Monday, September 29, 2008


Often the subject of slaves and servants pop up in the Bible. Christians often apply those slave/servants passages to mean belonging to someone else. Such as: "we are Christ's servants." We are servants and slaves of sin. Or we can update them a bit and make them equivalent to the employer employee relationship. Sometimes parents can even use a servant verse to talk about the child-parent relationship. As in: Proverbs 29: 21

But consider that servants and slaves can also mean something that serves us and that we should be careful to always keep under our power. Not the other way around.

Money for instance is a servant. We must not be ruled by it. Money shouldn't be telling us what to do? "Oh wow! I have some money I can buy that dress!"

Desires are servants also. The desire to be a famous writer serves a writer. But it should not rule a writer.
Luke 17:7 "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?"

Desires are put into our lives to help us not to rule us. We must learn to rule these desires. A servant doesn't push the boss around. It's one thing to say I want to watch this television show. But we shouldn't say "I simply have to watch this television show." OR it's okay to say, "Wow, that guy is cute!" But it's entirely different for us to say "I really must sleep with that guy. I will toss over my husband and enter into an affair with this gorgeous hot guy!"

Our bodies are servants also. Sins are sins. Plain and simple, they are things we should not ever do. But succumbing to what our body wants is falling into the role of letting your servant push you around. When we fast, we are telling our body -- our servant-- to behave itself. WE are the ones telling it what to do. Not the other way around. We batter and buffet our body as St Paul says. And we train it to listen to our spirit and to be ruled by our spirit.

Romans 7:5 "For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death."

So then, let's play the game right. Let's let our spirit teach our flesh who rules! If I'm on a fast, my body might shout and beg! If I am enduring something for God, my mouth may want to whine! But it is my spirit that rules! My spirit must rule!

1 Timothy 4:8 "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."

2 Timothy 2:5 "Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Bible WTH moment: Psalm 51

Okay, am back. I was busy working on my novel so I just took some chapters from my Bible study book and scheduled them all this month. Now am back, having finished the first draft of my novel.

Okay, every once in a while as one reads the Bible one encounters a "what-the-heck?" moment. So here is the latest one. Everyone knows my dislike for King David. So here goes: Psalm 51:4 "Against you, you only have I sinned."

2 Samuel 12:13 "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die."

Okay, the epigraph at the beginning of Psalm 51 states that David wrote this psalm when Nathan the prophet came to him to rebuke him about taking Bathsheba as his wife after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband Uriah the Hittite. (And honestly, this isn't the reason I dislike David. I dislike him because of his treatment of Michal his wife. He's just way spiteful.)

Now, in this psalm, David says, "Against you, you only have I sinned." And he is talking to God. So what are we to make of this? Is David saying that he sinned against God alone? that any sin we commit is ultimately against God alone??? ALONE???? He doesn't say "I sinned against you in addition to sinning against one of my best friends by murdering him." He says "I sinned against you alone."

Okay, we can try to get away with this with some weasel theology like, "Well, David was saying God is in everyone we hurt."

1 Corinthians 8:12
But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
Genesis 20:6
And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

I understand that when it comes to sins, every sin is a sin against God. But I dunno. That God ALONE part. When David adds the YOU YOU ONLY...well, what the heck?

David was called a man after God's own heart in the beginning of his ministry as king. But when he died one wonders. In one version his last words are a death list to his son Solomon, telling Solomon to kill everyone who had upset him while he was alive. In the other version, his last words are Uriah the Hittite. Interesting last words. While alive, did he have it in him to ponder his cruelty to Uriah? Is that why he died with such guilt and unforgiveness. Unforgiveness toward himself, and unforgiveness toward his enemies. Did David do the little gave of "I love God with all my heart so I don't have to love my neighbor as myself?"

So many Christians just worship David because God says David never turned his heart aside from him. But, David turned his heart from people pretty easily. He was pretty unforgiving toward his enemies and toward Michal, his wife. And after he didn't sleep with her out of spite and unforgiveness, his sin rebounded to him because later Absalom slept with David's concubines and David couldn't sleep with those women. Yep, he had bragged about not women having him. And who knows, maybe some of those women had laughed at Michal when David rejected her. But they ended up in the same boat. Christians don't look at the Bible and see that.

So if someone sins against some unsaved person and kills that unsaved person and that unsaved person goes to hell? It's only a sin against God. So if a person declares war against an entire people and murders them all and they all go to hell and their children grow up wounded and emotionally maimed's only a sin against God?

So, can a human being be sinned against?

Jesus said we could be.

Luke 17:4
If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

1 Samuel 2:25
If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him?

1 Samuel 19:4
And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good:

1 Samuel 19:5
For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?

2 Chronicles 6:22
If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;

Matthew 18:21
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Is David really even thinking of the harm he did to Uriah? Is this his way of not delving too deeply into his guilt? After all, he gets forgiven and he keeps the prize of his crime? Imagine someone commits adultery, ruins a marriage, gets saved, but still doesn't care that now the betrayed spouse is walking around being destroyed emotionally (and perhaps financially, if it's a cast-off wife) and yet the now saved adulterer goes about with a happy marriage? I can't figure David out. The only way I can get around this is by saying, "Well, God is gracious. He's gonna give David a full reward in heaven. It's all grace." And yet, this confession just doesn't sit right. Remember the oldtime folks when forgiveness was preached with restitution? Heck, back in those days if someone had an affair and left a spouse to marry the adulterous partner...then got saved. Heck, folks would leave the adulterous partner!

In another Psalm, Psalm 41:4 we get, "I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee."

Then there is sinning against one's own soul
Proverbs 20:2 "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul."

1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

So, is it my problem? Do I want folks to totally understand the pain of the one they have wounded when they confess? Am I asking the impossible? Am I just too shallow to understand David's confession? -C

Friday, September 26, 2008

Father's discipline

Ever had a rebuke from God? A dream in which you are told you did something not quite right? A terrible feeling in your spirit when you are thinking something wrong? A verse from the Bible nagging at you? Ah!!!! Then you know what I mean.

I was sitting around hating this old friend of mine, someone whom I realized was quite selfish....way after other folks realized she was selfish. Someone who took and took and took and ending up with a beautiful house because she went on welfare, had a baby, etc. While silly me took five years to pay off my son's birth and never took any money from the government for his disability. Well, here comes this big mortgage crisis. And I was passing my old acquaintance's house, kinda wishing she would lose the house. Heck, she bought this very big house in a wealthy neighborhood and she just came up from Jamaica and got off welfare twelve years ago. And she is waaaay over-extended. So, yeah, I was wishing all her greed would come up and bite her. Then I would kinda -- through some weird lord-knows-how way-- buy it up in foreclosure. Yep. I was thinking that. And yeah, I suppose all this anger at her has been growing because life's been a struggle lately. So I was in comparative mode. Yeah, I shouldn't have been.

Then what do I hear in my spirit? The ten commandments. And what do I hear in my spirit? "Carole, pray for her that she doesn't lose her house." And what do I hear? "Wow, Carole! This is the first time you have ever coveted your neighbor's house."

Hebrews 12:6 "Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines."
Psalm 94:12 "Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord."
Psalm 23: 4 "They rod and they staff they comfort me."
"Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord!"

