Feeds:
Posts
Comments

And what are we doing?

The world's top 7 military budgets, in billions.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Did you know?: It’s been estimated that ending extreme world poverty would cost $174 billion per year. And, it would cost only between $5 and $21 billion to put an end to the world water crisis.

Have you ever read the parable of the Good Samaritan? I’d imagine it’s probably one of Christianity’s most (poorly) quoted scriptures. At some point, we’ve all heard something along the lines of, “Have you done your good deed today? Well, aren’t you such a good Samaritan…”

I don’t think that’s at the heart of what Jesus was trying to say.

If you’re unfamiliar, this parable (which can be found in Luke 10:25-37) goes something like this: A man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked by a band of robbers. We’ll call him Joe. They beat Joe to a pulp, leaving him barely alive, taking all of his clothing and possessions. Joe was abandoned at the side of the road, needing some serious help.

Shortly thereafter, a priest comes whisking down the trail. The priest takes notice of the half-dead man, but ignores him. He chooses to pass on by. Every time I’ve read this parable I’ve found myself confused. Sure, I know Jesus wasn’t a huge fan of the religious leaders… but what’s happening here? There seems to be no explanation or reasoning for the priest actions. Was he just a cruel, heartless jerk? Probably not.

A friend of mine, who has researched this passage, shed some contextual light on it: Priests, in Jesus’ day, followed a rigorous set of Laws. Breaking even the slightest of those Laws could render them “unclean.” Being unclean wasn’t just frowned upon; It wasn’t like you could hop in the shower and instantly reinstate your cleanliness. Nope, that’s the wrong kind of unclean. This kind of unclean made them temporarily unfit for the role of priest. For upwards to a week they would be unable to perform their job–a job that included leading hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow Jews in temple rituals. Not to mention, it would cost a few pretty pennies to afford the animal sacrifices he’d have to offer.

Helping Joe–even coming within a few feet of him–would deem this priest unclean. It would be a tremendously costly (not to mention inconvenient) decision, and perhaps even destructive for the faith community he led.

Later on in the parable, Jesus talks about another traveler: a Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews were enemies and absolutely hated one another. Jesus’ audience probably would have cringed at the word. Ironically, Jesus chooses the Samaritan as the story’s hero. The Samaritan stops, helps the man, takes him to an inn and pays for all of his needs. This Samaritan, that the Jews despised, became the gleaming example of what it means to love your neighbor.

Which raises the question… why is the priest made out as the bad guy? Wasn’t he doing his job? The very job God had called him to? Then why wasn’t he the example of loving your neighbor? Couldn’t the point be made that he was actually doing what was best for the most people, since he was protecting the needs of his congregation?

My take? The priest’s heart was more committed to his culture than to love.  His culture’s values weren’t bad themselves. They were created for the purposes of following God. However, when he chose to adhere to his culture’s values over the commands of God… that is when things went astray.

This is absolutely relevant to us today. All too often the American Church finds itself trying to unite our American values with Biblical truth. When that happens, we find ourselves in a tough situation–and as a result, not loving our neighbors.

So, I ask you: Where, in your life, is holding two flags becoming conflicting?

Rest

Our lives move in seasons. Things come and things go. There is life, and there is death. We grow. We plateau. We backslide.

Sometimes we ride out those seasons, letting them blend into one another without much thought or restructuring. But it is important to occasionally take an intentional look at your life and re-prioritize, re-dream and re-structure.

Such is the case with The Trees Will Clap. I, myself, am in a season of reviewing what is on my plate and discerning what stays and what goes. Because of that, I’ve decided to take an extended hiatus from writing here over summer–for the purpose of re-visioning.

I plan to re-launch anew on September 15th. It’s on the calendar. Come back and visit with me then. Looking forward to fresh perspectives and new thoughts.

Until then, adios!

I get devotionals from A.W. Tozer on my phone and read this today. Thought it was a lovely reminder, especially for those who reside in Orange County. Check it out:

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labours. Revelation 14:13

We modern Christians seem to be a strange breed in many of our ways. We are so completely satisfied with earthly things and we enjoy our creature comforts so much that we would just rather stay on here for a long, long time!

Probably most of us do not tell God about that kind of desire when we pray. But I have made a practice of writing many of my earnest prayers to God in a little book—a book now well worn. I remind God often of what my prayers have been.

One prayer in the book—and God knows it well by this time—is an honest supplication:

God, let me die rather than to go on day by day
living wrong. I do not want to become a careless,
fleshly old man. I want to be right so that I can die
right! Lord, I do not want my life to be extended if
it would mean that I should cease to live right and
fail in my mission to glorify You all of my days!

