Table-turning

Underdog_(animated_TV_series)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The iconic Underdog character was birthed from the mind of W. Watts Biggers. I think he intuitively knew our American mindset in this area!

Why am I always rooting for the underdog?  I love David and Goliath stories, and how the tables are turned on the bullies, whether that bully comes in the form of a person or an attitude.  Like this one: Continue reading “Table-turning”

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It’s Complicated…(Part 3)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280All of Israel is now up in arms (literally) and ready to rumble against…whom?

NOT against the man who pushed his partner/concubine out the door to be serial-raped by the townsmen to save his own skin.  Nope.  She was merely his property, and this shameful injustice was done to the man, not to the woman.

Eh-hem…

As I mentioned earlier, some unknowing folks might consider this an argument for an estrogen-hating God of the Bible, which is terribly unfortunate, as well as simply unfair and untrue, as (to quote Paul Harvey) “the rest of the story” bears out:

 “Then all the Israelites were united as one man…The entire community assembled in the presence of the Lord at Mizpah…The Israelites then asked how this terrible crime had happened.”

Credit to them for attempting to go the source information, but unfortunately the victim was decidedly unavailable for comment.

“The Levite, the husband of the woman who had been murdered, said, ‘My concubine and I came to spend the night in Gibeah, a town that belongs to the people of Benjamin. That night some of the leading citizens of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she was dead.” 

How convenient that he left out the part about him pushing her out the door to save himself.  This brave soul continues:

“So I cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout the territory assigned to Israel, for these men have committed a terrible and shameful crime.

Now then, all of you—the entire community of Israel—must decide here and now what should be done about this!”

Granted, that’s one way to get their attention, and whip emotions into a frenzy (because that always has a positive outcome).

The men of Israel went to the people of Benjamin (one of the tribes of Israel) and ordered them to give up the men responsible for punishment, but they were refused.  It was decided that rest of the men of Israel would attacked the tribe of Benjamin in retaliation, but beforehand, thought it wise to consult God.

This is where it gets quite interesting.

“Before the battle the Israelites went to Bethel and asked God, “Which tribe should go first to attack the people of Benjamin?”

I love this—“before the battle”.  War and bloodshed were a given in their play book.  Swords were already sharpened and helmets were in place when they went to God.  No humility, no “hey, guys, maybe God’s got a different plan…?  What if we’re not seeing the whole story….??” 

God’s answer is brilliant.  Harrowing, but brilliant.

The Lord answered, “Judah is to go first.”

So…God was in this.  Somewhere, somehow, He was in this orchestrating…something.  Understand also that Judah was the tribe of kings.  King David was from Judah.  Jesus Himself came from Judah.  So for God to put the tribe of Judah in front of a battle was not a mistake.  He was about to make a very big point.  Check it out:

“But Benjamin’s warriors, who were defending the town, came out and killed 22,000 Israelites on the battlefield that day.”

Twenty-two THOUSAND Israelis were slaughtered, Judah at the front!  After God, Himself, told them to go up!  Can we grasp what God was trying to say here??

“They had asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?”

And the Lord had said, “Go out and fight against them.”

And what does Take 2 get them:

“So the next day they went out again to fight against the men of Benjamin, but the men of Benjamin killed another 18,000 Israelites, all of whom were experienced with the sword.”

Third time:

“The Israelites asked the Lord, ‘Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again, or should we stop?’”

“The Lord said, ‘Go! Tomorrow I will hand them over to you.’”

(Maybe they should have clarified that point the first time?)

And now, they defeated the Benjaminites, leaving only 600 men, and—

 “…the Israelites returned and slaughtered every living thing in all the towns—the people, the livestock, and everything they found. They also burned down all the towns they came to.”

Basically, a whole tribe of Israel was wiped off the face of the planet, along with tens of thousands of other Hebrew men. In painful hind site, you can hear their lament:

“ O LORD, God of Israel,” they cried out, “why has this happened in Israel? Now one of our tribes is missing from Israel!”

That was not a solution.  That was not even the justice they were looking for.  (Although I doubt not that it was part of God’s!  No one can tell me He wasn’t angry about that poor woman!)

What a pathetic waste.

Which is exactly what we get ourselves into when we, the church, start going down the road of “doing our own thing” and mixing our devotion to God with anything else, (which then ceases to be devotion to God). 

We may think this whole scenario began with someone thinking it was okay to use someone else to save himself which ended up destroying an entire tribe of God’s people. 

But, no, it actually started back in a Garden with listening to a slithering enemy whisper, “Did God really say that?”

   …that it’s not okay to treat people like property?                                                                                           

   …that using any gift (including sex) outside of God’s design is a bad idea?                                                                              

   …that the Creator of the Universe doesn’t need my help in rethinking His solutions?