Can you imagine going through life without God ever disciplining you? Can you imagine being a person whom God doesn't care about conforming to the image of His Son, Jesus?

Now, God doesn't give us sickness to discipline us (as some people think.) If he loves you he will discipline you. If you aren't disciplined, the Bible implies that pretty much God has left you to yourself.

I still haven't prayed for her not to lose her house. But at least I'm not praying for her to lose it. And I thank God for his rod and his staff and the way he pulls his little lamb by the neck sometimes. Softly but firmly. -C

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Certain Men

“Sir, we want to see Jesus John 12:20"

The Bible is full of incidences where “certain men” show up at opportune time. A “certain man” drew a bow at a venture and killed Ahab. A “certain man” told Joseph’s brother which road Joseph had taken. A “certain man” put the poisonous gourd into the pot of stew. Sometimes the names of the “certain men” are probably known to the Bible authors, sometimes not. Sometimes the “certain man” seems to be helping God’s will, sometimes he seems to be helping Satan. Sometimes we even see a “certain woman.” But always, whether man or woman, God’s messenger or Satan’s, the certain person comes at a most important time in the life of the Bible character, and thus an important time in the life of Israel and/or Christ’s church.

On Palm Sunday, certain men from Greece told the disciples, “We want to see Jesus.” What timing!

Jesus had recently brought Lazarus from the dead and Jesus had entered into Jerusalem where the people were in expectation and intended to make Jesus their king. Remember Satan’s temptation in the wilderness: “I’ll make you king of all the world”? Here was another temptation. Would Jesus allow the people to make him king?

Some have said the men from Greece probably wanted answer to the deepest questions of meaning, philosophical questions that they sure Jesus could answer. Others have said these men probably wanted to take Jesus to their cities where Jesus would be honored and free from the danger of death. Some don’t consider the men from Greece at all, because it seems –at first glance– that Jesus didn’t consider these men either.

But what does Jesus do when he hears that the men from Greece want to see him? He says, “My hour has come. Time for a grain of wheat to fall to the ground and die so that there will be a great harvest.”

Like the call Paul received in a dream, “Come to Macedonia and help us” so Jesus is reminded by “certain men” that the rest of the world need to see Him. These men from Greece came at the exact time Jesus needed them to come. Jesus was Perfect God and Perfect Man, but Temptation is a tough thing. Whether or not Jesus actually needed to be reminded of his primary reason for living – to bring many sons to God– God sent him a reminder anyway. The Bible tells us that “because of the glory He saw ahead of Him” Jesus endured the shame of the cross. If Jesus was in danger of forgetting what his purpose was, here was the moment. The crowds were calling to him, they even seemed ready to believe in his gospel. But when the men from Greece arrived, Jesus remembered: He didn’t come on earth only to make Israel believe the gospel. He didn’t come to live one perfect human life and then die and be forgotten. He came to die, that he might live forever and might cause others –including those not in the fold of Israel– to also live forever. He had come for the salvation of the certain men from Greece.

All of us are born with a life’s purpose. As is evident from the amount of people in prisons, and the wrong jobs, many people simply miss their purposes. All our purposes have one simple goal: to bring many people to Christ, to bring many children to God.

Whether we are called to be artists, firemen, teachers, pastors, nurses, lawyers – whatever we do, we are doing for God’s glory and to help people see Jesus. A Christian artist must remember that those outside the family of God must be given an opportunity “to see Jesus.” A Christian teacher must remember that she is teaching young minds to think so that they will not be deceived by the world’s views. A math teacher can show the beauty and order of nature, a health teacher can teach the beauty and order of the human body. A Christian nurse shows God’s love but also keeps the unsaved alive, giving them more time for them to live and “see Jesus.”

Many times people lose sight of their original purpose in a particular job? When was the last time you realized that the world needed to see Jesus?

Prayer: Lord, help me to understand how my work helps me to show Jesus to others.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to do a Bible character study

Character Studies

When studying a Bible story, we meet many characters whom we must get to know if we are to understand the story well.

Questions to ask when meeting a new Bible character:
1. What are the key verses used to describe this person?
2. What is this character doing when he or she is first mentioned?
3. Is this description a description of the person’s total personality or just a description of the character at a stressful moment in his life?
4. What words do the Bible writer use to describe this person?
5. Can we make any assumptions about this person’s moral behavior?
6. Do you think the Bible writer wants us to like or dislike this person?
7. Does this person’s goodness or moral behavior matter in this instance?
8. Does this person’s faith matter in this instance?
9. Does this person speak? If so, what are the exact words?
10. What does this person need?
11. Who does this person look to for help? God? Satan? Other humans?
12. Are there any commands, instructions, or promises in the Bible that this person is hoping on or is violating?
13. Is this person mentioned in another chapter or in another Bible book?
14. What is the end result of this person’s life? Does this person succeed because of faith? Does he perish for lack of wisdom, faith, or goodness?
15. Be honest, if you met someone like this in your life, what would you think of this person?
16. What do extra-Biblical sources think of this character?
17. If good comes to this person, does he deserve it? And why?
18. If evil comes to this person, does he deserve it?
19. Is this person mentioned in secular history?
20. Was this person important in the eyes of secular people?
21. Is this person habitually preached about? Why? Why not?
22. Why do you think this story is important?

Read the story of Mary and Martha in the gospel of John. Do we know everything about Martha from this incident? Can we assume that we know all of Martha’s personality from this small incident?

Read the book of Job. What do we know about Job’s wife? Can we judge a woman who lost all her children and everything in her life in one day? Do you think God judged her?

Do a concordance search for Lot. What do all the Bible authors think of him?

What does Paul think of Peter? What does Peter think of Paul?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Types of Bible Study

Types of Bible Studies:

Bible studies may be done singly or as a series.

1. A Bible Study Series can be thematic. Thematic articles can be about anything, as long as you have several Bible verses to discuss: The Holy Spirit or the Trinity: John 15:26, I John 5:8, Matt 3:16, Is 48:16, 1 Cor 6:19, Eph 2:18, Acts 10:38, Rom 8:11, 2 Peter 1:21, Rom 15:13, Heb 2:3, 1 Peter 3:18; or even in Genesis where God creates the world with the Spirit and then walks in the garden and later visits Abraham as one of the three visitors.
2. A certain symbol, a Bible character, Marriage, word, virtue, prophets, prayers in the Bible, the Parables, Worship Songs in the Bible, stewardship and finances, etc.
3. Character Studies: Women, Bad women, Prophets, converts in the Bible, Compare and Contrasts
4. Seasonal: Holidays, Feasts in the Bible, Mothers in the Bible, Fathers in the Bible.
5. In-depth Examination of a particular Bible book or Writer: John’s Epistles, Prophetic Books
6. Philosophical: Old Testament Prayers, Paul’s Prayers, The hard sayings of Jesus
7. Bible studies can be simple retelling – These Bible studies vary, depending on the age of the audience. If the audience is older, more commentary and examination of the story is added, in addition to more adult topics.
8. The Bible and Current Events – These kind of Bible Studies deal with religion’s impact on society. For instance, politics (Christianity and Welfare? Christianity and War? Christianity and Pacificism? Christianity and the Courts.) This kind of Bible study can be quite controversial.
9. Christianity and other great Christian books – These Bible studies are usually a combination of Bible studies, an examination of an author’s life, and a book review. For instance: C S Lewis and the problem of pain and grief, War and the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

