Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Smorgasbord

Smorgasbord (Photo credit: toastforbrekkie)

We are not on the planet to focus our lives on whatever hobby, sporting event, music venue or shopping event massages our personal interest. But that is how most of us live. We have to work but just wait for the evening or weekend-it’s ours. But then, how do you think Jesus woke up every day? What was he thinking about? Oh, but that’s Jesus and he had a much larger agenda than we do.

When our diet consists of whatever we want , the result is often measureable, but is more likely very subtle. Physically  it shows up quite easily but internally it may take years to notice.

The cost to really follow Jesus is huge because it reaches into the way we think about the use of our time, how we spend our resources, where we live and more. But to settle for what we want to do, or how we want to spend our money or… means we are forfeiting everything God intended for us when he started the whole deal.

John 10:10 speaks about a thief who comes to kill and ruin everything. His focus is you and me. He tricks us with the facade of thinking we are a disciple when we show up at Christian events or by our cleaning up our language when we are there. He convinces us with “you can’t have pure thoughts all the time.” He trains our ears to hear the never ending message of a culture focused on the exact opposite of God’s never changing purpose for us.

“Debit or credit” the thief says. It doesn’t matter. It removes us from using our time and resources for what only matters.

It costs a church to make disciples but the cost not to raise up disciples who make disciples may look good from the size of the building or crowd but the culture yawns with complete disinterest.

Look at the rest of John 10:10, To do it Jesus’ way results in life better than we could ever imagine. But don’t forget Mark 8:36 and 10:17-31-a smorgasbord to remember.

A small group of people in a Bible discussion group are looking at some stuff Jesus said or what the practice of the early church was. They knew that to take Jesus at his word or believe the church was totally on target was going to alter their lifestyle both individually and as a church. So what did they do? Each one began to make suggestions about what Jesus probably meant. It became clear that no one was ready to take Jesus at his word or believe the early church could be a

Rationalizing...

Rationalizing… (Photo credit: gregoryperez)

model for how to do church today.

Slowly over the years we have deliberately minimized or explained away those aspects of following Jesus that disrupt the way we want to live or practice doing church with others. In so doing, we have depreciated what Jesus was all about. In our bent to be comfortable, we do not tolerate anything that is difficult or makes us think. Besides, we don’t know any of our friends who live like this. I mean, it is one thing to be a Christian but this is the 21st century and we have to make Jesus’ hard words fit into this culture. Really?

Does culture explain the gospel or does the gospel interpret what is right or wrong about cultureIn John 6 Jesus is intent on people knowing what he is after. He is coloring outside of their box and he doesn’t care if some are going to bail. He makes no compromises as to what a disciple (follower) is to be, what they are to do and how they are to live. Almost everyone leaves and Jesus watches them walk away. Some probably ran.

And the early church…check out Acts 4:32-35. How do we change this mark of the church to fit our lifestyle? When was the last time you saw this consistently happening?

Whatever else this all means, one thing is certain-Jesus underscores the simplicity of following him while reminding us of the cost.

Italian Job

Italian Job (Photo credit: kenjonbro)

If you saw the movie you know how wicked fast those mini’s raced through the crowded streets to escape with enough gold to open a few thousand bank accounts. There was no time to think or focus on the beach you would be laying down on later and how you would roast some shrimp and lobster with a friend.

Recently, I had an opportunity to be involved in the sequel to the original movie. Racing through traffic with 4 other vehicles, dodging dogs, cars, horses and a few people while not stopping for any red lights or glancing in a side mirror for about 20 minutes did not allow me the opportunity to think about a quiet time with Jesus. Survival was the only thought.

While that experience was out of the ordinary, our pace of life can often mimic it. And there is no real justification for the breakneck pace we become trapped in on an almost daily basis. There is an exit from this pace of life but most miss it.

