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Five Hot Tips on Reading the Bible (and Other Bad Blog Post Titles)

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This post goes out to all of you who live with someone who rambles on about their work day each night. Perhaps it’s your spouse chatting about the office, or a roommate complaining about a co-worker. My kitchen rambler is my husband Dane and his topic of choice: teaching teenagers how to read the Bible well. He is a not a teacher of Bible stories, or morals, but one who equips kids to fully engage with the Bible in ways that have probably never learned before. He encourages them to ask question and to seek answers from within the wider Christian community. Over the years I’ve learned how easily what he teaches teenagers applies to adults as well. Therefore, I compiled a few key points I have heard on repeat over the years and asked my husband, Dane Splinter, to elaborate while I madly typed.

The Bible is a Library
The Bible is not a single book; it is a collection of books or a library.  In it we find a wide variety of literature written by different people living in different places over a long period of time. Learning to read the Bible well involves an awareness of this diversity, as well as an appreciation of how it all fits together.  We don’t read the newspaper like we read our email, and we don’t read novels like we read a baseball box score.  Thus we should not read the Bible the way we read a regular book.

Teenagers are a lot like the rest of us.  They avoid what they do not like, and do not like what they do not understand.  Equipping students to read the Bible as a library of different books helps them understand and thus appreciate the text more.

Context Matters  
When we are reading the Bible as a library, we must learn the context for each of the genres. The Bible was written by real people in real places in real time. Exploring the context of a given book of the Bible is essential.  The words recorded in Scripture are time-sensitive.  The whole point of God revealing himself in history (as recorded in the Bible) is that God was disclosing himself in real time. Too often, we treat Scripture as if it fell off God’s desk in heaven, floating down to us from above.  When we speak of the entire Bible as “eternal truth” we devalue the world that God created and the word that he is revealing to us even now.

To read the rest come on over to Momentum

 

When I Can’t Get Anything Done

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I’m suppose to be writing a post for a friend’s blog about my experience with patriarchy and the church.  Yes, I’ve experienced it. Yes, I have things to say. But I have to confess, it is not at the forefront of my mind lately.

My mind and heart are weighed down by news around the world. I find myself avoiding the internet, yet simultaneously being compelled to constantly scroll through.  I’m grasping for order in my home because the world feels so chaotic. Now that my kids’ dresser drawers are sorted and all the lego in put away I sit down to write but still feel overwhelmed.

The words and phrases flash through my twitter feed, blare through kitchen radio, pop up in prayer requests at church.  Syrian refugees…ISIS…Mike Brown… Sudan… Ebola… Gaza…. hostages…suicide…a missing plane…a shot down plane  It is not letting up, like rain in February – constant flooding – overwhelming waters.

I know the world is never completely at peace but some weeks feel heavier than others. I seem to have cracked with the story of a stranger.  The news of Mike Brown’s death sounded like a horrible story from 1961.  But no. Unarmed, young African-American men are being gunned down by police in 2014.   I could not feel more helpless. It is one thing to feel helpless about something like a missing plane but it is another to see events unfold like those in Ferguson, Missouri.  I’m speechless.

I’m usually someone who tackles things head on but this makes me want to hide.  I’m known for being a direct communicator and as someone who deals with things right away. But last night after a quick read through my twitter feed, I found myself wanting to hide.  

I didn’t want to “feel” and I definitely didn’t want talk about anything. My husband was awake and at home but I couldn’t even bring myself to find him. I just wanted to hide from all that was going on in the world. I wanted to curl up on the couch and watch countless episodes of my new netflix discovery, The Good Wife and eat bowls full of honey-nut cheerios.

This all happened in the wake of Robin William’s suicide and the outpouring of writing/tweets on mental health. I am feeling overwhelmed this week but many people live like this everyday. Lord have mercy.

For brief moments, seconds really, throughout the day, I would go back to the communion table.  This week, our pastor used a liturgy for communion – joining with people around the world who eat and drink together. He prefaced our liturgy with something like, “You of great faith or you of little faith are welcome to the table. For it is not me who invites you, but Christ himself.”  The liturgy, read in unison, reminded me of the global Church. I thought about my brothers and sisters around the world, many suffering greatly, but all of us trying to hold on to the hope at the table.

Slowly I began to eat, drink, remember and believe.  

Although hiding with Julianna Margulies and cereal has been helpful, one day soon I hope to come to the surface of this flood. I want to stay a little longer at table and face the overwhelming waters from there.

 

 

Hang Up and Feel

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This video of Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien has quickly gone viral for obvious reasons. Louis C.K. has become a funny yet poignant critic of our culture over the last several years (not to mention he basically made Tig Notaro famous and she if freaking hilarious!). The video went viral because of his “slam on smart phones,” as he repeatedly says he hates smart phones and doesn’t want his kids to have them. I’m sure most of us saw the link on twitter, facebook etc. on our smart phone. All irony aside, his basic premise is smart phones give us an out on feeling our emotions because they always give us something to do instead of pausing to experience how we feel. 

He offers a brilliant commentary on our avoidance of emotions. He talks about how people don’t want to be alone but instead choose to avoid those quiet moments where we actually begin to feel our feelings. He argues that we want to avoid those moments so much that we text and drive. He reminisces about a time when he was alone in his car and he began go to that dark place where he realized our world is really sad (of course a Springsteen song brought him to this place). He talks about reaching for his phone to text and catching himself about to avoid the sadness. Instead he pulled over and wept (apparently he “cried like a bitch” – which I sure just means “a lot”…).

If you think of those times when you are meeting a friend for coffee and you arrive first and are forced to sit alone at a table. What do you do? Take out your phone. It is so hard to be alone or appear to be alone. What if we actually let ourselves be alone and feel what is going on? The wise CK says we should, …”stand in the way of [the sadness] and let it hit you like a truck…you are lucky to live sad moments.” He goes on to talk about how his sad moment was met with profound happiness. In a way, allowing our sadness to be felt, we clear the way for our happiness.

Working with me often results in facing our emotions head on. I give time to let the emotions wash over us. By taking the time to do it we say this is good and worthwhile. We acknowledge what we don’t want to feel and that we would rather avoid. And then we wait for a shift. Sometimes the shift happens within a few minutes, other times it is weeks or months. But when it happens we realize it is worth it. Going “there” is worth it. We shift to a new place and gain a new perspective. Sometimes a good cry just makes us feel better. Other times we actually begin to feel healing take place.

Christians especially have a lot of trouble with this. We think if we rely on God our sadness will dissipate or that we “shouldn’t” feel sad because God is here with us.  In fact, this is just the opposite.  God is not only here with us, he is right there in the midst of the sadness. Who knows sadness better than Jesus himself? No one.

When you work with me we don’t just give time to sit through sad moments but I also take time to celebrate and be delighted in the moments that deserve celebration. Coaching is about the being (sitting in emotions – emotions of all kinds) and doing. People get a lot done when they work with me. They achieve their goals, they start new businesses, they gain satisfaction and joy in their lives. These are reasons to take time to celebrate! To say, yep, I did it! I am good at this.

Is it time to put down the phone (or not pick it up) and get real with what is going on?