There’s a New God in Town.

There’s a new god in town.

Many people quickly began to bow down to this god. At first they did so out of hope that it could save them from consequences of their actions. They grasped at the promise of its prophets that if they obeyed completely, they would be saved.

As time went on, things seemed to get worse instead of better. So they turned to their new god for answers. But instead of explanations, they received more, and sometimes, conflicting commands. Believing the god was smarter than they were, they continued to obey. They were sure this god knew better than they did how to get them out of the mess they were in. They repeated the god’s words daily, reinforcing each other’s belief, and inviting those who not yet believed to join them in following this god.

But things still didn’t improve. The new god’s prophets announced the problem lay in the numbers. Not enough people obeyed, which negated the efforts of those who did.

“What else can we do?” the people cried out. “We’ve already shared what you said and invited everyone to join us.”

“Force them,” the prophets answered. “It’s for their own good as well as the good of the whole town.”

So, to the fear and guilt they were already using, they added ridicule and condemnation. And it worked. More people joined their worship of this god, which emboldened them to use even stronger tactics. Even though they were now in the great majority, it wasn’t enough. Each one of the remaining minority was seen as a personal threat so when someone suggested punishing those who still wouldn’t join them, everyone jumped at the idea. Of course. There really was only one option, one god. It would be for their own benefit to lay down their own ignorant beliefs for the benefit of the majority, even if they did so under duress. According to the prophets, if everyone became obedient to the new god, there would be no more problems. This was a classic case where the end justified the means.  Their god was on their side, at least that’s what the prophets said, and the people constantly pointed that out to each other as justification for their choices.

And yet, even that didn’t work. The faithful minority held to their own beliefs regardless of what the majority did or said, giving a variety of reasons for their resistance.

“Your god is not what you make it out to be.”

“If your god was really a god, things would be a lot better by now regardless of what I do.”

“There are too many contradictions and hypocritical commands coming from your god’s prophets.”

“My god disagrees with your god.”

“People should be able to choose who they want to obey.”

Their continual rejection of the new god enraged the majority. How dare they not obey, and thus jeopardize the whole town? How could they hear the words of the new god and dismiss them, holding on to their erroneous belief? Didn’t they know that the majority is always right?

Anger overcame reason, and soon they became a mob with a common purpose: either convert the stubborn minority, or get rid of them. Either option was appropriate because it would be done in the name of this new god and for the common good.

And the name of this new god?

Science.


Daniel 3:4-6 And the left-leaning media proclaimed aloud,” You are commanded, O liberals, conservatives, men, women, and children, that when you hear the sound of government leaders, the CDC, Fauci, Big Pharma, and every carefully selected expert speaking for science, you are to fall down and accept the golden syringes that President Biden has set up. And whoever does not fall down and take the shots shall immediately be cast out of society.

Oh wait.. that’s not actually in the Bible. Here is what the Scripture says:

And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6

And the devil took him up and sowed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” Luke 4:5-8

Don’t Attack the Lawn Mower

Pushing the lawn mower across the tall weeds, she watched wasps and dragonflies rise up from the ground. She had not noticed anything in the grass, but the vibration of the mower, the disturbance of the area, or a combination of both were enough to disturb them into flying out in every direction. As they circled her and the mower, she wondered if they would attack. The dragonflies darted back and forth for a few minutes, and then flew away. However, the wasps took usually took a swipe or two at the mower before flying away. Relieved that they weren’t going after her, she continued mowing, observing the same behavior from other wasps all across the yard.

A thought gradually formed in her head. They were attacking the mower instead of the one pushing the mower. No matter how hard they hit the plastic-covered engine, the mower never even slowed down. Yet if just one of them came at her, the mower would have stopped in its tracks as she ran away in panic.

And then she had another thought. People are just like those wasps. So often we attack the people we feel are disrupting our lives, but ignore the power that moves those people to do so.

There are many mowers moving across America today. People doing and saying things that are being pushed by powers we may not see or acknowledge. What would happen in our towns, states, and nation if we became courageous enough to quit attacking the mowers and went after the larger powers behind those mowers instead?

Just a thought.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

Finding the Truth, An Allegory Based on a Dream

Syretia felt confused as she looked out at the crowded room. The people, calling out a variety of conflicting information just moments before, now sat restlessly in the lined up chairs, all facing her in expectation. Wanting to leave the stage, but knowing she couldn’t yet, Syretia instead allowed her mind to wander back to how she got there.

