Broken-down Poetry: April 2008


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Thursday, April 17, 2008

come out!

Thanks, everyone, for your responses. Austin, I love your answer (after begging you week after week at Starbucks-ironically enough-I'm glad that you want to save your money, woot!). As for Tom and Paul, I will answer your comments throughout this blog.

So without further ado:

Part 2.5: Jesus wouldn't drink Starbucks.

Who are we worshiping? (Tom, I believe that was your question.) Are we worshiping God or Money? Clearly in Matt. 6 it says it's up to you to choose which one you're going to call Master. So which is it?

We won't answer that quite yet.

* * *

God called us to be set apart; I will say it again and again. We are to be a "holy people," we are God's Bride. We are not supposed to follow the pattern of this world.

"Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." [Romans 12:2, The Message//Remix]

* * *

In Revelation, John the Revelator describes a mighty empire called Babylon as being like a seductive whore:

"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries." [Rev. 18:2-3]

Her whoring days didn't last long. By verse 9 of Revelation, after the "kings of the earth" committed adultery with Babylon, she ran outta her "goods." Verse 11 and 15 say, "The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore.... They will say, ‘The fruit you long for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.' The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn..."

Notice Babylon's connection with money. Who's suffering from "Babylon's fall?" Are the poor peasants suffering? How about Christians? It doesn't say much about them. The passage does make it clear that the MERCHANTS will suffer and weep and mourn. [And the children of the Slaughtered Lamb will rejoice.]

Notice more from that Revelation passage: "John says that [the Whore of Babylon] is drunk with the blood of the saints. Her wineglass is filled with the blood she has shed throughout the earth-of "saints, prophets, and all who have been killed on the earth"-hers is the cup of empire, slaughter, genocide, and sweatshops. Everyone has grown drunk from the blood, and they stand back and marvel, ‘Who is like Babylon?' Babylon the beautiful. But there are those who do not drink from her cup, who do not grow drunk on the cocktails of culture. Their cup is filled with the blood of the Lamb. It is the cup of the new covenant. The question becomes, From which cup will we toast?" [Claiborne, Shane. Jesus for President, 2008; p.150]

So John the Revelator paints this awful picture of a sex-and-money-hungry Whore of Babylon who entices people to do what? SPEND THEIR MONEY. Not on the poor, of course, but themselves. Sounds familiar if you ask me (hint: "We must keep shopping." George W., post-9/11)

Am I jumping ahead too much?

Consider what Ezek. 16:49 says of good ole Sodom: "She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."


So what are we supposed to do? I believe that was the great debate. Tithe more? Or, as Tom said, just not hang on to money so tightly? The answer:

"Come out of her, my people,

So that you will not share in her sins

So that you will not receive any of her plagues;" [Rev. 18:4]

"John's language couldn't be clearer: we are to ‘come out' of her, literally to pull ourselves out.... Scholars point out that this is erotic language and that the words John uses are the same ones use for coitus interruptus-to interrupt sexual intercourse before its climax. As John is speaking of this steamy love affair with the empire, he calls the church to ‘pull out of her'-to leave the romance with the world and be wooed by God, to remember our first love [v2:4], to say no to all other lovers. Certainly he made his readers blush. And it's not easy to pull out of a relationship of dependency and romance, of lavish gifts and captivating beauty, especially with a bride as beautiful as Rome or America." [Claiborne, Shane. Jesus for President, 2008; p.150; emphasis added]


Like I said before, in this blog and others, we are supposed to be set apart. We are DIFFERENT. I am a Christian, a "little Christ," a member of the Jesus Liberation Movement, I pledge allegiance to the true Son of God: Jesus Christ.

I am not of this world.

And since we are not of this world-or as Paul says, our "citizenship is in heaven"-we are supposed to not CONFORM to our culture but, (quote it, brothe'!) be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our minds... etc, etc.

I do not have a solution to this financial issue. Personally, through reading this book (Jesus for President) I feel convicted to STOP buying things and live like Penny* for a year.

*In Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, his friend Penny decided to not buy clothing for one whole year.

