(PHOTO from Lynne’s Lens’)

I have been having some incredible conversation with a new friend, who happens to be an atheist. And yes, I am totally cool with him being an atheist. Even if he remains an atheist! I believe this has been one of those circumstances that is going to take me further in my faith. Maybe even further than I am comfortable going.

My faith has been shook. You understand what shook means, right? It hasn’t faltered but it has been shook. I have realized that we Christians (well maybe just me) have taken our faith for granted. I believe a lot of people find comfort in the fact that other people believe, what they supposedly believe, and accept it on account of that. I don’t want to say that we should question the “WHAT” we believe (Probably should but that scares the crap out of me.) but I definitely think we should question the “WHY” we believe. In turn, the “why” should lead us back to the “what” (I hope to God).

I understand why this type of thinking is avoided in most circles. I fear that someone may come across all these questions and thoughts (they’re chaotic at best.) and possibly begin to believe the opposite of what I believe. The more these THINGS spin in my head, the more I believe they are necessary. And no I am not sure what “they” are. Meaning the right questions. I can hardly grasp it. (It’s like when Maximus was talking with Julius Ceaser in the movie Gladiator. And Julius described the dream of Rome as a “whisper”. He said if it was anything more than a whisper, the whole idea would vanish.) So I am questioning the “why’s” in a whisper.

I asked my new friend if there were any books that have influenced his stand on atheism. He told me about a book written by Mark Twain, Letters to the Earth. I just read it online. Um, if you claim to follow (follow being a verb) Christ, I say check it out. If you are a “comfortable in your seat at church” type of Christian, don’t even bother. Just keep that seat warm but don’t forget to tithe.

Like I was told, “the book is funny as hell.” (There is irony, satire, and sarcasm in that statement. Especially in light of this conversation. Do you see it?)

I especially like this:

“All sane white people hate noise; yet they have tranquilly accepted this kind of heaven — without thinking, without reflection, without examination — and they actually want to go to it!” (For some reason I thought of all of the white men that I have heard describe rap as noise.)

Please note I am not agreeing with this book. But I believe it will, or at least should, influence those who strive to point people to Christ. What I fear most is that people have quit “growing” their faith. Those people that are good to go (to heaven so they think). And when they even THINK about someone who believes differently, they immediately try to prove them wrong. Well, actually, as I realized from my friend, just cast them to the side. And these people who do the casting used to wear those cute little bracelets with the white letters. Which has gone out of style, the bracelets or the message of the bracelets?

I want you to believe. Believe in God. Believe so emphatically that though your faith may shake, it will never falter. I have a fascination with words (as you can tell I don’t have a fascination with punctuation), as in a words root meaning. I piously like to think this fascination is because of my faith in God and that God is the word and the word is God. But its not the case. I just want to know “why”, I always have. I know, it sounds crazy to me too. “Why would someone want to know why a word means what it means?”. But being the dork that I am, I looked up the word falter. Falter is a 14th century verb with a middle English root.

Falter, F-A-L-T-E-R, Falter. 1. a. To walk unsteadily b. to give way c. to move waveringly or hesitatingly 2. to speak brokenly or weakly 3. a. to hesitate in purpose or action b. to lose drive or effectiveness

Should I say any more? Or can I leave by asking you to describe your faith? Screw that! We don’t have the right to describe our faith. Why don’t we ask the atheist to describe our faith (I bet a word that rhymes with pass slips in)? Dare I say, why don’t we ask God to describe our faith? (If you truly believe that one day you will stand before the creator…this would be the beginning of every question that I would ask a “Christian” if I were a atheist.)  Does the word falter fall into your description? Typically in this situation I would ask questions referring to the church as a whole and avoid using the word you. As a believer myself, I know how sensitive we get when someone starts pointing fingers. But screw feelings at this moment. I am talking to you. I am talking to me (this gets weirder and weirder). How’s your faith? I don’t know about you but this definition just kicked me in the junk.


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(PHOTO from newlookmedia)

Do you version? If you don’t know by now, I am total fan of YouVersion.com. It has completely enhanced the way I study God’s word. You know how you can jump on YouTube because of an email and then that video leads you to another, and then another, and the next thing you know, you are watching a baby roll around with a poisonous snake? (that happened to me the other day) Well, that’s how I get lost in YouVersion.

Let’s play the “what if” game. Let’s make assumptions. And while were at it let’s throw some kool aid in the washer machine.

Do you think bible sales will eventually fall because of sites like YouVersion? Do you think the bible publishers will put a hit out on Craig Groeschel? The bible has been like the best-selling book of all time. Do you know what you have done lifechurch.tv?