It seemed to be a lifetime ago when she had been happily ignorant of the rest of the world as she happily went about her own daily life in her small town. She knew important decisions and bitter debates were happening in every country, but none of that seemed to touch her personally, and so she took care of her ever-changing garden. Sometimes the roses seemed to dominate the garden, their sweet scents mingling to create a beautifully unique aroma. Sometimes it was the sunflowers in bloom that demanded her attention. Their majestically large sunny faces filled her heart with wonder. How could any flower be that big? Other times, it was the small Creeping Phlox with its multitude of tiny purple, blue, and pink flowers that caught her attention. Whether on her hands and knees studying the tiny petals up close, or gazing at the colorful carpet from a distance, those tiny blooms were impressive.

She spent hours each day watering, weeding, and talking to her beloved flowers. She didn’t mind the hard work because the bountiful reward was so much greater than the effort she put into maintaining her garden. And she was delighted by how  it brought smiles to the faces of the people who walked or drove by each day.

And then one day that all changed.

Syretia had watched the approach of the storm with excitement. She loved watching lightning dance in the sky and listening to the thunder boom their applause. She loved watching the raindrops race each other down her window. And she loved the freshness a good storm left behind after cleaning the air.

But this was a storm like no other. Strong winds blew in even stronger gusts, uprooting trees and snapping branches. Garbage cans, plastic lawn chairs, loosened shingles, and cardboard boxes rushed down the street as if running from something huge and frightening. Lightning flashed like strobe lights, their zig zagging lines penetrating the sky in every direction. The incredible roar of the pelting rain hitting cars, sidewalks, and rooftops was so loud it almost drowned out the constantly exploding thunder.

Syretia hid in her closet, and prayed that the storm would pass quickly without causing great damage. She prayed for her garden, and for those of her neighbors. She prayed for people who were hiding in their own closets, and for those who didn’t have closets to hide in. She prayed for the cowering animals outside, seeking in vain for shelter, and she prayed for inside animals, trembling in fear in the arms of their owners.

Eventually the winds abated, the rain lightened, and the sound of thunder faded away. Syretia cautiously emerged from her closet. The house appeared to have escaped damage. Sighing with relief, Syretia went to the window and gasped. He garden lay in ruins. The strong winds had broken the sunflower stalks. The heavy rain had washed the roses from their stems. And the Phlox lay drowning under water that had overflowed the street. She wanted to rush outside, but until the flood went down, it would be impossible to do anything in her beloved garden.

While waiting for her garden to dry, Syretia heard of a man who was speaking in the town hall about ways to salvage and build back devastated gardens. Curious, and needing the information for her own garden, she walked eleven blocks through ankle deep water for the opportunity to learn and to ask him questions. She wasn’t the only one. By the time she got there, the room was in chaos. Most people were sitting in the chairs facing the stage in rows, but many were moving about the room. All were yelling, arguing, name calling, and criticizing each other as the man stood on stage trying to speak.

Syretia tried to make sense of what she heard as she walked down the left side of the chairs.

“Everyone needs to use the RBG Drying Agent. The liquid form of RBG will save plants still under water. By injecting it into the stem, it will keep the roots from rotting.”

“That’s experimental. No one really knows the long-term effect that a drying agent will have on the roots.”

“Nonsense. Thousands of plants were tested, and all turned out fine.”

“I heard the roots got soft anyway so it doesn’t really make a difference whether it’s used or not.”

“That’s not true. Although some roots did get soft, they weren’t as soft as they would have been without the RBG. Besides, they returned to normal after a few weeks and are doing great.”

 “Well, you can inject your plants, but mine will be fine without it. Even if they get a little root rot, it won’t be bad enough for permanent damage.”

“Your recklessness is going to kill all our gardens. It’s been proven that RBG prevents the spread of root rot to plants not yet affected. By not treating your plants, you put everyone else’s plants at risk.”

“How do you know which plants will have root rot and which don’t? Or how bad it will get? Most of the time plants can survive under water for short periods without much if any damage. You’re succumbing to the fear planted by false advertising. Of course the RBG manufacturers want you to use their product. They are making millions of dollars, and they are using fear to control people so they can make more. First it was one injection, but soon it will be regular injections to keep the rot from returning. You just wait and see.”

“You’re stupid for believing that hogwash. If every plant got RBG now, root rot would be eliminated and there would be no need for further treatment. Your uncaring attitude is going to make this disaster last forever.”

Tired of the heated exchange that was going nowhere, Syretia moved on to different group. She wanted to find out facts, not opinions. Maybe this new group would provide more substance.

