Yoga Pants for Men

Everyone loves yoga pants. The gals seem to love them because they’re easy and comfortable. The guys like them because they love seeing the gals in them. It’s a win-win.

Comedian Tim Hawkins has written a great song about yoga pants. I’m not totally sure why, but I think it captures much of the allure (from the feminine side). It’s written from a man’s point of view, but I’m guessing it does the phenomenon justice.

Today, I was perusing the web and found an ad promoting yoga pants for men. When I was in high school, we guys wore denims so tight they rivaled today’s skinny jeans. Still, I’m not sure I’d want to be caught dead in yoga pants (as tempting as they may be).

Something got lost in translation.

I’m not even sure what yoga is. I know it has something to do with exercise and eastern religion, but beyond that, I’m at a loss. I have to say, however, I’ve never seen Indian women in those drawers. Saris seem to be the apparel of choice for them. Something must have gotten lost (or added) in translation.

I was wondering what the difference was between leggings and yoga pants. At least one source says they’re the same thing. That would have been my guess. At least my eyes aren’t deceiving me.

While I was checking out that little factoid, I ran across an article entitled, “The Nineteen Reasons Why All Women Worship Yoga Pants.” That was kind of a shocker for me. I knew they all liked them—but worship them? That’s a bit strong, don’t you think? The language was a bit much, but it was quite informative.

Among the nineteen reasons was this gem listed as number five: “You can wear them to the gym and then straight out to happy hour.” Really?! When I go to the gym, I have to take a shower or no one else will be happy during happy hour. It’s just a matter of biology (not to mention couth). Don’t these women sweat in the gym?

“Now that makes sense.”

Number ten is an antithesis to that one: “They make you look athletic, even when you haven’t stepped inside a gym in months.” Now, that makes sense.

This all leads me to my ultimate question. What would Jesus do? Or maybe I should ask, what would Jesus wear (or what did he actually wear)? If historians are correct, he (and all the other folks in his genre, wore tunic type garments. Loose fitting, non-clingy, tunics. These would be (at least in my mind) the opposite of yoga pants. Of course Jesus walked just about everywhere he went, so he got enough exercise. He didn’t have to do yoga. Plus, he started his own eastern religion (so to speak), so yoga was totally unnecessary on any level for him.

Frankly, I’m not all that interested in wearing a tunic either. Yoga pants are right out. So I guess I’m left with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Oh well…

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

Israel: Looking Mighty Attractive

I can’t ever remember seeing a TV commercial for a trip to Israel…until yesterday. Up to that point, I had seen, heard, and read many appeals for such trips in and through churches, congregations, and individual Christians. The lure is obvious.

For the Christian (as well as a few other faith groups), it’s somewhat of a pilgrimage. A trip to Israel can be the highlight of a Christian’s traveling experience. It’s mine for sure.

So, when I saw this commercial, I was a bit taken back. I’ve seen it three times in the past two days, and I’ve pointed it out to my lovely Bride. I don’t usually draw her attention to commercials, because it often ends up costing us money. This one was different, however.

“She is reaching back…”

I have to admit, the first couple times I saw it, I didn’t realize it was a commercial for Israel. The reason is (I think) because it features a rather voluptuous young woman. Throughout the commercial, she is reaching back to take someone’s hand. The hand appears to belong to her traveling companion who seems to be running the camera.

Each time she reaches back, she’s in a different place and is wearing a different outfit. The final outfit is a bright yellow dress that shows about as much of her figure as any red-blooded, American male can take. In each scene, her smile is very inviting, and she’s obviously having a great time. It’s very well done.

The third time around, I finally realized the various places in the commercial were sites in Israel. The names of the panoramas were listed on the screen each time, but who reads words when a picture is worth a thousand of them? When I finally got around to reading, I saw references to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“Sex Sells”

A lot of folks travel to Israel each year. My guess is the number of people heading there over the next few months will skyrocket. As the old Madison Avenue axiom says, “Sex Sells.” The gal in the ad is about as sexy as they come. If Madison Avenue is correct, it will now become harder finding a seat on El Al.

