Friday, September 28, 2012

Holy Bacon!

Bacon, it could be kosher!

High Holy Day

Yom Kippur came & went this week. It began on Monday night & ended Tuesday night. This is the high holy day in Jewish tradition, it is when the High Priest made atonement for the people according to Leviticus 16.

This is a sacred holiday which even the nominal Jews respect. It may be equated with the Christian Easter holiday. It certainly is a high point.

Radio Jews

I listen to sports radio. Sports radio is mostly run by Jewish men who take their faith fairly seriously, in word at least. For instance, on my way home from work last week, they had a very entertaining guest on for an interview. The guest was loose, the atmosphere was relaxed and they were making fantastic radio. Then, the guest chose to describe how frugal he was with his money by calling himself part Jewish. Needless to say, the conversation grew awkward & he was booted off the air. The host said, "You can't say that."

A few days later, a co-host was complaining that he was going to have to spend the whole day on Tuesday fasting. He was upset that he would not be allowed to eat anything & wanted to come into work to make the day pass quicker. However, he was bound by sabbatical rules against excessive work. The very next day, he tweeted that he was eating a bunch of bacon, no comment if it was kosher.

Hope for Hypocrisy

It appears that Christians are not the only hypocrites in the religious world. That should come as no surprise. Does it excuse our behavior? No. We should be a genuine people who do what they do for a real purpose. We should be educated & able to explain the significance in our rituals. Further, we should be consistent and live out our faith the same way in every situation we find ourselves in.

Sadly, it doesn't work out that way. I don't share this story to be anti-semetic, I use this anecdote as a mirror to my own life. Is there an area where I fail to lead a consistent life? I pray that I am sincere in everything I do.

More Reading

Ya, It's Kosher
Barking up the Wrong Tree
Exorcism of the Faith

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Green Eyed Chameleon

You know you wish you had one of these right now

Jealousy & Facebook

My wife & I have been talking about this for a while now. We have seen our share of Facebook-related drama in the last five-plus years. We have been accused of Facebook competition before (that stings pretty badly). At times, it has been so bad that we considered ending it all & committing Social Media Suicide.

Then again, I truly love the idea of remaining a few clicks away from loved ones. I love seeing pictures & reading interesting articles & being involved in other people's milestones. There's no way I'm throwing it all away any time soon.

So why did you write this?

Dear reader, that is exactly what I intend to answer in the proceeding paragraph. Last night, I read a fantastic blog post on this topic. The article is entitled: 5 Reasons I've Considered Dropping Facebook. You should read the post, it really is very good. The five reasons are as follows:
  1. Competition
  2. Quality Friends vs. Quantity Friends
  3. Facebook is not Reality
  4. Facebook: A Breeding Ground for Insecurity
  5. Lack of Tact
On a personal note, I was unable to finish reading that post before waking my wife & having her listen as I read aloud. It covered so many of the topics that we have been considering. Just look at this blog & search for the @VOne2012 posts. You'll see it has been a burden on our hearts for a while.

What's this I feel?

Most of those reasons have to do with jealousy & envy. The Bible has a ton of things to say about these two little elements. Go ahead, look up jealousy & then look up envy, you'll see!

Why does the Bible say so much about it? Probably because these feelings are natural. They are part of the human experience. We look around & build social bonds. This is how communities work, man looks to each other in order to decide what kinds of things are acceptable & what kinds of things are not. Our aspirations, for the most part, are developed by measuring our resources against people we know & then attempting to reach those goals.

The problem comes, not when we get those initial jealous pangs, but when we entertain them in our subconscious. That green-eyed monster has the uncanny ability to remain undetected while taking over the controls; disaster comes shortly thereafter.

The moral of the story is to be aware of your online activity & remember to use it wisely & intentionally.

More Reading

I Am the Other 9

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thorn of Humanity IV: Nightingale & the Rose

Thorn of Humanity -- Short Stories

As a continuation of the Thorn of Humanity series, I presented another illustration of the greatness of Christ as revealed by thorns in the short story of The Nightingale and the Rose.

The Nightingale and the Rose

This short story was written by Oscar Wilde, a Romantic writer from the late 19th century. In short, the nightingale overhears a young man's angst over a lady as he laments the fact that he has no chance to dance with her for lack of a red rose. Determined to facilitate true love, she sets out to find a red rose for the young man. After some searching, she finds a red rose bush. The only problem is that the bush is not flowering. In fact, the only way to get a red rose was to make one.

The nightingale must sing her most beautiful songs all night long with a thorn puncturing her breast. It is the blood that gives the red rose its color. The nightingale gives her life to create a rose for love.

Applied to Christ

Sacrificial love is the summation of Christ's mission on this earth. He took on the thorn of humanity & left it in the grave. Christ, whose life was like a beautiful love song, gave that life up for man. Granted, this story falls short in many ways towards the end, but it describes Christ's sacrificial love perfectly at this point. Consider the very definition of sacrificial love:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. -- John 15.13 NKJV

More Reading

Thorn of Humanity
Thorn of Humanity II
Thorn of Humanity III

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thorn of Humanity III: Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

An element from our discussion in Sunday School which I did not touch on in my previous post has to do with the Rose of Sharon, found in Song of Solomon 2.1-2:

am the rose of Sharon,And the lily of the valleys.Like a lily among thorns,So is my love among the daughters.-- NKJV

By Any Other Name

Consider the rose. The flower's beauty is unparalleled. The thorny stem will tear your flesh. In mathematical terms this reality would be described as R=F+T where: R=Rose, F=Flower & T=Thorn.

