Tag Archives: Bible

THE TEN SUGGESTIONS

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Being a believer is often inconvenient; there are rules to be followed. What’s with that?

Let’s just look at the Ten Commandments. There a real drag on our lifestyles*. How might these tenets look if they were modern and politically correct?.

THE TEN SUGGESTIONS

1. I, the Lord, am your God. Your other gods are wealth, power and celebrity.

2. You shall take the name of the Lord God in vain only as a sign of frustration or anger.

3. Remember to celebrate the Lord’s Day with golf or football, depending on the season.

4. Your father and mother should honor you. Do not let father and your mother stifle you or negatively affect your self-esteem.

5. Killing is inconvenient and messy and should be avoided, unless you’re standing your ground.

6. It’s not adultery if he or she is really hot.

7. You shall not steal, but loopholes, off-shore dummy corporations and golden parachutes don’t count.

8. You shall not bear false witness, but anything that gets you your own reality television show is okay.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; instead keep trading up your own wife until you get a trophy wife your neighbor will covet

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods; either get bigger, faster, better for yourself or else sneak over and vandalize them.

Somehow I think God’s rules make more sense.

*Incidentally, the commandments appear twice in the Bible – in Exodus and later in Deuteronomy – and the two instances use words that don’t exactly match, although the ideas are the same. This has given experts all kind of ammunition to argue, modify or parse them.

Another Updated Biblical Quotation

Photo -  National Geographic

Photo –
National Geographic

Once again, while thinking about Biblical teachings, I’ve wondered how things might be phrased if they happened today.

Here’s the original:

1 Kings 19

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Here’s how it might be presented today:

The Lord said, “Be prepared, for I will pass by today.”

Elijah looked for the Lord in the Breaking News on cable television, but the Lord was not in the news. Elijah used his iPad to search the Internet, but the Lord was not on the Internet. Elijah checked his smartphone to see if the Lord had tweeted, or sent a text message or left a voicemail, but he did not find the Lord through his smartphone.

So Elijah went to a quiet place, and he heard a whisper, and he knew it was the Lord.

For my part, I think that God brings peace with Him. If we are open to Him, He does not need to startle us. Instead, He waits for us to open ourselves to Him, and comes to us calmly and quietly.

“My Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.”

You Can’t Hide from God

Michelangelo Cistine Chapel

Michelangelo
Cistine Chapel

Genesis 3

“(8) They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

(9) Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

(10) He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

The Bible is a marvelous teaching tool written to make us think.

When I read this passage, I don’t see it as God not knowing where Adam was, but instead as His way of saying, “You can’t hide from Me.”

We can deny His existence. We can pretend He can’t see what we’re doing. We can fool ourselves, but we can’t fool Him.

In other words, God is always near us.

When we’re tired, or lonely, or discouraged, God is near. He’s always close enough to hear the smallest, quietest prayer.

Why I Like the Bible Better Than the Internet

internet-marketing-strategy-traffic1

On one hand, the Bible is a slow read. On the other hand, it has everything – poetry, stories of adventure, cleverness, succeed, failure, and a fair amount of sex and violence.

But that’s not why I like it.

When I read the news on the internet I get angry, depressed, upset and frustrated.

When I read the Bible, I always find at least something that applies to me – to make me a little better or a little wiser.

It’s not by accident that the word “gospel” means “Good News.”

Who Speaks for Me?

theBible_poster_joshua_cc

The Bible
The History Channel
http://www.history.com/shows/the-bible

When we see family or tribal based societies, we have difficulty appreciating them. Many Muslim countries adhere to these relationships just as the Jews did throughout the Bible. The father, as head of the family could speak on behalf of the whole family – and the extended family. All who lived as part of his family were subject to his decisions. Joshua could, therefore, commit his entire household to serve the Lord God.

Imagine how such a commitment might play out today.

“I have committed this family to serve the Lord,” said Joshua as he walked into his suburban home outside a major American city.

“Now, Joshua,” replied his wife. “We’ve talked about you committing me to things without me agreeing to it, first. You can say whatever you want, but don’t expect me to blindly follow.”

“Dad!” replied his eldest son. “All the kids are into worshiping the Baals! I’m not going to be a social outcast, just because of you.”

“Hey, don’t look at me,” replied another child. “I’m your stepson. When I talk to my REAL dad, he’ll be honked off.”

Today the dynamics are different. In a faith centric family, the husband and wife are hopefully already on the same page. Two committed adults are stronger than one and better able to guide the family together. It’s different, in that each of us has more of a voice.

But that means each of us is called upon to commit ourself to God and his way individually as opposed to relying on someone else to commit us.

Saturday – A Day of Rest

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

In the Old Testament, God the Father rested from Creation on the seventh day.

I suspect that it was no coincidence that after His death, Jesus His Son also rested on the seventh day.

God always shows us how His plan flows together in such a beautiful manner.

