ADDoration Ministries
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
God is SO GOOD; although I have ADD.

Bible, Inspired word of God

THE BIBLE, THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD

I greatly thank God for the Bible, because it is God's word. And God's word is why Christianity has survived two thousand years. However four thousand years is the length of a monotheistic heritage going back to Abraham. The Bible is full of priceless wisdom and inspirational wisdom, that is still relevant today. For this reason, the Bible is perennially on the "Best Seller" list of the publishing industry.

II Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

I suggest print this and meditate on this when not at a computer screen. Your first reading will likely dazzle you with the awesomeness of God's word. It likely will take a number of readings for this to really sink in.

IS IT THE LITERAL WORD OF GOD? 

While the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is not the dictated word of God -- as a former pastor of mine said. There are those who believe that the Bible is the literally inerrant word of God. People who believe that way seem to think that the scripture writers took dictation from God while writing -- and somehow God prevented their pens from making any mistakes.

I don't really intend to criticize literal inerracy. It is a case of where you are on your spiritual journey. I believe that every Christian goes through a period of literal Bible interpretations. Certainly, I have. Some Christians are incessantly exposed to preaching that insists on literalness. If God's word isn't literal, then what really is God's word -- that's an understandable question.

Literal inerracy could do a lot of harm to fearful type persons, including some ADD persons. I read about a ten year old boy who couldn't find his mother and sister -- then he got panicky -- fearing that God had taken them in the end-times rapture -- and he had been "left behind."

I still very much believe in the Bible; although not necessarily literally. Further on, I will tell of differing writing styles in the Bible that beautifully communicate priceless gems of the Lord's wisdom, while not literal fact. A person makes big spiritual gains when he comes to appreciate those other styles of wisdom, while discarding the straight jacket of literal inerrancy. Also I will tell why ADD persons especially are better off discarding that straight jacket. Where did I get the "straight jacket" label from -- the book "Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism" by Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong.

People who advocate literal inerrancy ask the question, "Otherwise how are you to know whether anything in the Bible is factual?" To me, the answer to that question is not important, because I still find an endless supply of priceless wisdom in the Bible. For instance, an inerrancy advocate once wrote, "If there are mistakes in the Bible, then how are you to know that God loves you?" To me, it is unquestionably factual that God loves me -- why, because my spiritual walk with the Lord has bountifully revealed that to me. Any Biblical deviation from physically literal fact is not a mistake to me, because it instead is God communicating in an alternative inspirational way.

Here is an example of a scripture to not take literally. The Sermon on The Mount advises, literal wording, that if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. The Gospel Luke similarly advises, literal wording, that if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off. I have never known of anybody to literally heed those scriptures, by plucking out an eye or by amputating a foot or hand. Instead the real inspired message is to become aware of whatever interferes with your spiritual walk with the Lord. Then pray to God to eliminate your obstacles to God's grace. As for the foot analogy, do you visit any place that causes you to sin (i.e., a go-go dancer bar)? If that is your obstacle to God, stay away from the go-go joint.

Many look to literal inerrancy of the scriptures, because of the human condition of desiring to know the answers to all questions. I am thankful that God has trained me to tolerate unanswered questions. That keeps my meditative spiritual life alive, because I am always open to new insights. Many people desire to put God in a box (meaning, be able to explain God precisely). But in truth, God is so awesomely vast and omnipotent that he cannot be explained. To attempt to use one word, God is a power; however even that doesn't tell anywhere near everything about God. And power doesn't directly say that God is love; however some believers think that love is a power. By not attempting to know everything about God, the Bible is increasingly a priceless source of wisdom and inspirations. This can be hampered by the straight jacket of literal inerrancy.

IF NOT LITERALLY,
THEN HOW IS THE BIBLE TO BE READ????
 

The Bible is to be read differently than most books. It is read differently than a history book. It is certainly read differently than the typical non-fiction book. The Bible is a book of instructions, with a different style of writing than the typical instruction manual. One of my brothers in Christ sometimes wears a T-shirt saying, "Read the instructions," and the T-shirt shows a Bible with a cross.

When you read the Bible, discernment is needed. "Eat, drink, and be merry" -- that is in the Bible. When you look for the context of that scripture properly, you would see that Jesus said that a person would be a fool to eat, drink, and be merry. Paul advised Timothy that a little wine would be good for the digestive system; however I don't advise that for the recovering alcoholic. In Psalm 137 is "Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth," -- that obviously calls for correct context. Psalm 22 and Jesus's crucifixion both have, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Especially ADD persons are better off to read the Bible as the inspired, but not dictated, word of God. ADD'ers are typically analytical.

Jesus walked on the water, but that clashes with the laws of physics. The ADD'er is prone to question, "How could Jesus have walked on the water?" No, I don't think there were any boulders just below the water surface. Surprise -- I am not going to answer that question for you. Instead I will leave it to your spiritual walk with the Lord, as to how to interpret that Jesus walked on the water. Was it a ghost walking on the water -- possible -- however Jesus did speak words when walking on the water.

When Jesus calmed the stormy sea -- no -- I don't think that Jesus timed the command to when the wind would have stopped blowing anyway. Does Jesus control the weather? Yes, if you consider Jesus to be in the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However of greater significance is that Jesus can calm the storms in your life (i.e., illness, unemployment, marital turmoil, etc.).

When Jesus fed the 5,000 -- no -- I don't think that the two fish were whales, nor were the five loaves gigantic. To me, the spiritual meaning of the feeding of the 5,000 is that the Lord can miraculously stretch supply, especially if you give thanks to the Lord.

Other seeming impossibilities of the Bible include, Methuselah living nine hundred years, Jonah and the whale, Moses changing a rod to a snake and back to a rod, Moses's burning bush that didn't destroy the bush, and Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life.

A reason some Bible stories seem impossible is because of looking at scriptures from a worldly point of view. 2 Corinthians 5:16 "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view, though we once regarded Christ this way."

In my opinion, it is healthy to allow some mystery in the Bible stories. By allowing some mystery about Jesus walking on the water, it could expand your appreciation of our awesome God. Who was Cain's wife and how did she come into being? Do not expect an answer to all questions.

Especially dangerous is the possibility of the Bible being discarded as irrelevant. It is sad if the Bible is irrelevant all because somebody has a problem with Jesus walking on the water. Instead I pray for people to become open to very relevant spiritual inspiration of the Bible, that is independent of physical facts.

Who was King Hezekiah's son and is that relevant? It's not really relevant, but by the way, King Hezekiah's son was King Manasseh. Significant is that Manasseh restored the evil idolatrous forms of worship that Hezekiah had abolished. Manasseh ignored such prophets as Jeremiah.

DOES THEOLOGY CONFUSE YOU? 

Commonly people are reluctant to read the Bible, because theology confuses them. To that, I say, "Welcome to the club." Be patient with yourself. In time, much theological confusion (but not all) will be overcome by accumulated Bible reading and experience from a personal relationship with the Lord. You never will know everything about theology.

SPIRITUAL MESSAGES OF SOME BIBLE STORIES 

When you read the Bible, let it speak to you according your spiritual walk with the Lord. I now get into some examples of how to get the real inspirational message.

David slew Goliath, the giant. Factually, a teenaged shepherd boy named David used a sling shot. David's aim was accurate enough to hit Goliath in a lethal spot on his head. Inspirational is that God helped David to aim accurately. King Saul had said to David, "You can't beat Goliath, because you are just a kid." That has a second inspirational message for you, that you will meet negative people who will say, "You can't do it." Most of all, I ask what Goliath's do you face in your life? Is self-doubt your Goliath?

Also there is Joshua leading the Battle of Jericho. The walls of Jericho was an obstacle that seemed impossible to overcome. In your life, what walls of Jericho do you face? If you were Joshua, how would you cause the walls to fall? It may seem far fetched that some trumpet players could cause walls to fall. Some scholars believe that the musicians used ram's horns, instead of trumpets; however that is neither here nor there. Think of the trumpets as being symbolic of how you would overcome any obstacle in your life.

The Genesis story of the Tower of Babel has an inspirational message that admonishes us to not each go my own independent way. Men had the grandiose idea of building a tower to reach God, but they didn't seek God's guidance. The men each went his own way with the tower. Consequently language incompatibilities evolved and frustrated their efforts.

A story of Abraham has an inspirational message to wait for God's timing. God promised Abraham that he will have as many descendants as grains of sand on the beach. However the promise was incredulous when both Abraham and Sarah were already more than ninety years old. First Abraham tried to bypass God, when he slept with slave woman Haggar and fathered Ishmael. In effect, Haggar was a surrogate mother. But Ishmael is not considered to be among the Jewish patriarchs. Finally, with God's timing, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, who is considered to be the second patriarch. From Isaac and Rebecca came Jacob and Esau. Then Jacob had twelve sons, including Joseph. And then Abraham's descendants began to multiply, which fulfilled God's promise.

