Digging into My “Archaeological Study Bible”

My family does much of our shopping online.  To assist with this, most of us have Amazon wish lists. A couple of years ago, my middle daughter, Jeanne, found this bible on my list and bought it for me.  The concept is to add historical information about the locations, society, culture, and customs of the biblical stories.  I had put it on the list as a whim, without any conscious plan.  In the beginning, I was just randomly leafing through it or using it for reference.  

However, this past Lenten season, I made a commitment to read the Easter story in each of the gospels and compare them to each other using a Lenten devotional book I had found. I chose the Archaeological Study Bible because I wanted to expand on the usual stories.  When the forty days were up, I had become so immersed in the background information, I decided to extend the commitment and read all the way through all the gospels.  To make it more manageable, I set a goal of one chapter a day.  Unavoidably, there were days when I didn’t make that goal. However, I always picked it up again within a day or so and stayed with it. When I finished the gospels, it just seemed natural to read through The Acts. 

Currently, I am on I Thessalonians, chapter 2.  I’ve never really read the letters deeply.  I’m not overly fond of a lot of Paul’s attitudes. However, I just can’t seem to stop and the background information does help me to better understand where he was coming from.  I still find myself flinching at some of his statements, but he was a product of his times dealing with situations and attitudes that we are not exposed to ourselves.  I am trying to develop more sympathy for him.

I am finding some disturbing parallels. One of the things that I love about study bibles is the explanations and historical background they give at the beginning of each book.  In the introduction to I Thessalonians, I have underlined this: “Watch for practical advice on living the Christian life within the context of an immoral culture that is hostile to Christian values.”  I tell myself we aren’t there yet, but I fear we are getting closer all the time.  

Between those who insist every word of the bible is fact, spouting hateful attitudes and slogans, twisting Christianity to fit their own agenda; and the rising atheistic culture that treats God and the bible as mythical, I feel surrounded by threats. 

I started my theological quest several years ago so that I could gain the expertise to counter both sides.  I believe that the whole bible is God inspired but, not all fact.  Much of it is allegory or metaphor, examples of how things could have happened.  Some of it is outmoded: We do not stone people anymore for relatively minor infractions nor cast them out of society due to skin infections. It was written in the terms people, at the time, could understand; but it is still true.  

The people living in bible times did not have the knowledge necessary to accept scientific explanations so the story was told in a way that they would be able to accept.  I do believe, if we dig deep enough, we can translate it into modern terminology that makes sense.  That is what I am trying to do.  My “Archaeological Study Bible” is showing me a path to that end. 

Once I finish the New Testament, I plan to start with Genesis and work through the Old Testament in the same way.  Other than the basic stories we are all taught, I’ve never had much patience for that part of the bible.  There seems to be too much anger and violence to fit with the loving Father that we are shown through Jesus’ words.

Many of the notes embedded in the gospel text discuss how much of Jesus’ teaching referenced Old Testament writings.  I’ve never given them more than passing thought.  My goal is to connect the two in a meaningful way.  From time to time, I intend to post my thoughts here.  I hope you will find them helpful in your own quest to a deeper spiritual relationship with God.

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I Am Still Here

When my little ones are watching TV these days, they aren’t interested in the traditional networks.  They seldom even ask for Nick Jr. or Disney anymore.  Instead, they want Netflix.  As it plays, every so often, it asks, “Are You Still Watching?” and I have to go push the button on the remote.  Well, actually, I’ve taught Damion to do it himself, but I still do it for the others.  

The other day, it occurred to me that my blogs are sitting here asking, “Are you still there?”  Every so often, Facebook tells me I haven’t posted to my writing page in a while and I really should do something.  I just don’t seem to find the time….or, actually, I just haven’t been making the effort.  

So, today, I’ve decided I need to let the world know that I am still functioning, just not as efficiently as I should.  So, here I am.  It’s Sunday afternoon.  I don’t have any childcare responsibilities, I have decided to skip the Veteran’s Day parade, the church website is updated.  I have checked email and Facebook.  The supper menu is simple and only takes about half an hour to fix.  It’s quiet and I need to get back to writing. 

Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a month or so.  Jim nags me every once in a while because I’ve left posting to the Roadtrip blog that we share entirely up to him for months.  My reminders to check the Flash Fiction sites for prompts every week still pop up regularly.

I do have the time.  Not always in predictable blocks, but it could be organized.  I usually have from around 9am until 1pm on Monday, the whole day after around 9am on Wednesdays, all day Saturdays and most Sunday afternoons free. Plus, on Thursday and Friday between 11am and 2pm, I mostly only have Elaina, who is four, and doesn’t require a lot of attention.  In addition, Ashley (Damion and Elaina’s mom) gets off work at 4pm.  I am almost always free by 4:30 every day. 

I could be writing.  I have, at least, a couple of hours every day.  I just haven’t felt inspired.  No, that’s an excuse.  I’ve just been stagnating,  drifting in a swamp of disorganization.   Using the excuse of playing taxi for the kids to avoid exercising my brain.  Instead, I have been reading for hours every day.

So, yes, I am still here.  I’ve just been watching instead of doing, reading instead of writing. I will force myself to step outside the inertia of the past few months and make my presence known.  Stay tuned for further updates.

 

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Categories: For Your Consideration, Random Thoughts | 2 Comments

Excuse Me, Please

I need a moment or two, maybe a week or so.  Davie was the wall at my back as much as anyone else’s.  Maybe even more because we shared a home, although we each had our own space and didn’t spend our days or evenings together because we didn’t have the same taste in TV shows and we only ate in the diningroom when we had family over.  So, whoever cooked would tell the other when food was ready.  We’d fill our plates and go our separate ways for the evening.  

He did more than half the cooking.  Which meant he planned that many of the meals.  He did almost all the kitchen cleanup.  We shared the monthly shopping, but he did most of the daily or weekly stuff.  I gave him money every month, but it wasn’t nearly half of the living expenses.  

When I came back from North Carolina before Mama died, he said that it would cost him the same amount for the house expenses whether I was here or not.  He didn’t even want me to help pay for groceries because he said I didn’t eat enough to matter.  I guess, compared to his diet, that may have been true.  All he wanted was my share of the group insurance and cell phone accounts.  I insisted on giving him more than that, but he carried most of the load.  That was Davie.  

We each did our own laundry and kept our own bathrooms.  The livingroom, diningroom, and office were my responsibility.  We never discussed it or planned it.  That’s just the way it worked.  Now, it doesn’t.  My daily routine is the same, but it isn’t.  I keep having to remind myself of the things I need to add to my schedule because he’s not here.  

My head is constantly jumping from place to place. I have so many changes and decisions to make that I can’t concentrate on any one thing for long.  Pardon me while I find my footing here.  I used to shake my head at women who let their husbands handle everything and were lost when they died.  I never realized how close to doing the same thing I was with my brother.

It’s not that I don’t know how to handle the household expenses and routines.  I can do it and I will.  I just need a little time to get organized.  In the meanwhile, my mind isn’t interested in cooperating when I try to come up with topics and write about them.  It has more pressing concerns.  So, excuse me while I find a way to fill the gaps and put my life back together.  I will be posting again soon.

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Categories: Current Events, For Your Consideration, Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

Uncle Davie

 My brother, Davie, had no children of his own.  He was never married.  But, he provided a father figure for all my children and grandchildren and he was starting on the third generation.  Uncle Davie was the wall at all our backs.

Our father was always there for all of us, no matter what.  We could go out with confidence knowing that whenever things got tough, he would be there for us.  Even if we screwed up big time after he had tried to warn us, there’d be no “tough love” lecture or recriminations.   He’d just fix it and let us start over.  Never once, in all our lives, not even for a second, did any of us doubt his love.  Davie soaked that attitude deep inside and made it the center of his nature. 

