Friday, October 30, 2009

why i'll be a horrible parent...

I love my laptop. No, really, I love my laptop. When I take it to my Mac genius for routine checkups, I have separation anxiety and suffer from empty nest syndrome. I always joke around that it's my child and she's needy. I even bought a pink plastic cover in case she's ever dropped or something hits her. What worries me the most is that I'll be the parent who makes their kid wear a helmet out to the grocery store--you never know what might happen in the frozen foods section! As my mother always says, it's better to be safe than sorry.

So you can imagine my horror when I opened my baby carrier (aka laptop side bag) to discover she wasn't there [reason #835,458,457 why I'll be a horrible parent]. I nearly passed out. She's my life. No, literally, my life. Everything of importance is on that cubic piece of technology (even my thesis from grad school which I've yet to backup on a hard drive). I immediately called the location of the conference and they graciously shipped it out today.

I have a loaner laptop from the IT department from work which everyone says is the same thing, but right now I feel like Angelina Jolie in Changeling, people! This is not my child! I know my child. I'm not crazzzzyyyy!

All that to say, I can't do my Friday Vlog which I'm totally bummed about because I don't have a camera. What I will say is I can't wait to share with you what is brewing in my head about the comments on those trying to jump in the challenge to live biblically. One word: Grace. I'll post the video on Monday, so hopefully you'll come back and check it out.

Love,
The Pharisee of all Pharisees

Thursday, October 29, 2009

fighting and feelings...

Friend: Why are you doing this challenge? You already live biblically.
Me: No I don't.
Friend: Oh my gosh! Yes, you do. Living biblically is simply living like Christ. You do that.
Me: No, really, I don't.
Friend [loud]: Yes, YOU DO!
Me [louder]: NO I DON'T!
Fine [exasperated]: Fine! You may not, but I do.
Me [yelling]: NO! YOU! DON'T!

And with that final upper cut to the ribcage, I busted out a verbal UFC move on my dear friend. The low blow stunned my friend in the way Chuck Liddell would've stunned Tito Ortiz in a fight to the finish. Exasperated and slightly wounded, Friend replies, Fine, do what you want. But I'm not talking to you for the next two weeks. This is ridiculous. I wrapped my prayer shawl around me and began quoting scripture outloud. Not really, but I totally felt like a Pharisee, yet righteous all at the same time.

But here's the truth: I don't live biblically. And neither does my friend. And if you're honest, neither do you.

I have this list with me as a reference point in case I forget what the bible says on, say, looking at their amazing book and being filled with envy (Luke 12:15), or wanting to be first in line (Mark 10:43-44), or wanting to pour Nyquil in the bottom of the crying baby next to me on my last six hour flight (BiancaNeedsJesus 1:1).

So here's the challenge for us today: pick one command of Jesus today and live it out. Seriously, take one simply tenet of Christ-like living and do it in In The Name Of Love. For God is love and as His children, we are to do likewise (John 15:12).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

rules, regulations, respect: biblical living challenge...

By and large I think I’m a healthy. I workout at least four times a week, only drink water, try to eat healthy meals throughout the day, and take vitamins (when I remember). But it’s not until I’m forced to chart my exact caloric intake, measure ounces of meat, and take bodily measurements that I’m forced to physically see how unhealthy of a person I am.

Occasionally I’ll Tweet about my food-fest of gluttonous proportions, take a picture of a heavenly dish of food, or confess a caloric trespass, but I’m usually quiet on my blog about my eating habits. Why? Because I want to give the allusion that I’m healthy in every aspect of my life. That’s the funny thing about a blog—you can create the allusion of who you desire to be. It’s like the nerd version of mySpace.

In attempts to change this, I will be daily writing post by the following rules:

  1. Live biblically for two weeks according to New Testament standards.
  2. Adhere to the moral laws of the Old Testament.*
  3. Promise to the loyal blog readers that I will not quit for two weeks.

I'll be posting later today about something that happened yesterday at the conference which caused me to already break John 15:12 (Love one another as I have loved you), but I need some time to lick my wound.

