Dumb quote of the day

"Recognize that you are the truth."

“Recognize that you are the truth.”

This quote was on my tea bag and I had to respond. We, whose hearts are full of deceit and lies and agendas and hidden intentions, are far from being the truth.

Believing we are the truth?

This is the problem with the world.

It doesn’t recognize what Truth is anymore. It has changed the definition of the Truth to something much less than it is. Truth is pure and undiscerning of people’s feelings or political correctness or circumstance. Truth is unchanging. We are not. We are tossed by waves and whims and feelings and tides and storms and opinions. We are not the truth.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

What rules: Your Desires or God’s word?

You know how two people can read the same passage in the Bible and then come up with completely different conclusions about what it must be saying?

There are many things to keep in mind in order to read and interpret scripture properly. This includes understanding historical context, historical culture, sorting out whether the passage is a historical account, or poetry, or prophecy, whether the passage should be taken literally or not and what the original word in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic means. There are probably many more things to consider if you take a course on how to read scripture properly (because there are really THAT many things to consider).

More simply though, is what priority or authority we give the Word in our lives. Christopher Yuan describes it this way:

There are Revisionists and Traditionalists.

Revisionists have ranked in authority:

  1. Their desires, emotions and experiences
  2. Find research and studies that support (1)
  3. The Bible…re-interpretted or revised to support (1) and (2)

For example: I’m in love with my boyfriend, we’re in the “moment”. There’s research that shows sex before marriage is good for testing sexual chemistry before committing to someone and this supports what I feel like doing. Therefore, the Bible must be out-dated with the no premarital sex thing. Or the Bible must be referring to something else but premarital sex is ok.

The Traditionalists however, see it like this:

  1. The Bible
  2. Find research and studies that support (1)
  3. Their emotions and experiences are modified to follow (1) and (2)

So in this example: The Bible says to honor marriage and seek purity. There is research that shows having sexual relationships prior to marriage increases the chance of divorce which supports what the Bible  says. Therefore, though I’m in love with my boyfriend, I confess my selfishness and lust and will make sure to honor what the Bible says.

See the difference?

A lot of what the Bible has put restrictions or “rules” around is NOT because God is a kill joy and doesn’t want us to enjoy life. It also isn’t because His word is irrelevant to life today. People thought God’s word was irrelevant in Adam & Eve’s day, in Noah’s day, in Abraham’s day, in Jesus’ day, in Martin Luther King’s day…and in our day. There is nothing new under the sun. We tend put incredibly short-sighted desires and emotions as an authority over God’s word and then “revise” it to suit our motives and desires. Or we brush it off as “irrelevant”.

When interpreted correctly, the Bible describes how we’re apt to screw ourselves over (and we have been for millenia) when we wander from the truths and principles God has lovingly provided us. Not because He’s punishing us, but because there are some very real consequences when we break spiritual laws, just as there are consequences for breaking natural laws. I see more and more that what seems like restrictions or rules against a good time is actually a love letter with a road map detailing how we can best navigate our time on earth such that we have a dynamic and healthy way to thrive in Life. With the people around us. And on the planet we’ve been given to take care of. Seriously.

Simpler illustration….it’s like reading a guide-book to a country we’ve never been to before. There are details on what to expect, what the highlights and lowlights are. Where to get good food and clean water. How to interact with the locals, what their customs and values are. As well as what laws and fines to be wary of or what areas of town to avoid for safety and health reasons. A wise person takes note to follow what’s written. A foolish person does whatever they see fit to do. The illustration ends here in that while you can usually get away with not following a travel guide-book and get home in one piece, the end result of not following God’s word is death.

God’s trying to get us all Home.

Sin or is it?

(Image not mine)Me? Sin? Well, that sounds a little harsh. And kinda hurts my feelings. And my self-esteem. And it makes me feel guilty….didn’t someone say guilt is a bad thing? Yeah. I know I probably shouldn’t have done that…I couldn’t help myself. It’s just a mistake. But I’m not a bad person!

We tiptoe around sin. We find gracious ways of describing sin so that it’s not as severe as sin….or politically correct ways of justifying why that “sin” is actually acceptable as part of normal human life.

“This is who I am, I can’t help it”
“We make mistakes, we don’t sin”
“To err is human”

Actually, God says “For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and that our “righteousness is like filthy rags“. Whether we call wrath “anger management issues” or selfishness “self care” or lust “passionate attraction”…it’s sin. Even our “good deeds” are tainted by selfish motives. Falling short of God’s perfect standard in our words, actions or thoughts is the definition of sin. Recognizing it for what it is gives us a healthier view of ourselves as an inflated self-esteem is as bad as a deflated one. Recognizing sin in our lives and calling it out also puts us on the path to be free from its grip in our lives as we submit to God’s plan of transforming us into His likeness. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever sin again, but you are no longer powerless against it. You now have choice.

I am loved by God. I sin. I confess. I am forgiven. I am empowered to act differently.

