The Gospel According to Haley K.

Let’s face it… humanity is pretty selfish.  We want more than the next person, we covet other’s wealth and fame and some people will stop at nothing to make sure they (or someone they love) is a better place or position regardless of the consequences.  Wars have been waged over land and resources, people have been killed over little league playing time and people rush out to buy the new Apple iPhone or iPad or any other device to make sure they stand at the pinnacle of humanity’s shallow standards.

This unfortunately has found its way in the church through a number of doors.

Because of this we fail to remember the call of Christ to become self-less.  

We are called as followers of Christ to be the hands and feet of God at all times to all people.  When are humanity kicks in and overshadows are call we can say, act and even do things we regret.

My sister, Haley, tweeted some nice pieces of self-less theology.

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Much like humanity, the church can be the best thing for society and the worst for people all at the same time.  I hope that for our world’s sake we focus on others over our own.  Haley is right… the world would be a much better place.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once wrote:

Do your little of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Let’s not forget our own call to serve God in the world and through this interactions with others we will then show them the light of Christ.  This the most effective evangelism ever conceived.

 

In Christ,
Rev. Evan

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Tweet of the Week: Wait… What?

I know that a lot of people do not like the President’s policies or whatever, but this type of criticism is a new one for me.  I have heard people in passing joke about the fact that they think the President is the “Anti-Christ” (a word not even used in the book of Revelation but that is topic for another day) but never anything like this.

Happy Friday and happy tweeting!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Advent 2014

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Advent is here.
Advent is the time in the church calendar when we wait for the coming of the Christ child. It is marked by the observation of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Each Sunday of Advent the church observed a different theme of this journey: hope, peace, love and joy. Candles are lit as the light of the world (Christ) is drawing closer to us.
During this time we are called not to run to the manger but to wait… that’s right…. wait… for Christmas.

Waiting can be difficult in our ultra high paced society. We do not like long lines, emails or voice messages. Waiting for so called ‘fast food’ can send our blood to boil. What do you mean I have to wait? Well how long will it be… I expect to have my burger or chicken or whatever ready and at the appropriate temperatures when I cross the threshold of the door!
We want to get straight to the point as quickly as possible. This is why Twitter is so popular; Twitter forces you to construct your thoughts in 140 characters or less. Tell me what you want and move on.

We are a society on the move and for many of us we are practically sprinting. We cannot stop, we cannot slow down and we need to get more done today so we can repeat the dizzying process tomorrow.
Sure we take time to slow down but usually its because our bodies give out on us or we are “strongly encouraged” by our loved ones to relax and take some time for ourselves.

There is something freeing in slowing down. We are able to take in all that is around us and see how God is moving in our lives in ways that we would have looked right over had we not taken a moment to be reflective.

How are we using this time of Advent to prepare and to wait? Are we rushing for store to store buying mountains of gifts, trying to equate our love for someone by how big the price tag is?

How are we using this time of Advent to wait and to be reflective about what the coming of the Christ child means not only for the world or for the church but for us as followers of Christ? Don’t we want Christmas to be something more than pretty lights, too much food, elf on the shelf and Santa? Cant this time of Advent propel us into a deeper sense of the Divine around us and with us?

These are the thoughts that we take with us during this during to the manger… we aren’t there let but we know where we are going.

Below is a video that will explain Advent in about 2 minutes.  I hope and pray that this Advent is not filled with stress but with hope and expectation of God coming to Earth as a baby.

There are several devotional books available online to further your Advent experience.

 

May you encounter Christ’s hope, peace, love and joy this Advent season.

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

 


Photo Credit: “Advent candles” by Markus Grossalber via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.

EDIT: 12/3/14– grammar and additions

Hometown In The News

My hometown of Longview, Texas has been in the news lately, even Jimmy Fallon commented on it.

In short a women who is 34 was arrested for impersonating a high school sophomore.  Read more here.

 

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#BringBackOurGirls

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Hundreds of girls have been kidnapped in Nigeria because they had the audacity to want to get an education.

Be in prayer for these girls and that they might be brought back to their families safely.  It’s hard to imagine that so many girls could be taken away.  Social media as been buzzing trying to draw attention to this problem.

