Tag Archives: David

What Happened on the Sixth Most Important Day in History?

By Eugene C. Scott

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

“Little David, you need to go to Jerusalem. Maybe there will be something for you there,” my friend Baruch told me.

Baruch was right. One swipe with my blade–it made a small sound, snick–and the fat pouch dropped into my hand. Then I was off to the next contributor. They paid me no mind, a dirty, hungry run-away. Looking at me meant touching me, caring.

Besides they were listening to the Rabbi with death on his face. He was teaching from under a leafy fig tree. The Rabbi gestured toward the tree. Snick, and the next pouch was mine. It was just like shearing sheep. I tucked the money inside my robe and eyed another contributor who had more than he needed.

“Ohhhh,” the crowd moaned. Someone pressed against my back.

I’m caught, I thought.

Then I saw it. The fig tree. It’s leaves were suddenly brown, withered, trembling. One leaf dropped to the ground, lifeless like the sparrow I once hit mid-flight with a stone.

“He killed it with only words,” an old woman in front of me said.

The Rabbi lifted his voice, his eyes grabbed mine, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for . . . . . . in prayer.”

I pulled my robe tighter over my stolen money. It felt heavy against my thigh. I slipped behind the old woman. The Rabbi strode away from the dead tree and away from Jerusalem. The mummer of hundreds of Jews singing Psalms rose with the dust from their feet. He–they called him Yeshua–walked with dangerous determination. Enough to finally change things.

Those brave, or foolish enough to follow him, would see him hung on a Roman cross. I was one of the foolish ones. That day the pouches under my robe became even heavier. I took them to the temple and left them. Baruch was right. There was something for me in Jerusalem.

*****

This story illustrates small things, seemingly unimportant things–some call them butterfly effects–often become bigger than we ever imagine they could. A small, insignificant boy saw a poor, homeless man wither a fig tree. And then walk to his death, joining thousands of others killed on Roman crosses in his day. The Roman government barely noticed, the gossips and story-tellers (news media) quickly moved on to bigger stories. Jesus made a choice that would tear the fabric of history. And something changed this day, at the very least millions of lives we have no record of.

Hebrews call this day Yom shenee, the second day. In the modern world we call it Monday, the first day. In whatever language you speak, on this day some two thousand years ago Jesus was terminal. He had five days to live. He made small choices that propelled him toward the cross rather than run away from it. Thus, by the choices Jesus made, and the ripples in time those choices would send out, this is the sixth most important day in history.

Had you been there what would you have seen? Would you have followed? What decisions would you have made? What would Yeshua have seen in you?

Eugene C. Scott was changed because of those choices Jesus made. He also loves to read and write stories. Eugene is currently writing another blog called The Year of Living Spiritually. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

Read more about this day in history in Matthew 21:12-19, Mark 11:11-19 and Luke 19:45-46.

Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

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When is Jesus Coming Again? Or Has He Already?

Wearing my dress whites, I stood at parade rest on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. The sun heated the sky into a skillet gray. Sweat beaded on my face and threatened to soil my uniform. I was one of thousands of sailors enduring a full dress inspection. An Admiral slowly worked his way through our ranks randomly stopping in front one hapless sailor after another nailing each for uniform infractions.

Somehow I knew I would attract his attention and that I would fail inspection. Failing held dire consequences. The ridicule and punishment would be severe. Without moving my head, I gazed off into the cloudless sky and prayed that Jesus would suddenly appear in the sky and yank me (and any of the other Christians  present) out of this tribulation.

I was eighteen, unhappy, a seaman in the Navy, and a believer in something Christians call the Rapture. The Rapture is a belief that somewhere near the beginning of the end of the world (pre-tribulation) Jesus will appear in the sky and remove the Church from the coming wrath of God and tribulation.

As I predicted, I failed my inspection. And on top of that, either I was left behind or Jesus did not come back that day back in the 1970s.

