Monthly Archives: October 2010

James Lloyd Brown

The smile we knew and loved

We are wrecked over the death of a wonderful man. Life is a gift. Laugh often. Love hard. Give freely. Make life count.

Good-bye pap. The void is so large. The hurt is so deep. I miss you already.  Thanks for making a difference.  We love you more than you will ever know.

My personal can of worms

It appears that I have opened up my own cranial can of worms with my last post.  My inner, fun-loving writing world began to get bombarded with thoughts and ideas that, like oozing poison ivy,  I must scratch.  For those of you who follow me you are aware that 99.9% of my writing is, well, warped.  I seldom take on heavier topics unless I feel moved.  I’m moved.  So I’m going to let these little digits loose on my keyboard.  You are welcome to come along for the ride.

While attending a Christian meeting recently I heard the speaker cry out “For God’s Sake….” and it cut me like a paper cut searing into my flesh.  I paused.  I wasn’t expecting this reaction but my Spirit ached.  I felt saddened and grieved.  Why?  I am not a religious or legalistic Christian.  I run [ bolt, charge, flee] from religion and legalism.  I am not judgemental and refrain from judging like I would refrain from drinking posion….I don’t do it.  But something about this remark bothered me deeply.  

Then, I became aware that there are Christian counselors…counselors who advertise and market themselves as Christians…who swear profusely during their counseling sessions with youth as a way “to connect with the young people.”  I’m not talking about a mere damn or hell (although still inappropriate in my opinion).  I’m talking about dropping the mother of all mother’s…. the Hiroshima, the F Bomb, among other crude, street “languagey” things.  Again, I am not a prude.  I have several body piercings and plan to get inked as soon as I can get past my nearing 40yr mentality of “I might get a dreaded disease.”  I soooo should have taken the tattoo plunge in my 20’s when I was invincible.  But I digress.  Back to the swearing Christian counselor.  In one incident a teen reported that the foul language made him/her uncomfortable and he/she felt that the church staff viewed the matter as insignificant.  This teen was encouraged to return to counseling with the sewer mouthed counselor.   Something didn’t feel right about the whole “I swear to connect with the youth” excuse.  I realize that youth are creatures unto themselves.  I know that when working with these unique beings one must be in touch with the culture of the day and possess an element of edge.  But there must be boundaries which are established in love.  To me, swearing to connect with the young seemed the same as saying “I need to sleep with a bunch of men or women to really know how to relate to a prostitute” or “I must steal to know what a thief feels like”   Stupid right?  Of course it is. 

Well, naturally I became curious as to whether ‘letting it verbally rip’ was the “norm” among Christian counselors today.  Thus, I asked a few Master prepared Christian counselors (who I highly respect) their opinion/method.  I barely got the entire question out when they spewed laughter at the craziness of the idea, so forceful that it was laced with spittle, right in my face.  This was of course after the long incredulous look(s) of unbelief.  Without going ad nauseam into the details, it is safe to say that swearing to connect with young adults is uncalled for and unnecessary of a true professional – more importantly, a Christian who is held to a higher standard of conduct.

I had to ask myself “what is going on in our church today?”  What are we Christians thinking?  Swearing? Behaving in crude ways? Using the Lord’s name inappropriately?  Walking a fine line with worldly behavior and our faith?  Blurring the margins in order to make people feel comfortable?  A little discomfort is often what propels us on our face before the Lord.  It’s ok to allow someone to feel a little uncomfortable.  It’s ok to call sin, sin!  There have been times when the presence of the Lord hit me so hard during a meeting that immediately I began to become aware of things in my life that needed altered.  It was this awareness or discomfort in the presence of holiness that caused me to repent.  I’m not saying it is ok to judge or withhold love from individuals.  Remember, judging is 100% toxic.  We should welcome all with radical love regardless of how they look, what they do or where they are in life.  But we don’t have to lower our morals and values just to get people to come to church and feel “comfortable.”  We wouldn’t whip out heroin, needles and shoot up during a church service just to make the addict feel at ease, would we? 

I’m all about the idea of grace and I realize that we are loved in a radical way by our heavenly daddy regardless but, but, but….I must admit that I found myself puzzled.  The notion of grace is not our get out of jail free card.  In other words, we cannot behave poorly, speak trash, and act like the world and think grace will get us off the hook.  Yes, there are times when we have areas in our lives that we desire to change.  However, change may be difficult because we really struggle or find these areas next to impossible to change.  It is during these times that the grace of God is at work and will help us change what we are unable to change.  But sometimes I think we flee from religion and legalism so much so that we become adulterated.  I had to ask, “Lord, what is going on?”  “Why am I so bothered?”

I believe the answer stems from Holiness or a lack thereof.  I’m not saying that we can make ourselves holy because we can’t.  Hebrews 2 says that Jesus made us holy so there isn’t anything we can do to achieve holiness.  But when you encounter the Lord and His holiness it is earth-shaking.  True Holiness and fear of the Lord would bring about very different behaviors than the above mentioned.  Immediately my mind was flooded with scripture.  Ok, I must confess that I skip over most scripture verses in blogs but please, read these.

