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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

#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!

#getonthefloor

April 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Faith is not easy.

But you already knew that.

I just found out.

I haven’t had any recent struggles with faith, and I haven’t doubted God as of late, which is how I confirm my conclusion. My faith in God is strong right now—I might say as strong as it has ever been. You all saw last week’s episode of #Hashtagfairytales, #thatssilly; in that episode, I affirmed my belief and faith in resurrection, the most paramount and silly of all Christian beliefs. It is in my strength that I find my weakness.

Because my faith is at its best, I can truly see how inadequate it is.

Sure I’m good in the belief department. You throw Biblical statements and doctrine at me and I’ll believe them left and right; and I’ll tell you why I do! I say a revised version of the #ApostlesCreed daily; I know what I believe. Mind you, I do not boast in my great faith, but in my lack thereof.

The complimentary statements in Romans 8:11 fully describe my inadequacy:

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

Dang it! I mean this same Spirit is in me; Yup! I believe that fer sure. But also give life to my mortal body? As in make my life abundant? Like not just make me alive, but make me really live? Seriously? I mean, this fella is in the business of raising people from the dead and I am supposed to believe he is also worried about giving ME a quality life? I mean I believe the words; who doesn’t? But that God cares about what job I have and what friends I hang out with seems a bit below his pay grade. It’s like asking Bill Gates to sell Microsoft Office software at Best Buy, or telling Kim Kardashian to…umm…well, she doesn’t really do much anyway, but you get the point.

Sometimes I feel like praying to God about little things like romantic relationships is a bit petty. God has a busy schedule; I saw Bruce Almighty. There are sick babies and people who have never had clean drinking water. Sometimes when I pray I am not sure I am expecting an answer. Not because HE can’t but because I think He just doesn’t care. (#transparency)

Not too long ago, I paid a visit to a friend’s apartment.  He lives on the 10th floor and given the abundance of my waistline, I typically take the elevator. As I stepped out of the elevator onto the tenth floor, I noticed something extremely dangerous.

I didn’t look down.

I just believed that the floor was there and that it would support me. Friends, I don’t feel comfortable sharing my weight, but let me say it is approximately 12 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models—or somewhere around there. I just believed that the floor would support me.

The floor doesn’t care. But God does.

The floor isn’t all powerful. But God is.

The floor doesn’t know any of my hearts desires. But God knows them all.

I wish I had as much faith in God as I have in the floor.

The philosopher commonly known by his gangsta rap name Mystikal once said, “Danger, get on the floor!” (#Y2K was a good year) I say the same thing; I need to get on God like I #getonthefloor. I mean to say, I need to just step out all undignified and just trust that He will support me. He will hold my weight. He will always be there. #getonthefloor and don’t look down! #hashheads the book of I Peter says it better than I ever could. Pete, take it away: “Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7

It’s just true. I am growing my friends; I am learning. I implore you all to take heed to this.  The finals you are stressing over and are studying for are not only your concern, but the are at the heart of the creator. Very God of Very God cares about what college you pick. Your job; He cares. Your wedding venue; He cares. Your small city; He cares.Your house in foreclosure; He cares. Your bank account; He cares. Your broken relationship; He cares. You; He cares.

Question: What do you care about? He cares too.

(Did I quote Mystikal and the apostle Peter in the same paragraph? Only on #HTFT!)

#thatssilly

April 6, 2012 1 comment

I want “the new iPad.” I’m sorry, I’m afraid that’s an understatement. What I mean is, I have called at least one Apple store every day for a week and checked the in-store availability online (give or take) 7 gazillion times per day (#nobigdeal). For those of you keeping track I did at one time own an iPad, which is why the #HTFT episode released on October 7, 2011 was #SentFromMyiPad. But that was a 1st generation iPad; I want the newest. I know what you’re thinking, #thatssilly. You are right, I mean one tablet is as good as another right? But the resolution of the screen is sooo cool; it has been dubbed as “Resolutionary” with 264 ppi (that’s #pixelsperinch for the #techspec lightweights)!  So I sold my old one and am in the market for the new one, but it is sold out everywhere. Now does it make sense that I’m so obsessed? No? You still say #thatssilly? So did I, that is, before I got my hands on it and decided that I needed it. Once I learned I needed it, it didn’t sound so silly.

But it isn’t just iPads.

Resurrection.

#thatssilly

I mean it is. Pure science tells you that resurrection is silly. At commencement, all things are in a state of decline. This applies to living things and non-living things. You buy the fruit and then they start going sour in the fridge. I’ll build the Ikea dresser, but it’s only a matter of time before #thingsfallapart (10 points to anyone who got the Chinua Achebe reference).  As soon as the baby is born he starts getting older and decomposing. Is this a dark outlook on life? Maybe, but it’s true. Death—we are taught—is inevitable, and once it is encountered, the story is over. Death is the end. It’s logic. It’s common sense. It’s science. It’s reasonable. It’s true. Call it what you will, it’s life.

