Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hulk Jesus

You remember in the bible when Jesus gets mad and completely wrecks the temple? Man, I love that part.

When I picture Jesus stomping through the temple, flipping tables and throwing stuff; it makes me happy. I mean this was one of the kindest, gentlest men that ever walked the face of the earth. He offered forgiveness to tax collectors, adulterers, and thieves. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead. However, when provoked, He would leave you with a big mess to clean up.

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible because of the scene that plays out in my head. I see Jesus tossing tables, chucking chairs, kicking pigeons, and smashing baskets. I picture Jesus crushing everything and looking like The Undertaker or Kimbo Slice while He does it. Sometimes I even imagine Him getting so angry He turns into a big, green superhuman. Then I have this awesome mental picture of a long-haired, bearded Hulk Jesus stomping around. He’s demolishing everything and the whole time Underoath is blasting in the background. And I love it.

I think its important to know what provokes Jesus to go on King Kong mode. So, what caused this beastly metamorphosis? Simply put, the temple had become a marketplace used for business and making money. Instead of being a house of prayer, Jesus said it was a “den of thieves.” Basically, the temple was now about something other than God, and He couldn’t stand it.

This isn’t the only time temples or churches have strayed from their purpose. Look at the 15th and 16th century Catholic church. Before Martin Luther went all “fight the man” on them, the Catholic church was absurd. They were charging people to enter cathedrals to see shrines of saints. They said pilgrimages were necessary for salvation, then of course, you had to pay the church to complete one. My personal favorite was the forgiveness of sins through indulgences. Basically, if you wanted to be forgiven of your sins, the church decided an amount of money, and you had to pay them that amount to be forgiven! Good business? Sure. Biblical? Not quit. Once again, God was pushed aside, and “religious men” tainted the church and its purpose.

So, here we are now in the 21st century. We can’t do anything about the way churches in the past were managed, but we can do something about the way they are now and the way they will be in the future. It’s up to us to make sure our churches have their priorities straight. We have to ensure that our churches money, time, and effort go to worthy causes. Is your church using its money to reach those who need help and need the gospel, or is it going to unnecessary furnishings and equipment? Is your church spending time making a difference in the community, or is it only concerned with the property it sits on? Is your church making an effort to “go into all the world” or is it waiting for the world to come to it? Is your church a house of prayer or a den of thieves?

The church will never be perfect. After all, it is operated by humans. But this is the key: if things aren’t right, do something about it. Be the rebel, the revolutionary, the Martin Luther. Sure, the religious people may not like it, but that’s okay. Jesus was a revolutionary and the Pharisees could not stand Him. They even wanted Him dead.

Arnold Bennett once said, “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” People will always resist change but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’s a job dirty enough to send Mike Rowe into early retirement but somebody’s got to do it. And you’re on the clock, so get to work.

We also have to remember: the church cannot be changed until we all first change as individuals. We can’t just sit here and blame “the church,” essentially, WE are “the church.” We need to get our priorities straight. We can’t get it right as a group, until we get it right as individuals. One of my favorite quotes is by Gandhi. He said, “We must become the change we wish to see.” Its so much more than just talking about the church changing, its about changing yourself.

If things aren’t right, be a part of the solution, not the problem. Don’t bow to needless traditions, break away from the nonsense. Become the change you want to see. It’s our responsibility and our duty to do so. How would Jesus react if He walked in a 21st century church? Would He be pleased or would He show off his therianthropy skills? How would He react if He walked in your church? Would He go on Hulk mode? Jesus clearly showed us that when the church becomes about something other than God, He gets angry…

"And you won’t like Him when He’s angry."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Christopher Columbus

Have you ever just wanted to run away? Have you ever felt as if you were trapped? Trapped by your circumstances? It’s a horrible feeling. I don’t want to be confined to where I am, I want there to be possibility. Hope for something more than I know.

I feel as if there’s some great opportunity out there for me, its just not where I am. It’s out there somewhere and I have to get it somehow. Sometimes I want to load up my life into a big ship and pull a Christopher Columbus. I just wanna go find myself a new world. Sure the world I know now isn’t all that bad, but everyone loves new. New is good. New isn’t old.

Herein lies a bit of a conflict. There's something better out there for me, but what do I do now? Do I wait for it to happen? Do I make it happen? Or maybe a little bit of both?

Imagine sitting down to listen to a song for the first time. You're there alone as the track begins. There's a piano and an acoustic guitar. A drum loop comes in after about 30 seconds and a smooth bass line drops with it. You sit and wait and listen for the words to come in. But they never do. Four minutes pass; still no words. The music is giving you a feeling but there's no words to direct your emotions or thoughts. The music begins to crescendo as if it were going somewhere. The new section of music begins; still no words. Only music.

This is just like life. Our soundtrack plays on and endless loop every day. There's music, but many times, no words. There's feeling and dynamics but no real meaning. Our life has no clear theme or subject matter. For many of us, life is just a big instrumental. Sure, there's music playing, but something is missing.

Our life needs to have a purpose, a reason, a meaning, a message, a theme. We can't just let the music play. So, what do we do now?

As a Christian, statements like, "Wait on God and His timing" and "Be still and know that He is God" and "God is going to open up doors for you in the future" have been drilled and embedded deeply into my brain. We have this notion that we can just do whatever we've done so far, and God will take care of the rest. We're under the impression that we can just sit back and "Let God be God." Really?

