Category: Faith

When to Fight and When to Fold ’em

I’m not a fighter.

If someone were to attack me I would just curl up in a ball and try to protect my vital organs.  I tried Tae Kwon Do to remedy that back in high school but I still find it easier to curl up in a ball.  I’m not lazy, but I just figure even dirtbags would feel dirty if they were kicking a helpless man curled up in a ball and may stop sooner than wasting more time provoking them.  I never won arm wrestles either which was embarrassing, especially in front of girls and even worse when I was the one challenging someone.

I’m not a fighter – physically.

I learned early that the battles of this world are not fought physically but that there was a greater force at work that I could not explain.  First of all, why were they kicking me in the first place?

Let us turn for a second study someone who knows more about this topic than anyone else – God Almighty – Jesus the Lord.

One of the greatest battles of history (I almost typed ‘Epic Rap Battles of History… go to Youtube to figure out why that’s funny in a bad way’) was when Jesus defeated Satan on the earth in Round 1 in the book of Matthew chapter  4.  Here Satan tries to make Jesus fold ’em and take the bait with the hook.  Note that Satan didn’t sucker punch Jesus or beat him like a rented mule when no one was looking.  He leaves that kind of buffoon work for his underlings.  He used words.  He cut right to the core of the human vulnerabilities and used manipulation skills in an attempt to achieve his nefarious goals .

And that’s the battle we face.  Words and manipulation for selfish gain.

So our battles are, at the core, battles of the words (not much unlike Epic Rap Battles of History…. I really gotta stop promoting these guys but it’s hard)

Good manipulators don’t put anything in writing.

Companies hesitate to put in writing anything other than that which will benefit them.  I told my mom to call up her ISP and try to get a new modem and a better rate.  I told her to get them to email the quote to her and then she could forward it to me for approval.  When I asked her for the quote later that day she said, ‘They weren’t allowed to put it in writing but they gave me a faster download speed and bundled something with it.”  Not surprised I then asked, “And the new modem?”  She informed me that the company ‘doesn’t have new modems like the one she has but only modem routers’.  Gimme a break.  She ended up with a plan that will save her a bit of money now but, at the end of the fine print (and there is always fine print) she will likely pay more.

Lawyers know this, too. They are Wordsters.  They can word you into certain death or they can word you right out of a mess. They can outword anyone and using a language that only they know.

With that preface, now that we agree the battles are with words, what battles should we fight and which ones should we pass up?

I believe that if your battle is for selfish gain you won’t have any long term joy from the victory.  If your battle is just simply to take someone down that you will spend your energy and time and even when you are done, you won’t have made any great significance in the world.

If your battle is to pave the way for helping others in the same boat as you, and your victory will not only help yourself but many who come after you, then you must fight.  You cannot avoid your duty to put on the verbal gloves and wordcraft your way to victory.  So what do two examples look like?

The classic example of a battle not worth fighting is the divorce battle.  Obviously I’m completely against divorce from the get-go, but for those who have chosen this path, read on.  The sick stories that I’ve heard related to one ex trying to destroy the other ex seem like they are from a twisted Hollywood movie.  The only people who win in these stories are the lawyers.  And I’m not talking about a ‘fair divorce’ (if such a thing were possible) where both sides divvy up the bounty.  I’m talking about divorcing but then going that extra step to make sure there is salt in the other person’s wound.  Forget it! Move on.  Seek God and He will heal your heart, not auctioning off your ex’s motorcycle for a dollar.

I’m not saying that I agree completely with where many unions seem to have gone in the last few decades, but I think they are a good example of a battle that was worth fighting.  Unions formed because companies were abusing people.  Companies that have only their own selfish gain in mind are still very much present and, oh yes, right here in Canada, right here in Vancouver.  Unions used peaceful demonstrations, and words of negotiations.  No punching (well I’m sure a few angry union dudes lost their cool).  No beating of rented mules.

So, I recommend using a basic gauge for your battle.  Will others benefit from your battle?  Will you be helping others beside yourself?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then by all means go down fighting and die trying if you must.  Take a round-house kick to the head for the team.  Curl up in a ball and let them boot-smack you.

But if you are the only ‘winner’ in the battle, pack up, fold the cards and move on – your battle is in vain.

 

 

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jesus is Not the Reason for the Season

MODERN DAY DISCIPLE OF JESUS DECLARES JESUS NOT THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

Before I was a disciple of Jesus, I thought that Christianity and Jesus and all that virgin birth stuff was the root of the Christmas holiday. Even the word ‘Christmas’ seemed like ‘the mass of Christ’ – some kind of ‘Christiany-Catholicky-religiousy’ thing. It didn’t help that everyone around me – including those who attended Christian churches – boldly claimed ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’.

It wasn’t until I actually decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus Himself that some of these claims about Christmas started to show some cracks. A little bit of study on these topics allowed some water to leak out and after digging in to the next level, the ship had sprung a leak and was on its way down.

