Bouguereau, The First Mourning, ca. 1888
Back in 1974, Ray Stevens released a popular song titled “The Streak” about a guy running around town naked. At the time, as a 6-year-old kid, I thought it was just the funniest thing – and so apparently did millions of other people, putting it at # 8 for the whole year on the Billboard charts (weird…yeah, I know).
I guess the idea of people running around in the buff in public just made us all snicker.
Modesty is such a weird thing for us humans, especially in Western culture. With debates about public breastfeeding and yoga pants juxtaposed against Victoria’s Secret signs and popular TV programs that show a lot of skin, it is clear we don’t have any real consensus on exactly what is “too much.”
But it gets even weirder when I tell you this:
We’re all supposed to be naked.
It’s even scriptural.
Now don’t be jumping to conclusions here and think I’m advocating we all start trotting around in the literal footsteps of Ray Stevens’ song. I’m not.
But it’s right there in the Bible and is something that even the most prudish followers know but don’t care to admit. Continue reading
Before discussing the main point of this article, let me be clear up front:
There are no other writings that have had greater impact on my life than the collection of writings we commonly refer to as “the Bible.” *
Though I’m as human as everyone else and often get too busy, too tired, etc. I try to make it a discipline to read portions of the Bible – whether it be a chapter, a paragraph, or sometimes even a single word or sentence if I get hung up on it – every single day. No other work have I read as many multiple times.
Single readings have literally altered my life. A single verse forever changed my career direction, certain verses have gotten me through some of the most desperate, hopeless-seeming situations, and a single sentence once literally caused me to quit my job, uproot my family (back when we had two small children) and move to another state without a new job or specific place to live.
I do not regret any of those decisions or moments because to this day I have no doubt that God was behind them and specifically led me to those verses.
And though I think there is much carelessness and confusion when we use words such as “inerrant,” “infallible” and “authoritative” in relation to the Bible, and though frequently passages have been interpreted outside of culture, context, and literary form – often abusively – I do believe there is something miraculous about how the writings have been preserved for us through all these years to be able to read today.
I do believe there is power behind the words.
And I do not take lightly the fact that there are people out there in parts of the world who would give anything just to have a copy and that many have died just for possessing it or for trying to get copies to people who don’t.
With that made clear up front then let me say it…
I do not believe that something is true because the Bible says. Continue reading
It was the most demeaning of tasks, performed by only the lowliest of servants – often slaves in the households of the rich.
The roads were dirty and dusty and likely covered with animal dung.
Thus, with nothing but sandals to wear, one’s feet were often coated in filth.
The hosts would, consequently, provide a bowl of water for cleansing – particularly before a meal in which the guests would lean back on the floor and prominently display their feet.
In ordinary households, guests would wash their own feet; but in wealthier households the lowly servants and slaves would crouch before the honored guests and wipe the grime off for them.
Thus an extraordinary thing happened this particular day when the I Am –
…the very law that had the power to form an entire universe with numerous galaxies billions of light years apart
…the law that had existed since before the beginning of time and would be there to the very end
…the law that was responsible for light and energy and atoms and the creation of life itself
…the most authoritative law there ever was
– rose, removed its garments, wrapped a towel around its waist, bowed down before each of its disciples and proceeded to wash their feet. Continue reading
Sorry to dump this on you. Perhaps you may even feel this is a waste of time.
The subject has become a bit draining after all and is sometimes defecalt to discuss. Yet I feel like I can stall on this topic no more and that it’s my absolute duty to bring it up…
…because many people feel like our nation is going down the toilet. The divisiveness over the issue at the very least runs deep.
Butt if you don’t chuckle just a little bit at the thought of it, I think urine denial about just how plumb silly the whole things sounds.
One of our biggest national conversations right now is…over where we should pee and poop. Continue reading
Back in high school, my best friend Mike and I were riding in my oh-so-cool blue 1978 GT Toyota Celica, most likely with Phil Collins music blaring in the background (because that’s pretty much what we always listened to in those days – if not Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, or anything from my “Miami Vice” soundtrack). I don’t remember the exact context of the conversation, but most likely as a wanna-be-filmmaker I had been dreaming up another idea for one of our many VHS camera recorded mini-film adventures, when I proposed,
“And then one of the Japs comes flying down with his plane…”
Mike suddenly turned to me with that wry half-grin of his and said, “Japs?”
“What?” I responded, clueless at what he was getting at.
“Japs, Steve? Really?”
You see, a little background here: Mike was (or I guess still technically is) half-Japanese – his mother, an immigrant from Japan after marrying Mike’s American military dad. If anything, Mike somewhat more favors the Japanese side in terms of looks.
But to me, Mike was just…Mike. My best friend. Continue reading
(Part 3 of 3 of God, the church and LGBT)
In my first post on LGBT I explained how God favors those who are LGBT. God’s favor is never lost and never has to be earned; he simply likes you – always has and always will. The church has sadly failed to express that. In my second post, I explored the question of whether same-sex marriage is sin, saying how it (along with any similar questions related to LGBT and sin) is nearly impossible to answer; for in that one question is actually 1000 other deeper questions being asked. To try and answer it in a short soundbite without first listening to others is often costly as it ends up hurting people along the way. With that said, I’m actually going to attempt now to answer the question – or on a broader scale the question of whether being LGBT (or other similar variations) is sin. Continue reading
(Part 1 of 3 of God, the Church, and LGBT)
In my last post titled “God Really Likes You, But You Suck: The Confusing Message of Grace” I shared about the subject of God’s favor. If you have not read it already I strongly encourage you to do so before reading on. It will make a lot more sense related to the theology behind what I am about to say and potentially answer a lot of your questions.
In summary of it: we have confused our understanding of grace, which is often defined as God’s “unmerited favor” toward us. It is not that one must do something wrong first, thus unmeriting themselves, before undeserved favor is offered; instead, it is favor freely given that never had to be merited in the first place. Continue reading
Photo by Melissa Baldwin
“♫ Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me ♪” We sing about it all the time. “♪ Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin ♫” We talk about it. “By grace alone you have been saved.” And we offer it to each other. “Grace to you.” It is one of the most prominent messages in the church. But do we really know what it means?
The Greek word for grace, χάρις (charis), is most often defined as “favor” and sometimes as “kindness.” It has the implication of favor that is freely extended – and thus often defined as “unmerited favor.”
So if God really favors you a lot that should make us really feel good right? But do we?
Last week, blogger and former evangelical Christian turned atheist, Neil Carter, tweeted: