big brand names. Sure, I had a desire to dress well as I got older, but I would base what I wore off of how it looked, not the name that was stitched across the front. (Or the butt, you Hollister freaks.)

There is however, one brand that I associate myself with.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13)
Sure the name isn't super complicated or fancy-foreign. It's short, and many feel it's probably too cliche to be a solid brand name. But there it is. Love.

Somehow, it is this deeply intense love that is supposed to be as visible as a Louis Vuitton bag or Vera Wang heels. However, this brand stands out from the others. Instead of saying, "Hey, I'm rich and better than you," or "Hey, I dress better than you," it screams, "I would die for my brother, and I'd do the same for you."

It's impossible to miss. Just like you can't just walk by a Ferrari without taking note, this family-style love between believers grabs your eyeballs and demands your attention, because it's beautiful. Because it's moving. Because it's supernatural.

So, I have one question:

Do you like the smell of your own brand?

If something doesn't smell right to you, go fix it. Go fix the odor of gossip and rumors. Go fix the stench of broken trust. Go fix the rot of hatred between you and your father.

Let's start smelling clean and lookin' good, people.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

RMP: Jesus Blood Never Fails Me

The reality is that, when Christ took our disease of sin upon Himself, it looked something like this. To think that the God of the universe would step down and give His life for a people that only hated Him boggles me. I do not understand why, and I never will. To meditate on this vast outpouring of love is to bring praise, amazement, and wonder to the soul.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Anti-Guy

Dear Anti-Guy,

No one likes you. For real. Some people know you by names like "hipster," or "elitist," but I have much more simple moniker: you're a tool.

You have this knack for finding out what the majority vote is just so you can go against it. Your desire to listen to underground music so that you can eventually say, "I listened to them before they were cool," is one of the fastest ways you alienate the people you know. You troll your friends' Facebook status updates to come against the "mainstream culture" or "Western philosophies" that you so adamantly resist despite the fact that you exist with both of those as staples in your everyday life. You take every opportunity to act like you know something obscure or deep so that you can make yourself feel like you're an intellectual king.

I should ease up on that hatin', though, right? I mean, the only reason you are the way you are is probably because you feel like doing these things will get you respect, acceptance, praise, and love from people. Scratch that, it's probably just for the love. In any case, you're going about it all wrong. You don't need people to respect you in order to feel like you're worth something. You don't need their praise as a cheap imitation of the love you truly seek. And you definitely don't need anyone imperfect to fill the hole made for the Perfect Person to fit in.

In any case, if you truly want to be counter-cultural, get rid of the ironic cardigan and vintage shades, put on some real clothes, and take a cue from the Bible.
"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9)
"What? Letting go of the life that everyone has a death grip on?" Yup.
'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' (2 Cor. 12)
"Taking joy in weakness because it ultimately leads to strength? That can't be right." It is. And the Bible is chock-full of seemingly counter-intuitive ideals.


See, God is different. He said Himself, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways..." (Isaiah 55) You see, in His ultimate knowledge, God saw what the human mind would consider normal and decided, "No. My people will be different."

So for all of the intellectual snobbery and condescension, be a real man and have the guts to really go against the flow of modern culture - follow Jesus Christ.


-Believers Everywhere

Monday, June 11, 2012

RMP: Jenga

I gotta hand it to these guys. Their videos are amazazing (Yes, it has three syllables.) Anyways, the guys who make these videos have a channel called Ten2ndRule, which is essentially really short clips that illustrate parts of Scripture. They're usually funny and they're always interesting to watch.

So check it check it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hell's Kitchen and Buddhism

"Buddhism is different. It's all about meditation and peace."

I didn't know what to do. All of my supposed knowledge in the area of apologetics suddenly fell flat like a pancake you just dropped on the ground after trying to flip it in the pan like a pro, only to fail and realize that you'll never make it onto Hell's Kitchen (maybe into Heaven's, though). Despite the fact that I had read Ravi Zacharias' The Lotus and the Cross, my memory failed to serve up a tasty rebuttal to his claim that Buddhism was better than Christianity.
"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." (1 Peter 3)

The guy wasn't being a toolbag or antagonistic - he was genuinely seeking answers because most of the "Christians" in his life hadn't been able to give him any answers for some very real and tough questions. Granted, the time we spent talking about Buddhism was just a small piece of the conversation, and I was able to give him some answers that he was really interested in, but here's the point I'm getting at:

For the love of all that is holy, please put this verse to work.

I don't want to sound at all prideful or intellectually arrogant in addressing this, but we seem to live in a Christian culture that tells people that the answer to all of their questions is that they just "need to have faith." If I hear that phrase one more time, I'm gonna choke a squirrel. Now, of course, there are some things that require some great faith to accept and walk into, but how do you honestly justify saying something like that when someone asks you to prove that a loving God exists when their father died of brain cancer?

This is what we're dealing with. One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "Behind every question is a questioner." In other words, questions rarely come out of an emotional vaccuum, but are packed with all of the bitterness and rage of the tragedy of life. If that's the kind of thing we're coming up against in our conversations with non-believers, we better be ready.

Apologists like Ravi Zacharias, Paul Copan, and Stuart McAllister are excellent at "helping the believers think." So please, take advantage of the words of these people and arm yourself for battle.

RMP: Don't Just Witness

I usually have a lot to say for these RMP's, but today, I'm pretty positive that this video speaks for itself.

"I need you to stop telling me about this God of yours and show me who He really is."