Monday, May 26, 2014
A LOOK AT SEEKING TRUTH WHEN OTHERS THROW US ROADBLOCKS
Some time ago, when reading in the Psalms, I came across a notation in my study notes that “blew my mind.” It was a note that said Psalm 6 was a prayer “in time of severe illness.” I immediately questioned that, and sought resources to help explain that to me. As I did, I found that the most trusted resources believe this to be a cry for help in a time of depression; his son was hunting him down like an animal; he was realizing that he had somewhere failed his son as a father; and he was exhausted* from his physical and mental trials.
This latter description is what I have long believed and, after researching other comments on this, I struck the NIV note out of contention with a big X.
Now I have come upon an otherwise unnoticed damaging bias of the NIV scholars who put these notes together: They very quietly indicate in several places that they believe the theory that Genesis 1, and perhaps all of Genesis, is a tale based on Ancient Near East mythology. WOW.
I had never even heard a whisper of such a thing until I was reading Psalm 36 and came across the phrase: “…surely when the mighty waters rise they will not reach him.” (vs 6)
But as I read through the notes on this chapter, I was astonished to find these words:
mighty waters – Powerful imagery for threatening forces or circumstances. This and related imagery was borrowed from ancient Near Eastern creation myths.
I pulled my jaw back up from where it fell and immediately put a huge question mark beside that note. What a lie that is! The writers of the Old Testament did not have any need to seek out mythology to write the stories of our God! That is a reference to the flood and to all the carnage it created in a sinful, unbelieving world; while lifting the believers up and out of harms way in the ark.
It is a reminder to us of God’s promises to us that He will never do that again, nor will He allow us to ever be totally overcome in any “waters” that besiege us in this life on earth. The very worst thing that can happen to us is actually the very best thing that can ever happen to anyone: In an instant we will be face to face with our Lord. There is a powerful lesson in these verses and it is not about any ancient mythology.
SO… I set about taking a look at other notes on this chapter and found that this verse has no notes at all in many Study Bible versions, and that most – well actually all of the places I found discussing this verse – completely ignored the claim of mythological foundations and went straight to how powerful a promise this is to us from our God. My buddy, J Vernon McGee, simply said, “When David refers to ‘the floods of great waters,’ I think he is referring to the flood of Noah’s time.”
He goes on to say, “Noah was in the ark when the Flood came and that flood, which destroyed others, simply lifted him up because he was in the ark. The waters of judgment could not reach Noah.” Bless his heart, he agreed with me! :)
SO… being the snoop that I am, I went back to check notes in Genesis 1. I have never paid any attention to them because I felt no need to check notes for clarification since I have studied this chapter many times under many scholars and teachers and I have it down pretty well.
At first the notes seem to be supportive of the common ground that God created and he did it in six days and He declared it good. But in this NIV version, the notes declare that some think this was a six day period and others declare that is an indefinite period of time. Uh oh. That simple statement may be true in fact – there are different opinions out there – but suggesting that these beliefs exist side by side and implying that this is okay does not ad up to truth. The impact is not equal. But even bringing it up indicates to me that they are unsure. The note is saying that there is room to maneuver here. More disappointment in trusting these notes at all.
As for creation “being good,” they speak of “no lingering traces of disorder and no dark and threatening forces arrayed against God or man.” This seems innocent enough, but I have also found a very excellent description of these mythological beliefs, and this is a direct reference to those beliefs.
They also use poetic terms in describing words used: In this chapter when they say that “in place” (referring to God giving the seas boundaries,) is a picturesque description of the seas, it belittles the fact that God placed the water where He wanted it and set real boundaries, holding the water back from covering the earth as it had previously.
The worst, though, comes in verse 16 which describes the duties of the sun and the moon (and the starlight) and they have this to say about that:
two great lights The words “sun” and “moon” seem to be avoided deliberately here, since both were used as proper names for the pagan deities associated with these heavenly bodies.
And then, for emphasis, they say that the term “govern,” refers to the myth that “the Great Creator-King assigns subordinate regulating roles to certain of his creatures.” That is a direct quote from the mythology of the godly role of kings in Ancient Near Eastern Mythologies.
You see, these myths are used in factual history for initiating kingly power with each new king as he came along. It gave each one supreme power over the people, allowing him to declare who would be favored and who would not. It was a way of passing deity from one to another. Thus each one took a turn at being god.
None of this has anything to do with our God or with the writing of Genesis or any possibility that Genesis was written under the influence of mythology.
Our belief that the Word of God is true and sufficient relies, partially, on the fact that nothing is written in any one place that is not supported in other places in the Word. And the creation account is recounted over and over again in the Word of God: no mythical accounting is required or found there!
Be careful what you let others put into your mind to cause confusion in your faith. That is one of Satan’s sneakiest ways to weaken you and make you doubt what you have been taught from God’s Word. If you have a wandering doubt, catch it and ASK about it. Find a leader, even your Pastor, and tell them that you are confused and need some help. Don’t put it off. Don’t let it take root.
And, since you are reading this online, I am assuming that you have a favorite search engine. Use it. Watch out for people who are biased against the Bible being completely true and sufficient for God’s people, but don’t be afraid to read alternate thinking now and then. It can strengthen your own thinking.
Just check your resources for who they are and what they represent and if you aren’t sure about them, ask. Always be ready to ask someone you trust to tell you the truth before settling for believing things you are told by “strangers.” I generally turn my deepest questions into emails to my Pastor. He is willing to take a look and give an answer. If time is short he will say so and come back to it later. I trust his judgment, and that is good because he is our guide and leader in this family of Christians.
