The Grumpy Disciple #3
God, You Don’t Know What You’re Doing!
The Grumpy Disciple #2
The Grumpy Disciple #4
Is It Time For God To Go In For Therapy?
The Grumpy Disciple #5
The Invisible and Unspoken Doctrine
The Grumpy Disciple #6
The Grumpy Disciple #7
WANTED: Imaginary Friend. Must be Invisible.
The Grumpy Disciple #8
What’s In a Name? Plenty of Lawsuits
The Grumpy Disciple #9
The Grumpy Disciple #10
God Kills, But Never Murders
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #11
God Declares Himself An Atheist
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #12
My Bushwhacked Brain
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #13
The Grumpy Disciple #1
Who Owns God? They Do! Don’t They?
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #14
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #16
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #18
Jesus Was Downtown Staying at the Motel 8
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #19
When Christ Killers Roamed the Earth
Send me an email. I’d appreciate hearing from you!
Inside Everyone Hides a Secret Atheist Who Wants To Get Out
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #20
The Amazing World of This Amazing World
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #22
A Travel Writer Of Sorts
Mark Lee Golden Copyright 2015 markleegoldenwriter.com
Recently I looked at a few bestselling female Christian authors’ websites and blogs. The content was similar and overlapping. Generic isn’t the right word. Perhaps, being siblings of the same spiritual family connects literary characteristics. These artistic women all have something which I lack: a deep, emotional love of God.
Their honest passion is obvious. Their desire seems wholesome and true. Clearly, their hearts cannot beat without knowing He is near. They have laid their lives before Him in an antiquated foreign manner, i.e., kneeling, head bowed, and with a heart of servanthood beating within. Americans do not even show respect to our leaders by such posture. God’s acceptance of these authors is the pinnacle of their existence. From this highest point, nearest to heaven, flows a naked appreciation of forgiveness, rebirth, and inclusion of a master plan. Their lives remain changed while waiting for the coming day of meeting God in His home. There, each will further pour out even more remarkable worship, thanksgiving and exuberant praise.
I like that. But, I don’t have that. Never did―but someday will, hmm, after death.
Do I feel left out? Do I ever wonder if I entered the wrong address? Yes.
In contrast, I want to live in heaven because life is supposed to be so much better there. These writers want to go there for the opportunity to gaze at God’s face. I don’t consider this over-emotional.
Some people read my commentaries and experience a fair mix of cultural entertainment under my umbrella of religious dissatisfaction. I present my grumblings in sophisticated literary ways. Certain writers in the blog-o-sphere are crude, rude, profane and some writers―if ever given the chance―seek to knock “sweet Jesus” down with their first punch. Thinking, Then I’ll see what he’s really made of! (I don’t think I’d buy a ticket to see that. But, if given a free seat, I’d check it out.)
My sincere Biblical pieces, plus a published book The Ring of Torrents: A Jewish Mary are doctrinal and comfy―when not challenging. I do think that God shows up here and there to help me insert wonderful insights. Such selections have the aroma of a familiar, yet pleasing spice.
Having Jewish DNA perpetually running through my blood, I naturally have a problem with God. Examples in the Torah include the protests of Moses and Abraham, then in later writings of Job, Jeremiah, and others. Multiple times, an unhappy prophet Habakkuk voiced, “O Adonai, how long shall I cry and You not hear?”
Synagogue teachings utilize these dialogues concerning a world that is not as it ought to be. It’s a never-ending feature in Judaism. Do these incidents reveal a Supreme Being desiring those who confidently object, disagree or are disillusioned―to speak up―literally upwards. Consider the patriarch Jacob’s nighttime knock-down, drag out fight, complete with eye poking, nose twisting and intermittent wrestling with God’s representative―which went on for hours.
Only in recent years have I understood that this grumpy streak in me is not only a Jewish trait, but one that no doubt God planted in me―not for His amusement―but rather for His desire for a different perspective, a challenge and a debate with an opponent. Why? Because-He-is-like-that. In Hebrew, the word darash or d’rash has many (debated) definitions. I’m presenting here those which support me: “seek with a desire of understanding, inquire, question, to require, summon, beat a path, demand, divide.”