“You have to wear rubber gloves when you’re in your garden, not those cloth ones.”

 “Rubber gloves are too thick. They make it harder to do things. I prefer to use my bare hands.”

“But everyone knows the storm pulled most of the positive protons from the earth leaving an unbalanced number of negative electrons. By walking you become negatively charged which could result in a shock when you touch your plants. 

“That’s just a theory. I don’t wear gloves in my garden or anywhere else and I haven’t been shocked. Nope. I prefer living my life as normal as possible.”

“How selfish of you! The gloves are not just for you. They are also to keep the plants safe. Apparently you don’t care how many plants you shock by not wearing them!”

“Spoken by an ignorant fool! Regular rubber gloves – the kind we have access to – don’t protect anything.”

“Lies!”

“Besides it’s not that bad. Most plants never feel any shocks. Those that do, get over it just fine. And once a plant’s been shocked, its charge becomes balanced and shocking is no longer a problem. That’s going to happen to all my plants eventually.”

“Even someone as stupid as you must have heard the numbers. Plants everywhere are dying from these shocks.”

“That’s because weak root systems can’t handle severe shocks. And relatively speaking, that only includes only a small percentage of my garden.”

“It’s not just those with weak roots. Lots of other plants are dying too. I hope you can sleep at night knowing how many flowers you’re killing by refusing to wear your gloves.

“I’m not killing anything. Plants that are at risk are the ones that need the protection. Not the whole garden. And just so you know, I do wear gloves when around those. If you want to wear gloves, go for it. Just don’t require everyone to do what you do. Or judge those who think differently than you.”

“Your incredibly self-centeredness is astounding…”

Syretia had heard enough. She walked across the front of the room hoping to find discussions that were more objective on the other side. She didn’t. What she heard were opinions, accusations of misinformation, lies, and judgments just as she had heard on the first side. This side, though, were talking about the man on the stage, and about the way he got there. Some thought he had been asked, others thought he had bullied his way there. Syretia didn’t know but was curious. How HAD the man gotten to be the lone figure on the stage?

Suddenly there was a lot of commotion as people moved from one place to another, yelling out opinions and seeking those who shared them. Syretia found herself being squeezed closer and closer to the steps leading to the stage as people pushed past her. To escape, she climbed the half dozen steps and found herself face to face with the man. He motioned to the crowd. “Your turn,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge,” and then disappeared down the steps as someone appeared from behind the curtain, took her arm, and guided her to the front with the words, “You want to save your garden? Don’t leave until you get to the truth,” before disappearing behind the curtain again.  

Confused, Syretia stared out at the crowd. She watched as they quickly took whichever seat was closest. The people, calling out a variety of conflicting information just moments before, now sat restlessly in their chairs, all facing her in expectation. She knew what she chose to believe was going to affect how she worked in her garden, and maybe even influence others who were also searching for truth about their gardens. “But how do I get to the truth? How can I know who’s telling the truth?” she asked under her breath. “They are all so sure of themselves.”

And then she had it.

Ask questions!

“It’s not like a buffet where I pick and choose the most appealing to put on my plate. It’s not about who’s the loudest or how often it’s repeated. And it’s not about loyalty to favored people. It’s like pulling weeds – and that’s done through asking questions.”

Questions like… Why do you believe what you believe? Where did you get your information? Did you check to make sure it was totally correct before sharing it? Does it make sense when compared to other facts? Are there hidden motives and agendas that would cause what you say to become suspect? How accurate have you been on other things you’ve said? Are you trying to manipulate me by using fear, guilt, or threats? Will what you say match what I find when I research it?

Confident now, Syretia smiled. “I have some questions for you.”



In this time when many falsehoods, misinformation, and outright lies are being circulated causing conflict and division, it’s good to remember what the Bible has to say about seeking wisdom and truth, and about foolishness.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Proverbs 15:14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 18:15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Proverbs 2:1-22 The Value of Wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.

16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden[a] woman,
    from the adulteress[b] with her smooth words,
17 who forsakes the companion of her youth
    and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 for her house sinks down to death,
    and her paths to the departed;[c]
19 none who go to her come back,
    nor do they regain the paths of life.

