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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learning to Speak Cayman (The Letter B)

As mentioned in the first post (Learning to Speak Cayman - Letter A), my hope once a week or so is to share with you a little Caymanian vocabulary. Many of my readers are no doubt ex-pats who reside here in the Beloved Isle Cayman - and while each of us are required to speak English when you arrive on island, there is no such requirement to learn words & phrases unique to that the pressure's off, there is no better time like the present.

So here we go - straight outta the Cayman Islands Dictionary - some of my favorite Caymanian terms from the Letter B.

Bad Up (bahd-upp) Verb.  1. To vex or agitate the mind or emotions for the purposes of furthering progress or "getting the ball rolling." Used especially with customer service at restaurants or in long queues. Eg. "Anytime I orda from "Fake Cayman Restaurant mentioned as such because I don't want to offend anyone," I usually have to bad up because they take their time otherwise."
>> I appreciate this one especially because I can't find an suitable equivalent in the English vernacular. "Instigate" maybe, but that isn't necessarily confined to hurrying up customer service. Sometimes, you just gotsta "bad up" (or patiently love them like Jesus...wah-wah).

Banga Langa Langa (baing-ah laing-gah laing-gah). Interjection. 1. You're gonna get it; 2. You're in deep trouble; 3. Song of impending doom for a child. 
>> It just rolls of the tongue. Not only is it fun to say on the domestic side, I can see this one catching on in the workplace. As in: "What? You forgot to submit your TPS reports to Mr. Livingstone?!! It's banga langa langa for you."

Beast (bee'ce) Noun. 1. Obsolete or untrendy technology
>> Helpful for some of us here in Cayman who don't have the quickest access to the latest and greatest. For instance, I just upgraded to a digital watch with a calculator on it! Beast no longer, my friends!

Brand-new-Second-hand (brahn-n'yoo-seh-hun-hahn). Noun. 1. Previously owned by someone else but still in excellent, near-perfect condition. Eg. "My friend is selling the Blackberry his work just gave him because he wants an iPhone. It's brand-new-second-hand."
>> Two spectacular aspects about this gem (oversell?? Wait for it...). (a) Anyone who has ever been in sales, as I have been so blessed, recognizes the need to sell something that's basically new but you can't call it new. Options: "Floor model" (mmm...that means hundreds of hands have touched it); "Very good" (too sentimental - now I know it's not very new but because it served you so well that you now have an emotional attachment - making it more valuable in your mind than it really is); "Used only a handful of times" (oh yeah, whose hand?). You get the picture, the alternatives are scarce; (b) Brand-new-Second-hand provides the ideal alternative.

Broughtupsy (brot-up-seh). Adjective. 1. Having good manners as a result of a positive upbringing.  Eg. "I don't like watching that child, all his parents do is stick him in front of an iPad so he can't talk to adults. He has got no broughtupsy."
>> This term allows you to, in one word, simultaneously evaluate the child (because let's face it you need to) and build up/tear down the parents who have raised him. 
>> Plus, I like words that end in "sy" like "funsy" or "onesy."

Bunkey (bung-kih) Noun. 1. gluteus maximus
>> A Caymanian classic. Once had opportunity to even utilize this word, affectionately, in a sermon I gave.

Go forth in the confidence that you can drop one of these little beauties on someone today - impress a friend or a co-worker...or better yet, confuse a family member or spouse.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Something we can learn from the Christian TV station

There was something I had planned to bring up during Sunday's sermon and our examination of 1 John 2:12-14...but...ran...out...of...time. What I wanted to say was that this passage serves as a reminder that there is something beneficial we can learn from the bulk of the teaching found on Weststar's Channel 21 (a Christian TV network). Let's get God's Word out there before we go any further.  1 John 2:12-14: 

What is 2:12-14? This is an interesting set of verses, but what exactly is it? In all the commentaries, no one claims for it to be poetry for the sake of poetry nor a hymn, nor is it a blessing or benediction. As best as I can ascertain, it seems to be a poetic pronouncement of truth meant to provide assurance and comfort for the genuine Christian. Or, as is often said in the modern church: "Speaking truth into someone's life."  