I don't feel like I should expect Him to do a majority of the work. I don't think God should take care of everything from here on out. No, sir. I'm going to do everything in my own power to get to my dreams. I'm not going to wait for them to magically appear in front of me. I'm going to search them out. God is not a chauffeur. You can't expect to just sit in the back seat and be driven to your destiny. At some point, you've got to take the wheel and trust He's guiding you along the way.

Let's decide to take the wheel. Let's not be content living to an instrumental everyday. Let's give our songs meaning. We don't need writers. We're not going to sing someone else's song. We got this.

It's up to you. You could be the next big hit. Start writing.

Ambivalent Associates

One thing I can’t stand is sarcasm. Not the kind that’s funny and makes you laugh. I hate the insecure variety of sarcasm. The kind that makes my stomach feel uneasy… like when I get seasick or watch ‘The View.’

Why is it that every time you do something your proud of and share it with people, there’s always at least one person that has to be a hater? They may not come right out and say, “Hi there, I’m a hater. I hate you.” but they don’t need to. They can simply reduce your hard work and passion to a malicious remark. They can demote your life’s purpose to a spiteful joke. They’re always good at it too. It disgusts me.

There’s two things about these kind of people that you need to know.

First, you need to know their reason. These people are provoked by insecurity, driven by jealousy, and guided by resentment. Where does a musician get a majority of his criticism? Other musicians. Where do painters get theirs? From other painters. See, if your successful at doing something and its getting you attention, someone with a similar interest (and most likely one who isn’t as successful as you) will always be motivated to despise you and your work. Really, they don’t even need to have similar interests. Sometimes it can just be that person who wants all the attention in the group. They have this innate need to be congratulated and praised. Then--like God in the Old Testament--they get all mad when someone else is getting praised and not them. Then--like the golden cows--they want us destroyed so they can be the only one that is commended. Well, you are not God and I don’t have shiny utters, so chill out.

Their jealousy will drive them to talk badly about you in an attempt to make others look at you as being less knowledgeable or inferior to them. Simply put; they are insecure. They see the inferiority and frailty within themselves. They realize that their own ability is but a Lunchables when compared to your smorgasbord of talent. They are worried that you are actually better than them and they can’t stand it! They want to be legit, but you make them look counterfeit. They want to be amazing, but you expose their mediocrity. The want to be the best, but you won’t let them. You’re awesome. They‘re not. No wonder they hate you.

Secondly, you need to know their purpose. This one is a little tricky because you’re actions and reactions decide they’re function in your life. If you dwell on their negativity and believe their hateful talk, you give them the power to hinder you. However, any control, authority, or influence they have over you is only given to them by you. So, just keep doing your thing. Move on. “If they hate, just let them hate, and watch the money pile up.”

Instead of letting these pessimists inhibit you, use them to strengthen your character and sharpen your skill. Everything that we consider to be of true greatness has had to overcome or face some sort of opposition. Einstein didn’t talk fluently until he was nine, failed his college entrance exam, had a hard time remembering his phone number and how to tie his shoes and is now deemed one of the most gifted minds in history. Helen Keller was blind and deaf and became an author, political activist, and college graduate. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team after try-outs and is now considered the greatest basketball player of all time. Franklin D. Roosevelt had polio and was crippled from the waist down but still is the only president to serve more than two terms in office and led an entire nation through the Great Depression and World War II. There’s also Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Oher, Susan B. Anthony, and many more.

Author Stephen Covey said it best when he wrote, “Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition - such as lifting weights - we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” With this being said, it is obvious that you can simply use those that oppose you for your benefit. If you use them right, they can take you farther than you ever could have gone yourself. Their purpose, is simply to accelerate you to your purpose.

If you want to do something; do it. Don’t let anyone stop you. This is your life, so take control of it. Go after your dreams now while you can. We’re given a limited amount of time. Don’t waste it. Know that if they are hating on you that probably means your doing good. If they’re hating on you that always means your getting better. Thomas Paine once said, “The harder the conflict; the more glorious the triumph.” Well said, Tom. Well said.


God has given us a lot. I mean, look around. He's given us this beautiful planet, friends that make us laugh, and the little things like the joy of popping bubble wrap and videos on YouTube of fat people falling. More importantly He's given us hope. If we choose to accept, He'll give us peace, joy, and love. He's given us freedom. He's given us a purpose. He has given us life.

We could go on forever and talk about all that God has given us, but I often think about one in particular: tomorrow. I am especially grateful for tomorrow.

Have you ever laid down in your room at the end of the day and just felt like that day was a waste? Like you didn't accomplish a singe thing? It's not the most comforting feeling. It feels good when your laying in your bed waiting to fall asleep and you look back on the day and think of things that made you laugh and things you achieved. However, it seems like most of the time you lay there and regret what you said to "her." You regret not studying for that exam. You're mad at yourself for spending all day on and Call of Duty instead of starting that 6 page paper thats due in 2 days. But this is why tomorrow is great.

Any given day can suck, but we can always look forward to a new one. A new one filled with new possibilities and better opportunities. No matter how much you think your life sucks, something could happen tomorrow that completely changes your life forever.Tomorrow you could finally get that job you've wanted. Tomorrow you could mend a relationship and make things right with a friend. Tomorrow you could do something for someone else that changes their life. Tomorrow you could make someones day better just by being you. Tomorrow you could finally meet that girl/guy that is going to love you for the rest of your life. Tomorrow's possibilities are marvelous and immeasurable.

When you lay down at night and think about how you screwed up something, hurt someone, or didn't accomplish anything... remember, we have another chance. Tomorrow brings with it a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh start. Every night I am content with the hope of a tomorrow that will change my world forever.

I hope you had a great day... but if not, sing along with little orphan Annie and know that tomorrow is always a day away.