Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chief Priests and Scribes of the People

Herodic responding – he gathered the chief priests and scribes of the people.  Were they his priests?

I think they were his “priests” as much as any person in Jerusalem; however, people like Herod don’t ever feel they need spiritual leadership because they are a god unto themselves.  The spiritual leaders belonged to the people.  I think that is great and the way it should be.  Spiritual people should belong to the people, for the people, and from God.  We should all have spiritual leaders in our life to whom we can talk, but sadly very few people do and also very few people want to hear what the spiritual leaders have to say any more than Herod did.
I always think it interesting the balance between good counsel and seeking God for your own answers.  Good counsel is hard to find and can be expensive.  I know people who have searched high and low for people who would tell them the truth.  I know people who ran as soon as the truth was told.  Herod wasn’t interested in the truth of the messiah.  Herod was just using the wise men to forward his own agenda.  He was not interested in worshiping but finding the messiah.  I think a lot of people want to find the messiah, but aren’t interested in worshipping him.  May we uncover the Herodic ways in our own hearts.

Center of Your Life

My prayer is that the Word of God is the center of the lives of the people I love.

Friday, August 29, 2014

This is how the Herodites Respond

    Herodic responding – he gathered the chief priests and scribes of the people.  Were they his priests?  Why does it say they belong to the people?  Was he a worshipper or just an information gatherer?  Was he functioning in the fear of the Lord of the fear for his position?  What information did he want from them?  Why didn’t he already know the prophecy?  He demanded?  Why didn’t he request?  Discuss? Rejoice?  Why didn’t they fear to tell him the truth? Why was Bethleham called a prince?  Why did the prophet say Jesus was a governor?  Has the prophecy not come true?  Jesus has yet to become the governor of Israel? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All of Jerusalem - now that is freaky

     And all Jerusalem with him?  That verse has always freaked me out even before I was into Freakanomics.  How does one man’s trouble become the entire city’s troubles?  I am thinking this was because of his reputation to come against the innocent, to irresponsibly harm others without thought,  to be careless and uncaring.  There are many men who have that effect on their families – I’ve seen it.  It always makes me think of Herod and how his anger permeated the city when I see this kind of husband and father – bullies, really, bringing their anger down on everyone’s parade.  Herod – an angry fool who wants everyone paying for his unhappiness.  A fool to be avoided.  Turn away from the angry man, least you learn his ways.    

Kings and Leaders

I think God used the word troubled because Herod “didn’t want them to see him sweat.”   He had learned the art of knowing how much emotion to show without it looking as if he was not in control.  Of course he was never in control; he was holding onto his position by his own sheer will killing anyone, even toddlers, who might threaten him.
Poor leaders always drag other fearing souls into their drama.  It is the same today.  The government was never to be our source, we were to be the ones who held them up in prayer, seeking God’s will in a situation.  Staying with our eyes on the Lord, believing in His government over our souls.  But we modern day Christians are mostly ranting and raving about government than being the church in our communities.

I think at times when people do not seek God in their choices for leaders and vote frivolously or don’t vote at all,  they say – well it must have been God’s will.  I say – don’t blame God for your lack of integrity when it comes to you responsibility in selecting leaders.  We get who we deserve because we have voted them in.  Hopefully God had his way with your vote.  And God is most likely still saying – “you’re the ones who wanted a King.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Freaking Contrasts

I always love the contrasts in the Bible – here are two men –
Herod, a powerful man who had made his destiny through murder, greed and power, although he knew the scriptures.   He must have believed them or he would not have listened to the Magi, requested them to return to him, and murdered Jewish boys.  He believed the scriptures but did not love or worship God.  His love was purely towards himself and his personal gain.  And with all that going on, he missed the entire point of his life even though he was adored by many – probably out of fear, but nonetheless.