He began his lifetime of service when he came back from Vietnam shortly before the birth of my middle daughter.  We were all living with Mom and Daddy. There were only three bedrooms and one bath.  It was crowded.  My other three brothers shared a room.  I shared the second room with my three older children.  My oldest daughter, Chrystal, slept in my bed.  Her two older brothers, Bill and Tom, slept on the bottom of a set of homemade double bunk beds.  When Davie came home, he took the top bunk.  When my second daughter, Jeanne, was born, we squeezed her bassinette into the corner at the end of my bed.  I rarely had to get up with her in the middle of the night because Davie always heard her before I did and had her changed, fed, and back to sleep in no time.  In 1972, that was almost unheard of in a father, much less an uncle.

When our father died, Davie was still living at home and he stayed there. While the rest of us made separate lives, Eddie being himself, Dannye and I married with families of our own, Jim traveling the world with the Air Force, Davie stayed with Mama.  He helped her with the bills, the heavy housework, and the yardwork.  That was his life. 

When Jeanne moved from Charlotte, NC back to Madisonville with her two daughters, he spread his wings over them as well.  When Mama began to fail, he took care of her at home as long as he could. When the decision was finally made to put her in a rest home for her own safety, I moved back here too and he expanded his reach.  

As the years passed, he played father figure to all of my grandchildren, just as he had to my children.  He taught them, by example, what a man should be: strong, non-judgemental, reliable, but also gentle.  I’m not saying he was perfect.  He gambled and could be stubborn about doing things his own way.  There were times when the male chauvinistic attitude of his youth would rear its head and he’d really get on my feministic nerves.  But, he never held a grudge and was so soft hearted, he often seemed to let people take advantage of him.  

He was our rock, the wall at our backs. Whenever there was a problem, it was Uncle Davie we all called. He died yesterday without any warning. We are all stunned.  The hole he has left in our lives will take a long time to close.  Our only comfort is the fact that he went quickly and didn’t have to spend months or years wasting away like our mother, father, and older brother did.  He was reasonably healthy and happy until the very end.  We know he is in heaven with them now.  He certainly deserves it if anyone ever could.

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Categories: Memoirs | 3 Comments

Studying Prayer

I have always felt comfortable talking to God in private.  I speak to him as though to my own father, as we should do because He is our Father.  The bible tells us in many places that God expects us to reach out to him: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  It tells us “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6.

However, I am not as confident of my ability for public prayer, even when it’s just offering thanks at family meals.  I stand aside and leave it up to others.  I cannot imagine serving as an Elder and praying in front of the congregation.  I feel this is a weakness.  God told Moses: “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” Exodus 4:12.  He wants us to be able to witness for Him to others.  I feel that public prayer is one of the ways we witness. 

So, as part of my Lenten commitment, I began a study of how to pray.  As I discussed in an earlier post, I started with Lord, Teach Me to Pray by Kay Arthur.  When I had finished the book, I still was not satisfied, so I moved along to Living the Lord’s Prayer by David Timms. This one breaks down The Lord’s Prayer line by line and discusses what it meant at the time and how it relates to our world today. Timms says that our “spiritual formation must percolate through every aspect of our lives.”(p 23 of Kindle version) He explains how he feels a proper understanding of The Lord’s Prayer, as a teaching tool not a rote recital, can be a springboard toward the transformation of our lives.

While I found the book interesting, it still hadn’t helped me formulate oral prayers.  So, I went on to Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell.  Easter has come and gone.  I am about halfway through this one.  It has been helpful.  Well, they have all been somewhat helpful, just not conclusive.  One thing that Chapell mentioned in passing, as though it were common knowledge, is using ACTS as a framework for prayer. I had never heard of this and left the book to ask Google what it was.  

Google, as usual, offered me many choices.  The one I chose is called Prayer Central, a website devoted to Prayer and Devotionals.  In case you haven’t heard of it either, ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  This is something I can work with.  The website listed several other prayer models as well.  I’ve bookmarked it and plan to make visits there part of my study.

I am still reading Praying Backwards.  I am finding it the most helpful and engaging of the books I’ve used.  If you are looking for a better prayer life, I recommend that you start with Praying Backwards.  I like the idea of making sure you put Christ first, even when praying or maybe it should be especially when praying.

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