The Christmas Story As Told In The Bible – A Quiz



In a recent post, my friend via blog, InsanityBytes said the following:

I really enjoy challenging our thinking, questioning what we think we know. As the saying goes, “don’t believe everything you think.” It’s pretty incredible how an urban legend can become fact and just a few short years later, everybody who’s anybody just knows it’s the truth and that’s how it’s always been.

Scripture is really a wonderful gift to have because one can go back and have a look at what we think we know. Wait, did God really say? Too bad Eve didn’t have a bible handy….

So with Christmas. IB points out in her post that Mary riding on a donkey as she and Joseph made their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem is pure legend. I hadn’t thought about that one before, but she’s right. So what else about the Christmas story has come to us through Christmas carols or greeting cards or children’s storybooks instead of through Scripture?

I’ve posted this quiz before so those of you who have been around for a while may remember it. I should do a new one and add Mary riding on the donkey. But here’s a repeat of the one I’ve got now, complete with intro and directions.

We know all about the first Christmas, right? I mean we hear about the details in Christmas carols and programs and sermons, see them depicted on cards and church bulletins and manger scenes. But do we know the Biblical version? Here’s a fun little quiz to find out. (Feel free to print it out and pass it along if you’re interested). Answers at the bottom.

Directions: based on what the Bible says, decide if the following statements are true or false. (Hint: for the sake of this quiz, if the Bible is silent on the matter, it should be considered false).

1. Jesus’s birth was predicted to Joseph by an angel in a dream.

2. Mary was a virgin at the time of Jesus’s birth.

3. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph’s place of residence.

4. The innkeeper told Joseph there was no room in the inn

5. Jesus was born on a cold winter’s night.

6. The stable was a wooden structure.

7. There were kings from the east who visited Jesus after he was born.

8. There were three of these visitors.

9. These visitors followed a star from the East to Jerusalem in search of the Christ child.

10. The star which the visitors saw was an especially bright star.

11. The visitors arrived on camels.

12. Herod told the visitors to go to Bethlehem.

13. These visitors came to Jesus and saw Him in the manger where he had been placed after birth.

14. These visitors were joined by shepherds who came to worship Jesus.

15. The shepherds also saw the star which had guided the other visitors.

16. A host of angels appeared to the shepherds and sang praises to God.

17. In a dream God warned Mary that Jesus’s life was in danger.

18. Mary and Joseph took Jesus back to Nazareth to escape the danger.

19. Mary remained a virgin and never had any other children.

20. God can do the impossible, which makes belief in the Christmas miracles possible.

Answers alert!

– – –

Answers:
1. true – though His birth was also predicted to Mary
2. true – see Matthew 1:24-25
3. false – they were from Nazareth and only went to Bethlehem because it was required by the government
4. false – the innkeeper doesn’t make an appearance in the Biblical account
5. false – the Bible doesn’t say what kind of a night it was
6. false – the Bible doesn’t describe the stable
7. false – the eastern visitors were magi or wisemen specializing in such studies as astrology
8. false – the Bible doesn’t specify how many magi there were—only that they presented three types of gifts
9. false – they saw a star in the East and went to Jerusalem where they would expect to find a king; they then followed the star from Jerusalem to Bethlehem
10. false – the Bible never refers to the star as bright
11. false – the Bible doesn’t mention camels
12. true – after learning from the scribes where Messiah was to be born, Herod told the magi
13. false – the magi came to a house.
14. false – the magi didn’t arrive the night Jesus was born; the shepherds who were already in Judea went immediately after they heard the birth announcement
15. false – the Bible doesn’t mention that the shepherds saw the star
16. false – Scripture doesn’t say these angels sang
17. false – God warned Joseph, not Mary
18. false – they went to Egypt, not Nazareth
19. false – Mary had a number of other children, among them James who wrote the book of the Bible that bears his name.
20. true – Gabriel stated this to Mary when she asked how she being a virgin could give birth to a son (Luke 1:37)

Questions? Read Matthew 1:18-2:15; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20. Or feel free to ask them here.

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Published in: on December 18, 2017 at 5:29 pm  Comments Off on The Christmas Story As Told In The Bible – A Quiz  
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Living By The Terms Of The Treaty


"Scene in Geronimo's camp, the Apache outlaw and murderer. Taken before the surrender to Gen. Crook, March 27, 1886, in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico."

