Sunday, September 30, 2007

Back of the hand?

I went to lunch with some friends on Friday. One of the things that came up was the passage in Matthew 5:39 (and Luke 6:29 ) where Jesus tells those listening to him...

But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
This sounds quite passive. From what I have learned, it is not. According to this page...
In the society of that time, a slap on the cheek was not intended as a physical injury but rather as an insult, putting an inferior back in his or her place. The strength of that insult depended greatly upon which hand dealt it: as the left hand was seen as unclean, a slap with the left hand was the insult far greater than one dealt with the right hand. This was reflected in the legal penalties for an inappropriate slap: the penalty for slapping a peer with your left hand was a fine one hundred times the penalty for slapping a peer with your right hand; the penalty for slapping a better with your right hand was a fine while the penalty for slapping a better with your left hand was death. The people Jesus was speaking to most directly were, by and large, slaves and the downtrodden. A slap on the right cheek was dealt with the left hand. To turn the other cheek would leave the master with two options. The first would be to slap the slave again, but this time with the right hand (therefore declaring the slave a peer). The second would be not to slap the slave again (therefore effectively rescinding the first slap). Now, such impudence and sauciness would often tend to bring punishment, but it none the less says "Hey, I'm a human. I have rights. You can't treat me like this." It is not an action without suffering for oneself, nor does it inflict suffering on the "enemy": but it does say and do something in a powerful way.

One of my favorite quotes this week?

From Bono, the lead singer from U2:

Religion can be the enemy of God. It's often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Audio Isaiah

Over the last two weeks, I have been listening to Isaiah on the Daily Audio Bible.

This passage (Isaiah 46:5-11 The Message) struck me...

"So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable?
Can you picture me without reducing me?
People with a lot of money
hire craftsmen to make them gods.
The artisan delivers the god,
and they kneel and worship it!
They carry it around in holy parades,
then take it home and put it on a shelf.
And there it sits, day in and day out,
a dependable god, always right where you put it.
Say anything you want to it, it never talks back.
Of course, it never does anything either!

"Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have—
incomparable, irreplaceable—
From the very beginning
telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul,
I'll do exactly what I set out to do,'
Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east,
from a far country the man I chose to help me.
I've said it, and I'll most certainly do it.
I've planned it, so it's as good as done.
The first two lines are telling to me...
So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable?
Can you picture me without reducing me?
It is quite easy to recreate God in our image. We reduce God to a managable god. Some think of him as loving but not just, some think of him as just but with no grace. Some even go as far as the rest of the paragraph, talking about how it is easy to replace God with an image we not only construct in our minds but with our hands. The next paragraph is the rebuttal...

Remember your history,
your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have—
incomparable, irreplaceable—
This is good because any god I could make would be quite destructable, not crafted well and definately replaceable.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

100K in 20 years

Yesterday I filled up the gas tank in my truck. It is a 1988 Toyota pickup with no bells or whistles... The you could say the maunal windows are "automatic by arm-strong". It can barely fit the family in the front seat. We are the 3rd owners, buying it from some friends in the early '90's with less than 35,000 miles on it.

It is the somewhat legendary 4 cylinder engine and has been quite reliable and, since having the thermostat changed out, has been very comfortable. It rides like a truck because it has suspension set up for 4x4 travel, something that has come in handy more than once in snow.

As I mentioned, yesterday I filled up the tank and as is customary, filled out the log book with the miles, price and quantity. The odometer read 100125.4. We finally cleared 100k miles. I have heard rumors of this engine going 300k miles with care so I figure I have another 40 years with this truck.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A new perspective on the apostles

I have often wondered why the 12 followed Christ so easily and quickly. After all, the call was simply "Follow Me".

Pastor Rob explained this yesterday as:
  • Jewish boys at the time of Jesus memorized the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible) by the age of 10, starting at 6.
  • If you were an exceptional student and "made the grade", you were promoted and got to memorize the rest of the Old Testament by the time you were 14.
  • If you were exceptional with that, you graduated and were then taught the the theology and traditions behind the law until you were 18.
  • A hand picked number of boys then actually got to study with a rabbi... If you were a good student with good character. You would then become a rabbi yourself at around 30.
Rob then explained that Jesus was considered a rabbi or some renoun for his understanding of scripture and walked up to 12 men who, because of their professions, likely didn't make the grade somewhere along the line. He than said "Follow Me". From the text, many of these guys may have been young men of around 20 or younger. They would have been eager to be recognized by a rabbi and asked to follow. On top of that, this is someone who was well known.

Little did they know what they were in for!

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I know that those of us that are not from the Catholic tradition sometimes look down on the "rite" of confession. I ran across an interesting site today, however. It is called Christians Confess.

One of the things I find interesting about it is that, although I think confession is healthy, here you do not confess "sin" but you apologize. I am not sure there is a difference... On the other hand, I am not so sure there isn't.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I know I have mentioned before that I thought we tend to look at our faith through culture colored lenses.

I was struck with this a few times over the past weeks. A few months ago, I read a post from Greg Boyd who mentions the influence the Greek culture had on our view of God and prayer.

Then, recently, I listened to a podcast of a couple of philosophers, Jack Caputo and Richard Kearney, talking about the effect of Greek philosophy on the teachings of the early church. It is pretty dry but I included the link to part one above.

Some of the effect that Greek philosophy had was the process of reasoning but much of it tended to try and define God.

Yesterday, on the recommendation of my friend Dave, I (finally) listened to "Ten Shekles and a Shirt" on Judges 17. The message was given by Paris Reidhead many years ago. In this message, he talks about the effect that humanism has had on the Gospel since the 1800s when Darwin started the movement.

My thoughts?
  • We need to start looking to the God of the Bible, not the God we think is in the Bible.
  • While one of the reasons Christ died on the cross was to offer us salvation, "It's not about me"!
  • Once we start letting other philosophy's form our view of the Bible, we start getting off track.