Thursday, July 19, 2012

OMG! Taboo: Tattoo!

I was introduced to the Christian faith as an obnoxious punk freshman in High School.
Mohawks, dirty jeans with sewn on patches, studded belts and drawn on tattoos is how I rolled … Looking back … I was such a poser, but I loved punk rock (not punk rawk).
The tense expressions of music, politics and art were appealing to me at that age, especially the music and the art … specifically the tattoos that draped over my favorite band members. Sometimes during class I would decorate my forearm with sharpie drawn amateur tattoo and purposely walk with my arm just a little turned out to show it off … Tattoos fascinated me.
My gracious parents were a little reluctant after I told them I was going to be doing some flash art pieces for a tattoo shop up the road … I found myself drawing sacred hearts of different styles, sailor style banners with scripture’s like “Philippians 1:21” and even old school rockabilly sparrows …
Needless to say, I wanted a few tattoos …
Although, this interest in punk music and tattoos, didn’t really go over well with the pastor of the church I was attending. He took me aside before service one day to tell me “the way you dress and you’re interests need to change. You’re showing disrespect for God and participating in things that are not Christ-like – read Leviticus 19:28” … I didn’t know what to say … he was the pastor … he knows God better than I do, heck I just started walking down that road.
I found myself rattled and insecure.
Almost 15 years later, I can look back and see that even though his intention of transformation was there, his reasoning of the Levitical Law
Leviticus 19:28 say (according to the ESV) “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord”
As a 21st century western cultured Christian looking at this verse … “cut your body for the dead” is a bit foreign to me, but “tattoo” … I know what that is! The only downfall to that is a cultural difference in understanding.
Quickly looking at the first part of the verse “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead”. This mandate to the Israelites was to warn them against pagan practices (all of Lev. 19 is just that) … Take the Amorites, they would cut themselves when someone passed in their community. Even for a king they would shave the hair around their ear and cut off a part, make various cut on the arms, mark the forehead and nose, and cut arrow patterns into their left hand. There is also some speculation that the tattoos were burns, charred markings. THESE were a pagan practices God did not want the Israelites to participate in … Regardless of the ancient practice of the rituals themselves, it was more the worship (positioning of the heart) that was weaved with the practices that God deemed idolatry. This “law” was then fulfilled in Christ and we are no longer held to Levitacal restraints.
… Moving on …
Much like the pastor that confronted me about my dress and interests, Paul encountered similar dichotomies in the Church of Rome … but with meat (kinda)
Rome was a little bit like the modern day United States. A melting pot of cultures and commerce, pagan/Christian practices.
The new, young church had an inner struggle. In the pagan temples the meat that was burned up for the sacrifices was given away. Some Christians believed it was wrong to eat the meat and abstained from eating it as to keep themselves “clean”, while the remaining Christians thought nothing more than “FREE MEAT!” and ate it.
Paul, aware of this inward feud, confronts both views in this manner;
Romans 14:6-8 ” Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God, and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. … If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord”
It’s about the believers conscience … as Paul continues in Romans 14:22-23 “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith and everything that does not come from faith is sin”
Lamens terms – If you’re convicted by it, stand by your conviction and don’t hold (judge) others to YOUR personal conviction.
Alright wrap up time … There is a large misunderstanding of application toward the Levitical Laws in today’s modern world. I mean how do we rationalize the applicable qualities of Leviticus 19:28 and not 19:26 (You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it – there goes my steak dinner) or 19:27 (You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard – of course we know beards are epic) …
It comes down to an eisegetical notion being assumed from generation to generation. The same type of notion Paul encounters in Rome and also in Corinth – but Paul’s invocation was that despite their opposite view points, don’t point fingers and regard yourself as more righteous … but realize that in this one body (the Church) there are many parts and each one does what does for the glory of God … It was co-existing in spite of varying convictions and regarding community and brotherhood as the bigger picture.
I have tattoos – but I don’t go to work in sleeveless shirts to show off my decorations. I’m aware that there are those who don’t think tattoos are Godly, and I respect that … So I cover up.
But for me, tattoos are like “painting the walls of the temple” (1 Cor 6:19)
I have a quarter sleeve piece on my left upper arm now, of Paul (Saul) on the road to Damascus, prepping to finish with David, mourning with his lyre and a future ¾ sleeve on my right arm Space/Earth/Ocean floor. These 3 pieces aren’t to glorify my appreciation for tattoos … but to echo “No matter who I am (Saul becoming Paul), No matter what I do (David mourning), No matter where I am (Space to ocean floor) … God is faithful to save, forgive and be near.
I have tattoos, and I have tattoos for the glory of God.
Until Next Time,