In Jewish circles there is a common saying, “Two Jews get together to argue about something and there ends up being three opinions.” Simply put: Two Jews three opinions.
Another supportive old saying: “If nine men out of ten agree, then the tenth is probably Jewish.”
I don’t live believing that God switched out my emotions geared-up for lively passions and instead put in a faith-filled creative intellect. But, then again…I do.
Clearly those women writers I mentioned have a deep well of sincere emotions to draw from. But, their valuable feelings also merge with faith-filled creative intellects, and so, I continually see that breed surge past me. Does that mean I’m limping toward the desired dazzling city set on a hill? Yes, but, sort of no.
From what I know, I’m taking a longer and lonelier road there―and that is what I’m to do. It makes me me. Because of this, I see and ponder differently. I’m off to the side and out of the common/traditional way. Yes, some evenings, in the distance I can faintly hear the bustle of yet another “happy bus,” with wheels spinning, bouncing down the road and winding curves.
But, God travels the rough hills where I tred, too. I’ve found He likes to arm wrestle. Of course, the Supreme Being doesn’t ever pretend to lose or almost lose. Such patronizing maneuvering is beneath Him, benefiting neither of us. He always wins, though He’s not in hurry and rarely uses the same strategy. (Okay, with me He does use some strategies over and over again.) Yet, His willingness to wrestle is empowering. He can make the weak stronger and the even strongest pessimist grudgingly plant seeds of optimism. (Watering and tending them are separate issues.)
In comparison, consider Americans’ love of sporting events, evidenced by multitudes of fans who adjust their wardrobe for the game; get caught up in emotional highs and lows (winning and losing) produce shouts, wild applause and a whole lotta waving noisy silly stuff.
The same people at church? At synagogue? God’s fans? That’s awkward and uncomfortable. Why? Well, when there is little live action to watch, or when replay shots of the main players are centuries old, and any newish stories are from elsewhere, it’s not the same hyped atmosphere. Also, to our Western intellects, the strategy of using invisibility tends to be a foul, not counted as a point or court advantage. And His score keeping is frightful.
In conclusion, I’ve seen the God lovers’ enthusiasm knits them together at times in childlike and strange, almost tribal ways. But, such whoop-it-up activities turn most people away, inspire a few―making fresh the stale, and create theological or faithless critics known as enemies, despise them.
These Things Make Me Grumpy… READ IN PDF
BONUS Jewish Joke: A Jewish congregation was arguing over whether one should stand or sit while praying the important Shema Yisroel. Half of the congregation said one should sit, the other half insisted one should stand. Every time the Shema was recited on Shabbat they shouted at each other, “Sit down!” and “Stand up!” The fighting became so bad that the congregation split in two, each half contending that they knew the tradition of that synagogue.
Finally, the rabbi decided to visit a one hundred year old member of the synagogue who was living in a nursing home. He took a delegation from each of the arguing sides with him to see the oldest member of the shul (synagogue).
“Now, tell us,” said the rabbi, “what is our tradition, should we stand during the Shema?”
“No,” said the old man. “That is not our tradition.”
“Well, then,” said the rabbi, “should we sit during the Shema?”
“No,” the old man, “that is not our tradition.”
“But we need to know what to do,” said the rabbi, “because our congregation members are fighting among each other.”
“That,” said the oldest member of the congregation, “that is our tradition!”
The Grumpy Disciple #23
The Day God Came To Earth For Lunch
Mark Lee Golden Copyright 2015 markleegoldenwriter.com
Few people know that I attend a Jewish Messianic synagogue, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue and a charismatic Christian church. After forty years of being religious I’ve decided to spread myself around. (I’m not comfortable anywhere.) Week after week I tire of lengthy liturgy, idealistic songs, conflicting theologies, etc. Grumpy? Me? C’mon!
