Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mindgasam

Have you ever closed your eyes and let the music fill you, giving it reign over your emotions, letting it bring every nerve alive and then fire them all off at once in a crescendo followed by a mindgasam... It is the best 'gasam there is in solitude; possibly anywhere

Friday, May 12, 2017

We have lost the ability to hear

I am sitting out on my back porch listen to music. No, it is not the music we listen to in church. I have come to think of that as "bubble" music. It places us into a bubble where all is pure and wonderful. It touches our heart where we need to be touched. But it exists in a bubble. It is not the real world. It is praise and joy and halleluiah. It is heaven on Earth. But most people live in hell...

I don't intend to be offensive here but I suspect that I will be to many of my brothers and sisters. I am going to sacrifice some of our sacred cows. We have them, you know. Like Aaron and the children of Isreal at the foot of Mt. Siani, we have built our own calves of gold. We name one of those idols Doctrine. The teachings that define us as different from those that do not have it right. The idols of division that cause us to look down our nose at those that honestly understand the word differently than us. We squabble, judge and sneer at each other with words intentionally chosen to cut down and degrade others that believe in Jesus and are trying their best to live lives as His disciple.

We have closed our ears to the world around us. We can no longer hear them. We can no longer care about them because we are fixated on whether or not a female can serve crackers and grape juice, speak or share a thought. We are fixated on "decently and in order". Our minds are fully engaged. We can argue the point. We can debate and win. We are obsessed with the mechanics, the doing, the outward signs of our righteousness and like the church of the Ephesians, we have lost our first love. Our heart has taken second place to our mind's desire to "do things right".

I can think of no instance when Jesus condemned a people for their doctrine. I can think of no instance when God, before Jesus, condemned the Jews for the way in which they worshiped him. If there was any condemnation it was because their hearts were not right. Not because their minds were not right. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus is very pointed. God wants our hearts, not just our minds.

What if what we do on Sunday mornings is meaningless in the larger scheme of things. What if the fact that we have elders and preachers instead of pastors is meaningless. What if the fact that we take the Lords Supper every week is not important to our Lord. What if the fact that we sing acapella is just a nice thing to us. What if the structure of our worship is but a convenience, one to encourage us but not necessarily the command of God. What if God is not interested in our identity. I ask because I am not sure I know the answer. In my heart I believe that our focus may be misdirected.

All that said to say that we have lost the ability to hear, listen, understand... Wondering when I would get to the title? So was I :)

I believe we have become blind and deaf to the world. They are hurting. Pain that we are, for the most part, incapable of understanding. Who among us has suffered from addiction, abortion, rape, family hatred, vindictiveness, and poverty? (If you are reading this it is likely that you are in the top 5% of global society) Who among those that are reveling in their salvation, their heaven on Earth, is willing to do as Jesus did and step outside of paradise to see, understand and love the people who still live in hell every day. Every single day. Hell.

We need to learn how to listen. We need to learn how to hear the cries of the lost and hear them in their own language (crude as it might be). Jesus did not come to judge but to offer salvation. We need to remove our blinders and open our hearts to the hurt that surrounds us. We, like Jesus, need to focus on the needs of the impoverished, the sinner, the sluts (does that word offend you?), the thieves, the people dependent on society and the generosity of others.

We are to be Jesus. He "Heard" (with all of the connotations that come with that word), the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well living in sin, the blind men, the lepers, the dregs of society. He did not isolate Himself within the bubble. He did not wear blinders. He saw people. All people.