So resurrection, #thatssilly.

I would agree. It’s obviously Easter season right now; on Easter Christians worldwide and across time have been celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we have clearly established resurrection is silly. But Christians just keep insisting that this Jesus is what the world needs; what I need and what you need. I don’t think I need to even say it but #hashheads, that is silly.

So then why do I want to see Jesus? Why do I long to see his face? Why do I believe this crazy thing? It’s kinda dumb isn’t it? I mean I don’t know if you have ever seen it put to words, but I believe this: A Jewish religious teacher who said he was the son of God, healed people, preached love and justice, became an enemy of the state, was killed in one of the worst ways possible, came back to life, and floated away into heaven. I really do believe that. That is crazy talk! Only an idiot would believe that right? It’s pure silliness. Before you exit this page because of sacrilege and blasphemy, I am not the first to say that, the first was Paul in a letter to the church of Corinth. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:18)

Friends, today many mourn the death of our savior, and on Sunday (#SPOILERALERT) they will rejoice in his resurrection. I have experienced the living Christ. So this message that would be foolishness, this message that I likely should look at and say, “#thatssilly;” it is the same message that I proclaim today right here on #Hashtagfairytales: Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Jesus Christ and him arisen. Once one’s soul needs Jesus, the message doesn’t sound so silly.

This post was inspired by a tweet from @MarcoAmbriz

(Did I just compare an iPad to the resurrected Son of God?!)

(Does the comparison make me justified in stalking the Apple store? No? Thought I’d try though.)

#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

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

(The first of the #BestofHTFT series! The top five posts #rehashed and here my friends, is number 5; #countdown. Enjoy!)

“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)

#saymyname

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

(It’s time for another Guest post by an original #hashhead! A very smart former schoolmate of mine, plus, she’s a woman! Give a warm #HTFT welcome to Elba Ruth M.)

“Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something.”                                                  

 – J. Butler                               

                 When did December become a giant migraine? As a kid, I always remember being so excited for December: school was coming to an imminent end and I was about to catch my parents sneak in presents from the mall (as I kept my fingers crossed in hopes they’d walk in with a KB Toy Store bag. Are they still even around? #recession) and pretend not to see them. And now what does December look like? A headache attempting to navigate presents that I still feel ethically okay with buying (which becomes more and more difficult every year), final papers, busier work schedule, etc… As with every end to every year, I’ve found myself doing a solid amount of reflecting over what a hectic year this has been, and asking the overarching, life-altering questions about the year. What has it looked like? Where has G-d shown up? Is it time to get my car’s oil changed? All very pressing questions.

                 One of the more prominent things I noticed as I climbed up the proverbial ladder of higher academia, this year was my realization as to how much I was not only loving the scholarly theological work I was doing, but I was becoming inextricably intertwined within it. Soon enough, a B- on a paper was not just a (hopefully) objective criticism of a research paper; it became a litmus test to my intelligence, preparedness, and ultimately my very person. I worked away happily for months researching, reading, and learning (okay, sometimes crying) in order to present my best work possible to the awaiting professor. It was difficult, but it was a joy. So how did I wind up crying for hours after receiving a “B-“ on my Augustine paper this summer? How did my soul become so weighed because of a letter grade? I could barely process the encouraging comments left by my professor because all I saw was a “B-.” The “A” was not there. I had expected it and I had failed.

                 Failure is a funny thing. I have never been good at it and I never know what to do with myself when confronted with it (you know, other than the aforementioned crying and reaching for the covers to hide underneath for just about an hour past #forever). Though I didn’t realize it at the time, what had occurred was that I was so wrapped up in finding validation through my school work that I had completely forgotten who I was besides that.

                 As a matter of fact, I am not a theologian. I am not an academic. I am not a student. I am not my job. I am not what pays my rent. I am a part of these things sure, but that is neither where I begin nor where I end. What I actually am is a human person that is loved by G-d and by the people I have been blessed to be called to. It is within this identity, knowing that I am a whole member of the Kingdom of G-d; within this identity that I live. We are invested in the real, true, and good work of exposing the already present (and arriving) Kingdom in our neighborhood. #nowandnotyet

                 It is these people that get to remind me of who I am when I forget—the people of the Kingdom. And I forget all the time. I forget that I am loved unconditionally, that I can fail and it’ll be more than fine (wasn’t there a #Switchfoot song about this?), and that mostly – I’m part of a much bigger work – often a work that I am wholly unaware of. As my friend @justinmcroberts said the other night, “There is a responsibility that comes with knowing who you are.” And sometimes we need that reminder from the people that know us the best and love us the most (mostly because they can weave through your #BS—and #ohmygoodness there is so much of it—and get to what really needs to be talked about).