*I have studied and love Old Testament teaching, but there is a distinction between moral laws and ritual laws. The moral laws are the ones found in the Ten Commandments: no killing, no coveting, and so forth. I’ll follow those. Ritual laws are the ones about avoiding bacon, not getting tattoos, and not shaving the corners of your head (like Orthodox Jews). In my survey of scripture, Jesus made those rules obsolete through His death on the cross.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

kindergarten and conferences...

My body thinks it's 3:45am, but according to Chicagans (yes, I made up that word), it's 5:45am. I can hear trash collectors and sirens and taxis and I feel like I'm at home. I love the electricity of the city and I'm excited to see what she smells like, looks like, and of course, taste like!

I'm at the Cultivate09 conference and tomorrow I'll be at StoryChicago, but I fully intend on journaling my experiences. Conferences are like kindergarten to me. You know, the nervousness of trying something new, outside of Mom's warm arms and into a world of opinionated and crazy personalities. Not like I would really KNOW what kindergarten is like--I was homeschooled. But imagine it would be like this. Minus the naps and animal crackers.

It would be remiss not to mention today I begin my Living Biblically experiment. I'm not sure if now is the time to start, but, as the natives would say, Eh, get over yourself! So I'm doin' this. I'm updating Twitter and occassionally my facebook, so if you want to join the ride, you're more than welcome to!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 26, 2009

live simply so others can simply live...

Last Wednesday I sped down Washington Boulevard with a million things pulsing through my mind. Technically it was my lunch hour, but lunch wasn’t remotely on my to-do list. I jumped from store to store in a frantic 60-minute game of leapfrog. My final lily pad was Staples to pickup office supplies. On the phone, list in hand, I walked with the intention and focus of an archer, the electronic sliding door my target.

I didn’t even see her at first. Her question threw me off. Her skin was weathered and aged, her hair matted and frayed. It was over 95 degrees and she was dressed in a grey sweat suit and jacket. She was homeless and hot and asking for something to drink.

I’m not sure I even acknowledged her existence. I was distracted and annoyed that I had been pulled from my focus. I mumbled something of a half-truth as I walked into the store to pickup card stock and lanyards for our thanksgiving event, because you see, I’m busy and important and planning a big event to help people. Oh yes, that’s right, I want to serve the homeless! The working poor! The hungry!

And then it hit me. The woman standing outside the air-conditioned store was the exact person I was aiming to help. Yet I didn’t even know what she asked of me.

I walked outside, looked for the grey sweat suit and found the exhausted woman sitting in the shade. She saw me coming and asked me for something to drink, but she stopped mid-sentence upon recognizing it was the same woman who ignored her at the door. I sat down next to her and asked what she needed. All she wanted was water. And all I wanted was a slap in the face.

I make Life complicated. Yes, complicated. It doesn’t have to be intertwined with layers of deeds and plans and budgets. At the core of this is simplicity. As I heard this weekend while visiting a church, live simply so that others can simply live. In one act of kindness, I was able to love this woman like Jesus would have. By serving man, I was able to serve God and live out Matthew 9:41, For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

Food for thought: What are simple ways you can help others simply live? When was the last time you took less so someone could have more? Live like Jesus. Give what you have. Love out loud.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Video Post #4...

In light of Halloween next week, I wanted to address the issue of whether or not Christians should participate in this national holiday. If you don't agree, make a stand. If you agree, make a stand. Learning comes from wrestling through God's word in conversations with other believers who eagerly seek out the truth :)

As balanced as I try to stay about the subject, I fully admit that I don't celebrate the holiday. Not because I'm uber spiritual, but because anything remotely scary will keep me at home, under warm blankets, thankful for happy thoughts! However, while researching this topic this week, I came across an interesting article written by William J. Schnoebelen, a former witch priest who is now a professing Christian. I've attached it below for your knowledge and pleasure.

Note: If you opt to go out next Saturday, eat some candy corn for me!

William J. Schnoebelen, a former witch high priest, on Halloween:

As a former witch high priest now saved by Jesus, I was astonished by how many Christians let their kids celebrate Halloween. Some churches even sponsor “haunted houses” and similar events on what is the Number One satanic “helliday” of the year. Halloween used to be called Samhain, and is still celebrated as an ancient pagan festival of the dead by witches all over the world. Unfortunately, just giving the date a “holy” name like All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve cannot change its grisly character. Halloween is an occasion when the ancient gods (actually demons) are worshiped with human sacrifice. The apostle Paul warns us: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:20).