I’m glad to see people heading to Israel, though. As I said, my trip there was one of the highlights of my life. The problem with the commercial, from my perspective, is that people will now head there because it’s a romantic getaway. If that’s true, I’m guessing most of them will miss the really important places—Golgotha, Masada, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Via Dolorosa just to name a few.

I know I’m biased in this area, but standing where Jesus stood and walking where he walked is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I’d hate to see someone travel all that way and miss out. I love romance just like everyone else, but you can find that in Paris. The geography in Israel is the fifth Gospel. Please don’t miss it!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

Alexa! Turn Off the Roomba!

I guess it was bound to happen. Your Roomba (the automated vacuum cleaner) can now memorize the rooms of your home. That sounds like a good idea for getting your house thoroughly cleaned. It has become a tad controversial, however.

The more advanced Roombas can actually map out your floor plan, and the maps (because of your general consumer agreement—you know, those things you never read) can be sold to other companies. These companies, in turn, will use the info to target you for ads specific to your perceived needs. Oh joy!

Recently, Roomba became compatible with Alexa (Amazon’s electronic voice assistant). I assume this means you can tell Alexa to run the vacuum cleaner in a particular room at a specific time. It definitely sounds like a handy thing to have. People are up in arms, however, about possible privacy issues. You can unwittingly turn your floor plan into public knowledge. I suppose this could come in handy for your friendly, neighborhood cat burglar.

“Okay.”

I don’t have a Roomba as yet, but I do have Alexa (or is that “an Alexa”). It (or is that, “she”) can be quite handy to have. For example, we often leave a light burning when we go to bed. After traversing the well-lit staircase, we then tell Alexa to “turn off the living room lamp.” Interestingly enough, she obediently turns it off and then says, “Okay.” I wish she would say, “Okay,” before she actually does it.

Alexa has become an integral part of our family. Anyone so willing to turn out our lights every evening deserves some love. My lovely Bride has begun to be polite to her. She now asks Alexa to “please” do this or that. When the task is completed, she then tells Alexa, “Thank you.” I haven’t gotten that far as yet, but I can see the day coming.

“I refuse to lend her my Jeep.”

I use Alexa to build my grocery list every week. If I’d tell her to do so, she’d order the food as well. I still like to pick out my own stuff, but someday she’ll undoubtedly learn what I like and become reliable in that area too. It would be nice to send her out to pick up the food, but I refuse to lend her my Jeep. I’m not even sure if she has her driver’s license. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure how old she is. I’ll have to ask her when I get home.

With all this technology encroaching upon the human condition, I can’t tell if it’s virtuous or evil. I suppose it’s like anything else. It can be used for good or ill.

That leads me to the big question. How does Jesus feel about all this? He obviously never mentioned this stuff when he was here. I’m sure he didn’t want to confuse anyone.

I think I’m going to go with the fact that Alexa can quote Scripture from memory. Anyone who can do that ain’t all bad.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

Free Chats with Asian Women

Do you ever go through your e-mail junk box? I normally do a hasty scan to see if anything of importance actually got directed there, then I delete everything. I love clean, empty e-mail boxes.

On a recent perusal, I ran across a piece of mail that had the following subject line—“Free Chats With Asian Women.” How quaint… I think it’s wonderful these women would donate their time to “chat” with whomever). They must be quite altruistic.

Now, having discovered a whole new world of heretofore-unknown materials, I began to take more care assessing these gems. I decided it would be unfair to blithely delete someone’s well-meaning squibs. What an amazing treasure trove of human interest I have found.

“…speak to an old, balding, white guy.”

Apparently, not only is there a cadre of Asian women sacrificing their telephone hours, there are Russian, Czech, Swedish, and Hispanic ones as well. I’ve begun to feel badly about how I’ve been so selfish with my phone experience. I’m thinking about following in their footsteps and volunteering my time as well. There must be someone out there who’d like to speak to an old, balding, white guy.