10. Defending Christianity – Christian apologetics, Christianity and Cults, Christianity and atheism, Christianity and other religions, Christianity and human philosophy. Discernment and wisdom is often needed when a writer engages the deceptions of the modern (and ancient) world. Bible study writers have to be aware that they live in a world which has its own ideas about Christianity. This world has stories built upon lies, built upon agendas, built upon schemes, built upon self-delusions, built upon mis-readings. Some of these stories have become solidified over the years, decades, and centuries and are now religions and “churches” of their own. Even if they are not religions, they create doubt by being shadow religions, and shadow beliefs. A Christian must learn to stand up against them.
Questions to ask yourself when tackling someone who thinks she knows that Christianity is false:
1. When is the first mention of this particular anti-Christian lie?
2. What exactly is the legend on which this lie built?
3. Does this legend have anything truthful in it?
4. Challenge the “proof” documents of the other religion; verify the proof documents of Christianity.
5. Don’t trust any old proof that comes your way.
6. Question the agenda behind the new truth.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Questions God asks in the Bible

Here is a Bible study I wrote once. Instead of simply writing a long article, I simply listed some of the many questions God asks in the Bible. The article follows in its entirety. Note the following actions, as concepts compared with concepts:
Long-time readers of the Bible have a subtle understanding of the consistency of God’s personality. That is: they know God. Throughout the five thousand years and dozens of authors who wrote the Bible, God’s personality traits and actions remain consistent and can be compared one with another. For instance, have you noticed that Yahweh has a habit of asking the guilty person searching questions instead of coming straight out with an accusation? Yahweh is not the “accuser” and seems to have a dislike of straightforward accusation, therefore he rarely uses it. This is part of God’s unchangeable personality, something that shows up in the God of the Old Testament as well as in Jesus, whom Christians also believe to be God. Both approach the sinner with questions designed to create a relationship of reasoning and truth. (I will refrain from listing the Bible chapters and verse so that you may use your concordance and read the stories in context.)

1. In the Garden of Eden, after Adam had sinned, God said, “Adam, where are you?”
2. To Eve, after the Fall, he said, “What is this that you have done?”
3. To Cain after Cain had murdered Abel: “Where is your brother?”
4. To Jacob, as he fought with the angel of the Lord, “What is your name?” Perhaps, the Lord wanted Jacob to get back to his roots. Before Jacob becomes a “prince” (Israel), he must acknowledge that he is a “supplanter” (Jacob)
5. To Sarah when she disbelieved and laughed in her disbelief, “Why did you laugh?”
6. To Hagar, when she was despairing in the desert, “What is the matter, Hagar?”
7. To Moses, when Moses asked Him to part the Red Sea, “Why are you looking at me? You stretch out your hand and part the sea.”
8. To Moses, after Miriam had caused a fuss because of Moses' Ethiopian wife, “If her father had spat in her face, would she not be ashamed seven days?” (This is the third person invisible, more insulting than usual. Miriam is nearby, but God is making a point of not talking to her directly because as a backup for her racism, she had said that God had also talked directly to her.)
9. To Satan, after he came to see God in the court of Heaven, “I see you have been pondering my servant Job?”
10. To Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul since I've removed the kingship from him?”
11. To Balaam, “Who were those men who visited you?”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ does the same thing which shows that he is very much like his Father.
1. After He had left His mother and father and made them worry themselves sick about him, “Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know I would be doing my father's business?”
2. To his mother after she asked him to turn water into wine: “Woman, what is that between you and me?”
3. To the man who told him that his brothers and mother were waiting for Him outside, “Who are my brothers and sisters?”
4. To the woman taken in adultery, “Woman, where are your accusers?”
5. To the man who wanted to know what the greatest commandments were: “Tell me who acted as a neighbor?”
6. To the man who wanted Jesus to give the man’s greedy brother a talking to. “Who made me a divider among you?”
7. To John and James when they asked Jesus to make them special in heaven, “Do you think you can swallow the cup reserved for those who will stand at my right hand?”
8. To the man who wanted Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance properly: “Who made me a divider between you?”
9. On the question of tribute, “Whose inscription and face is on this coin?”
10. To Simon Peter, “Who do you say I am?”
11. To Simon Peter, “Do you love me?”
12. To Simon Peter, “If I will that he (my best friend) waits around until I return, what is that to you?”
13. To Paul on the road to Damascus, “Paul why are you persecuting me?”
14. In the gospel of John chapter 14, Phillip asked Jesus to show them the father. Jesus said, “Have I been so long with you Philip and you don't know me? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Did you buy a concordance? Did you find all the chapters and verses? What words did you use in order to find the verses? Did you read the entire passages in context? Good, now you are an expert in the use of concordances, finding patterns and concepts, and commonalities in words, phrases, symbols and actions. With this knowledge you can develop mindfulness and be able to hear those insights which the Holy Spirit gives you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to read a prophetic Bible passage


When reading a prophecy, ask yourself the following questions:
1. To whom is this prophecy addressed?
2. Why has this prophet spoken the prophecy? What event caused him to speak it?
3. Was this prophecy God-initiated or did the prophet speak it of his own volition?
4. What exactly is the prophecy? What does it foretell? Does it give a time when the prophecy will be fulfilled?
5. What symbols do this prophet use?
6. Is there another prophecy like this one mentioned in another Bible book?
7. What does the other prophet say?
8. What historical Bible book(s) must I read in order to understand this prophet better?
9. What general prophetic theme does this Prophetic book fit into?
10. Where is the fulfillment of this prophecy? How do you know this?
11. If this is an end-time prophecy, are there doctrinal disagreements about this prophecy? What does your denomination believe?
Read the book of the prophet Amos. If you were a modern-day Amos, how would you update this prophecy?

Do a concordance search for words and phrases such as “Day of the Lord” or “lamb” or “feast.”

Most Bibles have margin notes. Read one of the gospels and compare the prophecies with the life of Jesus.

The Road to Lost Innocence Blog Tour


Book: The Road to Lost Innocence
Author: Somaly Mam
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Publication Date: September 9, 2008
WaterBrook Multnomah, a division of Random House

This is the blurb:
Born in Cambodia and orphaned at an early age, Somaly Mam, a Buddhist sex trade survivor, grew up never knowing her real name or birthday.

As a teenager, Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution and spent years in the brothels of Cambodia where she witnessed and experienced the full-blown horrors of the human sex trade – rape, torture, and nearly unfathomable abuse. After her eventual escape, she could not forget the young girls (some as young as 5) left behind in the brothels, and so she returned to serve them. Her new book, "The Road of Lost Innocence," is her newest means of advocacy. It tells her personal story, ultimately inviting people of conscious, such as our Christian community, to become involved (or to continue involvement) in this war against an epic evil, a modern battle for "the least of these." Truly, not only is this book worth reading, it's worth sharing.

I have a review over at Blogcritics. But I'll just give my ruminations of the book here. Reading this book got me thinking about normalcy. Normalcy, like human nature, is often dependent on history, religion, and culture. In Cambodia, it seemed it was normal for poor girls to accept being abandoned, raped, sold to husbands to pay off for debts, and sold by parents or husbands repeatedly. It’s all they know and their society supports this cruelty. It’s also normal, when war begins, for the poor to find themselves sleeping beside dead bodies or amputating the legs of wounded soldiers even if they have no medical knowledge.

