15 March 2014

How I met God and, Later, Bethel

I met God and later Bethel in similar ways, almost against my will. If that sounds strange, please bear with me.

Suppose you hear about this amazing family, the Joneses. You keep your eyes and ears open, hoping to meet them. Eventually you realize you have friends in common. Over time you notice the things they tell you about the Joneses are not so good. Joe Jones feels up young women, Mary Jones is a cougar on the prowl, the kids vary from just weird to downright mean. You lose interest in the Jones family; you've already had way too many people like that in your life (one is way too many, right?)

A year or so later you realize your friends Smiths are the Jones' cousins, and Jim and Bertie Weems are Joe's God-parents, and they paint a different picture. You realize the neighbors had their own issues, which caused them to project things onto the Joneses. Maybe they aren't so bad, even if they aren't what you originally hoped (you are, after all, still feeling cautious. Once burned twice shy!) After a while, though, you realize the Joneses still sound a bit sketchy. Joe might be stealing office supplies. Mary is always hanging out with the teenagers next door, even though there's no rumors of anything really bad. The kids seem awfully doped, like maybe they're on dope.

Somehow you end up at a party with the Jones. And they're just really nice people. When they hug you it feels good-- and totally safe. Right off the bat, Joe seems to get who you are. Mary talks about the things that matter to you. Their kids and yours teach each other new games you want to join in. A week later when they hear you all have the flu, they come to your house with chicken soup and crackers. They do your laundry. Mary cleans the toilet while Jim does the huge pile of dishes. A month later one of your kids mentions your sister and her kids having to move to a womens' shelter and the Joneses send clothes, books, toys, and a check. You realize the Smiths and Weems, though closer than those first neighbors, also didn't quite get who the Joneses really are. Their own problems distorted their view.

Who are the Joneses? Good people. The best. Instant family. They love you, they care for you, they're there for you.

And that's pretty much how I met God. And later Bethel.

Don't judge a book by the books around it. Don't judge God (or other people) by the people who claim to know them. Get to know them yourself. You won't be sorry.

01 March 2014

Of Course? Or Off Course?

"Do you believe in God?"

"Of course!"

"There is no `of course'."

"Of course there's an `of course'!"

"If there were an `of course' I wouldn't have asked. I wouldn't have needed to."

Don't "of course" people. Even more so if your actions don't back up your words.

And if they ask you, ask why they ask.

And listen.

 

Copyright 2014 Triple R Publishing, Round Rock, TX. Feel free to quote so long as attribution is made. All other rights reserved.

Got revelation?

Are you always looking for fresh revelation?

Good for you if you are. For centuries the Church was content to sit on the Bible and call it all the revelation we needed, and look where it got us.

BUT...

I see people who go to every conference, and flit about between churches just to hear their favorite speakers, or to hear every speaker out there. But they don't seem to be going anywhere. Many of them can't seem to get that fresh revelation, at least not in a deep fashion that matters.

Why not?

Some of the time I believe it's because they haven't done anything with the revelation they already got.

Remember the parable of the "talents"-- the bags of gold? It's in Matthew 25 and Luke 19. The servants who invested the money and made more were praised an d put in charge of cities. But the servant who did nothing? What became of that one? Per Mt 25/28, since he had failed to do anything with it, it was taken from him and given to another.

This is sandwiched between the parable of the virgins who squandered their oil for the wedding and the parable of the sheep and the goats at the last judgment. They all add up to using wisely what you are given.

You want more revelation? Invest what you have; use it. Use it to get closer to God, use it to understand yourself better through God's eyes, and to bless people around you-- love them deeply through the revelation (whatever it is) and who you are.

Just as with all the other gifts of God-- love peace, joy, etc.-- you can't give it away as fast as God does. Hoard it and you don't make room for more. Give it away, and it comes pouring in.

You're awesome and loved. Go spread some of that around.

 

Copyright 2014 Triple R Publishing, Round Rock, TX. Feel free to quote so long as attribution is made. All other rights reserved.

16 August 2013

Modesty and Breast-Feeding

Danger, Will Robinson! This blog discusses female anatomy, dancing, lust, and babies. All at once. It's mildly provocative. If this offends you then you should probably leave now.