“Scene in Geronimo’s camp, the Apache outlaw and murderer. Taken before the surrender to Gen. Crook, March 27, 1886, in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico.”

After reading a two part series of posts on Evangelicals by my friend and fellow blogger, InsanityBytes (part 1 and part 2), I decided the following article was the best comment I could give on the subject.

– – – – –

When I was growing up, Saturday afternoon meant old B movies on TV, often something western. One particular story has stayed with me.

What history calls The Indian Wars dominated the West. Settlers and miners and railroad men and soldiers clashed with any number of Indian groups, from Chickasaw to Seminole.

In this particular story, a compassionate and understanding American, with a number of Indian friends, was convinced to take the position as agent for what was the equivalent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As part of his job, he was required to negotiate an acceptable treaty with the tribes waring against the US government.

Against all odds, he was successful—except, treaties needed to be ratified by the Senate. The political climate at the time was against him, and rather than agreeing to the terms he had promised the Indians, the government sent troops to implement the Indians’ forced removal from their land.

The story stayed with me because I felt the betrayal this Indian agent experienced—as both the betrayed and the betrayer. He was let down by the government that said it would stand behind his negotiations (the stipulation he demanded as the condition for him taking the position as Indian agent). As a result, in the eyes of the people who had trusted him, he became their Brutus.

It struck me recently that professing Christians who take up with false teachers are like those politicos in that old-time movie. They say they will abide by whatever their representative decides, but when the terms of the agreement come down, they don’t really want to keep their word. They find some way of changing the rules, of canceling the treaty.

In essence, they leave their representative hanging out to dry. The world, to whom He has gone, point and laugh.

    Ha-ha, they say they love, but look at the nasty things they put on their signs when they picket the streets.

    They say they don’t love the world or the things of the world, but listen to how greedy their preachers are.

    They say they live like Jesus, but they have marital breakups, addictions, bad debt, carry grudges, sneer and snark, just like the rest of us.

When we who bear the name of Christ, do not obey Him, we aren’t much better. Our disobedience affects how others look at Jesus in the same way that a false Christian’s inconsistencies end up staining the name of Christ.

I’m reminded of an Old Testament incident recorded in 2 Chronicles 18. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, allied himself with Ahab, king of Israel. When they were preparing for war, Jehoshaphat wanted to inquire of a prophet of the Lord.

All the other prophets said the kings would have great success if they prosecuted the war, but the one prophet of the Lord Jehoshaphat insisted they bring in, said they would meet with defeat.

And what did Jehoshaphat do? He ignored the prophet of the Lord.

Why, I’ve wondered, did he bother to ask for the man to speak a message from God if he wasn’t planning to listen?

Then too, why do people today take up the name of Christ and ignore His Word?

But that forces me to ask, do I ignore His Word, too—at least the parts I don’t like? Things like, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing”?

I guess the question I need to ask is this: how much do I care about the reputation of He who I say I’m following?

Published in: on March 8, 2016 at 7:39 pm  Comments Off on Living By The Terms Of The Treaty  
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The Antipathy Toward Authority


Quentin_Tarantino_(Berlin_Film_Festival_2009)_2_croppedMovie director Quentin Tarantino attended an anti-police brutality rally in New York a couple weeks ago. He said he was there because he was “on the side of the murdered.” His remarks have provoked ire in a number of police agencies which have retaliated by organizing a boycott of Mr. Tarantino’s next movie, The Hateful Eight, due to release in January (limited release on Christmas day).

As more police organizations—benevolent associations and unions—have joined the boycott, Mr. Tarantino has pushed back. Sides are being drawn.

Baltimore is the latest city in which police have spoken out against Mr. Tarantino. The president of Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3, Gene Ryan, said that by Mr. Tarantino’s statements at the rally, he “degraded and disrespected every man and woman who ever wore the uniform of our profession.” (The Baltimore Sun, Nov. 5).

In response Mr. Tarantino said in an interview with MSNBC, “They would rather start arguments with celebrities than examine the concerns put before them by a citizenry that lost trust in them.” (As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 5).

Police have now promised a “surprise” that will hurt Mr. Tarantino where it matters to him most—in his wallet—and he has answered that he won’t be intimidated, that he’s not a cop hater as he’s been portrayed.

As I see it, this battle is escalating, and that’s a concern. Mr. Tarantino may think citizens have lost trust in the police, but who, then, does he think will keep order in our cities?