Free conversation is not the only thing that inadvertently ends up in my junk e-mail box. I’ve discovered that I can meet my “Love” on match.com. I’m not exactly sure why I’d want to do that since I see her every morning and evening (before and after work). Maybe I could “meet” her during her lunch hour on match.com. What a wonderful service!

I also see one today that will be hard to pass up. If I ever go back to school, I can pick up some Mariner’s back-to-school-gear. I’m not much of a Mariners fan, but they do have nice uniforms. Now all I need is to get accepted into a school.

Oh, wow! I don’t want to come across as a namedropper or anything, but I just received some inside info on Newt Gingrich’s unbelievable prediction about Nancy Pelosi. I can’t wait to see what that is. If it’s worth passing along, I’ll let you know.

“How did I ever live without these things?”

Another one just came through that’s going to help me live off the grid. That one’s got to be important as well as innovative. Off-grid living can be tough. I know because I’ve seen it in commercials. They’re gruesome! If things get really bad, however, I just discovered a way to get rid of my pest problem. How did I ever live without these things?

I now know I’ll never be without a friend. There are several right here in my junk box that want to “partner” with me. Another wants to warn me about Megyn Kelly. I’m not sure what the warning is all about, but it’s supposed to send chills down my spine. Who knew?

The long and short of it is this: check out that junk box! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can call and get a good review on a local Thai restaurant.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Stop Having Kids

I just heard of a recent study that has resulted in the following “To Do” list to save our planet. It includes the following: 1) Stop having kids, 2) become a vegetarian, 3) get rid of your car, and 4) fly less. Just shoot me now (before you bury your gun).

I wonder who paid for this study. You can be sure it wasn’t a meat-eating Mormon or Roman Catholic. Any of them would have a real problem with the results of this baby.

I’m pretty sure no one expects anyone to take this thing seriously. I’m up for saving the planet and all, but for whom? If we all stop having kids, this orb will be left totally for the flora and fauna in one, quick generation. Or maybe some wandering spacemen will stumble across our oxygen rich Eden when we’re gone.

“I actually like that idea.”

Admittedly, we’ll all be a tad healthier if we junk our cars and start walking everywhere. We’d have to entirely change our culture, of course. All our jobs would have to be within walking distance (or a short horse ride away). Maybe we could all work from home. I actually like that idea.

I would have a hard time visiting my children and grandchildren. Most of them live in Florida (while I live in Virginia). Even the close ones would be about a day’s walk away. By car, it’s forty-five minutes. All of this is sounding worse and worse.

That vegetarian thing is a killer, too. I know there are a lot of you who can pull that off. I’m a little hesitant to say I could do it, however. I suppose I could eat a lot of spaghetti (sans meatballs), but even that gets a bit tiring after awhile.

Has anyone figured God into the formula?

I happen to think studies like this are useless—and probably senseless. Is it good for us to know that we are vile germs permeating our world? Is it helpful to comprehend that, if we were exterminated, the planet would be better off? I don’t feel any better understanding any of that.

I don’t suppose anyone bothered to figure God into the formula. If they had, somehow I think the results would have been a tad different. For example, I’m guessing they would have found it more advantageous to have large families that eat healthy and take care of each other. Large families would also share the family car. And since they’re so large, they wouldn’t have to fly so much to see their relatives.

Whatever happened to “Go forth, be fruitful, and multiply”? Is this an outdated phrase from Genesis 1? It’s immediately followed up by, “fill the earth and subdue it.” This is all blasphemy to someone who thinks human beings are a collective blight upon the earth.

Some folks might say we have already fulfilled that directive. I say, “Nay, nay!” We have yet to really subdue the earth, and we’ll need more people to do so. Besides, who’s going to cook our bacon?