Interestingly, the book's synopsis says it's the Buddhist sex trade. But most of Somaly's chief exploiters are Muslim. I hadn’t known that Cambodia had a Muslim population but it seems weird that the publishers should say this. Are they afraid of saying anything anti-Moslem. This doesn’t matter, of course. Slavery in the United States was practiced by so-called Christians. Even so, most Americans are very provincial and do not really understand the world. And I suppose there were many Buddhist men who abused the author. Interestingly, many of us imagine every Buddhist in Asia to be a kind of pure-hearted noble-minded boddhi, geared for truth. It’s apparent from this memory that this is not true. Perhaps all men are naturally like that – would-be rapists who want to attack women. Perhaps that aspect of the male nature is toned down by education, cultural approbration, fear of punishment, and religious indoctrination against extra-marital sexual. Yep, I believe religion protects women. If religious men adhere to it. But perhaps war and poverty only made men nastier. Reading this book one feels that the only thing on men’s mind is the desire to rape…and once they have met a wounded a woman, all they can see is an object they can use and abuse.

I was also affected by the race issue. Always, the love of light-skinnedness and the hatred of darkskinnedness. Everywhere in the world. What is that about?

As I read this book, I felt somewhat vindicated. As a Christian I am often told by some Christian writers that my stories are dark. I often wonder why American Christians don't seem to understand that the world is in a great deal of pain. Not just sin, mind you. The person who sells and buys children for sex is a sinner. But the world is also in pain. The people who are victims of sexual abuse: prostitutes, incest survivors, etc are in need of healing from their pain. Often Christian books are so far from touching painful situations that one ends up with books that cannot reach past the Christian reading community.

This is a book that really reminded me of how lost and confused and evil human nature is without the holy spirit working within.

A bit of a documentary is on youtube

to purchase the book at

This is her update page at her website

Some other Tour participants are:

Amazon Link:

Women of a New Tribe

Here's the blurb:


If you seek the soul
of a people, look to
its women.
For it is at their bosoms
that the seeds of love,
compassion and courage
are first planted and
Look into their faces
and see what was
and what will be.
-Jerry Taliaferro, Photographer

If google give you problems click on youtube again. If you still have trouble with it, go to

Here is more info:

Hat tip to my ebuddy Moondancer

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to read a poetic Bible passage

POETIC images used in Prophecy or Psalms
When reading a poetic or inspirational story, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What imagery does this poem use?
2. What would this image mean to a reader in the writer’s time?
3. What would this image mean to most modern readers?
4. What does this image mean to me?
5. What are the symbols in this Psalm or Song? Which will I use?
6. Are there other Bible books that also use this symbol?
7. If this is a poetic or symbolic word in the middle of a prophetic or narrative book, how do I know this is a symbol and not literal?
8. How far can I push this symbol? Can all aspects of this symbol be used in my interpretation? Or is there a place where I’m stretching matters?
9. Am I being literal when I should be symbolic? Or vice versa?
10. Have I done a concordance search to see if there are other references to this imagery? What have I discovered?
11. What does this symbol show about God or the Christian life?

Examine the symbol of the fig tree. Does it always mean Israel?
Do a concordance search for the words, “three men.”
Do a Bible study on the phrase “a certain man.”
Do a Bible study on the phrase “tower” or “fortress.”
Do a Bible study on “tongue, word.”
What do you think of the phrase: “Sleep in their graves” Is this symbolic? -- Is this just a euphemism for death which says nothing more than that a person has died? Is it literal? If it is literal, then those who have died are sleeping until God “wakes” them. But is every cemetery literally full of sleeping people? Is it both symbolic and literal? If so, then “sleep” is literal and “in their graves” is symbolic. It’s convenient to accept one part of the verse as symbolic and another part as literal, but such dishonesty is slick scripture twisting based on a person’s need to do away with an immediate hell.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How to read a Bible passage about doctrines

In Christianity, doctrines are not merely something to be believed. The rituals and doctrines we practice contain spiritual power. When encountering a doctrine, ask yourself:

1. How do we know this Bible verse is important to a particular doctrine?
2. Is there a possibility that this is the Bible writer’s own opinion?
3. Find all the Bible verses regarding this doctrine?
4. Read the passages in at least two other translations.
5. St Paul tells us to rightly divide the word of truth. This means you should look for all the Bible passages which speak on this issue.
6. There is a God-side and a human-side to every command or doctrine. For instance, we are told to love others as God loves us. When looking at a doctrine, ask what is the God-side of this doctrine? What is the human side?
7. What does the mission statement or creed of your denomination state about this particular doctrine? Why?
8. Most denominations believe the same things on the important issues. They generally believe everything found in the historical creeds – the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed, etc—and differ only on minor doctrines. If your denomination differs in a doctrine from other denominations, find the verses that support your denomination’s view? Find verses that do not support it.
9. Why is this doctrine important? What is it supposed to accomplish in a believer’s life?
10. Is it possible that this doctrine was changed by the New Covenant, or by the death and resurrection of Christ?
11. Often doctrines come about because of the mistranslation of a particular word, a cult-leader’s misreading of the King James Version, bad reading comprehension or Scripture-twisting? Make sure you understand all the words in this passage, and that you understand the culture that produced this Bible passage?
12. Are there any specific requirements about how this particular doctrine or sacrament must be done?
God gives healing virtue when hands are laid on us for healing; it is our responsibility to trust, obey, give thanks, and confess one’s belief in His word. Study the concept of “laying on of hands” You will see that the God-side states that something is given when a minister of God lays hands on someone– healing virtue, a spiritual gift. What is a believer’s human responsibility when hands are laid on him? Do a concordance search.
Every word or command of God is like a seed. When God speaks a word into a believer’s life, that word has the power within it to heal or to accomplish what God sent it out to do. Read the story of the parable of the seed. Or read the story of Peter walking on the water. What was the command, seed, or word? What is the human-side or the human responsibility?
Jesus told us that when we pray we must believe that God has answered us, and then we will receive what we have believed. Read about the incident of the cursing of the fig tree? What does the cursing of the fig tree say about waiting, seeing, and believing while we pray?
Paul states that if we live under the law of sin and death we cannot be under the law of love. Either we live legalistically by faith in our righteousness or we live as God’s children by faith in God’s loving grace. The early Christians worshiped on the Lord’s Day because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection. They collected their tithes on the Lord’s Day and St John received his revelations on the Lord’s Day. The Spirit of God descended on Pentecost, the fiftieth day – seven weeks and a day-- and the festival of first fruits, the jubilee. It symbolized a new birth of grace and new freedom from the law. Compare this with Psalm 118: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Study the book of Galations. What does this say about the freedom Christians have in Christ? Is there any rule about how or when Christians should pray?
Paul states it is best not to marry, unless one is burning with passion. In Genesis, God declares that it is not good for the man to be alone. The writer of Proverbs says he who finds a wife finds a good thing. Write an article about divine commandment, human experience, societal opinion.
Examine The Preacher’s (Ecclesiastes) comment about never having found a good woman in 1000. Examine the story of Deborah and Barak. Research the city of Corinth and the worship of Bacchus. How does this connect to Paul’s attitude toward the Corinthian women? What do you think about women preachers?