If you are a Christian parent, God has given you a precious responsibility in your children. Remember, their ability to resist spiritual wickedness is much less than yours. If you allow your children to participate in Halloween (Trick or Treating, costume parties, etc.) you are allowing them to play on “the devil’s turf,” and Satan will definitely press his home court advantage. You are opening up doorways into their young lives for evil by bringing them into a kind of “fellowship” with these ancient “gods.”

We are commanded not to become involved with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Both from my experience as a witch, and since getting saved, as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have seen far too many examples of how breaking this command works out in lives. Remember, while we have God’s promise of protection for ourselves and our children, that promise may not hold if we allow our children to celebrate this dark holiday. Case after case has come to us of children in rebellion. In many of these families, the problem can be traced back to the children being exposed to Halloween at a young age. It is hard enough to raise children these days in a Godly way without exposing them to Satan’s realm.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

lessons from an atheist...

Instantly chop my hair off? Sure! Take a Nazirite vow? Sounds like fun! Compete in a mud run? Sign me up! Take a hip-hop class with professional dancers while you have no training? Doin' it!

My friends roll their eyes when I share my latest harebrained commitment. Everyone knows I'm going to regret these spontaneous decisions, but I don't care. When Life calls me out to the proverbial dance floor, it's as if I have to bust out my windmill head-spin and pop up with the ever-flagrant, You Got Served! Maybe it's the underdog in me. Maybe it's stupidity. All I know is no matter what, I have to rise to the occasion.

I'm reading A.J. Jacobs' latest book, A Year of Biblical Living. I bought the book simply to read about the atheist who decided to take the bible literally. And when I say literally I mean devoting 365 days to living out hilarious adherence to the Old and New Testament. I'm sure people must think I'm like the crazy lady from Venice beach who pushes her grocery cart full of cats and talks to herself, because when I read this book I talk to myself when I'm by myself. Yes, as in out loud. Even worse, I smother laughs and snorts in Starbucks which I try to play off as a coughs. Yes, I'm that cool.

I'm finishing the book and instead of the elation which comes from completion, there's a disconcerting feeling I call conviction. I can't explain it--it's not like a voice or a crop circle that mysteriously appears as a sign. It's something beyond me. Life is challenging me to live biblically. It's straight-up krumping in my face and calling me out to live a life worthy of the gospel (or at least the title of Christian).

I mean, this shouldn't be hard, right? I've read the bible cover-to-cover three times. I've hugged orphans in Mexico and shared Jesus in Japan. I've given money away to homeless people with witty signs and gave a sandwich to the crazy cat-lady from Venice beach. So what can I learn from the Jewish, atheist, germophobic writer who lives in New York? Apparently how to actually live out what I believe.

I'll be blogging about it for a week or so. When will it start? Uh, when you see me doing the Robot and the Roger Rabbit on the dance floor, you'll know it's started.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the giving tree...

Once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy. Everyday he would come and gather her leaves...

He would animate his voice and turn each page in dramatic fashion as I rested my head on his arm. Even as I child I knew there was something sacrificial about the time he spent with me each night as we read my favorite book over and over until I memorized the each sentence without the ability to read the words. The scent of my dad mingled with the smell of the pages from the library book and it was intoxicating. If I could bottle the scent, I would put it on everyday as a reminder of my dad (my Giving Tree) and Shel Silverstein (author of The Giving Tree) and God (the creator of our Giving Tree).

We had a Giving Tree. My dad doesn't believe I remember it since I was only three years of age, but I do. I remember the trunk of the tree, the shade during the day, the shadows at night.

What I didn't know then was it was our source of food for many days, weeks, and months. Last night over dinner, my father recounted stories about the avocado tree in our backyard which allowed us to survive on avocado sandwiches, avocado grilles, avocado tacos, and of course guacamole for months. We were losing our house, my mom was losing her mind, and my dad was losing his hope. During those times, he would walk into the backyard to pick up our dinner from the ground. Swallowing his pride, salvaging his home, saving his family, this tree became a friend.