One of the reasons I do not insert a lot of scripture addresses in my own remarks is that my desire is to get you interested in finding out if I make sense or not. Go for it. Get curious and stand your ground when people try to make you think that what you have been taught is wrong.
May God help us, as He has promised, when we set out to discover the mighty truths of His Word and of His heart. May we seek, always, to know just a little more about Him and about what He wants us to know and believe. And may we become stalwart in our beliefs and ready to stand firm in them no matter who tries to persuade us away from them. In Jesus name. Amen.
*Exhaustion is a very serious open door to confusion and depression; Watch out for it.
Note: This page is very, very long... just the first few paragraphs will give you an idea what I am talking about.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
For much of my adult life, I have tried to avoid crying. I hate what it does to me: Headache, stuffed up nose and sinuses, burning eyes, red face. It all adds up to ugly, and I have enough of that without crying. Crying is not something I do easily, so anger moves in instead. And that often fails me because I often end of crying when I am angry. But the older I have gotten, the better I have become with holding back the tears. No tears for me, please.
When I was going through the rebuilding of my life after I came here to live near my Aunt and cousins, I was crying and weeping a lot because there was a great deal of hurt that had to be dealt with and it hurt all over again. But I also wept with happiness over the pure Joy I found in my renewed relationship with Christ. When I got through a few of those years, I seemed to have decided that it was just too messy to keep crying over things and I “bucked” up. I still tear up over the Majesty of God and the presence of Christ in my life, but that is the most I will allow: tears that don’t fall.
Well… Mother’s Day turned into a disaster for me because I had been ignoring my own feelings about something and had ignored it for about three months: I knew, and said to myself, “I think I need a good cry”. But I could not put a finger on why, so I didn’t. Therefore, I ended up weeping my way through church that Sunday. Funny how things we are stuffing catch up with us in the end.
Now I realize that I was long term dealing with the hurt of not having any family of my own, no parents, no sibling, and no children. And I have been thrown into some aging issues that have been very hard to deal with and that needed to be acknowledged as scaring the wits out of me.
Was crying a weakness of faith? Was crying a sin at that point? I don’t think so. I think it was a necessity. I had been refusing to acknowledge the hurts I was feeling, but they had not gone away. And suddenly I was head bowed and tears flowing and body shaking in a way that I could not stop.
I tried to be discreet about it, but I guess that did not work because one couple handed me a flower and another friend came across to me and gave me one as well. And she gave me hugs, and kisses on the cheek. I was still trying to be subtle about the whole thing, but I was very encouraged by these actions.
And, I was extremely thankful that our pastor does not make a big thing about Proverbs 31 on Mother’s Day. I was very thankful to hear the beauty of Paul’s first recorded sermon, instead; reminding us of how much our God loves us and has been Mighty to save us.
Just to let you know that I know: I am not the only woman in the world, let alone in our church, who has no children; there are other women who have no children due to other, more tragic circumstance than mine. And, by the way, I have sat through many Mother’s Day celebrations without breaking down, or even wanting to break down.
The point I hope to make is that we need to keep up with our feelings or they may take us down. We need to be who we are and be free in feeling what we feel. It is not a sin to feel pain and hurt. It is not a lack of trust or doubt in God to feel things, and feel them deeply – check Job. Our feelings and emotions are a gift of God and He gave us a lot of them. If we need to cry, then we need to cry.
Weeping is a cleanser of the soul. It is a cleanser given by God to help us keep our hearts and thoughts refreshed and renewed and honestly proclaimed to God, so that He can catch our tears and hug us tightly for the simple sake of His Glory being felt and seen in our lives.
Now that I have come to realize what I wept over, it is time to acknowledge my fear of being alone in my declining years: I must hand that over to Him for safe keeping. And now that I know I have been hurt by baby issues I must also hand that over to Him, knowing full well that He already knows that, and His plans for me simply do not include being close to children, at least for now.
My hope is that we may all stop denying the things that hurt us; but acknowledge them and cry over them when necessary. I cannot help but hope that you who read this will take a serious look at hurts you are holding. These hurts do not always turn to anger, but they can leave you weeping at very inopportune times – like in the middle of church when sin or failure is not necessarily involved - just emotions unexpressed.
My cheeks are red – but I got two carnations out of it! :) And I turned to the friend next to me, whose husband had brought an extra flower for me, and coyly said: “Look here – I got two.” She called me an over achiever. We smiled and went on in the service. Later we had opportunity to hug.
Father: Thank you for being who you are and for caring for such “human” Human beings. Thank you for sending Christ to be our Savior, friend and brother; the answer to every question from every person on this entire earth, as Paul preached and reminded us in His amazing sermon in the synagogue.
God, help us to be more aware and honest about our hurts and feelings about life as we live it. Let us cry out to you in pain or in joy, whenever we need to express to you what we are feeling; whenever our hearts are lifted up or torn down; whenever we fear the unknown but do not admit it to you; whenever our feelings assist or constrict our ability to find our peace and joy in you.
Let us not be afraid to feel and to share with you exactly what we are feeling. Let us remember that “your mercies are renewed every morning,” and that we can also be renewed and refreshed in them, every morning. And “Let us be singing when the evening comes!”
May God bless you all. In Jesus Name, Amen.