Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Da Word... 242! Truth is tough

Tolerance, in this day, is pushed like crazy.  The unfortunate thing about tolerance is it tends to condone behavior or ideologies that are just plain wrong!  You know it, and I know it.  But for some reason, in the name of tolerance, we ought not to do anything about it.  But what is peace if the existence that allows peace is a lie? That is no existence.

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
- John 6:66

So my man J was at a synagogue in Capernaum.  He was teaching about seeking after food that can bring eternal life.  In other words, he began teaching more about he and the Father, and how the Father has promised to raise up all whom has been given the Son for the will of the Father is that none are lost who have been given.  Now while teaching, my man J says some things that are pretty hard to take.  Basically J is making some HUGE claims and stirring some you know what.  But J, at the same time, is being real.  He isn't sugar coating.  And as a result, people are grumbling, upset, and nearing offended.

It gets to a point where these kats just can't take it anymore.  It's a hard teaching to take because it also requires people to level up.  Not to mention, my man J didn't hesitate to say things that called some of them out.  He mentioned that though these people had seen miracles FIRST HAND, they STILL did not believe!  So in verse 66, we see that desertion begins to take place.

Here's the thing, if these disciples deserted their leader, one whose miracles they witnessed first hand no less, what makes us think we won't experience similar results in any endeavor that we might lead?  That's right, when we stand up for a particular cause, when we draw our lines in the sand, when we take up the path of reality and truth there will be those who defect.  Not only that, it may even give rise to opposition.  

As they say, it can be lonely at the top.  See, the person at the top doesn't have the luxury of tolerance.  To guide the ship, he or she must make hard decisions. But it shouldn't only be the person at the top.  Every single one of us should also look reality in the face and make those tough decisions.  What do you stand for and where do you stand?  Let it be known, in ways that are constructive.  We can't live in a bubble... there is no life in that.  So, burst that bad boy and get to livin'.  Yeah, it may hurt at times, but it also paves the way for the best of times.


   - patrick

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Da Word... 241! Got Idols?

For some reason, we have this tendency to fall in love with a thing and before you know it, we are consumed by that thing.  Did I say consumed?  No, I meant controlled or even fallen a slave to!  You know what I'm talking about, heh heh.

You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
- Paul (1 Cor. 12:2)

This chapter of Corinthians is focused on spiritual gifts.  However, this verse in particular, though written as an introduction, jumped out at a brutha.  Besides the sarcasm (the pointed description of "mute" idols, heh heh), it struck a chord.  See, Paul pointed out that somehow or other, people are influenced and/or led toward becoming infatuated with an idol.... and mute ones at that!  What possible sense does that make?  Worshipping some item... crafted by the hand of man no less... that can't even speak!  Why?

It's easy to get influenced, especially if we already have a proclivity towards a certain area.  In this day an age, with technology growing at an insane clip, there is always something new to dig our hands into.  Not to mention no shortage of product evangelizers.  It's no thing to try things out.  It is a thing, however, when we get addicted.  When we start paying more attention to some piece of technology, some tv show, or the latest threads than to our own well-being, we begin to develop idols in our lives.  If we aren't careful, those idols, those lifeless things, will begin to run our lives, reigning as master.  Pretty soon we may begin to neglect our very health or those relationships that mean the most to us.  And that... is jacked.

Did you know, work can be your idol?  If it's all consuming and all you do is eat, breathe, and sleep your work, that could be an issue my friend!  Life isn't about work and work alone.  It's hard to keep that perspective though since society is structured such that many large incentives are placed around the idea of work.  The supposed key to our livelihoods and standard of living are perceived to be intimately connected with work.  So it makes sense then to pour all we have into work.  But as is the case with all things, balance is key.  What does it profit a man that he gain the whole world but lose his very soul?

Let's keep the idols in check and pay careful attention to what we allow to influence us and lead us.  We are not meant to be slaves to things of our creation.  Keep first things first, invest in people and  your relationships.  But most of all, get to know Pops above.  Homie's got this insane way of helping a brutha maintain perspective ;-D


  - patrick

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Da Word... 240! Law or Faith?

You've got people who want to follow rules and regulations to the T, and then you've got people who are a little more relaxed and applying the law to where it is intended.   There are dangers on both sides.  The former tends to get EXTREMELY uptight, self-righteous, and dogmatic.  The latter tends to line step and potentially use the law only when it is convenient.  And when it's not, simply toss it.  How do faith and law interplay?