I recently read an Orthodox Jewish textbook on human suffering, the Holocaust, and Scripture. (There is a saying: A Jew cannot pass up a book. True with me.) This literature and the Sunday morning synagogue classes which I attend interest me. I remarked to myself how different my thinking is from forty years ago. Back then, this hippie-ish, non-religious, yet sort of spiritual Jew, became a Christian. But, I was scared about this God and His connection to (the unnecessary?) Jesus. Yet, I believed this deity of the Christians sought me and then reached out to me. Whom? I wasn’t sure.
And, with that confession of faith I accepted a peculiar, hard-to-understand, impossible-to-explain, doctrine―the Trinity. Apparently this was something gentiles grasped and comprehended, but Jews couldn’t and wouldn’t. So, Christians scooped up this three-headed, semi-Jewish Godhead and have been feeding and watering it for 2,000 years. I experienced a squirmy squeamishness about this twisty spin on the good ol’ monotheistic God of Israel. Three Persons in One? Uh-huh, mmm.
Forty years ago, as my mother once said during one of our pointless (no points scored) discussions on Christianity versus Judaism, “I don’t need to pray to any Holy Ghost!” (Well, that did make the whole thing sound silly.)
What does this have to do with lunch? Hang on.
While reading the student textbook, I read verses in the Tenakh, or Old Testament, in Genesis 18. I knew this passage and had heard teachings on it. But now this hit-me-up-side-the-head―nearly knocking my skullcap off!
Circa 4,000 years ago, three men approached the soon-to-be patriarch Abraham at his tent in his vast encampment. One hundred year-old Abraham followed the cultural obligation to befriend strangers and travelers bidding them to stop, be refreshed, and eat. They did. He settled them in a shady spot by his own tent.
SPOILER ALERT: the next day God destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, and several nearby towns.
SPOILER ALERT #2: the three men were not human.
One of the strangers proved to be in charge. (Actually, He always was and still is.) Bingo! Yep, somehow Almighty God, Yahweh, and two of special hit-men angels sat there on Earth―eating lunch. Sandals, turbans, robes, beards, armpit odor, real teeth to chew and swallow food, while seated on soft, animal-hide rugs.
After the meal and polite chit-chat, the one-in-charge sent his two servants down the road toward a cluster of problematic population centers. But, He remained behind to engage Abraham, include Abraham, and be challenged by Abraham too. He wanted to dialogue with a man. Not only is singled out, but also called, “a friend of God.” That’s when it hit me about Yahweh. He was just a guy…right then. And He was just sitting and eating with another guy. This understanding blew EVERYTHING out of the water. But some of my theology stayed, sank and rose again, refreshed and upgraded. If God came as a guy for lunch, He could come back as a guy who did carpentry―for years. These two incidents linked heaven to flesh and back again. I saw how traditional Judaism lacked this all-important link. Indeed, 1,800 years later someone saying, proving, acting, as is he were God’s Son (or some part of God), made an appearance.
(BTW If God became a man, then who was in heaven running the universe? To me, you can’t have both. Perhaps God put everything on auto-pilot or done some time-travel trickery.)
Again, once I realized that Yahweh came as a man waaaaay before Jesus did―that could mean two different persons. This all took place in Hebrew contexts, which then clicked BIG TIME for me. A Jewish Trinity! Yes, the Trinity was a Jewish thing, not a pagan invention or Christian misrepresentation.
You ask me, “So, Mark, where’s the Trinity? Hmm? Y’ know the Spirit, the Three? You mentioned only Two Persons.”
“Ahh…that’s another blog.”
Side note: throughout the Jewish Scriptures there are appearances of supernatural beings visiting Earth. They are always on missions for the God of Israel. Genesis 3:2 “The angel of Adonai appeared to Moses in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.” In Daniel 3:22-25, three Jews were tied up and thrown into a huge, intensely hot, outdoor fire. Suddenly, a fourth man was seen protecting and helping them. After thank-yous, chit-chat, and debriefing, this angel or ? disappeared.
On and on, there are other examples.