Have you seen the numbers on YouVersion, as far as how many minutes people have spent using this free service? Billions. I see a decline in the future for the black leather books. But not the navy blue. The navy blue will remain strong.

Are there any numbers on how many dusty bibles that are not in use? I bet I got 20. Somebody start a ministry to collect these unused bibles to give to prisons. You know the prisoners get those crappy pew bibles. Pew bibles stink. They have the smell of used juicy fruit wrappers and old lady. I know I got a couple of bibles I spent $70 plus on sitting in my basement. Let’s give ’em away.

And there are still bible users who know nothing about YouVersion. For instance my mom. And she goes to Fellowship Church. Maybe Ed has stock in Zondervan. Man I would love to hear Mr. Zondervan put the smack down on church projectors and YouVersion.com/mobile.

Hey Thomas Nelson, maybe if your bibles included a highlighter and pages that didn’t bleed through. Maybe if you could magically create a bible that included 41 versions in 22 languages that fit in my pocket, I would buy one in burgundy. Um, I don’t think magic is allowed but I won’t tell anyone. The only version not included is the rainbow study version but I’m sure some simple coding would resolve this lack of color. Oh yeah, YouVersion just reminded me that I can use the parallel feature anytime I want, if I stick with them.

Scofield, what do you mean no concordance is included? Who needs a concordance when you have your own search engine and if that fails, only because it returns exhaustive answers, uh, can you say google? What do you mean I don’t read the bible, I just listen to the audio? Well, that day you caught me with the ear buds in, I had just returned from having my eyes dilated. Really, I do read the words.  Have you seen my personal journal? Oh yeah, you can’t see it because it’s private. But you can see my public contributions along with some of the other famous YouVersion users as well. Tony Morgan is on there. I don’t know about John Acuff. I believe John carries a pocket size bible in his back pocket in the event of a blundered side hug. I must admit, I do use YouVersion to shamelessly plug this here blog since the creators offer me the ability to link to various creative outlets.

Hey and keep this on the DL…I’m still trying to get my foot in the door to pitch my idea to Craig and Bobby about selling shiny bookmark ribbons for laptops. Mr. Zondervan, do you buy the ribbon for your bible bookmarks in the craft section at Mardels?

What motivates you? What inspires you? What makes you uncomfortable?
Me?
The presence and knowledge of sin and suffering, motivates me.
People who live to give, inspire me.
Theology makes me uncomfortable. My theology causes these questions.

I constantly think about these questions. Not having answers to these questions makes me angry.
Talking about these questions instead of acting upon them, makes me fill up with guilt.
More often than not, I do my best to forget about these questions because I don’t feel capable.

Right now, I don’t have answers. But I do have a lot of questions. Don’t you hate that?
Instead of an answer you receive another question.
Here are some questions I have. But please remember they are just questions.

Why isn’t the title Christian viewed as a verb and not a noun. Or, why is being a Christian based on
what one believes instead of how one acts.

Do we really believe that the church is the people? Really?
Then why do people say, “I go to _________ Church.” instead of saying, “I am ________ Church.”
(Of course this is all just a play on words but there must be truth in all this.)
Maybe it’s because one would have to insert themselves into a situation in which proof was
physical and not verbal.

Why is our governments number one priority not education? Volunteer in a school to see proof of this.
Friday night I spent a couple of hours tending the concessions at a middle school dance.
My heart broke as I saw numerous kids who literally couldn’t comprehend that 50 cents plus 75 cents
equals $1.25. Middle school kids!

I can’t stop there. Take a walk through some of the schools in your area. Not the schools in the middle
of white suburbia. But the schools that families will put themselves in debt up to their eyeballs to
move away from.
Why has the “church” made the same move?

Is it possible for poverty to end? Or at least reduce by 50%?
The only way I see this happening would be by people giving and serving more.
How do we give more?
I know the style is to get more when we make more. But JunkyCarClub.com offers an alternative.
Who is going to start JunkyHouseClub.com? Of course that might mean that we have to send our kids
back to the schools that we moved away from.
How do we serve more?
By answering the above questions.

Anybody else enjoy the commercials from the largest Ford and Chevy dealers in the country? Am I the only one that has seen the same guy pimping two different car lots, in two different states? Those dudes are crazy. All you have to do to prove that they are an American company is look up and notice the flag. I believe that flag could be taken down, cut up, sewn up, and given away to clothe all the children in your choice of an African country. Maybe they should do that for the next person who comes in and buys a minivan. Have you ever taken your kids into the dealership because they were having free hot dogs, chips, drinks, clowns, balloons, and MORE? Knowing that you would not buy a car. I have thought about it. Only because I want to slide down that insanely huge blow up bounce house slide. It’s awesome when they offer no payments and no interest until February 2012. Well Hank, I’m feeling crazy, let’s make it no payments and no interest until January 2013 and will throw in this 9″ portable dvd player for FREE!

