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Click here to read Isaiah 2 on BibleGateway.com

lying-kidsWhen you’re a kid, grownups often talk about the responsibilities that go along with adulthood: rent, insurance, frivolous things like food. What they don’t tell you is one of the greatest joys of being an adult: lying to little kids. Those little urchins will believe anything that a large person tells them, no matter how preposterous.

For example:

Yes There Is A Cub Scout Badge For Washing My Car
When the ice cream truck plays music, it means they’re all out of ice cream.
If you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyeballs will fall out

THAT WAS THEN…WASN’T IT?

Luckily, as we get older, we realize that those people with the deep voices are sometimes wrong, teasing, or imbecilic.  But have you ever wondered if maybe you’re believing lies now?  How would you know?  You didn’t know then; perhaps the things you think are so true now really aren’t.

Rene Descartes famously stated “I think therefore I am.”  But are you sure you are really thinking? When you’re asleep, you think you are awake.  Mirages can be pretty convincing.  Our perception of reality is notoriously unreliable: oars look like they bend in water, sound is affected by the Doppler effect, and our memories are ridiculously faulty. Yet we will continue to trust that perception no matter how much proof comes against it? Why is that?

The truth is that that we have to trust something: either our own perceptions, or an outside source.  Do you think that you accurately perceived the world when you were eight years old?  What makes you think that you are accurately perceiving the world at eighteen? or forty-eight? or eighty?

TRUST AND OBEY…FOR THERE’S NO OTHER WAY

This is the heart of the idea of “belief” in the Bible. It’s not focused so much on “I think that’s real” like you might say about unicorns or dragons. Rather, a better translation is “trust,” such as “I trust my teachers know this information will be on the test, so I’ll do my homework.” It’s a choice to obey; admitting that perhaps we don’t know everything. In the Bible, belief and obedience go hand in hand.  The book of James even says that demons believe in God.  Just knowing or not knowing God is real is not the point: trust and obedience is the point. Jesus says “if you love Me, keep my commands.”  Believing in God necessarily implies that we trust him over our own wisdom.  Can you bring yourself to accept that?

Do you trust that God has the best plan for you? If so, why do you keep trying to figure things out on your own? Why are you fighting for your “rights”? Why are you trying to decide which parts of the Bible are “right”?  Either you trust the Bible is accurate, or you trust some other source, or you trust your own perceptions.

The choice is yours.

Isaiah 2:22 – Stop trusting in mere humans
    who have but a breath in their nostrils.
    Why hold them in esteem?

Click here to read Numbers 45 on BibleGateway.com

kiss[Today’s post is for adults only. Parental guidance is suggested. In fact, more parental guidance would be good in general in our world.]

Ok, today let’s confront an issue that is rampant in our culture: the lack of sex. “Wait a minute,” you say, “our culture is saturated with sex. What we need is more good ole Bible based agape love. Not more of that icky naked stuff. Jesus would never have gone for that.” There’s some truth to that, for sure, but we need to be careful not to throw the booty out with the bath water.

WAIT, THAT’S IN THE BIBLE?

One of the key characteristics of the Bible compared to other religious texts is the unflinching portrayal of reality. The Bible admits that flattery sometimes works, that leaders and kings play favorites, and the rich oppress the poor if they can get away with it. This is not to say the Bible approves of these of things, but it clearly reflects reality. After all, who knows us better than the Creator?

Along with that, the Bible mentions sex at a frequency that some pastors and teachers may be uncomfortable with. The origin of the 12 tribes? A little polygamy, a little male prostitution, and a little incest are all included. Abraham, David, and Judah all could trace the major troubles of their life to sex. As far back as Adam, the two-becoming-one-flesh is central to God’s plan for mankind. And let’s not even get started with Solomon and his racy books.

The problem is that sex and sexuality have been so distorted in our culture, that as a Church we’ve decided it’s best to just ignore it as best we can, except maybe a marriage retreat once a year or so. The idea that couples should enjoy themselves sexually as part of their worship strikes us as odd, and probably somewhat self-serving.

NOT THE LEAST JOT OR TITTLE SHOULD BE CHANGED

Unfortunately, this means that we have to try to avoid all the times the Bible talks about our sexualness. We take verses and say “no, this is really about God’s love, not man-woman love. That would be too racy for God.”(the same God who has descriptions of entrails falling out in the Holy Word apparently thinks that a breast is too disturbing for his people to read). Song of Songs is sometimes portrayed as a metaphor between God and Israel or Christ and the Church. Our reading of Psalm 45 today is similarly regarded as metaphorical, rather than simply a celebration of the marriage of king to his beautiful princess bride.