20 So you will walk in the way of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
    and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Kayla’s Story, An Allegory: Chapter 9 That Dirt Pile Again

Kayla opened the rest of her letters – the ones that had come from her current friends. Just like she expected, there were several invitations to special events in their lives. A baby shower at the country club, complete with a sit down meal and live music. A birthday celebration at the ‘world famous’ night club on the west side of town, the one that saw frequent police action. A bachelorette party featuring a popular male stripper.  All sounded exciting and she instantly regretted not having opened these invitations since some had already taken place. No wonder a few of her friends had gotten weird towards her lately. They must have thought she had deliberately ignored them.

But then her eyes fell on her father’s letters and the letters from her old friends. Suddenly Kayla saw the invitations for what they were – cold, crass, and self-indulgent enticements to engage in passions of her flesh. The invitations had nothing to do with actually loving or caring about her or anyone else. Kayla couldn’t remember ever having deep talks with any of those friends. Sure, their behavior showed that they might have missed her. But had they really missed her? Did they even know – or care – who Kayla really was? No, more likely they had missed the affirmation her presence would have given to their behavior. And her gifts.

Kayla shoved the invitations into her backpack, no longer even slightly interested in them. She preferred the satisfying discussions around simple meals that she used to have with her old friends, the ones who really knew her and loved her anyway. She added calling them to her mental checklist of calls to make when she got home. Placing the rest of the letters into her backpack, Kayla flexed her right foot. Her ankle gave a warning twitch, but most of the pain was gone. Surprised, she got up carefully, balancing on her left foot, and slowly added weight to her right. She was even more surprised as her foot remained firm with just the slightest complaint from her ankle. Taking a few steps confirmed that somehow her injury had mostly healed. Not understanding how, but grateful that it had, Kayla turned to face the pile of dirt. It was time to go home.

Thinking about the advice her father had given her on the phone a few minutes earlier, she looked for a way that wouldn’t require climbing the mound. He had said there were always ways around obstacles, and she would find them if she looked for them. Well, this was definitely an obstacle, and if she was to believe her father, there would be a way to get around it. She had taken what seemed the easy way the first time, but climbing that dirty mound had turned out to be neither easy nor safe. Where was the other way? Kayla walked along the edge of the pile toward the street but found nothing new. Disappointed, she began to doubt her father’s assurance. How could there be another way when it was obvious the pile completely blocked her access to the other side? His advice had always been good before, but what if he was wrong this time? What if he didn’t really mean what he said? What if she had misunderstood him?

Kayla looked back up to the top. She could feel the temptation to just go ahead and climb the thing and get it over with. Her newly healed ankle shouldn’t be a problem so why not? It would only take a few minutes and she could get on with her walk. The longer she stared at it, the greater the desire to start climbing became. The thrill of getting to the top – of conquering this mountain of dirt – was enticing. She was about to give in when the sound of her father’s voice rose in her heart. “There is a way. This is not it. Keep looking.”  Startled, she shook her head against her misplaced desire. No! She wouldn’t give in to temptation. Her father wouldn’t say what he didn’t mean; therefore there was another way even if she couldn’t see it at the moment.

Kayla walked slowly around the edge of the mound again, this time heading towards the fence, through which she could see the other side of the dirt sloping down until it almost reached the garage. She considered walking to where the dirt was shallow enough to cross safely, but reconsidered. She would have to go all the way to the garage. Surely this other way wouldn’t involve breaking the law by trespassing. So where in the world was the way her father had promised she would find?

As she neared the fence, she began to notice that the top of the pile seemed to dip in the center, almost as if there were actually two piles. She could picture a truck making multiple dumps along this driveway so she wasn’t very surprised. But what did surprise her was the change in the dip as she approached it. The closer she got, the deeper it went, clearly separating the two piles.  Her heart began to beat faster as a new thought tickled her mind – what if the two piles weren’t actually connected? What if they only appeared to be because of her perspective based on where she had been standing? What if there was actually enough room between them for her to pass through? She quickly took the last few steps around the first pile and shouted with joy. There was a path in between them! It was narrow, but totally doable. Her father was right. There was a way!

It took only a few minutes to walk between those piles of dirt and she was on the other side. The sun was bright in the sky, filling her with warmth and light, as she danced her way down the sidewalk. Her house was only a few blocks away now and she couldn’t wait to get there. She was excited to reconnect with her old friends, to heal her relationship with Lisa, and to share what she had learned with her father.

Kayla laughed as she looked up at the sun streaming down on her. No matter what happened in the future, she had the companionship of a few close friends, and even more important, the love and support of her father. Life couldn’t get any better than that.