Bold pronouncements & Weststar TV Channel 21. John provides some bold pronouncements here to some of which we might respond: "Yeah, sometimes but not always or even normally." For instance: You have overcome the evil one. To which you might say, "Sometimes I have these moments, but I also give in to temptation." The point John is making is that through the cross and the testimony that results (see Revelation 12:11), Satan has conclusively been defeated. Similarly: You are strong. To which you might protest: "Well, not really. I give in quite a bit to the lusts of the flesh or simply to those Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs over Easter." But John is saying, Jesus' has put His Word of salvation in you so you are strong even when you don't feel it and his strength working within you even more than "makes up for" any weakness on your end (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The bulk of teaching on Weststar Channel 21 consists of what is known as "The Word of Faith Movement", or "Positive Confession," or, more crudely, "Name-it-and-Claim-it." One of the main tenets of this movement is that it blurs the lines of justification (our legal standing of being presently right before God) and sanctification (our becoming right with God as the Holy Spirit changes us to be more like Jesus). A great example of the distinction comes in Romans 6:11-14.
So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present you members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought form death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
The purple (v.11 and v.14) represents the reality of our justification and Paul uses what we call the indicative voice describing the way things currently stand (see also v.2, v.6, v.18., v.22). We are dead to sin. Sin will not have dominion over you. Hear the boldness, right? So why even talk about sin since you've overcome it?! Because Paul also includes verses 12-13 - the reality of the ongoing work of being saved and Paul uses the imperative voice to urge us to presently do in response to what has been done (see also v.19). Though Jesus has finished the work of paying the penalty of sin, we keep going to the cross to give us the strength, power & fuel to kill sin daily - not putting ourselves in situations to afford our bodies as instruments to be used by sin, putting Jesus on the throne of our hearts to reign where sin would wish to sit. So you will hear "The Word of Faith" teaching use terms like "victorious life" and we are like "little gods" because of extreme confidence in the work of justification to the extent that it has obliterated the ongoing work of sanctification. You might note already, however, the immediate appeal of seeing Scripture as a whole being a positive affirmation that the Christian can do anything.

First, the dangers of Word of Faith. I will limit myself here to two dangers with respect to blurring the lines of justification-sanctification and will largely try to stay out of the fray on issues of the Word of Faith movement as it relates to physical healing, prosperity and giving to "God's work" (for a fuller treatment on this movement see first Dr. Sam Storms' wonderful book review on the topic; secondarily, an even more sympathetic but helpful treatment from Jon Ruthven). 

The first danger of this teaching is the subtle shift of confidence from God to self even as we tag on "in Christ." The full weight of perspective and priorities shifts from who Christ is is to who I am in Christ. The latter is crucial - but often word of faith teachers encourage action more in the "who I am" (therefore I can assume God will give me the job, the role, the person, etc. for which I ask) than the "in Christ" aspect. It also ignores Jesus' teaching about the relatively small role we have to play in Him doing big things - God likes to use faith the size of a mustard seed to move a tree or even a mountain largely to remind persons that it's not the quality of their faith but the object of their faith who does the work (Luke 17:6; Matthew 17:20). I remember once hearing G.K. Chesterton saying wisely:
What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has settled itself upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself but undoubting of the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of man that a man does not assert is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason...we are on a road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.
The magnetism of this teaching, in my opinion, also rests in the notion that the majority of the worlds problems are largely due to personal self-esteem issues. By subtly shifting the bulk of the focus to "who I am  in Christ," self-esteem is boosted - though even secular psychology has largely pushed back against the myth that low self-esteem is a problem.

The second danger of this teaching is related: Word of Faith Teaching tends to use Scripture in a man-centered, utilitarian fashion. Scripture becomes almost entirely a series of promises to claim and act upon. As the UK-based Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth among Evagelicals (whew...) pointed out about Word of Faith teaching:
[They employ] a highly utilitarian use of the biblical texts. Scripture is treated as a contractual or covenant document whose practical value lies almost entirely in the fact that it comprises a set of rules, laws, conditions, etc., which must be appropriated and activated by the believer in order to achieve spiritual and material success.
This is a problem. There are loads of questions we can ask of Scripture to help us, with the Holy Spirit's help, understand how God wants us to apply it. But as you can tell from a previous post, promises to be claimed consists of only one of about 10+ diagnostic questions. The brief prayer of a man named Jabez amongst a long list of the descendants of Judah is another example of this (1 Chronicles 4:8-11).

Second, what can learn from Word of Faith Teaching. Because we are sons and daughters of a King, dead to sin and alive in Christ, co-heirs with the Son, we have a status that allows us to "boldly approach the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). The Word of faith movement rightly encourages a strong act of the will involved in faith. Trust in Jesus not only for salvation for present and ongoing activity in this world ought to translate into something beyond passive acceptance but an aggressive and zealous component of action ("stepping out in faith"), especially when God has clearly made or advocated a promise. I think therein lies the key. God does not promise each person wealth in this life, nor complete healing, nor a total freedom from the presence of sin.

1 John 2:12-14 is a great example of promises that can be claimed. If you trust Christ, you have overcome the ruling power of Satan, we do know Him who is from the beginning (Him whose track record is so good at providing all our needs that it pre-dates track records), your sins have been forgiven and Jesus is being glorified every day just based on this fact alone, that word planted inside of you is making you strong.

So as you walk out your door this morning, today, this evening, go with these truths as reality in your life (justification), then you will only be empowered to overcome harmful attitudes, misplaced priorities, false idols, to grow in a trusting relationship and knowledge of Him who is from the beginning, to further receive and experience the forgiveness of sins, and to daily feed yourself with God's Word to make you stronger (sanctification). That's how this Christian life works: Believing and acting like you are and so becoming who you are.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Myth of Marriage Problems

Despite the title of this post, I really am writing to encourage you to sign-up for the Art of  Marriage Event on May 24-25 (this Sunday = last day to sign up). I do not at all mean to suggest that you are not experiencing problems in your marriage nor that you, as a result, do not need the tune-up or overhaul that I believe God can and will provide through the Art of Marriage (AOM). It's just that we unknowingly misplace the blame.