1. Read Paul’s letter to the Colossians to see what Paul says about rules and regulations.
2. If you have not read the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, please read it.
3. Do a search in your concordance for the word “tradition.”
4. Compare Jeremiah chapter 31:33, Isaiah 58, Isaiah 66, the book of Malachi, Mark 2:23-26, John chapter 16.
5. Go to the library and find a book on religious traditions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How to read a Bible epistle or letter

When reading an epistle, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Who is writing this letter?
2. To whom is he writing it? What people are in the congregation? Jews? Greeks? To certain people in the church? To one person? To a specific minister?
3. Why is he writing it? What situation has prompted his writing it?
4. What are the main earthly concerns of this writer? How many topics does he tackle in this letter?
5. What are the spiritual doctrines mentioned in this letter?
6. What does the writer say he is writing about?
7. Is this a private letter or a letter to be read to the entire church?
8. If there is a “therefore,” what is it “there for”?
9. If there is a verse you know well, read the verses before and after it.
10. In how many different directions does this writer take us? How do all these different directions fit into his purpose of the letter?
11. What proofs, if any, does the writer use to prove his main point? Does he appeal to emotion? Scripture? His reputation?


Why did Paul write to Philemon? Can you use other events mentioned elsewhere --the book of Acts or other epistles—to fill in what happened?

Why did James write his general epistle?

To whom did John write his third letter? Why?

What did Jude intend to write about? Why did he change his mind and write about something else?

What do you think was happening in the church of Colossae? What do you think the people were arguing about?

Who wrote the book of The Revelations? Who is it written to? What does he mean when he says he is writing to the servants of the Lord Jesus? Is there a difference between the servants of the Lord or the bride of the Lord or the body of Christ? Is he writing to Jewish Christians or to Gentile Christians? Is he writing to Christians of his time, of our time, or of all time?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to read a Bible story

When reading a narrative story, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I need to read another section in this Bible in order to understand this passage better? Are there other Bible passages that complement this one?
2. Is there another story in the Bible that mirrors this one?
3. What does this story tell us about God? What attribute(s) of God is shown?
4. What happens in this event? What is the spiritual or social situation?
5. Who is (are) the main characters? What is his obstacle, flaw, or virtue?
6. What evil, temptation, or trial is the main character subject to? Is this evil from within his mind or outside of it?
7. How is God’s relationship with this person shown?
8. What blessings or promises does this character have from God?
9. Are there other characters in this story? What purpose do they play?
10. How do these events affect future events?
11. Is this event –or character-- mentioned again anywhere in the Bible? What do future Bible writers think of it?
12. Compare and Contrast this Bible story with others similar to it?
13. Do many ministers speak about this particular Bible passage?
14. What is one the main message or result of this particular story?
15. Is this story for all Christians at any stage of their lives or is it written for a specific situation:?
16. Is there anything about this story that would offend modern Christians?
17. How does this story fit in with the main aspects of Christianity?

Using the gospel Chronology, check to see how many times Jesus throw out the money changers.
There are two different stories about the king who gives talents to his servants. One depicts everyone getting the same measure. Another depicts people giving different measures.
Read Psalm 107. What events does this psalm describe?
Read Psalm 139, Genesis 1, and Isaiah 40.

Friday, September 12, 2008

FLOW: For Love of Water

Am highly recommending this.

Here is the website for the FLOW water documentary. It's won countless prizes and if it stops you from drinking tap water disguised as spring water (Remember Pepsi's confession that aquafina was nothing more than tap water?) then we will at least have begun the battle.

Water is the very essence of life, sustaining every being on the planet. 'Flow' confronts the disturbing reality that our crucial resource is dwindling and greed just may be the cause

Click on the youtube video twice. Sometimes blogger and youtube are a bit iffy. If you have problems with it, go to the youtube url.

Salina's award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century - The World Water Crisis.

Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.

Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question 'CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?'

Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.

Sept. 12
New York - Angelika Film Center
Los Angeles - Laemmle Sunset 5

Sept. 19
Huntington, NY - Cinema Arts Center
Washington, DC - Landmark E-Street Cinema
San Francisco - Landmark Lumiere
Berkeley - Landmark Shattuck
San Diego - Landmark's Ken

Sept. 26
Philadelphia - Landmark Ritz at the Bourse
Denver - Starz Film Center
Boston - Landmark Kendall

Oct. 3
Columbus, OH - Gateway Theater
Atlanta - Landmark Midtown

Oct. 10
Portland - Cinema 21

Oct. 17
St. Louis - Landmark Tivoli

How to read a Bible passage that contains a healing


When reading a healing story, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Who is healed in the story?
2. What kind of illness or disability did he have?
3. Who asked for healing? The sick person or someone else? Or was the healing miracle given by God unasked?
4. Did Jesus or the healer say anything to the sick person or to anyone else before the healing took place? What was the answer from the sick person or the petitioner?
5. Was the sick person required to do anything? Why?
6. How did Jesus or the healer cause the healing? What methods were used? Why do you think this particular method was used?
7. What kind of sickness was this?
8. Did the healing appear immediately? How long did it take for the healing to manifest?
9. What did Jesus say after to the healed person after the healing? Why do you think he said this?
10. What was the response to the healing? By the sick person? The family or friends? The religious community? The bystanders?
11. What was the disciples’ response?
12. What does Jesus say to the disciples after the healing?

1) Before Jesus healed a blind man, he took the blind man very far out of the city. This city was Bethsaida, a city Jesus had rebuked because its inhabitants were so hard-hearted and faithless despite the many miracles done in them? Why do you think Jesus told the man not to enter into the city again?
2) What about Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth? He could not do many miracles there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to read a Bible passage that contains the supernatural

MIRACLE STORIES or stories about the Supernatural

When reading a story about a miracle, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Was this a small miracle or a large one?
2) Did God perform this miracle unasked by humans?
3) Was this miracle done by one of God’s prophets? Did the prophet feel the need to ask God’s permission?
4) Was this a communal miracle which required all God’s people to pray?
5) What created a need for this miracle?
6) How did this miracle occur? What happened exactly?
7) How did God’s people react to this miracle?
8) How did God’s enemies react to this miracle?
9) What does the miracle being discussed prove about God?
10) Does this story give any insight into how we may achieve miracles in our lives?
11) Did God’s prophet trust God more because of this miracle?
12) Was (or can) this miracle be repeated by followers of other gods?
13) What would unbelievers say about this miracle?
14) What does God say about miracles?
15) What small and great miracles has God done in your life?
16) What small and great miracles has God done in the lives of those you know?
17) Do you still have a day to day reliance on God?

1. What reason does the Bible give for God raising Jesus from the dead?
2. How did the Sanhedrin react when they heard that the tomb had been opened by angels?
3. In John’s first epistle, he warned against believing every spirit. In Acts, the Ephesian town clerk said it was an undisputed fact that the goddess Diana sent down her image to the town. The Egyptian magicians also did miracles. What does this say about the supernatural?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to do a Bible word study

Word Studies

Biblical word difficulties fall into many categories:

1. A Greek or Hebrew word or phrase which has been translated differently in different parts of the Bible.
The Greek word “pistis” for belief is sometimes translated as faith. The Greek word “sozo” is sometimes translated as salvation, sometimes as deliverance, sometimes as healing. The phrase for “full of grace” used with Mary is translated in Ephesians as “accepted in the beloved” an elsewhere as highly favoured.