Another Abraham episode has spiritual messages. Isaac finally was born. Later somehow Abraham thought that God ordered him to sacrifice Isaac. In those days, they believed that burnt offerings would appease an angry God. After waiting perhaps a hundred years to become a father, it was very incredulous that God would want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Yet Abraham was obedient, so he took Isaac on a trip for the sacrifice. Abraham had just lit the fire, when miraculously a ram appeared. The ram was God's way of saying, "I didn't request any sacrifice of Isaac." Therefore Abraham sacrificed the ram instead. Isaac was spared. In today's world, the inspirational message is that you might think that God is speaking to you, when God isn't saying any such thing. This can be a tough message, when ADD'ers are impulsive. Pray for discernment to be open to the possibility that it might not be God speaking to you.

Speaking of burnt offerings, I have mentioned the danger of people discarding scripture as irrelevant. I very much understand that Old Testament burnt offerings seem irrelevant in today's world. We don't have animal sacrifices any more. And neither have Jewish people had burnt offerings since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in the year 70 AD. Burnt offering scriptures are very relevant to Christians, because Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, so that we don't have to do that any more. By knowing about Old Testament sacrifices, you more deeply appreciate Jesus's supreme sacrifice on the cross. Jesus did it to atone for sins for all time.

The burning bush grabbed Moses's attention, so that God could effectively call Moses to the job of speaking to the pharaoh. To impress on Moses the seriousness of the request, God commanded, "Remove your sandals, for this is holy ground." In our lives today, how does God grab your attention, like a burning bush? Perhaps taking your shoes off isn't necessary.

Immediately after the burning bush, Moses had his excuses. The excuses included, "Suppose they don't believe me," "I am not eloquent and I am slow of speech," and finally, "Send somebody else." Today, do you have excuses to not heed God's commands?

The Red Sea parted for Moses. In our lives today, there can be many examples of God opening opportunities to do what may seem to be impossible. Look for God to cause Red Seas to part in your life.

Here is an example of an ethnic group using the inspired message of the Bible. Perhaps 200 or more years ago numerous Afro-American slaves were converted to Christianity. Once the slaves learned about Moses freeing Israel from Egyptian slavery, that gave them great hope. You likely are familiar with the Afro spiritual song, "Go Down Moses" with repetitious line "Let my people go." The Afro slaves hung on to the hope that another Moses would come along, to free them from slavery. Afro-Americans have called the following persons Moses: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Richard Allen, David Walker, and Frederick Douglas. Perhaps you might add to the list of Moses's, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

The story of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego especially has a powerful spiritual meaning. Have you been through some fiery furnace situations? The punch line of the fiery furnace story is in Daniel 3:25, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god." I challenge you by asking, "Who was the fourth man?" I interpret it as that God was the fourth man. You might say that the fourth man was Jesus. At any rate, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego were not alone.

VARIOUS STYLES OF WRITING IN THE BIBLE 

Now I get into that scripture writers had various styles of writing. Each style speaks differently. Some books of the Bible are history. Leviticus is a law book, like what you would see in a lawyer's office. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each had their unique writing styles. The prophets each had their style, for instance Jeremiah's weeping.

One style is the visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John's Revelation. Isaiah had the vision that the wolf and lamb will feed together, while the lion will eat straw.

With Ezekiel's Valley of The Dry Bones, the message communicated was that Israel will come back to life like dry bones coming together and receiving breath to walk again. That vision was so vivid as to have the bones rattle. You know the Afro-spiritual song with the lyrics, "Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, now hear the word of the Lord." Ezekiel's vision can speak to each of us when we feel spiritually dead or hopeless. Hence pray that God breath a spirit into us, so that our spiritual dry bones will walk again.

Ezekiel had another vision of a flood flowing out of the temple. The flood was the Holy Spirit spreading from the temple.

ADD'ers are disadvantaged in trying to understand Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, because imagery is obscure. An ADD'er would need an interpreter's guide, in order to understand apocalyptic scriptures.

I have mentioned imagery, which is a style of writing. An example of imagery is living stones, as in I Peter 2. A stone itself seems to be very dead. Nothing could be deader than a stone. However the epistle I Peter has the image of living stones as the building blocks for the church. Many church buildings are built of stones. But a church is instead built of people, the members of the congregation. The imagery is that each church member is a living stone, to build the church.

The book of Job has a style of a conversational dialog that many ADD people would identify with. Perhaps Job was ADD. He was angry that life is unfair. The Job of the Bible was very impatient; therefore where did the expression "the patience of Job" come from? If you read Job, the translation Good News For Modern Man speaks more effectively. The book of Job does challenge the attention span of the ADD'er; however many ADD'ers would identify with Job. Three friends spoke to Job arguing the traditional belief that sin causes bad luck (which isn't necessarily true in practical life). Toward the end of Job, God answered strongly, "Who are you to question God, and did you create the heavens and earth?"