But, can I do it? Is that what God wants me/needs me to do?

I don't know.

Nor is that the point. I'm here as a messenger. Here's what I've heard, this is what I believe is a problem.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MORE community stuff. [this stuff keeps coming!]

Okay, so last blog I talked about more of the socio-structure of the Christian Community. But, as Paul pointed out, I forgot to mention the impetus behind the Community in Acts 2: LOVE. Because, in the words of Dustin Kensrue... (who took them from the Apostle Paul). And moving mountains ain't no thing to me; I've faith enough to cast them to the sea, but I don't know the first thing about Love. But all other things shall fade away; while Love stands alone and still holds sway.

BUT, I'm not going to discuss the Love factor in Community yet. WHAT?! No, really, I'm not. I cannot yet. I'm writing based on what I'm learning via God and the books I'm reading and the experiences I'm enduring. I haven't met that lesson yet. It's coming though.

Today I'm going to talk about the fiscal obligations of a community.

Part 2: Christianity is not capitalistic.

SIDENOTE: In yesterday's blog I used to Acts 2 passage about people giving to each other as they had need (Acts 2:44). Today I'm going to use that same passage.

I have a pretty legitimate fear. When I grow up, I am afraid that I am going to be a workaholic- capitalistic-guru. I am afraid I'm going to be like the antagonist in the song "Man in the 3k Suit" by Jonezetta, or "The Ghost of Corporate Future" by Regina Spektor, or "American Dream" by Casting Crowns...etc. I think that I am going to have a lot of money and invest it to get even more money. I will be one happy rich girl.

Now, I only say that because I know how I am with money. Frankly, I am kind of good with it. Not perfect by any means (hence my fear) but I am decent for a newly employed eighteen-year-old. I save 15%, tithe/donate 10%, and though sometimes I spend the majority of my paycheck on one fun trip to the mall, I always have a good pot of money brewing in my checking account. I like my system; my mom has taught me well.

BUT. Okay, what if I continue to do that the rest of my life, maybe invest in some mutual bonds or some stock, get a well paying job as an editor, and live a happy life as a consumer.

THROUGH THE EYES OF MY ECON TEACHER: Mr. Adams would say I did a great thing. Rich people get rich not from spending all their money, but being smart with it. If I am smart with it, I will be well-off financially.

But, I don't think that I am supposed to live like that. Yes, I know we need rich people in the world, um, to invest in important causes (cancer research, eco-friendly products, etc.) but I don't know if that is always true. At least not for Christians.

We were called to be set apart as people of God-the Church. The early church was not all about spending all their money on new iPods or investing in the Walmart stock. They gave their money. Think of Ananias and Sapphira. And where in the Gospels is Jesus seen as having money? Never. (But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?") That was not his money; nor was it his money found in the fish that Peter caught.

Think the Old Testament now: Every seven years all debts were cancelled (if you were an Israelite, that is). Tah-dah! AND every seven years people were to let their fields die. Not to mention, in Malachi God tells his people to tithe 10 percent.

Don Miller describes his duty as a Christian Consumer as having to "let the fields die." Though he is a best selling author and speaker, he doesn't take any money for his books-none. The guy could be as rich as Joel Osteen if he did (bah-dah-tsh!), but he understands the importance of Not Getting Addicted to Money.

Where did I get ADDICTION from all of that?

How easy is it to NOT think about money when you have tons of it, spend tons of it, and invest tons of it? It's hard.

And here's my dilemma... Does God want me to have money when I grow up? I mean, more than just enough to survive.

I bet all of you, 100% of my audience, thinks that I should be smart with my money and make sure I have some when I grow up. You would have to think that, because it's the way all of you live. You have a computer, right? If you have a computer that's a pretty good indicator you have money-unless you're at a library.

Anyway, I guess I only have half of an argument here so please, don't comment this note and call me a crazy fool.

I only know what it's like to have money. Sure, I only get $6.50 an hour, but I always have my mommy to provide me with what I need. Am I addicted to money? Maybe. I mean, I love buying clothes, I love buying new electronics. I have surrendered to the emperor, I guess. (So to speak.)

