Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bum Nation: A Rant!

So this will be my first blog post that has absolutely no scriptures in it. But I have a pet peeve to air and my fingers are flying across the keyboard. I was on YouTube listening to different versions of an amazing song called “She Moves through the Fair”. It is an incredible song that is a cross between a Celtic love story and a ghost story from The Twilight Zone. All of my favorite groups from Pentangle, to Fairport Convention, to Richard Thompson, to Sinead O’Connor, to the enchanting Lorena McKennitt have all done great versions of this song. And then I came across this video. It is a beautifully melodic version of the song put to clips of the movie “Becoming Jane”. Give it a watch.

Don't look at the hoppy dancing they were doing. Look at the event. Look at the people. And my question is: where have the days of class and style gone? I remember when flying, one would dress up and head to the airport. Now, people dress like bums when they travel. I remember getting dolled up for church because it had a sort of respect and piety about it. Now, since the church has become “seeker friendly” and doesn’t want to offend anybody for any reason, we allow the most flirtatious and relaxed attire. Yes, we say things like “God looks at the heart and not at the outward appearance”. But torn jeans and concert t shirts would never have crossed David or Solomon’s mind. And even Jesus himself, who owned nothing, wore a robe so nice that his Roman crucifiers refused to tear it in pieces. They cast lots for it. Which they would probably not have done if He sported a "Caesar Augustus World Tour XXIV" wife beater tunic and cut-off gladiator shorts.

Granted, I speak as an American. I know it is different around the world. In Russia, they might only own one nice outfit, but they will wear it with pride and dignity. They have a brilliant mix of poverty and class. Somehow we love to be the “rock and roll country” where success can come looking like a beach bum, and achievement seems to surround those who lack style and grace. I wonder if people will eat like pigs, belching and farting at the marriage supper of the lamb. I wonder if people will recline and put their feet on the coffee table in front of Jesus. I wonder if teenage girls will dress like little whores as they seek the face of skanks like Paris Hilton and not the face of their Maker. Where has the class gone?

I have to believe that it is different “out there”. I have to believe that those who are called sons of the Most High God actually present themselves like princes. And ladies have the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; because I know that it is of a great price in the eyes of God. (1 Peter 3:3-5) (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I had to eventually throw in a scripture)

Are the Cary Grants of the world all dead? Does class only exist on the classic movie channel? Have the Doris Days been replaced by the Britney Spears of the world? Does anyone even know what panache and flair mean? Have grace and style been replaced by gangsta bling and booty calls? Are the words "Please", "Thank You", "Yes, Sir", and "No Mam" sitting in a glass case next to the dinosaur bones in a museum? Where are the men who open a car door for a lady and offer her their seat on a subway? Where has customer service gone?

What a strange time we live in. It is curious to see how this all plays itself out. Rant over!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just "Man Up"!

I hate it when I see something in the Bible that hurts a little bit because I know it applies directly to me. But I have been studying the life of King Saul and I got roughed up spiritually a little bit by something I never noticed before.

What do you immediately think of when King Saul comes to mind? Bad king? Trying to kill your hero David? The famous “to obey is better than sacrifice” story with Samuel? His willingness to kill his own son for eating honey? It is amazing how bad he became later in his life. But I believe that many of his mistakes were based on the fact that he really didn’t know who he was. And he didn’t act like his calling. And many of us suffer from the same malady. This is what I mean. Here is what the Bible says about Saul:

“There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.” 1 Samuel 9:1-2 (New Living Translation)
But when Samuel came to tell him that he was going to be an honored guest at his table, here was Saul’s response:

“I am the seer!” Samuel replied. “Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. And don’t worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.” Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like thisto me?” 1 Samuel 9:19-21
So who is telling the truth? Here is a man from a wealthy family who had Brad Pitt looks and Fabio charm. Yet his answer was that he just ain’t nothing special. Was he trying to play Samuel for a fool with false humility? Or did he really see himself as nothing special? Could it have been a mistake?

“Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the LORD has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.” 1 Samuel 10:1
And to make sure that Samuel hadn’t been drunk or high, it came time for Saul’s royal coronation. Does Saul proudly step up to the plate and confirm the desires of the people?

“So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the LORD, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the LORD, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?” And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else. Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the LORD has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!” 1 Samuel 10:20-24
Can you imagine hiding among the baggage when you are supposed to be crowned as king? Why did he do that? Was he afraid? I believe that he just couldn’t buy into the fact that he was called by God to become a king and lead a nation. This paralyzing low self image than many Christians have (me included) keep them from being all that God has called them to become.

So what does the new king Saul do? Does he take up residence in a palace? Does he start attending to matters of state? Does he become defender of the kingdom? Nope! It’s time to plow. And when the enemy comes, one can either rise to their destiny, or return to their common ways.

“When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the people about their plight, everyone broke into tears. Saul had been plowing a field with his oxen, and when he returned to town, he asked, “What’s the matter? Why is everyone crying?” So they told him about the message from Jabesh. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry. He took two oxen and cut them into pieces and sent the messengers to carry them throughout Israel with this message: “This is what will happen to the oxen of anyone who refuses to follow Saul and Samuel into battle!” And the LORD made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one. When Saul mobilized them at Bezek, he found that there were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 men from Judah.” 1 Samuel 11:4-8

It took a visit from the spirit of God to transform Saul into the leader, warrior, and strong king that God had called him to be. And he turned a nation of crying, cowering weenies into a mighty battle force. Read the rest of the chapter. Saul kicks some Ammonite butt!

So I end with one scripture to think about.

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:6 NKJV
Jesus, like Samuel has called us to be kings and priests. Are we hiding in the baggage? Are we plowing in the field looking just like every other laborer on the planet? Or are we ready to drop the low self image, and buy into the image that Jesus has given to us. It’s time to back away from the ploy and draw the sword. The church needs leaders. There is some enemy butt to kick.