Designer Fashioned

 

Christmas is right around the corner. Did you get your Black Friday deals? Thousands of people flocked into malls for the best deals in town. Every year it is absolute madness! Recently I was in a conversation with people preparing to brave the Black Friday crowds. Specifically there was talk about Kate Spade. Apparently there were lines of people there on Thanksgiving Day! Yikes. It prompted me to ask what the appeal is for brand name products. Was it better quality? Was it the designs that stood out above all other products? While it seems some of those things are taken into consideration, the conclusion was simply to have the name recognition. You want people to know you have a Kate Spade wallet or a Tori Burch purse, just for the sake of saying you have it.

The reality is many of the name brand products are not necessarily better quality. Nike for example is so popular. To have that Swoosh is a definite status symbol. Does it make it a better shoe? Not necessarily. I’ve definitely had better quality shoes, but when I am in a store my eyes are drawn to the Nike shoes. Brands often become popular because a celebrity endorsed it. If you think about what Michael Jordan did for Nike, brand recognition. Jordan is himself a brand.

Often we try to make ourselves into a designer name. Maybe it’s by the way we act, or how we dress. Perhaps its measured by our wealth or our status. Whatever it is, I believe we all have that aspiration to “be somebody” to be recognized. Haven’t you ever wanted to be the next______________________?

When I was in high school I wanted so much to be “cool”, I wanted to be recognized. I did not have the resources or attributes to be cool so I often did stupid things to get recognition and probably hurt many people along the way. Being “designer” was something I strived for, something that I felt I needed to have and I was often depressed because I didn’t have what it took to be known the way I wanted to be known.

In Sunday school the question was asked, “What do you want your legacy to be?” I apologized if it came across as self-righteous, but I answered, “I just want people to say, ‘Jason genuinely followed Jesus and committed his life to his faith.’” With all the things that I had done in my past many people from my past were shocked to hear I was a pastor. I tried so hard to develop my own brand name, to be “designer” and because of the grace of God, I know now that I am the perfect result of the Divine Designer. The Creator of all things had every detail planned out for me. In one of my favorite Psalms David says to the Lord, “For you formed my inward parts you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13,14

Hopefully you are not as misguided as I was to seek to be recognized. Hopefully you already know that you are fashioned by THE Designer. You are perfectly made and perfected in the full recognition of God’s grace. I hope today you see that in yourself and you see that in others. Gift giving is a fun and wonderful tradition, but know that the greatest gift you can ever receive is the gift of God’s grace. In His grace through Jesus Christ our soul will know very well that His works are wonderful! -jason

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A Pake Full of Posies

The well-known nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosie” is often explained as a coded reference to the Black Plague or bubonic plague. The truth is, like many nursery rhymes, there really is no in-depth meaning. The lyrics were a means to an end. Amazing that an innocent children’s song can turn into something so dark and disturbing. Oh, what the human mind is capable of. This is just one example of so many things that can get misinterpreted in life. Sometimes perception is developed out of the observer’s wild imagination, but other times we can feed that perception.

I am a proud PAKE! Pake was a Hawaiian word that referenced China or Chinese. Over the years it has evolved to refer to a cheap person. I prefer what my Pake sister said recently, “I’m not cheap, I’m frugal.” Whatever the implications of that word, a true Pake cannot resist a good deal! This morning in my reading of Genesis 23 I realized, a good deal may not always be a GOOD DEAL.

Abraham was just measured of his faith by the act of sacrificing his son. Following this account his wife Sarah dies and Abraham is seeking a proper burial. In the foreign place that he is a sojourner, he seeks some land. The people of that land, the Hittites, offer him any property he wants and recognize him as a “prince of God”. Instead of taking the land he insists on paying. Some Biblical scholars may argue that there was deceit on the part of the Hittites in various forms. The lesson I walked away with was to represent well. Represent yourself, your family, and your friends and most importantly, your God the best you can.

Leading up to this chapter I was under the impression that Abraham might have been PAKE. Not once, but twice he deceived a king and walked away with some serious loot! This guy put his wife in jeopardy for his safety and got rewarded for it. That’s WAY over the top. Now, he insists on paying full price for the land. Why not just take the free offer? Again, there can be much speculation on payment to avoid deceit. It possibly was just a shrewd business move, but I think it was more. I think Abraham was acting out of integrity. Paid for the land, which his family would be buried to represent his family well. Also, he dealt fair with these foreigners to represent his God well. God’s Word warns us constantly against greed.

There is little more exciting to me than a good deal. My favorite word is F-R-E-E!!! How well do I represent my Lord, my family and myself if I take everything for free? There is careful discernment in seeing God’s blessing and knowing when to bless others. God’s blessing is not a one way stop into our lives, it should be a constant flow through our lives. 1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” So also other will know the love of God by our actions. The church has been vilified throughout history, some of it is perception of the observer, other times it our own actions. I am encouraged today to not be a Pake Full of Posies, but to allow blessings to flow through me. -jason

 

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

Last weekend I was offered a ticket to the University of Hawaii football game. UH is my alma mater and I can remember cheering for the Warriors when they were more commonly referred to as the Rainbows.

As the afternoon rolled around, I found myself rushing to get out the door. I went to grab my shirt. Earlier I had put on my UH polo in anticipation of the game. While at Jonah’s T-Ball practice I got pretty sweaty in the hot sun so I just grabbed the shirt I wore the night before to Aubrey’s ballet class instead. I hurried down stairs and slipped on my shoes, which are bright orange. A hat would be good! I grabbed my SF Giants cap. It was the cap that made me reflect. As I was driving away from home I realized, bright orange Giants cap, blue shirt and bright orange shoes, these are the colors for Boise State. The Broncos were our opponents!

When I pulled up to my friend’s house all three friends, wearing green, were quick to point out my outfit. I’m surprised they let me ride with them. All day I was heckled as I blended in more with our opponents than the home team. How embarrassing!

My thoughts turned to the old “don’t judge a book by its cover” adage. After all, it’s just a football game, right? I mean, it’s not like I was wearing the wrong color amongst rival gang members. It is interesting how your outward appearance not only impacts the way people view you, but even the way you feel yourself. First impressions are critical. We see someone and immediately we are making judgments on the character of a person, often without even knowing it. Outward appearance has a profound impact on our perceptions.

Matthew 7 says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

A speaker at a conference recently spoke about a homeless man that came into his church. He was so put off by this tattered, dirty and foul smelling man coming into his church. As the worship began, this homeless man began to sing and worship with all his heart. In tears this pastor realized, “This man is more my brother than my own flesh and blood.”

While we must not be judgmental, we must be wise and discerning as we measure the character of others. In the same chapter of Matthew the Word also says,   “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. “

The outward appearance can sway both ways. I can wear Boise colors in the UH crowd and cheer for UH or I can wear Boise colors with the Boise crowd, but cheer for UH. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, or a sheep in wolf’s clothing, the Bible says we will know by their “fruit”.

Be not judgmental, but judge fairly and with careful discernment. Most importantly, wear the right colors to a football game! -jason