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Seeing red

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How do you explain the color red to a blind person? Or any color, really? There’s much the other senses can compensate for when it comes to grasping the essence of something–how something feels, tastes, smells, etc. But how do you describe the essence of color to someone who has no concept of it?

What if I asked you to describe a lion to a person who had never seen a lion? Now take it a step further. What if you gave the hide of a lion to that person and asked him to taxidermy said lion to be put on display? The results might be akin to something like this:

image courtesy of

According to, the story goes as follows:

“In 1731, King Frederick I of Sweden received a lion as a gift from the Bejen of Algiers, but after it died, the pelt and bones were presented to a taxidermist who had never seen a lion. You see the result looks more like a cartoon character than the king of beasts.

Doesn’t exactly capture the essence of what you understand a lion to be, now does it?

image of taxidermy lion courtesy of

Nope. Not even a little bit. I find myself feeling bad for everyone involved. Mostly the lion, though. This beautiful, majestic creature living out its last days in captivity, then to add insult to injury, having its body turned into a horrible caricature put on display for centuries after its death.

And I wonder if we’ve done that with the Word of God.

Under ordinary circumstances, my mind wouldn’t have made the leap from a bad taxidermy job to scripture. It just so happens that I had a rather interesting conversation with a family member on Friday night, thought about it most of the weekend, then received the link to the above story via email from my friend Dorothea.

Before I share the conversation, I need to provide a little back story:

This person grew up going to church every Sunday. Got married and had children, who also went to church every Sunday. By this time, he was more of a Christmas and Easter Christian, but their mother took them every week because that’s what good people did. I’ve known this person my entire life. I’ve spent lots of time with him. I don’t ever recall seeing him read a bible. Not even in church when the preacher says “Turn to Matthew, chapter 3”. He’s like hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people who come to church on Sunday, get their fill of God and think they know Him based on what some guy behind a pulpit tells them. They don’t need to read the bible because the good parts–the important parts–are preached on Sunday morning. The “need to knows”, if you will. I’m pretty sure if I attributed the quote “God helps those who help themselves” to the bible instead of Benjamin Franklin, he wouldn’t bat an eye. He likes to watch Joel Osteen on the Sunday mornings when he misses the service at his church, because that counts, right?

Imagine my surprise when he told me he was attending a bible study.

Imagine my horror when I found out it was a study of the Book of Revelation:

“We started this bible study about the Book of Revelations. It’s pretty scary stuff. I never knew that Catholicism would become the One World religion and that a current member of the Vatican is the Anti-Christ.”

To which my response was, “Whaaaa?”

Followed immediately by me saying that Revelation is subject to many different interpretations, and that it is very often misinterpreted. I may have some doctrinal disagreements with my Catholic friends, but I don’t doubt for a moment that we serve the same God. That they believe in the same Jesus I do. My husband then asked him if this was being taught as truth or simply as the teacher’s opinion. “The teacher’s opinion”, was the response.

But, you see? For a person who trusts what other, seemingly more biblically knowledgable people say about the Word of God rather than the Word of God itself, opinion often become truth.

Just like the unfortunate taxidermist who didn’t see with his own eyes what a lion is, he creates this incomplete, often horrible misinterpretation of its essence.

I know there are a few pastors who read this blog on a regular basis. I’m urging you, if you don’t do so already, to please encourage your congregations not to take your word for what God says, but to confirm what you teach them by studying the bible.

The most effective way to train a person how to spot counterfeit $20 bills is to have them intensely study real $20 bills. The same principal applies to God’s Word.

Different Christians (by Jake Lee)

I’ve picked up quite a few new readers of the past several months. I love that my blog is read by both genders. That’s representative of the friendships I have. One of those friendships that started way back (as in, when I first started blogging), is with Jake Lee – my favorite cranky ho. He’s been such an encouragement to me over the past year. He’s also a person who writes honestly about his Christian walk. I think one of my favorite posts of his was when he suggested that violence was one of the love languages. If you don’t think that’s funny, well, you just have to know Jake. Trust me, it is…

Well enough of my incessant ranting. Here’s Jake:

Of the five years that I’ve been following Jesus, it took four before I really broke out of my church and the culture that developed around it. That isn’t necessarily bad, I have a very tight knit family. There were times that I thought I had, but I was faithful to only go to my church, (you don’t want to be a church ho) and the events that were put on by my church. I’m still faithful to my congregation, but I’ve certainly never had so many friends from different churches as I do now. I worked with people from several different churches at the coffee shop that employed me for a while, and I’ve just met many more in the past year, too. Many of them have their quirks; things that some Christians would say, just aren’t right.

People who I would have labeled as nominal in their Christ-walk have taught me about faith, and about living life. They drink beer. Individuals who swear more than I’ve ever heard anyone who knows Jesus, seem to love Him and people more than I do. People, who might be condemned to hell by their peers have done things that have changed the world, for the better. Several of my friends have started and either own or have sold businesses. If you’ve ever read my blog, then you know about Jerry, the crazy wine-making, beer-drinking professor who has led more students to the Lord than a lot of people I know.

I hate compromise. A year or two ago, I would have been spitting that word some of these peoples’ feet, and might have explained to them that when you love Jesus, your heart changes, that we step away from sin when we step closer to Him and clearly, they haven’t done that. I can’t say that now, and I’m experiencing some tension over it. Perhaps I’m judging them, and want to think of them as goats, rather than sheep in God’s flock. After all, we all get separated in the end, like grain from chaff, right?

Perhaps I’m going soft, simply due to friendship. People have a terrible tendency to soften their hold on standards once a relationship has been established. I don’t want to be an excessively tolerant person simply because I think I can justify these people in their actions, but based on what I’ve seen, they love Jesus. My conclusion then, is that we come from a variety of backgrounds and live in all sorts of situations. Jesus might want us all to get to the same place, but we’re traveling different distances from our own experiences and some of us take longer to get there.

To read more from Jake, check out his blog, Very Much Later

Koffi House: My new favorite blog

Okay, peeps. Don’t get your grannie panties all in a bunch. You know you’re all my favorites for different reasons. But Koffi House is more like reading a book — a very, very good book.

Koffijah is a missionary in a “closed” country. For this reason, he does not go into great detail on his profile. He only recently started writing this blog, so you have an opportunity to read it in its entirity and get in on the “ground level”. I would highly recommend it — especially for my friends in ministry.

And Koffijah, if you’re reading this, thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. Please continue to write.