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