Tag Archives: fun

Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over

You may have heard of the young Catholic monk who was assigned to copying ancient manuscripts in the cellar of the monastery library. He worked tirelessly, straining his eyes and consulting lexicons and dictionaries to correctly transcribe and translate each parchment. He climbed the stars each evening exhausted and ink stained.  His brothers began to worry about him.

Then one day they heard a blood-curdling scream rise from the cellar. They rushed to the top of the stairs. The young monk raced up and dropped to his knees on the top stair. With a strength powered by anguish, he tore his robe and wailed, “The word is ‘celebrate,’ C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E.”

All the other monks dropped to their knees and wept with him.

A motto that can sometimes describe how many of us view and live the Christian life is the one sports announcer Don Meredith sang near the end of many Monday Night Football games, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

Yet, God spends a lot of time mandating his people to  celebrate feasts, festivals, celebrations, and–well–parties.

Are we guilty of thinking that the faith life amounts to turning out the lights and shutting down the party? I know at times I am.

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 Chronicles 31:1-36:23

1 Corinthians 1:1-17

Psalm 27:1-6

Proverbs 20:20-21

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Chronicles 31:1-36:23: To a large extent Israel has ceased to follow and serve the Lord. And in consequence God allows other kings and nations to rule and subjugate them. This brings up an age-old question, why would anyone choose to serve lifeless objects and ideas rather than the living, loving Lord of all? The answer lies in the heart of each of us.

But Chronicles ends hinting that even when we give up on God, God does not give up us. If God’s people will not respond to him, Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia will. The story is is not over.

1 Corinthians 1:1-17: 1 Corinthians is a misunderstood and often misused book. It has become a modern proof text for and against–mostly for–belief in miraculous spiritual gifts. Not to mention 1 Corinthians 13 becoming the most common wedding reading. But that is only scratching the surface of this brilliant, painfully honest–sometimes brutal–letter to the church that had formed and was struggling to define itself in the ancient Roman city of Corinth.

If not filled with wedding poetry and descriptions of other worldly gifts, what is this letter all about? Paul lays it out in verse 13 of chapter 1. “Is Christ divided?” he asks the Corinthian Christians. Thus is the underlying message of this letter. Our sister and brotherhood in Christ unites, not divides.

Paul addresses several divisions the Corinthians boasted of. As we read through this letter, let’s ask what as the modern bride of Christ, we have learned or failed to learn about unity in Christ. What divides us today?

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

Christianity and Judaism have long been accused of being monkish, dour and dreadfully serious. And rightly so. Not only have both faiths fostered movements such as the ancient and desert-bound Essenes and the somber new-world Puritans, but we are dealing with real life and death issues, not to mention life after death issues. This is rather serious business.

Yet feasts, festivals, and parties comprise a large part of what God expects his people to do together. Old Testament worship is often prescribed and described as celebration. Can you imagine how bustling and noisy and alive was worship in the days of the Tabernacle and Temple? Kids, fathers, mothers, soldiers, shepherds, birds, goats, priests, smoke, bells, songs, laughter, shouting, and teachers mingled in the courts all seeking God and his forgiveness. Compare that with our often silent, meditative, somber approach to worship.

It’s as if we are saying, “Shhh, God may be napping.”

Jesus seems to advocate this party mentality too. He describes heaven and the kingdom as a party. And despite our erroneous portrait of him as some depressed British guy, Jesus used humor often and moved comfortably in noise and celebration. He even threw a party for his last meal with his disciples. They did not eat only bread, nor drink grape juice.

This last section of Chronicles highlights this party mentality as well. Josiah brings Israel back to God and throws a Passover party. And it is an elaborate one. The whole nation is involved.

Then something we have seen before and very sad happens. Josiah and Israel stop celebrating. He is killed and the people turn away from God. Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

As I read this section, I wondered if there is not a correlation between our inability to celebrate God and our slow movement away from obedience to God. Laughter and noise and celebration, especially together with loved ones, are healing and motivating. Yet we consider these things frivolous.

When I was a new follower of Christ, as a teenager, I struggled to break away from the drinking and drug party scene. I had heard that Jesus went everywhere with me and when I was partying, he was there and was probably not enjoying the party. That was all true. But his lack of joy came from my self-destructive behavior not my desire to enjoy life and celebrate. Interestingly enough, I truly began to grow and live in my faith when I found a group of friends who knew how to love and celebrate God. We throw a mean party.

Today let’s turn on the lights, the party’s just started!

  1. What divides us today?
  2. What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?

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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