Filtering by Tag: The Bible

Finding More Than Answers in Genesis

I have been for the larger part of my life an academic: Linear logic, reasoned arguments, proofs and syllogisms. Believe it or not, in high school I once considered being a math teacher, but that was largely because I had no clue what I wanted to do and people were asking if I would be retiring in Arizona or just snowbirding it from November to March.

On a side note, I think the first class of Junior year in high school should be entirely about contriving a 'future plans' story to tell to adults, complete with fake acceptance letter from various colleges. Or maybe high school students should just start asking adults exactly what they plan on doing exactly two years from right now. But I digress.

I was not only linear in my thinking, but judgmental. I used my limited and distorted view of scripture and God to smash people over the head. My mother tells me that at one point as a child I kept telling my little brother that he was going to hell, though she never told me I was wrong. In high school then again in Bible College I talked theology with people on a regular basis, viewing opposing viewpoints as a target and my massive New King James study Bible as a .50 cal rifle of spiritual justice with a 50 power adjustable scope. I could pick off a sinner from a thousand yards.

In the past couple weeks I've been handling that massive NKJV again, but I think with a different heart. Instead of looking for ammunition tucked in its pages, I'm reading stories about real people with real lives and real issues that are strikingly familiar. I see poetry, narrative, even God's heart for broken and unloved people like Hagar and Leah, revealing a special part of Himself to people who are second choices and ugly sisters.

As I work through the book of the world's fumbled beginnings I find my faith in its words strengthened because it tells me the truth about human existence, even for the so called giants of faith, it tells me the truth about myself.

From the sinful start humanity has simply been finding ways to separate himself from the rest of humanity: Cain and Abel, the line of Seth and the line of Cain, Noah and Ham, Abraham and Abimelech, Abraham and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, Isaac and a different Abimelech, Isaac and his sons, Jacob and Esau, Jacob and Laban, Leah and Rachel..... the list goes on. Genesis is a rarely interrupted story of separation that reads like and episode of the Jerry Springer show.

The irony is that I have used the book of Genesis, the book of separation, as a means to separate myself from others. And so I'm joined into the story I'm reading, looking to the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, hoping I too can find redemption.

Selective Censorship

In case you didn't read the last couple of posts, this week I'm leading worship at Bethel Camp, in the hills of Kentucky. An hour or so ago I was camped out in the bushes, attempting to ambush Jr. Highers who are much faster than I am. But I have an edge; they may be fast, but my brain isn't a sea of raging hormones. So I hid in the bushes and let them run to me. Point for the old guy. But enough about my tactical prowess.

Earlier today I was having a conversation with Mark Driscoll. You heard right Mark Driscoll, but not the one with the giant church in Seattle, which is fine by me, I like this Mark's theology a little better. We were chatting about Jesus, which is really an invigorating topic when you're talking with Mark. Jesus' first miracle popped into our conversation, the one where he gave booze to a bunch of already tipsy wedding guests, which made me think about how un-Jesusy Jesus often was, continually bending the lines we trace around him.

So this thought was bouncing around my head all day, up until we started singing. Lo and behold, I had a song request to sing "Our God" which starts with the line "Water you turned into wine." So I began musing, as worship leaders do (even though they criticize every other worship leader who does so) about the conversation we had and how fascinating Jesus is, when I realized that I'm about to tell a bunch of Jr. Highers that Jesus' first miracle was making alcohol.

Thankfully I realized what was happening before I said it.

The tricky thing is, that was Jesus first miracle, and it is outside of our Jesus box, but two things occurred to me: a) I realized that there were several people present a bit more conservative than I, and really all they had asked me to do was sing some songs and b) if I  did say that was Jesus first miracle, I'd have to spend at least another 10-15 minutes clearing up any confusion I would have created. These are after all Jr. Highers. Jesus loves them, but he does so in spite of their lack of logical thinking abilities.

I continue to hate watering things down, especially when we water down such a vibrant personality as the Son of God, but I think I've learned there is a good and bad time to try to communicate certain things. And depending on the timing I may not communicate what I'd hope to.