2. For those who use the King James Version: words which have changed in meaning from Elizabethan times. It is a good idea to use two modern translations in addition to the KJV.
For instance if we look at the word “ascended” The word “ascended” in Elizabethan times meant something more like “taken up” or “actively rising one’s self up or climbing up.” Thus ascending into heaven means something different than actually being “in” heaven. Thus Acts 2:34, “David is not ascended into heaven”, does not mean that David is not “in” heaven. Rather, it means David did not rise up bodily against gravity into heaven in the way that Jesus did. Ephesians 4:9-10 clarifies this meaning and so does John 3:13, Psalm 68:18, Judges 20:40 and Revelations 11:12 among others. In fact, the Bible makes it clear in Ephesians 4:8-10 that ascensions into heaven began when Jesus led captivity captive.

3. Slangs are translated but because these slangs are not connected to their culture misunderstandings occur.
The phrase “add coals of fire to their head” doesn’t mean putting someone in hell. In many cultures, ancient and modern, hot coals would be carried on the head for various reasons. The phrase therefore means “warm a person up” or “enlighten their brains.”
use the Bible to interpret itself. “Precept to precept and line to line." (Isaiah 28:10) In order to use this method, one must believe that the Bible does not disagree with or contradict itself. This is an article of faith, I agree, and many people who do not believe that the Bible a book sent from God will have trouble accepting it. Nevertheless traditional Christian belief states that God's Holy Spirit spoke through holy people as they wrote the books of the Bible. (2 Peter 1:20)
The books in the Bible are written by writers who lived centuries apart. Yet, amazingly, these books all say the same things about human nature, God, faith, and sin. Moses concepts of sin, human nature and faith are the same ones held by later prophets and by Jesus. In order words, the requirements and definition of faith in Genesis are the same requirements and definitions as those in the Book of Revelation and all the other books in between.
This means that if the meaning of a particular passage eludes a reader, then that reader must compare verse to verse, phrase to phrase, word to word, and concept to concept. A concordance is necessary for this kind of comparison, like a dictionary, a Bible concordance lists words but only those found in the Bible. Words are listed alphabetically and their locations in the Bible are shown.
One can do a search for any words found in the Bible. Words such as house, home, homes, land, men, thousand, left, right, great, etc. If a word exists in the Bible, a good concordance will list it. (Most concordances don’t index words such as the, but, if, or and, however. Those words are too common.) A concordance to the NIV (New International Version) of the Bible will be translated somewhat differently from the KJV (King James Version.) The important thing is that if you are not familiar with the Bible or the King James Version, your concordance should reflect the same version as your Bible. If you know your Bible well, you’ll get a hang of maneuvering through translations, synonyms, etc.

Comparing words to words, concepts to concepts, and actions to actions help to fine-tune the meaning of a passage.

Let’s look at the verse: “Our God is a consuming fire.”

What exactly does it mean? To be honest, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. I have no doubt this verse has been used in many a hell-fire sermon. But if you really want to know what it means, you will not only have to read it in context, but you will have to do a concordance search of the word “fire.” You will find many Bible verses that contain “fire.” Sometimes a literal fire is being described; at other times, a symbolic fire or a spiritual fire that purifies the soul. Sometimes God is physically described as being partly made of fire. He was the fire that burned the burning bush and yet did not consume it. He is a purifying fire.

But God is often compared to water: a fountain of life, living water. Or to wind, as in the Hebrew word “Ruach” which is sometimes translated as wind, breath, spirit, depending on whether the Bible passage is meant literally or symbolically. (For more about translations, cultural slang, etc please seen the section on slang later in this book.) So then words, concepts, and phrases can be compared with each other throughout the Bible.

Actions can also be compared throughout the Bible. Here is an example:
In St John’s description of the Passion, Pilate washes his hands in front of the crowd. From the text alone, assumptions can be made about Pilate’s reason for such a symbolic action. But if we are to understand the full import of Pilate’s action, we have to bring all shades of the meaning to the forefront. Why not see if this action has appeared anywhere else in the Bible? Picking up the concordance, what do we look for? Wash? Washed? Hands? All of them. Remember, knowing what to look for depends on the translation you are using and whether your concordance is a concordance to the King James Version or to another version. So then, what have we found? The sixth verse of the twenty-first chapter of the book of Deuteronomy also refers to washing of the hands and guiltlessness. Interesting. Is it possible that Pilate knew this verse and was using a symbol the high priests knew? Maybe, maybe not. Is it possible that the symbol was Pilate’s own symbol of guiltlessness? Maybe, maybe not. You are free to give any opinion as to the meaning of the verse, but you will not be too far off because you have done some research on the action.

Knowing when to use your concordance to compare other actions depends on how well you know your Bible and how much delight in discovering spiritual insights. Delight should not be taken lightly, especially if you don’t want to rehash the insights of others. Serendipity, mindfulness, and insight often are helped by a good concordance.
Let’s consider this: the Bible uses the phrase “old and advanced in years” about six times. But five of the six times this phrase is used to describe someone who is about to do accomplish the most important adventure of his life. Sarah and Abraham are described as “old and advanced” in years. But then, suddenly childbirth. Caleb is also similarly described. But then a new spiritual accomplishment. The concordance has helped you notice this pattern. Noticing this pattern a writer could create a good devotional or Bible study entitled “The Best is yet to be” which might explore usefulness to God, perseverance, retirement, or whatever insights you want to discuss.

Another example: Many of the patriarchs (or their representatives) met their future wives beside a well. This is culminated in Jesus’ meeting of the Samaritan woman, which hints at the symbolic marriage relationship between Jesus to the Church.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What If I read a Bible story and I’m Stumped for a Meaning?

Sometimes you will read a story and for the life of you, you will not be able to find any meaning in the story. At this time, you might research what others have said about this particular passage. The interpretation of others might jog your mind. In addition, there is nothing really wrong in looking at the passage with the tools of modern interpretation. If the passage appears particularly Freudian, Dantean or Jungian to you, by all means go ahead and use those schools of thought to interpret the story. Bible stories are rich and can be read on many levels. The story of Jacob’s wrestling with the angel, for instance, can be seen as historical with an actual battle between Jacob and an angel. Or it can be seen as Jacob fighting with his inner self. Or Jacob fighting with the guardian spirit of the place. The story of Jacob’s dream of the ladder can be interpreted as a literal dream. Or can be spiritualized to discuss Jacob entering into the realm of the subconscious. If it makes sense to you, by all means explore the story in whatever way fits. Only, don’t go overboard and try to fall into some trendy new psycho-babble. Turning the story of Rebekah and Isaac into a discussion of “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” or seeing the battle between Esau and Jacob as an example of “Birth Order in the Bible” would be going off track.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Is there a right way to read it? Should the books be read in any particular order? Most Churches have printed guides which help parishioners read the Bible. These guides usually mirror the passages shown in missals, the Book of Common Prayer, and Church Prayer Books. Often a passage from the Old Testament is grouped with a passage from the New Testament. Those who know their Bible which books to study for wisdom, the history of the church, etc. However, if you are a new Bible reader, you might not know where to start. Some Christians might suggest you begin with the book of Genesis. Others might suggest you begin with one of the gospels such as the Book of Luke or John. I recommend starting with the gospel of Mark. It is short and accessible and is free of the extra material that might confuse someone who knows little about the Bible.

