Bible Posts

The Story Comes Full Circle

We are going through The Story at Central right now and this past weekend we covered Joshua and the city of Jericho. I had a few people ask me about how we reconcile God’s command for the Israelites to wipe everyone out. That includes women and children. Stop for a moment and actually imagine God asking you to carry out that order. Sound horrific? Hopefully it does. This leads us to a problem that any critical thinker who ponders this story has to wrestle with. What do we do with this story in light of what we see in Jesus?

We have a few obvious answers to this question:

  1. It is literal history and we must accept it as is.
  2. It is an allegory and is not to be taken literally in any way (as the early theologian Origen does)
  3. Something else is going on with this narrative that requires deeper interpretation.

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The Gift of Bad Leaders

I’ve arrived at a leadership axiom after a couple different observations collided together in my head.

Example #1: Recently I watched as one of the people on my team had to navigate a difficult situation. To top it off, he was fixing a problem from someone else. On one hand, it wasn’t fair he had to do this. But that comes with the territory when you lead well. It was precisely because of his great leadership he was given the task of fixing another person’s problem.

Example #2: This coincided with a story I was reading about Moses. As Moses is receiving the “big ten,” his brother Aaron is busy enabling the Israelites to start making their own gods and essentially forgetting everything God had just done for them. When Moses confronts his brother, Aaron gives a typical—yet awesomely moronic—defense of his poor leadership:

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Love Your Enemy… Just Kidding!

Love Your Enemy… Just Kidding!

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that leave much to interpretation. Is it meant to be literal, or a metaphor, or a story, or poetry, or prophecy, or a handful of other writing styles?

And then there are the other verses that are shockingly simple. Yet those don’t tend to be any easier for us to understand or apply. Consider the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

That’s about as straightforward as it gets. But like another guy who heard Jesus teach about our neighbors (Luke 10:29), we tend to wonder which of our enemies he’s referring to? Sure, I’ll love my theoretical enemy, but surely this has limits right? The typical Christian in America today might have this list of exclusions to Jesus’ enemy policy:

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Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Gen. 1:26)

Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Gen. 1:26)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

We started week one of The Story at Central this week so I’ve been reflecting a bit on the creation narrative. Here we find another misquoted verse of the Bible which you often hear mentioned (out of context) today. As God speaks everything into existence we get to the verse where Adam enters the scene. Noticeably, things are different with this part of creation.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, underline mine)

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Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Job 1:21)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

Is it true that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away? It’s generally accepted to be that way. We often hear this at funerals or whenever some unexplainable disaster hits us. It’s a way of acknowledging things don’t make sense and throwing all responsibility to God alone. This statement originally came from the lips of a man who loses everything himself. In the book of Job we see the awful experience of a guy who loses his possessions, his health, and his children. He gets to keep his wife, although I have a feeling he would have traded her for one of the things he lost after she tells him to “curse God and die” (2:9).

Job expresses his reaction to his suffering like this:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (1:21)

We sing worship songs with this lyric as you can see from the Matt Redman video above (at the 2:16 mark). If you’ve been around in church for the last ten years you’ve likely sang it. The context for Job saying it was worship as well (1:20). But stop a moment and consider what this means. If you lose your job, did God take it away? If a woman is raped, did God take this away from her? For the little child who is murdered, did God take them away? Is God the source of pain in our lives?

What kind of a sadistic view of God does this actually create?

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Misquoted Verses (Philippians 4:13)

Misquoted Verses (Philippians 4:13)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

As we’ve seen in other passages I’ve looked at in this series, many of the misquoted verses we know are the result of bumper stickers or t-shirts designed to inspire and encourage Christians. There’s nothing wrong with that desire. However, many of the verses or expressions that are used in these examples are more catchy than they are Biblical. Today’s verse is a great example.

Consider the way most translations handle Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” NASB95

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