I hope it’s the latter. If that’s the case, when is Jesus coming back?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Jeremiah 23:21-25:38

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Psalm 84:1-12

Proverbs 25:15

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Psalm 84:1-12: Even sparrows and swallows receive God’s care and attention. What does that mean for humans?

Not so much for many of us modern 21st Century humans, I’m afraid. We live too far away from the natural world of the sparrow and the swallow to really know what these agrarian, outdoorsy allusions in Scripture mean.

I call this the curse of air conditioning. Though modern advancements and technology deliver many blessings, they also tend to separate us from the real world and its all too real Creator. Like a child who believes money comes free and unfettered out of automatic teller machines, we believe our protection comes from our amazing technology and our sustenance from the grocery store.

But the “Lord God is a sun and shield” our source of life just as he is for lowly sparrows.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

When is Jesus coming back? Jesus said no one but the Father knows, not even Jesus knew at that point. I’m still waiting, though not as impatiently as that day on the Kitty Hawk. I no longer believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, however. Not because of that disappointing day on the flight deck but because, I now understand my belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture flowed out a deep misunderstanding of God and my misguided desire to escape trouble and difficulty and pain.

I’m not saying that all who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture do so out of a need to escape pain (though it is a question worth asking ourselves). I know there are biblical passages that can be interpreted to support the Rapture. For example, Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:1: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, . . . .” Many interpret the phrase “gathered to” as a reference to Christians being gathered in the air to Jesus and then taken into heaven.

The myriad biblical interpretive nuances (too myriad to discuss here) aside, one major reason I left my Pre-Tribulation Rapture belief behind is that all through Scripture and history God seldom pulls his people out of tribulation or trouble. Sometimes God even led his people into trouble and always–always–walks his people through tribulation. See Abraham, Israel, Moses, David, the prophets, John, Jesus, Peter, Paul, the Church, and Martin Luther for just a few examples. In the end God also turns that trouble into a new story, a new opportunity to walk with God. This focus on God as a rescuer seems to diminish God’s role as redeemer.

And I don’t think I’m straining at gnats in making this theological distinction. If we expect God to rescue us from the ultimate tribulation, why not daily trouble such as a full dress inspection or real, worse trouble. Then what do we do when God doesn’t rescue us? Do we then miss the truth that, though Jesus will be coming back in bodily form, he is also already here in Spirit walking through trouble with us? What we believe about theological ideas such as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture reveal who we believe God is and shape what we expect life to be like.

When is Jesus coming back? In his time, but probably not just in time to rescue his beloved. While we wait, Paul does not want us to be unsettled or alarmed or to be deceived, however. Rather we are to stand fast in Christ. As I look back on that day on the Kitty Hawk flight deck, I realize I was not only immature but also not left behind. Rather I now see God’s grace has been sufficient for me in all and every situation, joyful and painful.

1. Which passage spoke most to you?

2. What did the four have in common?

2. How do you see God in nature?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Connecting Your Story to God’s Story

Monday April 17, 1978 “was extremely windy and cold.” At work “the wind blew me off a ladder” and we were finally forced to quit and go home. In 1978 I was staying with my younger brother, sleeping on his couch. I was a twenty-one year-old depressed high school drop out and confused carpenter.

The economy was in shambles and getting worse. The Denver building boom was about to bust. Life looked and felt as bleak as the spring weather, except that I had started dating this young red-headed college girl who loved God with all her heart. I know this because Monday April 17 was the day I first began journaling, recording in a yellow notebook my thoughts and feelings and experiences.

“All in all this has been a good day,” I wrote at the end of my second day’s entry.  “Jesus has been on my mind quite a bit. I hope He is there more tomorrow.”

Looking back on those first entries, I can see Jesus was not only in my mind but always there with me tomorrow and the next day and next day for more than thirty years now. I now know Jesus was always ahead of me writing the next part of the story, the next chapter of my life. My challenge has been to faithfullyu live that story and then record it.