Christianity teaches that some of these appearances probably were a member/part/person of the Trinity. A pre-incarnate Jesus is the best guess, since he did come as a man, a real man, at a later date. These visits are called theophanies. Sometimes the “Word of the Adonai came…” is personified too. To back this up, in John’s Gospel, Jesus is pointed out as the “Word…in the beginning.”
Why didn’t or don’t the Jews believe in the Trinity if this is true? Where was this stated in the Old Testament? The first is easy to answer; the second I’m going to set aside for now. In the early years of the first Messianic communities the disciples of Jesus were Jews only. 20 years later, a rabbi known to us as Paul, traveled much in the Roman world. He taught on the Messiah and the Godhead to Jews and pagans. Recorded in Acts 21:20, he reported to the leaders in Jerusalem, “See how many thousands of Jews have believed, and these are all serious about the teachings of the Torah,” implying that the Torah (writings of Moses), plus Jesus’ mission and the concept of the Trinity were compatible.
In conclusion, reading about the face-time my ancestor Abraham experienced settled me down, and I am more confident in my aging faith. For all of us, the incomprehensible truth of God―this way or that way―will continue with mysteries. But, even a special lunch guest can be good for a squeamish stomach.
These Things (Still) Make Me Grumpy… READ IN PDF
Survey Finds Americans Insincere with Post Sneeze “God Bless you!”
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #24
Mark Lee Golden Copyright 2016 markleegoldenwriter.com
Immature Billionaires Need Not Apply
Donald Trump. Why do I think that if I was drowning in the ocean, close to his yacht, and he saw me waving and calling for help, he would continue at rest, leaning on the railing? Then he’d turn his head and casually say to one of the crew, “Somebody should help him, don’t you think?”
At that point I’d be asking myself, “Why did I vote for that guy?”
So, at this point, in August 2016, I ask myself, “Why am I voting for that guy?”
What rubbed me wrong—lately—was his signature stance, “I don’t apologize!” or “I make no apologies!” Either way you read the bold statement, the words make one wish that such a person with that attitude better not move in next door. In truth, most of the places where he lives, The Donald has already bought the “next doors” for privacy.
I also envision a political rally where there’s a guy walking around with a big brown paper sack and inside are little pieces of paper. On each is a complaint about Mr. Trump. Everyone reaches their hands in and pulls out slip similar to a Chinese misfortune cookie. (Oops! Did I really write that?) Yes, there are so many accusations, facts and whatsoevers. And one slip would have printed on it “Never Apologizes.” When I think of role models when children watch the news with grown-ups, this is a time to press MUTE. Or, is it? Could be one of those teaching moments? It could flop either way: “Johnny, when you’re a billionaire you never need to....” Or, “Johnny, even if you’re a billionaire you still need to....”
In my life, I learned to apologize when I voluntarily entered parenthood. I married a woman and her 8 year old son. As incidents of step-dad vs step-son (and his mother and my wife, in that order) I learned what I never got in my family of origin. Yes, my dad, mom and brother and I had skirmishes wherein various sorts of excuses, admissions of guilt, confessions and the occasional apology surfaced—coerced or not. But, I’d say there wasn’t much love under that roof.
Back to our Trump. Has he learned to apologize—but discarded it? Or, like my home, he never got it right. I decipher his stance as bravado and arrogance with sprinkles of he-man-ism (not to be confused with He-Man, the cartoon superhero) and a fine layer of BS. Oh! Geez! I forgot a sizeable dose of immaturity.
A man who does not have this quality trait of maturity is truly less of a man. Less than a man (or woman) who is president—and required to act maturely in their family and in public. The supposed inner strength and ability to exude righteous behavior 24/7 is an imaginary life and a Trump gimmick.
Trust is like watering a plant you care about. Honesty is the pot wherein is the plant. Hiding wrongs can be a wild infestation of weeds in good soil. Money can’t buy forgiveness—but it can be a temporary distraction. An apology can be invaluable.
Back to my drowning and need for immediate assistance. I picture Commander Trump leaning on the shiny chrome railing, cool drink in hand. He raises the glass to my direction in salute; as if to say, “Life can really suck, but never mine, chum.”