17 What I mean is this:  The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.  18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
- Paul (Galatians 3:17,18)

Here, my man Paul is discussing the promise Pops above made and the emergence of the law.  You see, Paul was a rules and regulations to the T person before da Christ knocked him off his horse, literally.  I mean he was one of them dogma followin' uber scholars and in fact hunted followers of the Way (those following the teachings of Christ).  But since his transformation, he became a champion of Christ.  And with that, and understanding of the bigger picture.

Paul, is awesome.  Very clever in his arguments.  Here he makes it painfully obvious that the law could not possibly be the path through which the promised inheritance would come!  It in no way could be the thing that imparted life, or could be a savior.  Why?  Cuz Pops above credited to Abraham righteousness!  And the law, heh heh, didn't appear until 430 years later when Pops gave it to Moses!  See, it was faith.  Why then was the law created?

The law came about to help us from falling off a cliff.  It was given as a guideline.  It was never intended to be the end all be all.  Life is about so much more than the law.  What God was promising was WAY MORE than some laws.  God was promising access to the mystery of life, the splendor of the universe.  But until that time, the law would help us move in that direction.  Paul states that the law was put in place to lead us to Christ. 

And what did Christ teach?  Homie was spittin' love, mercy, and grace.  See, Pops gives us life freely.  There is no way we can earn it.  We can't possibly do enough good things to get the reward.  No.  We're too flawed; there is no freaking way!  So instead, Pops just gives it to us.  And if we decide to head in the direction that Pops is going, we begin upon a journey that will blow our minds!  Focusing on the law only begets self-righteousness.  By instead focusing on loving one another and loving Pops above, we naturally do the things that the law states!  See, if we focus on the big picture, the goal, the community, the relationships,  we don't leave enough room in our minds for the bad stuff to grasp a toehold.  Faith is the key.  Where the law contradicts love and faith, love takes precedence.  Even Christ healed a cripple on the Sabbath (something supposedly against the law).

As iron sharpens iron, love your fellow man.  Seek to uplift.  Use the law as a guide.  Rely on faith. Trust Pops.


   - patrick

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Da Word... 239! Point of no return

Ever come across someone doing or acting in a way that just straight got you dumbfounded?  You know, you stand there, jaw about dropped to the floor, thinking, "How did this person ever come to the idea that this was okay? I mean, seriously?  Am I witnessing this right now?"  You're basically shell shocked and without words!  Now what if that which you just witnessed started to become the norm?  What then?

Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
- Romans 1:32

Watch out there now!  Imagine getting to the point where people have not only lost touch with where the line is, but are now encouraging and approving of habitual line steppin'!  That... is a bad place to be.  It's a tipping point.  And if that scale is tipped, it may become a point of no return.  The repercussions?  I don't even want to imagine....

In the verses previous, a very dark and scary atmosphere is depicted.  Here is just a brief picture: "filled with evil and greed... full of envy, murder, deceit..... are gossips and slanderers, insolent, arrogant and boastful;  they INVENT ways of doing evil.... are faithless, heartless, ruthless."   Now let me ask you, would you want to live in a community that espoused and praised these attributes?!   That is a scary place kid!  You can forget about honor and loyalty.  Any supposed "friend" would in any instant betray you and stick a knife in your back... thrice!  All these attributes are reminiscent of people becoming selfish and self-absorbed.  

There is at least one community I know that started going down this path, and that was Enron.  I saw a documentary probably about 7 weeks ago.  The change was gradual but, in hindsight, you could see it coming.  It started out pure, people with passion, ambition, and a vision to change the world.  But somewhere along the way, the original reasons for heading in that direction were perverted.  The culture became extremely competitive; incentives were in place to push forward and bring results.  And every year, the bottom  5% or 10% of performers got cut!  The goal simply became about being the best... and by any means necessary.  You should hear the recordings of the energy traders on Enron's trading floor.  These guys were manipulating the power grid simply to whipsaw prices and make tons of money on trades!  Meanwhile, real people on the other end were being affected.  And these guys were joking about shutting the power off on some grandma!  Made me sick!  

