Well it’s that time of year. We’ve been busy with yard work, making multiple trips to Home Depot and area greenhouses, working flower beds, cleaning the garage, building and filling a planter box for vegetables, re-sealing the deck, etc. etc. etc. We’ve been busy making multiple trips to Home Depot and area greenhouses, working flower beds, cleaning the garage, building and filling a planter box for vegetables, re-sealing the deck, etc. etc. etc. Plus we also attended an out of town funeral on my wife’s side of the family. So I’ve found myself too busy and too tired to write blogs and, well let’s face it, you needed a break anyway.
Which brings us to today and a bit of needed yard work (a clever metaphor) regarding the website.
However I’ll begin with the Acts narrative which records an interesting story from the early days before Christianity was even known by that word. There are two characters here: Philip, a personal disciple of Jesus, and an Ethiopian eunuch named Simeon. It reads like this:
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. – Acts 8:26-40 (ESV)
Simeon is an interesting character for lots of reasons: he was a personal assistant to Queen Candace of Ethiopia; he was probably a slave; he was almost certainly not naturally born Jewish; he was a practicing Jew; he was sexless since eunuchs either had their testicles crushed or their genitals removed. [Let’s just pause for a moment to squirm and take a few deep breaths …………….. Okay?] This would also have made him ritually impure and not allowed into the Temple when he visited.
Anyway, what is significant here is that this foreign, black, sexless, ritually unclean foreigner becomes the second non-Jew to be baptized into the Christian faith. Or to put it differently, he didn’t check any religious boxes but Philip welcomed him into the faith on the spot, ‘…and he went on his way rejoicing.’.
Notice how the author (Luke) narrates with a passive, factual style, enforcing the feeling that Simeon’s inner search and Philip’s acceptance was at God’s supernatural direction. God brings them together ‘randomly’ but his hand is on the whole process.
Simeon was hungry for something deeper. He had a position in life, work to do, a religious faith, but he was still searching. Philip had seen a new way of living played out in Jesus’ life so he found a way to baptize Simeon into the family of Jesus followers. Interest, acceptance, fulfilment.
My experience is that there are many people who are like Simeon. No, not eunuchs to the best of my knowledge…. but people whose curiosity about God has been pushed aside because of cultural bias or religious legalism and bad theology.
Reminds me of the sign to the right that I saw in a religious school. Basically, you’re welcome here … as long as you fit in. I know, I know, but isn’t it kinda true? This is why I wrote the previous ‘funnel’ blogs. https://bertrim.ca/hey-your-funnel-is-upside-down/ and https://bertrim.ca/more-funnel-stuf…sponsible-person/
Without going into detail, that was a barrier for me for many years. Much later after I had come to faith and had time to consider, I came to a sobering realization – one that I never thought I would share in any kind of public way – I have never truly fit in to my religious surroundings.
I loved Jesus, believed in what I was doing in the church but couldn’t fully square all my inner questions, answers, experiences. For years I slowly searched with eyes wide open for something deeper and more fulfilling. After all, if God was really God, shouldn’t it be more natural and wouldn’t he be okay with any questions I had?
So what’s this all about? I just want to be clear that am doing this website for appropriate reasons. First, to provide a place for people who are genuinely interested in God but ‘don’t fit in’ – you’re hungry, curious, empty, hurt, disillusioned, or feel on the outside. Second, I hope to protect this deep and radical faith of Christianity from the pop doctrines (idols) that continue to empty it and do disservice to the work of Jesus.
So what follows is some clarity about this site as I get my hands dirty with some web site yard work (a clever metaphor).
- Thank you. Thank you for following this site and for the encouraging comments and emails. I welcome your advice.
- Comments: I received an unfriendly comment earlier this week that was angry and unfair but caused me to think, so thank you anyway.
- There will now be a brief delay for approval when you comment on a post. Previously approved commenters will not need to be re-approved. Sorry, tired of spammers.
- I welcome agreement or disagreement but the tone must be constructive and not personal or insulting;
- Comments with marketing or self-promoting links will not be approved.
- It’s my site but this site is not about me. I suppose anyone with opinions has some ego (guilty) and anyone wanting to share those opinions publicly must have an ego (guilty) but there is cost and considerable time required to keep this web site alive (guilty) and it comes with a personal price (guilty). I enjoy writing but I’m not doing this for me, if I were, I would write cheap novels and spend more time kayaking and barbecuing and sipping virgin Caesars (yes virgin). Maybe even all at the same time!
- Theology matters. I don’t mean everybody should go to Seminary but theology is the study of God. Understanding in practical ways the character and values of the God of love is important. Bad theology is everywhere: it permeates religious leadership, political leadership and people in local churches. And bad theology lived out separates people from God. I have heard many, many stories of people who left or avoided God and church because of bad theology. Bad theology flows downhill and corrupts on many levels. If I sound accusatory at times it’s because these idols anger me and I want you to see Jesus with new eyes. If I am silly sometimes it’s because I’m having fun at the expense of those idols. If I am cynical at times be patient, I’m still processing the ‘tippage’ required for the more precious idols.
- This is for you, whoever you are. This site is all about my sense that this is one thing God wants from me right now. For some reason. No preaching, no craziness, just honest sharing. What questions do you have? What experiences? What struggles? What joys? Let’s talk and journey together.
- We have plans, baby, we have plans! I’m hoping to adjust content to a cleaner, simpler style that informs and edifies more than it critiques. We are looking at adding video from myself and third-party sources to make communication easier and lighter: reflections, studies, thoughts, fun stuff too will hopefully find a home on these pages. And more interactive as well with Q & A, guest editorials, etc. Just be patient as we slowly find our way.
- Size matters. If this site grows it will only be because you allow us to. If you think this site would benefit anyone you know, please like us on Facebook, share us on Twitter, refer people to the site. If you don’t like it here, keep it to yourself…
- I hope to be here for you. I consider life to be ministry; my church is without walls or geography. I don’t do counselling, I do sharing and friendship. All emails and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org are seen only by me and will be kept in confidence.
There. The yard is looking pretty good now that we have all that out of the way. Thanks again to my wife for her hard work. (Not sure you noticed but yard work is a clever metaphor for the work we’re doing with this website.) Cheryl does most of the actual, literal yard work around here so the metaphor is especially clever!
Anyway… thank you for caring. I’m in the mood to tip some more idols so I think I’ll build up my strength by planting some tomatoes.
Peace of Christ,