In a weird sense, it was like God. No, God wasn't in the tree, God wasn't the tree, God was like the tree. During that time in my father's life, the thick trunk was a pillar in times of trouble, the leaves reached out like arms providing protection from life's harsh heat, and yes, even though there were shadows of fear, it still provided the sustenance we needed for daily survival. He doesn't need the tree anymore. Or at least that's what I thought until last night.

"I am sorry," sighed the tree. I wish that I could give you something...but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry...."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy, "Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, "Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest." And the boy did.

And the tree was happy.

At the end of the book the Giving Tree has given all she could until there was nothing left to garnish attention from the boy-turned-man. But I realized God, like the tree, is simply happy when we rest in Him and find contentment simply in what He's given us (1 Timothy 6:6).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

books, lovers, and the official expose...

A room without books is like a body without a soul (Marcus Cicero).

To the annoyance of many people, I read several books at a time. When it comes to reading I try pretending that I'm linear and formulaic, but it's more like hodge-podge and potluck. A book has to be really good (and I mean really good) for me to lose myself in it. When I fall in love with a book, I marry myself to it. I won't get out of bed, I'll stay up all night with it, and when I'm away from it, all I do is dream about being reunited in our favorite spot: my bed.

Someone asked me to post a list of what I'm reading, but if you know me, books are like love-interests. When I see people posting their booklists, I feel like they just wrote an expose of their love life. Somethings should be private, people!?!

With that being said, I realized that I have serious issues with books and need to get over the personification of inanimate objects. [Yes, I take Nerd to a whole new level.] I'm listing a few books that I've either just finished or I'm currently reading. Some books are for research, others are for leisure, and others are for theological investigation. I'm not advocating any book in this post! I'm just listing what I'm reading. If there is a book you recommend, drop me a line. I'd love to check it out! As Mortimer Adler says, Reading is the basic tool in the living of a good life.

A Year of Biblical Living, AJ Jacobs. Hilarious. Seriously, I read 120 pages in like a nanosecond. Jacobs is an atheist who is causing me to internalize the question: Do I really live as the bible commands?
Tribes, Seth Godin. Rocked. My. World. If you're a leader (or want to be) read this.
Its Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be, Paul Arden. Ignore the title--it's not a spiritual book. It's a marketing book about 60 pages in length, containing 60 years of wisdom.
Leading With A Limp, Dan Allender. I would've never picked this book up had it not been for a friend who bought it for my birthday. I wanted to be grateful, but I was confused. [Uh, thanks? This is totally like the Sadaris book I really wanted. Oh wait, no it's not.] But it's probably one of the best books on leadership I could ever read.
Plan B, Anne LaMott. Some people think she's crazy. Others think she's a spiritual oracle. I just think she's a great writer. Whether I agree with her theology or not, she's got a grip on writing that grips my heart.
On Writing, Stephen King. I was afraid to buy this book because I thought I'd have nightmares or something. Hello, it's Stephen King. But to my surprise, I was moved to tears reading his story, his passion, and his insight on writing. Tedious, but very informational read.

Monday, October 19, 2009

ghetto fabulous...

While researching the origins of modern urban vernacular, I was taken back by a common denominator in many popular slang words: money. Almost everything had to do with getting money ('cause it's all about the Benjamin's), spending money ('cause it's the dolla dolla bills y'all), or finding someone with money ('cause she ain't nothing but a gold digger). Our society exalts those who live opulent lifestyles, drive the fanciest cars, and spend money like it's going out of style. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against money or extravagant spending--if you have it. But I see so many people my age living above their means. Maybe it's stupidity. Maybe it's entitlement. Whatever the case may be, it's financial death by plastic cards.

According to UrbanDictionary.com there is a word for these people: ghetto fabulous. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've labeled myself ghetto fabulous in the past, but now that I've been enlightened to the terminology, I don't think it's cool to be equated with inappropriate spending on depreciating items instead of items that build wealth. Word picture: The girl who lives in section 8 housing, but has an iPhone she carries around with her food stamps in her Gucci purse. It's incongruous.

We are told we cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24), but that's exactly what we do when we lay down Visa and Mastercard at the feet of our idols. As people who trust in a Being to provide our every need, what does it say that the financial debt of Christians is at par with the national average? Because every need doesn't include our every want. 83% of credit card debt is not from purchases made for existence, but opulence. This is the exact usury spoken about in Nehemiah 5:10--and it's wrong.

