27 February 2012

Article first published as Book Review: Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis

It's easy to get lost in the arguments and opinions that surround Christianity. It's easy to find yourself looking through tinted goggles at Christianity. Yet every Christian wants to see God in His true colors and live according to His wisdom.It's not always discernible that there is something in the way of viewing Christianity for what it is.
In his book Speaking of Jesus Carl Medearis deconstructs a cultural and religious construct that stands between Christians and those yet apart. He treats his reader to a sobering and honest revision of how Christians should go about speaking to non-Christians. He proposes a revolutionary approach thousands of years removed from Christianity; he proposes that we shift our paradigm from being Christians to what the original paradigm was — being a follower of Jesus.
Carl proposes that rather than drag a potential believer into church and dunk his head into the Holy Water, that instead simply talk about Jesus. Rather than get into a violent debate about the historical and religious baggage that accompanies Christianity, we should shed that burden and do what the early Church did — talk about Jesus.
Medearis points out that many times the Christian approach to evangelize is to draw a line in the sand and tell "sinners" to cross it and repent and come to Christ. Instead, Meadearis says, why not do what Jesus did and go to people — go meet people where they are at now. Through real-life examples and passages from the Bible, Meadearis cuts right through the misconception of what it is to bring Jesus to people. According to him, Jesus already came, and all we have to do is speak about him.
Speaking of Jesus personally confronted me and opened my heart to realize that I had been seeing myself as a Christian, as a member of an elitist club, when I should have been seeing myself as a follower of Jesus, the most humble and meek man to ever walk the Earth. However, Medearis did not write a book without blemish, which he knows. He does not explain his perspective at all points with enough detail and depth to ground his view soundly as the right view. At some points he nearly steps down from being author of his book to person-to-person conversationalist to the reader. It's as though he is someone you'd meet at a grocery store, which deserves applause in that he writes from highly understandable place, yet it undermines his authority as an author in the middle of challenging a paradigm that permeates the world's largest religion.

Nevertheless, Medearis overwhelms the negative qualities in his writing with witty delivery of a confrontational topic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a Christian and to anyone who holds a negative perspective of Christianity. It just may change the way you view yourself, God, religion, the people around you, and the world.

Check it out on Amazon.com

Article first published as Book Review: Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis on Blogcritics.

24 February 2012

Big Business is Best

It’s easy to hate a bully, they are big, they are mean, they crush other people and take from them because they can. It’s easy to recognize a bully in person, but what about corporations? It’s not so obvious. It’s easy to confuse success with being a bully. It is very tempting to look at a large business that undersells and runs out other smaller businesses and judge it harshly. I like to root for the underdog too, but thinking about it is that really the right way to judge a company. It’s as though being successful as a corporation is enough evidence to convict a corporation. To an extent it is true that large businesses can and do throw their weight around, and I’m not saying that is always right. I think there are certainly a lot of large companies that absolutely do wrong. But I also think that a lot of smaller businesses do a lot of things wrong to. Being successful is not a legitimate excuse to condemn a company.
Large companies such as Wal-Mart, McDonalds, K-Mart, and so on are frequently blasted with hate for no other reason than they are successful. The reason most all large corporations are successful is because they are better than smaller businesses. (If you worship small businesses as some sort of American historical figure-head, please take a minute to cool off and then keep reading). In America, your dollar is your vote. If you don’t like something you don’t vote for it. If you go to a place that you don’t like, then you quit going there—you vote against it. Big businesses did not steal their standings at the top in consumers’ minds because they forced people into going there to shop. People chose to go there, they chose to spend their vote on the big businesses we have now. If you want to complain about big businesses, you may as well complain about America as well. This is the formula that has made America so successful. I know that the capitalistic system has some problems, but it has worked pretty good for us. Don’t complain about a system that works and propose illegalizing being successful—you may want to consider moving to a different less democratic nation actually.
It’s just like politicians that we vote into office; we are never unanimous about who is in office, but that is who the general masses of people chose to support. It is the same way for our large companies, that majority of people voted for them, and continue to vote for them. I have heard people say that companies are so large that they can’t fail; they are too strong to let anyone else rise up to compete with them and my analogy above is no longer true. That argument is wrong. Yes, it may be difficult to start a company that competes with and eventually overtakes a large company. But don’t buy into the idea that big businesses are invincible. It’s pretty easy to find a list of large companies that have failed recently. In fact, I think I remember hearing about how the government actually bailed-out some of our large businesses that we deemed too big to fail. This is actually good, it’s my opinion that they should have failed. The American people voted them out of office when they quit buying their products.
It is the fierce competition between companies that ensures that we get good products at good prices. If there was no competition, then there would be no incentive to do better, no reason to improve. Right now, big businesses are highly competitive. That means that companies that want to beat them have to work harder and do things even better to compete with them. Pushing companies to provide the best product at the best price is not hurting us, it hurts companies that are doing a bad job. The thing about America is we try to vote for the one that is going to help us the most. Our votes made big businesses big, not bullying. If we are mad at anyone, we should be mad at ourselves. It’s our votes that got them elected as our business leaders. 

