You Always Play the Get Out of Jail Free Card

RockyWhat You’ve Missed…
* A lot of talk about circumcision.  I mean, A LOT.  More than you’d think you’d find in a really holy book.
* An angry mob attacks and stones Paul.  Everyone thinks he’s pretty much dead, but then he just gets up and walks away.  It’s kind of like the final scene in Rocky, except he’s getting hit in the face with rocks, instead of padded boxing gloves.  And there’s less Burgess Meredith.
* Paul casts a demon out of girl who was following him around, because the demon just got really annoying after awhile.  This is basically the New Testament version of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour.
* Paul gets beaten a second time.  It’s not as much like Rocky II as you’d expect, and there’s still no Burgess Meredith.

Day 319
Daily Reading: Acts 15-17

Paul’s life at this point consists basically of two things: Preaching about Jesus and getting beat up, and preaching about Jesus and safely running away from an angry mob.  Pretty simple really.  Acts 15 has Paul preaching about Jesus and getting beat up.  Then he gets thrown into jail, which spices things up a bit.

So how does Paul handle a serious ass kicking and then being wrongfully imprisoned?  Like a champ.  The guy spends his time singing hymns while the other prisoners listen.  Basically he doesn’t let the man get him down.  I mean, he has a better attitude than that guy in The Shawshank Redemption, which is pretty hard to beat.  Instead of complaining and whining, the guy just starts up a karaoke club, belting out the hits late into the night.  Turns out God’s a pretty big karaoke fan, because here how He responds.

Karaoke“Suddenly there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’”  Acts 16:26-28

Are you kidding me?  Paul doesn’t get the heck outta Dodge immediately?  He doesn’t see the earthquake as God’s escape plan for him?  Paul just got handed the world’s first Get Out of Jail Free card, and he just hangs around?  Paul, you don’t even need to understand Monopoly to grasp the concept of the Get Out of Jail Free card.  Come on buddy!

BoltIt seems to me that any normal person would take advantage of the situation immediately and get their butt outta there pronto.  I mean, I hate to run, and have yet to find even adequate motivation to start jogging, but I promise you if I were Paul, I would channel the whitest Usain Bolt I could find inside of me and leave that place in the dust, setting some serious Caucasian speed records along the way.  I would do that because I’m normal and my brain works.  But Paul isn’t normal (though I admit his brain does work).  Paul apparently doesn’t feel the need to free himself, he just kind of goes with the flow.  And in this case, the flow has the jailer take Paul and other prisoners home, take care of their wounds, feed them and then become a Christian along with his entire family.

What!?  What jail guard takes prisoners home!?  None.  Because that’s totally crazy.  (Though I think this happens in The Green Mile?  I’m not sure.  I’ve never seen it.  Regardless, if it did happen in The Green Mile, it’s still an extraordinary event, Walkerwhich is probably why it was such a powerful and memorable scene.  That or there was some cool special effects or something.)

Anyway…not only could the jail guard get fired, but this is a Roman jail…and from my education of Romans through movies and bad Sunday school videos, they would feed the jailer to lions or something if he got caught.  I mean, the guy would have some kind of violent Gladiator death for sure. Yet this jailer saw something so completely different in Paul than he’d ever seen in anyone that he risked his own life to learn more about it.  That’s nuts.  That is seriously nuts.

Sweet Brown vs. My Dad

P90XWhat You’ve Missed…
* I joined Instagram
* P90X is now a thing that exists in my life.  Six days a week.  At 7:15am.
* I’ve discovered it’s possible to accomplish things before 8am.  That kind of blew my mind.
* I’m a “protein shake for breakfast” person now.  I don’t know how I feel about that.
* Gossip columnist Perez Hilton had a kid, and I’m still single.  What the hell?

Daily Reading

It always kills me when I hear people say, “No excuses!”  Mostly because I’m usually the guy with the excuses.  Also because my excuses are usually pretty good.  In response to needing an excuse for not having updated this blog since October 23 of last year, allow me to quote Sweet Brown (my favorite person ever) and say, “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

SweetBrownThat’s how I’ve felt about the blog for the past few months.  Day-to-day life just seemed to take over, and I didn’t have the time to write posts as often as I’d like.  Though, as I read that to myself out loud an image of my father appears in my brain, looks around at the mess (unapprovingly I might add) and steps carefully around the clutter, raising his eyebrows at me, then says with a tone of fatherly disappointment, “Ain’t nobody got time for dat?  Son, at least make some attempt to let people know you have a college degree.  Also, I think the real issue is that you didn’t MAKE time for that.”

Admittedly he’s right.  While I tend to think I didn’t have the time, my dad walks around my brain pointing out everything I have made time for, holding it up like dirty laundry between two fingers.  Watching seasons one and two of Breaking Bad?  I got time for dat.  Legally gambling at the local Poker Room?  I got time for dat.  Playing Call of Duty online?  For hours?  Without sleep?  Oh, I got LOTS of time for dat!

CallofDutyThis is the part where my dad just looks at me, wondering what the hell is wrong with his kid.  I dunno Dad.  I guess I’ve always been better at exploring multiple outlets for my creativity than exploring healthy time management.  (Dad’s expression lets me know that he’s not ready to embrace Call of Duty as a legitimate creative outlet.  We decide to just live and let live for now.)

