Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Lot and His Daughters

Posted: August 19, 2011 in Spirituality
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Every year on the 1st of August I start a new Bible Reading plan; a schedule of prescribed readings for each day designed to keep me in the scriptures.  This year I’m using the M’Cheyne Reading Plan designed by the 19th century scholar Robert Murray M’Cheyne.  It will take me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice by this time next year.  I say all this to set up the intriguing coincidence that I encountered yesterday.

The morning reading on the plan (there are 4 per day) included Genesis 19:30-38, the story of Lot and his daughters living in the cave near Zoar.  It is a controversial passage in that Lot’s daughters, possibly afraid that the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah may not be a local phenomenon, decide to get their old man drunk and have sex with him so that the family line will continue.  The scriptures do not condemn the act, in fact no comment is made other than the fact the plan results in the Moabites and the Ammonites, two tribes of people who will play into the story of Israel time and time again.

Now I’ve read the passage before and didn’t give it much thought until later in the day when I was reading a post by Dr. Claude Mariotinni, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary.  It referenced this very passage and linked to a paper that discussed the moral nature of the act in the context of the times.  Turned out to be a good read (if you’re into Biblical commentary).

My reading that particular passage yesterday and Dr. Mariotini’s article would seem to be equally random acts, and yet they tie together beautifully.  I’m always intrigued when this kind of thing happens and thought I might bring this one to your attention.

You can read the paper on Lot and his daughters here.

You’ll find Dr. Claude’s article here.

Shalom.

Shane Claiborne takes an intriguing slant on Romans 12 and the subject of creativity, innovation and the renewing of our minds in Christ. It is well worth the read.  My favorite quote:

“For too long the Church has promised the world life after death, while a dying world has been asking, “But is there life before death?” I am convinced the Kingdom of God is not just about going up when we die, but about bringing God’s dream down to earth.”

Check it out at Tony Campolo’s ‘Red Letter Christians’…

Red Letter Christians » A Desperate Need for Imagination.

Shalom…

The following link is to a very interesting article (By the same name as this post) on the growth of the Christian church in China published in the English version of Aljazeera (yes, that Aljazeera).

There are two things in this article that really stand out for me.

First of all, there are the lines being drawn between the gov’t sponsored churches and the house churches. Aparently the Chinese gov’t is pulling the same stunt Rome did centuries ago, embracing Christianity as a means to maintain control of the population. Home churches are resisting.

The second thing that strikes me is the belief among Chinese Christians that the current economic woes in the West are a direct result of the decline in church involvement.

Follow the link to read the article for yourself and pray for our brothers and sisters in China.  Could Chinese missionaries soon be the best bet for North America?

Christianity: China’s best bet? – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Shalom..

My Bus.

My bus ride home. Not my bike though.

With my bike in the shop for a couple of days for a tune-up and new tires I’m riding the bus once again. Now, this is not a new experience, I ride the bus daily about 5 months a year; however, every time I ride the bus during cycling season I’m struck by how different everything looks.

When I’m on my bike my focus is, of course, on the traffic. I’m watching for where the cars are every minute because, for the most part, they aren’t looking for me. With one eye on traffic, the other eye is on the pavement ahead of me watching for potholes, sewer grates, broken glass etc. My Hardcase® tires are tough, but they aren’t impenetrable; they take a hit once in a while. As a result there isn’t a lot of time for taking in the surroundings when I’m rolling through traffic on my way to work.

On the bus however, it’s a different matter. With someone else doing the driving, I’m free to put on my headphones, call up a playlist on my phone and take in the world around me for 40 minutes. (Yeah, it takes that long. Longer than it takes me to cycle actually. But that’s another post. Back to the bus ride…)

This morning I noticed the new porch on the house on the corner where I broke my collarbone when I was 10 years old. I noticed the French announcement of the end of the school year at Paisley Road School where I went as a kid.  I noticed what a great soundtrack for the bus ride Jon Buller’s Hum Along makes. (BTW.. If you’re listening to headphones/ear buds while cycling you are asking to get hit by the traffic you can’t hear. Don’t do it!)  And I noticed that the Universe is continuing to taunt me unmercifully.

Why do I say that? Well, my doctor tells me part of the solution for my GI issues is to lay off the coffee! I know, it’s a painful change, but I must admit the pain in my gut has all but disappeared since I stopped drinking my favorite organic suspension. And what does the Universe do in response to this difficult transition in my life? It opens a new Planet Bean® right on my way to work!!  – (Thou know’st, the first time that we smell the air we wawl and cry. King Lear Act 4, scene 6) I’m truly convinced that from time to time the Universe does indeed have it in for me.