For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. (2 Peter 2:18)

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. (Rom 13:13)

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thes 2:15)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. (Ps 16:9)

Part 6: Lizards and Lamps (Christian But Not series)

Photo by Sameera Madusanka on Pexels.com

According to a 2017 Gallup poll (the latest one I could find), most Christians believe the Bible has something to do with God. But exactly what they believed differed.

34% of Christians believed the Bible was the actual word of God and should be believed word for word.

52% of Christians believed the Bible was inspired by God, but open to interpretation and shouldn’t be taken literally.

10% of Christians believe the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts

This is a cause for concern. If we can’t agree on how to look at the Bible, how can we agree on the truth found in it?

Let’s look at what the Bible is – and what it isn’t.

The Bible is not one book. It’s actually a group of books written in different styles by different people, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think any of those people were in a trance and wrote as God dictated to them. Well, maybe Moses – I don’t know what happened when he was up on that mountain surrounded by clouds and wrote for 40 days all the rules and directions God wanted him to give to the Israelites (Ex 34:27-28). But for everyone else, they wrote what they saw, what they remembered, what they were feeling, and what they wanted others to remember. Some wrote on their own, others were told by God to write down what they remembered. Here are some examples (emphasis in the scriptures are mine):

Exodus 17  Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Moses did not write this account while he was holding the staff, nor did God dictate to him what to write after the battle. Moses wrote from his memory. Human writing in human words, in obedience to God.

In contrast, God Himself wrote on the tablets. Those words are literally His words.

Exodus 31:1  The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.

Here’s another example. Jeremiah gave prophecies to the Israelites for about 25 years. And then one day God told him to write down everything he had said over those 25 years.

Jeremiah 30:2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.

And again in Jeremiah 36:2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today.

Can you imagine? About 25 years of words? Jeremiah got Baruch to help him. Baruch wrote as Jeremiah dictated. It doesn’t say God dictated to Jeremiah who then dictated to Baruch. I believe Jeremiah was writing everything he could remember, with the Holy Spirit prodding his memories. I believe this because when he had to do it again, after the king burned his first copy, he added more to it.

Jeremiah 36:28, 32 “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jerhoiakim the king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. (emphasis mine)

If the Holy Spirit had been dictating it, wouldn’t He have put it all in the first copy? It’s not like He had memory issues like we do. I can’t see Him saying, “Hey, wait, I remember something else.”

Habakkuk was told to write down a vision he had seen.  Habakkuk 2:2 And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who read it.

Luke told about writing his book based on what he had learned after researching and observing for years.  Luke 1:3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

Paul wrote his letters based on what he learned from Jesus, addressing issues in different churches. He was not giving word-for-word prophecies from Jesus to those churches.


The bottom line is – the Bible contains God’s word, but was not channeled, nor was it the result of automatic writing (both of which are of the occult and forbidden by God). It was also not written by God’s hand and delivered to us as was the Ten Commandments. The Bible was written by humans inspired by God.

Christians who believe the Bible was written as God dictated and is to be taken literally word-for word will run into more problems because the Bible was not written in English, and it wasn’t written in our western worldview and culture.

Everyone knows that interpreting one language into another word for word is hard and sometimes impossible. Imagine translating the phrase ‘beat around the bush’ into another language. A word for word translation would most likely make no sense to the target audience. Bible translators work to avoid this by using words that would provide the most accurate meaning, which is great in that it helps us understand what was written, but is not the original word. Believing that every word is straight from God raises a question. Which language contains those words?

Another problem relates to worldview and cultural differences. The Bible writers were Middle Eastern men writing to Middle Eastern people. Misunderstandings can occur when we try to interpret the Bible’s family-and-community-focused worldview with today’s individualistic North American worldview. Biblical worldview is more God-centered (God is big, man is small) while Western worldview is more self-centered (Man is big, God is small).

The people in Jesus’ time and culture would have understood the implication of what He said, but in our time and culture today we need others to explain that implication. Examples are Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the woman at the well (several implications can’t be seen without looking into that culture), and women being told to cover their heads in church. The following pdf by Charles H. Craft discusses this in depth. I suggest scrolling down to his four areas of interpretation. https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/21/21-4/21-4-pp357-367_JETS.pdf   

An easier read is by Lindsey Sullivan: https://pepperdine-graphic.com/dont-interpret-the-bible-through-a-cultural-lens/

Another group of Christians believe that the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts. Well, there is plenty of history and moral precepts. But for the rest, here’s what the Bible has to say:

2 Tim 3:16  All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,

1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Numbers 23:19a God is not man, that he should lie…

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

1 Cor 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

So if the Bible is inspired by the God, and He does not lie, then what he said happened happened. And we need the Holy Spirit to understand it.

