Friday, April 29, 2011

WARNINGS AND MANIPULATION

I can only imagine the many social dangers, toils and snares that Jesus encountered in his public life. He had amazing grace and confrontational skills in dealing with a constant barrage of people with agendas. He was masterful and seeing through pretense and identifying what they were really after.


Luke 13:
31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”


Not every Pharisee had their heart set against Jesus. Nicodemus was one who came with legitimate questions and wanted to understand the truth about Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin and provided a tomb for Jesus’ body. The gospels tell of people from every tribe and group coming to Jesus and being changed. Many were people that Jews would not trust or mix with.

We need to be wise about typecasting Pharisees, Americans, Muslims or other cultures as if they all think with one mind and behave accordingly.

But what was going on with these Pharisees? Were they truly interested in Jesus’ safety? Or were they pretending to be friendly in order to manipulate Jesus into going away? Had they been sent by Herod in a sly attempt to divert Jesus’ campaign out of Herod’s district?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TRUE AND FALSE FRIENDS

Last count, I had 2216 Facebook Friends.  LOL and smiley winks to that. If I really had that many friends, I’d ask them each to give me $100.00. To qualify as my Facebook friend,

I need to have you met you once or know someone that knows someone. It’s a stretch to call everyone a friend.

Authentic friendships thrive on trust and commonality. These are the friends that we are most likely to turn to for recreation, companionship and as confidantes.

There are also people that we know in specific settings. Even though our lives seldom overlap, they become our closest friends in the moment. Often there are personality traits and connecting points that weld us together for short-term enjoyment. I have friends that I only see at work meetings once or twice a year.

Have you encountered people who pretend to be your friend? It’s in the same category as name-droppers and network marketers. All of a sudden, they appear in your life acting friendly and you wonder when they are going to reveal a hidden motive.

“Wow! I haven’t seen you for thirty years. We should have you and your family over for dinner. What are you doing tonight?”

…And the bells of inauthenticity are ringing in your head. Why are they pretending to be so close and intimate when we hardly know each other?

Monday, April 25, 2011

DEAR VAMPIRE OBSESSED

A writer by the pseudo-name ‘Vampire Obsessed’ wrote Yahoo Answers with the following question:

Why is my friend pretending to be emo?
My friend walks round head down all the time. She ties up her hair and clips back her side-fringe and thinks she's all cool.
I know what she has done - she has made it look as if she is so emo when really she is such a poser. No one else sees it this way, though because she made the 'change' gradual.
She is happy a lot of the time, though, but when people are looking, she just reads and keeps her head down.
She is a poser and she does not cut herself (not saying that she should just, you know...) and she has nothing to be depressed or emotional about.
So why is she pretending to be all cool and emo???
How can I tell her to just stop?


P.S. um.. It's not ME pretending in case you didn’t know and I’m NOT the one going round saying 'I hate myself' etc.  


If I were to respond to the question, I would say this.

Dear Vampire Obsessed: 


Unfortunately, this behavior is all too common. If you have a dislike of ‘emo’ kids and are bothered that your friend is identifying with them, it may not be her fakery but your comfort level. On the other hand, if you see your friend acting out to find acceptance that is another matter. You may need to pull her aside and tell her how you feel. Let her know that you think she is a great person and you love her the way she already is. Tell her about your feelings towards her acting ‘emo’ and look for ways to strengthen understanding between you.


Sincerely,
Another old guy pretending to be Dr. Phil

Saturday, April 23, 2011

READING THE DEVIL'S CUE CARDS

When we justify ourselves and create elaborate defenses, we may be reading the Devil’s cue cards. Jesus said we simply should communicate clearly and decisively. After yes or no, things get murky and we start to become spin-doctors.

Stop defending your character all the time. If you have to preface and provide supportive evidence for matters requiring a simple yes or no, think about what is going on inside you. Why is so hard to say yes or no?

Jesus provides a great example when he remained silent during his trial before Pilate. When asked if he is the King of the Jews, he answers yes. When asked to respond to the accusations brought against him, he remained silent. No long-winded speech would have helped. Jesus had the wisdom to know that words would not change what was happening.