As a recovering ghetto fabulous diva extraordinaire, I'm standing on my proverbial soap-box and warning Scenesters, Gold Diggers, Players, Rock Stars, and the Wannabe's that the cost of debt is not fabulous, but fabuLESS. In the famous words of Nancy Reagan, Just Say No!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Video Post #3...

Yesterday my hair dresser engaged in a conversation which sounded like she was convincing herself rather than me on the issue of dating. As she went off in a diatribe about men, dating, and the church, I realized that this is an issue many churches are facing. She vocalized her hatred of people who treat her as if she has a disease (Oh, she's single... let's pray for her) and the men from church who don't ask women out.

Personally, there are worse things than being single. Like not having a big toe. Or missing your teeth. Or walking in Death Valley with no shoes. But this issue effects a large portion of Christians, so I want to address this issue with sensitivity towards men in the church, as well as encourage women to be the best we can be in singleness.

*Disclaimer: I'm not the authority on this issue, so please jump in the conversation and give your insight.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

food for thought...

No good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:11b)

Break-It-Down [said with attitude and three snaps in Z-formation]!
No: nothing.
Good thing: the ability to worship God even in exile; to be who we're meant to be.
Upright walk: trying to remain upright though the winds of the world wage war against us.

Why is this so hard for me to believe? Because heretics and many televangelists have taken this scripture and used is for financial gain. Charlatans have twisted this scripture to fill their pockets while unsuspecting victims believe good things come in the form of health and wealth, a Porsche and a hot spouse, a mansion and a million bucks.

But this text in context is a beautiful song written by Korahites, the temple keepers, who speak about a longing to dwell with God, to yearn for God, to find protection and strength in God. In conclusion (v11-12), because of all the things the Lord provides (v1-10), we have all good things when we walk uprightly. For some, good things are a Porsche and large bank account. For others it's cancer and the ability draw people to the Lord. In either situation, we are truly blessed because the Lord is our shield (protection) and our sun (light) (84:11a).

How is the Lord your shield today? Have you been given light in a dark time in your life? What are the good things the Lord has given you while you've walked uprightly? Sing loud, sing proud, blessed in the person who trust in you (84:12).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

scents and stench...

Roses in bloom, jasmine in the morning, honeysuckle at night. Sweet, intoxicating scents reminding me of my childhood lead to floral wonderlands in my memory. My love of flowers is hereditary. Stemming from my grandmother and her affinity for roses and carnations down to my mother who named all her daughters after flowers, we love the scent of fresh flowers. A gentle fragrance fills the air and for a slight moment, flowers can make everything better.

Now take that sweet scent and contrast with with the stench of a high school locker room. Or a Cheveron gas station restroom in Barstow. Or a crowded Italian subway in the middle of July. One is a sweet scent while the other is a putrid stench.

As dichotomous at those comparisons are, sometimes we can be the same way. When there is sin and impurity in our life, there is a putrid, repugnant, recoiling odor emitted when we offer a sacrifice. When we harbor sin, when we cover sin, when we "lift up holy hands" and try to offer our sacrifices to the Lord while struggling with impurity, we offer up a repugnant stench, rather than a sweet aroma of praise.

Whether you are a mother and your children look up to you, a student on campus who people know is a Christian, a leader in ministry, a person of prominence in your field of work, a recent divorcee who is struggling keep balance in your life, WE MUST NOT BE LIKE THE PHARISEES who believed they were fragrant flowers, but were nothing more than stinky socks: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Matt. 23:27).

Stop faking the funk. We smell and no amount of Dakkar Noir or Cool Water (aka scents of the ghetto) can cover the odor. Be washed with Living Water and anointed with fragrant oil. It is then and only then we can be a sweet aroma unto the Lord (Lev. 3:5b).

Monday, October 12, 2009

pay it forward...