That leaves us with the third group of people – the ones that believe the Bible was inspired by God, but open to interpretation and shouldn’t be taken literally.

Again, there are problems here. If we are not to take the Bible literally, then what about the Ten Commandments? What about Jesus’ miracles? What about Jesus’ death and resurrection and salvation? What about the message about loving and forgiving and being kind to each other? Obviously there are parts that are supposed to be taken literally. So which parts do we not take literally? The parts we don’t like? The parts we don’t understand? The parts that are hard?

Most Christians – as defined as a person who has anything to do with Christ –tend to treat the Bible like a buffet. They pick and choose what they take literally and what they don’t, and what they will follow and what they won’t. They interpret the Bible in light of their worldview, and use it to support their ideology. The live by values that make sense to them or that they’ve adopted based on those around them instead of on Biblical values. Instead of being lights as Jesus wanted, they have become lizards, changing to blend into the world. I love lizards, but I don’t think we’re supposed to be one.

Disciples – as defined as a person who is totally committed to following Jesus and all He said – accept all of what Jesus said, and study/pray for understanding of how to live it out in today’s culture. They take the whole message of the Bible seriously, and conform their lives to what they learn. This is hard because most of the time the Western worldview is at odds with the Biblical worldview causing them to stand out from those around them like a light on a hill. Jesus knew that would happen, and warned his disciples that it was not going to be easy.

Do we – you and I – stand out in today’s culture? If not, maybe we’re not the disciples we thought we were. Or maybe we don’t care. Jesus called us to be disciples, but maybe being Christian is enough for us. It was for me for many years, but being Christian is no longer enough for me. I hear Him calling, drawing me to Him. It’s time to trade my lizard skin for a lamp. If you feel the same way, you’re welcome to join me as I pray.

Lord Jesus, I know You love me, and You know I love you. That’s not the point. Many people loved You that chose not to follow You, yet Your love for them didn’t change. However, I did choose to follow You all those years ago when You rescued me from my pit. And I did follow You for a while. But over time, it became easier to blend in with those around me. It became easier to hide my light rather than face ridicule and estrangement from others. It became easier to walk the path of least resistance when life became hard and I grew weary. You never stopped loving me, and I never stopped loving You. I just stopped following You. I stopped reading the Bible for how You wanted me to live, and began reading it – when I read it – for comfort and support for how I chose to live. I wanted to hear about Your love and care for me, but not about what You called me to be or how You wanted me to live. I’m sorry for the number of people who missed out on Your light had I shone it all these years. Forgive me for my self-centeredness. Forgive me for choosing me over You. Forgive me for choosing my way over Your way. I know You forgive me, because that’s who You are, and I thank You for it. Help me to begin anew to live for You. Show me where I am falling short. Help me to see the Bible the way You intended. Help me to understand and to walk in all Your ways, not just the ones I like. Help me to be the light You called me to be, and not the lizard I became. Help me to be Your disciple.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Part 5: The Bible (Christian But Not series)

Summary of my previous posts laying the foundation for this post:

Christian: a person who has anything to do with Christ

Disciple: a person who is totally committed to following Jesus and all He said

Jesus did not call us to be Christians. He called us to be disciples.

Disciples give up their own truth for Jesus’ Truth

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 

I think we would all agree we would find God’s word – truth – in the Bible.

I started to write this blog as a history and explanation of the different versions of the Bible we can find everywhere.  I spent several days researching the Bible. It was a fascinating. But that’s not where I’m supposed to go with this blog. Then I tried writing about statistics of what Christians and non-Christians believed about the Bible. Again I spent a couple days researching. But that’s not where I’m supposed to go with this blog either. As much as I love learning about the Bible’s history and translations, there are many web sites of scholars who do so much better than I ever could. And as much as I am fascinated with statistics and what people believe, there are web sites that provide that information better than I can.

And then I ran into this:

Christians use the Bible. Disciples read the Bible.

And I knew where I am supposed to go.

Christians use the Bible to support and promote their views. Disciples read the Bible to form their views.

Christians use the Bible to point fingers at others. Disciples read the Bible to point their fingers at themselves.

For Christians, opinions come first, then Scripture. For disciples, Scripture comes first, then opinions.

