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To everything there is a season ....

Mar. 16th, 2008 | 09:53 pm
mood: optimisticoptimistic
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

I believe that the season has come for me to start reading the bible daily again.

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Poetic truth

Jan. 1st, 2007 | 03:03 pm
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

When we talk about beginnings, new creation, new birth ... sometimes we mean it literally, and sometimes not. I believe that scripture is the same way. Not all meanings are literal. Sometimes we are talking about symbols which serve as arrows, pointing the way to a truth that is bigger than the symbols.

When I said to a friend not long ago that I believe scripture is "poetic truth" rather than literal truth, my friend reminded me of certain truths that are not poetic at all, but are harshly and horribly real in the lives of people I love. That is true also. It cannot be denied, or forgotten. But it is not all of the truth.

As long as each one of us lives, there is still time for new beginnings. That even includes me.

I stopped defining myself as a Christian when I realized that I was committing idolatry by elevating one particular human being to a higher place than Christ in my life and that I didn't want to stop. I couldn't keep up the hypocritical pretense of putting Christ first, when that one particular human being really did come first in my life.

I'm learning now to forgive myself for that human weakness, and to accept that we can't allow our own flawed and imperfect human nature to make us turn our backs on God. I haven't forgiven myself entirely yet for not wanting to give up my idolatry. But sometimes we need to accept forgiveness as grace, even though we know we don't deserve it, even though part of us doesn't even really want it. We can learn how to accept it anyway.

So I'm going to try to work through the bible again this year, not necessarily as literal truth, but as the most powerful metaphor of Western culture, and if I find in the course of the year that I am believing it again in a deeper way than the literary ... then that will be as it will be. I will leave myself open to it.

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January 1, 2007 - starting over again

Jan. 1st, 2007 | 01:33 pm
mood: optimisticoptimistic
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

I'm going to try this again for the year 2007. Anyone want to join me?

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January 1 - a new beginning

Jan. 1st, 2006 | 11:23 am
music: "Blind Hope" - David Cassidy
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

"So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them." Gen. 1:27

What does it mean that men and women are equally created in the image of God?

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Confession and repentance

Nov. 24th, 2005 | 11:24 pm
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

I wish that I could confess enough to feel truly free of my own feelings of inadequacy. I have become able to confess what I did when I was twelve years old; I can freely disclose the sins that I committed in my twenties (an affair with a married man, and two abortions); I can even admit that I still struggle with sexual temptation. Those things are relatively easy to confess.

But when we feel that we are inadequate not in what we have done, but in who we are - defective, deficient, unable to get anything right, toxic, dangerous, inherently evil and not to be trusted - what can be done about that?

Ultimately the mercy that we need is not just for our deeds, but for our natures. Each of us has that sin-nature within ourselves. But by accepting Christ's sacrifice for us, and putting on His righteousness instead of depending upon our own, we can change not only what we do, but who we are. We become beloved children of God, unconditionally loved.

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Dry bones and faith without works

Nov. 18th, 2005 | 06:58 pm
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

Today we have both Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones, and the most famous statement out of James: "Faith without works is dead."

I am haunted sometimes by James 2:15-16: Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,"
but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

I know that my friends have financial needs, as well as spiritual and emotional ones. I also know that I can't meet all of their needs. But maybe I should be trying harder to meet the needs I can.

Sometimes I feel like my faith has been dry bones, and I ask Ezekiel's question, "Can these dry bones live?" and I watch and wait as God begins to put flesh on the bones, and eventually, breath in the body.

Faith without works is dead - but these dry bones can be made to live again.

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Tested by praise

Nov. 16th, 2005 | 10:28 pm
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

Is praise always destructive? I don't think so.

Proverbs 27:21 (NIV) The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but man is tested by the praise he receives.

(NASB) The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And each is tested by the praise accorded him.

(MSG) The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
by giving them a little fame.

The basic concept seems to be that praise and fame CAN corrupt - but that it is not inevitable. God does not give us tests that we are hopelessly doomed to fail. Some people (like G) can receive praise and even adoration, without making a dent in their humility.

But what about the other side of the coin - being able to accept praise graciously? When we do something right, isn't it basically OK to be able to acknowledge it?

Could it be that the testing of praise is more than the test of avoiding a swelled head ... that the test is also to be able to accept that we do sometimes succeed in reflecting God? I know that G does. So it is not totally impossible that I could be learning to do the same.

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Cloud of Witnesses

Nov. 14th, 2005 | 06:05 pm
mood: curiouscurious
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

One of my scripture memory songs is for this passage:

Hebrews 12: 1-2 (NIV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

I have always been intrigued by that phrase, "cloud of witnesses." Does that mean only that the faithful of the past "testified" in the past to God's power, or does it mean that the deceased faithful are watching us? I like to think of them watching and still praying for us. What would the prayer of a "saint" in Heaven be like?

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Faith and treason

Nov. 13th, 2005 | 12:32 pm
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

Hebrews 11:31 mentions Rahab as an example of faith, for harboring and protecting the spies who came to Jericho. (See also James 2:25) But from the perspective of any citizen of Jericho, whether Rahab was a prostitute or simply an innkeeper, she was clearly what they would have considered to be the worst kind of traitor.

Sometimes, in order to do what we know to be right, we must radically violate the social mores of our own culture. Whistleblower, rat, "race traitor," "nigger-lover," "Jew-lover" ... the list goes on.

Perhaps Rahab should be a sort of patron saint to all who follow God at the cost of being called traitor to their own people.

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Taking away the right to mourn

Nov. 12th, 2005 | 04:59 pm
mood: sadsad
posted by: logicalargument in our1yearbible

Part of today's passage in Ezekiel points out the cruelty of taking away a bereaved person's right to grieve.

Ezekiel 24:15-22 (NLT)

15 Then this message came to me from the LORD:
16 "Son of man, I am going to take away your dearest treasure. Suddenly she will die. Yet you must not show any sorrow. Do not weep; let there be no tears.
17 You may sigh but only quietly. Let there be no wailing at her grave. Do not uncover your head or take off your sandals. Do not perform the rituals of mourning or
accept any food brought to you by consoling friends."
18 So I proclaimed this to the people the next morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did everything I had been told to do.
19 Then the people asked, "What does all this mean? What are you trying to tell us?"
20 So I said to them, "A message came to me from the LORD,
21 and I was told to give this message to the people of Israel. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will desecrate my Temple, the source of your security and pride. Your sons and daughters in Judea will be slaughtered by the sword.
22 Then you will do as Ezekiel has done. You will not mourn in public or console yourselves by eating the food brought to you by sympathetic friends.

How brutal it is to take away the right to mourn and to be comforted! How unspeakably cruel it is for us to silence the cries of pain of the bereaved, to tell them that they are only allowed to sigh quietly - that they are forbidden to scream - just so that we don't have to deal with it.


Also in today's reading, we also have the famous verse about faith, Hebrews 11:1 (KJV): "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

NIV: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

The Message translation paraphrases it this way: "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see." Hebrews 11:1 (MSG)

I wonder: How can my grieving friends maintain faith in the things not seen?

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