One of my favorite quotes on marriage comes from Dave Harvey, author of When Sinners say 'I Do'. He says:
How easy it its to use the phrase, 'We are having marriage problems,' as if the marriage created them.
Marriage still remains, in and of itself, an inanimate object incapable of producing anything - however, the two persons in a marriage are capable of producing problems. Hence the title of Harvey's book: When Sinners Say 'I Do.'  This means your worst fears, yes, will probably be realized. As someone who has signed up for the AOM Event said to me a few days ago: "Over the last month I haven't voiced frustrations to my spouse because I was waiting for the weekend to come so he can begin to identify his problems - then I realized, 'Yikes, maybe God wants to identify problems in me.'" 

Fear in marriage. ID-ing problems in you is almost certainly the case and might cause us to fear. This is similar to reading 1 John as we've started doing on Sunday Mornings - John forces you to re-examine if your faith is legit and to question if you really and truly know Christ. And, as I asked this past Sunday: What's the worse that can happen if you realize you are a massive problem to your marriage or wake-up to the reality that you really haven't trusted your life to Jesus?

Grace in marriage. See, the great thing about Jesus and encountering His plan for marriage is that He freely offers us this treasure that is totally foreign to what the world's solution and totally different from an improvement strategy that other religions would propose. That treasure is grace. Grace is God's love made active through an undeserved gift. That means at any moment -- even a moment of doubt, fear or even despair -- God can activate His love toward you even though you neither did anything to deserve it nor pushed a magic button to activate. All we have to do is really admit we need of His help and rescuing. 

God's grace can change a marriage. If you recognize that you need God's help to be the spouse He calls you to be (notice not: "If you recognize your marriage needs God's help") and, through the conference, identify specific idols, bad habits, and hurtful attitudes, I'm confident He will begin to activate His love toward you (ie. show you grace). I'll give you two ways the Bible talks about grace and which I'm specifically praying for every person attending - (1) He will help you and your spouse truly put the past behind you (forgetting) and (2) He will patiently teach you how to say "No" to all the potential idols, bad habits, and hurtful attitudes that used to beset you (buttons you used to push to get what you want or a desire to get in the first and last word on an issue). Here is what God's Word says about how His grace through Jesus helps with both (1) & (2). 
Not that I have already obtained this (being exactly like Jesus) or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus     (Paul in Philippians 3:12-14).
People don't just forget the past and move on. The past creeps back in or comes back up. It always does - apart from real grace. Not just an admission of guilt with an admission of forgiveness, but real divine power within that forgiveness that heals. 
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It [grace] teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age   (Titus 2:11-12).
The grace of God is a patient but effective teacher to help you grow as a husband or wife. You can believe that God is going to change you and your spouse as you rely on His grace.

Take a chance on the AOM Event even though you will have to admit you need help - that's exactly the place where God can begin to activate His love in your life and that of your spouse.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Learning to Speak Cayman

Since moving to Cayman almost 3.5 years ago, I've assiduously read histories and asked old-timers countless questions about this great island. And because, especially early on (this has certainly changed some), SCC consisted almost entirely of ex-pats, I thought it would be a good idea to write about some interesting Cay-History stories, movements & characters (see Article #1, Article #2, Article #3, Article #4). The goal being to familiarize more people with the culture and nation where they make their home.  I received some positive feedback about folks enjoying those. So back by popular demand (and by popular demand I mean any amount more than three, one of whom can be my Mom), I bring you "Learning to Speak Cayman." 

While you may be required to learn to speak English to move here from off-island, Immigration does not require you to learn vocabulary unique to Cayman. So I thought I'd post some of my favorites courtesy of the Cayman Islands Dictionary. Let's learn together!

Air Condition (ere kun-dih-shun) Adjective. Any type of clothing that has holes in it, resembling A/C vents. 
>> Now this is perhaps my favorite of today's words in terms of making the most sense. In a hot climate, what's better than to be wearing something that allows a little breeze to blow through. It's air conditioning without CUC. 

All Now (awl now). 1. For all time, up until now. 2. To this day. Eg. "Pastor Ryan promised to use me in a sermon illustration, but all now he ain't done it."

Aweleh (awe-leh). Interjection from West Bay. 1. A startled reaction to a particular situation.  2. A verbal demonstration of surprise.  Eg. "Awleh! I didd'n know you could still run fast even though you are old enough to be my dad." 
>> As someone who loves the Bible, the Psalms, and worship music, any fun comment of surprise that includes the first part of Alle-lujah! can and should be used.

Ayegah (aay-gah). Adjective. 1. Feverish; 2. Cold chills. Eg. "I feel kinda ayegah, and the only prescription is more cow bell."
>> That's more about cow bell than anything.

Great stuff. And we didn't even get past the LETTER A. Okay, I encourage you join with me in my goal to choose & use ONE of these today in actual conversation.