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Tag: Christianity

Why Christians could use a little adventure (Her.meneutics)

If you stopped by from Her.meneutics, welcome!

I already started my day with an adventure: I was awakened before 4:30 a.m. by banging on our front window. This went on for a while before I sent my brave and gracious husband to go make sure it wasn’t the sexual assaulter who’s been roaming the neighborhood (and also reportedly caught, but, at 4:30 a.m., who really can be sure about these things?). It wasn’t. It was somebody named Marisol, who wanted to know if “Michael who lives upstairs” was there. This was strange, since Michael Who Lives Upstairs ostensibly lives upstairs. But she very much wanted us to let him know she stopped by.

I left a note for Michael Who Lives Upstairs inside the front door to our apartment building, letting him know Marisol was here, and I really would like to hear this story. I hope he comes and shares it with me.

Then I thought, since I already was up, I’d be a real “Proverbs 31 Woman” and read today’s Proverbs 31 devotional on Women Living Well “while it is still dark.” (That’s Proverbs 31:15— see what I’ve learned from this study?) Instead, there was a note “Unglued” by Lisa TerKeurst is out today. So I clicked through to the “Unglued” website, which is where I ran into this:

“If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it’s still a pretty good day.”

Lysa has a pretty great Agent, if He’s all but sending people to my front door, waking me up and telling me I ought to read her book. I downloaded the audiobook. That’s how I “read” her last book, “Made to Crave,” and it was a pretty great pep talk on my hours-long commute to work each day (read my review here on Lean Girls Club). The first time through, it inspired me to spend more time exercising and thinking about what I eat. The second time, at the start of the year, it inspired me to spend more time alone with God. In short, it inspired this whole blogging-freelancing adventure.

So there you have it: adventure. You can read more about adventure, rightly considered, in my post today for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. If you live in the Chicago area, you also can buy a wedding dress with a pretty good story — on Craigslist, naturally.

An adventure doesn’t have to mean sneaking onto a set or sending your husband up a tree with a spear or getting banned for life from Disneyland and somewhat inadvertently faking a doctorate degree like the guy who wrote his own obituary this week in The Salt Lake Tribune.

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered,” G.K.Chesterton writes in On Running after One’s Hat, as London was flooding and his Battersea neighborhood was “particularly favoured as a meeting of the waters.”

The author was in the country at the time, and imagined his neighborhood as a “vision of Venice,” or, as “perfectly poetical” as an island. He imagined running after one’s hat in the wind was no more inconvenient than running after a ball during a game or pulling on a jammed drawer; no more tiresome than tug-of-war or pulling a lifeboat from the sea.

In this way, every day is an opportunity for adventure. Every day is an opportunity to hear the sometimes inaudible voice of God: To know Him better, to discern his will.

For the rest of the story, read Why Christians could use a little adventure (Her.meneutics).

To see (or buy!) the wedding dress that started it all, read my posting on Craigslist, Elegant wedding dress (with a story!) — $200.

Also, congratulations, Obehi Janice! Random.org has picked you as the winner of my first-ever giveaway! I’ll be in touch soon to get you my review copy of “Stress Point” by Sarah Francis Martin. To purchase “Stress Point,” if you didn’t win, visit Sarah’s website.

Linking up with:


Beholding Glory

Photo credit: The front page today of Her.meneutics. Unglued.

Bible in 365, Weeks Four and Five: The Word become flesh

The project that inspired Bible in 365 came to an official end earlier this week when my friend Craig wrote out a verse a day from the 100 days he’d spent reading the Bible, 100 verses on 20 sheets of paper, six feet tall by five week wide when laid out side-by-side. He laminated the sheets and plans to hang them on his wall, he said on Facebook, “both as inspiration and reminders of the project.”