One of the first thoughts that made me question this Christmas thing was the fact that many unbelievers around me had absolutely no problem ‘celebrating Christmas’. For many of them it was a chance to get more drunk for a longer period of time without work getting in the way. To take it one notch further, when I announced to people around me that I wanted to drop the gift-giving thing from Christmas (at that time it was just because I was broke and realized the nastiness of the commercial aspect of the season on broke people) it was the unbelievers who seemed to be most upset. They said ‘It’s fine if you don’t buy anything but don’t prevent us from buying gifts for you.” It was from these same folk from whom I received emails ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ or “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas’ or ‘I will say “Merry Christmas!” not “Happy Holidays!”’ as if they were standing up for something very dear to them. The notable thing was that I never heard the name of Jesus exit their lips at any other time of the year yet, for them, Christmas was about Jesus? They were ‘celebrating the birth of Jesus’ they sometimes said.

I have to admit – there was something about that ‘Christmas magic’ that compelled me. It had me addicted. Something about those gifts. Something about Santa. Something about that decorated tree. All these things are very deep, cultural, and most definitely unavoidable.

One of the second Christmas experiences that happened occurred while I was living in Korea. My wife is Korean and a believer, so I did Christmas Gangnam Style a few times. It was interesting for me to note that this entire country goes to work and school and don’t think twice about it. The Christians in Korea gather for a service focused on the birth of Jesus and that’s about it. I suppose even this is rooted in the long term connection between the North American and Korean churches. The Santa thing was considered an ‘American cute thing’ and no one treated him much more seriously than you would treat a fast-food mascot walking down the street promoting cheap burgers as you drive by. I don’t recall meeting anyone who would actually lie to their children telling them that this fat old man was real and had God-like moral authority over their lives. It made me question what this time of the year was all about and why I was even a participant as a Christian.

These events prompted me to search the history of all these Christmas symbols. I found that all of them were pagan or secular at best. There was even substantial evidence saying that mixing the birth of Jesus into this holiday was a way for the ‘church’ to be able to participate in the dominant pagan festivities of the time (related to sun gods and other winter solstice events). The ‘Christians’ may have felt left out and wanted a piece of the pagan pie. Or, another view was that they celebrated Jesus’ birth because there was already this event going on so you might as well ‘Christianize’ it. Regardless of the reason, there is no proof at all to substantiate that Jesus was behind this December event whatsoever.

There are, however, many reasons to believe Jesus is NOT the reason for the Christmas season. Here is just a snapshot:

  1. Christmas trees are a pagan ritual condemned in Jeremiah chapter 10
  2. Jesus wasn’t born anywhere near December 25th. All scholars agree on this one.
  3. Santa has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible but instead is a significant distraction from the God of the Bible painting an inaccurate view of our Heaveny Father and the reality of faith.
  4. It wasn’t really until around the mid 1850’s that Christmas was even regarded as a special day in the United States. Before that the celebration of it was even condemned and the existence of a Christmas tree in a church was nothing short of heretical.
  5. {More to be inserted here one day, maybe winter 2013}

After having researched these things and inside of myself decided that as for myself and my family we will not participate in these aspects of Christmas, I started to realize the immense social pressure to do it so as to not ruin the fun for others. In fact, the very day after I decided this, our family ended up at a Christmas event where I was the only white guy (again). Within just a few moments I was handed a big box full of Santa gear and asked to be Santa for these kids, one of whom was my daughter. Instead of ruining the event I decided that I would give them one year’s warning of my non-participation and make sure that as for my daughter, she knew that it was daddy under the suit. The pressure to do all these things is akin to high school social pressure.

The argument against Santa for Christians, with which I concur is this: If you lie to your kids about Santa, what makes you think they will trust you when you are teaching about the God of the Bible? In fact, it is this exact ‘argument’ that many atheists use when trying to refute the stories of the Bible. They say ‘The creation story, virgin birth and resurrection are nothing more than fairy tales like Santa and the Tooth Fairy.” Is this the kind of foundation we want to leave with our children? I cannot stop you from lying to your kids but if mine ask me if Santa is real, they are going to hear the truth in the same way I will tell them the truth that God is real. Our words and actions must line up.

So, then, what is the solution?

I do not have a complete answer yet and it will likely be a work in progress over the next few years. The best one I have heard so far and I will attempt to implement it is the idea of following the feasts and celebrations of the Bible (mainly Old Testament ones like the Passover). This will create a better understanding of the Bible while allowing us to celebrate something with eternal importance. Further, I believe that preparing a solid answer as to why we’re not celebrating the Christmas that the world celebrates will open many doors of discussion.

One of my concerns, admittedly, was that someone might consider me a cult member like a Jehovah’s Witness. So, I think it’s important to create a ‘new thing’.

Something that’s fun: family, friends, social.

Something that’s different completely from the ‘Christmas’ that the world celebrates.

Something that honours God.

 

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,