Psalms is mostly a poetry style of writing, that is often highly inspirational and worshipful. Psalms is very artistic with words. With some modern translations and paraphrases, the beauty of Psalms is lost. To me, it takes the King James Version, Revised Standard Version, or New Revised Standard Version to maintain the artistic beauty of Psalms. Within Psalms are varying styles. Some Psalms are irate complaining, such as David exclaiming in Psalm 22, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus quoted that Psalm verse when he was crucified on the cross. But following Psalm 22 is the immortally beautiful Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd." If looking for forgiveness of sins, read Psalm 51. In Psalm 121, oh what imagery in, "I will lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come?"

Hyperbole is a style of writing that calls for special comment. Jesus said, "It is harder for camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." But I know some people who are both financially well off and they also have a sincerely deep walk with the Lord. Jesus used hyperbole to emphasize that material riches often are an obstacle to a spiritual relationship. Hyperbole is defined as a figure of speech using ridiculous exaggeration to make a point. We all use hyperbole in our daily conversation; for instance, "You missed the target by a mile." You do not mean to say that it missed by 5,280 feet. Another of Jesus's hyperboles stated that you cannot be his disciple unless you hate your spouse and hate your family. No, in truth Jesus wants you to love your spouse and love your family; however Jesus expects you to love Him more than that.

Getting back to Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, the Bible says that the furnace was heated to seven times its normal temperature -- that is hyperbole. It means that the furnace was much hotter. When Daniel was written, that was before they knew how to measure temperature.

While on topic of biblical styles of writing, people commonly perceive the prophets to be fortune tellers; however that isn't accurate. Fundamentalists typically believe that the prophets were inerrant in their fortune telling (while ironically Fundamentalists condemn fortune telling as being occult). No, the prophets didn't know for certain the future, as of that time. However, the prophets were inspired to write a message that generally said, "If trends continue, then here is what will happen." The prophets spoke warnings that applied to centuries of corrupt kings and later exile in Babylonia. However the prophets also preached hope that a savior is coming, and also hope that King Cyrus will free us from Babylonian exile. Today, we have many prophets. An example of today's prophecy is a statement like, "If the divorce trend continues and if cohabitation trend continues with illegitimate children and if the gay rights advocacy trend continues, then the traditional family will become a relic of the past."

By the way, the Old Testament prophets had varying writing styles, including Ezekiel's visions and Jeremiah's weeping.

AS FOR REVELATION 

Revelation is full of symbolic images, and perhaps beyond the attention span of most ADD'ers. To describe Revelation, perhaps a better word than "vision" might be "nightmare." The Battle of Armageddon is often quoted by doom peddlers, especially with the turn of the millenium in the year 2000 -- and after 9/11/2001. The antichrist in Revelation has been such persons as Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Sadam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden.

Forget any ideas of coming up with a forecasting timetable for when The Second Coming will happen. For one thing, this would distract you away from any constructive spiritual relationship with the Lord. Some people have forecast a specific day -- and then nothing happens on that day. During 1844, William Miller led a large following to a mountain in upstate New York to wait for Jesus to arrive -- and nothing happened. The William Miller followers had sold their homes. Rather than speculate on when will be the end times, live your life as though the end times is imminent. Jesus said in the Gospels that nobody knows the day or the hour.

Actually Revelation has a rich message for believers in Christ, but it needs to be studied properly. I recommend some structured guide for interpreting it, especially for ADD'ers. This structured guide likely would guide you around the imagery. Bear in mind that Revelation has the central theme that there will be a final victory of good defeating evil. The end of Revelation forecasts a new world and a new Jerusalem.

APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS IN THE BIBLE 

For an ADD'er, I now bring up about apparent contradictions in the Bible. These apparent contradictions can cause problems for those who try to make sense of literal inerrancy. In truth, I believe that there are no contradictions. They might seem to be contradictions; however considering the context and the style, along with prayer, ought to help you see around the seeming contradiction. Looking at scripture from a worldly point of view can make it seem like a contradiction. I now give some examples.

The traditional foremost apparent contradiction example is Paul speaking about "Justification by faith" versus James stating, "Faith without works is dead." Paul tied the two together in Titus 3:4-8, in a way that the two fit together very well. I look at the two like this -- yes, God justifies by faith in Jesus's sacrifice on the cross; however, if there are no works, I wonder about the person's faith.

