Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

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Blog Carnival: Subconscious Cultural Assumption

December 15, 2011

Language is a strange thing. One can assume they understand what someone is saying, yet still miss the point the other is making. I was aware of the issue of language before I had children, however, I became more away of the intrinsic nuances of language when my children began to start reading and spelling. 

“Dad, how to do you spell red?” (It is easy to see this in writing) I responded, “R-E-A-D.”

“No, dad that is read. You read books you don’t red them.”

“Oh, I thought you meant read as in ‘you read a book’.”

“No, like the color!”

At this point my kids usually either assume I am joking with them or just a little touched in the head… which I am these days.

Now if those of us who speak English can get confused, imagine those learning our language or trying to translate from their language into English (or visa-versa).

Here is one example:


I believe this is Japanese, though since I don’t read or speak Japanese that is my best guess. I would have no idea what they are saying without the translation. However, I am a bit concerned that they seem to want me to slip and fall, but am thankful they want me to be careful as I do!


Here is another example:

I wonder if this is Chinese? More, I wonder if ever I go to China, will I be abducted!?! But it does sound like those abductors in China will give you at least one phone call! I guess in that case it would be good advice to call the police. However, I am not really sure that is what they mean.

Now, imagine trying to understand a translation (even if it is much better than these) that also holds historical contexts and idioms that are culturally specific. Once again it would come into play that at times words may not mean or be understood as they were originally intended.

Jesus spoke in parables, and His words about “eat my flesh” gave way to the thought from many non-Christians that those who believed in Jesus were—cannibals! Halsal (1998), points out just a part of an accusation that was raised against Christians. Just so you know, this was describing the Eucharist/Communion.

Now the story about the initiation of young novices is as much to be detested as it is well known. An infant covered over with meal, that it may deceive the unwary, is placed before him who is to be stained with their rites: this infant is slain by the young pupil, who has been urged on as if to harmless blows on the surface of the meal, with dark and secret wounds. Thirstily – O horror! they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence. (para. 3).


Now imagine what we may be missing when we try to assume we know what the Bible is saying about Camels going through eyes of needles! We try to see it as a sewing needle, but what was being spoken about was in Jerusalem there was a doorway into the city that was called the “Eye of the Needle”. When someone entered that entrance with a loaded camel, they would first have to remove all the baggage from the camel, then the camel would have to kneel low and crawl through the door way. Thus, Jesus meant that it was easier for a loaded camel to enter the city than a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Not impossible, but with difficulty.

O’Grady, & Lane, (1996) speak of a phenomenon in business called “THE PSYCHIC DISTANCE PARADOX” which happens when businesses see similarities in companies in other countries but miss the dissimilarities that may harm their relationship. It is sort of a spot blindness concerning cultural blindness that as O’Grady, & Lane, (1996) mention, “factors preventing or disturbing firms learning about and understanding a foreign environment”. In other words meaning, while one can see that Canada and the USA are similar in many ways, there are major differences in how we may see the world, especially concerning business.

We must take into account that the teachings in the bible may not be as we see them in our own culture. We must realize we are talking about at least 4000 years of historical context and 100’s of perspectives when we read the bible. To assume that when Jesus spoke of “the poor will be with us always” does not mean that we can use that for our own political position and develop policies to not take care of the poor in our cities. Remember, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for lack of hospitality and in how they treated visitors (the homosexual aspect was not about orientation but about rape and other violence against those who came to those cities). Here is a verse to show what I mean:

Ezekiel 16:48. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. 49. “`Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (NIV)

The main point I am trying to make in this post is, don’t just assume. Don’t just assume what you were taught is what the bible is saying. Don’t just assume that you get it without digging deeper. I will also add, don’t assume you can understand the bible without help from the Holy Spirit. Also, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the bible is not clear on many things that can be easily understood today. I am admonishing all to look deeper into what you think you know.


Be sure to visit my friends who are taking part in this Blog Carnival.


How to Change Subconscious Cultural Assumptions


Oh, here is one more for laughs: 



References
Halsal, P. (1998). Ancient History Sourcebook: . Retrieved from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/christian-cannibals.asp
O’Grady, S., & Lane, H. W. (1996). THE PSYCHIC DISTANCE PARADOX. Journal Of International Business Studies27(2), 309-333.