Joseph, was a man with no personal power over men, who made his destiny through seeking and obeying God.  He knew, believed, and followed the  scriptures.  He worshiped God in thought, word, and deed.  His love was towards God and God’s will.  He hit the mark of his life, changed the world forever, and yet was, for the most part, totally obscure. 
There is much to be said about the simplicity of loving God and believing on His Word.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Freaks From Afar

   I am not sure the wise men were anyone’s counsel.  They could just have been men who were wise that a lot of people looked to for wisdom - like elders of the community.   It does not say anything other than that they were from the east.  East of Jerusalem is a great amount of territory, so they truly could have come from a far.  I am not sure that the wise men had a true religion with the one true God, but of course many people are God seekers and it says if you seek him, you will find him.  I think the prophets did and said things so out of the box, people even from a far heard about it.  They had to know the prophecies to feel the star was important.  You know there are just some people who get it that seeking God is the one important thing.  Surely they had to be independently wealthy to have made the trip and bring those gifts, though, you know?  or they could have come on behalf of another kingdom with those gifts. 

Freaking on Bethlehem

  It is hard to practice Freakanomics with the Christmas Story because like even non-Christians believe they know everything about this story.  Nothing new to see here, everybody keep moving.  So let me see what stirs my questioning.
   So were the wise men like the president's counsel?  Did they have abilities in astrology or were they religious?  If they were religious, what was their religion?  With poor communication apparatuses, how did they hear of the impending King of the Jews?  How did they know to follow a star?  Were they versed in Jewish prophecy?  Was Herod troubled because he knew the prophecies or just a foolish man running hard to hold on to his position while running 180 degrees in the wrong direction with his life?  Troubled?  That doesn't seem to be a big enough word.  I have always loved the second part of this verse ... and all Jerusalem with him.  Everyone in the city knew?  and were upset too?  what were they upset about?  wasn't this new king good news for them?  were they faking being upset?  were they upset just because the king was upset?  were they afraid what he might do?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Joseph - As I Freakanomicly Respond

   Joseph is my favorite Bible character probably because he was so unpretentiously obedient without a thought to his own welfare.  I think he loved Mary deeply and was relieved when he was told to take her as his wife.  I don't believe he was ever mad, but was trying to follow the law of his faith by putting her away.  But the jewel in his crown was that he was willing to give his situation thought - he thought and then his pondering and meditation gave way to his heart being opened to dreams from the Lord.  What we ponder on definitely opens us up to what we dream and become. 
  I believe Joseph wanted to see Mary though this pregnancy and was trying to get direction on how to do that and stay within the teachings of his faith.  I doubt his reputation was ever his concern.
  I have to believe Mary had told him her story of the visitation from the angel, but he still had a mind to putting her away.  She would have definitely been in a more horrible situation, but he too would have been in a questionable spot.  I honestly believe, though, once he got his marching orders, he was relieved to go forth and live this out with her in complete joy.
   It could be that Jewish girls dreamed to be the mother of the Messiah, but that would only be because they had not really thought it out.  I doubt Jewish boys gave a thought to being the Messiah's earthly father.  I think there are parts of a prophecy that is not truly thought out.  Probably everyone thought the Messiah's mother would be so obviously chosen that there would be no stigma.  True obedience always comes with a price.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Joseph - My Favorite As I Think Like A Freak

  So here are my questions about Joseph.  How could he dismiss Mary just because she was pregnant if he really loved her?  Was he worried about his reputation?  Was he so upset with her he could not see seeing her through this pregnancy?  Why does the Bible not show any emotion on the part of Joseph?  He must not have been mad or he would have exposed her publically.  So what does it mean when it says he was a just man?  Just usually means fair.  Was he being fair?   Was he minded to do it or was he going to do it?  Was he just thinking about it?  If he put her away privately, he would be exonerated but not her?  He was a man of thought - what was he thinking about?  Was he thinking that he loved her so much and now this?  Was he thinking about what she had told him?  Had she told him about her visitation?  Does thinking on things bring about God sent dreams?   Did Joseph remember those verses?  Was every young virgin praying to be the mother of the messiah?  Was every young man praying to be the husband of that virgin?  How crazy was it for the prophet to say a virgin shall be with child and bring forth a son?  Did people in general believe the prophecies or had they forgotten them?  Were the prophesies taught in the synagogue?  How could Joseph be so blindly obedient?  He appears to not have hesitated a second - did he even ask one question back?  Doesn't his not knowing her until Jesus was born prove his incredible love for her or does it prove he is obedient to God? 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mary - Thinking Only Like a Freak

