Posts Tagged ‘family’

Redefining Fruitful Bible Study

April 1, 2017

peppersvegetable_94065_pepper_green_half-mMy daughter was working on her first grade class project about fruits and vegetables. She chose one of her favorite vegetables to study, the bell pepper. Come to find out her beloved vegetable was in fact a fruit. Which lead to the discovery that cucumbers, eggplants, sunflower seeds and others are also fruits. Simply defined, fruits are the seed bearing part of a plant. My salad has never been more confusing. I have been misled my entire life.

Often there are three responses to new information:

1) We will lose all faith in those who gave us misinformation, even if it wasn’t their fault or intent.

2) We will not accept the new data as true, holding fast to our old tradition.

3) We adjust our lives according to the truth.

Of course, all three options might have you going through the five stages of grief.

184112978For my family, this information excited and encouraged us to dig deeper into botany. Did you know there are some plants that can figure out the type of caterpillar eating its leaves by the saliva, and send out an effervescent distress call to insects that like to eat that particular species of caterpillar? That would have been cool to learn in school! A botanist on one of the nature shows said concerning plants being able to communicate, “most people will say I’m crazy; most scientists will say I am wrong and crazy.”
nixvhedden.001And then I read that in 1893 a unanimous Supreme Court decision concluded that for import tax purposes a tomato was a vegetable even though it was proven botanically a fruit. At that time fruit did not have an import tariff
whereas vegetables were taxed at about 10%. The court dismissed empirical evidence instead relying on the popular ordinary word usage and (I’m not making this up) that they were usually eaten during the main course of the meal and not as a dessert.

That got me to thinking about Bible study. How do I process new information either from the study of language, culture, history, etc. or from reading devotionally? Do I become forlorn, dismayed or even angry with my past spiritual teachers? Do I dismiss it in favor of the court of public opinion? Or do I embrace God’s revelation, dig deeper and, reform my thinking and living in light of this new discovery?

The 1950’s changed our understanding of covenants after the discovery of a treasure trove of ancient tablets. We now know that the ten commandments were small stones which do not resemble tombstones. And there were two stones, not to bifurcate the list into two categories but to act as a carbon copy one for each party.

shutterstock_222869548I hope we keep discovering and learning and reforming in our theology without being dismissive or lose faith. Keep reading your Bible, and when God speaks may we have receptive ears. Who knows when that, “still small voice” might become a, “crushing clamorous sound” calling us to redefine our beliefs.

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Jesus, Relatives & Christmas Dinner

December 14, 2013

Everybody Loves Raymond‘Tis the season for families to gather together at the table. We gather for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or a Christmas dinner to connect with our extended families including our eccentric relatives and that one crazy uncle. These family gatherings can be rather peculiar, as most of us do not live in a Norman Rockwell painting.

This is also the time of year we set up our nativity displays. They are idyllic and sanitized representations. Mary is sitting up, composed and tranquil after giving birth without an epidural. The dirty rags and straw have been removed. Jesus lies clean and happy in a feeding trough that looks like it was just bought on Black Friday and never used. The whole scene looks like a Febreze meets Purell commercial. As we gather with goofy grandpa and silly sister we look nothing like the Holy Family and thus feel disconnected from them. This sanitized view of that first Christmas does us a disservice (though I am not advocating we set up a realistic church crèche with all the smells, mind you). It distances us from the very child sent to be “God with us.”

Jesus is supposed to be relatable to us. His favorite title for himself was Son of Man, meaning he wanted to be recognized as one of us, for us, and with us. Let us ponder this family for a minute and see if we can relate.

Think of that year’s Hanukkah dinner. Mary is there; she’s the quiet teenager pregnant out of wedlock.  There is the fiancé Joseph, the hardworking blue-collar step-dad with hardly a hint of his royal lineage left. Across from him is Mary’s crazy uncle Zach who saw a vision of the angel of the Lord and is now dumbstruck seated next to his elderly expecting wife; they are having that “surprise” baby anytime soon.

You can imagine a few years later at a similar dinner with a teenage Jesus. His cousin John’s is the religious extremist with peculiar clothing. He’s also a picky eater (he prefers organic honey-dipped locusts). Jesus’ brothers are there also. I can only imagine his grandma scolding them for not washing their feet before coming to the table saying, “Why can’t you be more like Jesus.”

I hope you forgive me the indulgence of my imagination, but what I am simply trying to say is that Jesus was from a typical home. It’s a blended family with a stepfather and has all the peculiarities that yours does. That’s the point. When you hang out with your family this year remember you have a Savior who can relate. Teenage pregnancy, mid-life changes, blended family? Maybe you have a child that is labeled “special” or “gifted.” Mary and Elizabeth understand all too well. This Christmas remember that God entered a messy and inglorious ordinary world. And he has entered yours as well. Jesus wants to be part of your Christmas, not matter how crazy it is. He doesn’t mind. He can relate.


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