Ah, a new season. Autumn has to be my favorite (except for all of the pollen.) But then again, I get excited for every new season. It’s weird, I know what’s going to happen in the next season. I’ve seen it all before. But I’m always ready for it to happen again.

This week, there were some really good, deep, challenging things that came onto my radar, but I’m going to concentrate on one specific book that landed on my desk last week.

On My Bookshelf

I got a free copy of Peter Enns’ book The Bible Tells Me SoNow, here’s the thing, when it comes to any book on biblical interpretation, I ForTheBibleTellsMeSocan’t just give it a ringing, blind endorsement. That is irresponsible. So what can I say about it?

I fundamentally agree with Enns’ central argument, which happens to be the subtitle, “Why defending scripture has made us unable to read it.” I think most of us are borderline illiterate when it comes to making sense of our Bibles. Some of us take the bare-bones approach of the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it. Such an approach does not make a more faithful Christian. It makes a bulldozer Christian who plows through all manner of biblical literature with no sensitivity to the original author or audience. Other people get stuck in the weeds of “original Greek” meanings and trying to discern where one author started a sentence and another author ended it. I do not think that is productive either.

I have to admit, going to seminary was a trial for my faith, because I realized for the first time just how complex the history of the Bible is. I believe as Enns says that the Bible is exactly the way God wants it to be. And I have said before that I do not believe every Old Testament story has to be literally true for the Bible to be inerrant. (A word whose meaning we’ve all but lost.) The Bible is a complex, beautiful, poetic book that was somehow inspired by God. But that doesn’t mean it’s the same as our American History textbooks from high school.

That being said, I would be remiss to give a blanket endorsement to Enns approach, as I would be to anyone’s approach. I don’t know if I can go all the way to the logical conclusions of Enns’ arguments, in which whole chunks of the Bible were fabricated to address contemporary issues in Israel. I don’t need the Bible to be that way to be settled with it in my mind. And maybe you don’t either. Who says Enns has finally unlocked the “Bible code,” perfectly and inerrantly? No one. So read with discernment. Take with a grain of salt. I can’t imagine Peter Enns telling anyone to do otherwise. Don’t lap up these words, eagerly and unquestioningly, the way Enns’ describes his early experiences in seminary. If the Bible is as important as we say it is, then we should be careful with the authors who tell us how to interpret it.

The Bible Tells Me So may change the way you read your Bible. Regardless, I do think that reading an author who challenges us to “the the Bible be what it is, even when it doesn’t behave the way we want” is always a fruitful exercise.

What makes a role model?

Being great at what you do is awesome, even if this is your job. But does this job make you an automatic "role model?"

Being great at what you do is awesome, even if this is your job. But does this job make you an automatic “role model?”

There has been a lot of discussion lately about role models, especially when we talk about the disaster that is the NFL today. We see a man who makes millions of dollars beating a woman. We see another man who whips a child. We see these things and we shake our heads and say things like:

“Doesn’t he know he’s a role model?”

“People look up to him.”

But you know what? I look at millionaires who don’t know how to not beat women and children and ask why are these me “role models?” Who made them role models? Are these really the best role models we can come up with? There is nothing that inherently prevents a ball player from being a role model (I don’t even buy the argument that “football is a violent game, therefore players can’t be role models”). But are players role models just because they put on a jersey?

If any good can come out of these situations, I think it is that maybe, just maybe we as a sports obsessed society will stop and think and maybe even reevaluate who we are elevating to the level of role model in the first place.

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I sometimes think about great people, the kinds of people who change the world, the kinds of people who make history.

I think about the great people I admire, and I wonder how do they spend their days.

I wonder how the great people of the world start their mornings. Are they early risers or do they like to sleep in? How do they take their coffee? Do they eat cereal like me? Are they morning or evening shower-ers? (Okay, I don’t think I have ever wondered that.)

I sometimes wonder what it is like to be a great person who people admire. What does a day in the life look like for someone who makes a difference in the world? Do they know when they wake up in the morning that they are going to do something world-changing that day at eleven o’clock and then have a ham sandwich for lunch?

My guess is they don’t. They say that celebrities are just normal people. I have to assume the same is true for the great men and women of history.

Doing great things is just their normal. They get up, drink their coffee, eat their cereal, and do something. And most days, what they do is probably small. 

But I think the difference is that great people do small things in great ways. I think they see opportunities that you and I often miss.

I don’t think the secret to being a great person who is admired and respected and makes a difference is doing one great thing. I think the secret to being a great person is actually doing a whole bunch of very small things very greatly. 