   When I began to ponder Mary - especially after dissecting the interesting women in Jesus's ancestry - I believe of all the women, it was the hardest to think freaky about her (where you do not just rely on what you have been taught as the truth).  Being afraid to not think freaky, I do believe, is why Christians and non Christians get bored with the Bible.  They just are afraid to plunder freely the "holy teachings of the church."  The teachings which, quite honestly, could or could not be actually holy or Spirit breathed. 
   If what I've just wrote shocked you, please do not read on.  It is ok to just believe what you are told and settle for that.  Actually it is probably very "safeish."   But something within me believes there are hidden truths that can only be discovered by upturning every stone. 
   Again today I am going with my thinking that I previously wrote that I do not believe God wanted to wait fifty-two generations - over one thousand years - to reconcile with mankind. I believe he had to wait as he does all the time, throughout eternity, every generation, every day .. to find a willing vessel to carry out His plans..
   I know God is patient and a thousand years is like a day to him, but I honestly believe Mary was just as ordinary as those other people in Matthew 1.  What makes Mary so incredible - and I believe she was amazing and brave - is solely that she was obedient to the very difficult call on her life. 
   Was she perfect?  Absolutely not, only Jesus was perfect.  Did she always support Jesus blindly?  No, she called him away when he was preaching, and he rebuked her.  She was just a gal - like all us gals and guys. What makes her different is that she was a gal who obeyed.  She shouldn't be worshipped, but should be held in awe along with all the other gals and guys who have changed the world through doing what God called them to do - that rare and obedient small group of people. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Throw it All Away to Think Freaky

   One problem with Christians is that we have sat for hours listening to what others believe a scripture is saying -  Sunday morning, Sunday School, Bible Study, Wednesday night, Sunday night, books, commentaries, etc.  You get the drift.  But when you are using Freakanomics, you have to throw away everything you've been taught, everything you've believed, and think it over fresh.  All that listening to others has ruined us.  Like a magnet we go right to what we were told something meant.  It is our comfort zone.
   We were told that God wanted us to know that he uses even bad people to bring about his plans.  If there is one thing I know about God - although He is sovereign and can do anything he wants, he is no puppet master,
   God rarely gets His way.  Most of the time, God speaks, no one listens; God moves, people take credit for it; God directs, people do their own thing.  God's will be done - usually isn't.  When people do listen, believe God to move, and follow His directions, beautiful things happen, but if we'd be honest about it, that is rare and because it is so rare, our world is in a stinking' mess.
   So, I write all this to say that it is hard for me to believe that God orchestrated all the manipulative things these women in Matthew 1 did.  You would have to believe that God wanted Thamar to lie, deceive, and trick her way into motherhood.  You would have to believe that it was God's will for David to cheat with Bathsheba, and so God caused it to happen.  We all know none of this lines up with God's character.
   Then we are left with the fact that God had little to no control of any of these events and that the ladies just happen to be in the lineage as randomly as other people is a person's lineage.  Maybe it is just the randomness of life and the craziness of events that is brought out here; and that through it all, God still brought forth His Son although it took 14x3 - 42 generations.  I feel confident God desired to do it a lot sooner than that, but had to find the people who would obey.  Which brings us to Mary, next time.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Girls of Matthew - Like a Freak