   …that that He, alone, is God, and I should spend my life learning just what that means.

Here, then, are the dangers of syncretism, compromise, and not knowing our Source Document. Of believing in what seems right in our own eyes, even (especially!) within the church.

The church has a King, but the church in America doesn’t generally act like it.  We are under a Government, but we squabble like Congress, getting precious little done, then decide to go on vacation, prepared to leave God’s people bankrupt—bereft of true love, setting up in place our own idols of pride and ephods of offenses.  We consider it more important to be right than righteous, and a dying world sees the Church as pathetic and petty instead of priceless.traveler-1611614_1920

No wonder our own culture sends us into exile.

Judges 20, Judges 21:1 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

It’s Complicated…(Part 2)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280After yesterday’s post, now the plot thickens…with blood.

And lots of it.

Like, Stephen King and Nightmare on Elm Street all rolled into one.  Here’s a brief recap:

Hebrew man and half-wife (concubine) traveling through town in area of the Israeli tribe of Benjamin; brought in to spend the night with nice man who knows better than to let them stay out at night in the town square.  We found out why in the next few verses because… Continue reading “It’s Complicated…(Part 2)”

It’s Complicated…(Part 1)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’m not into overt government control, but anarchy doesn’t appeal to me either; I’m much, MUCH too familiar with human nature to rely on our own ability to play nice together.  That’s why this statement from the Old Testament book of Judges is really quite chilling—

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

No king, including Yahweh God anymore, evidently. What used to be a theocracy was no longer, so do-your-own-thing was the rule of the day. Here are just a few examples: Continue reading “It’s Complicated…(Part 1)”

Hollywood, and other surprises

usa-2661636_1920When it comes to Hollywood, I would never make it in “The Industry”.  For starters, Southern Cal has two seasons: sunny dry heat, and fire.  And here in the Midwest, we may have our tornadoes, but at least there’s some warning.  Earthquakes, on the other hand… Continue reading “Hollywood, and other surprises”

Just hangin’ around

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I have a bit of a problem with the movie-star mentality that the church often has with popular preachers and teachers.  Driving around in a big city, seeing their faces splashed up on bulletin boards advertising this or that upcoming event just somehow makes me feel…I dunno…like closing my eyes and letting out a big sigh.

Not that I don’t have my faves, people from whom I get some of the benefit of their personal relationship with our common Father and Savior.  But the operative word there is “common”, meaning I have the same access with the same responsibility to hear from God myself, as opposed to settling for allowing all my understanding to derive from their hard work.  That’s just mental and spiritual laziness.  Continue reading “Just hangin’ around”

Cheers

wood 2People you want to get in good with when you are new on a job:

  1. Secretariesplumber-2523231_1920
  2. Custodians

Why?

(a) they have secret eyes and ears everywhere,

(b) they have keys and access to everything,

(c) they can fix anything, including “red tape”.

I suspect this very sagacious advice has not changed much over the millennia, as I see in this continuing story about Jesus and the wedding at Cana, (see yesterday’s post.) Continue reading “Cheers”

Here comes the bride!

IMG_20150103_172451138Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business.  I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days!  I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.

So there’s my soapbox.

Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity.  Take another look at 1st century Judaism—

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities…

One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited!  Okay, they’ve topped us on that one.  I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.

“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family.  True empathy.  It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly.  Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son.  (How convenient.)

Her next remark is brilliant—

But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.

Which, as we know, He did.

I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out.  (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.)  However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.

people-2576936_1920Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do?  Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?

I think not.  I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention.  Then, listen.  Carefully, and creatively.

(To be continued tomorrow….)

John 2:1-5 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Make mine a double-dip

I just heard the local ice cream truck go down my street singing out its familiar tune to announce its confectionary delights.  This is not altogether unusual…except that it’s December!

Now, that’s what I call optimistic.

Or on second thought, maybe not.  We are a people addicted to pleasure in general, sugar in particular, and c’mon, some things are just never out of season.  I mean, if I can buy strawberries at the local Walmart in winter, why not ice cream?  In fact, why not strawberries on the ice cream? 

Thus, I applaud the ice cream truck in December.

There are other things that seem unusual, unexpected, but are nonetheless always welcome.  Continue reading “Make mine a double-dip”

Sticks and stones really do hurt

wood 2Believe it or not, they come in all colors, shapes and sizes, even genders and age groups.  They’re pretty universal.  And they’re getting quite a bit of well-deserved press these days.

Bullies, that is.  We even had to watch a mandated presentation at work about bullying and related topics of abuse that can happen in (and out of) the school environment.  After all, it is the responsibility of every adult to endeavor to make the school a safe place for the children. 

Of course, one would think that concept was also universal, but alas… Continue reading “Sticks and stones really do hurt”