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Uhhhh.... thanks?

Jonah is a funny little book in the Hebrew Bible. Only four chapters long, but a wealth of material. In a nutshell, it's the story of a Hebrew prophet, Jonah, who repeatedly lets God down in these four chapters. Meanwhile all the people who come into the story not even knowing who the God of Israel is all act in the manner we hope Jonah would. I think this story is a good one to remember on Thanksgiving, a day we're thankful for all we have. Family, blessings, provisions, three NFL football games, a ridiculous amount of college basketball games, leftovers for weeks, diverse political opinions together in a limited space, relatives lacking the most basic social skills and manners... Gee. Thanks for providing, God.


God provides in the book of Jonah. But not in the way we might expect.

The book begins with God telling Jonah, "Hey you know those Ninevite folks kinda nearby? I've heard some bad things. Go tell them to straighten up and fly right." (My paraphrase. Let&…

My Favorite Cannibal Story In The Bible

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In John 6, Jesus told a group of folks:

I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me;
in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:53-57, New Living Translation)
I suspect many church folks are accustomed to hearing this verse. Unfortunately, growing so comfortable with passages from the Bible often means we really don't hear them anymore. What if you read the Bible like you'd never read it before? What if you listened to teachings about the Bible like it was all brand new? How would this passage sound to you? Let me paraphrase, and see if that makes my point:
"Then Jesus said,…

My Favorite Zombie Story In The Bible

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No, it's not Lazarus.

Or Jesus, either, so don't worry, I won't be referring to Jesus as a zombie. I do, however, want to talk about some of the events at his death.

Matthew's account of the death of Jesus in Matthew 27:45-54 shares several spooky details. First, while Jesus is on the cross and still alive, Matthew says that darkness came over the whole land from about noon to three in the afternoon. That's not good. Darkness is never good. Ask Dr. Who.



Then, immediately after Jesus breathes his last, a curtain inside the temple of God was torn in two from top to bottom. Hebrews, another book in the New Testament, has led folks to understand this as symbolism for the death of Jesus making a way for us to draw near to God. It's interesting to me that Matthew offers no such commentary. He prefers to let the event stand on its own. It's a powerful image. I think for Matthew, power is more important than symbolism.

The display of power continues. Matthew tells…

My Favorite Demon Story In The Bible

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There's a story I've always loved at the beginning of Mark 5 about Jesus and a demons-possessed man. Not a typo. Dude had real problems. You can find this story in Mark 5:1-20 if you want to read it later. It's a wild ride.

Most scary movies are kind of silly, right? Jason is kind of a joke. Most of us think we could take him, given the chance. Viewers can almost predict who will die and when. But movies about demon-possession? That's a different story. Even though the special effects are a bit dated now, The Exorcist... yikes. The Exorcism of Emily Rose... double yikes. And Frailty? Don't get me started on Frailty.




Whenever I finish a movie like those I've mentioned, I follow it up immediately by turning on every light in the house and watching multiple episodes of a quality sitcom. It doesn't matter if the ending of the film has a happy ending: the victim is free of possession, living a normal life, and all is well. Doesn't matter. I need lights and l…

My Favorite Witch Story In The Bible

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Truth be told there aren't a lot of options when it comes to witch stories in the Bible, but this is a good one. And just in time for Halloween! I mean Fall Festival. Or Trunk or Treat. Or whatever made up name your church gives whatever event you're hosting this coming week, in order to avoid such undesirable pagan affiliations. Good for you. I, however, will exploit the opportunity to write about some stories from the Bible that fit the theme. Here's hoping it leads you to actually reading the stories themselves.

This story comes from 1 Samuel 28, and focuses on Saul, Israel's first king. We actually mentioned him with my last post -- prophetic frenzy, what a hoot, etc. 1 Samuel 15-31 is a block of chapters all about the continuing downfall of Saul and the rapid rise of the future king, David. So in 1 Samuel 28, we're nearing the end of Saul's story.

The story begins with some background information in 1 Samuel 28:3. First we learn that Samuel, prophet/advis…

There is nothing new under the sun... including the Holy Spirit.

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The Gospel of John is my least favorite gospel. There. I said it.

I probably like Luke the best. Maybe Mark. But John? Meh.

Relax. It's a fine gospel. It's just the one I like the least. Maybe you have your favorite and your least favorite too, though you may never have said so to anyone.

We don't like them all equally. It's human nature. That's why we have four, with all of them written in such different styles. Some will like Matthew, others Mark, others Luke or John.

If it makes you feel better, I will tell you that my two favorite stories about Jesus are in John. But honestly, lots of times I don't know what he's trying to say, or I think he's taking way too long to say it. And then sometimes, I just think, "John! Seriously? Why would you say that?"


There's a great example in John 7:37-39. Jesus is teaching some folks about a time that was coming but was not yet, and John says (according to the NIV), "Up to that time, the Spirit h…

Seriously, learn your alphabet, King David.

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With my last post we looked at the way Hebrew poetry sometimes uses the Hebrew alphabet, beginning each line of a poem or song with consecutive letters of that alphabet. These poems or songs are called alphabetic acrostics, and show up a lot in Psalms, most of Lamentations, and once in Proverbs. Some folks also point to Nahum 1, but it's a little weird.


Today I want to talk about something cool that happened with an acrostic in Psalms.

That's the nerdiest sentence I've ever written.

Actually, probably not. So that's embarrassing... anyway...

Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise to God. It's grand and majestic in its description of the works and character of God as understood by ancient Israel. And it even does this in the form of an acrostic. Verse 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, verse 2 begins with the second letter, and so on.

Well, until you get to verse 14.

Verse 14 should begin with the Hebrew letter nun. Phonetically, nun is kind of like the …