Jesus

Stick with me, honey, I’m a genius.

Conversation on the way home from church:

The Hub:  What was the point of the sermon?
Other than that we shouldn’t sacrifice our children.
Which kind of goes without saying.

Me: Perhaps he was talking to those who might be sitting in front of their computers being radicalized by groups like ISIS.
Because those groups do sacrifice their children.
Strap bombs to them.
Perhaps he was speaking to that.

Still Me: I was thinking, as the Scripture was being read, that had God not stayed Abraham’s hand He would have left a huge and eternal opening for the accuser.

In order to eternally zip the enemy’s lip God would have to be both Abraham and Isaac.

The Hub: You’re right, that’s the only sacrifice that would put Him above reproach.

Me: Can’t accuse a guy of anything who’s willing to make the sacrifice AND be the sacrifice.

I went on: Father Ken mentioned that in Biblical times people thought they were pleasing God by sacrificing their children.

You want an animal sacrifice? The best of my flock? I’ll do you one better…

But God didn’t ask for one better.

And so it still is today, we try to add to what God has done for us, to what He requires of us.

Rather than being simply and humbly grateful.

Perhaps that was the point of the sermon.

I looked out the car window.

“Stick with me, honey, I’m a genius.”

“I know,” he replied, “that’s why I brought it up. I knew you’d have insights.”

***

I watched a Netflix movie on my computer last night while the hub was watching a NASCAR race.

Have you seen it?

That movie, this morning’s Scripture and the video I posted earlier today, all feel somehow tied together.

In my soul.

Perhaps because “God knits man in his mother’s womb slowly and wisely.  [Closure, insight, forgiveness, healing] should be born in a similar way.”

Watch the movie, wouldya’?, so we can discuss.

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church nonsense

The Drip, Drip, Drip of Dogmatism

I’ve been too knackered to read or write anything these past two weeks.  I won’t go into the details but it has to do with my mom falling and injuring her hip (CT scan next week), both of my dogs having a nasty bout of diarrhea (clean-up in aisle 2), and me working just about ’round the clock to prepare for a presentation.

Profound exhaustion.

But then last night I went to the newly renovated Strand Theater in the newly rejuvenated Pontiac to see Phillip Phillips. Just Phillip, Dave Eggars, a guitar, a cello and a voice. In an intimate setting.

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It was outstanding.

Brian Vander Ark opened with skills of his own.

So today I had enough rejuvenation of my own to read a little something and I read this:

“Here’s the thing: Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus. The phrase is never found in the Bible. And the whole biblical witness runs contrary to it.”

I was only three paragraphs into the article and I was exhausted again.

Because I’m tired of statements like that one.

Untrue overstatements to support a point.

Correct, the phrase “personal relationship” is not found in the Bible (lots of phrases to which Christians adhere are not found in the Bible), but that doesn’t mean the whole Biblical witness runs contrary to it.

When God rebuked Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12 He said, “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face…”

In Exodus 33, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Isaiah wrote, “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend...” and in another place, he wrote “look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” [emphasis added]

God said of David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

John referred to himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  When Peter, learning how he would die, looked at John and asked, “What about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

And there was Job who, after a long personal discourse with God said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

A quick survey of the whole biblical witness (and these are just the first few that come to mind)  reveals that God had many unique, personal relationships.

Oh, oh, oh I just thought of more: Jesus revealing Himself personally to Mary at the tomb and then to the disciples minus Thomas and then to Thomas personally with a personalized revelation tailored to his specific need to believe…

We know from Scripture that He made promises to individuals as well as to nations.

He still does.  He still has unique, personal relationships with individuals AND He has corporate relationships with nations and with the church at large.

Things are rarely one or the other when it comes to the way we practice religion.  They’re almost always a little bit of both.

Which is why dogma wears me out.

#knackered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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faith, Jesus

We All Need Jesus.

“Do something uplifting today,” the hub said, as he smooched me and left for work.

“I am.” I pointed to the sweet video I was watching, posted by BJ of The River Walk.

He popped his head back through the door and said, “You don’t deserve this.”

“Aww, thank you honey.”

Those were the exact words my dad said, over the phone from Florida, after my first husband left me. And the hub knew it.

Vegetal words – planted 25 years ago by my beloved dad – blooming afresh this morning thanks to my thoughtful hub.

God took a beating on Facebook yesterday.

The depth of hate revealed – for God and for me – was quite troubling.

Vegetal hate, lying deep and dormant, springing up with a vengeance.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who encountered it.

I took the beagle for an uplifting walk in the sunshine and shook it off.

It’s not like God didn’t give full disclosure when I signed on:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Now I understand why love had to be commanded in the verse just prior:

“This is my command: Love each other.”

It’s not easy to love those who have a deep-seated hate for you. It’s especially hard when they have a deep-seated hate for God.