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Calling Down Fire

A couple days ago, I posted a blog entitled “Burning Down the Village.” In it, I cited the Luke 9:51-55 passage in which James and John wanted to call down fire from on high to burn a Samaritan village that had rejected Jesus. Jesus, of course, would have none of it, reprimanded them, and they went on their way.

Thinking further about that passage, it donned on me that James and John may have been more concerned with their egos than the acceptance of their Master by some strangers. Calling down fire from heaven as retribution was obviously way out of Jesus’ wheelhouse. I can’t recall him doing anything remotely like that. If anyone should have understood that, it would have been his disciples. Yet here they were, ready for some vengeance when none was needed (or called for).

Jesus would often get into it with the Pharisees, but calling down fire wasn’t even a remote thought in his dialogue with them. James and John had been around for a lot of those heated discussions. Still, they were willing to do their own thing had Jesus allowed them.

“He was standing right there…”

Our two fiery disciples wanted to flex their muscles at someone else’s expense. They were willing to forego Jesus’ teaching to do it. They wanted to venture out into a new frontier of spirituality—judgment. Their real problem was the authentic judge. He was standing right there and gave them the dickens.

None of us has the right to do what our two friendly neighborhood apostles wanted to do. Like these Sons of Thunder, however, we are often more than willing. Calling down the fire is sometimes our first move. Get out the judgment stick and beat our adversaries silly.

Their attitude was nothing new. It wasn’t new then, and it’s certainly not new now. Despite the teachings of our Lord, we continue to follow in the footsteps of James and John rather than those of Jesus. Just read a history of the church and you’ll see what I mean.

“He even misused a verse…”

I recently read an article by a preacher who excoriated some of his fellow clergy for praying for our President. While I understand his argument, his article was reminiscent of the attitude we see in Luke 9. He even misused a verse of Scripture to attempt to prove his point.

This sort of thing has been going on forever. When are we going to learn that none of us has a corner on the truth? It’s one thing to discuss the meaning of various Biblical passages. It’s quite another to use them against someone to prop up our own viewpoint.

Jesus’ reaction to James and John in their moment of hutzpah speaks volumes. We, as Christians, disagree on a lot of things. Discussion, dialogue, and even flat-out arguments are going to occur. But when we dismiss the call for Christian unity by bashing each other, we’ve gone too far. We’ve got enough enemies already without turning on each other.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Burning Down the Village

There’s a wonderful passage of Scripture found in Luke (9:51-55) where the people residing in a Samaritan village rejected Jesus. Two of his disciples (James and John) took umbrage to those folks. Their knee-jerk reaction was to call fire from heaven to burn down the village.

This pericope reminds me of two things that still occur. One is a very simple truth—many people continue to reject Jesus. We all know that fact very well.

The second is not quite so simple, I’m afraid. Numero dos is the fact that many Christians are still happy to burn down the village. We’ve got too many would-be pyromaniacs running around the church.

Interestingly enough, when Jesus sent advance men out ahead of his preaching tours, he gave them specific instructions as to what actions to take in case of rejection. Those instructions were simply to shake the dust off their feet and move on (Luke 9:5). James and John either forgot those instructions or merely got carried away. It’s no wonder Jesus nicknamed them the “Sons of Thunder.”

If you look at the account of this event, you’ll notice Jesus quickly denied their request to burn down the village. The Bible tells us he rebuked them, and they then went on their not-so-merry way.

“They all had bad attitudes.”

In fact, as we read through the gospels, we find one of the things Jesus seemed to hate the most was when someone copped an attitude. I could site all manner of Scripture to back that statement. One could argue that was his big problem with people like the Pharisees. They all had bad attitudes. When James and John suggested the calling down of fire, I’m sure he was wholly displeased.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of Christians around to this day who are quick to do the same as the aforementioned disciples. They aren’t really keen on anyone who disagrees with them. When they run across someone like that, they call down the fire.