                 I honestly don’t know how people survive without a strong family and church community around them. I am quite often completely confused as to what’s going on in my life (To apply for a doctorate program or not? What is G-d calling me to do? What should I have for lunch?). If it wasn’t for those friends at my church, (appropriately called #Shelter) I would probably live in a mountain somewhere attempting to hunt food with my bare hands (not too much of an exaggeration; but who am I kidding? I’d die within 2 hours) in order to get away from the “cruel, cruel world.” My people have kept me grounded more times than I could count. Whether it be one of my weekly existential crises or broken heart, I look back to who I have been told I am and walk freely within that identity (or… attempt to.)

                   So often, we throw ourselves out there in hopes of being told who we are: beautiful, unique, artistic, talented, intelligent, revolutionary, etc… and often we are crushed because we give perfect strangers (professors, cute guy/girl at the coffee shop, etc…) the incredible honor of informing us of our identity—we give them the incredible privilege of telling us our name. People shape us whether we know it or not. However, how transformative would it be to have an intentional community that we can go to for the TRUTH of who we are? I believe this is the heart of #discipleship. Jesus called his disciples by name, often giving them a whole new name, thus completely altering their identity, how they saw themselves, and the effect they had on the world around them. What if we found our identity in the same way and were named by the One whose name we can’t quite pin down.

                 People walk differently; see differently, once they really know who they are. The insecurities somehow fall away. All of those things that were so world shattering for so long (the bad grade, the lost job) are all of a sudden not so world shattering. You find that nothing much can touch you because you’re grounded in an unshakable truth that you don’t quite grasp, but maybe don’t need to fathom anyway (ironically, often this kind of truth often destabilizes everything else. However, that’s a blog post for another day). But when you find yourself in this place of truth, you look at the world knowing that their misguided labels of who you are don’t matter anymore; you’ve told your people to #saymyname and it is this identity that ultimately shapes your life.

                 As the holiday season ramps up and the end of the year 2011 reflections begin, may we resist defining ourselves by our culturally constructed societal role/paycheck and begin to ask the question, “What kind of person am I, who do I want to be, and how do I get to that place?” And with much guidance from the Spirit and wiser people, we hopefully begin to deconstruct and reconstruct who we want to be over and over and over again.

For more from Elba Ruth M. check out her weblog: Grace, Peace, and Other Thoughts and/or follow her on the Twitters @elbadactle

(JCH: #JiminyJillickers! I’m starting to like these Guest posts more and more! Plus we needed a woman’s touch around here!)

#sorryboutit

November 25, 2011 2 comments

#BlackFriday. Some of you all have loads of hot ticket items; the merchandise many have drooled over for weeks. Some of you have protested this day based on convictions concerning consumerism. Some of you are reeling from spending a whole 3 hours with family. But all of you—all of us—ought to take notice of one thing: It’s time for Christmas music! I have a rule that because Thanksgiving is overshadowed by and Christmas (as was pointed out by S.M. Acedo), Christmas ought to be held at bay as long as possible; and the best way to do that is by warding off the joyous music until the fourth Friday in November. I know we ought to keep the spirit of Christmas all year long, but the music needs to wait it’s turn!

Sure it sounds like a bit of a joke, but I’m serious. Also, let’s just go ahead and call out the #bigdawgs: The Christmas industry has kidnapped a prize jewel of the Thanksgiving holiday and claimed it as its own (however, I suppose kidnapping and claiming owned goods is the spirit of Thanksgiving). The prize jewel that I am talking about is the song Jingle Bells! That’s right #hashheads, that song was written to commemorate Turkey Day and Rudy the Reindeer and his cronies have hijacked it. It really makes me upset; it almost makes me want to say a naughty word. Which while inappropriate in general would be highly appropriate since this episode of #Hashtagfairytales—and this 3rd edition of the #illallowit series—is about cussing!

Bad words; naughty words; swears; cuss words; blue language; off-color; foul language; dirty words. Call them what you will the point is that they are taboo. Especially as Christians, we are not allowed to say those words. However some very good Christians may have said them at Wal-Mart or Best Buy this morning. But we can’t say them…at least out loud. I mean seriously, who of us can truly say we don’t occasionally—much less never have; whether aloud or under ones breath—let a swear cross the threshold of our lips? My grandmother and I used to used to argue on a regular basis; and when we did, I would usually make my grandmother extremely upset. In those moments, my grandmother would say a small prayer “God, help me not to hurt this child.” She would then follow-up by also asking the Lord to “keep a guard over her mouthgate.” I always thought that was just a saying that they used in Texas in the #oldendays until I thought about what it really meant: my grandmother was praying that she didn’t cuss me out! Let us examine why; shall we?