Another example is Jesus saying, "Unless you hate your wife, father, and mother, you cannot be my disciple." Wait a minute -- there are numerous scriptures advising love your wife. As I have stated previously, hyperbole is exaggeration to make a point. In addition, The Ten Commandments say "Honor your father and mother." I feel certain that Jesus means that you still are expected to love your wife, father, and mother; however you must love Jesus even more, in order to be his disciple. According to a pastor's sermon, the word "hate" didn't quite mean the same thing, during biblical times. Some of today's modern translations use different words, other than "hate."

For better insight on the hate love apparent contradiction, there is Matthew 10:37 "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; "

Psalm 100:1, "Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth." But Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God!" Also there is Habakkuk 2:20, "The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!" God will tell you when there is a time and place to make a joyful noise and when there is a time and place to be still or silent.

Another example is Isaiah 55:1, "You that have no money, come, buy, and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without price." But the Ten Commandments say, "Thou shalt not steal." I don't advise going to the supermarket to carry out food without paying for it. To get the context, read the next Isaiah verse, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor that which does not satisfy." Isaiah is really speaking of priceless values. God's grace cannot be purchased. Our human condition is our tendency to value the wrong things spiritually.

Paul had a contradiction between 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (a woman shall be silent in church) and Galatians 3:28 (there is no longer Jew or Greek, no longer male and female). If Paul said there is no longer male and female, how could Paul also say that a woman shall not speak in church? The answer is that Paul addressed an ad hoc cultural situation in the church in Corinth, where the women were disruptive. But Paul did not intend to establish a commandment against women. Some churches disallow women pastors, because of the Corintians scripture, but many women pastors are excellent. By the way, Jesus never said that a woman must keep quiet in church.

In some of the epistles, Paul advised to not associate with sinners and have nothing to do with them (i.e., II Timothy 3:2-4). But Jesus often associated with sinners, such as harlots and tax collectors. Consider the situations that Paul was addressing. Paul was concerned that certain people would pick up the bad habits of the sinners. But Jesus is the foremost example of how believers ought to reach out to sinners.

Jesus said in Mark 10:15, "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” But Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11, "when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways." Jesus meant that unless you have the spiritual enthusiasm of a little child (eager to learn), you will never enter the kingdom. 1 Corinthians 13 is the foremost chapter on love, while verses 9 to 12 mean that as you become more spiritually mature, your love will be more sincere.

READ COVER TO COVER 
-- NOT FOR ADD'ERS
 

For ADD'ers I advise against reading the Bible cover to cover; although many Christians advise that. Some Christians even brag about how many times they have read the Bible cover to cover (which doesn't make me think any more highly of them). If an ADD'er tries to read the Bible cover to cover, he/she would likely abandon the idea when in Genesis. It would be a shame to discard Biblical wisdom all because somebody got lost back in Genesis. Some parts of the Bible are just too overwhelming. The genealogy in the Bible can be boring. Chronicles -- I once heard a pastor say that Chronicles is just too deep. I have mentioned about symbolic imagery that likely would go over the head of the ADD'er; although an interpreter's' guide could help.

WHAT TO READ IN THE BIBLE

I recommend read selected parts of the Bible recommended by persons such as pastors, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, various Christian books, and your Christian sisters and brothers. To learn the Bible takes years, by accumulating insight from having read various parts of the Bible.

Commonly Christians give first priority to the four Gospels. The letters of Paul also rank high with Christians. Genesis and Exodus tell of our earliest monotheistic heritage. Psalms is a priceless source of worship. Later on, read Acts to learn of the earliest history of Christiandom. After reading Genesis and Exodus, read the New Testament book of Hebrews, which was an epistle about applying Christianity to Jewish beliefs. Ruth is a beautiful book about a woman's devotion to her mother-in-law. In time, you might get through the other epistles and maybe the Old Testament prophets. However the prophets is also where I suggest some kind of interpreter's guide.

Sorry I am suggesting too much at one time, as for what to read in the Bible. It ought to be a long term goal for you to take in the Bible; however meanwhile you will grow in your personal walk with the Lord.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In conclusion, the Bible is read differently than most books. Do not be hampered by the straight jacket of literal inerrancy. Let scripture speak to you in a way molded by your spiritual relationship with The Lord. The Bible is a very beautiful work of literature, that is full of wisdom, that is very relevant to today's world; although it was written roughly two thousand years ago (and Old Testament is older than two thousand). All this is because the Bible is God's inspired word.

Which Bible translation to read?
The Four Gospels
150 Apparent Contradictions in Bible -- a discussion (Caution, it could be one person's opinion.)

<*(((>< your ADD brother in the Risen Christ,
Lester Hemphill
Founder of ADDoration Ministries