The Lord has gave and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

As I drove through the rural area en route to my speaking event this weekend something gnawed at my soul. It was money. I knew I was going to be given some form of payment, but I hate dealing with honorariums and speaking fees. Quite honestly, it makes me feel like like I'm prostituting God's word. At the same time, this is how I make my living and I want to accept the blessings of others who appreciate my time. The pendulum swings back and forth on this issue and I vacillate on how to handle this quandary. So I called my mentor who succinctly said, I need to be direct: God's word is free, but gas isn't. Your time and knowledge is worth something. You didn't ask for a specific amount, so just trust that they'll give you what they can afford.

When I left they handed me a beautiful basket full of lovely items... and an envelope with a check. But it was if I was Superman and the white envelope was kryptonite. I couldn't touch it.

Yesterday at the small group study I teach, I ran into a young lady who moved away to school but came into town to visit us. As a student of Biblical Studies and Evangelism, she's like an amazing cross-breed between Joan of Arc and Billy Graham... except really pretty. Everyone squealed when she entered the room because she has a presence that warrants excitement and joy. After the study ended, we got a chance to connect and she shared that she had a large school payment due at school today, she had no idea how she was going to come up with the money, but she trusted God would provide.

In that moment, I KNEW why I accepted the honorarium from the speaking engagement. As she was talking, I reached into my purse and handed her the entire check. Confused and dazed, she looked bewildered as she said, I wasn't asking for money. Why are you doing this? I simply told her the money was never mine to begin with. It was God's money. Now she has to pay it forward and do unto others as she would like done to her.

Nothing has changed from the days of Acts or the Early Church. We are still called to help those in need, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. In modern vernacular, pay it forward. This is not motivated by President Obama and sharing a piece of the pie. This is loving like we are called to love. So pay it forward today. Do unto others as you would like to be done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

michael hyatt, providence, and twitter...

I usually don't blog on Sundays, but I'll make an exception for Michael. No, not Michael Scofield, Michael Jackson, or Michael Jordan. It's better! The Michael Hyatt: husband to Gail, father of five, loving dog owner--oh yeah, and Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

He's witty, charming, disarming and as cute as a button! I've been following him on Twitter for several weeks and if Seth Godin is right about tribes, then Michael has an army! With almost 43,000 followers this man could go to war against Alexander the Great. And win. Yes, he's that smart.

On Saturday morning I tweeted about speaking at a conference on the topic of modesty. In true providential form, Mr. Hyatt tweeted about posting a blog about modesty no more than a second after I did. Michael could write about the necessity of Velcro in the 21st century and I'd love it, but this article was a perfect resource to read before I taught. So I tweeted again.

BiancaJuarez: Providence! @MichaelHyatt posted a blog about modesty the day I talk on the issue. I might have to steal his material ;) He won't mind.

And then it happened. My phone chirped with a Twitter direct message from Michael Hyatt. Wait, let me write that again. From. Michael. Hyatt.

MichaelHyatt: Absolutely! Steal away.

In that moment, Michael Jackson could have passed me his white glove, Jordan could've passed me a ball, and Scofield could've tattooed my name on his chest and I wouldn't have cared. Michael Hyatt sent me a direct message on Twitter. I squeeled like a little girl and nearly died. Twice.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Video Post #2...

But Mom, I really want one! Even Daddy has a tattoo, I argued passionately. Yes, she replied, but that was when he was a drunk Marine in Viet Nam. Now he's a Christian. And with that one sentence, she struck the jugular. What I heard was something like this: Me + Tattoo = Not a Christian. In retrospect, I'm really glad my parents didn't allow me to get a tattoo when I wanted it at sixteen. I mean really, how uncool would I be today with a Lisa Frank dolphin on my ankle and the Chinese character for love on my tailbone?

Now that I'm older and study the scriptures with more voracity, I took at look at the tattoo-text in Leviticus 19. Though my mother's reason for forbidding tattoos was sincere, I'm not sure it's a Christian versus non-Christian issue. But she attended an uber-conservative church in her formative years and regurgitated the beliefs in our household. The problem is when we take a text out of context and make it a pretext for something else, we can become legalistic and dogmatic over issues that aren't explicitly sins. Or worse, we can have a gross misinterpretation of scripture.

The issues really deals with the intent of the heart and personal convictions. Here's my two cents:

Are Tattoos A Sin? from Bianca Juarez on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

right relationships...