It reminds me of the Christian monks and Jewish sofers, faithfully and systematically reproducing the Scriptures by hand to preserve them, their inspiration and their reminders. Of how before they were a written or printed book, the Scriptures were a recitation. Of conversations about both reproduction and recitation as ritual events and about “embodied live-ness,” the Word become flesh, John 1 and “Fahrenheit 451,” in a Religion and Media course I took while a student at New York University.

I started out my project sharing the verse or two that spoke to me each day on Facebook and Twitter, beyond “Beyond the Written Word” by William A. Graham, one of the texts for that course. That has fallen off a bit over the past two weeks, though, as the weather has gotten hotter and the days, busier, and Exodus, law-ier. Joel and I started listening to the daily readings read aloud in the YouVersion smartphone app, my phone set on a pillow or plugged into our sound system, God’s words the last thing we hear as we drift off to sleep under open windows, finally feeling some relief in the breeze at night. All this, nearly as pleasant as seeing God and eating and drinking, as we read in Exodus.

Weeks Four and Five

Here are the passages that spoke to me in Exodus:

  • So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up?” (Exodus 3:3).
  • The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
  •  “The magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said”  (Exodus 8:19).
  • “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
  • “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18).
  • “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).
  • They saw God, and they ate and drank (Exodus 24:11).
  • “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
  • “I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (Exodus 31:13).
  • The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Craig Kanalley.

Zoning dispute or religious discrimination? (RELEVANT)

If you popped over from RELEVANT, welcome!

So it was clear from my first piece for RELEVANT, “10 Summer Date Ideas,” I am one serious, hard-hitting investigative journalist. (Ha ha NOT. But Senior Web Editor Tyler Huckabee went to college with my husband and our paths crossed all too briefly in Chicago at the point when I just had landed a full-time gig in journalism. If you’re not already following Tyler on every | social | network, you really should be. He’s cleverer than you or I can ever hope to be. He’s like a velociraptor that way.) That’s why the good folks at the magazine/website contacted me again last week when that pastor in Arizona was jailed for holding a Bible study in his home. Or for his refusal to get the correct permits for the ostensible church he built on his property. I tried to pull together everything you’ll need to decide that for yourself.

I’m interested to hear your opinion: Is this a simple zoning dispute or religious discrimination? And if you have any ideas for future hard newsy-sort of articles you would like to read on RELEVANT, let me know.

The video, posted on YouTube in June 2009, shows seven police officers swaggering up the driveway, all bulletproof vests and weapons and search warrant in hand. They’re followed by what we are told is about 10 officials from the city of Phoenix.

Parts two and three of “Pastor Michael Salman Home Raided By Police” since have been removed from the video-sharing website “due to civil litigations against the city,” according to a note posted below part one.

But the narrator, identified as Salman, explains what happened next: “They were coming to our home because they received a complaint from a neighbor … stating we were having church services at our house.”

“What law are we breaking? The law of gathering? The law of religious expression? Is that the law we’re breaking? We’re in America,” he said.

That video by Salman, who posts as harvest777123, has been viewed more than 3,200 times, and the flurry of videos he and his wife Suzanne have posted to the site in the last three weeks, between 10,000 and 49,000 each.

That’s when the Arizona man was sentenced to 60 days in jail “for worshipping on his property,” according to the Salmans’ videos and “Jailed for Home Worship” Facebook page. He reported to jail last Monday.

The law Salman is breaking is not one of religious expression, according to the city of Phoenix.

Since then, news outlets like FOX News and pretty much everybody on the Internet all have jumped on the story of the Arizona pastor jailed for having a Bible study in his home.

But the law Salman is breaking is not one of religious expression, according to the city of Phoenix.

“It’s the building and fire codes,” said Derek Horn, the city’s assistant planning and development director.

“The city has really tried to work with him on this. It’s given him ample time. It’s had different meetings to try to work through this with him. But basically the building does not comply.”

For the rest of the story, read Zoning dispute or religious discrimination? (RELEVANT).

Photo credit: RELEVANT.

