Good Decision, Poor Timing?

Young Man ThinkingI just did something I need to do more often, but I’m not sure I picked the best time to start.

I was told a caller wanted to talk to me as Senior Pastor. This person had called for financial assistance and not gotten the answer they wanted.

Our church receives multiple calls everyday for financial assistance. We do not offer financial assistance, but do help people find other sources.

The caller wanted me to agree that the other staff person hadn’t responded to them in an appropriate way.

I try to tell people things they want to hear. If it were up to me, I would never say anything that hurt anyone’s feelings.

But that’s  my personality; it is not what I am called to. I want to continue to do my best to consider the feelings and reactions of others, but Jesus’ example that I want to follow, that I am called (and ordained) to follow, is to be willing to say things that need to be said, as much as is possible, in ways they will be heard.

I don’t think I was heard. Because, in fact, I was hung up on.

As soon as I heard the dial tone I wondered if I’d chosen the wrong time NOT to say what I knew the other person wanted to hear.

But I don’t think so.

Stretching Exercises

DD-05142016-0O1A8857.jpg“Does the Bible say rain used to come up from the ground instead of down from the clouds?” I was asked this morning. The idea rang a bell in my memory, so I did a bit of searching to corroborate the pieces of memory I felt forming.

A subset of Christians, and I think it is a small subset, holds the view that there was no rain before the flood, the preparation for which we find beginning in Genesis 6. A very short version of this understanding starts with an interpretation of Genesis 2:5-6.

before any wild plants appeared on the earth, and before any field crops grew, because the Lord God hadn’t yet sent rain on the earth and there was still no human being to farm the fertile land, though a stream rose from the earth and watered all of the fertile land—

Then, God hadn’t yet sent rain, and rain isn’t mentioned until the flood story, some claim there was no rain until the flood.

I’m not interested in supporting web traffic to this particular site, but I found a young-earth creationist site that explains this position as held by some. Moderately supportive of the idea, this site withholds endorsement. A summary of their reasoning for non-endorsement is that some such claims

stretch Scripture beyond what it actually says

I could not agree more.

Not stretching scripture beyond what it actually says is a real challenge for all of us. I am pretty sure stretching scripture is one of those things we are faster to identify in others than in ourselves.

How do you keep from stretching scripture beyond what it actually says?

One of my favorite verses

Youversion sends me a verse every day. Sometimes I read it more carefully and thoughtfully than others. This morning’s caught me off guard a little.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Maybe I should explain how it caught me off guard. After all, this is one that I’ve had committed to memory for almost 40 years. Why would it jump out at me today?

Because for most of the first half of those 40 years, I weaponized this verse.

I pulled it out of context and used it to support my particular understanding of whatever it was I wanted “Jesus Christ” to be about for whichever argument I was in.

As if Jesus has always been a spiritual trump card to play on other people, to quash their arguments. And if “Jesus” means what I say he means today, then he’s always meant that. Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Except Hebrews 13:7. Which says:

Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out.

This is very important: Hebrews 13:8 wasn’t written primarily as a debate tool that makes Jesus eternally agree with me. Rather, it was written to encourage each reader and hearer to trust Jesus to work in his/her own life the same way as Jesus worked in the lives of their teachers and mentors.

And I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this follows not long after the “Hall of Faith” listing in chapter 11.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So are the ways we misuse his name.


I fought the Grass Burrs…

and the Grass Burrs won.grass burrs

Recent rains mean the churchyard grass is due a good mow. But before that, I realized last night, I could pull ALL the grass burrs that were going to seed and stop their proliferation.

grass burrs dying.jpgI started last night ( arriving early for a meeting, I had some time on my hands). I picked up this morning where I had left off. I pulled quite a few of those lawn mines, and was feeling pretty good about myself.

But they just kept coming. The more I pulled, the more I saw. But they’re just grass burrs!  Do grass burrs even have a brain? They best they could do to fight back was grab at my fingers, but these were still green; they didn’t even hurt all that much!

Then, with visions of victory flooding my mind, I deposited another handful in the bag, returned to the battlefield, and started again.

And there was another whole section of them!  As if they had gone to seed during my brief visit inside!

I gave up and moved on to the list of Other Things I Came to the Office for This Morning.

And as I walked inside, I was reminded of this:

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered.

“The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’

29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvesttime I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.” ’” (Matthew 13, CEB)

It’s as if Jesus knew the way we thought!

And I don’t think it’s really about weeds.


Will the Bible survive?

Will the Bible survive?
The short answer is “Yes.” I have confidence it will.

Not everyone agrees. Here’s a quote from a book I am reading:

the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is the “actual word of God, to be taken literally, word for word” has declined remarkably: In 1963, 65% believed this, but that figure is now at 32%.

For some, even 65% is disheartening. I have to admit, I’m not excited about 32%.

On the other hand, I read the whole quote. Did you catch it? The question equates belief that “the Bible is the actual word of God” with “taking it literally, word for word.”

Seems pretty obvious to me that the entire Bible is not meant to be taken “literally, word for word.”

When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” (John 6:35) he didn’t mean he was an actual loaf of bread.

In Psalms 17, 31, 36, 57, 61, 63, and others, the psalmist writes of taking shelter under God’s wings. He didn’t mean God is literally a bird!

There are plenty of other references throughout the Bible. I have no need to present an exhaustive list, because it really only takes one to make my point: the Bible is not intended “to be taken literally, word for word.”

But however sure I am the Bible isn’t to be taken literally word for word, I am even more convinced it is the “actual word of God.”

See what I mean?

The Bible will survive. Some of the ways we think about the Bible won’t. That may be a good thing.