Friends and peers are vital in doing Life. Not all my friends are Christian. Not all my Christian friends share my personal convictions. Not all my Christian friends have the liberties I do. But I love the diversity! I love being challenged on certain topics and encouraged on others. What I've had to wrestle with is trying to find people who are like-minded and spiritually on par with where I am so I can go to them for prayer, I can open my heart to, I can share private issues with them and receive Godly counsel. But I've had to seek those relationships out. They didn't come to me.

I hear so many church people say they can't find accountability or a true friend to open up with. But do they think a stork is going to drop a large white bundle on your doorstep and you'll unwrap a best friend? No. Seek out right relationships. Put yourself out there. Make the first move. It's hard but the payoff is worth it. I know--I did it. I literally went up to two girls and asked them to be my friends. Seriously. I did. I told them to keep me accountable and gave them the right to speak into my life and ask hard questions.

Proverbs 27:6 Better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy. These girls (and several others) have hurt me with the truth. But I am a better person because of it. I've intentionally connected myself to women who are connected to the Lord. If they weren't connected to the Redeemer, I will probably would become disconnected too. For bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 3:13). I'm not saying not to hang out with non-Christians. I'm saying to be careful with who you open yourself up to for wisdom and counsel.

Thanks to Connie from Philly who asked such a great question for last week's vlog (video blog), I've been able to take inventory of those who I love and appreciate in my life. Tomorrow's vlog will be discussing tattoos :) I'm getting excited... rawr!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

five things i love but don't want to...

Some people are effortlessly cool. I, on the other hand, must really try hard. You know, try to be witty, try to be suave, try to be composed when really I'm desperately trying to find that happy place of assurance in my mind. People like Promise Tangeman just are cool. Like, really, really, ridiculously cool [said like Zoolander]. Promise has a reoccurring post on her blog about the five things she loves each season. I told her I was going to copy her idea, but when non-cool kids try to be cool, it somehow ends up flat. So, I'm embracing Nerdom and creating my own version of "five things."

Five Things I Love But Don't Want To:
1. CalorieCount.com. Using this data-base you can plug in virtually any food and it'll tabulate your caloric intake. It'll also allow you to chart your weight loss, exercise routine, and help you target your necessary calories.
Why I hate it: I'm OCD and I'll become a bit too obsessed with trying to calculate my caloric intake. By the end of the day, I almost always go over my calorie amount and feel like calling my friends Ben and Jerry to bring spoons to the couch so we can commiserate.

2. Pink Grapefruit Perrier. I try not to drink carbonated liquids, but there is something about this sparkling water that I adore! I literally drink it out of the bottle like a parched man in the Sahara desert.

3. iPhone and apps. My iPhone is literally the bane of my existence. I don't want to love it, but I can't get rid of it. It's like a three-legged puppy with one eye; you don't want to like it, but it's almost neglectful to ignore it. I'm trying to work on turning it off just as an act of discipline. But yes, I twitch until it's back on.

4. Reality TV. Ugh, I know, I know. Reality television isn't real. But that's why it's better than real life. Hello?! I'm smart enough to know that game shows are rigged, scripts are surreptitiously memorized, and drama in injected to every episode, but that's what make it fun.

5. Hulu. My schedule pretty much doesn't allow time for television, but now there's this handy-dandy website that is AMAZING. Thanks Hulu for letting me waste the few free minutes I have on mind-rotting trash. You're the best!

So at the end of my day you'll find me sitting on my couch drinking Perrier out of the bottle, twittering on my iPhone, and tabulating my calories while watching reality TV on Hulu. So spill it! What are your five things you love but don't want to? I dare you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

why am i created...

For centuries philosophers have been asking the age old question why are we created? Socrates, Plato, Sartre, Derrida, Foucault have all discussed in conversation the meaning of life and our existence on earth. While in graduate school I remember feeling like an existential, metaphysical blob of collected cells. And let me tell you, walking around thinking there is no purpose in life and my existence is mere happenstance is a dark way to live. I'm surprised I didn't dress in black and hug myself while rocking in the corner of a dark room.

When I heard my friend Joey Rozek explain our purpose in life, it was painfully simple. I remember skeptically listening to his two minute dissertation on the true meaning of life and I was sure that there had to be more--there had to be a Secret that only one author and Oprah could truly know. But maybe, just maybe, Occam's razor was right: the simple answer is always the right one.