Monday, September 12, 2011

NOJ = Not Over Joyed

I'm not a mother, obviously. Nor am I a parent, but I am a son ... and I know that look, tone and disfigurement that MY mom used to get when I was irritating the mess out of her. That "I swear if you keep pushing I'm going to straight up bite you in half" kinda look.
I think I might have spotted that look about 1000 times this past weekend.
No I wasn't trapped on an island with my mother, I was at Night Of Joy. The disfigured faces, with the scowl and crooked finger, weren't donning the wicked witch outfits either ... they were employees ... disfigured from the thousands of tyrant like youth groups ... and I don't blame them ... I might have worn the mask that night a few times myself.

My wife and I were in line, surrounded by teens and their leaders. We know from past experiences what to expect on the NOJ nights ... so we weren't surprised. Like a pack of hybrid banshee parrots, they square off. One youth group against another, their love for "Jesus" and then throwing the challenge back "how about you?!" ... and then the random yelling of something that solidified that they were some sort of parrot hybrid ... "Hello!! ... HELLO!!". Then, as if on queue, the pushing started. Some of the older, more mature youth decided the line wasn't moving at the pace they were used to. Needless to say ... I put that mask on. As we approached the cast member in charge of placing us in our designated areas ... I could tell he was wearing the mask ... the cast member who instructed us on how NOT to ride the ride ... wore the mask as well ... Even the cast member who really just pushed the button to start the ride ... you guessed it ... masked

I knew this would happen ...
It happens every year (that I know of).
The forcefully rude and belligerent hybrid banshee/parrots have ruined Night Of Joy

But should I take this rant to focus on the undisciplined, out-of-control pubescent miniature adults? ...... or their leaders?

By the end of the last NOJ night, Tobymac was on stage singing about "Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city" and all that was running through my already embarrassed, fully frustrated mind is ... "'Frustrate them like Jesus' might be the slogan for next year"

Now let me clarify. This animosity isn't directed at the hordes of rambunctious kids, I was one ... I know how it is.
It's directed towards their leaders.

It feels as if, in the last few years, "Leadership" and "Christianity" have interwoven themselves ... Even though I don't think they should (which is a blog in and of itself) nonetheless it needs to be recognized. If in this trend of "building better leaders", we should see better leaders.
Forgive me if I'm folding bad leaders in with great leaders but, I did not see 1 real good leader of the said "rambunctious kids" at NOJ.
From Space Mountain to The Haunted Mansion, you couldn't escape that "scowled" face from the "Most Magical of Employees" ... They were literally screaming at kids to "Stay in their seats, Keep your hands in the boat, please don't throw things, no yelling in line please" ...

Where are their leaders?
Setting an example for them, showing them discipline, exuding a Christ-like respect and servant attitude to those who are SERVING THEM?

To put it bluntly, I don't think Paul when saying "I become all things to all people, that I might win some" was giving leaders permission to "become like rambunctious, disrespectful youth groupers that you might win some" ... because I'm sure based on whatever I saw at NOJ, you didn't win any ... if anything you irritated them into the opposite direction.

Bottom line is this.
Leaders, step up and take care of your youth group.
Parents, don't expect your leaders to carry all the weight.
Take care of the testimony you carry.
Take care of those who are serving you.

Keep in mind that even though it's expected at the "Christian Night"
That thousands of hybrid banshee parrots are attending and will likely be ... well ... you know.
It doesn't need to go without good leadership.

Until Next Time,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Top 5 Post-Summer Songs

I was debating doing a blog like this, but I really like music and love to share it even more.
If you asked my wife about my music selections, she might use words like "erratic" "anarchical" ... which I don't mind.
So forgive me if the styles jumble like a bag of Chex Mix ...

