You only need a tiny scrap of time to move toward God. This brief moment produces the stirring that embodies the greatest work of your soul. How many desires can fill an hour? You may have as many desires as … Continue reading →
This morning, I finished the book that I have been using for my daily devotional: Ecotheology: Voices From South and North; David G. Hallman ed.; 1994. I posted a cursory review of the collection on Goodreads:”Compiled in 1994, much of this collection …
I wonder what people thought as they saw me google and download pictures of Harry Styles for the title picture above… but I’m envious of his hair…
Not many folks in the Bible can claim that they killed a lion with their bare hands. But Samson did just that.
Even before birth, Samson was set aside for a special purpose. An angel appeared to his mother with pretty specific instructions:
“You are barren and childless, (I mean, geez. Sensitive much, Angel?) but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
Samson’s hero origin is more of a mutant (being born with power) rather than something happening to him to obtain superpowers (Peter Parker and the enhanced spider; Matt Murdock and the chemical spill; Barry Allen and the lightening storm; Steve Rogers and the science project; Bruce Wayne… well, his parents dying and leaving him their fortune).
He did well in keeping the Philistines at bay but it seemed like there was plenty of uneasiness surrounding his leadership and his short fuse and penchant to do erratic things on the spur of the moment (I mean, he referred to his wife as a heifer… Pro Tip: Never, and I can’t emphasize this enough: never call your significant other a “heifer”).
Then came love (for, like, the third time).
He was a boy.
She was a girl.
Can I make it anymore obvious?
Did Delilah ever love Samson? Or was she always in it for the money? And really — did Samson ever love Delilah or was he just infatuated with her and was still rebelling against his parents by being the Romeo to Delilah’s Juliet?
But she got what she wanted. And, sister got paid. Well, I don’t exactly know how to convert 1100 shekels of silver to US dollars. Also, Philistine Rulers said they’ll each give her 1100. I don’t know how many rulers came up to her. But let’s just agree between you and me that she got paid.
Sure, she had to prod and nag him until he was sick to death of her persistence (hey, hey — I’m just quoting the Bible, Judges 16:16).
He must’ve had (and I quote a modern philosopher’s literary work: Shake it Off) “hella good hair.” It was the hair. Samson told Delilah, “it’s the hair. That’s where I get my manliness from. My hella good hair” (The Bible According to Joe 16:16) Side note: Did he ever wonder why she was so persistent on finding out about his secret? Did he even care to know? I mean, when I came home one day and my wife said to me, “We’re getting life insurance policies,” I was hella suspicious. I was paranoid and slept with one eye open for the next few weeks after we received our policies.
Still, he must’ve known something was up though, right?
When she first asks him for his secret, he tells her to tie him with fresh bowstrings and he’ll lose his power. The next day, he wakes up tied with fresh bowstrings and the Philistines in his room ready to catch him.
That’s pretty suspicious…
Then she pleads for his secret again and he tells her if someone braids his hair into 7 braids and weaves into a fabric, he’d lose his power.
Again, the next day he wakes up with his hair did into 7 braids! And with the Philistines in his room again ready to capture him!
Is he dense? I mean fool me once…
Is he so blinded by love that he can’t put two and two together? Because, I would do anything for love. But I won’t do that.
Does he simply not care?
2 things I never noticed before:
1) Delilah called someone over to cut Samson’s hair while he was sleeping.
2) Samson still had his hair in 7 braids from the previous lie about his strength before it was shaved off.
I find both things rather hilarious, though I can’t put my finger on why.
We’re told that when his head was shaved, “his strength left him.”
It was the hair. That was in 7 braids.
… Hella good hair.
Actually, more disheartening and painful than his strength leaving him, we’re told that, he did not know that the Lord had left him. #ouch
The Philistine Rulers also gouged out Samson’s eyes. #rude
But the story has a happy ending. Sort of. Okay, it has a redeeming ending. Samson is paraded out to a huge party that the Philistines had thrown. They were mocking Israelite’s Champion; the one that had done much damage to them.
He was led to pillars to lean on and he prayed to God for one more burst of strength.
And then he proceeded to kill on his comedy routine because, …wait for it… he brought the house down!