I noticed a lot of other things too; people, buildings, situations that would have otherwise stayed out of my line of sight had I been riding my bicycle. It was refreshing to look at the world I passed through every day from a different perspective.  Oh, and I noticed one more thing as well;  my opportunity to gain this new perspective was totally due to the fact I was no longer in control.

You see, when I’m riding I’m in the driver’s seat. I have things to do, details to manage; my focus is entirely on the destination, the route and the obstacles. But on the bus, those details are no longer my concern. Someone else is sweating the route, the traffic and the potholes affording me the opportunity to look around and enjoy the ride. And as this all unfolded around me I realized – you can’t gain a new perspective while your attention is focused on doing what you’ve always done.

I found myself wondering how many areas our lives is letting go of the reins a part of gaining a new perspective. Does a parent gain new insights into how their child thinks and functions when they step back and let the hockey coach do the interacting? Will letting a co-worker head the task force give an office manager a chance to see the bigger picture? How much more could we learn about who we are and what we do if we allowed others to take the lead?

I had a similar experience at Guelph Little Theatre this past month. Instead of getting down to the nitty-gritty of picking out all the sounds and music etc. for the One Acts Festival my role this time was more of a mentoring one. A very talented young woman named Amanda was in the trenches; my job was to familiarize her with the systems we employ and then let her do the job, stepping in only when she entered unfamiliar territory. I’ll admit it was hard to keep my hands out of things because doing the work is what I really enjoy. But that would have taught Amanda next to nothing. So I forced myself to step back and let her take the reins, stepping in only when she encountered something for which she had no experience.

The result was a chance to get a renewed perspective on how sound fits into the bigger picture. There were no new startling revelations, but there was a chance to reaquaint myself with aspects of the job that often get taken for granted and as a result sometimes get overlooked or short-changed. I was grateful for the experience and consider it one of the more rewarding things I’ve done at GLT.

I think the same holds true for our spiritual lives as well. Consider Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Many of us are so tied up in trying to manage the details of our lives we never yield control long enough to look at things from God’s perspective. We ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”, but is that really what we need to be asking? Is it possible that what we need to do is let go of the handlebars, let God drive and look at the world from the back of the bus? As long as we are focusing on trying to figure out what to do, our minds are too occupied to be able to gain any other perspective, especially God’s.

A good example is what I’ve been going through at my home church these past few months. Many of us prayed that the introduction of a new minister would be an opportunity for God to do something new at KPC. We coined the term Kortright 3.0 and looked forward to a new chapter in the life of the church. When Alex first showed up not much changed as he was still getting the lay of the land, but recently he has started to steer us in new directions. They are not great changes but they are different in many ways from what we are used to. And a predictable-but strange none the less-thing happened. We resisted!

Well, some of us anyway. Even though we had been praying for God to do something new, some of us still felt our skin crawl when the changes began to take place. It seems that we are resistant to change even when we ask for it! Why?

I think I know why.  Though some of us probably won’t admit it, the reason is because we aren’t really resisting the idea of change; what we are resisting is loss of control. We don’t want to let go because we aren’t all that comfortable letting someone else drive. But if we are to embrace what God is doing in our lives we need to let go and let someone else, namely Him, drive. Once we do then we can sit back, look at the situation without the burden of command, and gain a new perspective on things and eventually learn to enjoy the ride.

And when the time comes that God’s perspective has becomes ours, we’ll probably find He’s content to let us take the wheel once again.

Until next time… Shalom.

Let me begin by saying that for many years I was not a reader of Christian fiction. I usually found it incredibly bland with predictable plots, two dimensional charcters, and storylines that all ended with exactly the same result – bad/unsaved guy/girl gives his/her life to the Lord. I stayed away from it like the lactose intolerant avoid Dairy Queen.

Authors like Mike Duran are changing that. Smart, imaginative plots, characters and storylines with unpredictable endings. Problem is for some people they aren’t “Christian enough”. Mike is also a great blogger and the following article touches on the two camps he’s observed in Christian fiction. Check it out and then come back.

Why Christians Can’t Agree About Christian Fiction.

As someone who reads a fair bit and has even written about fiction here, I’m curious; which camp do you fall into? Holiness or Honesty? Or do you percive a third camp? Do you read Christian fiction at all?

Answer in the comments.