Sunday, July 26, 2015

Worship Leader Under Fire

My husband is a man of many hats. This is something I will not deny. He is a computer technician, a talented musician, an enthusiastic reader, and a man with the potential to give Jeopardy a run for its money is given the opportunity. Above all, he is a man of God. I would not have married him otherwise. 

Very recently, however, a question has arisen whether the two musical worlds clash. On one hand, he is a member and former co-leader of our church's worship band. On the other, he is the leader of an Irish folk band, Mayde In Ireland, the #1 folk act in the Antelope Valley and comprised of all Christian members. 

Can one justify a life of worship and sing Irish songs on the side?

Does it matter? 

If it did, that is up to the church's authorities to confront my husband. Instead, most of the congregation happily express their love and support for Mayde In Ireland. 

Whether or not singing Irish folk songs is too contradictory to justify a walk with God is a question that has been addressed in the past. To which my husband has a strong answer. If God did present him with a choice between the two, he would give up Mayde in Ireland in a heartbeat. 

Who has the authority to pass judgement on my husband? 

I can think of one person who thinks she does. This morning greeted both my husband and the Mayde in Ireland drummer with a hateful (and poorly written) email attempting to shame the band for their choice of lyrics and advertising. She goes on demanding he reconsider... everything, to say the least, and threatening never to attend another showing again. Of course, this woman had rarely attended our shows in the first place.

One thing stuck out to me in particular. 

It was the final sentence: "PLEASE reconsider what you do and say in the name of Jesus Christ."

Take a look in the mirror, madam. 

First of all, you have a notorious reputation for attempting to shame every leader in our church, and something tells me you have no intention of stopping. Secondly, how could you possibly understand the band's spirit if you rarely see us? If you have examined the lyrics to every song in the playlist, then you have absolutely no business accusing us of impropriety. 

In your ridiculous habit of listing Bible verses to serve your purpose, show me one, JUST ONE, where Christ would use hateful, shaming language against anyone he encountered, believer or unbeliever. Show me one verse where Christ judged. Show me one where He showed anything but love, dignity, and respect for every single soul he encountered.

Let me show you a Bible verse or two: 

Romans 2:1 says, "You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things."


Matthew 7:3-5 says, "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend. 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

Anyone who is truly interested in my husband's intention with Mayde In Ireland would know that he has effectively built bridges in this community. Many bridges. Bridges you couldn't hope to build as long as you judge continue to judge so severely. 

Those same people you spew as "ungodly, atheists, and Christ-haters" share a rapport with Mayde In Ireland, because they are treated with the dignity and respect that all HUMAN BEINGS deserve. How many souls have you saved treating people the way you do? How many souls could you hope to save as long as they know how you view them?

For it says in Ephesians, "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."

My husband and I, just as all Christians should, view all people as equals. Equal in deserving respect, openness, love, and dignity. We hope one day to help them hear the Christian message without assuming we are the awful stereotype of our so-called fellow believers. The kind that would push them away from the message with judgement, shame, and hate. That is indeed the opposite of our calling.

Who are you, madam, to question him? To question any of us? To question our mission? 

You have accomplished only one thing today. Any hopes of bringing the drummer back into attendance are GONE. Any hopes of Mayde In Ireland returning to perform at church events are GONE. Worst of all, Randy and I are all the closer to walking out the doors and never coming back.

I hope you're pleased with yourself. Because nobody else is. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

San Andreas (2015)

The human race has been plagued by natural disasters for as long as the human race has existed. The earth has had quakes for as long as the Earth existed. The cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles have been plagued by destruction and devastation the San Andreas Fault line as far back as their construction. Scientists have studied the fault for decades.

So, it should come as no surprise that the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles have always been and will always be plagued by earthquakes. One theory suggests that the two cities would one day merge due to the constant sliding of two plates. However, it remains highly doubtful that California will actually break apart.

The film San Andreas, though intriguing, is just a loosely-based story of past scientific studies. However, that shouldn't suggest that Californian residents should remain unprepared and ignorant. Not only am I a California resident, but my hometown lies between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. I am at risk of experience a fault line quake. Had it not been for this film, I would have remained ignorant of the fault line.

The destruction portrayed in the film, San Andreas, is more substantial than anyone could anticipate, causing an appalling death toll and unspeakable damage to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and everywhere in between. The audience goes on a nail-biting journey throughout Southern California as the characters struggle to understand the events around them and most importantly survive.

Though the film exaggerates the potential of what the San Andreas fault line can do, the natural disasters that occur are very real. It is something that rescue pilot Ray sees on a regular basis. His experience and expertise makes him a crucial person to everyone he encounters through the series of disasters.

Both he and Dr. Lawrence Hayes saves many lives, because of their knowledge and resources. At the same time, Dr. Lawrence Hayes devotes his studies to possibility of predicting earthquakes before they happen. He pushes the book he writes wherever he goes in a desperate attempt to educate the public on the looming disasters. However, it is not enough. The people do not listen until it is too late.  