Alright, song #5 I was flipping through a friends Spotify playlist when I saw this band. Cute name, I thought ... the song was hooky, interesting, pop but just enough off center to make me love it
Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

Moving on to #4!
When I first listened through the song, I had to fight not to think ... "Did Switchfoot just rip of Lenny Kravitz?" But this song grew and grew on my critical musical mind. "I been to hell and back again" caught me ... I thought ... oh yeah, this is going to be good ... and I was right.
Switchfoot - Dark Horses

So that brings us to the hump of the list, song #3
This song was actually a bit of a surprise for me ... Don't get me wrong, I have an soft spot in my heart for bands like Two Door Cinema Club, MGMT, Bat For Lashes, M83, Caribou ... but I hadn't really ever heard of Strange Talk, but again thanks to Spotify ... I have now added it my fav's
Strange Talk - Climbing Walls

Song #2 is relatively easy ... HUGE NTB fan.
I think it's safe to say I have what some people might call a "man crush" on the boys ... but nonetheless ... from the "Soon To Melt Your Face Off" album "The Reckoning" enjoy :)
Needtobreathe - Drive All Night

This is where the difficulty set in ...
Since before "Parachutes" I've loved me some Coldplay ... So when I heard "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" ... I leaked a little ... it was so good ... but so was "Major Minus" (another song an a small EP) ... there was one difficult decision. There was yet another one in the wings. Mat Kearney dropped a new album called "Young Love" ... like a moth to a vintage dress in a womans closet ... I snatched it up and fell head over heals for "Ships in the Night" So, 2 #1's ...
Coldplay - Ever Teardrop is a Waterfall

Mat Kearney - Ships in the Night

AH! SO GOOD!! I hope you enjoyed this little tid bit of musical expression ... If you have any you'd like to share feel free to comment!

Until Next Time

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do We Want Depth, Or Shallow Hugs

I started this by scripting out ways Christian music could be better, but it came across pompous and arrogant ... not my intention. BUT, in typing, I felt this needed to be said at least.

In the last few years, there has been a trend in Christian music/song-writing, a cuddly trend ... a "this is a boyfriend/God" song ... kinda trend. An "I'm only going to graze the idea of an emotion" kinda trend.

Not that those songs aren't good songs ... but some sing as if they were the cutest love song of a boy and girl, that playful, flirtatious beginning of a relationship ... then like that bad aftertaste of something sweet ... they throw the word "Lord" or "God" or "Jesus" in there, just to add another JPM (Jesus Per Minute) point ... It's ok to be a Christian/Singer/Song-writer and have a love song about the opposite sex ... truly ... actually I wish there were more.

On the flip side of the coin ...

I was driving to the gym 2 days ago and heard Mat Kearney's song "Down" come on the radio ... "He lit a cigarette felt in on his lip, Driving home on a long road with regret" sang vulnerably through my car speakers. 2 thoughts went through my head 1. GREAT story-telling ... like a painter with words. 2. It will never get the respect it deserves as a song, it should, it's catchy, great musically-lyrically, but because it has the phrase "He lit a cigarette" in it.

I can hear the Christian Culture ... "Why does he have to smoke, that just ruined the story"

In all honesty, I wish the lyric was "He smoked a PACK of cigarettes" ... Kearney is attempting to paint a story of an angst ridden, soon-to-be father ... what would you rather him use? "He chewed his fingernails?" "He paced back and forth?" ... I don't think those lines paint the angst you can feel in the song.

If you find yourself uncomfortable with a song that positions it's character smoking a cigarette, while he ponders the weight of becoming a father in the world ... yet not see the Gospels promise as the chorus screams " WE ALL NEED FORGIVENESS" ... you might not want music at all ... but an audible "gee ... you're swell"

I would love it, if Christian music were bold enough to sing about doubts, mistakes,  wanting to dance (either romantically or on "da dance flow", real-life "I'm on the verge of being a Christian" kind of songs ... the modern version of Paul's use of pagan poetry on the Mount. I want nothing more than to see an emboldened Christian Culture reaching out, with a Christian perspective/world view, into the areas of sex, drugs, rock & roll, adultery, slander, doubt, remorse, dancing, clubbing, ect. Christian music didn't accept Christ as it's Lord and Savior. As far as I know Christian music was never in Sin and needed a Savior ... Christian music doesn't need to worry about the doctrine of total depravity or the perseverance of the saints ... it's music.

Or maybe you're ok with the "God is my boyfriend" songs ... maybe you're ok with the sideways shallow hugs ...

Until Next Time,

P.S. Enjoy the song

Friday, March 11, 2011

Global Coverage Vs. Out of Sight/Out of Mind


Anytime you turn on the television and see suffering of any kind, it breaks your heart (even if we've become desensitized to it)
This morning everyone woke up to the news that Japan was hit but a surge Tsunami and devastated the coast. Millions/Billions of dollars to rebuild, estimated 60 lives were lost in the impact (so far) and the world is sending out their prayers in the form of national aid and #hashtag prayers.