 


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Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

August 15, 2011

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

I rarely allow my critics to guide me in what I write these days. Most of what they say has been said as what they say contradicts itself and then end up agreeing with me—only to say I am still “not saved”. I see them as sad little people who do not know how to love others and have a warped understanding of the Gospel. 
Now that is out of the way…
Romans 6:1.  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
I was reading in Romans six and it hit me how so many people read this and miss the point completely. Why? They read this verse out of context of the others and not within the overall teaching of Scripture.
Yes, if you just take this verse it seems to say, “You cannot keep on sinning and expect grace to cover you.” But think about that…. If we can out sin grace, then grace means nothing. 
So, if we look at what Paul taught in chapter five we see that Paul just unpacked a teaching about grace in a profound and deep way. He stated things like:
Romans 5: 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
To summarize chapter five is to say that Jesus is our:
Reconciliation
Justification
Obedience
Salvation from death (as we died with Jesus on the cross) 
We also find that this is all by Grace. 
Then we hit chapter six. If we read it out of context we find that, yes, grace is not sufficient to cover all those things, but we just saw it did. So what is Paul saying?
Romans 6: 1. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2. By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3. Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  5. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.  6.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,  that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7. because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We died to sin. How? When we were “Baptized” (Immersed) into Christ. If you believe in Jesus, this already happened! We were buried with Jesus for a reason—to be raised again to New Life! You are united with Jesus in His death and then united with Jesus in His resurrection.  Your old self is dead (contrary to some who teach it still lives and you struggle with your old self). The process is then about the renewal of the mind and not dealing with sin. We are no longer slaves to sin because we died to sin and now live in Christ Jesus. Your old self is dead… buried… never to be dug up again… your old self is dead as sin…
Let me show another scripture out of Romans that shows more clearly what I’m, saying. We skip over to Romans chapter eight: 
Romans 8: 1.  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2.  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  3.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,  God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4.  in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. 
I guarantee that people will say I am soft selling sin. Not at all, I am agreeing with the bible as to what happened to sin. Here we read that God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to die for us or in place of us. When Jesus was on the Cross, He condemned sin IN sinful man. Man was never condemned, but SIN WAS!  In fact, what God did was make you His very righteousness. You are all that is right about God by His Grace! 
2 Corinthians 5: 21.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So  when I read how some misuse this passage I am saddened that  in one breath they claim grace, then in another misuse a passage to abuse and condemn others and miss that it states the opposite of their intentions. So like Paul states in Galatians 3:
Galatians 3: 1.  You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3.  Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 
So do not let some legalist twist the bible to take away Grace from you. Live as the rightness of God through Jesus by His very Resurrected Life.
 My only (slight) disclaimer as I know some idiots out there will ask this is, no, I am not saying go out and live however you want. You are no longer “slaves to sin”, but the rightness of God. However, unlike many who would even suggest that (as I see it a lack of trust and faith in God), I trust that the Grace of God is sufficient to save as well as the Holy Spirit greatly qualified to change a person how God sees fit and not by my own agenda and understanding. When it comes to a person’s “sin”, I believe God has dealt with it and deals with us on a much deeper basis than outward “sin”. I see God as going to the core of our being and working in the renewal of our minds. Some people are more messed up than others and need patience and kindness. I wonder at those who judge and condemn others, when Jesus himself never did so. In fact, I see that those who act such a way toward others as to it to Jesus himself.
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Shane Claiborne on Fundamentalists

July 14, 2011

Thanks to Mike Friesen who pointed this video out.

http://youtu.be/ZSlLGq7LbWw

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Have a happy and safe 4th of July

July 4, 2011
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Greg Boyd and the Rapture

June 11, 2011
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Biblical obedience — may not be what you thought.

June 8, 2011

 
I often am amazed how many people do not know what the Bible actually states about obedience. People are taught that they must be obedient to serve Jesus. I get pastors (and others) who argue with me when I state we cannot be obedient as we have no obedience. These people tell me that Jesus enables us, or as Chuck Smith taught in a book I read, Jesus and you are lifting the table together… I see it as you look like you are lifting your end, but Jesus is lifting both ends. If not, then it is our works and not his work in and through us. 
The issue is the understanding of obedience. If we are to be obedient, (which we can’t) it becomes works. If we trust in the One Who was obedient even unto death, then we are in His Obedience and not our own. We walk in the obedience of Christ and not our own. The Bible seems rather clear on this matter in this simple statement:
Romans 5:19. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
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Thoughts of the eternal earth…