But what does this mean? The Beloved is describe as the Rose of Sharon. Considering that this description may be applicable to Christ, we can replace R with Christ. The flower (F), which its pure beauty & sweet, can be considered in divine terms. The thorn (T), as noted in earlier posts, refers to the effects of sin (the curse, specifically)--which is the human condition. Therefore, the Rose of Sharon Equation when applied to Christ looks like: C=D+H where: C=Christ, D=Divinity & H=Humanity.

Granted, this is only a WAY to look at this reality. Christ was not Divinity + Humanity. He was totally Divine while acquiring total Humanity. The Rose of Sharon is an elaborate metaphor to describe the real nature of Christ.

More Reading

Thorn of Humanity: An Interactive Presentation
Thorn of Humanity II: Sunday School Presentation

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thorn of Humanity II: Sunday School Presentation

La Corona

We used the first of John Donne's series of religious sonnets as a guide for a word study in scripture. The word we studied was "thorn."

However, before getting into the word study, we noted line 4 of the poem which reads as follows:
All changing unchanged Ancient of days.
That could be read one of two ways. 1) An unchangeable God is involved with & exerts influence in this world. 2) The unchangeable essence of the eternal God changed everything when He came into this world as a man. Either way you look at it, it is a profound thought.

What do Thorns describe?

Thorns, from a general overview of the scriptures which feature/mention thorns set forth the following   three overarching themes:

1. A curse

Upon the fall of man in Genesis, the immediate curse placed on man was the fact that he would have to contend with thorns & thistles as he works in the field to produce food. In addition, during Israel's conquest of Canaan, the curse for allowing their enemies to remain tended to sound something like they will become thorns in your side/eyes.

2. A Barrier

The thorny hedge was a deterrent to anyone who came upon it. The hedge said: Come this far & go no farther. Spiritually, the thorn says, You can come this close to God, but no closer. While a curse constitutes positive punishment, removing access to God is a negative punishment.

3. An Indicator

Clearly, physical thorns are not the most important players in this discussion. What is most important is the spiritual condition that they indicate. From a general survey of the scriptures containing both singular & plural versions of the term thorn, my class & I gathered the following description of the spiritual condition indicated by thorns:

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Sin
  • Infirmity
  • Futility
  • Worthlessness
  • Fodder for Fire
  • Enemy
  • Punishment
  • Ruin
  • Ugliness
  • Worry/Cares of the World
  • Immaturity
  • Destruction

The Greatest Indicator

Those indicators are very grim. They pain a hopeless picture of the human condition. However, there was one indicator, one description, one element of thorns that turns this discussion on it's head. Thorns are temporary. They do not last forever! Throughout scripture, thorns--while a nuisance & painful to touch--are easily dealt with: they are gathered & burned.

Our Lord dealt with our thorns. He dealt with them handily. Christ, when crowned with thorns, reversed the symbol of the original curse with another symbol of his own. He, the second Adam, successfully redeemed mankind & removed the barrier between us & God.

More Reading

Friday, September 14, 2012

It Just Don't Look Right

A Fashion Faux pas to say the least
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints

Ephesians 5:1-3 NASB 

No Place For It

Have you ever seen something that just doesn't look right? Maybe it doesn't look natural. Usually, these things can be spotted a mile away. 

Take, for instance, this shoe. Clearly, the elements of this shoe do not complement one another. It's a real hodge-podge of styles & colors. 

The same is true of the Christian. A Christian who is associated with immorality, impurity & greed is a mismatch. There is no room for it. Dan Roberts put it this way last Wednesday night:
These are the kinds of things that not only kill our testimony, but they lead people straight to hell. If we are making Gods testimony unreadable to those around us, then what we are doing is doubly wrong.
 Hypocrisy is a serious charge against the Church. It may hold no bearing on Christ, but it should definitely be a concern for His people. We need to look into the mirror of God's Word & make sure that our look backs up our talk.

More Reading

Veggie of Choice for Tasteless People
Revealing Something Marvelous
Godliness to Us

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking Hold of Eternal Life--Right Now

Godliness is the end, not a means

1 Timothy 6:12, 19
While studying for this message, I noticed the repeated phrase toward the end of 1 Timothy 6: take hold of eternal life.  It then struck me that this directive is in the present tense. This does not make sense if eternal life is some kind of prize achieved in the afterlife. However, knowing that Christ came to give us the abundant life (John 10:10) we should be living in a godly way now.

Godliness is what we should be pursuing. When we pursue godliness, it naturally follows that we are fleeing carnality. In a sense, God never asks us to remove something from our life--that would only leave us empty. What God does is place wholesome things in our lives which effectively push out the depriving things. That is why we never miss out on life when we follow after Christ, we are actually gaining more than we ever could imagine!

More Reading

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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