For me journaling is a spiritual discipline that helps me know myself and connect with God. David too practiced this spiritual discipline.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Isaiah 60:1-62:5

Philippians 1:27-2:18

Psalm 72:1-20

Proverbs 24:11-12

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Philippians 1:27-2:18: This section of Paul’s letter holds one of the most beautiful lyrics and profound pieces of theology in all the New Testament. Chapter 2:6-11 is probably an ancient hymn or creed of the early church that proclaims the central truth of Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection, and exaltation.

All four aspects of the truth of Christ’s life are woven together and one cannot exist without the other. Though many focus on the cross as God’s ultimate act of salvation, Christ’s death would not have been possible without his making himself nothing and coming to earth. Nor was his crucifixion extraordinary with out the resurrection. And his life overall was unremarkable without his death, resurrection and exaltation.

This means Christmas, Easter, and Ascension are equally holy, mysterious and powerful in God’s plan of salvation for each of us.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

David, King of Israel, journaled also, obviously more poetic, profound, and inspired than my efforts. Psalm 72 ends saying, “This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.” The first seventy-two psalms, almost half the book, therefore, are primarily David’s poems, songs, thoughts, questions, struggles, answers, and epiphanies.

I have often imagined David sitting under a purple sky caring for his sheep and pouring out his heart to God in poetry. Or pacing his throne room muttering his complaints against God. Then finally in his bed chamber refining his ancient journal entries and, with God’s hand on his quill, turning his life’s story into a poem that millions would read and be touched and encouraged by. In them we learn about his view of and love for God, his failing family, his leadership, his adultery, repentance, and through it all, his dependence on God. In these journal entries we see real life, lived with a real God. Before God touched us through David’s journal, I can imagine David, in a difficult day, rereading some of his entries and being given new strength, new insight, new courage through his own story.

I’m glad I recorded some of the raw and real things I did over the last thirty years. I’m not so sure I’m as brave as David to let anyone else read them. I wrote about my doubts, my lust, my faithfulness, my fears (lots of those), my friends, family, failures, my slow, sometimes painful, growth and my red-headed wife always showing me how better to love God.

My old journals carry my story and show how it connects to God’s: how God has walked beside me in it all. Just as God did with David.

Though the Psalms are beautiful, like my journal they are not sanitized. David’s psalms tell us we too can be real with God. And that when we are real with him we open ourselves up to his touch.

Journaling is not just a literary practice. It lets us tell our stories and lets us know our stories are connected to God’s story.

  1. Which passage spoke most to you?
  2. What did the four have in common?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Is Homosexuality the Unforgivable Sin? (Warning: You May Not Like this Blog Entry)

A small group of people in Topeka, Kansas have become infamous for their hate of homosexuals. They call themselves a church but consist mainly of the members of the founder’s family (I am torn here between naming the offenders to expose them and not naming them so as to not give them more publicity. I chose the latter.) These misguided, twisted sinners* travel the country and protest all things homosexual by holding up signs reading, “God Hates Fags,” and screaming vile slogans.

Romans 1:18-32 is one of the biblical passages they use to justify their hate. After reading  it myself, I wonder: if they feel these verses give them permission to protest homosexuality, why don’t they also attend church prayer meetings with signs reading, “God Hates Gossips,” or protest outside of their own meeting hall with signs saying, “God Hates Slanderers,” and “God Hates the Heartless and the Senseless”?

If I haven’t made you too angry or nervous, read on and ask with me, “Is homosexuality the unforgivable sin?”

(*Note: I too am a misguided, twisted sinner in need of God’s undeserving mercy.)

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING(click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36

Romans 1:18-32

Psalm 10:1-15

Proverbs 19:6-7

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36: When we last saw David, he was angry with God over (1 Chron. 14:11) the death of Uzzah. It seems David has reconsidered and has actually asked God about the ark and it’s treatment. David shows once again he is a “man after God’s own heart” by repenting of his actions and learning from his mistakes. Yet he still exhibits very human behavior in that he seems to blame the  Levites for “not bringing it up the first time.” I wonder if this is the first time the phrase “ignorance of the Law is no excuse.”

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Still with me? I hope so.