Sadly this problem is not just located in Africa but every day women, men and children are sold into modern day slavery and sex trafficking.

Despite all of the rhetoric and differences that get thrown around Christian circles there should be a united front from all followers of Christ.  These girls (or any person for that matter) are not property to be bought and sold and exchanged for goods.  If we truly believe in the divine presence of God indwells within all of humanity then we should be outraged at the actions of this terrorist group in Africa. Not just because they are a terrorist group but because they are stealing the innocence of these girls.

Pray for their safety, prayer for their families who struggle to cling to hope and pray that peace will come to earth and this never happens again.

 

Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

 


Follow the story on Twitter by searching the hastag #bringbackourgirls

Interview with Ben Fort of EmergingDisciple.com

Today I did a special interview… it was with my Brother in Law, Ben Fort.

He recently started a website called EmergingDisciple.com  which will serve as the canvas to which his spiritual journey will be played out.  I look forward to seeing how God uses his renewed faith.  You never know more videos might be coming your way.  Be sure to check it out!

Video Link

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


A 9-11 Reflection: 12 Years Later

English: Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010.

English: Tribute in Light, September 11, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On various social media platforms people are recalling where they were or how they found out about the events that took place on September 11, 2001.

It’s hard to imagine that in 2001 many things that we use everyday had not been invented yet– items like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005),Twitter (2006), the iPhone (2007), even this blogging platform wasn’t released until 2003.

A lot has changed in the last 12 years some for good and others not so much.

As I reflect on this day that is etched into so many people’s minds I am instantly transported to the moment when I heard the grave news.  The guy living across the hall from me in college stopped me on my way to chemistry and told me the news. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

Although 12 years have passed, for many that day is still as fresh at is was in 2001.  The world has gotten a lot smaller and in some cases more harsh.  What happened 12 years was a national tragedy, one that our nation has taken the time to remember each year.   We recall the names of those who died, we have moments of silence to honor them and we grieve all over again.

In my ministry in health care I meet people who have recently lost a love one.  At times they will say something “I know that I need to get over it.”  I stop them and I tell them that its ok if they never “get over it” and in all actuality they will never “get over it.”  The goal is not getting over a tragedy is goal is learning to deal with the pain, the hurt, the grief and the loss.  Too often we think that we should sprint to the acceptance phase of the stages of grief; we as a society don’t do well with grief, for some reason we get uncomfortable.

May we remember those who died this day; those on the planes and those trying to rescue the people trapped in the Trade Centers- not just on the anniversary.

May we never forget.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan



EDIT: formatting

We Have Some More Work To Do…

MTV

MTV (Photo credit: Gnal)

I’ll admit I haven’t watched the MTV Video Music Awards since I was in college. To be honest I have never understood why MTV still has the VMAs because they don’t show music videos anymore; instead we have hours of Jersey Shore reruns and different renditions of 16 and Pregnant. (Notice how music is not mentioned… people still miss TRL… come on MTV….). So since MTV is beholden to the bonds of tradition and probably its more than likely one of the best nights for them in the ratings, we are graced to have the VMAs.

Over the years the VMAs (much like the Grammys) has become a “who can act the craziest without losing street cred” award show. Performers will have weird outfits (looking at you Lady Gaga) or do special musical collaborations so they are the ones that people talk about the next day. Brittney Spears made her come back, *NSync reunited for a performance together and new dad Kanye West stole the spot light from Taylor Swift, all on the VMAs. So whether we like award shows or not, they have given us these cultural gems.

Well congrats Miley Cyrus (daughter of Country Star Billy Ray Cyrus) and Robin Thicke (son of Alan Thicke of the 1980s hit Growing Pains) you have won the prize– you are the most talked about act of the night. I can’t escape hearing about you and your weird act. One of the first things I heard on the radio driving to work this morning pertained to you, people in the office were talking about you, Facebook and Twitter were a glow with reaction of your “performance.”

If you were like me and missed the VMAs and more specifically their performance, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version so you don’t have sit through the 6:30 musical mash up (or if you are brave you can watch it here). Miley sings a song and sticks her tongue out a lot; Robin Thicke comes out to sing with Miley. Miley makes a bunch of proactive moves, gestures and gyrations- many of which are with a foam finger. And scene.

