Sunday, June 22, 2014

Perhaps you've noticed an absence...

This blog has been running for eight years now.  And that's a long time.  When I started this blog, I had a lot of questions, a lot of things I wanted to talk about, wrestle with, stuff like that.

And now, through the grace of God, or perhaps the practicality of the regular passage of time, I realize that whatever answers I didn't get, I don't care as much about anymore.  I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I go to church. Sometimes I learn stuff. Sometimes I have questions. But getting the answers as quickly and as thoroughly as possible don't matter as much anymore. I'm okay with the not knowing. Life is about the discovery, but nobody gets all the answers.

So while I'm not pulling the blog down completely, I am going on an indefinite hiatus.  I wish there was a more salacious answer than "I ran out of things to blog about."  But I did.

Maybe I'll come back. There's always the possibility that me not blogging suddenly means a influx of interesting things that'll happen that I have to talk about.  That would be very nice.

I would like to thank all the readers over the years, both constant and drop ins. I really appreciate the time you to read anything.  If I made you laugh or think or harumph, I did my job. Which is to be a writer. Because that's who I am. Amy The Writer.

Many many thank yous.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wanna Pretend You're Jesus And Take A Quiz?t

So I found this quiz the other day, amidst all the other ones that tell you which Disney character you are, and what color your personality is

You answer questions like “Your ideal Biblical residence would be?” or “What kind of clothes do you wear” or “When it comes to taking risks...” and you fill in the blank. And at the end of the quiz, it tells you what Biblical character you are. Or resemble. Or at the very least, answer quizzes in the same manner as.

Well, okay! Let's play indeed!  But of course, these things are so easily manipulated, let's pretend to play as the different Biblical characters that the quiz is designed to tell you you are.  Meaning...

If I answer the quiz, thinking I'm King David – Bang! I get King David! Thank you!  But I also think if you pick the "in a palace" answer to the "Your ideal Biblical residence" question or the "When it comes to taking risks" and you answer "I'm impulsive", you automatically get the express pass to King David land. Yeah, that picture is supposed to be of King David.  Says the quiz.

If I answer the quiz as Moses – I get John The Baptist. There is no “Not Getting Into The Promised Land” option under “What Is Your Greatest Fear,” just so you know.

If I answer the quiz trying to determine which answers Jesus would pick and I hit upon the "What Is Your Greatest Fear"  question. Hmmm, what IS Jesus' greatest fear? There's no “My father abandoning me” option. What is Jesus' greatest fear!? "Committing a sin?"  "Being in the spotlight?"  "My children and loved ones being harmed?"  Jesus doesn't have kids! “Being ignored/forgotten by those who I love?” "that I might die without making a difference?"  "Letting others down?"  "Not having a family?"  These don't sound like anything Jesus would answer.

But how WOULD Jesus answer that question? What's Jesus' greatest fear? When you're the son of God and all? Why isn't there a “can't stand physical pain” option? Because that would totally be Jesus. Isn't that why he was begging God in the Garden of Gethsemane to take the cup of suffering away? Not that he wasn't willing to go through the act of dying for the world, but that he was wondering if there was a less painful option?

And what is Jesus' favorite book of the Bible?  I can't decide between Mark or Luke.  Would Jesus really play favorites when it comes to books of the Bible? Wouldn't he just like them all? Maybe Mark, since he wrote the first book. 

I go through all the questions, doing my very best to answer as Jesus, but the answer returns as John The Baptist again? Really?  

I try again as Jesus, this time answering the question “Which Biblical location would you most like to visit?” with “Bethlehem,” and Mark for my favorite book of the Bible. Now I get Mary. The Mom. Great.

Hey, let's have fun and pretend we're Satan taking the quiz - “In your friendship...” Um, none of these answers are working for me, okay? Satan doesn't have friends! Or does he? Well, that's a fascinating question, isn't it? Do you think Satan have friends? Why isn't THAT a question here? “What's your greatest fear? “That I lose all my power! That I am vanquished by love. - I get to the end of the quiz, and the quiz thinks I'm Adam. HA

If I answer as me, if I run through the whole quiz picking the answers the way I would personally answer them... I get Mary. I wish I could've gotten Jesus, that would've wrapped up the whole post nicely, huh? Heh.