“Hate” is a strong word and in humans an even stronger emotion. The word “hate” occurs about 128 times in the English Bible, and only a dozen or so times in reference to God hating (The word “love” crops up nearly 700 times). And most often “hate” doesn’t describe an emotion but rather an enemy. The sense is that God generally “hates” things that are destructive to us humans, but not an emotion God feels toward humans. God views them as our enemies. The list of destructive actions God hates includes “robbery and iniquity,” “wrong doing,” “violence,” “idol worship,” and “religious feasts.”   Proverb 6:16-19 says,

“There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

In short, because God loves us so much, God hates sin, which means any minor or major human action that hurts or destroys us spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially, or physically. We could spend 24/7 protesting such things and not exhaust the list.

And God seems to hate all of this self–and others–destructive behavior equally. No one enemy to humanity rises above the other.

Jesus equates anger with murder and declares calling someone a fool an eternally punishable offense (Mtt. 5:22). This confuses us because, to us, there are obviously sins worse than others. But Jesus is simply pointing out that anger eventually kills a relationship and possibly even a life, though in a less drastic way than murder. The destruction of the relationship and life are what seem to matter to God not the severity of the destruction. The earth-bound consequences differ, but both kill.

God views homosexuality and idol worship through the same loving eyes. To God worshiping a tree, money, success, or a god that does not exist is as “unnatural” (something we were not created to do) and soul-destroying as is misuse of the great gift of our sexuality. One is a fatal misunderstanding of who God is and the other a misunderstanding of who we are. Both may be love misapplied.

Is homosexuality an unforgivable sin? Some seem to act so. But Scripture, and God’s nature, belie that view.

  1. Do these readings connect in any way?
  2. If so, in what way?
  3. What enemies of God do you still harbor in your heart and life?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Very Superstitious: Christians and Baseball Players

Baseball players are infamous for their superstitious behavior. Watch almost any major league pitcher or batter. Before they pitch or hit, they repeat the exact same movements, adjusting their ball caps, fastening their gloves, pulling their shirts, spitting.

For example, relief pitcher Turk Wendell chewed and spit out four pieces of black licorice every inning he pitched. Slugger Barry Bonds kissed his gold necklace after he hit a home run. Worst of all was Kevin Rhomberg, who made little impact on baseball except for his obsessive need to touch back any one who touched him first. If he was tagged out on base, he would wait for the end of the inning and touch the opposing player back as the player left the field. If Rhomberg failed to return touch someone, he would send them a letter saying, “This constitutes a touch.” “The Seattle Times”

Laugh if you will (you should), but most of us, especially those of us who believe in God, behave superstitiously. Even King David. Read on.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17

Romans 1:1-17

Psalm 9:13-20

Proverbs 19:4-5

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17: This section is largely a rehash of previous readings and the author seems concerned with telling us how David consolidated his throne. We see two things. First, many of the fighting men from other tribes, who presumably served with Saul, joined David, giving him military might. Second, unlike Saul, David seeks God before making any military moves, giving him spiritual heft.

Romans 1:1-17: I believe Paul was one of the greatest intellects in human history. If not for his strict Judeo/Christian worldview, Paul would be ranked with great philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes. Consider that in his letter to Christians in the city of Rome, he articulates the philosophies of reasoning from the natural to the supernatural (nature to God in chapter 1), the psychological concept of humans carrying dual natures (Jekyll and Hyde, chapter 7), the thorny idea of predestination (chapters 8-9), a nascent equality of races (chapter 9-11), and a brief but profound philosophy of government (chapter 13). These ideas and his powerful, often poetic, and logical way of communicating them  have earned him a respect that even Christians often do not award him.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Believers in God and baseball players are equally superstitious. By superstitious I mean that you, either consciously or subconsciously, believe that if you do or say certain things, that may not actually be connected, a specified outcome will result.

