The attitude of Christ.

I was thinking about the attitude of Christ in John 8:11. Specifically I was thinking about how He loved the woman caught in the act of adultery and how He loved those about to stone her. Because I believe He was showing love to both the woman and the group wanting to take her life. So lets start with the group about to stone her.

They (the Scribes and Pharisees) brought the woman to Jesus as He was teaching and said “This woman was caught in the act of adultery and the Law of Moses says we kill her.” What Jesus did not do was argue, point out that they forgot to bring the man as well, tell them their right or anything else. Instead He wrote on the ground. Now what did He write? I honestly have no idea but I like to think He was writing down the sins of those around Him. Not with names just sins and those around Him knew which ones were theirs but that is just a thought. Then He told them to cast the stones, but the first person without sin should throw the first one. Then He went back to writing in the sand. They dropped their stones and left.

So how is this Jesus showing love? Because it made them realize their own sin. It makes sense the oldest dropped their stones first because age brings wisdom and you are aware of your own sinfulness. You know your shortcomings all too well. By not condemning them of their sins He shows mercy which is love.

Now the woman. It is easy to see how Jesus showed the woman love because the Law did say to stone her. She was guilty of adultery and adultery was punishable by death. So Jesus showed her love by stopping the crowd from killing her. That is pretty loving if you ask me. But the fact that He says “I do not condemn you either” is major and has some major theological implications but let’s not get sidetracked. Jesus showed love to both her and the crowd in the same way He could have condemned them both. The woman for her adultery and the crowd for their various sins.

Jesus shows love that is clear in the Bible. Jesus says “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:17. Jesus was not looking to condemn anyone Jesus was looking to love people and set them free. He goes on to say that in 8:32 “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (hence the website and tattoo). So again to be clear Jesus loved people right where they were at no strings attached. Just pure love.

Now some people want me to stop right there. Jesus loved and did not condemn stop now before you offend someone. But I cannot stop there because the story does not stop there. Jesus goes on to tell the woman “go and sin no more.” Well if Jesus was loving her He still is. Jesus loved her enough to save her life and then tell her to stop sinning. It is not good for you or your relationship with Him. Jesus loves you enough to want you to not sin. That is love.

So where are you at today? Maybe you are the woman maybe you are the crowd. I don’t know but I do know Jesus loves you. I live my whole life from that basic idea. It is not a bumper sticker or phrase for me but it is everything. I live my life as someone who has committed sins that would make your head spin but Jesus still loved me. He loved me enough to spare my life and to tell me to go and sin no more.

Just a thought,

Mike

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Book of Ruth

The book of Ruth is one of my favorites, and it’s a little book so you can read it in just a few minutes. There are some things I love and some things that are pretty confusing. Have you ever traded sandals to confirm a legal arrangement, and if some strange woman slept at my feet all night a proposal is not what I would be offering. But we live in very different times so I should not expect that some of those things would or even should make sense to me. Let’s face it the Bible was not written with 21 century customs or ideas in mind it was written with customs and ideas of that time in mind.

There are however some things that make perfect sense. Things like compassion, concern, love, devotion, earning a good name, respect, and morality. I find that quite funny because the story of Ruth is being told during the period of Judges. Now that is funny because the book of Judges is not known for having these attributes. You read the book of Judges and the Israelites are being less that proper towards one another and God.

One of the main things that I find when I read the book of Ruth that is most interesting to me is not the above mentioned things or the fact that Boaz is a kinsmen redeemer (although important) but the way Ruth and the other less than fortunate people are taken care of. What we see is a group of people living in accordance with the way God told them to live. Leviticus 23:22 says in a very paraphrased way “you don’t need all the grain from the field when it is harvest time so leave some for the poor and strangers. Do it because I am your God.”  What we have here is a group of people living God’s way and getting God’s results in the midst of the majority of the nation acting in disobedience. What that says to me is “do not conform to the pattern of this world.”

I’m just going to stop there and let you draw your own conclusions.

Just a thought,

Mike

Karma & Grace

I was thinking about karma and grace this morning. With karma you will always get back what you gave. If you do good you will get good if you do bad you will get bad, it is a cycle that cannot be broken. Everything is cumulative and it can take thousands of years to work off just some of your bad karma. It is perhaps the most works based system possible and offers no help for the root cause of your failures in the first place namely a sinful nature. Grace stands in stark contrast to karma. Where karama says you must work towards moksha, God’s grace says I will give you freedom, liberty, and eternal life because you can never be good enough. Grace is not just a “do over” but an all covering and immeasurable gift from the Creator Himself to mankind. Simply put karma is you doing your best it is you working towards being liberated from a life of pain while God’s grace says it is true you can never do enough to earn life with me but I will give it to you because I am good.

Law and Grace

When we review the “test” in the Bible, the different encounters people faced (the heroes of faith) we should look not so much at the particular test but what the point of the testing was.

The same could be said of the “law.” Instead of looking at the letter we should look at the spirit of the law and determine what was that law meant to teach or protect against then we can better understand God Himself. In giving the law God was giving pictures of Himself. He was giving insights into who He is.

Jesus fulfills the requirements of the law so we do not have to. We have no need to sacrifice bulls and goats. But we have lessons we can learn from the law. For example we can look at the law against coveting and see that it is not good to covet. Why? We are to seek God first and not worry about what to wear or eat or drink or where to live. We see in the law the command not to, and in Jesus we see the reason. We also see in Jesus the new ability in us to not covet.