May 23, 2011

Ecclesiastes 1: 4 states, “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.”
I ponder over this as many who claim a literal reading might notice this appears to go against Jesus words later in the Gospels such as in Matthew 5: 18. “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”  One might ever bring up when Peter states in 2 Peter 3: 13 “new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
One cannot build a whole case on one scripture, however if we read one clear scripture and it is contrary to others (in this case clearly) one should take notice. With that in mind I began to ponder the words and verses. Was Jesus saying that the earth will end someday? I believe that may not be the case, but rather this may be a case of reading into Jesus words what we have been taught. Often the bible and Jesus used contrasts. John’s gospel often does this when he states “light and darkness”, life and death and so on. Looking at Jesus word that way may show that Jesus was saying His words are eternal—just as the earth is eternal. “What?” you say? Jesus is saying that the earth is more likely to pass away than His words which will never. The earth is eternal and so are Jesus words. 
Now about Peter; he is not talking about the destruction of the planet, but the renewal of all things. This is a time when the old injustice of this world now is passed though the fire of purification and is restored. To further my case heaven and earth are thought eternal enough to take vows by in the OT. Old Testament people do not take oaths on perishable things.  OT people took oaths on things greater than themselves.
I believe the bible, but I also see that many do not grasp the danger of reading into it their own doctrines. If people like Harold Camping can teach us one thing, it is to beware of our own reasoning.
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What if God’s love is without agendas?

May 14, 2011
Picture source
I was just struck by a thought expressed by http://freebelievers.com/ which stated: 
“It’s nice to know that God didn’t choose me to change me. He actually wanted relationship with ME, the way I am today:)” 
I have been thinking about this truth for many years now. I admit though I had not pieced it together as nicely as that one statement. About 5 or 6 years ago I began to realize that we all have agendas. We even “love” people with our own agendas thinking we know best what other’s needs. We want people to feel loved so they will come to our church, or join our MLM or anything else that in reality benefits one’s self. Love is not about our needs or desires, ever as great as they may be. Love has no agenda but, to seek what is most beneficial for the person being loved. (I know that is sort of a sloppy definition and I am reading a great book that I will do a review on in the next few weeks- months).
We often say “God loves you as you are, but will not leave you there.”  While that is true, we then insert an agenda that God wants to heal, fix, or change you in some way. I wonder, that while those things may be byproducts of God’s love working in us and through us, if God’s only agenda is to love us without any of that other stuff (especially change), attached to His love for us. God is Love. Love covers a multitude of sins.  Love builds up… these are but a few of the love verses, of which the greatest one is in 1 Corinthians 13: 
  1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NKJV)
Notice that love has no agenda but to love? The challenge then is to allow God to love. Be a person a drunk, gay, straight, transgender, lesbian, normal, weird, clean, smelly… you know like a real person who needs love! We all need to be loved and feel loved. We all need to feel accepted as we are in all our junk. While agendas should be set aside to give true love, true love will not leave a person unchanged or challenged. We may plant, others water, but God makes things (people) grow. Only God’s love can reach inside the hurting and damaged areas of our lives. So, what if we started loving others without agenda or need for them to change for further acceptance? What if God works best when the heart is full of His love and we get our agendas (as great as they are) out of the way and let God love others through us? Are you up for the challenge? 
If you want to further study on this topic there is an great podcast here http://freebelievers.com/podcast-info/the-doctrine-of-change
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I believe… "It is good."

April 28, 2011
I believe I see that the bible speaks of Jesus as the New Man… and that we will be as He is. So being born of the Kingdom is spiritual, but not at the expense of the physical creation that was called “good”. God called us good… and it is up to us to believe in His value of us.when God created humans and said, “it is good” He meant it whether we agree with God or not. I see that even in the Resurrection we are reintegrated with our body… 
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Come with me were I’m going…

April 24, 2011
 
Which Jesus do you follow? I ask this question to help you think. Do you follow the Jesus who was a baby? He is not as intimidating as the babe in the manger; in fact He is mysterious and approachable. Do you follow the Jesus who walked and chose disciples? Do you follow the Jesus, who taught the multitude, fed the hungry, healed the lame and ill, drove out demons? Do you follow the Jesus who stood up against the religious leaders and made subversive political statements? Do follow the Jesus who was betrayed and then crucified? Do you follow the Jesus who died for three days? Do you follow the Jesus who rose from the dead? Do you follow the Jesus who ascended into the heavens? Do you follow the Jesus who poured out His Spirit, His Life, His Rightness, His all to  you, so He can live in and through you? The Jesus who will return and bring His righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven fully to the restored earth? The Jesus who showed us The Father and how to be loved so we can love others?

Sometimes people want to separate Jesus from all He did, and when they ask, “What Jesus do you follow?”

I say, “I follow that Jesus, come with me were I’m going.”