A minister friend of mine asked me to write a couple of paragraphs about how the Bible surprises, or surprised, me. I know when the question about the Bible surprising us comes up, there is bound to be those statements about how truthful it is, how beautiful, how strengthening and how comforting. To me, all that is a given. It is supposed to be, it’s the Bible. We are told from the beginning of our biblical learning that all these things are true about the Bible.
What surprises me, and this is something which developed over time, is how raw and earthy the Bible is. When I say that I realize the Bible covers a long period of time and changing culture. Even the idea that the Bible had cultural changes surprised me. That was denied by some of those in my early years, and still is by some today.
For example, I was surprised when I first realized that Abraham, faithful Abraham, was willing to let his wife be taken into a kings concubine to save his own life by lying about their marital status, twice! It was the first time I realized that in that culture and history, women were seen mostly as chattel. They were little more than a warm place for the man’s seed to grow and develop. They were replaceable. This started me on the journey to discard all such ideas of the different value and purpose between men and women and seek equality.
I was surprised when I found that adultery for ancient Hebrew men was limited to another Hebrew man’s wife. If a Hebrew man “took” a foreign woman or a prostitute, it was not adultery, since no Hebrew woman’s womb had been “polluted.” This also allowed for the introduction of concubines and multiple wives. It has been said that God did not approve of this, but “allowed” it. And yet, when the prophets spoke what they said was “from the Lord” they never said, “And Oh, by the way, God wants you to quit viewing women as objects of pleasure and boy babymakers.”
The Bible surprised me when I read about King Saul asking for a hundred foreskins as the price of his daughter’s hand in marriage. So David and his men killed two hundred Philistine men and brought Saul their foreskins. I Sam. 18:24-27
The brutality in the Bible is surprising. For example, read the last three chapters of Judges. A Levite has a concubine. He lets her die in a city of the tribe of Benjamin by ruthless men to save himself. Then cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel. They fight the tribe of Benjamin and win. Men and women are slaughtered. Virgins are captured and placed in a field so men could take the one they wanted for a wife.
In the life of David, one of his sons rapes one of his daughters by another wife. The young woman’s only plea is that if David is asked he will give her to the man. How does that stack up with the Law of Moses?
In nine places in the Old Testament the word “piss” is used in The King James Version. Men are told they will eat their own “dung” and drink their own piss. They are told that those who “pisseth against the wall will be among those who die. I don’t have the space to list all the verses, but a KJV concordance will lead you to them.
Now, at the time of the KJV translation that word was common. It is not considered the same way today in much of our culture. So offensive is the word (and it means literally “to make water”) most modern translations avoid it.
In the New Testament I was surprised to find what I would call the “direct integrity” of Paul. I remember my surprise when I read, really read, Gal. 5:12, where Paul expresses his feelings about those who would make circumcision part of Christ. He says in the NIV “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.” Pretty direct language. He also confronts Peter openly in Antioch about his hypocrisy toward eating with Gentiles.
All this makes the Bible very authentic to me. It isn’t polished up to sound pious and sanctimonious and it doesn’t have that sweet, sticky, sound of the TV evangelists. It’s more like Bible Raw!
CONCERNS: Alan Beach will be going to Mayo Clinic for some minor surgery. Dr. Melanie Almeder has been told she is cancer free, but she is still recovering from the treatment. Trisha, a friend of the Bolin’s needs prayer for strength. One of Judy McWhorter’s customers’ son has cancer. Sylvia, one of the dentists with Health Talents is having her first child a little later in life. She is 40. Joanne Elder, (unemployed) Martha Foy’s dad, Joni Beach’s mother. Connie Crites father is now home after a short stay in the hospital, but he is still critical. Pam Pierce is gaining strength each day. Zona Fisher and her brothers, Tim and Roger. Mike Breeding, (heart problems) Polly Altice tests for a kidney will begin in September. Her son, James (cancer) Isabelle Simmons (recovering from leukemia, Helen Nicklas, the Phlegar’s friend, Julie is slowly recovering from a stroke, Teri Burks, Roger Fisher’s nephew, Barbara McCauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder. Also, the work of Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 2-7
Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-20
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 9-14
Monday: Job 1:1-12
Tuesday: Jeremiah 1:1:10
Wednesday: Matthew 11:1-19
Thursday: Romans 2:1-20
Friday: Revelation 18:1-20
Saturday: Psalm 93:1-5
In about a week Mike and AC Branch, along with Susan Jordan and Brice Reid will be going to Guatemala for a week to work with the Health Talents medical and mission team there.
Because of government changes, medicine is harder to take in on short notice. However, They do need such things as tooth brushes, and small tubes of tooth paste. Small travel-sized shampoo, small bars of soap etc.. They also like to give the children that come to the clinic a toy of some kind. These can be the small items that McDonalds gives away, hot wheels, or any other small toy. Bring them as soon as possible. Keep these folks in your prayers, and we look forward to hearing from them when they return.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
Once again so many pitched in with many hours of preparation and then making Vacation Bible School happen this year. With the supplies many of you provided, and help from nearly everyone else, this was certainly a congregational effort. To list each person would be to probably miss someone because there was so much that happened each day as the time neared. All we can say is thanks once again to everyone who turned the building into a High Seas Expedition that all the children enjoyed.
After a well deserved rest, we will begin to get ready for the Labor Day Bar-B-Que. It looks like it will be on Saturday, September 4. Chef Jeff is already preparing to make this one even better than last year. So mark the dates and get ready for the best fixin’s you can imagine.
After checking with the young folks it looks like the rest of the summer will be too busy to pull together a mini-camp. However, we are going to have a weekend outing sometime in September while the weather is still warm.
Thanks to Rich Crites for filling in at the last moment for Keith last Sunday. Three of the Wagners came down Saturday night with a “bug” that seems to be going around and were unable to make it to church. Keith especially thanks Rich.