Last night, while we were feeding the friends, the hub summed up the reason for all the ugliness on display yesterday:

“It’s all they have.”

“Father Ken is a genius!,” I replied, as it dawned on me.

“What do you mean?,” asked the hub.

I meant the genius foresight in the prayers we’ve been praying every Sunday:

“Help us renounce dependence on our culture’s false securities; let us see them as idols in which we place our highest trust when you, Christ, are our only salvation – guns, the dollar, political parties and their leaders, stock markets, human intelligence, insurance policies, the possessions and provisions we hoard, our strong bodies, our touchscreen technologies.”

“Well, yeah,” said the hub.

It just hadn’t occurred to me that a political party is all some people have. I guess because we’ve been praying this in church – where people have God, too.

I was thinking about “us” as in those of us who were praying, not “us” as in society at large.

I can be dense.

After I walked the beagle I came across a few videos of President-elect Trump being prayed over at various churches while still a candidate. Here is one of them:

I didn’t know he had been prayed over, anointed for the task. That is quite heartening.

Excellent, in fact.

I was buoyant as I headed back outside to give the hound dog his turn.

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As we walked through the woods, I looked up and was reminded that Love always breaks through.

Which had me thinking: When no one hates us it’s only because we are not currently shining the Light into any dark places.

You can quote me on that.

Or you can quote Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

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Jesus, life, Light

No, No, No!

When I was little, the neighborhood ladies used to come over for coffee. They and my mom sat at our dining room table and talked. About stuff and then, inevitably, about their kids. My mom had lots of kids so my name didn’t come up very often.

But when it did, my ears, which were always listening from a nearby bedroom, would perk way up.

No, no, no, I’d think.

“No, no, no!,” I’d want to run from the bedroom yelling. But I was too shy. And too polite. And I’d heard somewhere that children should be seen and not heard.

I didn’t like being talked about. Wait, that’s not quite right. I did like to be talked about, I just cringed at being misquoted, misrepresented, misunderstood. Even when the anecdotes were favorable.

I wonder if God listens to us from heaven and thinks, No, No, No!

I wonder if He ever wants to run down from heaven and shout it.

Wait, He did.

He listened to His people getting it wrong for a really long, patient time, and then finally “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head.” He put on human flesh, too, then stepped down from heaven to set us straight. (Isaiah 59:17a)

I get into discussions with fellow Christian bloggers every now and then who don’t think God has anything new to say. How boring for Him to live eternally and have nothing new to say, nothing more to reveal about Himself, no more mystery. How arrogant of us to think we’ve heard it all.

Acts 3:21 says that God is going to restore everything. I wonder if everything includes His written word. For sure it includes our misunderstandings. misquotations and misrepresentations of it.

That childhood memory was brought to mind this morning by a discussion in the comment section of another post.

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And I wondered whether perhaps the only things that are written in stone, the only biblical Words that have not been corrupted by human minds and human hands, are the ones He wrote Himself.

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church nonsense, Jesus

Sigh

This came up in my Facebook feed today:

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With this caption:

“When I die, my kids will never have to wonder why certain books are in my library.” -Nate Pickowicz

It’s just the sort of thing that makes me reluctant.

Even so, I’ll try to never stamp “Pharisaical garbage” on anyone’s book (or Facebook post) because Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And even Paul said,

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

 

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Light

The Inerrancy of God

My blogging friend, Wally (I love Wally), reposted something today and all I could think was, Wally, Wally, Wally, I hate to be a thorn in your side, but I must. Even though I am weak with the flu, I must.

So I started to beat my familiar drum in the comment space of the original post, but it was getting rather long so I moved it here. I tirelessly (well, not entirely tirelessly) continue to beat this drum because the church hinges way too much on this one-half of a sentence that Paul wrote to Timothy.

So here we go. The text of the original post is in black, my comments are in crimson:

“Time and time again the question of inerrancy comes up. This is surprising given the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 is clear that all Scripture is God-Breathed.”

First of all, I don’t think God-breathed means what you, the author, thinks it means, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Second, when Paul wrote the words, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”  he was referring to the Law and the Prophets; to the Old Testament.  The books that make up the New Testament had not all been written and none of them had yet been canonized as Scripture.

“God is the author of Scripture.”

According to the verse upon which you built your argument, God is not the author of Scripture, He is the inspirer of Scripture. There’s a difference. If I say that your post inspired my post, then I would be correct. If I say that you authored my post, then I would be incorrect. By definition, the inspirer is not the author.

“So to question inerrancy is to question God.”

Your logic is flawed. I can easily believe that Scripture might be flawed AND that God is absolutely perfect.

I believe that God’s inspiration of Scripture is perfect; man’s recording, recopying, translation, interpretation and teaching of it, not so much. 

