Monthly Archives: February 2007

AXE to Grind

After a recent trip, I found a bottle of AXE cologne/body wash in my house. I had allowed a group of teens/young adults to crash at my house while they were in town doing ministry. I happened to be away at the time. When I returned home, I found a bottle of AXE Snake Peel in my shower.

Curious, I looked at it and turned the bottle over to read the back label. No wonder this stuff is so popular with the teenage guys. The label showed a silhouette of a guy with his arms around two very shapely women. The message was clear. Wear this stuff, and you’ll attract lots of ladies.

The back label read –  “Snake Peel: Experience the AXE effect – May result in, but not limited to, unrelenting female attention and/or late nights.”

The first ingredient is water. This stuff is just soap. Sure, it has a really strong smell. But it won’t really turn a dud into a stud.  This product is marketed by Unilever, a major corporation. Unilever makes everything Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Slim-Fast shakes. And I doubt it has really discovered the secret to a women’s heart although the company has seemed to develop a formula to make a lot of money off teenage guys willing to pay extra for AXE products.

The stuff is really strong, which is a plus for teenage guys who tend to sweat and may need extra odor protection.

 A Washington Post article by Robin Givhan stated that Axe’s presence has become unavoidable. It has become a dominant brand in the men’s deodorant market.

Axe is not merely a deodorant meant to be rolled on sparingly, it is meant to be sprayed all over the body with the exuberance that might be used to apply Deep Woods Off! during mosquito season.

Unilever has spent more than $100 million advertising AXE. The message of that advertising has essentially focused on one idea: Wear AXE, get the girls. Not just one girl, but many, many girls. Because there is nothing like playing to a young man’s insecurities when it comes to the ladies, AXE has been a tremendous success.

I find  it interesting that a generation that is supposed to be so media and marketing savvy has been duped by a soap manufacturer.

The thing that really bothers me is the underlining message about women. AXE plays up to the worst instincts of immature boys. Young women are not love toys that boys are to enjoy by collecting the whole set. Women should be respected for their value as individuals made in God’s image. Lust is never a good motivation, and the values behind AXE are not godly.

Sure, it’s just soap unless your motives for using it are something other than holy. Then it could be considered sin. Do I have an AXE to grind? Maybe I do. All I know is that I think the stuff stinks in more ways than one.

Lambs to the Slaughter

Jesus knew how to pack light. And He encouraged His disciples to do the same. I thought about this while carrying a load of stuff around the airport today. I have enough stuff to keep the Twelve Disciples busy for a while. But everything seemed like a necessity when I packed this morning.

Our stuff can be an asset. But it tends to be a liability. The more stuff we get, the more we get weighed down by it. Jesus sent out His followers to change the world, and His packing tip was don’t take anything with you. They were not supposed to take a change of clothes. They were not supposed to take a bag of money. They couldn’t even take a staff, which basically left them defenseless.

 Jesus sent His followers out like lambs to the slaughter. None of this seemed to be matter because of one promise He made. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This was not an empty promise or a nice idea. It was the reality then and remains true today.

We just have to believe.

Consider the following Scripture:

Luke 10: 1-9: After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.

Conversation with God

The following is an excerpt from Sacred Space, a prayer site that I frequent.

Conversation requires talking and listening.
As I talk to Jesus may I also learn to be still and listen.
I picture the gentleness in His eyes and the smile full of love as he gazes on me.

I can be totally honest with Jesus as I tell Him of my worries and my cares.
I will open up my heart to Him as I tell Him of my fears and my doubts.
I will ask Him to help me to place myself fully in His care,
to abandon myself to Him, knowing that He always wants what is best for me.

May the above thoughts guide your conversation with God today.

Doing the Same Ole Thing

People and even institutions tend to get stuck in ruts. These well-worn grooves can easily turn into a prison not a smooth ride down familiar territory. It can be hard to get out of these habits once a pattern is established. People don’t like to risk the unknown or untried. But this fear can keep people from experiencing a break through.