We all know that Christians on both sides of every issue can find something in the Bible to support their views. Many times, the scripture is taken out of context, misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misused. Hopefully the Christians doing so don’t know that they’re doing so. But sadly, there are Christians who don’t care. If they can get a scripture to justify their opinions, then they feel entitled to use it to condemn others. This is not new. It’s been happening since the first Christians. Paul had to address it to the Roman Christians.

Romans 14:14-19 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

In a nutshell, Some Christians were condemning other Christians for breaking the law. They used the Old Testament and years of tradition to back them up. Other Christians were condemning those who were still living under the law instead of in the freedom Christ provided. They used Paul’s letters to other churches (they didn’t have the New Testament yet, but some of the letters Paul wrote were already circulating between groups of Christians) to back up their opinion.

Galatians 4:21:26 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Galatians 5:1  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and so not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Sound familiar? Christians fighting Christians, each using the Bible to condemn the other? I could think of numerous examples just by looking at doctrinal differences between denominations. But I also see it outside the lines of denomination. One huge example is how Trump followers use the Bible to condemn Biden followers, and Biden followers use it to condemn Trump followers. Or how Republicans and Democrats are using the Bible to justify their own side and condemn the other.

Both groups are using the Bible to defend their opinions, just like those Christians in Rome. And both groups are missing the bigger picture. 

God’s message has been clear since Genesis. Love Him. Love each other. Live in peace with each other.

Matthew 22:35-40  35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Isaiah 32:15-18 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.  

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The Roman Christians showed in their fighting that they were using the Bible for their own agendas.

Paul, a disciple, showed that he had read the Bible and was responding using that lens. He knew the bigger picture. (Reread his letter to the Romans quoted above if you are guilty of reading familiar Scriptures like I do – skimming through them because I think I already know what they say.)

As disciples, we are not called to use the Bible. We are called to read it. How would our families, our work places, our stores, our roads, our leisure activities, our churches, our communities be different if we began reading the Bible instead of using it? If we lived as disciples instead of Christians?

I think it’s time to find out.

Number Game

Me: “Where’s the 3?”

My granddaughter: (points to the 3)

“That’s right! Where’s the 5?”

(points to the 5)

“Right again! And where’s the 2?”

(points to a 4)

“No, that’s a 4. Here’s the 2.”

(smiles)

“What’s this number?” I point to a 4.

“4”

“Right! What about this one?” I point to a 1.

(no answer)

“It’s a 1. Can you say 1?”

(smiles and looks down)

“Okay, what’s this number?” I point to a 5.

“5”

“Right! And what’s this number?” I point to a 2.

“3”

“No, it’s a 2. What is it?”

(smiles and looks down)

“Okay, what’s this number?” I point to a 3.

“3”

“Right. And what’s this number?” I point to a 5.

“5”

“Right. And what’s this number?” I point to a 4.

“4”

“Right. You’re so smart! What’s this number?” I point to a 1.

(no answer)

“It’s a 1. What about this one?” I point to a 2.

“8”

“No, it’s a two.”

(smiles and looks away)

“What’s this number?” I point to the 2 again.

(knocks it off the fridge)

“Time to play another game?”

“Yes.”

And off we go.

Later I got to thinking about this number game. Why was my two year old granddaughter able to identify the numerals 3-5 so well, but just couldn’t seem to get 1 or 2?

Then I figured it out!

From birth she has always striven to be older than she was. Now that she’s passed her first and second birthdays, those two numbers don’t matter anymore. She’s older than them (or so she thinks) so they aren’t worth her time. Her interest in the higher numbers, the ones she will be one day, reveals that she’s focused on where she’s going, not where she’s been. In other words… forget the past; the future is what’s important.

It reminds me of what Paul said to the Philippians: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)

If that number game is any indication, my granddaughter has this mastered.

Messy Threads

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As I looked at the wing I just finished stitching, I saw the messy threads and knew I wouldn’t be able to use it like that. It would mar the beauty of the angel bear I was working on.  It also made me think of times when my life felt just as messy.

 

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This kind of mess required something that could cut threads without damaging the wing. And I knew just the right tool – my embroidery scissors with the curved tip. But that tool had to be used correctly.

 

 

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After a while, I was tired and wanted to stop. So many threads had been cut, but there were still many left. The wing was looking better than before, and I was tempted to let it go, but I knew the job wasn’t finished. So I continued.

 

 

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Finished, and beautiful! Now I could use it for the purpose I made it for. I am always amazed at the how much better the wings look once the threads are removed.

