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#GoodFriday

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

I am grateful for the sacrifice of Christ.

That must be said.

What must also be said is that Christ’s death on the cross, while of infinite importance, is not the reason he came to earth—if of course you believe in this whole thing we call Christianity at all.

I don’t mean to promote non-belief in Christ, but I must acknowledge the truth of scripture. I Corinthians 1:18 calls “the message of the cross foolishness” to those who do not believe it. This is not a commentary or judgment on non-believers, but a wake-up call to Christians: Don’t go around trying to convert people; realize that it sounds like crazy talk to people until they’re ready to accept it (#Calvinists, please ignore that last sentence).

But if the cross (i.e. His death) isn’t the reason Jesus came, then what is? And what then is the message of the cross if not to tell people about it?

Jesus came not to die, but to live. If He came to die then He could have been a miscarriage and been done with it. Mary wouldn’t have had to go through labor, nor she and Joseph through raising the Child. Jesus came to preach the #Gospel. I don’t think that is a controversial thing to say; pretty standard. He even commissioned us to do the same.

But how many people have you mistakenly heard say that the gospel is “the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s all well and good, but that is hardly the gospel. How is it good news that some guy died a couple thousand years ago? Even if he did come back, so what? Besides, how could Jesus then preach the gospel (which Matthew 4:23 clearly says he did), if the gospel was his death? Imagine that:

“Hear ye, hear ye, I’m gonna die! Don’t you wanna be my friend now?!” –Jesus

No one’s going to follow that guy; no one wants to be “that guy!” So then what’s the gospel? That Jesus came to live. That’s what he preached and that’s what we should proclaim! The Lord and creator came to live, because He wants you to live; He created you to live. That is pretty good news!

So then, what is the message of the cross? All over time we tell people to look back to Calvary NOT because He came to die, but because He came to truly live and then gave it all up! When we look at the death of Christ in terms of the life of Christ the meaning is all the more crucial!

All over space and time (forgive me, I am a #DoctorWho fan), let it be said and truly believed that Jesus came to live and boy did He live. He laughed, cried, felt pain, learned, loved; He experienced the human condition!

So this #GoodFriday, take the time to look back 2,000 years on a Savior who came to live for you, and live with you! When you put it that way, this Friday IS pretty good!

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#in_dependence

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

(It’s my favorite time of the month where I shut up and you all get to read a REAL writer. That’s right, it’s #GuestPost time! Today’s comes from a loyal #hashhead called Emilio Bustos. You gotta see this…)

As I’ve continued to grow I’ve come to a realization: #independence is not what we think it is. My perusing around the interwebs and even the tube (and for you young folks, that’s that #retro thing called television…not YouTube) have called out a certain persona, theme, motto for independence: “I am what I want to be and what I want to do.” (Note: There is probably some more grandiose way of saying that, or even something to add to it, but I’ll stick with that for now.) So, why do I care? It boils down to pride and the status of being called independent. I will do what I want when I want if I want. I am my own master.

You may have an idea of where this is going and if you do, good, we’re on the same page, probably struggling through the issue of independence. And now for my daily dose of fun questions I ask of myself; what is independence? What makes me independent? Who am I independent of?

Well, as I ramble and blab on I hope you ask yourself the same questions. I am the product of a living couple who decided to get married and 3 years later have their first child, me. As any kid, I grew up, learned from my parents, depended on them, got in trouble, rebelled in my own way, learned my way didn’t work, and well, love my parents. I am currently 24 years old with no immediate plans of marriage or moving out. I don’t believe it to be my rite of passage just yet; I have so much to learn from both of my parents that I can’t see myself leaving the nest yet. Immature? I don’t think so, I think it displays the sense of maturity and relation I hope I have with God. He is in utter and complete control, I am dependent on Him.

So, why write this? There seems to be, as previously stated, a desire to be your own man (or woman if you’re not into that whole “Y Chromosome” thing). You want to do your own thing and not be accountable to anyone for your actions. This lifestyle, in my eyes, leads to nothing but chaos. And yes, I know #Joker would say, “The little thing about chaos…it’s fair.” But life in chaos is not life at all. Identity is not found in doing your own thing but in becoming subject to depending on another. It shows the best qualities in a person: humility, love, service, and so on. A seeking of being your own and doing your own without regard to others is simply pride. Pride ain’t no good… #yup.