Okay, there was no comedy routine, but Samson literally brought the house down — the whole house. (Although, his motive for strength in his prayer was revenge for his two eyes…) He killed more Philistines in his death than when he was alive, the author tells us.
Sure, as a kid the act of superhuman strength was what drew me to Samson’s story. The dude caught 300 — three hundred — foxes and tied them together by the tails 2 by 2, lit the tails on fire, and let them loose in the Philistine’s village. Talk about a senior prank (actually, don’t. That’s arson. And PETA will never let you sleep).
Another time he took a donkey’s jawbone and killed a thousand Philistine’s with it. A “fresh” donkey’s jawbone!
Today, as a kid masquerading as a grown adult, the most powerful part of Samson’s story is Judges 16:22: But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
“Uh, Joe,” you can point out. “That’s biology. It’s what hair does. It grows back.”
“Not all the time,” I might respond. “Look at LeBron James.”
But there’s more to this verse than just the actual, physical hair growing back.
The new growth of hair symbolizes hope — that this situation can still be redeemed by God. And really — that God never did leave Samson. In his deepest moment of pain and shame, God was there symbolized by the growth of hair.
Sure, Easter Sunday in 2017 happened on April 16.
But Easter isn’t a one-and-done deal. Easter doesn’t end sundown of Easter Sunday. Every day is Easter because we serve a Risen Lord everyday.
What that means is that we always have hope — even if it’s hope hanging by… a strand of hair. But even the faintest of light can help us in the midst of darkness.
God is always working — often in hidden ways — to redeem; to save; to heal; to love even if we are unaware of God’s work.
But also — it means that no one is too far from God’s reach.
King David broke 5 commandments in one story and yet he is known as the man after God’s heart.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Samson spent most of his life seemingly blind to God’s purpose. Perhaps he came to recognize his purpose after he actually became blind, captured and bound in shackles. Yet, his hair grew back.
In that prison, grinding grain; weakened; shamed; destroyed — God was there.
And in his last prayer, God was there.
And that goes for you and me, too.
While we’re treading waters in the midst of a storm;
or walking through the valley of shadow of death;
when we’re being swallowed up with shame and pain;
when we are confronted by death and mortality…
God is there.
God is here.
We always have hope in Christ’s resurrection because our story will never end in defeat. We share in Christ’s victory.
Now be honest with me. Could I pull off the Harry Style’s look? One can always hope…
Part Three of the full-text remarks from the Judicial Council hearing on the legality of the election of the UMC’s first out gay bishop.
Part Two of the full-text remarks from the Judicial Council hearing on the legality of the election of the UMC’s first out gay bishop.
The full-text remarks from the Judicial Council hearing on the legality of the election of the UMC’s first out gay bishop.
“Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
Jesus’ supernatural vision regarding people’s potential gave Him irrepressible optimism as He engaged with vagrants, liars, cowards, and crooks. To them all, the promise was the same. The old can become new, Jesus said. The fallen can be restored. The prideful canbe humbled. The wanderers can come home. The weak can become strong. Derelicts can become disciples…
Jesus truly believed in the power of God to transform human lives — a belief that motivated His insatiable pursuit of all sorts of people at all points on the spiritual spectrum. He was fierce in His determination to look past ill-timed comments and inappropriate actions. He dreamed about what could happen in a person’s life if God’s power was released in them — and so He pushed through people’s fear and sin, and He kept including people, loving people, and lifting people up to their fullest potential.
— Bill Hybels in “Just Walk Across the Room”
It seems I’m continuing the series of posts in the “here is a picture I took in the Lady’s Room.” Sorry!Take a look at this image.There is a little shelf the women’s room where I work. I’ve noticed that in the past few weeks, it has been moving a…
Stephen was an outstanding spokesman and example for Christians. Opposition to his ministry arose. When they couldn’t out debate him, they secretly enticed some witnesses to assert false claims about him. The witnesses testified at his trial, “This man…
Do any acts of kindness qualify as part of God’s kingdom? In today’s Seven Minute Seminary, Dr. Scot McKnight makes the case for what he calls a robust kingdom of God.