Yesterday during my message at theWELL, I quoted from Pastor Brian Zahnd to explain the context of Mary’s Song in Luke 1. He says,

I have a problem with the Bible. Here’s my problem…

I’m an ancient Egyptian. I’m a comfortable Babylonian. I’m a Roman in his villa.

That’s my problem. See, I’m trying to read the Bible for all it’s worth, but I’m not a Hebrew slave suffering in Egypt. I’m not a conquered Judean deported to Babylon. I’m not a first century Jew living under Roman occupation.

I’m a citizen of a superpower. I was born among the conquerors. I live in the empire. But I want to read the Bible and think it’s talking to me. This is a problem.

One of the most remarkable things about the Bible is that in it we find the narrative told from the perspective of the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, the conquered, the occupied, the defeated. This is what makes it prophetic. We know that history is written by the winners. This is true—except in the case of the Bible it’s the opposite! This is the subversive genius of the Hebrew prophets. They wrote from a bottom-up perspective. …

I am a (relatively) wealthy white American male. Which is fine, but it means I have to work hard at reading the Bible right. I have to see myself basically as aligned with Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and Caesar. In that case, what does the Bible ask of me? Voluntary poverty? Not necessarily. But certainly the Bible calls me to deep humility—a humility demonstrated in hospitality and generosity. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being a relatively well-off white American male, but I better be humble, hospitable, and generous! …

I have a problem with the Bible, but all is not lost. I just need to read it standing on my head. I need to change my perspective. If I can accept that the Bible is trying to lift up those who are unlike me, then perhaps I can read the Bible right.

Read the entire post here.

Is there a number that drives your life?

For some it’s a dollar amount. For others it’s a time indicator. It might be a personal record. It might be an age.

For me it’s 65. And it’s a percentage. It’s the percentage of people in my city disconnected from God and from a faith community. That percentage translates to over 46,000 lives. And every. single. digit. matters to God.

What number drives your life?

Some things you never forget.

14 years ago, I was a senior in college. I was sleeping late when my one of my roommates nudged me awake to tell me there had been a plane crash in New York City. We all thought it was an accident, at least for the first few minutes. But as the second plane hit, news outlets quickly changed their reporting and informed us that our country was under attack.

I remember patriotism being at an all-time high, at least during my lifetime. I remember President Bush’s approval rating climbing sky high. I remember people being sad, scared, and angry all at the same time–and I was one of them.

Images like the one above still bring back memories and the accompanying feelings of being lost and alone. It was during this time that I began attending a Bible study which allowed me to ask the hard questions of life, purpose, and meaning.

I’m still sad for the loss so many endured that day. But I’m grateful that it’s during these times where we remember that we’re all weak people doing our best to make it through life. And I’m grateful that evil isn’t the final word in our world and that goodness will ultimately prevail.

At the close of his second letter to Timothy, Paul tells his spiritual son about some of the hardships he’s endured on his ministry trips, as well as some things to bring to him. He lists several people who have abandoned or withstood him, and those names far exceed those who are currently with him. In fact, he lists only Luke as his current companion (4:11), and he’s requesting Timothy’s presence along with Mark. I find it fascinating that he also asked for several personal effects to go along with the company: his cloak and his scrolls and parchments. Could it be that after a discouraging trip, he’s turning to the comfort of friends? And he also wants his reading material and something to keep him warm? Of course, I’ve always read Paul through pragmatic lens–he only uses what’s necessary to get the job of spreading the gospel done. But, does a desire for some earthly comfort perhaps soften this no-nonsense man of God? It certainly does in my eyes. And who can’t relate to wanting something familiar and comforting in the face of discouragement and setbacks? And why not, like Paul, expect it in friends, books, and a cozy covering. Wasn’t it Linus from the old Peanuts strip who said, “Happiness is a warm blanket”? Too bad Paul didn’t have awareness of a good cup of coffee as well, because I’m sure he would have also asked for his French press.

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