More on this later. Make this part one of part two.


Monday, April 14, 2008

more community chatter.

I have been thinking about the idea of community for a while now, as you learned from my previous blog. I think the concept, pertaining to Christianity in particular, is fascinating. Yes, it really is.

In my last blog I also said that I was experiencing a "perfect" community but, as Sarah politely pointed out, my CLAM group (Austin, Matt and I) is not "perfect" because we are "imperfect" people-by man's standards and God's.

But I do want to look at the idea of a perfect community even though I don't truly know what that is by experience (you win, Sarah), but because I believe that's what God designed us for. But with sin, that community cannot exist.

PART ONE: Christianity is not a democracy.

The foundation of our youth group is centered on this one passage of scripture (ready, Tom?) "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." [Acts 2:42-47]

I love this passage because it solely proves my next point. Get ready for it folks:

Christian community is a lot like SOCIALISM. (Really, it's a lot like COMMUNISM with Christ at its head, but let's not push it.)

DEFINITION: Socialism refers to the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community.[1] This control may be either direct-exercised through popular collectives such as workers' councils-or indirect-exercised on behalf of the people by the state. As an economic system, socialism is often characterized by state, worker, or community ownership of the means of production, goals which have been attributed to, and claimed by, a number of political parties and governments throughout history. [says]

Now I mostly said that for a reaction. Let me explain myself before you mutter Lauren is Stalin under your breath.

The basic principle of the Christian Community described in Acts looks like this: people work hard, and use what they have to give to others in their community. People "pool their resources" to make sure everyone had what they needed. They don't earn status through their paychecks, but use everything they have to serve others. (Really, I just restated Acts 2:44)

Isn't that the basis of a "good" socialistic society? Everyone works to provide for the needs of others. That's what Eugene V. Debs wanted, right?

I don't know enough about socialism to go into much detail, but you understand the point. The way the Bible describes the early church is a lot like the socialistic nations of yesteryear. BUT.

Those countries were screwed up, Laur. Especially when you start comparing the Christian Community to communism. God isn't Stalin either.

Well, yes. That is because (let us reiterate Sarah's point once more) WE ARE NOT PERFECT. Socialism doesn't work for godless countries, so we cannot help but assume it won't work for God-filled communities that are, at the root of it all, sinners.

Let me work backwards here again. We know politically that socialism doesn't work because it gives the wrong people power AND citizens never do their share of work. BUT what if they did?

What if everyone in the country did their share of work and the leaders did not abuse their power? I think socialism would be a fine machine, don't you? But we all know that doesn't happen, not for countries.

But what about for Christianity? Can it work?

I mentioned in my last blog how I was fed up with the imperfect Christian Community, the one focused on trivial drama rather than the interests of others. But what about CLAM? What if the rest of the youth group, the church, the city, the state, nation, or the Church herself became dedicated to others' needs instead of just their own?

We could make this "socialism" thing work. Rather, we could make this "Acts 2:42-47" thing work.

Sure there will be flaws. There can't be a perfect community here on earth but we sure should try. God gave us the early church's example for a reason.

I believe we shall follow it. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My guy friends have a peculiar habit. (Peculiar I say because I don't believe a lot of guys even worry about stuff like this.)

They are girl-protectors. Now, let's move past my tendencies to be a strong, woman-power kinda chica and focus on the BENEFITS of this theory. (My point: I don't believe I need protecting most of the time. I have a thing called a gut and I know how to use it.)

BENEFITS: There are occasionally jerky guys that I need my guy friends to keep outta my life. i.e. John Derek.

STORY: Missions trip 2007, Lauren crushes on a nice looking lad named John Derek Raymond. Turns out he "liked her." (He lived in Louisiana, did I mention that?) But he liked a lot of other girls. A lot. So Lauren's guy friends kept him away from her.

That was nice; I appreciated it.