Shrewd & Innocent

Critical thought. Many lack it. I made a point to it in my recent post about why so many Americans are walking from their faith. “Christians” have built their faith on ideas heard from other “Christians” what the faith is about or based on what they think the faith is about instead of actually studying what the Bible has to say about God and how to follow Him. Or rather, what God/Jesus Christ has to say about Himself as recorded in the Bible and how  we are to follow Him properly.

I read an article in passing a while ago, apologies for losing the reference, but it featured common sayings that people believed were quotes from the Bible when it really wasn’t. For example, “God helps those who helps themselves” or “Cleanliness is next to godliness“. Read through the Bible folks, it’s not in there.

Though university I’ve been asked all sorts of questions like,

    • Why is there evil and  suffering in the world if God is loving?”
    • “Why do you discriminate against dating non-Christians?”
    • “Why won’t you accept Jesus was just a good teacher?”
    • “Your bible condones slavery, treating women like possessions and polygamy, why do you believe in something so backwards?”
    • “Why do you believe good people go to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus?”
    • “Why shouldn’t a couple live together before getting married?”
    • “Why does bad things happen to me when I don’t deserve any of this?”

One of my best friends in university couldn’t answer these questions…and instead of seeking the answers, she chose to just walk away from her faith. I became determined to find out the answers…if the Bible was Truth, then it can stand up to questioning, and answers will be found. And so, I did find answers to each of those questions…and for most questions after university too. Interestingly, as time went on, the secular community has reached similar conclusions for some of the questions I’ve been asked. This really serves to cement in my mind that the Bible is always relevant. No matter what century we’re in.

The early believers were told to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15; bold and italics mine)

Prepared. I’m trying to be…and I encourage all believers seeking after God to be prepared as well. Thinking critically about your faith doesn’t mean you have to go to seminary, though that isn’t a bad idea, it does mean embracing questions the world will ask and going after the answers until you find it. Sometimes, as you spiritually mature, the answer gets fine tuned so it’s in better alignment with the Bible. Sometimes you just might need to be okay with not knowing the full answer until Christ comes back and you can ask Him yourself.

This Boundless.org article “Christianity in the Marketplace” gives an example of how Paul was able to share with the secular philosophers and great thinkers of his day. One point from the article I liked was that bits of truth is scattered in the world and you can use those bits to make a case for the Truth of God’s word. Point is, we need to know our world, we need to know ourselves, and even more, we need to know God as He reveals Himself in the Bible. Sharpen your awareness, fine tune your intellect regarding your faith and be resourceful in finding answers. Surprise the world by showing that Christ-followers do have very logical reasons for believing in and following Christ. No one else is going to do that for you.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

Two books I recommend for starters:
Case for Christ – Lee Strobel
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis (I LOVE this book!)

Black Madonna and Child

This was really fascinating to me…here’s the background story:

Osiris and Set were brothers. Set was jealous of Osiris for always doing things right so he plotted to kill him. Knowing his brother’s measurements, he made a gold sarcophagus to Osiris’ exact size. He brought it out on the day Osiris wed Isis and used it to play a game with the guests. Something like the man who fits the sarcophagus wins a prize. (Silly game if you ask me…but I guess if there’s a lot of wine flowing….) Finally Osiris gives it a shot and as soon as he lays in it, which was a perfect fit, Set puts the gold lid on top and seals it with his powers. Then chucks the sarcophagus into the Nile. Meanwhile, newly wed wife Isis, still a virgin, laments for her husband and cries out to god…who conceives in her a son she names Horus. Horus grows up, learns of his uncle’s evil plot and confronts him about it. The two always battle and the battle always ends with both being seriously wounded. Somewhere in this story, Isis is able to bring Osiris back to life.

The Egyptian engraving above is found at the Philae Temple on the Isi-Island. Apparently when the Christians saw the engraving, the immediately adopted it and renamed Isis the Black Madonna. It’s very much like the more modern depictions of the Madonna and Child isn’t it?

And actually, the story of Osiris, Set and Horus also seems to contain some very similar themes to the Bible stories I grew up on:

– Cain killing Abel because his offering was accepted by God
– Mary, a virgin, conceiving by the Holy Spirit
– the spiritual battle between Christ and Satan
– the resurrection of the dead

There actually a LOT of ancient myths where goddesses conceive outside of a union with a male and that child becomes some kind of savior figure. As demonstrated here, even ancient Egyptian mythology contains themes and stories similar to Biblical ones. Some suggest the only conclusions to draw are that the Biblical accounts aren’t so original after all…or that it’s all based on pagan sources…or that all belief systems are the same. I think there’s one, more accurate conclusion…

…There is one Truth but many slightly twisted versions of it.

Where there’s the real deal, there’ll always be a copy. Considering all our origins trace back to the same source, I’m not surprised there are many stories/myths/themes similar to the ones in the Bible. I also don’t believe that the Bible coming after the ancient myths casts any shadow on its truth. It’s like how everyone has their version about something that happened to someone (and it get circulated via parchment, hieroglyphic engravings, painted frescos)…but then the actual person comes in to set the story straight and lifts the mystery.

Ephesians 3:4-5 says this: In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

And per Jesus Himself in John 14:6, “I am the Truth.”