“. . . and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His Glory (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Psa 96:9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

2Cr 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 

Psa 93:5 Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.

1Ch 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory [due] unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Eph 4:284 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Christians get your HOLY on!  Because I can tell you that if Jehovah…God showed up in our midst we would be face down sucking some ground.  Check out what happened to people in the Bible who had divine encounters.  They say stuff like “I trembled in fear” or “I laid on the ground as though dead.”  Um, yeah that’s about right. We could not stand in His presence.  In Daniel chapter 8 Daniel says that he became so terrified that he fell upon his face and became fast asleep on the earth.  The Angel then had to touch Daniel to give him the strength to stand in the presence of such holiness.  We need to get back to a place of respect and reverence for God and His awesomeness and our behavior will adjust accordingly.

Nuff said!

Are you a snob?

I’d like to think that I am not a snob.  I’d like to believe that I make those around me sincerely feel welcomed.  I’d like to imagine that I am secure enough in myself to become socially vulnerable and break out of the common comfort zone.  I’d like to surmise that I could do a Jesus and hang out with the less than desirables and not solely as a “mission.” Often we Christians think we did a ‘pat on the back worthy deed’ for being nice to a homeless person or going dumpster diving in some third world country.  But what would we do with these individuals in our every day lives – NOT viewing them as a mission?  How would we act if they approached our social safe haven?  Ok, so maybe a lice infested homeless person, who is in need of a good scrub down, entering our social clique is a bit of a stretch but what about a new person?  An “outsider?”  Far too often we devote ourselves to reaching the grotesquely lost but what about those within our life grid?  For instance, what about the unconnected youth in our churches who desire connection? What about the parents who ask for help getting their child to form Godly friendships?  What about the families who live under our noses?   These individuals and requests seem to go unnoticed or fall on deaf ears within  the church today.  I routinely challenge myself and my children with these questions.  The challenge has become even more urgent with the recent media coverage of bullying and the rash of suicides following.

I have discovered that Christians, more often than not, are the some of the worst offenders of establishing and maintaining cliques or zones of comfort.  You see it time and time again with those in the ministry.  The ministry team (pastor, youth pastors, worship leaders etc) is, by the demand of their schedule and time spent together, a tight unit.  The time invested together with their families and children results in the formation of a tight bond which, on one level, is awesome.  However to an “outsider” it presents many challenges. A youth member whose parents are not a part of the ministry team but rather a part of the congregation may experience great difficulty approaching the children of those in the ministry because he/she is unable to enter in on the inside jokes and all of the experiences forged during the mammoth amount of time these kids spend together.  Thus, the formation of a clique occurs (and depending on how many children the ministry team has collectively – it can be a rather large clique)…a clique that is often difficult to break.  What do we do?  I heard one minister say that he explains to his children and the children of his staff that since they spend xyz hours together, he expects them to seek out someone they do not know and get to know them during Church functions.  They must spend each church function with someone new and widen the circumference of their social group.  Bravo!  It comes from the top…from what is tolerated. And as a result his church has had very little difficulties with cliques among the youth.  All are made to feel welcomed and there are virtually no lines of demarcation (Virtually as in minus the individual styles of punk, posh, Abercrombie, pierced, tattooed etc!)

Adults can be subjected to the social stone wall as well.  I was appalled as I witnessed the height of snobbery at a Christian conference a few months back.  I watched in stomach sickening horror as my mom was given the ultimate shove off from individuals who profess to being lovers of Christ and engage in radical, people saving missions outside of the USA.  And I had to ask myself more questions….who do we think we are?  I mean, really.  How can you love on the lost yet treat a fellow believer with such coldness and illusions of self-grandeur? Is it because hugging a dirtball is met with praises from other believers?  Yes, It does take a special person to hug a dirtball but dirtball hugging becomes meaningless if you hate on your own.  Have I ever behaved in such a manner?  Unfortunately, I have because I am human and fallible.  As I shoved food in my mouth and began to evaluate my own behavior (because I most definitely would have sinned in anger if I continued to focus on their disgustingly snobbish treatment of my mom) I realized that I was more likely to engage in social snobbery during the times when I felt inadequate, tired or insecure.  It was during these times that I opted for the comfort of those who I knew loved me and times when I did not feel like, for whatever reasons, engaging new comers.  I get it, I do but it’s not right.  We are called to a higher standard and it is this higher standard that we must challenge ourselves and our kids to ascend to. 

So, yes I’d like to think that I am not a snob…that I make those around me sincerely feel welcomed….that I am secure enough in myself to become socially vulnerable and break out of the common comfort zone.  I may fall short but I am absolutely, 100%, for sure taking Romans 12:3 to heart “For I say by the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…”

Amen.