Peter on the other hand, is asked at fireside if he knows Jesus. Three times he denies that he does. He even swears that he does not know him. Peter could have told the truth and said yes. Instead, he lies and swears to lock in the falsehood. Ever been like Peter?

The Devil loves it when we make rash vows and make elaborate defenses. Once you’ve become entrenched in a lie, your words might multiply. We can find ourselves practicing deception to save face. In the process, our hearts are darkened and shame intensifies.

Jesus calls us to the place of fearful honesty. One word of truth can open a door that no one can shut. The Publican in the Temple had it right. “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.”

God, help us to be truth-tellers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CUSSWORDS AND FREE PASSES

Matthew 5:
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.



Jesus digs deeper than legislating the rules of oath making. He presents something better than making promises with a Heavenly co-signer.  The third of the Ten Commandments speaks to this underlying issue of ‘using’ God to make us look good.

Exodus 20:7 (Amplified Bible)
7You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely]; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

As a boy I understood that using certain names and phrases were highly inappropriate. To this day I still avoid frivolously using the expressions:

Jesus Christ
Christ Almighty
Oh My God
God Damn It
Go To Hell

I was also taught not to use substitutes like Golly, Gosh darn it, Heck, Holy Cow, and so on. I was not as worried about that and say some expressions without thinking about it. At the heart of limiting my vocabulary is a reverence for God and His realm. I do not want to be guilty of using God’s Name in vain.

Every language and culture has cusswords. They usually involve the inappropriate use of god words and the so-called ‘dirty’ words that speak about bodily functions. Cusswords bring down the highest and holiest and lift up the most private and embarrassing of our body parts and activities. Swearists combine the holy and the profane for extra effect. Who hasn’t heard Raymond’s father exclaim, “Holy crap!”

But there is deeper issue than keeping a shortlist of taboo words off your tongue. Oaths, vows and curse words speak to an exaggerated perception of our self-perception. We believe that we are safe from God’s dealing with us. The Almighty is under no obligation to be your co-signer. You do not have superior integrity because you name the Name.

If Christians are honest, they will readily admit that a lack of personal integrity and character defects brought them to the place of needing a Savior. Our greatest sinfulness was not when we were dead in our sins prior to Salvation; but when we were made alive in Christ and knowingly chose to sin. Who hasn’t been in that place?

We cannot flippantly flash our ‘new-birth certificate’ as proof of personal integrity. Jesus calls us to honesty and humility. He says that ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are the straightest possible answers to securing trust and showing integrity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

GOD'S NAME-DROPPING

How far will you go to get someone to believe you? What promises will you make to secure privilege and opportunity?

Have you ever been untrusted and wanted someone to believe you? Why do we want to be trusted? Trust is associated with respect and privilege. We want that. From the playground to the prison, the sanctuary to the street—we want that. Trust me…

Once in awhile someone at the church will drop my name. If a person is doing something they are not supposed to be doing they will say, “Pastor Kevin said it was okay” or “He asked me to do this.” I have had people that know better and complete strangers drop my name attempting to gain access or privilege. Using my name is one thing—what about people who drop God’s name to get what they want?

Jesus spoke about our need to secure the trust of others.

Matthew 5:
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

‘Name dropping’ is the practice of using your association with someone important to gain access or privilege. How are we guilty of God’s Namedropping? Do we ever try and build our reputation or secure trust by letting people know that ‘God is my witness so you should trust me’?

It was ancient custom to swear by a deity to ensure that your word could be trusted. It was understood that if you broke your promise, you would experience consequence and possibly curses from the god. A person was saying that they were willing to risk punishment from the gods if they did not fulfill their oath.

Jesus’ Jewish audience was reminded of their ancient practice of making vows and oaths to God. More than one Old Testament story dealt with people making promises and being obligated to keep it to their own demise. Other stories dealt with deception being used to secure a promise of blessing or benefit. You might think that the moral of the stories would be enough to warn them against making rash vows.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO DIE

You can learn a great deal about humanity by studying the behavior of children and adolescents. Kids mimic and create storylines based on the lives they observe, both at home and in the entertainment they are exposed to.


