Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The two demoniacs

Just finished reading about the two demoniacs in Mat 8:28-34. There is an obvious point: Jesus was not afraid of dealing with demon possessed men, and as Son of God he had the power and authority to exorcise the men. This is what Matthew was communicating.

So, going outside the "point" of the story is usually a bad idea. And my next musings are no exception. Beyond this point is my opinion and personal reflection and does not add to the point mentioned above.

I have questions. These two guys lived in a cemetary, and they were so violent no one could pass by there. But Jesus had the audacity to. They thought he was going to torture them. And it seems they sensed he was going to exorcise them. They didn't ask for this, and I wonder even if they could have. The demons were expelled into swine who ran into the water. The ones feeding (the pigs) lost their herd. Since swine are not kosher, why were people feeding them? These had to be non Jews. They ran into town and told what happened, and the people "implored" or "encouraged" Jesus to leave.

The story's focus is the exorcism. But we have no idea what the reaction of the exorcised was. And what about the sentiment of the pig feeders? If we go with "implore," that makes it sound as if the people were upset with Jesus either for killing the pig feeders' pigs or for casting out the demons in the two men.

If we go with "encouraged him to leave," this makes it sound like the people were supportive of what Jesus had done, but realized he had stirred up something that would harm him and/or them. Therefore, they encouraged him to leave to avoid hurt and violence. If they thought Jesus would be harmed, they did not recognize him as the Son of God like the demoniacs had.

There is nothing to suggest they felt they would be harmed as a result of what Jesus had done. But they lived among the demon possessed and felt no harm. Were they so used to bad spiritual stuff that they weren't afraid for themselves? This is what I think was the case.

I think the people of G (there is some speculation about the actually name of the place) were complacent with darkness around them. The pig feeders (probably evil themselves) wouldn't take on Jesus head on and so went into town to raise up a mob. The people obliged and felt that if the whole town went with the pig feeders they could convince Jesus to leave, not for his sake, but because they felt threatened. Light had come into the darkness and the Light was rejected.

Before we think poorly of the people of G, we should probably see ourselves as either the violent men or the pig feeders or the town mob. We may not be demon possessed. But I bet we're hanging out with the pigs trying to keep them healthy to consume. And if we really think about it, we would rather the light stay away from us. Sure, we may say we are followers of Jesus. But he entered the darkness alone. It's a place we're not willing to go; our own darkness.

We too would rather strongly encourage Jesus to leave us alone with our violence and our baseness.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


This is a follow up from the post below.

So many times in the realm of ideas and philosophy I tend to state what I am against but not what I am for. I take a more defensive stance rather than an offensive. So, in an attempt to state what I do believe about giving, I give you this post.

In review, I am against church or denominational mandatory tithing. I am against the idea of the church being the storehouse of God. It simply is not.

As Christians we are to support its mission, which is to be examples of loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves, despite how much we fall short. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. This is how we do it.

If you earn some money, first determine how much you can give back to God happily. Set it aside and then give. That may be 1%, 10%, or 50%. The percentage does not matter. You may not even know the percentage. You may can only joyfully give $5 out of $1000 you make. Fine. Give the $5. But if you can raise your threshold of giving, you will notice God's provision.

This system is not a the-more-I-give-the-more-I-get system. This is not health and wealth which is a lie too. This is one way that God has give his followers to be active in his work everywhere. You decide how much you can participate. I've seen $10 go further than large amounts.

This is not exhaustive but does give the basic idea of Christian giving

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Disagree that Christians are required to "tithe," or give 10% of their income to the church.

Proponents of the teaching have as Malachi 3:10 as their proof-text, as was the case in tonight's sermon. The argument is tied to the word "storehouse," equaling the "church."

I did a quick search in the OT for the word, "storehouse." It is actually made up of two Hebrew words 1) house and 2) treasure. It is mostly a place for storing things such as wine, oil, and food. What one finds more often is that the word "treasure," relates to the riches of kings or the riches of the house of God. In the book of Ezra and Nehemiah one finds these references to money being paid to the treasury (of work). And in Nehemiah 10:38 one finds that a legit Levite was to take a 10% of the tithes and bring them to the "storeroom," (the NIV is a bit tricky here, I prefer "treasure room," rather than "storeroom.") of the treasury. However, the word for "treasury," is the word used in Malachi 3:10.