There was a point as I watch a tidal wThere was a point as a tidal wave thrusts a large ship at the Golden Gate Bridge, a question was laid at my feet.ave thrust a carrier ship into the Golden Gate Bridge where a question comes to mind.

Can these poor victims continue believing in a merciful, loving God after such a trial?

To this, I say absolutely.

The people have the chance to heed the warnings available to them, but they chose not to. They have every opportunity to avoid this tragedy if they would only educate themselves about the fault line on which they reside. In a culture filled with free, accessible information, it would seem easy for citizens to educate themselves. There is no excuse for us not to educate ourselves.

Scripture says in Proverbs 22, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Facts about the San Andreas Fault are readily available on the internet. If you are a resident of Southern California, I highly recommend you educate yourself about the history of the fault line. To everyone else, I urge you to educate yourself about weather patterns of your home. Stay informed. Be prepared. Remain safe.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Archie relaunch redefines portrayal of women.

I grew up in a home littered with Archie comic books. Each story portraying two best friends: wealthy, high-maintenance brunette Veronica Lodge and middle-class, tomboy blonde Betty Cooper. The two could not be more different, except for one thing. Their relentless, romantic desire for Archie Andrews. When it comes to the womanizing "heartthrob", these foils become the same doe-eyed drama queen.

Despite several years of their unrelenting, frustrating battle to win the heart of Archie Andrews, they don't seem to let it affect their friendship. I will admit, the stories were entertaining and the story somewhat addicting. However, there were a few things about the story of Archie I struggled to understand.
  1. Could two friends be so different?
  2. Could two friends pursue the same person so openly?
  3. Do their competitive pursuits fail to destroy their friendship?
  4. Do either one of them really love Archie.
 The comic says yes. Reality says no.

The comics always seemed to reek of unlikeliness, and it caused a certain detachment between the the Archie characters and my empathy for them. I never felt a connection with Betty or Veronica. Above all, they lacked a true connection to Archie.

There is so much more to a high school friendship than competition over a boy. My relationship with my high school best friend was (and remains) to be one of the most meaningful friendships I ever had. We shared a passion for music. We enjoyed many sleepovers together. She introduced me to the finest youth group in town.She was there for me in some of the brightest and darkest moments in my life.

She was :a bridesmaid in my wedding, standing along side my two sisters. For she is like a sister to me.

Proverbs 18:24 says, "There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."

Show me a comic that embodies a friendship like that, like one I had in high school, and I would vow to become a life long subscriber.

 The promise of a more realistic dynamic between Archie, Betty, and Veronica gives me high hopes. The remake of Archie seeks to develop these two characters into their own women. From the preview I have seen, Betty embodies a true tomboy with lose fitting clothes and an interest in fixing cars.
 I can tell in one page what she shares with Archie is a passionate, heartbreaking relationship. It felt so real I felt as if I'd been transported back to my old high school days.

 It also develops the character of Archie himself. His new handsome features finally matches the aesthetic of a chick magnet. He is also portrayed as a sensitive guy with feelings and a breakable heart. In fact, the series begins in the midst of his struggle with the break up with his childhood sweetheart, Betty Cooper.

 This is a comic series that I would seriously consider collecting. I can't wait to see what happens between Archie and Betty, and how Veronica appears in the story.
 Resources: Link 1Link 2

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Coca-Cola's Campaign to end discrimination.

Matthew 7:1-2 says, "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged." (NLT)

Out of respect for the celebration of Ramadan (June 17 - July 17), Coca-Cola has removed the logo from their cans in Middle Eastern countries. It comes from the effort to remind us all that logos belong on products, not people. Given these controversial times, I can't think of a better reminder to launch.

Regardless of race, gender, religion, or orientation, every human has one thing in common. We are all equal children of God; as such, we all have equal rights to dignity and respect. We all have feeling that are prone to get hurt.

In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Lord declares he "...doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Truth be told, we don't know the story of a stranger. Instead of judging, we should exercise empathy towards each other. Try to put yourself in another's shoes. Ask yourself questions about the circumstances that brought a person to their state.

Most important, dwell upon the lessons of Christ. Remember what He did and didn't do. He did not allow a crowd of men to stone an adulteress. He did not order Mary back to the kitchen. He did not shun the woman at the well. He did not turn away the young, leprous or crippled.

He embraced. 

He loved. 

He accepted.

The definition of Christian is as follows: "A follower or disciple of Christ."
It is not enough to believe. Christians must LIVE by His example. Those who do not embody the example of Christ have no right to call themselves true Christians.

The world is filled with an awful amount of discrimination, but this seemingly small gesture can go a long way. This is a campaign that everyone in the world can use as a reminder. That is why I hope Coca-Cola is willing to consider extending distribution of these logo-free cans to the entire world.

May God bless equality and the campaign to end discrimination.

Resources: Link 1Link 2