A reading plan for new Bible readers might be:
The Book of Mark
Hebrews Chapter 11
The Book of Genesis
The First 20 chapters of Exodus
The Book of Romans
The remaining chapters of Exodus
The book of Hebrews

At the same time, read a psalm a day. There are 150 psalms and 30 or so days a month. A method can be worked out. Also read a chapter of the book of Proverbs every day.

Okay, so why do I recommend those books first? Because so much in the old testament gets mentioned in the new testament. Also, folks who read Genesis might not understand why they are reading about all those holy folks.

The Book of Luke
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles
Paul’s letter to the Philipians
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians
The Book of John
Peter’s epistles
John’s three epistles
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians
Jude’s letter
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.
Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus

Then go back to the Jewish Covenant or tanakh or old testament to understand the Law and to understand who King David was:

Joshua, Judges, Ruth
I & II Samuel
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
I & II Kings
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Then read the poetry:
Song of Solomon

I & II Chronicles
Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah,
Haggai and Zechariah
The rest of minor prophets
The Revelation of St John.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Questions to ask yourself when reading the Bible?

St Paul warned against carnal divisions over minor matters. In the twenty-second chapter of St Matthew, we see how the Lord views these petty disagreements where people go out of their way to make up silly spiritual “What if?” questions. Some denominational differences are important and you should know which are important and which are not. Although these questions are important to the people asking them, they are not important to Jesus.
1. Is there something that your denomination believes that other Christian denominations do not?
2. Does your denomination judge other denomination because of this?
3. Why is your denomination right?
4. Do you have a live-and-let-live attitude towards Christians of other denominations or do you believe you must get them to change their minds and believe as you do?
5. Do you believe only those things your denomination has convinced you of?
6. Are you uncomfortable when you believe something that others in your denomination does not believe?
7. Can you have friends who don’t believe as you do or do you prefer to stay with like-minded people?
8. Have you studied other denominations in order to understand or confront them better?
9. Do you think there is more to being a Christian than simply trusting in Jesus’ death and Resurrection and loving God and your neighbor as yourself?
10. What other books do your denomination use to interpret the Bible?
11. Who are the great Christians who helped to create your denomination?
12. Have you researched their lives?

In all things, The Holy Spirit shows us what is on our hearts. Question to ask yourself:

1 As I read this Bible passage, is there a part of me that doesn’t want this passage to be true?
2 Is there a part of me that is ignoring verses I don’t like and twisting their meaning around because of works written by the prophet in my denomination ?
3 Is it possible that some of my beliefs are based on my own personal fears and agendas?
4 Do I try to avoid certain Scriptures or change their meanings because they make me feel uncomfortable?
5 Do you think that certain parts of the Bible were written by people who are not as enlightened or as knowledgeable as you?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

If You Don't Know the Meaning of a Passage, Withhold Judgment

Some have dismissed the Bible because they could not "get past" a problematical verse. Or because they detested a particular Biblical character. One friend of mine kept wondering how God could call someone like David “a man after His own heart?” Heck, I don’t much like David either. But let's face it: the David story is only one story in a book of many stories. If the history of David and his family irks you, move on. There are sure to be other stories that will be more to your liking.

Similarly, if you don’t understand what is going on in a story, don’t mull over it and become obsessed with it. People have created whole sects in order to make some obscure passage of the Bible comprehensible.

For instance, the writers of the books of Kings, Samuel, and Chronicles speak of other seemingly lost historical books: the history of Gad the prophet, the history of Iddo the prophet, etc. Paul speaks of a letter he sent to the Laodiceans. As far as we know these books are lost. (The recreation of these “lost” books has been the preoccupation of many.) But perhaps the books aren’t lost at all. Perhaps we do have the letter to the Laodiceans in the Bible but it’s now given another name. Maybe the courier who traveled with the letter passed through Corinth or Ephesus and somehow the name of the epistle was changed. Or maybe the letter was truncated or two or more letters were collapsed into one. Perhaps the history of Gad is just another name for one of the historical Bible books we do have. After all, no one knows for sure who wrote the books of Kings and Chronicles. Besides, just because a history was written doesn't mean that it is "lost." The Hebrew scribes and ministers probably didn't think that that particular history was divinely inspired.

Whatever the answer, be aware that there are only a few times in your life when knowing the exact right meaning of a Bible passage or the whereabouts of some obscure passage will be a life or death.

Fake, corny, nice

Do you know the way certain things just jump out at you?

Well lately I've been hearing the word "fake" a lot. Okay, I'll admit that I put myself in that position. After all, I am a reality-tv addict and I've been watching a heck of a lot of reality tv lately. (From G's to Gents, New York Goes to Hollywood, I love Money, I want to Work for Diddy, Making the Band 4...oh do I have to go on?)

This is where I hear the word "fake" a lot. People are always accusing each other of being "fake." The weird thing about this is 1) I never seem to think the person being accused of being fake is fake. 2) It's mostly black folks accusing other folks (usually white folks) of being fake.

Okay, I have to examine this. It is quite possible that I am a supreme wuss who happens to be very gullible. Maybe I can't see through fakeness. I mean I generally don't walk around like wondering if someone I'm talking to is being fake. I don't think I have ever done that. Maybe I should but...why even go there? Many people are pretty fake in something. But I doubt they mean their fakeness for harm. The old fake it til they make it bit. They might truly be trying to be nice.

The next problem is that it's black folks accusing white folks. I find myself thinking, "Is it because we black folks are way too cynical? Is it because we are too frank and that some of us are mouthy and not prone to hide our feelings? Is it because we distrust white folks? Is it because white folks have different communication styles and black folks simply don't trust them?" I mean I cannot count the amount of times some black girl has accused some white girl (who I was thinking was pretty nice or at least honest) of being fake.

I've had an occasion where I was called fake. It was back in 1977 when I was in college and I complimented a (very cynical) white girl on something. She immediately lashed into me and said I was fake. Dang! As far as I knew I wasn't being fake at all. But the girl wasn't used to kindness or frankness.

In my hood, I've noticed that we black folks are such a wounded people that people are always suspecting folks of fakeness. They also use the word "corny" a lot. From what I've seen, whenever someone accuses someone of "corniness" they are commenting once again on the niceness of people. Except in this case, they judge the niceness of the person not by accusing the person of being fake but by accusing the nice of being old-fashioned and too silly and idealistic. At least that's what I think corniness means.

So what's going on, I wonder? Are we in the black community so unaccustomed to sweetness that if we receive it from the wrong people (instead of an old lady who is expected to be nice) we have to say the person is fake or corny? That scares me. Cause -- you know-- I'm really nice. And I'd like our people to be so accustomed to sweetness that we don't slam or suspect evil when folks are being nice.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Humor in the Bible

Have a Sense of Humor.