Outfielder Larry Walker fixated on the number three. He wore number 33 and was married November 3 at 3:33P.M. Some Christians avoid 666 and revere threes and sevens. Other Christians repetitively cross themselves, kneel, and touch religious objects in a certain way. Hall of Fame third basemen Wade Boggs tagged third, second, and first base in that order before each game. He would also walk on the baseline, step twice in the coach’s box, and take four steps to get into the dugout.

A stretch, you say. A truth spoken in jest, I say.

After Saul died, King David began to consolidate his throne by not only gathering his army and asking for God’s guidance–very wise moves–he also decided to retrieve the ark of God as a means of having something physically to show God was on his side.

How can I classify that as superstitious? First, David, by not investigating how God commanded the ark be moved, shows he was not really concerned with honoring God, but rather with gaining control of God through obtaining this religious relic. Witness how David transports the ark the same way the Philistines did when they superstitiously returned it.

Second, God takes the life of Uzzah, when he touches the ark. When God takes such drastic measures to make his point, the point is always a major one. God is not perturbed with Uzzah for touching the ark, but rather with David’s view and expectations of the ark.

Just like Wade Boggs, David is guilty of magical thinking.

We are too. We (subconsciously) believe if we go to church, or make a donation, or have enough people praying, or quote a Bible verse, or do God-stuff, God will be pleased with us, or heal us, or do what we have asked (demanded).

This is one of the fallacies inherent in the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” In part this is magical thinking, much like Kevin Rhomberg’s. If I do good things, God must touch me back with good things.

God wants us to know he loves us so much he freely interacts with us. But God is not magic. God is a self-determined, living Being. God cannot be contained in an ark, and therefore controlled by the owner of the ark. God hears our prayers–and often answers them. God smiles on our good deeds–and often rewards them. But these things do not compel God or control him.

Far better would it have been had David regained the ark out of his love and respect for God. Far better also is it for us to worship, pray, serve, and give out of love and respect for God rather than hoping those actions will garner God’s gifts.

  1. Which reading spoke to you?
  2. How have you exhibited superstitious behavior toward God?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Are You in God’s Family Tree?

The internet makes researching family trees relatively easy. So many people are interested in their family stories Ancestry.com predicts it will earn $280 million in 2010. Ancestry.com is capitalizing on more than a fad, however. The industrial revolution and modern transportation enabled people to move away from their places of birth. Rootlessness is epidemic. Sadly even with speed-of-sound transportation and speed-of-light communication we’re losing connectedness with family and family histories.

Before I was born, my parents moved 200 miles north from Trinidad, CO to Denver, looking for work. We quit driving back down for visits in the late 60s. Over the years, as my grandparents and parents passed away, I lost touch with my family, my history. I now know very little about my grandparents and nothing before them.

Yet I know I am who I am in part because of who they were. Trouble is I don’t know who they were. When my mother passed away in 2003, I imagined myself as a small boat drifting out to sea, having been cut loose from the dock. I know I have a history, but don’t know what it is, and worse, don’t know how to carry it into the future.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Kings 5:1-6:38

Acts 7:1-29

Psalm 127:1-5

Proverbs 16:28-30

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Kings 5:1-6:38: Solomon’s Temple was a wonder. Its splendor spoke to how powerful Israel under David had become. The Temple and its courts covered as much ground as a modern shopping mall. Yet this is the top of the slide. The nation is so safe and comfortable that even their wise king begins to forget who got them there: God. Pride comes before a fall.

Psalm 127:1-5: Aristotle posited the concept of “the unmoved mover.” This is the power that first caused the universe and set it in motion. Later Paul Tillich called this our “ground of being.” The psalmist simply says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Sometimes a metaphor spun by the poet tells a truth better than any scientist or philosopher. God is the beginning and end. If we try to move or live without him, we will fail. Maybe not instantly, but eventually.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

The Bible is many things. Some see it as a life instruction manual. There’s even an inane acronym for this: B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). Others treat the Bible as a theological textbook. But what we don’t recognize is that the Bible is a family history: a narrative of God’s ongoing interaction with his sons and daughters.