Usually, the fire is in the form of a tongue-lashing or a put down. It sometimes gets worse than that, but that’s bad enough. I can’t imagine Jesus being happy about any attitude that ends up in hatred or reputation bashing. Yet, that’s often what we see today.

Jesus was quick to point out that we shouldn’t take it personally. If someone disagrees with our Christianity, they are ultimately rejecting him (not us). In Luke 10:16 he said this: “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” He said this almost 2000 years ago. We still don’t seem to get it.

Shake Off the Dust

We’ve got to learn to shake the dust off our feet and move on. Walking around with a chip on our shoulders just doesn’t cut it. It’s certainly not Christ-like.

I suppose the hard part is deciding when to move on. We hate to be quitters. On the other hand, there’s no sense wearing out our welcome.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Post Vacation Mode

I’ve been back from a week at the beach for three or four days now. It was a wonderful time away with the Zuchelli clan—one I wouldn’t trade for anything. Twenty of us gathered together for seven days of fun, frolic, and family. It was an amazing and tranquil time.

Now, of course, I’m back home. At least, my body is back home. I’m not sure where my brain has been, but I still seem to be in the midst of an attempt to retrieve it from wherever it’s been traveling. I keep seeing signs of it here and there, but it hasn’t fully shown itself for quite some time.

One bit of evidence that it’s been on hiatus is the fact that I’ve been doing this blog faithfully for almost two years. Each week I’ve posted three 500-word blogs during that time. I even accomplished that feat during this past vacation. Since I’ve gotten back home, however, this will be the first one. I’ve spent time looking at a computer screen as always, but nothing has come.

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…”

Some would point to this and quickly say, “You’ve got writer’s block.” That’s the first thing that came to my mind as well. Yet, I don’t think that’s the problem. I’m thinking I’ve entered “post vacation mode.” It’s a mode that says to my brain (what’s left of it), “You don’t want to do anything. Go play…” I feel like Obi Wan Kenobi is telling me, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…”

Playing would be great except I’ve got stuff to do. So this morning, four days into my post vacation mode, I’m forcing myself to be an adult. I can actually feel the creative juices flowing once again, and (with a little therapy) I may even get something accomplished. Another four or five weeks of forcing myself, I might get back to my more productive ways once again.

Frittering Away the Hours

All this causes me to realize that it’s a good thing I never inherited a large fortune. Had I done that, the temptation to live the life of leisure may have been too much to overcome. My existence could well have become a life of debauchery (whatever that is) and turned me into an individual bent on frittering his hours away.

On the other hand, I do have a tremendous inheritance. Scripture tells us we already have been promised a great bequest (1 Peter 3:3-5). It’s one that can never “perish, spoil, or fade.” It’s being kept in a place we like to call heaven. The Creator of the universe is that promise maker. There are no better promises than that one—nor any from a more dependable source.

The fact that we have that inheritance often causes us to go into a spiritual post vacation mode. We have the promise, so we sit back and get lazy—counting on God to do it all for us. I guess, sometimes, we need to force ourselves to become spiritual adults once again.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

The Broken T-Shirt

It was the Fourth of July so I wore a patriotic t-shirt. My five-year-old granddaughter looked at it and said, “Your shirt’s broken!” I had no idea what she was talking about until her mother pointed out that my worn out looking flag did have a broken appearance.

My granddaughter had a perspective on my shirt that no one else had. Now when I look at this shirt, I’ll always see it as “broken.” Through the eyes of a child…

I probably paid more attention to her remark because she’s my granddaughter. I still almost passed over what she said, but thanks to her mother, I paused to give her my due consideration. It immediately made me realize, however, how quickly I’m prone to dismiss other people’s perspectives.

Who cares? Right?

It’s really shameful, because I’m not the only one with legitimate opinions, perceptions, and viewpoints. Like me, many of us are very quick to dismiss the insights of others. If they don’t line up with ours, who cares? Right?