Why are we created? What is the meaning of life? We are created to bring God glory. Period, the end. Isaiah 43:7 says, Everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for My glory... God has called us with a purpose and a destiny. I've asked a million times over what my purpose in life is. God has never come down with a booming voice and said, YOU ARE TO BE A UNDERWATER BASKET WEAVER, MY CHILD. What has happened is that I've taken steps of faith, then been able to look back at my journey and see that God's hand was upon every step. It's stepping out of the box and trusting, committing, and relying upon the Lord for direction.

Paul wrote to the Colossian church and informed them, All things were created through Him and for Him. If we believe this simple truth, that our purpose is to bring Him glory, no matter what you're doing should be for the glory of God. Teacher, chef, trash collector, homemaker, lawyer, homeschool mom, or dog whisperer, we have the honor and obligation to do all things for His good purpose.

Take pictures that make God proud. Write songs that make God proud. Run really fast to make God proud. He's given us gifts for His glory. Now use 'em!

Monday, October 5, 2009

wait for the great...

I used to have an affair. Yes, it's the truth. I became addicted at a very young age to something that was not good for me. In the realm of life-changing experiences in my three years on earth, McDonald's ranked above breathing, blinking, and sleep. According to urban legend [read: mom's memory], Jasmine and I would cry and wince in our car seats at we screamed out for fench fye every time we passed the magical golden arches. I still wince in my seat as I pass McDonald's--but it's for a new reason.

I saw the documentary SuperSize Me. Enough said. Since then I've been able to look at the manufactures of artificially colored cheese, processed meat, frozen hydrogenated fries, and fluffy white buns in a whole new light. McDonald's panders to those who want the simple, the easy, and the cheap. They've made billions on this marketing scheme and it's works (well, that and the McFlurries are delicious).

What really bothers me is that we've taken this mentality in our personal lives. I see countless of people settling for so little when they could have so much (Col. 2:9-10). Sure, we can survive of McDonald's 69 cents cheeseburgers... but why should we? More importantly, why would we want to? God is proverbially serving us His choicest meat (Hebrews 5:14) that has been marinated and rubbed with seasonings, baking delicious bread from imported flour (John 6:32-35), pouring unending drinks to quench our souls (John 4:10), but we sit totally content eating our artificially produced 69 cents cheeseburger?!

I vividly remember talking to a young girl who approached me and was upset that I lambasted McDonald's. Just because you don't like MickeyD's doesn't mean it's bad, she said with indignation and offense. I actually think it's really good, she crossed her arms at her chest and waited for a defense. I looked directly into her eyes, paused, and gently replied, Tanya, you think McDonald's is good because you've never had anything better. As hurtful as it may have sounded, it was true. Once we taste and see the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8), we will never want to go back to surviving off of something so little, when God has something so great.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Video Post #1...

Hey y'all! For those who watched the interview yesterday and supported me with tweets or facebook comments, you rock! I was very nervous and felt unprepared to handle the topic thrown at me ten minutes before we went live, but it done with a purpose. Solo deo gloria, right?

We didn't get a chance to answer any of the questions asked on last week's post, so I'm being a brave girl and answering questions via my office... during construction... on my laptop camera... and no guest host... so cut me some slack. Who loves you, kid?

If you agree or don't agree on the issue, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Either way, thanks for stopping by, friends.

video
Edit to post: I said Hebrews 11:25, but it's actually 10:25. My bad!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

www.hischannel.com...

So if by chance you're tired of facebooking at work, darning socks at home, or reorganizing your paper clip collection, you can tune into HisChannel today at 1:05pm (PST) to watch Today's Faith with Cheryl Brodersen and... er, um... me.

From what I gather so far, I'll be giving my two cents about being the most functional dysfunctional pastor's kid, ministry life, and what I do in my spare time. Basically, nothing more than life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. If we have time at the end, we'll be answering some of the questions you posted last week.

Eeeeeek! I'm so nervous/anxious/scared stupid. This is live so if I say something stupid, I'm asking for forgiveness in advance! Unfortunately there isn't a delete button for internet television :)

Google

Blog Widget by LinkWithin