In Acts chapter 7 Stephan continues the narrative as a defense against the accusations of the Jewish religious leaders. A strange defense. Why do they stone him in the end?

Because Stephan takes his place in a long line of God’s storytellers who, at critical points in time, add their present story to God’s past interaction. Past storytellers added Isaac to Abraham and Joseph to Jacob and David to Samuel. Stephan adds Jesus to them all.

The religious leaders knew what Stephan was about, validating Jesus by connecting him to a long line of people who carried God’s redemption from the past into the present. Stephen declares Jesus the denouement, the final resolution to a dramatic thousand year-old narrative, the amen.

What does this mean for us today? Though Jesus is the final resolution, the story is not over. God wants to add our stories to his story. Just as God added each new generation to the narrative, when they stepped into the story of his redemption, so too can we.

We have not moved too far from our family home, nor are we boats loosed from the docks and adrift. We have not lost touch with our true family. We are connected through our brother Jesus to our Father, God.

Ancestry.com mirrors how much many of us need to be connected to our past.  But we don’t need Ancestry.com tell us who we are truly connected to. It is written on every page of this book we call the Bible.

  1. Which passage spoke to you and why?
  2. Has God connected you to his story?
  3. If so, when and how?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Quick, Define Forgiveness

When I was eight or nine I would stretch out in front of our record player with my chin cupped in my hands and listen over and over to a story about a courageous boy who saves a horse he loves from being gored by a bull in a bull fight.

I can still hear the terrified squeal of the horse, the roar of the crowd suddenly sputter and die, the pounding of hooves, the strong, rich voice of the narrator describing the young Spanish boy, sombrero askew, red scarf flying,  gripping the mane of the horse as he flies from certain death over the gate of the bull fighting arena and to freedom.

I listened to that record until I wore the stereo needle and my mother out.

I can’t remember the name of the tale, or the boy, nor many of its details.  I can, however, remember how I felt as if I were that boy: fearless, selfless, making my little life count for something much bigger than anyone around me thought I could.

That story taught me the meaning of bravery and sacrifice like no dictionary definition ever could.  Stories do that.

What is God saying to you through today’s stories?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Samuel 19:11-20:13

John 21:1-25

Psalm 120:1-7

Proverbs 16:16-17

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 19:11-20:13: One could spend hours trying to understand the how and why of the betrayal and intrigue just in this section of Scripture alone. And doing so might yield some fruit. It might also make one miss the salient point of the story: How much are we each like Shimei, Abishai, and Joab in our betrayal of and double dealing with God? And how much is God like David fearlessly pouring undeserved grace on each of us?

John 16:1-33: Notice the details in this narrative. It’s early in the morning, Peter is unclothed, Jesus builds a fire, they catch 153 fish, Jesus has appeared to them three times. What do these details add to the story? What do they mean? At the very least they mean the author, John, was present and these details spoke to him. What do they speak to you?

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

How much help do you believe the following definition would be to someone who had just been lied to, hurt, or betrayed by a loved one?

Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary says to forgive is “to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.” or “to cease to feel resentment against” someone.

It’s a precise, accurate propositional statement. Good for reminding yourself of what you may not be doing or for reciting in a test, but it’s flat and lacks life, is virtually powerless to produce what it so well defines.

Imagine if when informing us of David regaining the throne, the author of 1 Samuel 19-20 simply wrote, “David granted pardon and ceased to feel resentment against” those who had joined Absalom in betraying him. The Old Testament would be a lot shorter and  profoundly less difficult, complicated, meaningful, and memorable.

So too with how in John 21 John recounts Jesus forgiving Peter. John could merely have listed the facts:

  • Previously Peter denied Jesus three times.
  • Jesus comes to the shore of the lake.
  • Peter swims ashore.
  • Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times.
  • Peter answers yes three times.
  • Jesus cooks some fish.
  • Everyone is happy.

If you recited those facts for a quiz about this section of Scripture you would earn an A, or close to it. But would you know, feel, and understand what forgiveness is? I doubt it.

Therefore, God instead had John show us forgiveness in the story of how Jesus interacted with Peter.