The need to be your own is most realized when you are dependent on another (#dependonthat). It gives you a point of reference as to who you are and what you are doing. Now, who do you depend on to give you your identity? I put that trust in Christ, yeah, this may be the most preachy #HTFT so far, but I say, oh well… “speak what is in your heart” said the creator of said medium of thought and writing, and I believe I’ve done so.

I may have asked a lot more question that I answered… Good… maybe you can answer some and get back to me with a response. Well, closing my thoughts I point to the book of Joel, Chapter 2, verse 11… pretty much… one finds identity, purpose and meaning in being dependent of God. Dependence on Him is not cowardly or what have you… it produces might, valor, bravery. Paul says it best when he states: I can do what I want, but it ain’t all good for me… You have the freedom to be your own, but not always good for you. Live subject to God my friends.

In ending, my independence is not found in doing what I want or when I want to but having the self control to not do what I want when I want. I find my independence and freedom are best seen when I am in submission to, yes you guessed it, God and His will. Do I have the freedom to do as I please? Sure. Will I do as I please? Nope. My subjection to the sovereignty of God rests on His providence and good will… whatever He has for me is the better than what I could produce for myself. I find my independence: #in_dependence.

(JCH: This guy is the real deal huh? Emilio, how do you be so cool?)

Find out here:

Videos produced by Twelfth Wind (Emilio and the crew)- Arbol de Vida IDD

Find him on Tumblr- Emil

Follow him on the Twitters- @ebustos

#whereyouat

February 3, 2012 2 comments

This has been an #interesting week for me. You know when people say interesting, but they really don’t mean interesting they just use that word in a vague way? Yeah, this is one of those times. That is to say, I don’t know that my week was actually interesting, but I had a few conversations that really got me thinking. Monday, a few people from my church got together to discuss a book that we read concerning the way that people inside the church present the message of the Bible and the effect thereof on people outside the church. (For more information on the book feel free to email me.) I do not wish to belabor that topic, but it sparked some good conversation. The following evening, I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion about religion at Patten University using that viral spoken word video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” as a launching point. Stimulating discussion, we got a bit off track though, the group was talking about religion as a whole, but I wanted to talk about the sweet Hello Somebody watch that the guy had on—it seems he wears them in a few videos.

Nevertheless, all of this brought up an interesting point in my mind #hashheads: The church is not a comfortable place. I know this is not rocket science but as a Christian, it kind of bothers me that some people (both those familiar and unfamiliar with the church) find Christians to be—for lack of a better term—yucky! If you the reader do identify yourself as a Christian, you too should be put off by the fact that people think you’re yucky. If you do not identify yourself as a Christian, I’d love to buy you a coffee and pick your brain a little bit; for the coffee I’ll wear jeans, for the brain picking I’ll wear gloves (#brainsurgery). Seriously, I want to know why it is that church, religion and Christ are such turn-offs. I mean it could be the antiquated thinking, but there are many liberal Christians. Maybe the belief in the supernatural, but there are plenty “rationalists” in different churches. Or I suppose that the argument could be made that the hefty amount of doctrines, creeds, and beliefs could be daunting for the un-churched mind, but there are some extremely intelligent non-believers. Maybe their problem is with blogs by Christians that continuously make fun of the innocent Orange-American population (#SorrySnooki).

Let me say this, I do not want to suppose that #Hashtagfairytales will answer all questions—hell, I can’t say I’ll answer any definitively—but I do have ideas and I believe they are worth exploring. The gentleman in the video above unabashedly proclaims that he hates religion and loves Jesus, and I think he makes a ton of interesting points (none of which I can truly say are unfounded). Although I think the frame for his argument is a bit faulty. I believe that he uses phrases like “religion is the infection” and “as for religion, I resent it,” simply for the sensation that they cause in the religious world as well as the non-religious world. This can strike a chord for both Christians and non-Christians alike. He uses artistic license for which I am in full support, but I believe the correct frame for the argument is not “Religion vs. Jesus”—these two aren’t at odds—I believe what he is talking about is “Religion” vs. True religion (#notthejeans).

“Religion” is not very good. I think that it’s “religion” that people find yucky about Christians (Sorry for using technical terms like “yucky,” I guess I just use scholarly language). When I say “religion” herein, what I mean is religiousness or religiosity; that is to say being overtly pious or “holier.” Notice I did not say holy, God calls us to be holy and that we should strive for, but God never once asked us to be holier. Now some might read that and say, “Well duh!” But I mean that we are not meant to look at ourselves as holier. As part of my #FinishList, I want to lose 20 pounds. Because of this, I been hitting the gym with my boy Jocxan (do yourself a favor, don’t try to pronounce it). We went to Safeway afterwards one night and he got an item that I told him he shouldn’t get; his will won over what was best for him, but on the other hand, I didn’t get “naughty food” even though I wanted to. I did what was “right” and he did what was “wrong.” Because of this I felt good about myself, but to put it honestly, I felt better than Jocxan. “Religious” people don’t feel good about what they’re doing; they feel better than what they aren’t. Their concern is being proud of themselves that they did better. They are not concerned with feeling good because of who they’re being, they want to feel better because of who they aren’t.  Their call is not—in their minds—to be holy, but to be holier.

As for true religion (with an apparent and intentional lack of quotation marks), James 1:27 describes it better than I can: It is to look after the widows and orphans and not let one’s self be corrupted by the world. Corrupted by the world. That’s interesting. You might say, “Jacob, isnt that a call to be holier?” To you I’d say two things, first, you forgot an apostrophe, second no. Corrupted by the world; one of the world’s biggest corruption is pride, from it stems greed. My #BFF C.S. Lewis once said, pride is not concerned with having, but having more than the next guy. I say again, pride is not being holy, but being holier than the next guy. What worse corruption is there that an attempt to be holier? What say we get all radical and focus on looking after those in need. I know, too crazy to work; but a guy cam dream can’t he?

Friends, I think there is one huge thing that separates the unbeliever—or the casual believer—from connecting with God or the church or however you choose to put it: Christ is invisible. Think about it, the Bible even clearly says, the message of the cross is foolishness to unbelievers (I Corinthians 1:18). It all sounds so silly. “Let me get this straight, Some magician died 2000 years ago and he became a zombie who judges you? And you say the zombie talks to you? Well, I’m gonna go now…” of course it sounds silly, as it should. We are talking to this invisible guy. These people come to the church searching, looking for Jesus and what do they find sometimes? Nothing, an invisible guy.  They sound like an old Boost mobile Commercial and they look for Jesus saying #whereyouat?! (#vintage) But they cannot find him.

What if though He weren’t invisible? That’d be easy huh? It worked for doubting Thomas. What if—maybe they don’t see his whole body—what if they just got a glimpse? Many would probably believe wouldn’t they? We believe Christ is alive; people who are alive can be seen right? If Christ is alive then He ought to be able to be seen; He ought to show Himself! I think He’s tried, but there’s something in His way. Me. You. We are in His way. He tries to show Himself every day, but we won’t let Him. What if someone could from the corner of their eye catch a glimpse of Christ in Me? They’d believe forever. I am not trying to say that there are no Christians who allow Christ to shine through—far from it—but I am saying that if as many as carry the label also carried the Christ this world would be a different place. I do not look down my nose at anyone; what if I carried the Christ as much as I do all this talking about Him? What if I was who God is calling me to be? What if I answered the #whereyouat question and allowed the invisible Christ to be visible?

(#Interesting.)

#lovewinsbreh

June 10, 2011 4 comments

“Farewell Rob Bell. http://dsr.gd/fZqmd8

This is how thousands of people were introduced to the latest written work of Pastor @realrobbell of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI called, Love Wins. That quote was a tweet by Evangelical preacher @JohnPiper and the link is to a blog post by Justin Taylor entitled, “Rob Bell: Universalist.” What can be understood from Pipers tweet is that given the ideas embraced by Bell (which were presumed to be universalist), he can’t be part of the figurative evangelical circle anymore.

(Now I am sure that my true #hashheads could tell that this one was a bit deeper based solely on the mention of “evangelical” but we’re gonna try to have some fun with it too!)

This has been quite the little controversy in the evangelical world and as a young man who was raised in the conservative Holiness Pentecostal tradition I feel like I can chime in a bit on the topic. The full title of the book is Love Wins: A book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of every person who ever lived. This is what most of the controversy was based upon. Oh and by the way, all of the judgment calls were made before the book even hit shelves. That’s right; apparently #dontjudgeabookbyitscover only applies if the cover is agreeable. Most of those who cast judgment on the book did so before its release, and based their conclusions on the title and a short NOOMA style video Bell released.