Knowing the point of why God left us on this planet and consistently focusing on it will keep us from the destructive lifestyle of busyness. Mark 3:14 reveals that Jesus wants us to be with him and John 15:7 adds that he wants us to stretch out on the couch with him and enjoy the relationship with him he intended. This is not a new Apple product, it has been around a while. Just think about Hosea 6:6-“I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” The Message.

What one thing will you do this week to slow your pace of life in order to spend more quality time with Jesus?

“It was just one taste”, “I was only there for a minute”, “I was  only window shopping”…and there are many other innocent ways of saying that we never intended to get trapped in the deadly pull of the culture’s distorted view of how life is to be lived. will the I Phone 6 be the last or will the  numbers keep on going? Every new phone, tablet or computer will be enhanced with features that make it really impossible to live without. Or that is what will be audibly and visually communicated to us every day.

And what about sin? We have curled up on the couch with it and it is as normal to us as going to the fridge for a coke or a beer. Compromise begins in “little” ways and we don’t recognize the changes that begin to happen to us. We’ve bought into a system that has a flawed design that sucks the life out of us.

The author of the lie does not just tickle us; he comes to eat us alive. Check out 1 Peter 5:8. And a paraphrase of 1 John 2:15 and 16 goes something like this: “I have the right to do what I want to do, have what I want to have and be who I want to be.” To think like this will pull us away from God’s best for us.

The giant magnet!

The giant magnet! (Photo credit: indigo -)

I was sitting in our living room and decided to open the blinds. Our apartment overlooks a lake on about 250 acres of a wildlife refuge. In a matter of a few minutes one of the two bald eagles dove from a tree and sped along the water at about two feet. Then it was back to the tree. But next the juvenile eagle comes and repeats the lesson. They did this twice. What if I had not opened the blinds?

Jesus’ revolutionary perspective on life often clashes with the accepted American or Christian practices. We can easily keep the blinds closed and not take a hard look at what will bring us freedom and a joy in doing and not rationalizing what he said. Jesus was known for saying “you have heard it said, but I say…” These statements introduce us to a very radical challenge. Take for example Matthew 5:27,28 or 33-37 and then there is the suffocating old law of “hate your enemies” and Jesus’ “I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies” in verses 43-48. His take on leadership in Matthew 20:26-28 is also refreshing.

Are you willing to open the blinds and act on what you see?

Perspective gourmande ~ Greedy Perspective

Perspective gourmande ~ Greedy Perspective (Photo credit: twiga269 ॐ FEMEN)

It’s not a movie, a video game or some clever title of a mission that we could come up with. It is our worst nightmare, our war from the day we first struggled for life and our greatest opportunity to participate in something that is beyond any adventure we could ever imagine. Pick up the story in Matthew 3 where Jesus walks into the lives of various onlookers. The heat is turned on in chapter 4 as our enemy crafts three desperate plots to gain the upper hand. He knows who Jesus is. “If you are…” could be translated “Since you are…” The enemy knows what’s at stake.

Jesus begins to unmask the evil in the religious life of his day as well as the culture owned by the enemy. He equips a few with the “zero dark thirty” strategy that will weaken the strongholds the enemy has cleverly introduced into life over the years. He has completed the final act on an ordinary cross and those he has equipped are prepared and then he leaves them staring into space. Look at John 17:4 & 6 along with Acts 1:6-11. The enemy will continue to fight but his defeat is certain.

The real issue for us is the role we have in this ongoing drama. Some are not aware there is a war going on at all. Just drive through a neighborhood and admire the large houses, sweet cars in the driveways and steaks grilling on the deck. But then there was the high school kid who shot another kid, and the girl who overdosed and who could forget what happened after that party. Are we aware and are we participating with Jesus in unveiling the enemy and helping our friends understand the point of life? Remember we volunteered for this war.

2 Timothy 2:3 &  4 in the “Word on the Street” version says “…trained combat teams don’t get sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life. No, the only thing that counts is the nod of approval from their officer in charge.”