I Don’t Like Parts of the Bible

There, I said it.

With it being Lent, I’m going to try and be a little bit more diligent about keeping up with my Bible reading.

I read the Bible on more of an emotional level than an intellectual one. I don’t quote chapter and verse, but I do try to take the meaning to heart.

So what’s not to like?

I have to admit that I’m not fond of Job. It’s not that it’s a dreary story – which I have to admit, it is. I just have never met anyone who like Job confidently proclaims that he is without sin. (I’m not counting politicians or used car salesmen.) We all sin. Sorry, Job, but I think you’re in denial.

Then there are the Psalms. Reading the Psalms is like reading Shakespeare’s plays. Both were meant to be performed, not read. Imagine any other song that is read without the music it was intended to be paired with.

“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah!”

A lot of the Psalms call for God to punish the Psalmist’s enemies. As I recall, Jesus directed us to pray for our enemies, not call for their destruction, so those Psalms seem a little out of date.

So now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’m going to go do my Bible readings.

Not Understanding God

I periodically get comments or notes from readers that point out how God, particularly in the Old Testament ordered the death and destruction of people. Everyone on Earth not on Noah’s ark. Lot’s wife. The Egyptians. Anyone in the way of the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land. To them, this seems to be a most unfeeling and unloving God. I can understand their frustration. I can’t explain God. None of us can.

So what are the things that distract us, besides the Old Testament?

bible

 

We humans condemned, tortured and killed God’s only Son.

Early Christians were persecuted and martyred.

The human frailties of the Christian Church from its earliest days to the present.

Wars.

Sandy Hook Elementary.

It’s tough to understand from the human perspective why god permits these things to happen. If we had our way, we’d all be healthy, wealthy and wise – and live forever.

That is not the way that it is – at least not in this life.

So we toil and try in this life. We screw up. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try again.

I wish I had a good explanation that would be compelling for others, but unfortunately I do not.

The best I can do is to try to live an example that at least piques others’ curiosity.

Make It a Heartfelt Thanksgiving

I’m a Catholic, and we’re heavy into liturgical prayer – “Say two Our Fathers and three Hail Marys” sort of thing. One might think that back in history the clergy didn’t trust the common folk to come up with prayers on their own. The truth is that many people seem a little unsure as to what we should do or say when we pray.

The Lord’s Prayer appears in the Bible as the answer to the disciples request for Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Liturgical prayer has its advantages, but its main disadvantage is that the more routine it becomes the harder it is to concentrate on its meaning. I know my mind wanders…

“Give us this day our daily bread… Did I remember to pick up salt when I stopped for bread? Oh wait, I never checked to see if we needed milk…”

As such, I tend to try to put my thoughts into a prayer and pray spontaneously. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When I say the grace before meals, I tend to thank God for family, home, the fact that our kids are in a good school and we’re generally safe. It’s a good list, but sometimes it becomes too comfortable and I say it without really thinking about it, much less meaning it. “I don’t see the salt on the table. Did I remember to pick up salt when I stopped for bread? Oh wait, I never checked to see if we needed milk…”

Jesus taught us that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything we are, our heart, soul and mind. The second He said is “like it” and calls for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps when He said they are alike he was also telling us that they go together.

Perhaps, this Thanksgiving we can pair up what we are thankful for with some way to put that into action.

If I’m thankful for family, maybe I should call Aunt Edna and give her twenty minutes to ramble on about how much she dislikes this or that.

If I’m thankful for the meal, maybe I should gather up cans of my favorite foods and donate them to the food drive or food bank.

If I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in this country, maybe I should sit politely and listen to the guy at work who enjoys discoursing on his personal interpretation of some particular law or lack thereof.

If I’m thankful for my relationship with God, maybe I should pray for all who seek Him whether through my belief system or not. I suspect that when all is said and done, God is going to grade us on a curve and the “A” for effort will outweigh the “D-” in subject matter expertise.

“Freedom from Want”
Norman Rockwell

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for this family. You know we love one another, but out of gratitude may we accept one another as individuals and celebrate that each of us is unique – created in your image and exactly as you wanted each of us to be.

I thank you for my home. Size and neighborhood don’t matter. It’s a home because it’s one little spot in the universe where this family can come together to love and be loved. Please always be here with us and make this home yours as well.

I thank you for this meal, and every meal we have. We don’t go hungry and are so blessed that we can pick and choose those things that are our favorites and avoid those that are not. May we realize how extraordinary it is to be blessed to this degree.

I thank you for this country in which we live. A country for which young men and women will dedicate their very lives because of the principles on which we are built.

Finally, Father, it was You who breathed life into each and every one of us – a gift that only You can give. May we look to you always as a child looking at a parent, for You to show us the way, correct us when we’re wrong, then forgive us. We’re especially thankful for your unconditional love.

Happy Thanksgiving.