We need to pray for Japan, we need to pray that God will graciously give his peace to the families of those who have lost their loved ones. But seeing (via Twitter) all of the reoccurring themes of "heartbroken" "devastation" "tragedy" with the hashtags of #prayforjapan ... got to me. Like I've already typed "We need to pray for Japan" ... but knowing what I know, and understanding what the majority of us, as the "fortunate", are aware of ... I've come to the conclusion ... if it doesn't exist on the National/Global/Facebook Coverage ... we won't care as much, unless we really invest.

My heart really does break for Japan, even a single life loss ... sucks, sincerely, and there are an estimated 90+ lives lost. But putting the numbers and prevent-ability of the statistics ... I find this:

Acording to, over 22,000 children die every day from preventable diseases (1 child every 4 seconds, 15 children every minute) released the statistic 25,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger related causes (according to the United Nations
USAID a Government funded organization posted 5,000 people die a day from AIDS

According to the statistics on hunger, the devastation of the Japanese Tsunami would be equal to a Tsunami happening 300 consecutive days to amount to the deaths caused by hunger (which is preventable) .. in one day.

I'm not trying to be insensitive, truly, only attempting to put things into perspective ... Global coverage breeds a "fad" like concern, without investment.
If we are going to invest in something ... we need to invest in the betterment of man kind ... overall ... not just what appears on the News more frequently

We, as a society, can indeed impact the world ... but only if we truly invest in the betterment of man kind ... that means find the things that are "Out of Sight/Out of Mind"
and pursuing the development of the 52,000 lives that will die today, with only the 3 statistics I've mentioned ...

Pray for Japan, pray for God's peace ... but more so ... Pray for those who don't have the privileged of Global Coverage

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

X-MAS ...

It seems nowadays that saying “Xmas” either makes you a rabid secularist or at least a sub-Christian who, like the atheists, want to take Christ out of “Christ”-

Let’s get a little history lesson in real quick: (you can find most of this information on the internet. Ie:, amongst others … but I urge you to research it for yourself)

For at least the last thousand years, “X” has been used as an abbreviation for Christ, far surpassing the breadth of time the modern usage of “Xmas”. Actually “Christ” was written a number of ways “XP” (Chi Rho) and also “XT”. The dating of these particular christograms are difficult but there are some references in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles (which are historical accounts of the Anglo Saxons written in Old English) that date back to the early 1000’s. The “XP” that we widely see used in modern Orthodox denominations as well as Catholicism, Episcopalians as well as others, is called the “Labarum” and are the “x” and “p” letters of “ΙΧΘΥΣ”, the Greek word for “Christ”

The “X” has also been cited as being used in terms “Xtian” and “Xtianity”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary as early as 1485. In many New Testament manuscripts and Greek images X was used as various titles for Jesus and is still viewed as a symbol of Christ and used as chrismons.

In 1436 Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press and as such, the tedious and expensive typesetting, led him to use the Greek symbol as the abbreviation for the church. Even Webster’s dictionary acknowledges that the abbreviation Xmas was in common use by the middle of the sixteenth century.

Only within the last century has the idea of “Xmas” taking “Christ” out of Christmas, become widespread. It’s only because of rising fears of secularization and wrong ideas about separation from worldliness, that the urban myth of “Xmas” being a removal of Christ still exists. In 1977, the Governor of New Hampshire issued a press release stating that journalists should cease taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas” as “Xmas” was a pagan spelling of Christmas. Perhaps he should have run that press release by a religious scholar before issuing it. Like anything, if we continue to be under educated about things, and because of our ignorance develop fear or separation … we then begin to lose the attachment to what Christmas really is … the celebration of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of the Faith during Advent, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.

Until Next Time

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stuffed Apples a la - yogurt


2 large McIntosh or Empire apples, cored (keep the "meat" of the apple separate)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup instant oatmeal (maple works great)
5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup water

Cut the top of the apple off, at the stem. Gut the apple, removing the "core pieces" and set the apple "meat" aside. Continue gutting the apple until all thats left is a shell of the apple skin. Finely dice apple parts, while mixing in the ground cinnamon and instant oatmeal and water. Heat the current ingredients until the instant oatmeal is well cooked and "bubbling" ... add brown sugar and raisins. Take the concoction and add to the apple shell .... TOP WITH VANILLA YOGURT!! .... enjoy :)

Until Next Time,