The Last Enemy (autobiography)

The Last Enemy (autobiography) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lamborghini Aventador was revealed at the ...

The Lamborghini Aventador was revealed at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show: http://www.autoviva.com/lamborghini_aventador_lp_700_4/version/30376 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We may not work at our job seven days a week, but in our fast paced culture we manage to almost completely fill up the rest of the days with projects that are stealing something more valuable from us than we can imagine.

Most of us don’t know how to slow down, and to stop is really way too our of the box for us. We can’t imagine taking several hours each week to just think, take a leisurely walk or drive, or put on scuba gear to examine a world we rarely experience. Out dictionary is getting smaller because amazement and overwhelming wonder are disappearing from our experience. We simply don’t have time to be challenged by God to consider what he has done in our world.

When we speed through life in Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 style why should we be surprised that we are ready to punt life several times each week. Our worship is dramatically affected when we don’t take time to experience God through what he spent at least six days putting together.

We might as well get some scissors and cut out Psalm 8:3-9 and 46:10. We simply don’t have time to deal with this.

Why not look for something every week that causes you to stop, stare and think or causes you to drop to your knees. Don’t take these words out of your dictionary.

Noise or distractions-we don’t want them and don’t need them but they are everywhere. So let’s drive to Denver and buy some of those Bose head phones to eliminate noise or any distraction. Last Friday we drove to south Denver from Loveland which is normally an hour drive. The noise from traffic and the thousands of distractions and more than one accident on I-25 left us almost wishing we were on a tractor in the middle of a 1 million acre farm in eastern Colorado.

But you can’t usually find that farm and you have to make trips to IKEA even when it is south Denver. So, how do you keep the noise and distractions at bay in everyday life? Noise and distractions are thieves that rob us of the life God intended. We need Bose head phones or…something else.

What is it that will allow us to focus on what really matters in the midst of the noise and distractions that surround us? Psalm 46:10 is not only a challenge but also an essential lifestyle decision we must make in our world of fast pace everything.

What are you willing to change in order to live free from the ever pursuing marketing schemes of the enemy to provide everything that never satisfies? For extra credit check out Luke 10:38-42; 12:14-21 and Colossians 3:1-2.

Bose retail store located in Century City, LA, USA

Bose retail store located in Century City, LA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are born in a river, then grow up in the ocean and then do something that makes you wonder. Why are they swimming up river in the last act of their life cycle? What the spank are they thinking? They know exactly what they are doing. I suppose if you could ask them as they make this weird trip “why are you going upstream, none of the other fish are going in this direction”, would they even answer? What they know and will not be talked out of is that they are about to lay many eggs from which maybe 10 adult salmon will survive. After that, their life is over.

If God is leading you in a direction that your friends and churches are questioning and are not willing to go, don’t hesitate to go with passion when you know it is right. Jesus modeled life that most religious types were not willing to follow. They opposed him. He knew the outcome of what he was doing.

Mark 9:35  A different direction on Leadership

Luke 5: 15,16  Dealing with Success

John 12:23-25  The ultimate “What are you thinking?” question …and answer

“He’s such a popular guy, everyone likes him, I can’t wait until he gets here, and the jokes he tells…”-quote seen  in the Jerusalem Post  in  AD 32. Wait, who are they talking about? “This guy has to be stopped, he is ruining everything we have tried to build and he discredits our tradition…and us, look who he is hanging with now.” Now, who said this?

One thing is certain-Jesus was loved or hated. There was no middle ground. He never allowed that. He cared too much for those looking for a way out of the multiple jails they had been put into by the religious people of their day as well as what life had dictated. They knew he didn’t approve of their lifestyle but he always showed up at “happy hour” to be with them.

To make an impact with people outside of the Christian sub-culture we are going to have to be embedded in the culture of the world. This does not include compromise but rather association.

Take a peek at Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:39; 19:5-7. Do you need to change anything in your routine to follow Jesus in this aspect of life?