Were we only surprised by this type of behavior because it is coming from good hearted, clean cut “Hanna Montana?” Sure Lady Gaga wore a thong and a sea shell bra and others have danced in the same manner and even worn the same style of outfits, but we have grown a custom (for good or for ill) to it.

However, the fact remains we really shouldn’t be shocked by this.

I know this flies in the face of almost everything you more than likely have read on this topic, but hear me out. I am not saying that what Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke did was proper, correct or appropriate; but what do we expect when our society tells us that sexuality or overt sexualization is the way to get noticed and to be popular? Was Miley just falling in line with societal norms? The world bombards us with thousands of images each day and many of them are of perfection and sexuality. And let’s not take Thicke off the hook here either; while he might not have been dancing in the same erratic manner as Cyrus, his latest music video has him singing with many different topless women.

Same problem, different mode of propagating it.

One thing we have to learn from all of this is that Miley Cyrus is not Hanna Montana anymore; she is an entertainer who likes attention and makes money doing it. This, however, does not negate the fact that millions of girls look up to her for her music, her personality and style. I can understand the notion that she wants to be seen as an adult and she wants to break away from her clean cut, Disney Channel image, but there has to be a better way. Miley might be trying to ‘express herself as an artist’ and ‘find her place in this world’ but what message are you sending to those fans? Is this the way that females are supposed to get the attention of males? Is this the way you get noticed? Will boys only like you if you stick your tongue out an exorbitant amount of time and wear a vinyl bikini and parade around with a foam finger? Where’s the empowerment message there Miley? Where’s the individuality that you profess? Is this Miley being Miley or is this Miley fitting into what is cool and flashy? Was it just for the sake of the viewers and for “your fans” that compelled you do show the world that side of you?

In one short act, Thicke and Cyrus made their performance less about the music and all about them, thus continuing the cycle of sexualization as a standard of normality in our society.

A colleague in ministry, Rev. David Hansen, tweeted:

(FYI… ichthyologist is a fancy word for a marine biologist more specifically fishes)

I agree with Rev. David and in a perfect world that would be the case; however whether we like it or not we live in a world where musicians, celebrities, actors and the like are who influence our young people.

So we have some more work to do …

Maybe our disgust will propel others to see that our society is shaping our understanding of sexuality.

Will this change that we are all looking for happen over night? More than likely not… actually we will have probably forgotten about twerk-gate 2013 sometime next week when something more ridiculous is thrusted into the mainstream. We probably wont remember it again until the 2014 VMAs when MTV shows the clip 756 times leading up to the big night.

Until then, we have some more work to do…

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

What A Difference 3.8 Million People Make

Two months ago today I clicked publish on a post about Victoria’s Secret Spring Break Collection called “Bright Young Things.”   The aim of the letter was to let Victoria’s Secret know (as well as whomever would listen) that I disliked their marketing to a younger demographics and how they set up an unattainable standard of sexuality and beauty.

To date the letter has been read/viewed on this site nearly 3.8 million times from all around the world.  The letter is still be read today and shared over the internet.

To date the letter has been shared on Facebook over 765,000 times, on Twitter over 5100 times, almost 100 times on LinkedIn and over 550 times on Google Plus.

I want to take this time to say thank you for everything!

Because of the exposure I received, I have begun to contribute to a few websites- the Good Men Project, Sojourners and RadicalParents.com.  I am humbled and honored to contribute to these great sites.  I will try to post my articles here whenever I can.

I have been completely overwhelmed by all of this and I all of you to thank.  Without you sharing, liking, emailing and commenting- none of this would have ever happened.

I still have not had an official response from Victoria’s Secret (and I do not expect to), but another clothing company did.

About month ago Fruit of the Loom contacted me to let me know that they had seen my letter online.  They liked it and wanted to send my daughter “age appropriate” underwear.   They sent my daughter 10 pairs!  She was so excited to get them in the mail.

Fruit of the Loom

I want to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to Fruit of the Loom.  Thank you for generosity and for thinking of my daughter! (The items pictured can be found here and here.)

Thank you again!  Keep reading, sharing and liking!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan