The Answer to the Ultimate Question

hitchhikers

Author Douglas Adams wrote a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He followed it up with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long and Thanks For All the Fish. (He called the last book “the 4th in the trilogy!) If you like British humor, if you “get” it, you would love this comic science fiction series. If you DON’T “get” it…then these are the dumbest pieces of literature ever to grace the shelves of your local library! (By the way, I LIKE British humor and love these books!)
In the series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. Sadly, the Ultimate Question itself is unknown.

When asked to produce The Ultimate Question, the computer says that it cannot; however, it can help to design an even more powerful computer, the Earth, that can.After eight million years, the process is ruined completely five minutes before completion when the Earth is destroyed to make way for a new Hyperspace Bypass. The beings running the machine decide not to go through the whole process again and settle for the out-of-thin-air suggestion “How many roads must a man walk down?” from Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ in the Wind”!

Many theories have been proposed as to why Adams chose 42, including the fact that 42 is 101010 in binary code, the fact that light refracts off water by 42 degrees to create a rainbow, the fact that light requires 10-42 seconds to cross the diameter of a proton. Adams rejected them all. On November 3, 1993, he said, “The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought ’42 will do’. I typed it out. End of story.”

Regardless of WHY Adams chose 42, I am fairly certain that is NOT the answer to life, the universe and everything! But what is? While I wouldn’t profess to know that, I DO wonder about it. And I wonder if, at the end of the day, whey all other options have been exhausted, the answer to life, the universe and everything is love. That’s it- love. Sound too simple to be possible? Perhaps. But if you read the Bible, if you believe in God, if you accept what Jesus says in the New Testament, then love is a fairly good answer. Jesus is asked which of the 10 Commandments is the great- they are trying to trick Him. But He replies by making up one…really two…that encapsulate the original 10. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s it? That’s it! Think about it- if we all actually DID that, if we all loved God with everything we had and loved each other like we do ourselves…imagine what the world would be like! It would be…well…heaven on earth! So, I hate to disagree with one of my favorite authors but the answer to life, the universe and everything is NOT 42…it’s LOVE!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The Psizzlin’ Psummer Psalm Psermon Pseries Psequel: “If My People Would Listen to Me…”

Psizzlin Psummer Psequel If My People

I’ve been a big fan of Superman…for as long as I can remember. I was weaned on DC comics, and Superman was always my favorite. For many of the “superheroes” in the universe, the big issue is always “will they survive their latest challenge?” For Superman, that was never really his issue. Instead, his issue was always “was he willing to do what was necessary to get the job done”. In other words, his was never a mortality issue- it was a morality issue.
From 2001 to 2011, a TV show aired that focused on Superman’s early years. That show was called Smallville and it centered around Superman…Clark Kent…as a teen, growing up amid the corn fields of Kansas and trying to come to grips with his extraordinary powers. In the show, as Clark’s powers start to manifest themselves, he begins to think he’s going crazy. The power, the extra perception…and the sounds. In this scene, he and his earthly parents are trying an experiment to help him gain better control of his hearing.
(Video from Smallville)
“Listen for your father’s voice.” Today, we continue our current Sunday morning sermon series- The Psizzlin’ Psummer Psalm Psermon Pseries Psequel! Psalms are religious poems, designed to be set to music. These 150 Psalms encapsulate every human emotion, every circumstance of daily life. This 5-week series is carrying us through the rest of the summer…AND through the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows of life.
Exodus 19:16-19 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke,because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. “Listen for your father’s voice.”
Today, we spend some time walking around in Psalm 81. This Psalm is what’s known as a festival song. It was probably written for use at both the New Year festival (also known as the New Moon Festival) and the beginning of the Festival (or Feast) of Tabernacles. These two festivals are reminders of God’s saving acts. At events like these, Israel called the people to celebrate, remember and recommit.
This Psalm, among others, addresses the cause of Israel’s troubles- they have turned their backs on God. If they had only listened to God, things would’ve been different. They have forgotten their responsibility to God. They have forgotten how to listen to…and for…God.
Psalm 81 Sing joyfully to God! He gives us strength. Give a loud shout to the God of Jacob! Let the music begin. Play the tambourines. Play sweet music on harps and lyres. Blow the ram’s horn on the day of the New Moon Feast. Blow it again when the moon is full and the Feast of Booths begins. This is an order given to Israel. It is a law of the God of Jacob. He gave it as a covenant law for the people of Joseph when God went out to punish Egypt. There we heard a language we didn’t understand. God said, “I removed the load from your shoulders. I set your hands free from carrying heavy baskets. You called out when you were in trouble, and I saved you. I answered you out of a thundercloud. I put you to the test at the waters of Meribah. My people, listen and I will warn you. Israel, I wish you would listen to Me! Don’t have anything to do with the gods of other nations. Don’t bow down and worship strange gods. I am the Lord your God. I brought you up out of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things. But My people wouldn’t listen to Me. Israel wouldn’t obey Me. So I let them go their own stubborn way. I let them follow their own sinful plans. I wish My people would listen to Me! I wish Israel would live as I want them to live! Then I would quickly bring their enemies under control. I would use My power against their attackers. Those who hate Me would bow down to Me in fear. They would be punished forever. But you would be fed with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with the sweetest honey.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt often had to suffer through long receiving lines at the White House. He often complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. So one day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. As the people passed through the line and shook his hand, he muttered, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests consistently responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work, Mr. President. We’re proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It wasn’t until near the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned in and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
The first 5 verses of Psalm 81 represent God calling Israel to worship. Verse 1 jumps right in with both feet, calling us to praise God. United Methodist founder John Wesley has 6 directions for singing that are found near the front of our hymnal. #4 says, “Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength.” Psalm 81 also doesn’t want us half asleep or half dead! Instead, our worship is to be full of strength. We’re supposed to give a loud shout out to God- as if our favorite team just won the World Series!
There is supposed to be lively music, with tambourines, harps and lyres. We are to blow the horn. And it’s not a suggestion…it’s an order. I have read Bible scholars who say that we should NEVER use the expression, “The Bible is clear…” But you know what? The BIBLE IS clear that we should live our lives in joyful worship of God and not just sit on our hands and watch the world parade by us.
The next section, verses 6-7, represents God’s reminder of redemption. While the people worship, God speaks directly. He reminds them that He set them free from carrying heavy baskets- a reference to their work as Egyptian slaves. He redeemed them. He also spoke to them…and tested them “at the waters of Meribah”- a reference to when the Hebrews argued with Moses about water during their 40 years of wandering. Sadly, their contentious, ungrateful hearts were revealed through the test.
The next section, verses 8-10, is God’s call to faithfulness. God calls the people to put down their idols. The inherent understanding here is that idols are already being worshipped. This isn’t a “I’m trying to keep this from happening” sort of thing. This is a “You are already neck-deep in idol worship. Listen to Me before it’s too late.” And why do they need to set down their false gods? Because they have THE God- the Lord. He brought them out of captivity. He saved them. He saves us. If we will but open our mouths, He will fill them with good things.
The next section, verses 11-12, is God’s judgment on the unfaithful. God speaks, but the people refuse to listen, refused to obey. So God is going to let them have it their way. “You won’t listen to Me? You think you know what’s right for you better than I do? Go ahead…prove it. Knock yourself out.” They’re going to have to walk in their own way, under their own power. All they’ll hear is their own voices. Why should He bother speaking if we refuse to hear?
The last section, verses 13-16, is God’s reminder of His promises that have yet to be fulfilled. God cries out for the people to listen to His Word and walk in His ways. And that sums up a life of faith. It’s by faith that we hear His voice and it’s by faith that we obey Him. If the people will respond, God promises to reverse their fortunes. No bread and water- He’ll provide the finest wheat and the sweetest honey. There could simply be no greater promise that, “I will satisfy you”.
We live in a world of competing voices. We’re constantly bombarded with a WIDE variety of voices from the radio, TV, music, newspapers, the internet…And all of those voices are constantly shouting at us, all at the same time, trying to tell us what to buy, how to spend our time, how we should act, what we should think, what we should accept, what we should believe- how to live. So the question for us is, “To whom are we listening?” What…and Whom…you listen to determines how you live.
When you turn a radio on for the first time, you get a whole lot of…static. But when you intentionally dial into the right frequency, you can hear what you are seeking clearly. God wants us to hear what He is saying to us. But it doesn’t help to just sit around and listen- hoping that whatever it is you’re supposed to hear will just magically come along. Like the radio has to be tuned in, we have to be tuned in to God if we hope to hear what He’s saying to us. When we’re tuned to God, instead of just hearing the hiss of white noise, we’ll more clearly hear what it is He’s asking us to do.
Have you ever done this? Someone is talking to you and you are simply NOT paying attention? Instead of actually engaging with them, you blankly respond with, “Hmm…yeah…uh huh”. They know we’re not listening. When God speaks to you, do you listen? Or do you just mumble, “Hmm…yeah…uh huh”?
If want a more meaningful relationship with God, if you want to trade in fleeting moments of happiness for eternal joy, then ask God for the ability to listen- listen and then yield to His Holy Spirit. Ultimately, we hear what we listen for. Slow yourself down, quiet your heart. Listen for that still, small voice. If you do- you WILL hear His voice. Oh, it may take some time…but you’ll hear it. I challenge you to ask God to give you a listening heart. It’s a risk worth taking.
   Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
When you come to worship, are you simply expecting good advice, Biblical insight and inspirational thoughts? Or are you expecting God to address you personally? Do you go away from worship with a “warm fuzzy”…or with a Word from God? You shouldn’t settle for simply a “warm fuzzy”. Instead, always look for the “word within the Word.” Look for that moment when the Holy Spirit anoints you with that special message that He has just for you. Here’s the way it works- we worship…and God speaks. This should be the structure of our life with Him. When we offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices in worship, He transforms us. His will is revealed through our worship. When we worship God, we should EXPECT that Word from Him. As we open our hearts to God in worship, He reminds us of all that He’s done for us and calls us to more closely follow Him. And if we respond, God’s blessing will be ours- a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Tradition

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    Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? There is, of course, a movie version of it. And I seriously doubt there is a high school in America that HASN’T done a production of that classic show somewhere along the way…at LEAST one! One of the classic songs from that classic musical is Tradition. And the concept of tradition is a very important theme in the show.

    What does that word mean? A tradition is “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past”. OK- I get that. People have traditions. Families have traditions. Communities have traditions. Countries have traditions. And churches have traditions.

    Some church traditions are quite good. “Every Christmas, we prepare baskets for families that are in need.” Some church traditions aren’t good or bad…they just…are. “We always serve ham at our church Thanksgiving dinner.”

    But when it gets interesting is when tradition can’t even be consistently defined. Here’s an example- Person A says, “We always sing [SONG TITLE] on Christmas Eve…and I always sing it. It’s our tradition.” That’s great,,,until you talk to Person B, “We always sing [SONG TITLE…same song] on Christmas Eve…and I always sing it. It’s our tradition.” they agree on which song is sung..but totally disagree on WHO sings it! (And in case you think that’s just a made-up example…uh uh!)

     When I was new to the ministry, I was naive enough to think that “tradition” had one definition that everybody in the church agreed with. Please note the intentional use of the word “naive”! But over time, I have come to understand that “tradition” in a church is a slippery slope. In some cases, it is easily identified and continued. In other cases, even properly defining it can be next to impossible.

    In the end, “we’ve always done it that way” is simply not reason enough to do something…especially when no one can even agree on how it’s always been done! It’s a good thing to change it up a bit from time to time. Introduce some new traditions while still embracing some of the “old” ones.

    THe next time you someone…anyone…use the term, “We’ve always done it that way!”, stop and think about that. A. Is that even accurate? And B. Is that a good reason to continue to do it instead of trying new things?

    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again and stick with Jesus!

   Tomorrow- The Psizzlin’ Psummer Psalm Psermon Pseries Psequel: “If My People Will Listen to Me…”

Dressing Like a Pastor

pastor

    I read a blog recently that talked about how pastors should dress like…well…pastors. Much of the emphasis was on clergy wearing “clerics”- black clothes with a white collar. (For you Protestant readers, picture the stereotypical Catholic priest garb and you are at least on the right track.)  The article was interesting. (I didn’t agree with…MUCH of it, but it was interesting.) The comments were also interesting. Some agreed completely. Others were a bit “on the fence”. Still others talked about being laughed out of their churches if they showed up in “clerics”.

    A large part of the blog focused on the fact that other professionals wear the “uniform” of their trade. Policemen wear a uniform. Firemen wear a uniform. Doctors wear a lab coat. Attorneys wear pinstripe suits. You get the idea. The author intimated that the clothes help delineate who they are and what role they serve. And because of that…pastors should dress like pastors.