NOTE!  I just found a quiz called "What Kind Of Devil Are You?"  I smell sequel!!!!! :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Suck At Praying (But I Try Anyway)

So I read this article this week :

And it really resonated with me.

"When the motivating factor in your prayers is self-interest, you may find yourself more and more frustrated and disappointed by the results....

"... Sometimes we treat prayer as a bargained-for exchange: if you spend a few seconds asking God for stuff, He’ll grant your wishes." 

That's totally me, unfortunately.  I needed this smack upside the head, this gentle reminder.
I pray the Lord's Prayer every single day and I go from there to "Thank you" for everything He's given me and then I totally continue to "And here's the list of stuff I'm asking for."

I always forget to say "Amen." I get distracted by other things, like the gym, like work, like writing.  When I remember I forgot to say "Amen," I immediately take up where I left off in the Asking For Stuff list, and then I get distracted, and the whole thing starts all over again.

"Expect to discover your God-given purpose when you spend time in His presence. Expect to be filled with an unbelievable amount of peace despite whatever situation is railing around you. Expect to experience an unexplainable joy in the midst of external hardships and internal doubts.  Come before God with expectancy in your heart and watch Him satisfy your ever need.  But be open to the God of the universe satisfying your needs in ways that exceed your expectations or desires. He knows best."

That doesn't sound like a tall order, but it totally is for me.  Spending time in His presence is hard for me, because #1, all the ways that are usually described of how to spend time in His presence are things I kinda recoil at, thinking that it sounds so unbearably cliche, "listening to worship music" I don't like most worship songs. "sitting in complete silence in a private place"  I've got stuff to do.  and #2, when I do try to spend time with God, I expect instant results, and He doesn't work like that.  Hence, the name of this blog. God Is Patient, I Am Not.

I've gotta be better, I've gotta try harder, which is coincidentally the anti-thesis of the whole Christianity thing anyway - it's not about your works, it's about your faith.

All I can say is Thank God He's patient with me. Because man, I am pretty much a disaster, ho ho ho.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Be WITH me

The past two months have been hell at work, for a bunch of reasons that I will never discuss until maybe five years from now with a lot of good tequila.

For the past two months, I felt like I was walking into a war zone for eight hours a day, five days a week.  And every day before work, I would get out of the car and take several deep breaths and send up a few prayers to God, sometimes as simple as, "Please let everything go okay today" and sometimes as complex as "Please don't let anyone yell at me, in person or on email. Please let me discern when I should interrupt my boss when she's on the phone and I have another call for her.  Please forgive me for the murderous thoughts I have towards the MIS department, who aren't even located in the U.S. anymore, and it's not their fault their accents are so impenetrable."

What I suddenly realized one day is that I kept asking God to prevent things from happening TO me (or prevent me from acting on murderous impulses.) What I should've been asking Him to be WITH me.

That praying isn't about getting God to be your bodyguard, where He stands in front of you and blocks Bad Stuff from stabbing you in the neck.

Prayer is about asking God to dwell WITH you. I think technically He's supposed to dwell INSIDE you, via the Holy Spirit, and yet most days, I feel like there's too much bitterness, fear that I'm gonna get written up, cynicism, or junk food for me to feel like the Holy Spirit's in there too.

So I started asking God to be with me.  To walk with me.  To stand alongside me. To help me stand in the face of whatever stresses the day was gonna throw at me.

I won't say things instantly got better.  In fact, they pretty stayed the same until one day... we were out of the woods. I survived.  For now.

I know there's a lot more to praying than what I just mentioned.  That it's not just about Him walking alongside me, but the whole relationship aspect, that Get to know Me! thing that is supposed to be at the heart of real prayer with God.

And I'm working on that. I'll always be working on that.

But that moment, that day in the parking lot, felt like a step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

I Got Your Back

I was running slides at church a few weeks ago, and it was that seemingly elastic stretch of time between services.  Where it seems like you have all the time in the world until suddenly the band is taking the stage and you better be in your seat ready to hit the lyric slide for "Louder Than The World."