These thoughts have been rolling around in my head as I look at what we do in churches today, including my current fellowship. Why do so few people seem changed by the message from week to the next? How many reall good sermons can anyone remember? Do these message secretly get down into our inner psyche and pop up at just the right time? Or are these good ideas and inspiring stories that get lost in the deep space between our ears?

Last year Next Wave carried an article called The Problem with Preaching. A number of the points I disagree with although I found that the article raised many good questions including those I have considered for years. Christian leaders need to evaluate what we are doing to see if it is working. I am not talking about working from the standpoint of pleasing people and keeping the seats filled. No, I am talking about the ability of church experiences to foster real transformation, outreach and worship.

Consider reading the article at 

http://www.the-next-wave-ezine.info/issue93/index.cfm?id=16&ref=ARTICLES%5FDOING%20CHURCH%5F253

I’ll share my thoughts on this issue later in the week. What do you think?

Transformation

When you consider the change in the Apostle Peter that took place from the night he betrayed Jesus to the words he wrote in 1 Peter, the transformation is amazing. Peter went from a brash man who was always willing to take up a fight to a man who would willingly take up his cross and follow Jesus.

The night that Jesus was arrested, Peter fought to protect his friend and teacher. He was willing to die for Jesus in battle. But he was not willing to go to the cross. This would take time. Eventually, Peter would follow Jesus’ example. According to historical record and church legend, Peter was crucified by the Romans for his faith in Jesus.

But not before he wrote these words, which demonstrate his change from soulish warrior to living sacrifice:

1 Peter 2:20-25 (NIV) – “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

The Worst Place to Be

“The worst place to be is where the Holy Spirit has been.”- a quote by Chip Grinnell quoting someone else

Many times we are afraid of offending other people. It can be easy to worry more about what other people think than what God thinks. The worst thing we can do is grieve the Holy Spirit. God is a gentleman. He will not push His way into our hearts.

Scripture records times when the sin of the people became so great that God removed Himself from their presence. This even happened to the Holy Temple.

In churches today, leaders should be more concerned about offending God and causing His anointing to be removed than making people uncomfortable. The same goes for our private lives and public careers. 

The pain of losing face and peer pressure is nothing compared to living in a place where the Holy Spirit has been. This means the Spirit left because our actions grieved Him. This is a place where there is no life, just the stench of death.

Christians should never take God for granted or the joy of His presence and Spirit. We should fuel the fire. The Apostle John warned in Revelation about the danger of losing our first love. Jesus warned the church of Ephesus, “Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove the candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5). 

Consider this teaching by Jentezen Franklin at Fire on the Altar: 

 http://www.fireonthealtar.com/compilations/igy/Dont%20Resist%20The%20Holy%20Ghost%20-J%20Franklin.mp3

Jesus’ Central Message

Jesus’ first words of ministry were, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus called those who followed Him to repent. You only repent if something you had been doing was wrong. Jesus directly attacked the works-focused legalism of Judaism. Good works are not enough. Jesus called His followers to be like Him. They were to be holy, which is something only God can accomplish in people. 

Beyond wordly religion consisting of rules and regulations, Jesus pointed to a better way. Jesus modeled out what it meant to leave the kingdom way.  He walked each day in step with the Holy Spirit.

More than almost any other topic, Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. He never talked about this reality as something that could only be experienced after this life. Quite the opposite. Jesus wanted His followers to realize God’s kingdom on earth. It begins now because Jesus’ life created a new reality.  God’s kingdom is at work in the world around us.

God originally called the Jews to be a light to other nations. But they looked inward and not upward and outward. Jesus came to put everything back on point. God’s temple and the unique position of the Jews was to be for something more than themselves. The focus was always supposed to be God’s glory revealed through a diverse people from many nations.

From what do you need to repent? Do you experience the kingdom of God in your daily life? This is Jesus’s first call to those who would follow Him.