Jesus was the Word, and as such, He could have His puns. He made many jokes. When he saw Nathaniel, he described him as “a true Israelite in which there is no guile.” That was a pun on the meaning of the name "Jacob" and “Israel.” When his disciples realized they had power through faith? to do both destructive and creative acts, they wanted to call thunder from heaven, he called them the "Thunder Boys." The jokes have a bit of truth in them, but they are nevertheless jokes. Jesus is not humorless. If the Western Text of the Bible is write about translating Jesus’ comment as, “It is easier for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to enter the eye of a needle,” then that is also a joke. The Bible is full of jokes. People who can't recognize a joke when they see one often turn a simple joke into a sermon. Even worse, they believe Jesus to be humorless and unapproachable.
Humor gets a bad rap sometimes. True, St Paul told believers to be serious and Solomon says it is better to be in the house of mourning than to be in the house of feasting. They are right. But a joke now and then shows that God is not some stiff-upper-lipped Englishman in the sky who has nothing better to do than to slap people for not behaving.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The whole armor of God

The girdle of truth -- form of attack: lies, deceptions, science falsely-so-called, human reasoning, and errors
The breastplate of righteousness-- form of attack: evil and sinful desires, compromising and yielding to a sinful life
The sandals of the readiness to preach the gospel of peace-- form of attack: cowardice and shame against the gospel
The shield of faith -- form of attack: unbelief and doubt
The helmet of the hope of salvation -- form of attack: despair, discouragement, belief that salvation isn't enough, belief in a powerless gospel.

Other weapons:

The name of Jesus
The blood of Jesus
The word of Jesus
The water of baptism
The joy of the Lord
Worship and Praise
The community of believers

Fields of Battle:

Certain physical places

Types of attack

frontal assault (or from the back)
a siege
a blockade
an invasion
an occupation

Does the blood of Jesus Christ always cleanse?

So many times we read the Bible and we say some Bible verse without taking it in context. This creates a whole kind of messy theology.

Think of this verse:
7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

1 John 1:7
It seems from this verse that the blood of Jesus Christ has no power to cleanse us from our sin if we do not walk in the light.

Can an unconfessed sin be forgiven?
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Gotta think about this. The Bible says a lot about
A) those sins we do that we don't realize is a sin.
B) those sins we do that we realize is a sin but which we don't confess.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quick Bible study helps

Okay, so you're reading your Bible. You say to yourself, "I'm reading the Bible cause it's the Christian Holy Book but Lord knows I am at a total loss as to what the heck was that story about and what I'm supposed to do with it."

Well, the best thing to do is the PIC method.

P -- Promise -- Is there some promise made to some character in this story that I can also make my own?
I -- Instruction -- Is there some instruction made to some character in this story that I can also make my own?
C -- Command -- Is there some command made to some character in this story that I can also make my own?

There is also the ABC method.

A -- Admit the rightness of what is written
B-- Believe what God has said about the effect of this sin or truth you've just read.
C-- Confess your fault in not fully following this particularly truth.

That usually helps make stories more meaningful to the new Bible Reader.

Quantum Physics: Sound and light and creation

Sometimes you might have to click twice to get youtube to do something on blogger. If you can't get it to work here, I've put the youtube links here also.

In the beginning was the word....

Or, if you can't see it here...go to:
Yes, we should praise God. Praise and song and sound uphold the world! -C

Psalm 25: humiliation

Humiliation is one of the biggest problems for those who are poor in spirit. Or for those who are without power or without wealth. In his account of the Sermon on the Mount, Luke writes "blessed are the poor." Matthew, however, writes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." For Luke, there is no difference between the poor and the poor in spirit. Matthew, belonging to the Chosen people who are rich in God and who in his times were hateful toward those whom they consider "dogs" --gentiles, sinners, etc-- simple says poor in spirit. In that way, he subtly shows that one can be part of God's family and yet not be poor in the thing is to aim for poverty of spirit. By the way, Poor in spirit means humbled, not full of the world's arrogance; it doesn't mean lacking a spiritual way of life.

Isaiah calls Jesus a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Sorrows and griefs bring about humiliation.

The Bible is full of verses about the woundedness that life brings to the poor, the outcast, the orphan, the widowed, the have-nots. IT is often among these people that humiliation occurs. The psalms also talks about mockery, rejection, humiliation, sneering and how the haves treat those they consider beneath them. In fact they often tell us -- as in Psalm 37-- not to worry about those kind of people.

0 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

Psalm 39 shows what happens inside the soul of a person who has to deal with the mockery non-religious people always give to religious people (or the mockery religious but worldly people show toward religious people who keep themselves pure from the world."

I said, "I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence."
2 But when I was silent and still,
not even saying anything good,
my anguish increased.

3 My heart grew hot within me,
and as I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.

5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.

8 Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.

9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.

10 Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.

11 You rebuke and discipline men for their sin;
you consume their wealth like a moth—
each man is but a breath.

12 "Hear my prayer, O LORD,
listen to my cry for help;
be not deaf to my weeping.
For I dwell with you as an alien,
a stranger, as all my fathers were.

13 Look away from me, that I may rejoice again
before I depart and am no more."

One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 25 which begins thus:

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
2 in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

The Bible tells us not to be vindictive and to forgive those who wound us. Not that God will forgive them because we have forgiven them. The Bible never says that because we have forgiven someone, they will be forgiven by God. In fact, it says Vengeance belongs to God. What we are to do is to keep our own hearts pure and not allow the humiliation to dig deep into our soul and spoil our joyful walk with Christ. -C

Monday, September 01, 2008

We who live at the end of time

I'm listening to what's happening in New Orleans and obsessing about Hurricane Gustav. I notice that some of the newsfolks have a kind of not-really-well-disguised sense of excitement. They love trouble and glee. Because, they themselves are exempt. I mean, honestly, some of these guys seem to become journalists because they like bringing bad news. Kinda like when they were little kids they must've been the ones who loved to bring bad be the center of attention. Okay, I'm cynical. But I'm a Christian. We Christians are supposed to have a divine cynicism about human nature.

Anyway, yesterday I was reading Jeremiah 45. And came upon God's Message to Baruch.
1 This is what Jeremiah the prophet told Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating: 2 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You said, 'Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.' "
4 The LORD said, "Say this to him: 'This is what the LORD says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. 5 Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.' "

Notice that Baruch and Jeremiah are pretty much annoyed with all the bad guys, all the idolatry, all the bad priests, and false prophets. They don't much want to see their fellow citizens destroyed by God for sins, but they totally understand what God has to do. But Baruch, like most Christians who await the apocalypse and God's shutting down of the world (or unveiling of the truer realler world) often say, "we'll be raptured, we won't suffer with the rest of the earth." OR some such thing. But what if we aren't raptured? What if we have to endure suffering?

Notice Baruch has had a lot of sorrow. Probably professional plus personal. After all the kings hate Jeremiah, they also probably hate Jeremiah's scribe. But what does God say to Baruch? "If a terrible disaster happens because I'm bringing judgement against the world, do you think you'll escape grief also?"

Not only does God's judgement begin with the house of God but even if we are Christians, we still live in the world. God's judgement affects us too. When the apocalyptical stuff starts getting worse and (as Jesus says) "Men's heart start failing them for fear because of all the things coming upon the earth," will we be able to say, "Marantha -- Even so, come Lord Jesus."

Dear God, "The whole world belongs to you. Help me to be holy and help me to love those who suffer during disasters..even if I consider them 'unlike me.' Help me to endure if natural or economic disasters occur around me. Let your kingdom come. Amen."

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