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October 2012

September 2012 entries

Did Jesus Have a Wife?

I was just preparing some notes for tonight's Bible study when I thought you may be interested in what I have to say as well. Last week one of my staff walked into my office and asked if I had heard of the "Jesus Wife Text" that was on the morning's news. I had not and he went on to share what he had heard.

Dr. Karen King, professor at Harvard's School of Divinity, revealed a small fragment of ancient papyrus at the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome. One partial line of the small fragment read, "Jesus said to them, My wife..."

One lady being interviewed said that Christians must reassess their view of Jesus based upon this finding. Really?!!!

If it is real, and that is greatly debatable at this early stage, then it is probably from the 4th century. It is most definitely written in the Coptic language and not Greek or Hebrew. Coptic is an ancient language of Egypy where many Christians began to develop their own brand of Christianity. A group of fringe Christians, known as the Gnostics, influenced much Christian thought during the centuries immediately following the original church.  It was some of their odd teachings that actually prompted the church to affirm the formation of the 66 books that now constitute the Holy Bible.

So should we reconsider our views of historical Jesus based upon one sentence fragment in a questionable and late Gnostic text? Or should we consider the more than 25,000 handwritten, partial or complete, documents of the New Testament. Of these there are 5700 in Greek and another 10,000 in Latin.  There are 15 papyri dating to the second century. None of these ever mention the "wife of Jesus."

The preponderence of evidence tells us that this newly found document is another attempt to undermine the authenticity of Scripture. Here is what you can know for sure. No attack by enemies of the Bible will ever be able to stand against solid and unbiased scholarship. I have spent my adult life studying the Word and I can boldly declare the longer I study the Bible the more I trust it as God's Word to man.   

I'm Becoming a Crotchety Old Man

I have 10 to 15 years before I can even think about retiring. Even so it is happening to me. Before I knew it...right before my very eyes...even as I fought hard not to become's happening. I am becoming a crotchety old man. Somebody help me!

I am waking earlier and finding it hard to go to sleep. I can't think of a thing that I want to eat. I think more about the good old days than the future. I don't like the current music. I like old cars better than new ones. I'm more likely to listen to Bill Gaither than Jeremy Camp. I cry watching old videos of the kids and can't wait til grandchildren. Somebody save me!

People are more likely to irritate me. Sitting in traffic produces an ugly snarl across my face. I have to break eight hour road  trips into 4 smaller trips of two hours, or each exit with a Cracker Barrel. I feel compelled to stop even if I'm not hungry. I'll pick up the John Deere cookie jars and try on trucker hats that say, "Worlds Greatest Grandpa." I'll sort through the CD's of old "I Love Lucy" and "Andy Griffith" shows and quietly laugh as I remember scenes in black and white. Can somebody help me?

I am more likely to tell you what I don't like than the things I do. If you mention a pain, I'll mention two. I complain of nose hairs and stray hairs. My barber spends more time trimming my ears and less time cutting my hair. Lately, I have been thinking that it would be fun to buy some dominoes and vist the mall. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I need rescuing from the man I'm becoming!

However, I must admit, there are a couple of things that I don't mind about getting to be a crotchety old man. I think about the days I used to lay in the grass as a child and look into heaven. I thought if I watched close enough I must just see God hiding in a cloud. As a young man, I began to think that such activities were a waste of time. Now, I think they may have been the most valuable moments of my childhood. When I was a young man most memories I had of home were painful. The harsh words and lonliness were still too near in the past. Now as I have become more mature, God has washed those painful memories away and all that remains are feelings of neighborhood friends and a family who loved each other.  I used to think old people were strange when they cried at church as we sang about heaven. Now, I cry too. I have enough friends who have gone on before me that it makes the trip a little more acceptable, even exciting. God help me to become gracious and not grumpy, thankful and not resentful, loving and not judgmental. God help me. 

Louder is Just Louder

If you have ever attended one of my Power Lunch meetings at our Northgate campus you have heard me say, "Bigger is bigger, better is better." I have hammered that statement time after time to dismiss the false notion that big means successful. Sometimes smaller is better.

Now I want to add to that same line of thinking, "Louder is not better, louder is just louder." And I'm not even talking about the current controversy of piano vs. organ, orchestra vs. band, or even electric vs. acoustic. No, I'm talking about the notion that if you praise God loudly on Sunday it is a clear indication you are spirit filled. Or if you cry or raise your hands in worship it is a sign of genuine praise. Those could be signs that you are really trying to cover an unwillingness to surrender to the call of Christ. Before you make a judgment on that statement, let me give you an example.

In Erwin Lutzer's book When a Nation Forgets God, the author retells a German Christian's story who lived during the Holocaust. "A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars.  Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us.

"We knew the time the train was coming, and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly, and soon we heard them no more."

What a haunting picture that leaves in my mind. We gather in our churches to greet the same people week after week. We talk about how good God has been to us. We plan outings and Bible studies. We cry during some songs and take notes during the message. We do it all just to return next week and do it again. All the while we are trying to drown out the pain that is going on outside. There are homeless people that make us uncomfortable just down the street from the church. We pass by them on our way to lunch. In our neighborhood, there's a mom who has done some foolish things and is paying the price through abuse and neglect. There is a guy next door who is losing his desire for his wife because of internet pornography. Just down the street a man is spending his last dollar for a lottery ticket. A dollar that his wife sent him to the store with to buy milk and bread for the kids. Still we sing louder. If we sing loud enough maybe we won't hear their cries. Maybe if we shed some more tears while we're in church then we won't see that guy with the sign at the side of the road.

We are really good at our holy huddles. We spend a lot of money and effort making sure the members enjoy themselves while they're at church. We try to give warmth to those who complain about the chill in the room. We try and tone down the music for those who say it is too loud. All the while we neglect the reason for which we have gathered. Sure, we're here to encourage one another. But we are also here to be challenged to be the hands and feet of Christ among hurting people. I am going to challenge Dallas Bay to get out and minister to people for thirty days this October. I want us to hear and respond to their cries. And here is what I believe. If we minister in the name of Christ 6 days a week, we will gather and sing louder, lift our hands in worship, pray more earnestly and give more generously on Sunday. Not because we want to drown out the cries of those outside our doors, but because we have heard them and responded in Christ's name!