A couple of observations: 1) In the above mentioned Ezra and Nehemiah passages that speak of money being paid or brought to the treasury, there is no mention of it being a tithe. 2) In the Nehemiah 10:38 passage, one does bring a tithe but Nehemiah 10:39 shows that it was not 10% of anyone's income.

Someone may want to say that God's people (i.e. the children of Israel) were to take care of the needs of the priests (and maybe later even the workers of the walls and temple) by giving them items that would sustain them. And that by comparison, church members should give 10% of their income to sustain the church and her ministers. Thus, we should all give 10% to the church.

It is true that all the other tribes were to support the priestly tribe, the Levites with tithes. And even the Levites had to tithe what they received. But this does not connect the "church," with a "storehouse," not even by comparison.

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) has one word for the two Hebrew words and that word comes from a verb meaning "to store up," giving a definition that means a place for keeping things safe. A storehouse.

I am pretty sure as Christians we are not suppose to be giving to the church so she can "store up," what we've given. In fact, as Christians we are not to store up treasures (same word as above) that will disintergrate.

We are not storehouses, keeping it all in for ourselves, are we?

Click on this link for the ironic name of this church pictured above.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What do you suggest...

...not that it will matter but...

I was asked this morning at 10:45 am to speak tomorrow at the evening church service. That barely gives me 24 hours to prepare something. I'm rusty on all this.

So, you can give me your subject if you want, but I'm not going to check my email until after I get this thing finished. I've been mulling over the following:

a) the glory of God
b) the feeding of the 5000
c) Jonah
d) something totally controversial but what I do not know
e) anything on Leviathan but it's not as fresh as I would like to think
f) how to share the gospel with a Muslim
g) answering the question posed to me last week in SS on my thoughts on hell from Luke 16
h) imprecatory prayers and their use in today's world (my favorite so far)

I've spent anywhere from 2 seconds to 2 minutes so far meditating on each of the above topics. That means I need to stop blogging and start praying.

"Give me oil in my lamp keep it burning burning burning, give me oil in my lamp I pray, hallelulah..." (See here for more prayerful lyrics)

Friday, October 02, 2009

ARDI: Ancestor?

I perked up when I heard about the new discovery (actually just the release into mainstream news of a 1992 discovery) of Ms. Ardipithecus ramidus (aka Ardi). She's older than (4.4 million years ago) Lucy (3.2 million years ago), and her scattered bones all over Ethiopia may help us fill in the Monkey Evolution Chart we see on shirts and bumper stickers.

What I hope this doesn't do is bring out the Evolution vs Creation debate for the upteen time. Why? Quite frankly I'm tired of hearing it.

Let's let the scientists do their job, and those teachers of the faith do their job. Let's let the people of faith believe whatever they want, and the scientists discover whatever they want. Let's stop trying so hard to harmonize a pre-scientific text with a 19th to 21st century scientific world.

Now, after we have let the scientists report their findings, and after we have allowed our theologians the chance to agree or disagree, let's try to find out really what both are saying.

Well...for those who think this really matters.

I've talked about evolution before but rarely. I imagine I'll stay pretty apathatic even after my interest in Ardi dies. At this point Ardi and Lucy are interesting but not foundational to my faith. If you start going into too much detail, don't be insulted if I fall asleep. And it's OK if prehistorical biology is not my thing. I know for some it is. But for those who feel threathened in their faith because of Ardi, don't be, and remember that when the first 11 chapters of Genesis (or Psalms) were written the writer (or maybe writers/editors/compilers) had a very limited understanding of the world around him. If you will notice he was more interested in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, than he was with Adam and Eve. The author was concerned about "origins," but only enough to get us to what he really wanted to talk about, (which was not Creation) which was the origin of the Jewish nation and Father of many nations.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A new change coming

Life is always full of changes. And for me and Lady R our lives are about to change a whole lot. We are expecting!

Yesterday was the 15th week. We had our a normally scheduled doctor's appointment, and she said everything looked fine. This is good news, and we've waited to say something until we were past the first trimester because of a previous miscarriage.

Please pray for us as we become parents and for the protection of our little one. We should know if it is a boy or a girl just before we come back to the States in a few weeks for a little R&R.