So, as we politely (or not) argue the finer points of the law and how we should communicate and how we devote our energies in the defense of the mechanics of our faith, our "doctrine", people are dying, alone, in pain, in sin and all the ugliness that comes with that. Are you willing to leave your paradise to "hear" and save the lost? Jesus was.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Misconceptions about the Bible

I wrote this on Quora in response to the question "What are some of the misconceptions about the Bible". I found that in identifying the misconceptions I was also identifying how I view the Bible. 
So, here are the top ten misconceptions I see that people have about the Bible:
It is a rule book: This is simply not so. Yes, there are some rules. Someone counted them once and came up with a little over 600 of them. Others even prioritized them. This was the context of the question asked of Jesus “Which commandment is the greatest?” 
I printed them all off one time just to get a visual. They fit on 4 pages of paper. Single sided. I laid them next to the Bible and asked: Is the Bible a rule oriented book? I had to say no.
The Bible has an answer for everything in life: Again, no. It is not going to tell you which job to take, how to invest your money or why bad things are happening to you. It simply does not do that. That is not its purpose. It is to expose the nature and personality of God. It may be that as you get to know God better and get to know Him at a personal level, you start to make better choices but straight up answers are often not there.
The Bible is full of hidden meanings: There is no hidden sub-story. The numbers are numbers. Revelation is a type of literature that was common at the time of its writing but uncommon today but is still just literature. You just have to be a 1st century Jew to really get it. When you read the Bible, read it for what it says, not what you think it might be saying.
The Bible is explicit in how we should worship: Nope. Oh, there are a lot of examples of worship in the Bible but it is almost completely silent when it comes to the actual mechanics of how we “do church”. Singing and preaching and prayer and reading the scripture, they all show up in some of the examples of worship we see in the Bible but there is never a complete worship service described in the Bible. Yet this is the point where many Christians spend an inordinate amount of time bickering.
The Bible is written by God: Now this one needs some clarification. Being “inspired but God” and “written by God” are two different things. The Bible was written by ordinary people. They had the skill to either write or dictate to a scribe. Not all were literate. Their individual personalities can be seen in their writings. So much so that some book’s authors are identified by style and vocabulary. That said, God did play a hand in ensuring that what He wanted captured in writing was fundamentally accurate and complete. This applies to what books are in the Bible as much as what is written in the books. This is fact if you are a believer and not even a question worthy of discussion if you are not.
The Bible can be understood 1 verse at a time: Devastatingly false. Through the years the Bible has been used a tool to coerce behaviors by clipping verses and stringing them together to say whatever we want. This is a practice that has been the foundation of almost all splits, fights, even wars that were initiated by this misconception. The Bible is literature. It is to be read with both textual context and historical context. Before you say “The Bible Says…” Read the entirety of the context around the verse and see if what you are about to say is in line with the point of the author and if the historical context of what is being said is relevant.
To be a Christian all you need is the New Testament: You simply cannot understand the New Testament without the light of the Old testament giving it clarity. Jesus was a Jew. All He knew was the Old Testament. All He taught was the Old Testament. He did not bring anything new. He brought clarity to the old. Jesus exemplified personality, character, and attitudes of God. The God you can know by reading the Old testament. Jesus brought the Old testament to life, literally.
Only the King James Version is the “Real” Bible: How arrogantly English centered this thought is. Does this mean that the Spanish speaking people need to learn English? The same for all other languages? Or, the modern English speaking person learn an archaic dead version of English? There are so many reasons why this is wrong that we could spend all day here. Choose a translation that you can read. There are many good ones. Jesus Himself read from a translation of His Bible, the Hebrew scriptures, at the time. He read the Greek translation. It is not the words themselves that are scripture it is the teachings and stories behind the words.
The Bible is misogynistic: This may seem to be accurate but as I said above one must read the Bible within the context of its historical setting. The Bible actually goes counter-cultural to the times in which it was written. Many of the “rules” that the Bible contains are there to protect women from the man-centered society. The Gospels are filled with the activities and honor given to women that other literature of the day would ignore. The role of women in the Bible is often downplayed by our own misogynistic society.
Everybody should believe the Bible: I just wish it were true. However, God gave us all free will and offered us the opportunity to know Him through His word or reject Him. The Bible is just a book, a long and difficult book, a tedious boring history of a people long dead, a source for conflicting agendas and a hindrance to those that do not believe. Faith is an active factor in the value of the Bible. Without faith, it is just a book. With faith, it is the heart and soul of God.