Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What the Bible Teaches About _______

How to Make the Bible Work for You by Filling in the Blank

Personally, I don't actually believe that the Bible teaches us to hold to a certain set of political/economical principles.  However, I recently read an article that proposes that the Bible teaches Capitalism (click here for article).

The Bible is a political weapon. A weapon that is most effective against people who aren't familiar with it. Aryeh Spero took a slice at you today. He told us that the BIBLE was "comfortable with speculation in economic markets." Whaaaa?!! I checked, and indeed, if you flip to your Bible's concordance you can find an entire section on "arbitrage". If you hit "archangel" you've gone too far.

But for real, what I like about this article is that it actually employs scriptures. What I don't like is how it twists them...or makes them up in some cases. I'm also not a fan of the weird conclusions and generalizations in the article. But it's effective. This article has been posted, blogged, retweeted all day, because this is CLEARLY biblical truth. Or is it?  The following are my issues (feel free to rebut):

Scriptures taken out of Context*

"The Bible's proclamation that 'Six days shall ye work' is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings about man's inner state of personal responsibility."

If you go to that scripture, it's not the six days of work that bring about an inner state of personal responsibility, but it is the rest that is meant to showcase an outward sense of public responsibility: 

“You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 1but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.   “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest. Genesis 23:10-12

Feed the hungry, stop animal cruelty. What God Teaches Us About Supporting PETA.

Aryeh Spero just gave you verse 12 for a reason. I wonder what it is...

Homework: There are others. Can you find them?! It's like a crossword puzzle for biblical truth!

Strange Conclusions

"Capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, helps facilitate our partnership with God..."

Yes!! Forget living your faith. Forget loving your neighbor. Forget James 1:27 about what is pure religion before God. Capitalism (aka "the way, the truth, and the life") per this article, is a way into relationship with God. I never knew!

Silly me, I thought I had partnership with God not because of what I'd done, but because what Christ had done in me ( Philippians 1:5-6). I'm so stupid!

Gross, GROSS, Misrepresentation of Facts

Per, Aryeh Spero, Joseph (one of the HEROES of faith in the Bible) is an idiot who "'exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became pharaoh's.' The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state."

I don't even have time to cover this. But please read Genesis 47:13 - 27. Joseph was a genius, and by God's leading made the Egyptians totally dependent on him, and won favor for his people. We do him a disservice by blaming him for Israel's enslavement (which was prophesied generations before Joe even lived - Genesis 15:13).

He just turned the story of Joseph into a cautionary tale against socialism as if  Capitalism > Prophecy? 

July Flame's Conclusion

One can mold the Bible to any view. If I wanted to, I could write a whole article about What the Bible Teaches Us About Socialism. My keynote scripture would be Acts 2:44-45:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 

Or how about What the Bible Teaches Us About Paying our Taxes. I would use Matthew 22: 17-21:

Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “...Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”“Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

It's very difficult to mix the wisdom of man (i.e. capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, whateverism) with the wisdom of God (perfection) because one is tainted and one is pure. But you can make the tainted seem pure if you attribute it to God. All you have to do is fill in the blank.

*It's possible that these interpretations are Talmudic in nature, and thus legit in Jewish theology. However, as Christians we should keep to the good book. Just sayin'.

**This was updated on 2/1/12 from a version posted on 1/31/12 late late at night. Adjusted for foolishness and inaccuracy. Apologies to any and all who read the first version. You'd been had.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thieves, rot in hell!

Friday night I was robbed at gunpoint. Okay, I wasn't robbed at gunpoint. My car was broken into. My window smashed. My Garmin stolen out of the glove box.