    Let me stop and make a side comment here- everybody is entitled to their opinion. That’s what makes this country great. You think one way. I think another. We agree to disagree. America! And I’m sure it is obvious by now that, at least at some level, I’m going to agree to disagree with the author of the blog!

    Is there anything wrong with a pastor wearing clerics? Not at all. Is there anything wrong with a pastor wearing a suit and tie every day? Nope. The problem arises when someone who chooses to dress that way, or is required to dress that way by their denomination, has the notion that, because THEY wear those clothes…that’s how “pastors” should dress.

    I had a parishioner once who didn’t care for the way I dressed- no tie every day. She said, and I quote, “Pastor So and So (OK, so it’s not an exact quote! I didn’t want to actually use the pastor’s name!) even mowed his lawn in a shirt and tie!” My response didn’t help! “Well, bully for Pastor So and So! But I can GUARANTEE that you will NEVER see me mowing my lawn in a shirt and tie!” I also know a now-retired pastor who, toward the end of his active ministry, earned a DMin- a Doctor of Ministry degree. After that, he insisted…demanded…that people call him “Doctor”. When “Pastor” or “Reverend” would come out of someone’s mouth, he would interrupt them, “Doctor!”

    The reality is that we do NOT earn respect simply by what we wear or what we insist people call us. Don’t believe me? If you’re like me, you were told to call adults Mr. and Mrs. when you were growing up- a sign of respect. But did you actually respect all of them? Of course you didn’t- some of them were big jerks! Have you had a doctor, all decked out in the snazzy white lab coat, that you couldn’t stand? Of course you have! (My oncologist doesn’t even wear a lab coat most of the time- GASP!- and he is considered one of the best in the country!)

    I have worn everything there is to wear in the ministry- robes, collars, suits, ties…the whole nine yards. And over the years I have decided two things about the whole topic- none of it guarantees respect and I am MUCH more comfortable in something OTHER than a robe or a suit. And quite frankly, when I’m more comfortable, I’m more effective at what I do.

    I go by Rev. Mark. The last 2 churches I served were used to that. The church I currently serve was more used to Pastor than Rev. when I got here. I told them that A. I go by Rev. Mark…because I have to call myself something, B. they are welcome to call me Rev. Mark, Pastor Mark, Mark or whatever and C. I really don’t care!! (I suggested they could call me NEARLY anything as long as they didn’t call me late for dinner! (Buh Doom Ching! Thank you! I’ll be here all week!)

    We earn respect by who we are and what we do- day in and day out. Period. Respect is earned in the trenches, not in the clothes closet.

    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again and stick with Jesus!

   Tomorrow- Tradition

A Day in the Life…

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   The next few days will be a microcosm of what life in the ministry is like. Today, I will meet with a gentleman whose parents are from the town in which I serve. They long ago moved away, but had strong roots here. Both husband and wife have now passed away and their cremains are being brought here to be interred in the city cemetery. The son is in town for the ceremony and we are meeting today to make some final plans. Tomorrow, I will perform the graveside service for his parents.

    Then, tomorrow night, I will oversee a rehearsal for a 50th wedding anniversary vow renewal service! A couple from the church I serve are celebrating that milestone and they want a real, old-fashioned wingding to commemorate it. (I don’t actually know what a wingding is…but it sounded good!) There will be music, music and more music, a sermon (yep…a full sermon!), vow renewal…you name it! Meanwhile, my wife will be driving 45 minutes one way to pick up her sister at the airport. Then, on Saturday, we’ll have the vow renewal itself! The service will be somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour and there will be a reception afterward. Lots of people are coming and it should be lots of fun!

    On Sunday, it will be 3 worship services, with a total of two separate sermons (Three, if you count the one from Saturday!). There will be preaching, praying, drumming, teaching, serving Communion…the list goes on. Sundays are a great day!

    On Monday, I will be attending the visitation of a beloved matriarch of the church who passed away yesterday. She was a retired teacher who touched more lives than you and I put together. And she was one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. A while back, her son-in-law passed away unexpectedly. I went out to the nursing home where she lived to check on her. I got there about 9:30PM. I walked down the hall to her room, meeting her in the doorway. And the first words out of her mouth…the FIRST words as I checked on her after losing a loved one…were “How are you feeling? How’s your treatment going?”

