>What if…

>The weird thing about going through the Bible verse by verse, in an academic sense, is that the little idiosyncrasies stick out like sore thumbs. Verses that we usually skim over, because they don’t make sense or don’t seem to add much to the story become flashing bright lights. Stories that are obviously connected flow together like a river of God’s love for us instead of the little water bottles of refreshment we usually get.

Just the other day we read the story of Aaron’s staff budding. We usually use that pericope to talk about how God chooses us and stands behind us and blah blah blah…all great points, but missing a little bit of what God is getting at. Right before that story, Korah, Dathan and Abiram rebel against Moses and, to make a long story short, are disposed of in creative ways. The big three are swallowed up by the earth, which then promptly closes back over them, effectively burying them alive. Their council of 250 elders is burned up by the fire of the Lord, and everyone who complains because this happened is hit with a plague. So we have earthquakes, fire from heaven, and plagues, and nothing seems to phase the Israelites. They still complain just as much as before, are still indignant, and generally don’t change demeanor at all.
Aaron’s staff buds because God is trying to silence the complaining and bickering. In fact, He says the reason this happens is to prevent the Israelites from dying. They’ve pushed Him so far that He’s about to snap and He wants to control His anger. The weird thing is…THIS is the instance that causes the Israelites to go bonkers! Almonds growing out of a piece of dead wood! Giant chasms in the earth, fire raining down from heaven, killer plagues…meh. Almonds? RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!
I can’t get over the pathetic nature of the Israelites. Every story we read, the farther we delve into the story of the Israelites, the more and more depressed I get reading about their ignorance. I can’t fathom how stupid they must have been to see the miracles and love of God with their own eyes–miracles and wonders we can’t even imagine–and still want to walk away.
Oh wait. Yes I can.
My freshman year of college I went with some friends and my family to see !Hero the Rock Opera, a modern day telling of the birth of Christ. Set in Bethlehem, PA instead of Israel, it shows exactly how our world would react to a modern-day Savior. We’d build him up using the media, then tear him down and dispose of him. On the way home, we talked about how we would respond if we were there…simple question: Would we believe? Sadly, the consensus answer was no.
I think the reason the Israelites irritate me so is because I know how they feel. I see God everyday, whether in large miracles or small whispers, and yet there are times everyday that I turn against Him. That I stop listening to Him. That I let myself get in the way of His plan…that I get freaked out by almonds.
I have got to stop letting the world get in the way of my relationship with God. He throws earthquakes, fire, and pestilence at me, but I still ask questions and fight Him. And when my faith is weak, something small and innocuous (like almonds!) can drop me to the turf. Good thing I don’t have to ask “What if…” I know God is alive and His Son died for me.
That’s refreshing enough for me.
“This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14
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>Transcendence

>I’ve watched two very different football games in the last 24 hours. I’m writing this before the UT/UO (yes, it is the University of Oklahoma. They go by OU because they can’t spell) game ends because if it goes south, I’ll spew vitriol and that’s not the point.

Last night we had the Westbury Christian homecoming game against Lutheran North. Unfortunately for the festivities, we got trounced 40-12. The men played hard, but between injuries and academic issues, we were just undermanned. It was a valiant effort. What struck me is that the outcome of the game seemed to not really affect the demeanor of the crowd and the student body. At the Chocolate Bash afterwards, there was a palpable sense of excitement, even though the guys were disappointed. We had a fantastic crowd, the kids were playing around and talking, the faculty stayed up past 10 o’clock for once (and didn’t complain too loudly)…it was a great time. We knew that there was something more important in life than the outcome of a football game, even if it’s the homecoming game.
On the second drive during the Texas game today, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, an amazing QB, Christian, and friend to Colt McCoy (the UT quarterback and his biggest rival), was hurt again. In the first game of the season he hurt his shoulder, and worked extremely hard to get himself back into shape to play this game. My initial reaction? To clap my hands and cheer. And I can guarantee I wasn’t the only one.
What is wrong with us? Why is an injury to a young man with a bright future cause for celebration?
We spend a lot of time as Christians talking about being in the world, not of the world. However, we feel like there are certain areas that we can discard that motto…sports, business, the movies we watch, whatever it might be. I can pray for someone with cancer, but if a rival blows his knee out and ruins his career and future? Bust out the foam fingers! I can give 15% at church, but if an opportunity comes to abuse something to make bigger profits? I can give 18% now! Don’t lust, except when its a movie with an attractive young actress? Let’s see it twice!
I appreciate Westbury for teaching me about transcendence. There are certain things that just aren’t as important as we make them out to be.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Colt McCoy just threw a pick. I need to go pray.
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

>Sacrifice

>We’ve reached the second Passover in my OT class. It’s been a year since the awesome and awful power of God freed the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt through the plague of the Firstborn son, and the Israelites are called to reflect on everything they’ve endured (which includes, but is not limited to: starvation, dehydration, death, plagues, idol worship, war) and where God has led them.

In Numbers, there is a discussion between Moses and a few of the Hebrews about the Passover and a small problem they have: they’re unclean. They have come into contact with a dead body and will not be ceremonially able to observe the Passover until after the appointed time. God declares that they are to observe it a month later, but otherwise change nothing. A few verses later, a warning is fired off against people who ARE able to observe the Passover, but choose not to do so. It is decreed that they will be cut off from the community (bad) but also will bear the consequences of their sins (way way worse) due to their indiscretions.

This led to a discussion of sacrifice in one of my classes. We talked about the perfection required in the animals and how God needed something perfect in order to redeem the sin we have committed against him.

I can’t imagine a world in which every thing I did wrong required a different sacrifice, and because of that, I thank God for the perfect sacrifice to free us from the bondage of sin and God’s wrath: His Son. Without flaw, without imperfection, and without guilt–the only thing capable of bringing me back to God’s side, a horrible death so that I might have life.

Thanks Jesus…we owe You.

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12

>Flow

>It is a comforting fact that after 2 years of Biology stuff, I was incredibly bored and burned out, but after two years of Bible, I’m still fascinated by the way that God has moved in our lives and in our history to perform His miracles and enact His plan.

Writing my first real paper in over 10 months has gotten me a little bit skittish…I feel dumb, I feel like I’ve forgotten more than I remember, and most of all I feel inadequate. However, as far back as I can remember (we’re talking 2nd grade here), all of my best work has come from a single spark or idea, whether it was poetry or papers or essays or even Minutes for Frats. There’d be one idea that ended up unleashing a flow of ideas and work. The one idea for this paper is how Jeffersonian politics motivated and shaped the foundations of the Churches of Christ. And while that sounds boring to you readers, it fascinates me…which will hopefully lead to some great revelations about our history as well as myself.
Even though I know how this is going to work out–because I have what, 17 years of results to back it up?–it’s still unnerving to not have a concrete plan all the time. And that’s what has motivated me in my Bible classes at WCS…every verse, every word, every story is an intricate, passionate telling of God’s great plan for us. Stories that I’ve always heard out of context (yay for youth ministry…) now fit perfectly into the tapestry of God’s vision for us and assume a whole new vibrant life. Nothing is wasted, nothing is extra…its the best story ever told.
And it all started with a single spark of love.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever should believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17