And then, the micro machine man slides in. And says, nmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmn. ccc, mnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmnmmnmnmnmnmnmnm, huhuh, nmnmnmnmnmnm, Some exclusions apply.

Reminds me of something.

We brag about how great our church is (yes I am talking the church in general). The attempt at being relevant comes through loud and clear. We emphasize a come as you are attitude. We stress that the experience will include this, this, that, this, and MORE. Everybody is welcome. Don’t judge your past! And these are all good things that the church does!

But do we have our own “micro machine man” come in? When it’s time to reveal the truth, is it stated clearly? Is it stated boldly? Are we afraid that the truth will turn people away?

1 Corinthians 4:1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

I wonder, if Jesus would have been a pastor, would He have been more concerned about visitors coming in or disciples going out? We admire Paul but are we brave enough to live like him? Paul cared for souls but he didn’t give a flip about what others thought of his intentions. I envision Paul to have been a little, scrappy fella. But I know he didn’t talk fast like the micro machine man.

(PHOTO from Ryan Brenizer)

Where do you lay your hope? Where do you lay your soul. Where do you lay your faith? Seriously! Do you let someone or something influence you more than God. Are you sure you didn’t answer too quickly?

When life hits the fan, where do you look first for hope and faith? WebMD? Your mom? The bottle? Your lover?

1 Corinthians 2:5… so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Check out www.iamsecond.com for others.

I still think Colt needs to be first in the buffet line though. Put some weight on Colt, them boys in the NFL are big.

(PHOTO from Patrick Hoff)

I hate sin, yet I sin. I don’t want to sin but I eventually do sin. I wonder, if God exposed our sin like He did in the Old Testament, would we sin less? If I wore skirt, which I don’t and never would, (although I would were a kilt if I could throw a telephone pole) and I knew that God would expose my sin by lifting my skirt over my head, would I sin less? I wear pants, I wonder if God revealed sin by “pantsing”, would I sin less? Urban Dictionary defines pantsing as, “The act or practice of pulling someone’s pants down.”

Nahum 3:5 “I am against you,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame.

Naturally we want to keep our sin hush hush. We have plenty of excuses for our sins. As a parent I kinda see God’s viewpoint on sin. It’s funny how my daughter doesn’t want me to call her “naughty”. This upsets her to the point where she will start to cry. But if I do not let her know she is doing wrong, what kind of parent would I be?

God, reveal my sin. Pants me if need be. I want to sin less.

(PHOTO from ::big daddy k::)

That’s it. No more funny, weird, or stuff that I totally don’t understand was found in the book of Deuteronomy after chapter 29. A lot of my comments on the verses I highlighted were absurd. But as I made my way through the book and with the little knowledge I have from the book of Exodus, this weird stuff actually started to make some sense.

The book of Deuteronomy was written for a people who experienced God physically, mentally, and emotionally. They had no excuses for disobeying God due the excruciating details that were penned in this book. As I tried to understand the need for detailing that you shouldn’t sleep with your mom, boil goats in milk, or give God the earrings of a prostitute as an offering, all things that I assumed were common sense, I began to realize that we need the law, in detail. I don’t know about you but I look for loopholes to get away with my sin. It’s hard to create excuses if you know exactly how you should or shouldn’t live.

29:29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

This book offers hope and this verse highlights that hope. We don’t have to understand our lives. Which motivates dependency on God. I ain’t Hebrew or a descendant of Moses but I believe I can say that this law belongs to me. I have the fortunate ability to follow this law. And without this law, it IS impossible to have grace.

34:7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.

I’m not sure about this verse. I don’t know how the author knew Moses’ strength and eyes were still capable if he was dead. Maybe it’s true, if you follow the law of obeying and honoring your parents, you will live a long life. Maybe the author wanted us to know that God was finished with Moses and was ready to use Joshua. Maybe the point was to show that this life is only temporary and after death is when the rest of our lives begin. I don’t know.

I went into this book knowing I would be confused but I leave with a little more understanding, hope, and a firmer belief in grace. This is why I must read his word. Who knows, it could all be fiction. I can’t prove my beliefs, especially with words but I know the affirmations I receive deep down in my soul only come from studying His word.