I would rather go home right now than to live on—if living on was to be a waste of God’s time and my own!
Lord, it’s true that shelter and security are key human pursuits as we strive to provide for ourselves and our families. But help me find a balance between focusing too much on myself and not enough on You and Your plan for this world.”

On Sunday night, my social media exploded with posts about Osama Bin Laden’s death. There was a range of emotions: silly, serious, excited, confused… But you know what I haven’t seen yet? Sadness. Remorse. Grief.

Shame on us. 

Do you think Jesus rejoices in losing His children? His creation? Do you really think He likes that?

I am not here to make claims on who goes to hell, and who doesn’t. I can’t tell you what hell is like or what it is not. That’s not my job. My job is to make sure that I am living a life that glorifies Christ, so that His goodness is on display. My job is to tell others the Good News, and usher them into the Kingdom.

But anytime there is a chance that somebody risks eternal separation from God, I cannot rejoice. I cannot find joy in his death. I don’t care who he is, or what he has done. I can’t celebrate it.

Lord, forgive Osama for he knows not what he has done. 

Forgive us, too. Break our hearts for what breaks yours.

Okay, let’s face it… American Apparel’s advertising schemes are getting out of control. It seems as if they’re becoming more scandy and provocative by the minute. Lately, I’ve  even had a few people mention to me that they won’t shop there because of the racy marketing.

And while I admire and respect their desire to uphold a particular value set, I find flaw in it.

Because… I find that most of these people still support brands that enable unfair labor practices. Now, I gotta ask: Whose dignity is more important to uphold?

The American Apparel model… an American, who is most likely educated and options. Yes, she poses inappropriately, but at least has choices. She, if she so wished, could probably move on and find another job.

Or the factory employee overseas–child or adult–who perhaps works 12+ hours today in an unsafe factory environment. She lives on less than a dollar a day and does not have another option.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: No, I don’t like American Apparel’s photography. However, if I gotta buy clothes, I’d rather buy from a company that isn’t stealing someone’s dignity. The fact of the matter is more companies need to step up. They need to set a standard of ethics within their companies–even if that means less profit. We, on the other hand, need to demand that they follow through… for humanities sake.

New Question

If you were stranded on an island, and could only take one book of the Bible to read for the rest of time… which would you take, and why?

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

I was remembering recently a time that I overheard an atheist say, “Christianity/Jesus is just a crutch for people who are too weak to bear life on their own.”

In the moment, I remember being offended. I didn’t want to think I was weak. I didn’t want a crutch.

In hindsight, however, he was right. I think that, without even realizing it, that atheist understood the heart of the gospel. Jesus is a crutch. He did come for the weak. His mission/desire/passion/love/purpose is to bring healing. However, he isn’t just one of many optional supports to lean on in this world. He is the only one that can bear fully the weight of your transgressions.

I don’t know about you, but I really need a crutch.

This is a real Wikipedia site:

I hate side hugs. I also hate that the word Christian can be tied to the side hug. Yikes.

Today I’m twenty-four.

I never ever throw birthdays for myself. Despite the jokes and ways I might puff myself up, I honestly don’t like making much of myself. It makes me uncomfortable. Birthdays are one of those examples; I don’t like feeling as if I have to obligate others to celebrate me. Not to mention, I don’t deserve any glory for today. Everything that happened today twenty-four years ago is due to some hard-working doctors, my parents, and the Lord.

However, this time of year is always significant for me.

I do have vivid memories of one birthday party in particular: my 18th. It was my senior year of high school and my friends took me out to dinner. I don’t remember much about that night. I don’t remember what we talked about, or what gifts I received. I don’t remember how I felt. However, I do remember having a mouth worse than a sailor. I don’t know why I so strongly remember that, but it’s the only memory I have from that night. I probably dropped more bombs with my words in that evening than our country has in any war. Something about that night really stuck with me. I’ve remembered it every year on March 30th for the past six years.

That night was the beginning of a season for me. See, I don’t have an “anniversary” with Jesus that’s marked by a specific day or time that I prayed a prayer. Rather, from the night of my 18th birthday and for about a month onward, God shook me. He showed Himself to me. He began to draw my heart towards him. Sometime around this time six years ago, I fell in love with Jesus.

It’s always special for me to look back at my 18th birthday. It’s a reminder of my brokenness, which was evident in my behavior, but also very deeply hidden in my soul. It’s a reminder of the ways God has been healing me. It’s a reminder of His big, big love for me–not because I’m perfect, or worthy, or good enough. But because I’m broken and He loves me anyway. It’s a reminder of His grace.

I love my birthday because it will always remind me to make little of myself, because I’m just not much of a human being apart from Him. On the other hand, it reminds me to make very much about the beautiful God I’ve met who saved me with His love. It’s the best gift I’ve ever been given.

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127 other followers

Powered by WordPress.com