There are plenty of scriptures that address “corrupt speech:”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths” (Ephesians 4:29)

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil…” (I Peter 3:10)

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:10)

But here’s the rub: each of these verses go on to reference harming of the brethren with words. These scriptures have more to do with the destruction of the spirit than a potty mouth. Does that mean that these scriptures have nothing to say about those dirty words? No, these scriptures have tons to do with those words too; just not those words exclusively. The words—as being described by these passages—have meanings to them; they carry weight; they have a spirit to them. So, if I say, “Geez, that guy is a #dumbass,” I am sinning. I am sinning not because I said the ass word, but because I “cursed my brother” (my brother in this case being a fellow human being).

Let us remember, outside of this context these are all just words. Allow the point to be made: the word #shit is no more or less harmful than poop or crap; only more poignant. The words that we consider to be “swears” have a heavier tone to them; the tone is what separates these words from others. At this point allow me to say, this particular subject is not like the other two (#tobacco and #alcohol). I have partaken in profanity. I have said every #cussword in the proverbial book and have even said most of them in other languages thanks to my time playing on a soccer team. I had a struggle with profanity as well. I mean, I was slick so I never slipped up in front of a teacher, parent, or authority figure, but for a period of time, while around friends I could not stop swearing because I let it take a hold of me. Having said that, when it comes to #cusswords—and I say this with a large caveat—#illallowit.

Before all of you storm out in an uproar (supporting or condemning), hear me out. First I am not arguing that these words ought to be incorporated into everyday life; they shouldn’t. I think a person who uses profanity unattractive. Along the same lines as drunkenness, I believe that overt profanity shows a lack of maturity and intelligence. My argument is simply for not strictly viewing the words as taboo. I think that we as Christians ought to be familiar and comfortable (not necessarily approving, but comfortable) with “foul language” as it is the #linguafranca of the world. However, as I said, there is a bit of a concession here and it is in three parts. I said, that #illallowit, but only on one (three-part) condition.

First, take the power from them. As I said, there was a time when I couldn’t stop. I let those words become ingrained in my personhood. I could not describe something to my friends without using the word #damn. This is wrong and inappropriate. I might say that there was an unhealthy reliance on these words to get me through conversations. I thought the words would make me sound cool and let’s be honest, if I am doing ANYTHING because I think it’ll make me cooler, the motivation is skewed.

Second, take the weight from the words. Some words have weight attached; like the word #fuck (if you’re offended #sorryboutit), it has tons of weight automatically. It has the weight because we let it. Take the song “F**k You” by Cee Lo Green for instance, by use—and overuse—of the word, the song strips the word of its weight and power. It makes a joke of the word, and while I can see the danger in that also, I think if introduced to it responsibly the song will strip the weight as versus exacerbate it. I played the song for my mother—you know, the one who raised me holiness—and she allowed it because I wasn’t using the word, and its use around her was stripped of its weight.

Lastly, I would say use—and refrain from using—them wisely. There are times when these words are obviously inappropriate: at work, at church, in conversation with a stranger, at a formal gathering, when being pulled over by a policeman. But let us not forget the other times when they are even more inappropriate: when arguing with a loved one, when speaking to a child; anytime it has the ability to break a spirit or hurt someone. That is the point of the scriptures; these words ought not to be used to tear down. Remember, Peter had a filthy mouth. Let’s not be under the impression that if he fished for three hours without catching anything he would say the Aramaic version of dagnabit and be done, he’d be #cussingupastorm! Let’s not be under the impression that once he met Jesus he became perfection; let us not deceive ourselves to believe he became an immediate saint. Don’t start cussing on my account. But don’t be afraid if you let one slip. Don’t go and Netflix a George Carlin stand-up routine because of this episode, but don’t act awkward if you hear a bad word in passing.

It has been said that foul language is the last thing to go once one accepts Christ and the first to return when they are falling away. If so, I am #hellbound and I believe that my mode of transportation will be a hand-basket. But remember this: Jesus’ teachings said nothing of the words that are used, but the heart from which the things are spoken. So go ahead friends, censor yourselves, don’t call that guy a dumbass. But remember that Jesus said that you’re in danger for calling him even something as simple as a fool. Be not deceived. The words, mean nothing. Men look at the outer appearance (and listen to the words) but God looks at (and hears) the heart.

(I’m sure that this episode may cause some division amongst the #hashheads. Whoops. Also, Thank you Dustin Silva for the title.)

(30th Episode: Seems a bit unorthodox, but #thatjusthappened)