Bible in 365, Week Three: Family Bibles

On the Fourth of July, the last day of my family vacation, I pulled down two tattered, leather-bound books from the bookshelves in my parents’ lake cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Both were Bibles: one my grandpa’s; the other, my great-grandpa’s. (Both, evidently, fans of the King James Version.)

My great-grandpa, my mom’s grandpa, had read through his Bible several times, my mom said when she saw me gently lifting its yellow pages. This was the great-grandpa who had written letters to be opened after his death, each describing how his loved ones could reach him at his new address in heaven, by believing on Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

And then I flipped to the back of the Bible that had belonged to my grandpa, my mom’s dad. On one page, there was a handwritten note: “Finished reading the whole Bible. 1-26-87.”

Oh, my mom said, she didn’t know he had, too. She said this with the same awe of the accomplishment I had felt up until about three weeks ago, when I suddenly realized, wait, this really is not all that unusual a thing to do for a person who professes this book as the inerrant Word of God, and why haven’t I?

Now I’m looking forward to writing the same words in the back of my own Bible, tattered and tearing and bookmarked this week in Exodus.

Week Three

Here are the passages that spoke to me each day this week:

  • “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8).
  • But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:19-20).
  • So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up?” (Exodus 3:3).
  • The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:11-12).
  •  “The magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said”  (Exodus 8:19).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Follow me on Instagram.

Bible in 365, Week Two: Reading the Bible with my husband (now pastor-approved!)

Despite the fact we met at a Bible study at a mutual friend’s house, Joel and I had not really studied the Bible and prayed together before we were married. That’s because, depending which Christian dating book messed you up as a teenager, this is a thing that either will lead you to have premarital sex and die or knit you together in spiritual ways you don’t even know until you break up and then you don’t just break up with your boyfriend, you break up with God. And then you die. And go to hell.

(No, really. I read a lot of these books after my friend Claire pointed out in college how badly they had ruined us all for relationships. One I borrowed from a friend even included a time table for when it was appropriate to hold hands, side-hug and spend time alone together. That part I TOTALLY AM NOT MAKING UP–NOT EVEN THE PART ABOUT THE SIDE-HUGS.)

So this was something we asked about during premarital counseling with our pastor, Pastor Aaron Baker of Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago.

Pastor Aaron’s advice to us about reading the Bible and praying together was to read the Bible together. And then to pray together. Just to do it, and not to overthink or overspiritualize the whole thing.

So Joel packed the pocket-size ESV he’d gotten from his college alumni association on our honeymoon, and we started to read. We started. And stopped. And started again. A couple days here, part of what he was reading with his men’s Bible study there. This is where having a plan becomes a good idea.

About three weeks ago, we started again. I thought we’d missed a day last week, when the temperature first hit 100 degrees in Chicago and we both worked late and the exhausting heat in our un-air-conditioned apartment caused me to fall asleep almost as fast as I sat down on the couch. But Joel assured me the next day he’d read, aloud, and I even had commented on the spotted goats and the not spotted goats in Genesis 30, “like blessed Saint Radegund, so pious that she chanted the psalms even in her sleep,” as Lauren F. Winner described her in “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.” This is where reading with my husband becomes a good idea.

Although, if whatever I had to say about spotted goats and not spotted goats is any as illuminating as St. Radegund’s Latin poetry surely was, we’ll never know. Joel ignored me. He knew I was sleep-talking.

Week Two

Here are the passages that spoke to me each day this week:

  • “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws” (Genesis 26:4-5).
  • So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her (Genesis 29:20).
  • “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other” (Genesis 31:49).
  • Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28).
  • And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said (Genesis 37:8).
  • Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams” (Genesis 40:8).
  • “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 41:16).

Read all posts in the “Bible in 365” series here. Follow #Biblein365 on Twitter to read my favorite verses each day, and use the hashtag to add your own comments and reflections.

Linking up with:

   
     Beholding Glory

Photo credit: Bible in 365 now is pastor-approved, thanks to this post from Pastor Aaron Baker on The City. Follow me on Instagram.