18 February 2012

Immeasurable is God's Love

Immeasurable is the Greatness of Our God’s Love

One day I decided to find a way to measure just how much is God’s love
I knew that God’s love was great, it would be a challenge that I was sure of

Starting with something easy, I started with something I thought was surely small
“It should be simple to find God’s love for just me, then multiply if for all”

It took ten fingers and ten toes twice, a calculator, both ears, and the tip of my nose,
But when I got done counting, there was still more than all the digits calculator shows

Scratching my head I realized that God’s love could not be measured in numbers,
Of course not, God can’t be calculated with equations, that’s much too cumbersome

I was excited that God’s love was greater than all the numbers I could add
But I was not ready to quit just yet, there were some other ways to measure I still had

So, I took out a ruler to measure God’s love, every little bit down to the final inch
Before staring, I thought to myself “this is much better this is sure to be a cinch”  

With my ruler I started measuring every little bit of God’s love that I could see
I measured high and low far and near, then I realized God’s love was all around me

Discouraged I wondered aloud, “why does God leave so much love just lying around”
“Honestly, it seems to me, that there is not a single place God’s love is not found”

Thinking fast, I found another way, it would take some time but was sure to be a success
I would take a measuring cup, and find the volume of love--of my ideas this was the best

After but a minute of measuring, I realized this task was going to get the best of me,
I needed something much bigger than what I use to measure out my favorite recipe

I thought to find something bigger, it came to me “maybe ballrooms would be big enough”
I tried to find a way to measure with the biggest ballroom, but I found the task too tough

It was only then that I understood, that God’s love can’t be measured in any amount
No matter what measure you use, God’s love is way too great to ever count

I sat down to write it in words, but after but a sentence, I realized it was impossible
God’s love is greater, big beyond all understanding and is always unsurpassable  

06 February 2012

Let's Disagree

A little politics—how about it?
The term fundamentalist is often used in a derogatory way towards people who believe assuredly and stick to it. Either the word is simply used to criticize Christians who take God seriously at His word, or it is tacked in front of another word—the ugliest of all words—conservative. To about half the people, combing the words conservative and fundamentalist forms a phrase that summarizes all that is wrong in the world today. To those who stand opposite in thought to those dubbed fundamentalist conservatives, the phrase represents the ignorant religious political standpoint that prevents the advancement of society. It is a rampart that barricades the further movement and natural progression of the intelligent and civilized cultured population from fixing the world. One of the big problems is that they are innately stubborn. It seems the fundamentalist conservative is steadfast, rooted deep within a conviction that is simply unearthable. There is no way to convert a conservative fundamentalist; for the most part they are a cancer that must be cut out and destroyed—else the greater and functioning body will suffer.
But there is an exact opposite to that perspective. There are those who believe in a set of fundamental truths that guarantee, if followed, a calm and peaceful society of prosperity and general well-being. They are not being stubborn, but faithful to the ideals that America was founded on, and even more importantly, faithful to God (at least they convince themselves they are), which is the most important of all life-walks. After all, why save a life only to see in perish in the dust of time a few years or decades later while the soul left untended withers, wilts, and is lost forever. For those who believe in the eternal, earthly life is really just the deep breath in preparation before diving into eternity.
These generalizations I have made are nothing more than a shameful attempt to summarize the myriad socialscape of two large and complicated ideologies. I do recognize that this summery is probably offensive to most people that fit into the two categories. The one thing that seems to unite both sides of the disagreement is that they hate being categorized. People seem drawn to the false conclusion they are unique and special enough to deserve their own category. No, sorry, that is just a joke no one laughs at because they think it’s true. We are all different, but not necessarily unique.
As much as both groups hate each other, try to imagine what it would be like to have only one unified mindset. It would be a balance with one side. It would be an elevator that only goes one way. The simple fact of the matter is, a train needs both sides of the track in order to move anywhere. Right now, it seems that the train is going in circles, but at least it’s moving. Working out our differences is slow and difficult work, but worth the effort. It’s likely that both the extreme far left and right are wrong. In order to drive a car straight down a road, we inevitably steer both directions. Without opposition, there would be no movement in any direction. It is simply a fact that there needs to be friction for anything to work.
So as much as I may cling to one of the perspectives I mentioned above, and as much as I may think the other side is ignorant, and as much as I may want to get rid of it, we need each other to motivate each other to push for change.


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