Why are we so afraid to accept that God created sex for his creations to enjoy? Why do we allow the perversion of the world to rob us of what God created? When was the last time you finished your prayer time with your spouse with a roll in the hay? Does that strike you as inappropriate or crass? Why? When was the last time you heard a sermon on Godly sexual fulfillment? Does that seem out of place at church? Why?

There’s a hesitancy in us regarding sex, but we are sexual beings. We are what God made us – yes there is corruption because of the Fall, but the Bible is full of celebration of human sexuality. Let’s not shy away from it, let’s not pretend that that’s not part of who we are, part of how God designed us. Let’s seek instead to understand how to express sexuality in a pure holy way that is pleasing to Christ.

Let’s try to understand that the Bible is not asking to remove part of our humanity, but to express it fully in the manner that God intended.  Let’s not let culture determine how we read the Bible and the Author’s message to us.  The Enemy seeks to rob us of all the good gifts that God gives; why should this one be any different? Why should we let the Enemy make evil what God intends for good?  To have life and that life to the full; isn’t that what Christ promises and  intends for us?

Plus, smooching is fun.

Click here to read Numbers 8 on BibleGateway.com

graduationThis is one of the best times of the year, and not just because it’s fun to sneeze snot all over everyone’s new spring outfits (thanks, pollen!).  All across this great land, thousands of high school and college students are preparing for graduation, the culminating 47 minutes recognizing years of agonizing labor.   It’s enough to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Or to realize the futility of all life.  Either way.

It’s always nice to see all these young men and women with the glow of success fresh in their eyes.  The whole world is their burrito; nothing is impossible.

WHEN YOU HEAR THE CHIME, TURN THE PAGE

That is, until they have to start the new year of college in the fall. Or can’t find a job with that new shiny degree.  Or find out that their alma mater of Bob’s MBA-o-Rama isn’t fully accredited and their degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.  When we check in on these bright young stars in ten years, they’ve become the bitter cynical adults that we all love.  What’s happened?  More importantly, why is this important to our reading today? Prepare yourself; there’s a hard segue coming up.

Exodus through Deuteronomy is a period of transition for the Israelites, graduating from nomadic herdsmen, to slaves, to a nation. During this important time of formation for the Israelite nation recorded in the first few books of the Bible, God put in place the idea that all of the first born children of Israel belonged to Him (it’s complicated. Just trust me for now.)  However, rather than accept all the various tribes, God declared that the entire tribe of Levi would stand in proxy for all those others (a nice setup for Jesus standing in for our sins, by the way).

Imagine that day: you’re in the tribe of Levi.  You, your family, your relatives; you’re the chosen people.  All those other chumps can only look on in jealousy since you get to work in the temple every day.  Your whole life will be surrounded by God’s presence.  It’s like graduation day for Bible college.

THE ROCKS OF REALITY

Yet stats tell us that 50% of new ministers will not remain in ministry for five years; only 1 in 10 ministers actually retires as a minister; 70% struggle with depression, and 90% feel unprepared for the demands of ministry.  What does this tells us?  That life in ministry may not be the cakewalk that the Levites (and possibly some of us) think it may be.  It is relentlessly draining, emotionally challenging, mentally exhausting work, and you never clock out.  Several Levites figure prominently in the stories of God’s judgment to come, and they were held to higher standards than the other tribes regarding sacrifices and lifestyle.  They’re proximity to God, while a blessing, also carried more sacrifice in their lives.

Is that the way you view your pastor? Do you appreciate the extra burden that they are under all the time? Or is it easier to sit back and criticize? To complain about how much or little they work? To complain that their kids aren’t behaving as you think they should? Rather than pointing out everything they’re doing wrong, might it better serve the kingdom of God to support your pastor? To tell him he preached a good sermon this week? To be supportive of her new ideas? To point out their good points to others, rather than their faults? Imagine what a difference it may make in your church.

When people give up their lives to full time ministry, we should respect and honor them.  They may be carrying more than we ever know.

Being chosen by God is a wonderful thing; but it’s not an easy thing.


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