I lived in the Los Angeles area during the Rodney King riots back in 1992. As violence spread and police seemed helpless to stop it, I got a glimpse of what true anarchy looked like.

Apparently Mr. Tarantino hasn’t thought about life without authority or that he is undermining trust, not just of officers who might go beyond appropriate limits, but of officers who dutifully and selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to serve the public.

I can’t help but wonder if such treatment of the police, who are the clearest representation of authority, might not grow more widespread. Because I believe we have a crisis of authority in our country.

Feminists don’t want wives to be submissive to husbands; manosphere gamers want to dominate and control their wives. Parents are afraid to spank their children any more because they might be accused of abuse. Students can sit in defiance of teachers, principals, and security guards, but then become victims if they are forcefully made to do what they are told.

But none of this change in our view is actually surprising because our society has turned away from the underpinnings of all authority—God Himself.

Without an understanding of who God is and how He exercises authority, all hell breaks loose here on earth. People’s perception of authority becomes twisted by our own ideas of what authority ought to look like.

Take the President of the United States, for instance. It seems we’ve worked over time to make the President and any candidates for President to be just regular people. Famous people, but they appear on Saturday Night Live and on all the late night talk shows. The day time ones too. They aren’t discussing important issues. They aren’t building an image of authority. They’re primarily hoping to come across as likable. Not authoritative.

Authoritative is an ugly word these days.

But as my fellow blogger InsanityBytes put it, the perception is not the reality:

many people have a very negative perception of authority, that it is all about fear, power, control, punishment. Those are human perceptions, often gleaned from the school of hard knocks where might makes right. That is not God however, that is God being created in our own image, in the image of those who have misused authority and done harm to us.

Because we don’t know God, we don’t have a correct view of authority, and because we don’t have a correct view of authority, we don’t understand God. What are we to do?

Part of the breakdown of authority has been in the home—parents both working and not paying attention to the children, single parent homes, shared custody homes that don’t share the same understanding of authority. Children grow up like weeds instead of nurtured flowers. They learn to play teachers against parents, parents against parents, parents against their own feelings of guilt.

In the end, they disrespect authority. They think authority is either weak or brutal. The same attitude characterizes their ideas of God.

So we’ve lost our models of authority in our society. We disrespect parents and teachers and long ago we lost any idea that pastors were authorities we were to obey. Politicians are not actual leaders—they’re most concerned about keeping their job or about trying to secure the next one.

Which pretty much left the police. And now a movie director is telling us, they’ve lost our respect too.

This set of circumstances and this attitude toward authority is, above all, the reason fathers need to be heads of their households in the same manner Christ is head of the Church and why all of us need to be in Bible-believing churches so we can learn what Christ’s headship looks like.

Washing_of_Feet008Perhaps the greatest picture of who Jesus is and what His authority looks like is His act of servanthood in washing His disciples’ feet, on the very night He’d be betrayed, arrested, denied, and falsely charged with blasphemy against His Father. He wasn’t looking to protect Himself or clear His name. He wasn’t concerned with revenge or domination or control. He wasn’t concerned about what He deserved or what others should have done for Him. He simply grabbed the towel and bowl and went to work, stooping at His followers’ feet and cleaning them up.

There’s the picture of authority we’ve forgotten, the picture that needs to be restored, the picture Christians need to live out.

Published in: on November 6, 2015 at 6:43 pm  Comments (7)  
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Where Are We Looking?


glass half fullI had a discussion with a good friend last night about looking at the glass as half full or half empty. Some people see life in all it’s darkness and gloom and hopelessness. Others see it as full of hope and promise. What makes the difference?

Some say it’s temperament—some of us are simply born with a propensity to look on the negative side while others can’t help but see the possibilities, even in the deepest pit. Interestingly, one of my favorite bloggers touched on this subject in her response to a comment at another site.

Apparently the commenter made reference to life being sustained by death. As he explained it,

all life on earth depends on the death of other creatures for its sustenance, from plants who use the decayed remains of animals and other plants, to the animal kingdom, where some kill plants to live, while others kill the plant-eaters to survive.

InsanityBytes, the blogger in question, had made the point that our focus determines our understanding. Those looking at death, see dead animals and dead plants instead of nourishing and delicious food. In the same way, those looking at the temporal are blind to God’s grandeur.

It’s a good point I think.