You see, what had happened was the line kept getting pushed, the line steppin' wasn't curbed, and eventually those practices became approved and even encouraged.  As a result, you were left with a community of faithless, heartless, and ruthless people who were willing to do anything to get ahead.  It moved beyond a point of no return.  It is our duty to keep this from happening on a widespread scale.  The message is getting mixed and it's getting harder for people to separate the chaff from the wheat. So let's do our part.  And it starts within our circles, within the communities we participate, the groups we start, and the companies we run.  Curb the steppin' and be a light.  Champion integrity.


   - patrick

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Da Word... 238! Being Exalted

In life we come across many types of people.  No two are really the same, and that's pretty kool and amazing! However, people do tend to fall into two classes: the self-absorbed, and the non-self-absorbed. It isn't black and white.  There is a continuum and the trick is in how one balances the two sides.  And depending on which side one is more heavy, different outcomes emerge.  Now, would you rather exalt yourself?  Or be exalted by others? And what kind of lesson are you prepared to learn? Cuz life will certainly play ball!

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
- Da Christ (Luke 18:14)

My man J, as you know, dropped parables left and right.  Good stuff and a great tool to convey truth and deep concepts.   This time he was contrasting the prayers of two people, a Pharisee and a Tax Collector.  Now you gotta understand, the Pharisees were like the uber scholars of the day, deeply religious and wielding some pretty decent power.  A tax collector, on the other hand, was considered to be bad people: they take your money and even charge more than they should just to take a cut!  And if you were a tax collector and a Jew... you can forget about it! You were lower than dirt!

So these two kats pray.  The Pharisee is all like, "Yo God, thank you that I ain't like other peeps - robbers, evildoers, you know the ilk -- or even like this tax collector.  Cuz you see, I fast twice a week and give a tenth of my off all I get."  Translation, "Yeah God, I am da shiznit."  Makes you wanna take this guy to the side and smack some sense into him, put him in his place!  The tax collector, on the other hand, prayed, "Hey Pops, have mercy on me."  He wasn't even standing loud and proud, and couldn't even bear to look towards the heavens!

The contrast is stark!  The second dude is obviously grounded, whereas the first is completely full of himself.  I mean come on, your talking to God!  And all he did was pump himself up?  Sheesh!  As if you, a mere man, can one-up Pops. Life will teach that kat a lesson, and it will be a hard one.  He "will be humbled".... scary.  If one exalts himself, the power of that exalting is pretty dismal.  But if one is instead exalted by others, man that has some weight!  If other people are talking about you with such amazing words, it means something! And if the same sentiment is echoed many people over.... wow.   And if that person is humble, the words of these others will be magnified many-fold.

The kat who realizes that all of his or her success is a blessing is the kat who will give back.  This is the person who will elevate the quality of life of those around him.  See, this person realizes that at any moment, anything can happen and he is in fact fortunate to be where he is.  As such, he will not think himself above anyone else.  And that, brethren and sistren, is powerful beyond measure.  So, on which side are you?


  - patrick

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Da Word... 237! Lighten up!

You know how some people are just stuck in a certain way of doing things?  And I mean STUCK!  Stuck in such a way that this person expects you to do things the same exact way he or she is doing it?  Yeah, ultra dogmatic types.  Sometimes you just gotta smile and nod, other times you kinda wanna smack that kat upside the head and say, "Yo! Chill out!"

Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?
- Paul (Acts 15:10)

Word.  The council of brothers were meeting at Jerusalem discussing the actions that need to be taken by gentiles (non-jews) who have come to faith.  Some believed they needed to be circumcised and start following all the other customs and rules handed down generation to generation since the days of Moses.  But my man Paul started working his verbal gymnastics again!  See Da Word 128! for some more context.   

The gist is this: lighten up! Paul attempted to make it pretty clear that if they would all just sit down and think for a moment, they would realize, "Hey, even WE have not been able to follow all the customs!  Not only that, we could hardly even bear it!"  So Paul's question is extremely valid, if we can't do a thing, AND we are the chosen people, how can we expect a Gentile to have a fighting chance!  Paul was in a sense imploring his brothers to be realistic, and to recall the whole point of da Christ coming and dying.  It was so that we stand a chance, and that by grace we'd be alright.   Not to stuff nearly unreachable standards down our throats.

The spiritual application is covered in Da Word 128!  How about practically?  For one, we need to learn to lighten up.  It's okay to have expectations, but if we expect others to abide by measures we ourselves either can't or have a very hard time, it's time to lighten up.  Life is a process and change takes time.  Growing together provides an avenue for each individual to grow stronger and gain the fortitude to kick it up a notch.  But staunch dogmatism is an enemy of relationship development, growth, and love extension.  So expect the best, and encourage one another to be the best that he or she can, but don't squash a brother or sister if one happens to slip. Instead, lend a hand.