Apparently breastfeeding in public-- until the middle of last century pretty much how the entire human race survived-- is now one of the biggest crimes against humanity there is. And one of the reasons most often cited by Christians (mainly women Christians, at that) is that it involves a lack of modesty, causing every male within a thirty yard radius (except possibly, just possibly, any male infant under the age of, say, 72 hours, being breastfed) to lust. I mean full goose bozo, raging hormones, out of control lust.

I have to be honest. I think women need to be modest in breastfeeding. What does that mean? Well, speaking from the perspective of someone who tries to take the Bible as a whole instead of prooftexting, I'd say it means:

  1. Don't whip it out[1] and stick your nipple in my face. Oddly enough, no breast feeding mom has ever done that to me, to anyone I know, or to anyone I have even heard about. Their nipples usually go straight into their babies' mouths.
  2. Don't pop `em both out and then dance around while breastfeeding, gyrating the free boobie like some (deranged) exotic dancer.[2]
  3. Keep the rest of your clothes on; don't strip down and do a bump and grind show while you breastfeed.[3]

If you can pass these three basic tests, I'd say you are well within Biblical grounds for modesty, and frankly I don't see why anyone would get offended. I realize they do, but... SLAPPTM.[4]

And if a guy does lust because a woman is breastfeeding? Definitely SLAPPTM.[4]

FULL DISCLOSURE:
My Mom was once asked to leave a theater for nursing me. On the back row. Under cover. I was an infant. I'm pretty sure the theater was not very crowded.

When I was around 20 I was admiring a friend's newborn up close for a good 15 seconds or more before I realized she was nursing him. I backed off so as not to seem creepy but she didn't care at all; she knew I was looking at her son, not her. According to some anti-breastfeeders, that's not even possible. But it happened!

CREDITS:
There have been several excellent blogs lately about how silly the anti-breastfeeding arguments are (huge props to the lady who did the one on the evils of spoonfeeding in public!) but the one that prompted me to bare all (so to speak) was this one from The Leaky Boob.

NOTES
[1] I have never in my life seen a woman whip a breast out. It seems they'd have to be pretty big to do that, that means it would likely be painful. That's probably why it's less prevalent than some people seem to think.
[2] Again, that has never happened to me or anyone I know, etc.
[3] See previous notes.
[4] Sounds Like A Personal Problem To Me

26 July 2013

Are You a Stripper?

Context matters.

One of the biggest mistakes the Church has fallen into is approaching the Bible verse by verse, stripping them of context. Jesus didn't tweet the Gospels a phrase or sentence at a time. He told stories, he had conversations, he painted vast panoramas on verbal canvases. He was God; if he wanted to communicate in one liners he would have. He mostly left that to others such as Groucho, Bob Hope, Jack Benny.

For example, a friend recently asked about Matthew 5/37: "But let your `Yes' be `Yes,' and your `No,' `No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one." (NKJV). he wanted to know what it meant.

I understand; I learned to do this and did it for years. But eventually I rediscovered how much more sense the Bible makes when we read verses in context. In this case looking at just a few verses before helps immensely. Let's read Matthew 3/33-37 in two translations for even more depth:

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.' But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply `Yes' or `No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (NIV)

"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, `I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, `God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say `yes' and `no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong." (The Message)

Now the meaning is more obvious. "Speak the truth. If you need an oath to back up your agreement or disagreement, something is wrong... and no one can trust what you say without an oath. Just be real." Studying verse 37 alone does not provide the whole picture, but it does lend itself quite well to legalism, the trap into which so many Pharisees had fallen in Jesus' day. God is always about relationship more than rules. Look at verses in relationship to the verses nearby. No verse is an island.

 

Various Jewish and Christian scholars added chapters and paragraph divisions for multiple reasons, but verses did not appear in the New testament until the 1500s. While useful as reference points they should otherwise be ignored. Once you can ignore them (The Message really drove this home for me and was just what I needed to move back to a holistic reading) you begin to see things you would otherwise miss.

Even Jesus, quoting brief verses to Satan, clearly had a broader context, or he would never have associated those passages with the topics at hand.

1 Do yourself a huge favor. Read the stories 2 in the Bible as stories, 3 not as a chopped up group of 4 sentences and fragments.