    Then, on Tuesday, I will officiate at her burial. We will have a marvelous celebration of her life at the church- which is exactly where she would want it to happen. Then we will eat lunch and drive to a military cemetery almost an hour from where we live for her burial. And quite honestly- the celebration will turn into tears…at least for me. A pastor who doesn’t get attached to the people they serve isn’t doing it right!

    That’s an awful lot of incredibly varied ministry in a short time. And that is exactly why it’s a microcosm of what ministry is like. We get the extreme  joy…and responsibility…of being with people, living with people, at both the highs and lows of their lives. And while the lows are REALLY hard some days, you can’t fully appreciate the highs without them. And all of this is just one reason why I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again and stick with Jesus!

   Tomorrow- Dressing Like a Pastor

I Didn’t Know THAT! There Are Unicorns in the Bible!

I Didnt Know That Unicorn

Abominable Snowman
Bigfoot
Chupacabra
Jersey Devil
Kraken
Loch Ness Monster
Mokele-Mbembe
Ogopogo
Skunk Ape
Thunderbird
Mythical creatures have been a staple of the human imagination since there have been humans. The Greeks and Romans developed entire belief systems around them, using them to try and explain what they saw going on around them.
Tonight, we continue our current Sunday evening sermon series- I Didn’t Know That! We are spending 5 weeks- the rest of the summer- looking at things we may not have even known were IN the Bible! Tonight, we dive into the world of cryptozoology. From the Greek, (kryptos meaning hidden and zoology meaning the study of animals) cryptozoology is the study animals whose existence is is doubt or has not yet been proven. Tonight’s topic fits squarely in that realm! Tonight, we look at The Unicorn.
The unicorn is traditionally seen as a mythical creature. Strong, wild, and fierce, it was impossible to tame. Plinie, the Roman naturalist, described it as “a very ferocious beast, similar in the rest of its body to a horse, with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, a deep, bellowing voice, and a single black horn, two cubits in length, standing out in the middle of its forehead.”
It was traditionally believed that only a virgin who was both naked and sitting under a tree could catch the unicorn. It would be irresistibly drawn to the girl and lie down with his head in her lap. While it slept, a hunter could capture it. If, however, the girl was merely pretending to be a virgin, the unicorn would tear her apart.
Historically, the unicorn horn, called an alicorn, was said to have great medicinal powers. The dust filed from the horn was supposed to protect against deadly diseases if mixed into a potion. Or, if you drank from the horn, you would be protected against any poison.
Many believe that an unusual sea creature called the narwhal is the foundation for the fabled unicorn. The narwhale is a type of whale that has a single, long tusk sticking out from the center of its forehead. In fact, narwhale tusk has been sold as alicorn and it has often been ground up and used for its supposed magical properties.
Be honest- by a show of hands, how many of you had ANY idea that unicorns were mentioned in the Bible? When I first read it, I assumed it was some kind of joke- I kept waiting for the punchline. But..there isn’t one. Unicorns are IN the Bible! Let’s see some of the Bible verses that mention the unicorn.
Job. 39:9-10 “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?”
Isaiah 34:7 “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”
Numbers 24:8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
Psalm 29:6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
Psalm 92:10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
Job 39:9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
Did you notice anything special about all of the passages I read? Yep! They all came from the King James translation of the Bible. With that in mind, let me show you one more KJV passage-
Psalm 22:20-22 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Now, let’s look at part of that same passage in other translations.
New International Reader’s Version- Save me from the mouths of those lions. Save me from the horns of those wild oxen.
New International Version- Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
English Standard Version- Save me from the mouth of the lion!You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
The Message Version- If you don’t show up soon, I’m done for—gored by the bulls, meat for the lions.
The Voice Version- Rescue me from the mouth of the lion. From the horns of the wild oxen, You responded to my plea.
The Good News Version- Rescue me from these lions. I am helpless before these wild bulls.
The New King James Version- Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen!
Not ONE mention of unicorns. SEVERAL mentions of bulls and oxen..but NO unicorns! Why is that? Well…British history is at the heart of it. Queen Elizabeth of England died on March 24, 1603 and Scotland’s James VI succeeded her, becoming King James I of England. King James wanted unity and stability in and between church and state. And he was unhappy with the Bible translation being used- The Geneva Bible. So James ordered a new translation. It was to be accurate and true to the original languages. He appointed fifty of the nation’s best language scholars and approved rules for carefully checking the results. The first edition of the product of that undertaking- The King James Bible- came out in 1611.
In that original King James Version- still seen by a decent amount of more conservation Christians as THE translation- the literary scholars translated a single Hebrew word- reym- to the English word “unicorn”. In every occurrence of the English word “unicorn,” it is the same Hebrew word- reym. The King James Old Testament described this “unicorn” as an animal of great ferocity and strength. It was untamable. Conspiracy theorists say that modern Bible translators simply changed the word to escape the inclusion of such a “thought to be mythical” creature as the unicorn.
Why did those scholars translate it that way? Well, around 250 BC, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was carried out. In it, they translated the Hebrew word “reym” as the Greek work “monokeros”, which literally means “one horn”. This seems to clearly point to why the King James version renders it as unicorn- the King James Version translators depended heavily on the Greek translation.
But the truth is that “unicorn” seems to be, ultimately, an unfortunate translation- the animal actually referred to had two horns, not one. Some have described it as a buffalo. Others have said it was a white antelope. But most probably, the word denotes the auroch- a now-extinct wild ox that once inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa. It was the ancestor of domestic cattle and it survived in Europe until about 1627. In fact, in an ancient Assyrian inscription, the exact same Hebrew word-reym- is written above a picture of an auroch- what the unicorn in the King James is probably supposed to be.
Question #1- What’s the danger inherent in this topic?
Question #2- How then should you approach Scripture?
The truth is that people use a portion of a verse or a specific translation to help make their point. That’s called eisegesis- when you have a specific agenda and you seek out things in the Bible that support your belief…AND throw out any passages that DON’T support your thoughts and ideas. I saw something this week that quoted one of the King James passages I shared earlier and then said, “There you go. So I will believe in God as soon as someone finds a unicorn skeleton!” That’s DANGEROUS way to study the Bible.
Instead, we need to be all about exegesis- when you go to the Bible with NO preconceived notions or agendas and instead just let the Word speak to you. AS soon as we think we have it all figured out and try to make God fit in our tidy little Biblical world, we’re in trouble. But when we are willing to have an open mind and believe that God is speaking to us through His Word, doors are opened and hearts are changed.