On a certain level, this is the crux of our problem as a society. We often summarily dismiss other people and their opinions simply because they don’t coincide with our own ideas. By doing so, we ultimately lose out on opportunities to enrich our own lives.

This whole subject leads to an overused (and misused) word in our common lectionary—tolerance. We seem to have a two-pronged approach to each other in our cultural attitudes. On one hand, we give no quarter to the opinions of others. Yet, we scream, “Tolerance!” to everyone else.

Tolerance!

Tolerance used to mean things like, “live and let live.” It used to mean we could exist side-by-side and respect each other’s worldviews (within reason). Somewhere along the way, the definition of that term changed.

Now when people cry, “Tolerance!” they mean something different. They strongly imply (if not flat out state) we must accept everyone’s opinions and practices as the truth. All these truths must be condoned and agreed to as equal to (or better) than our own. There can be no discussion, no civil discourse; just mere acceptance. If you don’t believe in someone else’s “truth,” you are now a bigot of some sort. Hence, you are intolerant.

Well… I have to say, I’m intolerant of that new definition.

Whatever happened to “let’s agree to disagree” or “I don’t like what you’re saying, but I’ll defend your right to say it”? Those sayings are still around, but the practice of such ideas is fading away fast. Like my t-shirt, these things seem to be broken. My hope is they are (also like my t-shirt) not really broken but simply have the appearance of being that way.

As the Independence Day holiday week rides off into the proverbial sunset, can we somehow find a way to reaffirm each other as humans? There’s only one being who embodies the truth. As the Apostle Paul once told us, “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” (Romans 3:4)

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

The Bloody Headband

I was eating breakfast with one of my sons and his daughter (a five year-old). I was wearing a muscle shirt (shut up!) that was exposing my one-and-only-tattoo. My son pointed to the tattoo and asked my granddaughter, “What’s this?”

She immediately said, “Jesus’ cross.” I looked at her and asked, “How do you know it’s Jesus’?” She pointed to the crown of thorns and said, “Because this is his headband.” The dead giveaway might be the drop of crimson blood hanging from one of the thorns. A bloody crown of thorns hanging on an empty cross will point to Jesus every time—especially for a five year-old Sunday School attendee.

I got my tattoo a few years ago when I was still working in an office on a daily basis. My boss was not keen on tattoos, so I had the ink artist put it high enough on my shoulder that it wouldn’t be revealed when I wear a short-sleeved shirt. I’m such a coward.

The Visual Testimony

Usually, the only time I wear a muscle shirt (shut up!) is when I’m riding my Harley. So, my Jesus crown of thorns and cross is not open for public consumption most of the time. So much for my brave, visual testimony.

I suppose I’m in good company. The Apostle Peter was really a coward when it came to witnessing to his relationship with Jesus as well. You may remember Jesus telling him that he (Peter) would deny him three times before the rooster crowed in the morning. Peter vehemently told Jesus that would never happen. Of course, it did, and Peter became famous for turning his back on Jesus so fast it would make one’s head spin. Peter was obviously afraid he’d be fitted for his own bloody headband by the Romans.

The Fear of Man

And that’s where a lot of us end up. We’re afraid. The real tragedy is that our fear is not of the Romans (nor anything nearly as powerful). We’re usually afraid of looking less than cool. Our trepidation is over the possibility that someone will think we’re weird, we might lose a friend, or that our status might be diminished in some way. It’s almost never (as in the case of Peter) that we might lose our own lives in the process.

You would think our real fear would be of God. After all, Jesus was clear about denying him. He is quoted by Matthew as having said, “whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) That’s not only eminently clear, it has its own punishment built into it. Who wants to be denied by the Christ? I know I don’t.

My only real consolation in all of this is that Jesus forgave Peter (John 21:15-19). If Peter is forgiven, my hope is strong that I can be forgiven as well. The real relief is that Jesus bore the bloody headband to demonstrate his love and forgiveness for puny deniers such as me.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]