If you believe that EVERYTHING on earth has been corrupted by sin, and that NOTHING is perfect this side of heaven, then why would Scripture be exempt? Scripture is an earthly book. I doubt there is a single copy of it in heaven. Why would anyone there need it when they have the Living Word right in front of them? The Living Word is perfect, but our copy has man’s imperfect fingerprints all over it.

“Do we believe in a God that errs? Or do we believe in a God that is perfect in every way? This is a huge question with massive implications.”

Those are huge questions with massive implications, but they have nothing to do with the inerrancy of Scripture because Scripture is not equal to God.

God is three in One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not four in One – Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Scripture.

“If we have a God that [should be who] errs, we cannot rely on Him for anything. If that be the case, what is our hope of salvation?”

Our hope of salvation is in the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf. It is the victory His blood, sweat and tears won for us. 

Scripture merely tells His story.

News reports get details of true events wrong all the time, but that doesn’t mean the event didn’t happen and it doesn’t change the truth of what happened.

“There are some who say that parts of the Bible are inerrant while others are not. The problem with this theory is, how do you decide which is which?”

Here’s how I decide: If Jesus said it (as recorded in the gospels) or dictated it (as in Revelation), then I have 100% confidence in it.  If Jesus quoted it our referenced it or directed questions back to it (the Law and the Prophets) then I have 100% confidence in it.  The rest I ask God to explain to me.

“The answer is simple, the Bible is all or nothing. We do not get to pick and choose which parts are true or correct. They all are. That is not to say that people do not abuse that fact, they do. People on both sides of the aisle abuse this by taking certain laws and saying we must still follow them today or be a hypocrite, or worse, in danger of eternal damnation. However, these stances are horrible examples of good interpretive work.”

I dare say the church’s extrapolation and fast-and-loose teaching of 2 Timothy 3:16 is also a poor example of good interpretive work.

“In the final analysis, we must affirm inerrancy as believers. If we do not, we have no basis for our faith and no reason to believe the message within the pages of the Bible.”

I disagree. Man can be wrong and God can still be right. My faith is in God.

Feel free to weigh in, even if your comments grow long.

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life

I Have Hidden Your Word in My Heart that I Might Not Tank at Bible Study

I awoke two Thursdays ago with the panicked thought that it was my week to lead Bible study.  The schedule and my calendar confirmed that it wasn’t but still I couldn’t shake the sinking feeling in my gut.  I headed to church hoping for the best.  When I walked into the abbey at 9:15 a.m. (a little early JUST IN CASE), I saw Sue seated in the leader’s chair and raised my hands to heaven saying “Thank you, Jesus.”  The Bible ladies laughed.

There was some discussion about our altered schedule – which was convoluted in so many ways – and I left that day CONFIDENT that I would be leading chapters 12, 13 and 14 on April 9.

So I stayed up until just past midnight completing the lessons and preparing to lead.

I arose early this morning, drove to a fancy schmancy market, bought an assortment of muffins and biscotti and headed to the church feeling good about being on top of things and ahead of schedule.  I even remembered to bring some really cute napkins.  Yessiree, I would have plenty of time to set out the treats, brew the coffee, cue up the video and take my seat to lead a brilliant discussion.

Except that we were discussing chapters 9, 10 and 11 today.

The class coordinator got out the revised schedule and proved it.  Crud, I didn’t get a copy of that version.  Perhaps it was handed out the week I missed because I was frantically finishing up the booklets for a presentation the next day.  Or perhaps she gave them out the following week, when I missed to take my sister to the doctor.  Dang it.

Not only had I not prepared to LEAD those chapters, I HAD NOT EVEN DONE them.  We were about to put my winging it skills to the test.

I took prayer requests, prayed and then confessed that I hadn’t done the lessons.  Woman after woman confessed that she hadn’t done them either.  Only three of them had done the homework and one of them had to leave early for a funeral.  Lord have mercy.

Thank God for all the time I wasted doing acrostic puzzles.  Thank God for the ability to read and lead at the same time.  Thank God for educated guesses: Let’s see, I thought as I read a few questions ahead, the context is the power of prayer, the main character is Elisha and the passage I was SUPPOSED to have read is 2 Kings 6.  Is that the time Elisha asked God to open the servant’s eyes so the servant could see that the invisible army that was for them outnumbered the physical army that was against them?   And then Elisha asked God to blind the physical army and He did?

“Helen, what happened in 2 Kings 6?”  Thank God Helen did her homework.  It was just as I guessed, and thank God I knew enough about that passage, and the others we were to have studied for today, to intelligently lead the discussion.

Thank God for all those years of Bible study and Scripture memorization.

At the end of class several of the ladies said, “Great discussion.”  And then Sue said, “You pulled it off because you know your Bible.”  Thank God for encouragers.

Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  And that I might not tank at leading Bible study unprepared.”   (paraphrased)

P.S.  I am NOT condoning winging it with Scripture.  God’s word certainly deserves the respect of preparation.  But sometimes the best laid plans go horribly awry.

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