The CIA

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    The CIA was at the church I serve this past Sunday! No foolin’! It was, however, NOT the CIA you’re thinking of! There is a ministry that my wife started after my mom died in 2004. My dad would share with us how lonely it got, living by himself. (We offered more than once for him to move in with us, but he valued his independence too much!) And it got my wife thinking about folks in the congregation we served at the time who were in the same situation. They live alone. They They eat alone.

    She decided to start a ministry aimed squarely at those folks. She named it AARP- Active Adults Reaching People. It was “sold” as being for people who often find themselves eating alone. It went through a variety of iterations early on, trying to find the right approach. But it quickly became apparent that going OUT to dinner after church was the best fit. So one Sunday every month, we would load everybody up in the church van and head out to some pre-determined restaurant. Being 10 minutes from Champaign-Urbana, IL, there were a nearly infinite number of restaurants at our disposal!

    Fast-forward to the church we currently serve. The same need existed, just in a new setting. And because the community in which we live is 45+ minutes away from more than about 4 restaurants, it was decided to A. start the same ministry here and B. build it around home-cooked meals served at the church. And the CIA was born!

    Caring Individual Adults started with 6-8 people staying after church for lunch- again billed as being for people who usually eat alone. Over the months, and now years, ahead, it grew. Slowly, more people heard about it and more people bought into the concept behind the ministry. This past Sunday was CIA Sunday- the 4th Sunday of every month. We served cheesy chicken spaghetti, green beans, salad and dessert. 25 people had lunch together…and that number was DOWN a bit from where we’ve been!

    It’s really awesome to see a ministry like this thrive. It’s not “high impact”. It’s not highly public. It’s not hi-tech. But MAN does it connect well with the people who attend! They have a GREAT time. They have great fellowship. They enjoy the food, to be sure. But they enjoy the relationships even more. I am thankful for ministries like this. AND I am thankful for my wife, who has such an awesome heart that she creates and builds ministries like these!

    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again and stick with Jesus!

   Tomorrow- I Didn’t Know THAT! There Are Unicorns in the Bible!