Children play house. Kids create rescue stories. They defeat enemies and they fantasize about having extraordinary powers. As adults we watch movies instead. Most watch sports instead of playing them-- preferring the thrill of vicarious victory to the risk of personal injury and the demands of training.

What are kids up to when they play ‘Truth-dare-double dare-promise to repeat’? Adolescents want to hear and confess secret feelings and actions, especially if the attention towards them is based on being memorable or humorous. Negative attention becomes positive when bad behavior endears you to your friends. Doing a dare may show your bravery and obedience; or it may reveal the depths you will go to be accepted.

Most kids tell lies and practice some deception. Do you remember the importance of keeping a secret? Do you remember how important it was to be believed?

Cross my heart and hope to die… stick a needle in my eye.’ The childish oath meant that you were very serious about maintaining a secret or verifying to your truthfulness. The slogan actually comes from an old poem in the early 1900s. Crossing one’s heart signified genuflection (the sign of the Cross).

The first stanza of the poem says:


"Cross my heart and hope to die
Stick a needle in my eye
Wait a moment; I spoke a lie
I never really wanted to die.
But if I may and if I might
My heart is open for tonight
Though my lips are sealed and a promise is true
I won't break my word, my word to you."


____________________

Poem found at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100901201717AAUQnEi




Saturday, April 9, 2011

PENDULUM

Instead of looking at the pendulum swing of issues, let's look at the Face of Time. We wait for the fullness of God's Kingdom.






Pendulum
(c) Kevin Rogers and Kevin Saunders


Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

One day the clocks will stop
Right now it seems so far away
Watch the last tear drop
Fall into a brighter day

There's an arc of time
Across a blackened sky
Holy natal star
I wonder who you are

Pray for Kingdom come
Night gets flooded by the day
Watch the pendulum
Swing the other way




Friday, April 8, 2011

SAFE

Your past, present and future. We find security knowing that God inhabits all three. Here's a video from a worship service at New Song Church with one of my original compositions.





SAFE
(copyright) Kevin Rogers


When you formed me in the womb
When you rose out of the tomb
And Heaven's light shone
I was safe, I was safe

When the flood waters rise
When the darkness veils my eyes
And all creation starts to cry
I am safe, I am safe

If nothing else is true
I can trust in you
You are my security
I'm imprisoned but I'm free
Feed me with your wine and bread
Rescue from the Devil's dread
Warming fire of love divine
I will watch the shadows shine, shine, shine

When martyr fires light the sky
When my teardrops will not dry
And the reaper lifts his scythe
I will be safe, I will be safe

Thursday, April 7, 2011

GET OVER IT

Have you ever had someone look at you and say, “Why don’t you just get over it”? Or, “You need to get over it”.


Usually, we are being told that we should let go of the impact that something is having on us. 






Get over:

Ø Your divorce

Ø The death of a loved one

Ø A missed opportunity

Ø A disappointment

Ø The good old days

Ø The horrors of the past

Ø A big change

Sometimes ‘Get Over It’ seems harsh or lacks understanding of the impact that things have upon us. Sometimes ‘Get Over It’ is a kindly reminder that we are wallowing in things that we need to get out of.

Do you know that Jesus wants to speak to us and say “Get Over It”? But He is not asking us to suppress or endure things beyond our grasp.

Being an overcomer, means you 'get over it'.





Monday, April 4, 2011

NEED VS. WANT

Dan Cutrona is a serious studio cat and producer. I'm looking forward to having him play some keys on our upcoming 2fish Christmas CD 'Mystic Ramblers'.


He has just started a blog. In it he references Dylan, his son with disabilities. The topic of 'need vs. want' is an excellent follow-up to my last post on Divorce and Remarriage.


Enjoy Dan's thoughts here: http://dancutronaproducer.blogspot.com/ 

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