But I suspect there’s also the matter of our measuring stick. If we measure all things by the standard of humankind, then we shrink the world into manageable explanations and theories—physical things we can verify with our physical senses. All else, we simply reject.

Demons? Don’t be silly, there are no such things as demons? I know because I can’t see them, and my perceptions are the measure of what is real! No ghosts either. Or angels. And certainly there is no God! No heaven. Or hell. Or afterlife of any kind. Those things simply can’t be proven in physically verifiable ways, so someone had to make them up.

As soon as we recognize that humankind actually isn’t the measuring stick, that there might be things in existence that we don’t know or haven’t experienced or can’t comprehend or dissect or explain, then the world opens wide. Now there are spiritual possibilities we hadn’t conceived of, given our limited focus.

No longer are we locked in to the temporal; we can lift our eyes to the eternal.

But how can we?

This is where revelation comes in. It’s true that, by definition, the finite cannot know the infinite. We who are limited are incapable of understanding limitlessness. What is it like to live before time? To have no beginning or end? To never grow weary or tired? To have infinite power and wisdom and love and mercy and justice?

We need a snapshot, a story, an explanation—a revelation—to open up that which is beyond our ability to apprehend on our own. Even then we will be peering through a darkened window and glimpse only shadows of the reality.

But those shadows grow sharper the longer we look, the keener our eyesight. We focus. We stare unrelentingly at that which we know to be true though we can’t manipulate Him—for what we’re looking at is God—and we can’t force Him to act in ways that are more to our liking.

At some point we realize that the image of God is Jesus and He isn’t as murky as we first thought. We realize that He is the standard by which all is measured. In fact, no glass is half full or half empty. All are empty until filled with Living Water, and then they are never empty again.

Sadly, some people will insist on making humankind the measure of all things. They’ll never lift their sights any higher, never realize that humans don’t control the wind or the waves or the sun, moon, and stars.

Humans don’t dictate what is right and what is wrong; the moral code embedded in our hearts is not of our creation. We can ignore it or corrode it, but we can’t remove it any more than we can erase God by saying He doesn’t exist.

To those who refuse to look beyond humankind as the arbiter of reality, the glass will be leaking. Death does sustain life, but for how long? What happens when death overwhelms life? What happens when death overwhelms me? The adage is true: one out of one dies. But those of us who look to God and not to humankind know the last part of that statement: and then comes the judgment.

It’s a warning, not a condemnation. We have all already failed. The sentence has been delivered: guilty, destined to die, both physically and spiritually.

But Jesus stands in the gap.

He’s changed the Valley of Weeping into a spring, covered the dry ground with the waters of the early rain. He has done what we need in order that we might be restored to right standing with the Father, in order that we might walk in the newness of resurrection life instead of the deadness of our sinful condition.

Half full or half empty? Truly, the answer lies in our focus.

Published in: on November 3, 2015 at 5:33 pm  Comments (5)  
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Scandalous!!


church2I don’t think I’ve ever reblogged another post before, but this one caught me up short, said important things about Christianity in western society. I could have tried to filter the thoughts through my own perspective, but I’m sure I couldn’t have said it better, so I’d rather share the unvarnished original.

The author is a blogger who uses the handle InsanityBytes. She’s a Christian who has an interesting past, to say the least, and has come out the other side convinced of the truth of the Bible, of God’s love and Christ’s redemptive work. She writes a lot about “women’s issues,” most often from an “anti-feminism” point of view. But that’s enough introduction. On to the post. Here’s the line I want to tweet: “the whole concept of scandal has me thinking of how forgotten the scandalous nature of Christ really is.”

See, there's this thing called biology...

All in good fun here, but sometimes I do get myself into a bit of trouble on the internet and IRL too, but I am truly blessed. My “trouble” pretty much revolves around “somebody yelled at me.” Or called me crazy….or reported me to various government agencies. Or blogged something mean about me, doxxed me, or tried to steal my identity. Hey folks, you can have it…

Let me tell you, sometimes it can be downright scandalous blogging and also living in the 9th circuit of hell. I come from a family that seems to have forgotten how to put the fun in dysfunctional and I have some 300 in-laws living nearby. Scandal is our middle name.