  - patrick

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Da Word... 236! Time to Rise!

Ever feel that tug in your heart when you witness someone being done wrong?  It's like you want to standup and defend the cause of the victim, possibly even knock some serious sense into the perpetuator.  What about when you see a young child who hasn't much, if anything, to eat?  There's a tug no?  But how many times do we act on that tug....

...learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
- Isaiah 1:17

BOOM!  There it is!  Direct from the Word itself!  Actions rather than thoughts seem to be encouraged. And you know what's more?  The actions encouraged here aren't in the realm of "comfortable".  Nope!  I mean come on, seek justice!?  You know that's just asking for a fight.  Encourage the oppressed?  That actually means interacting with people who have been or are going through some potentially serious stuff!  And all the baggage comes along for the ride!  Ugh! Defending and pleading?!?  Whoa...

Yeah people!  It's work!  And it means stepping out of our nice comfy spaces into territory which we may not be very comfortable roaming about.  What makes it harder, especially in this day an age, is this culture of, "well, it's not really my problem, I should mind my own business."  But how about the flip side?  What if stepping in meant the saving of a life?  And by not stepping in, very serious consequences emerged?  Neither the world nor the status quo can be challenged and altered if we simply chill.  We cannot transform thoughts and conventional wisdom by remaining idle!

Tolerance is okay.  But like many things, it's only okay in moderation.  Too much tolerance breeds corruption.  In fact, it gives people the rope necessary to engage in activity we know is against everything in us that screams right.  It's time to rise, and no longer sit on the sidelines.  We need to act.  Instead of simply acknowledging that tug, we need to step up and do something about it.  You know what's great about doing something in these areas?  Areas of justice, the oppressed, orphans, and widows?  You do something that no one can take away from you, and a life is touched beyond what you may ever know.

So, what are you going to do the next time there's a tug at your heart?


  - patrick

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Da Word... 235! Accountable!?

And we're back!  Sorry for the hiatus there!  There's been a lot of shuffling going on.  Anyway, ever find yourself in a moment of decision where you have to decide whether or not to move your lips and warn someone -- whether or not it is any of your business to do so?  And only because you know that if that individual continues to pursue a course of action, it will only end up in disaster?  Yeah, I feel you. Sometimes it's tough in that moment.  What do you do?

When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die in his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.
- Ezekiel 33:8

Oh whoa whoa!  Wait a minute!  Is this saying that if I keep my mouth shut, I am accountable for the ill that may grasp ahold of that individual?  How is that fair?  .....interesting isn't it?  Pops above is speaking to Ezekiel here and just prior to this verse, He provided a pretty clear example of what He meant.  See, Pops was appointing Ezekiel as a watchman over the people.  Any watchman that sees danger coming, and blows his siren, is not accountable for any individual who loses his or her life for not heeding that siren.  BUT... if this watchman sees danger and does not blow his siren, he becomes accountable for every life lost.  All that blood is on his hands.

In the same way, if we see our fellow man engaged in or about to engage in activity which will bring him to ruin, it is our duty as brothers and sisters (as a fellow human!) to warn him!  Now what this person does with the warning is his or her own decision, but at least he or she is now in the know about the potential repercussions.  If, however, we merely sit by and watch someone go down a path of danger, we are potentially lower than dirt!  It is as if we ourselves dealt the killing blow!  I don't want that kinda blood on my hands... NO WAY.

So what do we do?  It's obvious in the extreme cases... speak up!  But what about the more tame cases?  You know, where it won't lead to a life or death situation?  That's where it gets even more interesting!  At this point, other factors come into play, many.  One question that might help is to ask yourself, "Would I like, or have liked, to be warned about this?"  Sometimes it is worth the ensuing drama, other times it is more important for an individual to learn by reaping the consequences.

What is the common idea in both those cases?  Thinking not of ourselves, but of the well-being of another.  That's right, it's thinking about more than just me.  For by doing so, I can have an impact in elevating the well-being of all people, which in turn elevates my own.  Yes, we are accountable for our fellow men and women.  Let's do right by them.  Let's get out of our bubbles and make an impact.


  - patrick