I can see Peter standing in the boat embarrassed, not over being physically naked but emotionally so. I can hear Jesus strong, rich voice asking, “Do you love me?” I, like Peter, hear Jesus’ unspoken, “I love you.” The question and Jesus’ unspoken affirmation are filled with the warmth of love, like the fire Jesus is tending. And in that moment I am Peter. I draw near Jesus’ warmth and I remember how much I hurt him and how much he loves me. I look in his dark eyes and I feel his grace fill me. I weep. Like Peter, I am forgiven.

God’s stories do that.

  1. What details of these stories spoke to you?
  2. Do you learn better by memorizing facts or hearing a story?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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What Do Bob Newhart and Jesus and Nathan the Prophet All Have in Common?


Comedian Bob Newhart reminds me a lot of Jesus. Okay so Jesus didn’t perform stand up comedy, or star in hilarious TV sitcoms, though I believe Jesus was funnier than he is portrayed by all those deadly serious British actors. Nor did Bob Newhart change the world. But I digress.

Bob Newhart and Jesus were both great story tellers. In the original Bob Newhart Show Bob played a psychologist who stammered through the surreal situations his crazy patients and friends drew him into. His solutions to their problems usually came in the form of a story. “Emily,” he would say to Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife Emily, “that reminds me of a story.”

Jesus did likewise. And the prophet Nathan did too when approaching David with the truth about David’s sin. Why?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Samuel 12:1-31

John 16:1-33

Psalm 119:65-80

Proverbs 16:4-5

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 12:1-31: God is never without a voice. He always has someone he can call on. Nathan only shows up here and in the early part of 1 Kings. And he is called on in extremely difficult situations.

David and Bathsheba’s child dies despite the baby’s innocence and David’s repentance, fasting, and prayer. This seems unfair and even cruel. But in order to honor the freedom God grants each of us, God cannot subvert or remove the consequences of those very free choices. David chose his course and God did not alter it.

John 16:1-33: One core idea of this passage contradicts some tenants of a wide stream of modern Christianity. Jesus tells us that following him will bring us trouble and persecution. Yet many today seem to believe in a Jesus whose sole job is to make them happy and keep them safe (in the U.S. we have transferred much of this belief to our government). Jesus promises us both peace and trouble. Seeking only half the equation means we may only get half of Jesus.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

For the majority of human history story (factual and fictional) has  functioned as the major way we communicate truth and important ideas with one another.  As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, Scripture itself is 75-80% narrative. Even in today’s rational, scientific, “just the facts, ma’am” world, ideas (good and bad ones) are often more effectively communicated through story than any other medium.

For example, several scholars wrote tomes containing the questionable idea that Jesus did not die on the cross and after waking up may have married Mary Magdalene. But no one paid attention until Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” hit the book stores. Even in our biblically illiterate world, the best known Bible stories are the ones that have been made into movies and books. Story, though much maligned, especially in Christian circles, is and has been an extremely powerful communication tool.

This is why Bob Newhart and Jesus told so many stories and why Nathan confronted David about his dangerous moral failure using fiction.

Notice how Nathan’s story contains elements David’s relates to. David too was an underdog and a shepherd. On hearing the story, David relates and his newly hardened heart is cracked wide open.

Story simultaneously knocks down our defenses and invites us in to the process of change and growth. Had Nathan come to David with bold, only factual accusations, he may not have lived to help David repent. Nathan’s little lamb story also reached David’s emotions and not just his head. It is always harder to deny and debate feelings What we call facts are always debatable. Stories travel that long road between the head and heart faster.

God too is a storyteller. It is his surest way of reaching our heads and hearts. Below are a couple of questions to help you explore the stories God may be using to form you.

  1. What biblical story has made the biggest impact on you?
  2. What is your story?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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DOES FACEBOOK BEST DEFINE FRIENDSHIPS?

Facebook states the average user has 130 Facebook friends.  I know people who boast of more than 1000 friends on the social networking site.  Some people challenge each other to see who can “friend” the most people. Quantity often trumps quality.