These Things Make Me Grumpy…
Another commentary from REAL LIFE. This parody is for amusement. Any similarity to real people, places or divine beings is fictitious and not to be taken as fact.
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #21
Even Mary Had Stretch Marks
The Grumpy Disciple Blog #25
The Voice of One Crying Pouting In The Wilderness
Mark Lee Golden Copyright 2016 markleegoldenwriter.com
There’s trouble. Trouble in Christianity. Even before Christianity was Christianity there was trouble. The core disciples of Jesus, the Apostles, bickered and boasted among themselves. It’s no wonder that Jesus occasionally went off by himself to pray. “Pray” might’ve been a code word. He’d be gone all night—perhaps to do some praying, yes, but more so, just to get away from those 12 men.
The 12 habitually got wrong what their Teacher said. This was in an age before Q-Tips ear swabs, communication moved slower—still—in one ear and out the other occurred.
Fast forward. After the beginnings of the Early Church, there was a honeymoon period of sorts. Then saints sputtered and spewed in contention with one another― division happened.
Back track. Jesus instructed the 12, “I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” John’s Gospel 13:34, 35. The command is typically interpreted to mean all disciples, then and now. And there’s the trouble. This hasn’t worked.
Most any atheist, common pedestrian, or non-Christian, without a second thought, will say that the followers of Jesus have failed to love in such a way. That’s sad. What signifies Christians is not their ‘love for one another’ but rather, their disagreements with ‘one another.’ The more one researches Church history and current Christianity, the more one is astounded not by unity or healthy diversity, but by division.
The lengthy prayer of Jesus, in John 17, reveals his desire for a ‘oneness.’ He and God are ‘one’ and he wants the disciples to enter such oneness, “…in order that they may be One with each other, as We are One.” It’s awkward to consider that he didn’t have his prayer answered. That’s not correct theology!!! Jesus always had his prayers answered. Right? Well, if he didn’t, then what chance do we have for our consumer-minded prayers to get the best parking spot? How depressing. Perhaps such a Oneness did happen, but exists on an unseen mystical plane.
I did some reading up on an early American colonist, named Roger Williams (1562―1620). A religious man, Williams played hop-scotch with various church denominations, Puritan, Reformed, Reformed Baptist, Free Will Baptist, Church of England, Separatist and something called a Particular Baptist. He searched for the closest church to his beliefs of perfect theology. In the New World, a location prescribed for religious liberty, Williams was eventually put on trial by the Puritans for sedition and heresy. To escape prison or worse, he traveled 55 miles in the dead of the New England winter to what is now Rhode Island. The kicker? The territory where he finally, safely settled, he deemed to have been God’s ‘providence’ in saving his neck. Hence the name, Providence, Rhode Island―a name with shame built right in. He named it in gratitude for “God’s merciful providence.”
Today, during this time of year we vaguely remember the Puritans, the first Christians to the northern Atlantic shores and the friendly Native Americans―but emphasize cooked turkeys above all else. Yum!
Christianity is a global pick n’ chose religion. Besides the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, non-denominational, etc. There are thousands of sub-varieties and new ones all the time. Each considers their doctrinal line up as the right one…as did the Colonists, as did the Catholics, as did the fill in the blank_______.
Back to the effrontery that Christ’s command is too difficult, and that his good prayer was/is unanswered. I know that there were/are pockets where ‘love for one another’ has surfaced. We see it briefly in the New Testament Acts of the Apostles. Persecution seems to birth this. Deep love of God, births this. Repentance followed by strengthening grace, births this. Hope of prophetic fulfillment too.
The disgrace of the Church must disappoint God. Regrettably, I see little success of His plan. When average eyes see the embarrassing, massive failure of what the Jewish Messiah put into motion, what can believers say? Is my assertion outrageous, or just uncomfortably realistic?
These Things Make Me Grumpy…
|Statement of Faith|
|Spokane Is Okay|
|Favorite Authors, etc.|
|Statement of Faith|
|Spokane Is Okay|
|Favorite Authors, etc.|