 

That’ when we need to get out God’s scissors and start clipping. If we allow Him to help, and not stop once we start feeling better, we will be amazed at how much better we will be able to do what He created us to do. And we will see beauty where once there was just a mess.

 

Is your life a mess? Don’t get discouraged. Get clipping!

 

Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

 

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

“How about that ride?” Jesus pointed to a box hanging by four poles from a horizontal bar.  “I love riding this one!”

Amalia agreed, and they climbed in. “This swing is supposed to be able to go all the way around, right?”

“Yes, if you keep working at it.”

“I’m ready.”

Amalia waited. But nothing happened. No motor came on to move them. The box remained stationary.

“Is this ride broken? Why isn’t it swinging?”

“It’s waiting for you.”

“For me? What do I have to do? I’m already inside, standing up, holding on to the wall handles. I’m ready. So why doesn’t someone push the button to get this ride moving?” She leaned out the window. “Hey, anybody out there?”

“Amalia, You have to get it moving.”

“How do I do that?” She studied the walls, ceiling, and floor. “There are no buttons in here either.”

“The power comes from your body. You have to move, and then the box will move.”

“Oh, okay, if I have to.” She began hopping, jumping from foot to foot. The box jiggled, 0605202043 (2)but didn’t start swinging. She jumped harder, willing the box to swing, but it only jiggled more violently. “Come on, box! Why are you just jiggling? Start swinging!”  Frustrated at the lack of desired response, she looked at Jesus. He was laughing.

 

“Why are You laughing?”

“I’m laughing at the confusion this box must have, being jumped on like that. It’s reacting exactly as it should to what you are doing.”

“What do you mean? I’m trying as hard as I can to get it to swing, but it just bounces!”

“I know. But have you noticed that when you jump up and down, the box does the same?”

“How else am I supposed to get it to move?” Amalia frowned. “Besides, I like jumping.”

“Think about how a swing works. Specific movements are required. Any other movements won’t result in the swing moving in the direction it was made to move. You know, it’s kind of like when you do acts of service for people. You have to fit your actions to what they need. If you do only what you like or want, you won’t get worthwhile results.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you help people, you want to make their lives a little better, right? You want to bring them some happiness, share some love, or meet a need they have. But what if you only did what you wanted? What if someone needed their yard mowed, but you only liked to give food. If you went to them with food, they wouldn’t be very appreciative. They might be confused, or maybe even hurt that you weren’t really thinking about them.”

“Okay, I think I get it. “ She imagined sitting on a swing, and focused on which movements the swing needed her body to make into order to move. “Oh, I have to shift my weight frontwards and backwards.”

Amalia rocked back and forth. The box began to swing slightly. “It’s working!”

“Great! Keep going!”

After a while, sweaty from the effort, Amalia stopped moving. “Jesus, this is too hard. I’ve done my best, but I can only get halfway up. Can You help me?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

He threw His weight with hers, and the box quickly climbed higher with each swing. Soon the momentum of the box’s movements added to their effort, and Amalia found that she didn’t have to work as hard at it as she had at the beginning.

“This is fantastic!” Amalia laughed aloud.

With Jesus grinning by her side, they continued shifting their weight, and the box climbed even higher. Higher and higher and higher, until they were directly above the horizontal bar. They lingered there just a moment, before swinging back down, and up the other side until they were above the horizontal bar again.

Amalia marveled. To be suspended up in the air like that had to be one of the most fascinating experiences she’s ever had.

And then it got better. On the next swing up, instead of lingering at the top, it kept moving. It continued down the back, then up and over again, making complete circles around the horizontal bar.

Amalia couldn’t contain her enthusiasm. “More! More!”

“That’s enough for now. Your body isn’t ready to maintain this for long. You need to take time to rest.”

Disappointed as the box slowly settled to a gentle swing, and then to a stop, Amalia realized her body was indeed spent. Jesus was right. She did need a rest.

And then, she reassured herself, she would get Him to take her up on this ride again.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

How do you know what people need?

All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

 

Scriptures:

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Romans 12:10-11 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Mark 6:30-31a The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while.

Dear Little Book Worm (from Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Little Book Worm,

Your interest in books brings such joy to me. They open up worlds to you that would not otherwise be possible. So many things to see, places to visit, and concepts to learn. One day soon you will discover the greatest book of all – the Bible. It, too, will open up a whole new world to learn about. But even better than that, it will help you get to know the One who loved you enough to make sure you came to be. Read on, Little One, and discover the wonders all around you!

As Always,

Someone Who Loves You

 

2 Timothy 3:15-16 … from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.