I enjoy and utilize Facebook. Through it I have engaged in theological conversations with people as far away from my native Colorado as Australia. Reconnecting with long lost friends has been rewarding. And social networking sites allow us to keep up-to-date and communicate with many people we would not otherwise be able to.  A Daily Bible Conversation is just such a site.

To name each of the 493 people listed on my Facebook page as friends, however, stretches the definition of friendship out of recognition. Many of them are acquaintances or contacts at best. Can anyone really be friends with 1000 people or even 130?  I suppose it depends on your definition of friendship.

In today’s reading we see that Jonathan and David’s definition of friendship may challenge many of our modern assumptions about relationships.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Samuel 20-21:15

John 9:1-41

Psalm 113:1-114:8

Proverbs 15:15-17

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Samuel 20-21:15: We catch a candid glimpse of the life of the court of Israel’s first king. Saul is grooming Jonathan as heir apparent and has given him much authority. But everyone, including Jonathan, knows that God has decreed the crown will go to David. The tension and intrigue are high. David must hide from a murderous Saul, who is hiding his hatred for David from Jonathan. The issue comes to a head at the New Moon Festival which was a festival the first of each month celebrating God’s constant provision. Jonathan and David meet secretly so that David will not be killed and Jonathan cannot be accused of treason by his father.

Knowing how common it was for those aspiring to a throne to kill anyone who may be in the way, it is remarkable that Jonathan does not betray and kill his friend. Rather he preserves his life and ensures he will not inherit the throne.

John 9:1-41: The religious leaders of Jesus’ day rightly see him as a threat to their power. And he is, though not through Jesus wresting their power from them but rather by transforming what it meant to walk with God. Once again Jesus heals on the Sabbath. This is not coincidence. The Sabbath laws were fiercely debated and enforced. Jesus consistently chose to heal on the Sabbath and “disobey” their pet law to prove who he was and to provoke them. Though Jesus was not political in the way we view it today, he did spend a great deal of time and energy working against established religion. This angered the religious leaders.

Today many Christians are tireless in their critique of governments and political parties they view as wrong. I do not necessarily disagree with this. But following Jesus, I believe, also calls us to evaluate and reform the religious establishment in areas it has lost sight of Jesus‘ mission and where it is as confused and oppressive as any government is and as the Pharisees of old were.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Jonathan and David would have scoffed at what many of us today define as friendship, especially the Facebook kind. We shouldn’t castigate ourselves, however. Because we can learn from them. What made their friendship so exceptional?

Close friends often share common interests.  More than that, David and Jonathan shared a deep, living faith in God. They made at least three covenants to one another that they based on their common Hebrew faith.

This covenant also shows they were both intentional about their friendship. They did not just meet in a bar and “hang out.” They chose to walk with one another through some very difficult times.

Giving not taking was foundational. Both were willing to give up their promised future crowns for one another. Jonathan gave up his relationship with his father. David refused to fight back against Saul and gave up his safety for Jonathan.

They were incredibly loyal to one another. Jonathan kept his promise even though his father threatened to kill him. And David kept his promise to Jonathan’s family long after Jonathan’s death.

They shared their passions and emotions, and even affection.

They were not utilitarian. They did not use one another. Each loved the other as he loved himself.

Several hundred years later Jesus would say this trait–loving others as oneself–was second only to loving God.

In the end what made their friendship uncommon was that they held their relationship sacred. They knew it was from God, holy, living, life-sustaining, worth sacrificing career, standing, and fame for. They weren’t “just” friends.

According to a 2004 Gallup article the average American has nine “close friends.” I probably could count that many myself. But as I look at what these two ancient warriors had, I have some work to do in order to have many of those go as deep as did Jonathan and David.

  1. How do you define friendship?
  2. How many close friends do you have?
  3. Is there anyone in your life with whom you have a friendship similar to Jonathan and David’s?
  4. What issues/practices in modern religious life do you believe Jesus would make a point of resisting

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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