Just a thought,

Mike

Powerful Little Conjunction

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I am reading through the Pentateuch or Torah or Books of Moses whichever you like for class, and I keep noticing this little word “and.” Specifically I am seeing it at the beginning of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It occurs to me that this powerful little conjunction does more than just connects to words, phrases, or clauses but it connects pictures and ideas as well.

It connects the picture and idea that is being made in Genesis with the picture/idea in Exodus with the picture/idea in Leviticus and so on.

Have you ever watched a TV show that was very well put together? One where the writers decide at the onset what is going to happen and then everything works towards that goal. Every plot twist, cliffhanger, and surprise is designed to bring you to the finale so when you see that one you get a big picture. Each episode on it’s own was great but the whole story is amazing. That is the Pentateuch. So I asked myself if “and” connects these picture/ideas then what is the bigger picture/idea that is being created?

It’s probably better to give you the story of each one first. That way when we see the big picture we can appreciate it a little more.

Genesis – God creates/recreates (Creation, Noah, Babel, Patriarchs), and gives direction and promises.

Exodus – God delivers, makes promises, forgives, God delivers, makes promises, forgives.

Leviticus – God is holy, and He explains and prepares us now for future promise receiving.

Numbers – God is faithful and good even when we are not.

Deuteronomy – Pay attention to what God has done.

So what is the big picture that is being created in the story as a whole? God has created you and is calling you, He has direction and a place for you. He delivers you out of your trials and gives you insight as to what He wants for you. He is holy and mighty, and will prepare you ahead of time for what you will walk into, and even when you are weak He is strong. We need to pay attention to what He has done and what He is doing.

That is the gist of it. Sure there is more but if you want the overall picture that is pretty much it. I really don’t have more to say than that.

Just a thought,

Mike

Was it because there were no graves in Egypt?

I really like second part of Exodus. I know most people prefer the first part where God sends the plagues and shows His power over Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods but I really like the second part. I enjoy reading about the wilderness experience because it reinforces a very specific point. Three days into the journey the Israelites are complaining about water. Not too long after that about food and so on. It seems that all throughout the wilderness time they are grumbling. But can we really blame them? I mean somewhat I suppose after all they did just see the plagues, the parting of the Red/Reed Sea, water from a stone, and so on. But those are all external things.

You see Exodus starts to solve the Babel problem, but it did not solve the Eden problem. Deliverance without an internal change changes little. They were not a changed people. They had been slaves for 400+ years and you do not go from slavery to freedom without carrying some baggage. It is that old saying “You can take the man out of Egypt but it’s not easy getting Egypt out of the man.” Cliche but true. We can change a circumstance and not change the person. Change has to be an internal thing before anything external can really have an impact. If you are a addicted to heroin and live in a abandoned building you are a addict living in a rough spot. If I give you a million dollars you are still an addict but now you can afford you addiction. Nothing has changed.

The only time I really see God getting upset with them in Exodus is when they decide to worship the golden calf. That is because He had just told them not to do that very thing. We can look at story and be all high and mighty “saying see how much better we are” but if you are a Christian you have the Spirit in you they did not have that. That was not even the point. Exodus is not trying to solve the problem of internal change. Instead it is setting up the scene for when that does happen.

I am going through some things right now, and to be honest it stinks and is quite scary, but I have to make a choice. Will I trust in the God who has brought me out & changed me in on the inside or will I forget what He has done and complain? Sounds like an easy decision but walking that out is another thing all together.

Just a thought,

Mike

Dates, Dates, and more dates.

Dates…..Dates…..Dates…..

That is all that is in my brain right now. I am putting together a paper for class and the section I am stuck on is Date of Events. Normally not a big issue but this is for the book of Exodus so it actually is a big deal. A huge deal actually.

But who cares really? I mean these dates, those dates ehhh whatever right? Well for one I care and I think you should too. I mean yes I suppose you can go through life and never once even think about when something in the Bible happened but a lot of people use dates as an excuse to not believe. Honestly they are grasping at straws to say I don’t believe because of dates but it is still what they hold onto.

So a few things. First the Bible is historically accurate because the events took place in history but it is not a recording of history. It records what was going on at the time but that is not the point. The point is God revealing Himself to man and calling a people to Himself. Second the Bible is not a geography book, but it does include locations. Again it talks about where things happen but by and large they are not the intent of the story. Now that being said the Bible has been proven very accurate in finding locations. I think the reason for this being the case is land was part of the conventional promise to Abraham. Third and final the times in the Bible are not very good. What I mean by that is they use completion and parts often. They might say 40 and it was only 32 but 40 is a complete time. So I do not prefer a literal reading of timespans in the Bible. Not to say that some of the times are not correct but I think (and could be wrong) that a lot of the time that “time” and numbers are used it is to represent something. I am not saying that the days in Genesis are or are not a 24 hour day.

So do the dates matter? Yes emphatically yes they do. Can we know with any degree of certainty? Yes! I mean NO! Well maybe I don’t know. It seems that when we decide one thing we change our minds so I don’t know but dates are no reason to throw out the Bible when there is so much we can say. There are good reasons for the dates and I tend to go towards Exodus occurring on the later side (mid 1200) because of Genesis ch 39 and the Merneptah Stele but I could be wrong.

The important thing again is the events in the Bible are real events that actually happened. I do not place my faith on a story but on events that can be traced. If we have to have all the details to believe something then we would believe nothing. Jesus for example was a real person who really lived and really said what He said. Some people have taken to saying He was not real but these are usually (not always) the same people who say the Holocaust never happened and we have people living from that time so what does that tell you.

Just a thought,

Mike