You and I are going to have a whole bunch of opportunities today. Most of them will be quite small opportunities. We will have a choice about how we spend five minutes. We will have a choice about the conversation we have at lunch. We will have the choice to speak to someone or ignore them. We will have a choice about how to resolve a conflict. We will have a choice about dinner tonight.

I think when you add up all of those small, unimportant choices, we find the very difference between an average life and a great life. It’s just that most of us spend our lives wishing for a great big opportunity, while ignoring the great number of small opportunities we have every day.

small things

There might never be any great opportunities. Better to just take the small ones and make them great.

Howdy friends! I hope it’s been a great week for you as it has been for me. The anticipation around our house for the arrival of The Little One continues to grow, as does my wife.

There was plenty of good stuff to go around this week. These were the highlights for me.

On My Bookshelfplaydates

You can’t read Playdates with God by Laura Boggess yet…but I can. And I did. Actually, my name is on the first page, as I offered an endorsement of the book. Laura’s aim is to draw us back to the relationship with God we used to have, (or never had) when we were children. Strip away all of the layers that we add as adults. You should plan on reading it when it hits stores in early October. In fact, you can pre-order it on Amazon right now.

In My Blog Reader

As bloggers, we don’t always get too many perspectives from the older, less bloggy generation. I really enjoyed this personal story of confession and redemption from Lyle Dorsett.

My pal, Darrell Vesterfelt discusses how to act in spite of our fears, rather than out of our fears.

Everyone’s favorite blogging funeral director shares twelve of the worst things that have ever been said at a funeral. Holy crap.

Zack Hunt shares the surprising reaction an Oklahoma church demonstrated to the local Satanists. How many of us can honestly say we would treat Satanists the way this church is treating their neighbors?

Finally, Sarah Bessey lets us into her home by introducing us to one of her oft-repeated parenting phrases, Guard Your GatesIt’s something we do not often discuss in the age of limitless and unfettered Christian freedom, but we do still have to guard our spiritual gates. We just cannot go through this life, much less remain spiritually whole, if we allow (force?) ourselves to absorb everything there is to see and hear in the world. Humbling and poignant.

That’s it for me this week. What inspired, challenged, entertained, or fueled you this week?

My wife is pregnant.doctor-scale-by-enthalpyy

At this point in time, it’s safe to say she’s quite pregnant. No, she’s not eating everything in sight. In fact, she did not really at at all for the first three months. Most of the weight she has gained is truly baby weight.

But it’s funny. While she was sick for three months, she put me in charge of making meals. She just could not stand the sight or smell of cooking food. And so for three months, I made dinner every night. And even though she struggled to force down a meal, I never felt sick. I just kept putting the food away like I always have.

And then a couple of weeks ago, my sweetie, the woman I love, sat down next to me on the couch.

“Honey, I have to say something”

Uh-oh.

“You aren’t going to like this.”

Red alert.

“It’s just that…Are you putting on some sympathy weight?”

And just like that, my pregnant wife had called me out for being fat.

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Can I be honest?

Last week was an intense week of worry. Cheri and I had our first taste of the worry which all parents know. We know that we have signed on for a lifetime of worry.

Still, our first taste was extremely bitter.

Our week was filled with anxiety over the health of our unborn son. Not just ordinary health concerns. We were dealt revelations about the family’s genetics, premutations that pose threats to future generations. Visions of worst-case-scenarios filled our minds. My back even wrenched itself out of place on Wednesday. I still don’t have full mobility in my neck today after two chiropractic adjustments and a massage.

You know the doctors give you just enough information to worry, but not enough information to be able to give you guarantees. And so you do more tests, but the tests only do what the last tests did. They give you more worry.

By the end of the week, we had spoken to the right people who could give us the strongest reassurances that we could ever hope for. Our boy, in all likelihood, will be normal, healthy.

A week of agony, for nothing.

It’s true, ignorance is bliss. And people used to be a lot more ignorant. What did parents do before we know about all the ways our genetics can go haywire? They did not worry. What did people do before the nightly news broadcast stories of all the scary stuff around the world? They did not worry.

We suffer today, not just from information overload, but worry overload. Because much of the information we are exposed to causes us to react with anxiety, fear, worry, anger, and all of the other toxic, poisonous emotions that will slowly kill us like cancer.

Jesus knew the poison of worry. He told his disciples not to do it, and I don’t think he was being facetious. Today, many of us do not worry about the things the disciples concerned themselves with. But we have a whole lot of other worries. Tomorrow carries as many worries as it did 2,000 years ago. And the words of Jesus still hold true…

worry

Freeing our minds, our hearts and our bodies requires that we do this. That we not waste weeks on worthless worry. That we learn to trust that all things do in fact work for good.