But, sometimes this peculiar habit has gone a little crazy. i.e. kid in youth group that "liked me." Another friend kept this kid away from me. I don't know why it was necessary, the kid wasn't going to harm me in anyway. But, I didn't like that guy so it didn't hurt that my friend kept him away.

MORE CRAZY: Two of my guy friends tried to keep me from liking this one guy just because they didn't know him. He was a great guy--a Christian--but the guys didn't approve.

Which, like I said before, that's all fine. I don't feel I need protected, but I appreciate the guys' manly efforts to keep jerks away from me.

BUT, here comes the irony: While my guy friends are warding off all these John-Derek-jerks, who's protecting me from MY GUY FRIENDS?

Oh, no, you can't like dude from that church because I don't know him. Or, I'll keep that dude away from you because he likes three other girls.

BUT I can swoop in, like another girl (let's say), or treat you badly (perhaps), or even play games.

How come they get off the hook?

The underlying principle is this: this women-protecting my guy friends are doing can only work if done in the context of a inner-relying community. What I mean by that is that all members of the community must agree to certain ideals so that no one can be taken advantage of.

The goal of any community is to promote the interests of the other members of the group. Isn't that true? Think of the ACTS 2 church: they shared everything, prayed for each other, loved one another ("they were in one heart")--they were ONE ACCORD. They didn't let their girls get involved with jerks but they didn't become jerks themselves.

They understood that community meant that everyone was equal, everyone had a part, everyone was to be respected and loved.

I think I'm in a perfect community right now, and I confess it isn't my church nor my youth group. It's L.A.M. (AKA Clam or Lamb or Glam)

My friends Austin and Matt and I meet for coffee every week to talk about anything and everything. We are real with each other--that's truly the basis of our friendship. We hardly ever agree on each others' opinions, but we know that we are not going to get shot down if we're totally out of line. We respect each other. We offer advice and take it to heart. We joke around; we don't try to edit ourselves.

That's a community.

It's not a group of bickering people deciding who's turn it is to date so-and-so nor is it a bunch of teens tearing each other apart for believing in predestination over free-will. It's a group founded in love: true, unadulterated LOVE.

[dedicated to austin and matt. you guys make me happy.]

Monday, April 7, 2008

nothing wrong with my changing world..

Last September God told me that this season of my life was going to be about change-- I believe that was an understatement.

I experienced change in about every area of my life since then: a new car, a new job, new friends, new hobbies. And... some bad ones: lost friends, lost a crush, lost hope. All were meant to make me stronger, I believe. I was wrestling, like Jacob, with each instance desiring to be changed--for God to touch my hip so I may walk out of here different.

And I kind of thought that that season was over.

I'm not really sure why, I just thought that all the changing had been done. But was I any stronger? Was I any wiser? Clearly not, because Sunday God reminded me of a thing or two...

I'm not done changing. The world before me is not done changing. And whether it is cliche to say this or not, it has really just begun.

Sunday I sat and I heard God called me out--via my pastor Paul--on my biggest crime: pride. I am "Know it all." I do believe I have it all together and everyone else is just a foolish sinner. I don't need a mentor (and if I did, it would be someone famous. Like John Eldredge. Or, Don Miller). I talk down to people; I tell people when they don't know what they're talking about. I'm condescending.

More change: I sat with a girl I consider a Samaritan (and enjoyed it). I bit my tongue during youth group. My heart got broken. I clung to new friendships.

And dear Lord, in eight weeks there will be even more change. And two months after that, even more. I won't have my mommy to make sure I'm up in the morning or have her buy me my favorite granola bars (unless she wants to fedEx some!).

Change is never going to quit either. Whether God moves me into another season of life, I will never stop changing, I'll never stop growing--hopefully toward Him, hopefully into a stronger girl of God.

As Matty said in his Devoted article (that never got published, sorry) EMBRACE change. Love it. What's going on right now may seem like it will breed only more suffering, but hold fast. This moment is just a rung on a really, really long ladder, stay strong and stay close to God and you'll move up the ladder.

[Find your faith and dive deep, through living gateways pass
Lined with death and ivory, and hold fast, hold fast]