I care very little about such things, but the whole concept of scandal has me thinking of how forgotten the scandalous nature of Christ really is. We are so wrapped in cotton here…

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Published in: on October 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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I Don’t Like Being Bullied, Intimidated, Or Maligned


Friendly_InternetI wish I had a better sense of humor. I don’t think anyone handles criticism better than InsanityBytes. She routinely writes blog posts about the unkind things people say that end up in her spam folder, and yet she treats them with lightheartedness (see for example “Lost In Spam” or “Back Talking Spam.” She makes some astute comments along the way, so she makes me laugh all the while making me think. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll be more like her.

In the meantime, I’m stuck not liking it when someone bullies me via the Internet (or in person), says things to try to make me back down from an opinion I hold, or vilifies my character. I’m pretty sure, of the three, I’m bothered most by the latter.

The little issues I faced recently have made me think about people who face real opposition, continually—the kind that restricts their freedom (such as being sold into the sex trafficking trade or married off to an Islamic terrorist) or threatens their life (such as Christians in Iraq or Sudan). Ultimately I’ve thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and those men and women who formed the first Church.

Jesus was bullied and intimidated and maligned. The Jewish leaders singled Him out because they were jealous of Him. That was Pontius Pilate’s assessment of things when Jesus stood before him and he wanted to release Him (Matt. 27:18). No, the crowd said. Not that man. Crucify Him and release Barabbas. Why did they turn against Jesus? Because the Jewish leaders, motivated by their envy, convinced them to.

I think jealousy and envy are behind a lot of bullying and intimidation. The Jewish leaders didn’t like it that this upstart carpenter didn’t bow to their rules or back off when they challenged Him. They didn’t like it that He did things they couldn’t do—like heal lepers and restore sight to the blind or raise dead people back to life. Mostly they didn’t like the fact that people followed Him and basically wanted to make Him the king.

After all, they were the leaders. The Jewish people were theirs to rule, for all practical purposes. Sure, sure, the Romans were over them, but when it came to the day-to-day things and anything having to do with religious law, the Council of seventy elders, led by the High Priest, was in charge.

So they tried to trap Jesus into saying something or doing something for which they could legitimately arrest Him. They didn’t realize they were dealing with the perfect Son of God. They were never going to catch Him in a sin.

Finally they resorted to lies, claiming outlandish things such as that He blasphemed. In other words, they maligned His character. But they’d been doing that for days and days, even accusing Him at one time of being in league with the devil. They said He was a drunk, a party-er, a Sabbath-breaker. Anything He did, they tried to turn into a reason to have Him arrested.

Jesus’s followers experienced the same treatment. Peter and John were thrown into prison though the rulers and elders and scribes had no charges to bring against them. After all, the only thing they’d done was heal a lame man and preach about the resurrected Christ. The Council released them the next day but threatened them and ordered them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Yep, that’s straight from Intimidation 101: “Stop what you’re doing, or I’ll make sure you stop for good!”

But what did Peter and John do? In this instance, they answered the leaders by saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge” (Acts 4:19b). Then they joined a prayer meeting.

It’s interesting to think about the fact that they didn’t have the end of the story. They didn’t know if they’d be killed the next day or if God would miraculously save them. So they joined their companions and prayed:

Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30)

Clearly we can see on this side of the events that God answered this prayer. Peter and the other disciples did in fact speak with boldness, and God did continue to heal through them and produce signs and wonders through the name of Jesus.

Of course, Peter was arrested again and miraculously saved, but eventually, according to Church tradition, he died for his faith. We could look at the Apostle Paul and see a similar trajectory. Preaching and healing, followers, leaders in opposition, arrest and/or death threats. He was kicked out of towns, stoned and left for dead, beaten. In Greece he was forced to escape alone and head for Athens. In Damascus he got away in the middle of the night by hiding in a basket lowered over the wall.Inernet

Yes, the early Church knew a thing or two about being bullied, intimidated, and maligned. I may not like being treated badly, I may not like being misunderstood, but really . . . I sure haven’t “resisted unto death” yet.

It would help if I grew a sense of humor about such things, but it would also help if I followed Peter and John’s examples: choose to do what God says rather than giving in to intimidation; and pray.

Hearing God’s Voice


Shepherd_on_the_way_to_Hampta_PassToday InsanityBytes posted an article entitled “God Said??” and it reminded me of a video I saw some time ago. In a busy town, perhaps in the Middle East, cars zoomed down the street. On one side stood a shepherd and on the other a small flock of sheep. When there was a small break in traffic, he would call and one sheep would cross to him. The others stayed where they were, though sheep are notorious followers. When there was another break between cars, then another, he would call again and again. One by one those sheep crossed to him, presumably when he called specifically to each one in turn.