(PHOTO from vale p*)

29:5 During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet

You can not escape Gods goodness. But at the same time, you can not escape Gods judgement. When SH happens or IT happens, God is somehow involved. But we want to know why. And we want to know NOW! We want the freaking answers. What did we do to deserve this?

“Why cant the married couple have a baby but that 16 year old has two?” “Why did the valedictorian get hit by the drunk driver?” “Why does the soldier come home from war and his life never go back to normal?”  “Why did the widow’s husband die of a heart attack at the age of 32?”

I believe God keeps secrets.

29:29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

I can’t imagine going through a crisis and someone telling me, “God is always good.” Really? Prove it. Because you just said always. At this moment, as I am typing, the waters are calm so it is easy for me to agree that God is always good. My hope is that when a crisis comes I can believe that God is always good. But I must know that I might not understand or see the proof until I see Christ face to face.

Maybe all I need to do to realize that God is always good, is to look down at my shoes.

I avoid the typical “sunday school” stories of the Bible. Why? Because I have heard them over and over by many different people. Instead I look for obscure stories that are rarely spoken of. This weekend the story of Jonah showed up at church. Actually, the focus was on the latter half of the short book.

I reread the story a couple times and here is the short of it.  

  • God said Go. Jonah said No.
  • Jonah ran. God grinned. (That’s how I picture it.)
  • Jonah jumped on a boat. God said, “I hope you float.” (Just trying to spit rhymes.)
  • God caused wind. Wind caused waves.
  • The boat’s crew panicked. Jonah hit the hammock.
  • The crew freaked when Jonah said he worshiped the creator of the sea.
  • To save the lives of the crew, Jonah told them to throw him overboard.

This is where I realized I have been missing something all of these years. I knew Jonah ended up in the gut of a fish but I was incorrect on why. I thought his all-inclusive, 3 day, and 3 night stay in the belly of a fish was his punishment for not going to Tarshish. I was wrong. The consequence was Jonah being thrown overboard into the stormy seas. As you can see in chapter 2, Jonah freaked as he was trying to stay afloat. Who wouldn’t? Jonah, cried out to God and God provided His grace.

Jonah 1:17 But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

If it were not for the fish, Jonah would have just been another bloated body. Sometimes God’s grace comes through an answer that we would label as a test, battle, or “God can I have what’s behind door number 2 instead.” You know the belly of a fish doesn’t smell good. You know Jonah probably swallowed some nasty liquid. You know he had to pee, I mean he was in there for 3 days and 3 nights. But, Thank God for Fish.

(PHOTO from -icy-)

Thursday night, after spending the day frying turkeys and enjoying time with my family, we decided to drive home. This way Kyah could sleep, traffic would be lighter, and I could drive like a bat out of hell. On the way down to Texas, I clocked my slowest time of 5.5 hours. At one point it took an hour to move 15 miles. But leaving at 7:30pm I knew I could get home to Kansas by 12am.

The cruise was set at an undisclosed speed and we arrived in OKC shortly. Kyah woke up crying. We figured she was just extremely exhausted and uncomfortable in her car seat. Stephanie did what she could to calm her down and get her back to sleep. But she kept crying. After 20 minutes of balling, she finally screamed she had to pee pee. I felt bad. She had to “go” but she didn’t want to wet her pants so all she knew do was to cry.

Kyah learned that those golden arches didn’t just provide happy meals but they are also a God send when you have to go pee pee.

Sometimes when we realize we have no control over life, the only thing we can do is cry. We can get mad. We can become sad. But when we begin to cry out to God, things happen. We admit that we are dependent upon His mercy. Crying out can also cause others to become aware of a situation which can allow them to cry out on our behalf as well.

Through a friend’s Facebook feed I learned that the farthest you can get from a McDonalds in the continental US, is like 2 hours. Fortunately, with God He is always right where you need Him to be. Sometimes we don’t get our circumstance resolved on our time or in our manner but we always have the ability to cry out to Him. Jesus, in torment, cried out.

Matt. 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

(PHOTO from jtanny)

28:56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities.

Seriously, what facial expression did you make when you read that? First of all, it’s weird enough that this lady is so “gentle” that her feet never touch the ground but if this day comes, this woman will eat her after birth and children in secret while you are out at war.

(PHOTO from AliQJo)

28:54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children,55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating.

Steven Kings imagination has nothing on this freakish nightmare scenario.

(PHOTO from Pioneer Great Britain)

28:36 The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone.

Plain. Simple. Straight forward. I now feel like an idiot for putting other gods before The God. It’s like God is saying, “Go ahead dummy, search for satisfaction in that wood and stone but I gaurantee you will be begging to come back to me.”