whispers

It was Elijah’s great moment.

A stand-off between the priests of Baal – the spiritual seductresses that had led Israel to whore herself out to another lover – and THE God. The I AM. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God who by His choice made Israel a chosen people.

And God won.

Fire fell from the sky. The altar was consumed. The priests were killed.

Elijah could not have dreamed a better result. God had show up in power and surely now – after all of this – Israel would rush back to Yahweh. Jezebel and her spineless husband’s reign of oppression would end. Israel would take its place as a shining beacon of light to the world. Right?

 

Except it didn’t go that way. Continue reading

the dust of our rabbi

There was a saying in Jesus’ time: “may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” Which is a weird thing to say to someone, I know.

It was said to people who were in training to be one of the few, highly respected teachers of the Jewish faith. It was a saying for disciples who, if a rabbi allowed them to sit under their tutelage, would follow their rabbi around everywhere and watch as he interacted with the world. They would watch him eat, pray, go to temple, and they would observe him, because they wanted to be JUST LIKE their rabbi.

So to be covered in the dust of your rabbi meant that you has followed him so closely on the dirt roads of 1st Century Palestine that his sandals had kicked up a cloud of dust that was now caking your body. And this was an honor, because there was nothing a disciple wanted more than to be just like his rabbi. The dust was a sign of honor.

 So when Jesus – the rabbi – says to his disciples, “you will do greater things than these,” it is a huge moment. He’s telling them “you’ve been covered in my dust, and you’ve done well. I’ve watched you, and you have what it takes. Of course, Jesus also knew the Holy Spirit would soon be changing their lives, bringing the same power that would soon raise Jesus from the dead into every waking moment. But that’s kind of the point for us, right? If we spend each day hovering close to our rabbi – caked in the peripheral presence of the Holy Spirit – then we can be just like Jesus. We will grow in His love and power. We will see our lives changed, and see God use us to change OTHER peoples’ lives.

damned lies

“You won’t die if you eat the fruit from that tree” the serpent indignantly insisted. “The problem here is God … he’s holding out on you. He doesn’t really want what’s best for you. You’re smart enough to figure out your OWN way of doing things.”

And Eve listened, and I still listen, and I see people everywhere who are listening too.

We’re focused on the tree, and how much we want its fruit, and how cruel it is for God to keep us from the tree. And how the tree really isn’t that big of a deal. We think it’s all about the tree.

And what we don’t realize is that it was never about the tree at all … not really.

It was about trust.

Satan’s goal always has been, and always will be, to make sure we don’t trust in God’s competency and God’s goodness.

Every sin we commit ultimately comes back to a belief that God either isn’t good or isn’t smart. He’s incompetent or He’s evil.

If I want what’s best for me, I best be about getting it, because God’s not going to come through, I think.

But I don’t realize any of this. Because I’m so focused on the damned lie that this is really all about the tree … not me choosing to shun the one who created me.

BLOG TRAFFIC & THE BOOK OF REVELATION: two things I don’t understand

So I haven’t blogged in a long time — three weeks to be precise. It’s sadly pretty typical for me.

I blog twice a week for months … and then stop. I run three times a week for years … and then stop. I voraciously read the news every day for half a decade … then stop.

I’m an unpredictable guy.

Also unpredictable: my blog traffic. I have slowly but surely built something resembling a respectable audience the last few months, but figured that nearly a month off would wreck that. But when I looked at the statistics today … I’m averaging more views per day than ever before and on pace for a record breaking month. I’m pretty sure this is because of all the pictures I have here. People google image “cancer” and the cancer cell pic I used in a post several months ago shows up.

Basically what I’m saying is that when I DON’T write, more people look at this blog … primarily because most people coming to this blog aren’t looking to read anything. They are just looking for pictures …

 

There are some things I know are wrong, even if I can’t explain why I feel that way. For instance, I know — know from the bottom of my heart — that cockroaches are demons in physical form. Think about it, they thrive in dark and decaying places. They scuttle about all weird-like. They can survive a nuclear holocaust. Something ain’t right … I just can’t prove it.

For years I’ve felt the same way about the book of Revelation … or more accurately, about peoples’ interpretation of it. I read those Left Behind books and hear preachers explain a 7 1/2 year day-by-day timeline of the apocalypse and something inside me goes “this just doesn’t sound right.” But I could never explain why I felt that way. It was just a vague impression that these people were misreading things. Continue reading

Made Me Think Monday (late edition)

Two quotes, from two of my favorite authors:

”I suppose the reasons for the use of so much violence in modern fiction will differ with each writer who uses it, but in my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work. This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world.” — Flannery O’Connor

“When I go to a movie that is boring or meaningless I don’t think ‘all movies are boring or meaningless’ … just that one. So when my friends say ‘Life is ultimately meaningless and has no greater purpose’ I say ‘well, maybe just YOUR life is meaningless and has no greater purpose’ … which might be why I don’t have a lot of friends.” — Donald Miller

… and what the heck, one more:

“Some Christians wonder ‘how can we be happy hoping for a heaven that’s so long from coming’ … but have you ever met a depressed engaged girl? You don’t go up to her and go ‘I’m so sorry’.” — Donald Miller

The Philippian Jailer & suffering with hope

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)

Hope is a good thing … maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies. – Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

 

 

It isn’t easy to work in a jail. Seeing the worst of humanity. Dealing with the violent, the angry, the evil, the dregs, those who are bitter, in denial, shattered, crazy.

Days turn into weeks that turn into years, and every night your ability to show compassion dies. You become less loving toward others, less inclined to see people as valuable. Less inclined to show mercy.

Which is part of the reason why the Philippian jailer paid no attention when a rabble-rousing Jew and his Greek companion, beaten far more than usual, a bloody and pathetic mess, were thrown into his jail. He was given specific instructions that they not escape, so maybe he was curious what made these guys so infamous, but his interest ended there.

And so Paul and Silas were led into the deepest, darkest, most inhumane section of the hollowed-out-cave-turned-prison, sat against the wall, arms chained above their heads, legs spread wide and shackled in place. The jailer probably inspected the scene – he’d had specific instructions to watch them after all – but when that was done he would leave them to sit there for hours. In only a few minutes a painful cramping would set in – eventually it would be come excruciating. They couldn’t move. Couldn’t adjust. The viciousness of their beating would make it astronomically worse for them. Sleep would be impossible.

He couldn’t have cared less. Continue reading