When you use Freakanomics as a Bible Study tool, the first  step is to get as many questions as you can spilled out and roll them around in your head, if possible share the questions with a Bible study buddy just to shake things up, hold those questions up as a mirror to your life and ways, and think of them again as you drift off to sleep at night.
   Then, after all that,  you might have some answers, but you also might not.  If you honestly meditate on your wonderings, you definitely will have some thoughts.  Thoughts that might change your life forever - honestly, this question probing and attempt to answer might straighten out a crooked line and set your life in a better, more clear and healing direction forever.
   Matthew 1's relentless display of highlighting only the gossip worthy girls of Jesus's genealogy caused me to wonder why they got the break?  What was it about Tamar that caused God to honorably or maybe it was dishonorably call her out?  Was it because she was so wronged and took matters into her hands? 
   As I spend my life trying to wait patiently on God's leading and yet fill my life with mistakes of insisting and "making" my own way, Tamar's gift of birthing a son in the lineage baffles me.  I would love to think this line of women just display the oft quoted scripture that says - all things work together for  good, but I don't think that is  the main message here. 
   One thing I did take away from all of this yesterday - God is way more interested in loving, forgiving, and embracing those who mess up than I am.  God's loving reminder of these women's part in the most important event in the history of mankind, shames me of my petty grievances towards those you have hurt me - hopefully straightening my path and mind forever.  Gotta love those gals!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Matt 1: 1-16 - Like a Freak

   Genealogies are always interesting.  Is God screaming at us - families are very important?  or is God saying anyone can be a part who matter who, no matter how?
   What causes God to mention people randomly - like Judas and his brothers, and mothers like Tamar, Rachab, Ruth, her that had been the wife of Urias, then no other mothers until Mary?
   Are these mothers more important because they are out of the norm?  Did he mention them because they were women who pointed to the goodness of God?  the grace of God?  Are these women to give us hope that even in horrible situations God can come through? 
  Tamar and the wife of Urias became part of the most important linage through sin possibly of their own choosing?  Does Rachab prove that even after a life of sin that goes again everything that strengthens a family, God can still use you to bring about the savior of the world from the most important family?  How does one go from being a prostitute to being part of God's eternal plan?  Why doesn't this happen today or is it just as rare as it was back then?   Didn't Rachab become part of the plan out of desperation?  Boaz was a really nice man - how did that happen with his mother being a prostitute?  So prostitutes can be really great people and mothers who are just in a bad situation? Why did they solicit help from a prostitute?  Is it the deal of being available?
    Was Ruth mentioned because of her not being an Israelite?  Was she, like Rachab an example of God taking a bad situation and turning it around? 
    Was the wife of Urias a victim or was she a willing participant?  Again, like Rachab, is a woman who is an adulterer one who can raise a son as wise as Solomon?  Did she pour into Solomon don't do what I did?  Did she love or hate being part of David's group of wives?  Was she David's one true love?  How could someone else's wife be God's perfect choice for Jesus's linage?  Did God bless David and the wife of Urias' marriage?  Did God look upon her as David's wife when David had so many?  Do we put too much stock in this whole marriage thing when it appears God blesses even women like Tamar who tricked her way into the family?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Think Like A Freak - Great Idea

   After reading the Think Like a Freak books by Steven D. Levitt and  Stephen J. Dubner, I realized that this method of exploration would work great for those of us who love to read and meditate on God's Word - the Bible.  I must admit there are times I am in need of a challenge or another approach to reading the imperishable seed of God.  We can begin to take the precious words for granted and feel that we know it all.  When I started thinking like a freak in my Bible reading time, the Word came alive to me again and again.
  You honestly can open the Bible any place and start this procedure.  I just randomly opened the Bible the first day I experimented with this and felt like I had really never even taken any thought about Gideon of my own although I knew a lot of what I had been taught about the passages.
   When you think like a freak - the exploration becomes your own.  The questions delve deeper and deeper into realms that you before never gave much consideration.  You begin to see layers and layers of teaching and wisdom that are packed way below the surface on everything from one word to an entire chapter.  You begin to see connections that you never explored before. 
   Freaky thinking, questioning, and stripping of verses enhances the Word and makes it your own mine to explore and uncover.  The treasures are there for the questioning.