Now call me old-fashioned, but I thought I would save my two cents until I had actually read the book, I finished it back in April, but I thought given the level of hoopla and hubbub about the book, #Hashtagfairytales would be a good place to discuss it (sorry for using technical terms like “hoopla and hubbub” it’s this darn Communication background); and so, I give you a few thoughts:

#whatthehellRobBell- This thought is included for two reasons, the first: I wanted to say “What the hell,” the second: many condemned this book believing that the subtitle (A book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of every person who ever lived) and the general tone suggest that there is no hell and everyone goes to heaven. Having read the book there is nothing that says that there is no hell. Bell discusses both heaven and hell before delving into any thoughts that could be confused for universalist and he affirms both heaven and hell as very real very true realities.

The only caveat here is that while he affirms them, he condemns the thought of them as simple future destinations for all of us. Heaven and hell are both very real now and later; it is as my New Testament professor would always tell us of Jesus’ teachings, “There is this feeling of ‘now and not yet!’” That is to say of heaven that IT is not what we ought to be concerned with (#HaroldCamping), but there are elements of this world that are both heavenly and important. Heaven—my friends—is not the “blessed hope,” Christ is. Getting to heaven ought not be our “escape plan,” but showing the living Christ our daily routine. Are we to say to this world, “So long and thanks for all the fish?” No, We are to work in this world to continue the work of He who sent us.

As for hell, can we truly say that there is nothing hellish about this life? Conservatively and traditionally speaking the term “Prince of the air” has referred to “ha-Satan” (Hebrew for “the adversary;” Traditionally called Satan [Bible Nerd shout out to Marquito]), and if we have said that there are both good and evil spiritual forces at work in this world then we must say that there are hellish elements about our world. That is not to say that heaven and hell do not exist, but it is to say that they are not so much places as they are realities about this life and the world to come. They transcend our physical earth and there’s no need to think of them as destinations.

#Letstalkabout…- One much softer accusation that has been cast in the direction of Rob Bell (preceding this discussion)is that he is not really “edgy” but he’s a sensationalist; what he says is nothing “out there,” he just says it in a catchy way, but at heart he is saying the same old stuff. Sure man, I’ll allow that. I would agree, Rob Bell is truly concerned about orthodoxy, and an orthodox Christian can’t also be Universalist. This book has less to do with ruffling feathers, shaking cages, pulling tails, and other strange but violent animal-related analogies, and more to do with starting the discussion. Love Wins is not an answer book, it is a book challenging its reader—regardless of their own convictions—to really look at the traditional views of heaven and hell. Let us challenge our preconceived notions and enter the discussion that’s been going on for thousands of years.

#Lovewinsbreh- I think one of the biggest problems with this book came in the misperception of the concept of Love Wins. The perception says that there is a wrestling ring (Step into my analogy won’t you?) and at the end of the match—because Love wins—Love has it’s arm raised high as the winner and on the opposite side of the ring is the loser, Justice. The perception was that the book would be Universalist and bad because love wins and justice loses. The thought was everyone goes to heaven because love wins and justice loses. Let me say though that this is not a correct analogy at all and it is certainly not one that Rob Bell has painted. Love and Justice are tag team partners; they are the tag team Champions. If Love wins, justice wins too. Bell paints a picture, not of a God who loves in spite of justice, but of a God that loves in, through, and because of His justice.

#justdoit- What then shall we say to these things? What is the conclusion of the matter? What can I take from the book? Well friends, I can tell you what I took; whether this was the point of the book or not, only Pastor Bell can say, but here is what I took. Every human being on the face of the earth, be they Catholic, Methodist, Mormon, Pentecostal, Baptist, boy, girl, Jewish, Muslim, Swedish, Hindu, Buddhist, or even—take a deep breath—atheists have value. Every last one of us has worth. We are worth something because God loves us; we are all loved by the God who created the heavens and the earth, and His love wins. Since we know that there is a love that wins somewhere off in the distance and in the future, we ought to pull that love into the now, and make it both now and not yet.

We need to make that love a part of who we are today. If and since we believe that God is in very essence love and He loves everyone, then we need to love everyone; escape, seclusion, and hate is not what God is about, He is about love. We don’t just kick people out of our little clubs and help circles because they don’t agree with us. Should I refuse to be kind, respect, or love a Muslim? Certainly not! I know that Love wins somewhere beyond space and time and it is my honor to love whenever I get the chance right here, right now!

#boomshakalaka

(btw, #hashheads love freely and laugh often)