So what does all this rambling mean?  It means that I plan on writing this blog again.  It means that I’ve actually missed it.  While this blog was a major focus of my life, I was constantly thinking about the character of God, my relationship with Him and how it all relates to this human experience.  I was having interesting conversations with people about all that stuff.  (As opposed to “interesting” conversations with 15 year-old kids who were clearly outgunning me online.)  I want to reclaim that.

PerezHiltonI did finish reading the Bible in a year, but I never finished writing about it.  And truth be told, I kinda rushed through the end there to meet my deadline, which technically I missed by a day.

So I hope you’ll tune back in to finish out the Bible with me.  I also hope you’ll share your thoughts and opinions along the way, as I plan to continue to explore the craziness of God even after I’ve run out of Bible.  I’m not real sure who’s reading this, other than internet spam bots and my mom, but whoever you are I want you to know….it’s good to be back.  Thanks for waiting.

Osama for President?

What You’ve Missed…
* The disciples receive God’s Holy Spirit and start speaking in every language known to man.  Instead of being completely amazed, some people just think the dudes are hammered drunk.
* God teleports Phillip after he baptizes some guy, just like Scotty beamin’ up Captain Kirk.  No, seriously.  The Bible says he was teleported.  Like in Science Fiction…except…not fiction.
* Stephen, the first martyr ever, seems like the nicest guy ever.  Bummer.
* Three thousand people are lovin’ all this and decide to become Christians at the same time.  And they didn’t even do it for a free t-shirt.  Crazy.

Day 314
Daily Reading: Acts 8-9

Remember how after 9/11 people were passionate about America?  Remember how people were passionate about hating terrorists?   And remember how Osama bin Laden changed his mind about everything afterward, and became America’s greatest leader and advocate?

No?  Oh, right.  Because that would be completely insane, and Americans would be idiots to follow their most collectively hated enemy.  Even if the guy genuinely regretted his actions and apologized to U.S. citizens, I imagine most Americans reacting by saying something like, “Screw that,” or, “Hell no,” or, “WTF?  Where’s ma’ gun?  I’m gonna kill that mother….”

There wasn’t a chance in hell that guy was getting any kind of forgiveness.  There was even less of a chance (if that’s even possible) that bin Laden would have been allowed to visit the U.S. without mass riots breaking out.  And there was absolute zero chance of that guy being allowed to become an American politician.  I mean, the idea of that just sounds preposterous.  Like, totally and ridiculously outlandish.  Hugh Hefner has a better chance at becoming the next Pope than bin Laden being allowed to run for office.

Why am I even bringing this up?  Because this actually happened.  Not with Osama bin Laden, but with the apostle Paul.  Paul is like, the best Christian ever.  He started tons of churches, was an incredible Christian teacher, and spent his life spreading the news of Jesus all around the world.  But before all that, he was Christianity’s worst enemy.

“Meanwhile, Saul [who later changed his name to Paul] was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.”  Acts 9:1

He didn’t just oppose Christianity.  He wanted to kill Christians.  He was eager to kill them.  And he was threatening them relentlessly.  Yup, that’s pretty much a dead ringer (no pun intended…well, maybe a little) for bin Laden in my book.

But one day, Paul has a “religious experience” where Jesus appears to him, strikes him blind, only to have him healed days later, at which point Paul realizes this whole “Jesus thing” is real, and maybe murdering Christians isn’t the best idea anymore.

Soon after, Paul can be found preaching about Jesus, which was the very thing he wanted to kill Christians for.  That’s like bin Laden producing YouTube videos about how awesome America is, and how he was wrong for thinking otherwise.

(I really need voice inflection here because) That’s CAAA-RAAAY-ZEE.

That’s only the start, because as time wears on, Paul’s not only allowed to become a member of the church (most Christians were actually afraid of him at first), but he becomes a sought after teacher and well respected man within the movement.  In fact, he wrote most of the New Testament.  He basically instructs the Christians on what it even means to be a Christian.  Again, that’s like bin Laden becoming a major influential player in American politics, to the point that most government officials are seeking his advice on how to effectively run a democratic form of government, then pretty much elect him President.

Can you even conceive of bin Laden not only as a converted American politician, but a highly respected politician?  How about as our beloved President?  That’s insane.  What group of people choose to follow their enemy?  A group of people who are total idiots, that’s who.  Like people who think the writers of LOST knew what they were doing, or people who think they’re learning when they watch Honey Boo Boo on The Learning Channel.  Those types of people might be swayed by some smooth talk, but not rational adults with functioning brains.

Adults with functioning brains, in the same situation as the early Christians were with Paul, would be all like, “Dude…didn’t Paul have your brother killed?  Didn’t he hock a huge loogie on you last week at the market?  Didn’t he call us a bunch of crazy lunatics who were the scum of the earth?  Why the hell are we letting him talk at our meeting?  Why aren’t we repeatedly punching him in the face and kicking him in the jewelies right now?”  That’s how normal people would react.  Yet that’s not what happens here in Acts at all.

These Christians allowed their worst enemy to change his mind, to become one of them, and to become one of their greatest teachers.  Clearly something powerful is happening here because this isn’t normal.  This isn’t anything close to normal.

This is crazy.  Like, Ripley’s Believe it or Not crazy.