I went to YouTube hoping to find the video, but alas, I didn’t come across it. Perhaps I saw it at church. At any rate, I did find a few other clips that show the responsiveness of sheep to their shepherd’s voice. It’s pretty impressive. The first one brings this passage of Scripture to mind:

he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:2-5)

The second one reminds me of the parable Jesus told about leaving the 99 sheep to find the one that is lost:

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (Matt. 18:12-14)

Not that the shepherd in this next video has to go looking for one of his sheep. Rather, it seems so clear that any sheep not hearing the shepherd could go wondering off. Then too, it appears a wandering sheep might draw away others from the flock:

I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated by sheep. They are so vulnerable, so timid, so prone to wander and so willing to follow, so in need of a shepherd. Watching them makes me understand in a new way why Scripture compares us to sheep so often. I could even see, after watching a few clips, why Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd, not just the Shepherd. There are some task-master cruel shepherds. But their sheep recognize their voice too. We really do respond to the one who owns us.

I’m Sick Of Fifty Shades Of Grey


BattleofthesexesNo, I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. But pretty much wherever I turn, someone is commenting or writing about it. I’ve ignored most of the blog posts and comments. The nightly news continues to report the box office success of the movie, and mentions it for who-knows-what-other-reasons, though, so it’s hard to be oblivious to the phenomenon.

I’ve seen comments from some, shocked that Christians would even consider watching the movie or reading the book. Again, I put on my blinders and ignored the issue. It’s hard for me to imagine Christians walking into a movie knowing full well that they’d be seeing explicit sex, and not just the regular titillating copulation scenes. This movie was about sex involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism, better known as BDSM.

But now we have to talk about it. Endlessly. Some decry the moral collapse of our society that allows such a movie to make it to the big screen as if it is just any other film for adults.

Others blame a patriarchal society for creating the atmosphere in which this kind of book and movie could reach such a popular level. Still others apparently blame the rejection of patriarchy for this “edgy,” explicitly sexual movie.

The whole thing is actually a symptom, not a disease. It’s evidence, as if we needed more, that God is giving us over to our own desires.

I don’t have to see the movie or read the book to know that the relationship this story shows is contrary to what God desires for us. Scripture talks about a husband and wife submitting to one another, about the wife being subject to her husband “as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18), about the husband showing his wife honor “as a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7b), about both of them being “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8).

The greatest problem with a movie or book that puts bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism into the public arena as if this is a normal option for couples, is that it contradicts God’s word. It sells a lie.

And it’s no surprise that this lie is once again an attack on the proper relationship God intended for marriage. Marriage is a unique picture of God’s relationship with His people. He, the head, sacrificing himself for the Church He loves, even as the husband is to be the person in his home taking the responsible position as he unselfishly gives to his wife to express his love for her.

It’s the most brilliant, beautiful symbiotic relationship ever conceived. If only we humans didn’t think there was something we could do to make it better—like emphasizing a wife’s submission over and about the husband’s love for her. Or like tossing out a wife’s submission as archaic, or any number of other changes in what God told us was His standard for marriage.

And now we have the contradiction of His standard, shown on the big screen for all to consider as an option. I don’t pretend to understand it.

All I know is, God doesn’t let us down. His ways are true and right and good. They lead to joy and health and wholeness. Taking a path that’s headed in the opposite direction of God’s way can only lead to sorrow. How could it be anything else.

The prophet Isaiah warned Judah what going their own way would bring:

As they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So I will choose their punishments
And will bring on them what they dread.
Because I called, but no one answered;
I spoke, but they did not listen.
And they did evil in My sight
And chose that in which I did not delight (Isaiah 66:3b-4).

The crazy thing is, there are good marriages with a husband and a wife who both believe God’s word and work to follow what He says. Those are the stories that are joyful and uplifting (here’s one by InsanityBytes: “My Invisible Husband”).

These stories don’t get made into movies any more, though. Our society wants more thrills; a greater, more explicit, visceral experience. Here’s what one writing instructor said was part of the success of Fifty Shades Of Grey:

Once the reader/viewer is taken into that world, it all becomes astoundingly VICARIOUS.  It takes us somewhere we haven’t been before, to which will (for some) never go, or (for some) you desire to go, and for others, are afraid to go yet curious about, and and when you get there it is a literal, visceral, passionate experience, as shown the story’s “red room of pain” scenes. (Larry Brooks,“What You May be Missing about ’50 Shades of Grey’ “

That’s what our pleasure-seeking culture has come down to. We want relationships like the roller-coaster ride instead of the ocean cruise. We want the X-Games version of “love” instead of a team rowing in tandem.

But underneath our search for some sexual thrill greater than the last one is this unspoken belief that God’s way simply isn’t good enough. And that’s the real problem. People going to watch kinky sex is simply a symptom.

So, yes, I’m sick of hearing about this story, more so because of what it means for our society, because of how it shows our disregard for God and His word and way.

May God have mercy on us. He can bring revival, which we desperately need. He can forgive and wash us clean. He can restore a right spirit within us. May He be at work in our culture to bring us back to Him.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine


woman laughingPeople don’t often think about it, but God has a sense of humor. He has to since He made Humankind in His image, complete with a sense of humor. As an aside, a sense of humor is one of the things that sets humans apart from animals. I’ve never seen a dog pull off a good practical joke and they don’t really get knock-knock jokes, which I suppose could be blamed on the fact that they can’t make a fist. But that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve been thinking about winter, largely because the news has been carrying stories about the far-reaching cold blanketing (but not in a warming way) the US of late. A number of people have a hard time with winter, not simply because they don’t like the cold, but because they get depressed.

My Aunt Doris was one who had difficulties with winter—something about the reduced exposure to the sun’s rays, I believe.

More and more people, on either their blogs or Facebook have remarked about how they can’t wait for spring and they’re glad the days are once again getting longer. One blogger I follow, InsanityBytes, mentioned the winter issue in a recent post about hyperbole. Here’s the pertinent paragraph:

A headline this morning declared “80 million Americans Threatened.” That sounds rather ominous, so I decided to read the article. What threatens us this morning is “winter.” Well, when did that start happening?? There ought to be a law! This is a great offense indeed. I’m quite annoyed by this winter thing and liable to join some social justice campaign against it, perhaps engage in a bit of anti-winter advocacy. Winter definitely needs to be stopped. 80 million Americans threatened, ban it!

laughter-1-58874-mWell, I don’t know about you, but I got a good chuckle from that as I generally do when I read InsanityBites’s posts. Maybe I share her sense of humor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people did. It’s not dirty, crass, mean-spirited, or ugly, though she does often make a point which might make a person take a hard look inside or smart a little if they’re not willing to.

So, where am I going with all this. I think God gave us humor, but it’s hard to engage in laughter during winter time. People tend to bundle up with scarves in front of their mouths, so others can’t see them smiling and may even think that little chuckle they emitted was just them clearing their throat.

Plus, so many more people are staying home because of the cold, so there’s not the happy camaraderie and accompanying humor we experience the other three seasons. Too bad, I think. We’re left with the news and bad TV sitcoms, neither of which provides genuine laughter (just the mocking, snickering kind).

Oh, sure, there’s the occasional funny pet photo posted on Facebook, and thank goodness for YouTube!

But seriously, we’re missing out if we don’t get a chance to laugh uproariously every now and then. This principle is actually Biblical:

A joyful heart [laughter in the King James Version] is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Prov. 17:22)

Not surprisingly, science has now proven that laughter is actually, physically good medicine because when we laugh our brain releases endorphins—a natural analgesic. But according to the Mayo Clinic, it also “enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles . . .” In addition, laughter “fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure.”

Medicine.

Maybe we’ve grown too distant from each other—not like families of yesteryear who regularly sat down together for meals or played games once in a while or talked to each other. Talked and laughed.

dancing-girls-63133-mSome of the greatest belly laughs I can remember were with my family when I was growing up. My dad had a way of keeping us laughing once we got started. Of course there were a few times when laughter wasn’t really appropriate, but trying to hold it in only made the situation funnier and made us laugh harder.

As a family we tickled and teased and joked. We enjoyed comedy, too, from Shakespeare’s plays to classic I Love Lucy. (I saw a slice of one of those old shows recently, and it still made me laugh).

So maybe the best way to get through winter is to laugh our way through it. I imagine if we laugh hard enough, another benefit will be to raise our body temperature! 😆

Published in: on January 9, 2015 at 6:13 pm  Comments (4)  
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