Most of you are probably familiar with the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, but there is an alternate version of this story that is often told by many in the church. Though they may not use these exact words – for it is usually in actions, misplaced theology, or thoughts – it is told, nonetheless.
And whether it is intentional or unintentional or a problem with what was communicated or the filters we receive it through, it is the story all too often heard.
The following is that version:
Jesus and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Woman Caught in Adultery (as told by the church)
I previously shared an article titled “We’ve Made God Too Small.” This was based on a thought process I went through and a major revelation that not only changed my life but also sent me on a spiritual, philosophical and scientific journey, essentially leading me to rethink how I think about God.
I also shared in my very first blog article, “Not Gonna Lie,” how I am a hypocrite – because half of what I state here I have trouble believing myself.
It is with that understanding I present the following list. Even though I say “You” I could just as easily say “I.” I have been guilty of every one of these at various points and continue to struggle to this day.
But I also know I am not alone. I have seen this kind of thinking problem in practically everyone I’ve met.
And so I give you…
13 ways you make God too small: Continue reading
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
In speaking about the end times, Jesus told his disciples, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive (or ‘lead astray’) even the elect, if that were possible” (Matt 24:24, BSB).
Now I have never been big on getting caught up in end time prophesies and often find it funny that so many Christians live in constant fear trying to point out who might be the Antichrist as though to try and stop him (after all, aren’t we promised it’s going to happen no matter what?), but when it comes to the end times there are two questions that fascinate me:
1) Why do so many END TIMES prophesy sites always resort to using such terrible fonts???
2) How is it that the elect could actually be led astray?
After all the “elect” are the chosen ones, the faithful followers of God, the ones who have devoted their lives to being disciples of the real Christ. It includes the kind of people who know their Bibles backwards and forwards and can name every book without having to sing a song and the kind of people who sickeningly get up at 4am every single morning to study and pray.
It includes the leaders you’ve come to know and respect, the ones you rely on to separate the truths from the lies, and the kind of people who lament about the continual deception going on in the world. How is it that they get deceived? 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
The nomad and his wife made their journey toward a dangerous foreign land. Behind them a severe famine threatened to overtake them. Before them resided a people with a deadly reputation.
The man had heard stories before of their barbaric acts; he knew that if they found out this beautiful woman with him was his wife they would likely kill him in order to take her as their own.
To stay behind meant certain death by starvation for both. To move forward and tell the truth would seal his fate by sword.
Fearful of the consequences, Abram and his wife Sarai determined one small act of deception might serve to spare their lives.
What other choice did they have? It was the practical thing to do.
After all, these were desperate times.
And desperate times often call for desperate measures….and a little bit of compromise, right?
One of the things I’ve come to learn as a Christian is that many moral decisions are not always as clear cut as I would hope or as straightforward as the church would often have you believe.
The current political season is no exception in terms of complexity.
As the selection of final candidates winds down to two individuals whose rhetoric, behaviors and values often seem to contradict the message of Christ, many of my fellow Christians are asking what to do. Continue reading
Everyone has one of those stories: the kind of strange, true-life events you tell at a party that people find hard to believe. This is mine.
Though I confess some of the specific details over the years have escaped me, I assure you the story itself is real.
Back in the 90’s I worked as a freelance cameraman for a company that videotaped weddings. One weekend my fellow freelancer David and I set out for what we thought would be a typical day of: capture the bride and groom individually getting ready, front and back camera setup for the ceremony, tape the photography session without getting in the still photographers’ way (or on their nerves because you’re taking away from their business), capture the bride and groom entering the reception, first dance, cutting the cake, interviews with sometimes obnoxiously drunk people congratulating the bride and groom, and get the final moments of people pelting them with rice or bird seed and watching them drive off.
In and out…boom…we’re done. I hate to admit it, but what was often a very special day for some was pretty formulaic for us.
But this day was different. Continue reading
“Separation of church and state.” Few phrases have caused such division and controversy. From the famous Scopes Monkey Trial to battles over the Ten Commandments on public display to stories of high school coaches praying with their teams, there is no shortage of opinions.
Recently, the phrase has even become part of the dialogue in Republican presidential primaries. After, I questioned the faith claims and behaviors of one of the leading candidates, several objectors decried, “What about separation of church and state?”
Surprisingly, evangelical Christian supporters of the candidate – ones who in the past have traditionally defended this is a “Christian nation” – have begun using a slight variation on the phrase when they proclaim that we are electing “a commander-in-chief, not a pastor-in-chief.”
But all of this is symptomatic that even evangelicals have become victims of a great misunderstanding about God. Continue reading
I hate to break it to you but it’s true. Though, thou may protest much, and though the idea of it may defy every notion of freedom you believe in, there is, in fact, a supreme dictator and that dictator has complete control of your life.
What’s more is that even though we dislike the idea of our individual freedoms being taken, we protest very little of the actual rules that this dictator imposes on us and, in truth, often welcome them.
And I’ll prove it. Continue reading