I sincerely hope the thief finds and makes peace with Christ...just like in the olden days: on a cross! No, seriously, I'm kidding. I really wish this guy (or gal) the best. But it's hard to feel that way when you are the victim of theft.
  1. I pray that if he sold my Garmin for grocery money that he has food. 
  2. I pray that if he sold my Garmin so he could have a warm coat this winter, I hope he has a coat. 
  3. I pray that if he sold my Garmin for drugs...umm...I hope he doesn't OD? 
I don't know. It's a thin line. But in any case, I thank God that I wasn't hurt. That I wasn't carjacked. Thankful I wasn't actually robbed at gunpoint (because I probably would've said something stupid, and gotten shot). Because ultimately, a GPS is just a thing.

Money is just a thing.

Sometimes I think that because I'm a Christian, God should give me material stuff. Maybe I think it's not fair for some to have, and for me to have not. Someone else thought that as well:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” - Luke 12:13 - 15

The younger brother in this scenario will have no material inheritance. He will not have the money or the status of his older brother who will get EVERYTHING. But Jesus said: you are not what you have. Say it to yourself: I am not what I have. 

It's a hard concept to grasp in American culture. In this "gimme" culture where my self-worth is determined by the job I hold, the car I drive, and the house I live in. A life based on "status." I sometimes fall into that trap myself, but we have to literally watch out for that type of greed in our hearts. It's possible that type of greed led someone to break into my car. It's possible that kind of greed could have made me far angrier than I was. 

...I really don't wanna me greedy.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don't Freak Out!!

I think we'll take a short hiatus from relationship blogs. I started working on a "love triangle" blog but it got all tangled up--for real! So, we'll come back to love later. In the meantime, do you ever totally freak out?

Freak out - to panic and/or lose control

I'm ashamed to admit that I am the queen of freaking out. It used to be really  bad when I was a teenager: I had major tantrums.

Tantrum - a violent demonstration of rage or frustration; a sudden burst of ill temper.

Imagine a much tinier, human,  female version of Godzilla destroying New York City. That was my reaction to my printer breaking the night before an American History essay was due. So you could imagine the freak out of real issues.

The thing about freak outs and tantrums is there is always a simple alternative to it: don't freak out. But, it's so much easier said than done.

Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
Luke 8:22-25 

Admittedly, this incident has always bothered me a little. In this story, the disciples are this cautionary tale. They are these faithless, spiritually immature crazies who have watched Jesus perform all sorts of miracles, yet they still freak out over a storm. We all read the story and we echo Jesus: "Yeah! Where was your faith guys?!"


I would have done the exact same thing as them! The storm was real. They "began to be swamped and to be in danger." They were in real danger. And when they go down to wake Jesus, they're not worried about the boat. They're not worried about just some wind and rain...this is about their lives. And in that moment, they ran to Jesus. Why is that wrong?

When I'm afraid for my life, the first thing I do is pray: "Jesus, Jesus...I'm dying! Help me!"

Same. Same. No?

What went wrong here?

I'm going out a limb, but Jesus said: "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." God won't start you on a journey that He can't finish. Jesus can go to sleep, because He's already declared that they are going to the other side of the lake. The disciples didn't realize the power of Christ's word, or they would have known: this storm can't stop us from getting to the other side of the lake. 

We're the same way. We freak out over a circumstance that is legit, but we don't realize that even the worst circumstance is subordinate to God's Word. Whatever He says, it will take place. It's hard to believe sometimes, but reflecting on His Word can really diffuse the freak out and calm the tantrum.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 
Isaiah 55:10-11

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cheaters suck!!

"Why does she stay with him?!"
"He needs to kick her to the curb."
"Change the locks girlfriend...change da lockz!"

Let's keep it real, the above is how you deal with a cheater. Lifetime has taught us well. Am I right? Or am I right?!

Going back to Hosea, we were at the point where basically God tells him to marry a whore. If it were me, and I was told to marry a whore...I'd have misgivings, but the voice of God carries some weight, you know? So I bet Hosea moved towards obedience, thinking: everything is going to be cool. But I have reason to believe that things started to downward spiral between Hosea and Gomer rather quickly.

All you have to do is glimpse at Hosea chapter 2 to know this: rage. Hosea's mad. God's mad. It's a situation. And it all has to do with infidelity. Gomer with other men, and Israel with other gods.

This brings me to another question: Should divinely inspired marriage be blissfully happy perfection? I mean, if God hooks me up, this has to be the best hook-up ever, right? Based on this Hosea/Gomer situation, maybe ChristianMingle needs a disclaimer about finding "the one God has for you" because her name might be Gomer. I'm just sayin', I don't know. What I do know is that God's involvement is not over:

Then God ordered me, "Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who's in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife. Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people, even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy."  I did it. I paid good money to get her backHosea 3:1-3 (The Message)

I'm wrapping up Hosea, because after the abovementioned verse, the rest of the book is the God/Israel story. But this bit of Hosea is really all I need (spiritually). These 3 verses resonate with me in a way I hadn't expected; because it sounds very familiar.

1. I'm Kind of a Hoe

Hosea does not marry a "used-to-be-hoe" or a "reformed whore". He marries someone with issues, who continued to cheat. Hosea binds himself to someone he knew was messed up. That's totally my Christian experience. While I was a sinner, God had already bound Himself to me through the covenant of Christ's blood:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
And let's not even talk about the cheating aspect...thank God for grace.

2. The Lengths to which He will go

Imagine Hosea having to go buy his wife back. She's a willful cheater, a willful slave to someone else's desire. And he went and bought her back! That's nuts. All must agree, that is humiliating beyond humiliating. Imagine the transaction: 
"Hi, ummm, that's my wife beneath you. Can I have her back. I've got like $7,532.11. I saved up..."
But that's totally my Christian experience: God told Hosea to go get his wife. And I tell you true, God told Jesus to go.get.his.wife! And it was humiliating to have to go get her: 

My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done. Matthew 26:42

Hosea had to pay a price to get his wife back. Jesus had to pay a price to get his wife back. Both were willing to pay.

He's so involved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

But...she's a whore!

So over the weekend I saw an article called "Is God going to hook me up online?" And I thought: meh.

I've had my run-ins with online dating, and honestly it has only led to awesome bad date stories, rather than true love. However, I can't deny that I know more than a couple of people who have met on eHarmony, Match, OKCupid, and are making it. So even though it's not for everyone, admittedly, it's for someone. BUT is God involved in your match-up? Is He? Really? That was kind of the crux of the article, and it has clergy and theologians from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam debating the point.

I don't know if God is going to hook you up online, but I know this: historically/from-a-biblical-standpoint, He is involved.

Level of involvement? Varies. Is He involved for everyone? I don't know. Was He involved in your relationship? No idea. Will He be involved in my relationships? Maybe/Maybe not. I've decided to embark on a study on God's involvement in relationships. I have a preconceived notion, that I don't care to share at this time...Instead I'm going to start with this food for thought:

We all know that God orchestrated the first hook up. Eve was literally made for Adam, from Adam, and breathed into by God. Adeve (Adam + Eve celebrity nickname) are the only couple in the Bible that I would refer to as easy"soul mates." And because they were easy, my series isn't about Adeve. My series is about:

The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:    "Find a whore and marry her. Make this whore the mother of your children." (Hosea 1:2 The Message)

I wanted to use The Message for that quote, because, it's so gritty. I mean, can't you see Hosea, looking up at the sky with an incredulous look on his face saying:

"...But she's a whore"?

Am I the only one with this imagery? Can't be...

I spend a lot of time praying about the type of person I want to meet and marry. Someone who has a heart for God, and who "gets" me. In Hosea's case, that would be asking too much. Because a whore--I'm guessing...I don't know for sure--probably wasn't a devout servant of the Most High, and I'm thinking she and Hosea didn't have much in common. But forget all that. The big point here is: God is involved. He just told Hosea to 1) Go find a prostitute*, 2) Marry her, and 3) Make her the mother of your children.

Involvement. It's undeniable.

More. Later.

*There is some theological debate over whether or not Gomer was a real prostitute/hoe. Regardless, God picked out Hosea's wife, so my point is made.