Since our church has moved locations to a place further down Hollywood Blvd., we don't quite get the stream of crazies that we used to.  Sure, there's a few bums that like to sleep in the space between us and the fire station next door.  I figure they like to think they're covered either way with blessings from God or water from a hose.

But we don't get the crazies who sometimes bum rushed the middle of the service and made things interesting like we used to.  Which is slightly sad.

But here I am, in between services, wolfing down a granola bar.  I sit in a little alcove sandwiched in the far corner, and most people don't even know I'm there, they walk right past me, which is totally fine.

But I hear one of the ushers talking.  Or perhaps enduring is a better word.  Because there's a gentleman rambling his brain off to the usher in what the gentleman thinks is conversation, but more is passing for something like a cross between a rant and a lament.

It's your HEART (mumble, mumble, mumble) in your SOUL! (mumble mumble mumble) your HEART!”

Now granted, I only hear bits and pieces of the conversation. I do not know what part of the train of thought “your heart” and “your soul” occupy in this rambling. I don't know what the thesis is that he's trying to get across.

But I do know that the volunteer usher feels pinned down. Because I keep hearing her say, “Yes... Yes.. YEP! Yes... Yes... Yeah.” in that way that clearly communicates I am stuck in a conversation with a somewhat crazy person. Okay, he might not be crazy. But he's not all the way there. And I can't excuse myself from the conversation because I'm a volunteer usher and I'm supposed to greet people coming into the sanctuary. So I can't walk away from this potentially crazy person. But I have a feeling he's not going to leave me alone.

Yep, I got all of that from her “Yep.” You would have gotten it too, had you been there and heard it.

So off I go to get the helpful security staff, who are trained to politely deal with people like this. I don't make eye contact with the volunteer usher, though, because I'm worried I'll catch the eye of the not-all-there gentleman, and say what you will about the Potentially Crazy people, but almost all of them do this: if they know they have an audience, they'll usually escalate.

So I head outside and grab the first security person I see. And he goes inside, where another security person is already on the scene, chatting up the not-all-there gentleman and gently escorting him away.

I smile at the volunteer usher and say, “Don't worry, I had your back.” And she smiles at me and thanks me, even though I wasn't number one with the Help Brigade.

But it occurred to me, how many times has God had my back and I had no idea? That I was doing my best to be polite and endure a situation and thinking I was on my own? Until help came out of nowhere and I realized He was behind the scenes, tinkering around with stuff and figuring out who to send to me for help.

I must try to remember that more often.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thank God. Smile. And Fix It.

Sorry for the absence in posting.  The day job has been its own brand of specialized hell.  It might be one of the more difficult jobs I've had in this town, with so many different spinning plates and moving parts.  But I can also say it's one of the best jobs I've ever had, so I'm tearing out my hair and smiling while I do it.  Yay!

And grinning as a first response to a bad situation is also something I wanna talk about.  Because there I was about two weeks ago, scrambling to finish up a draft on Polka Dotted Platapus, which I'm turning into an animated movie.  I had a group of people who were waiting to read it, and my writing schedule had turned into one of those things where you wake up at 6:00am just to get an hour or so on the computer before going in to work.  Oh, and you take your computer to work with you so you can continue to write on your lunch hour.  and then when you get home at night.  

So basically, nose to the grindstone time, which is totally fine, I think an animated version of Polka Dotted Platapus will really kick ass, so that's propelling me.

The goal was turning the draft in that Friday.  Thursday morning I woke up at 6:00am, sat down and booted the laptop up, and discovered a giant Yeti-sized plot hole just kinda hanging out between Act 2 and 3.

And the first thing I thought was Thank God.

Not the S word.  Not the F word.  Not the F-S word.

But Thank God.

Thank God I discovered this Jupiter-sized plot hole before I turned the script in.  Thank God I discovered this Grand Canyon-sized plot hole while I still have some time in the day to fix it.

Thank God.

Thank God.

Thank God.

And I think that's the best takeaway of maybe this whole month (which included my birthday, by the way)  When you discover a problem, your first reaction shouldn't be to cry, scream, or swear.

Just Thank God.  Smile.  And get down to fixing it.

Says me.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

They Will Know We Are Christians By How We Answer Quizzes

This week, I was asked that perennial chestnut of a question, “If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and what three questions would you ask them.”

And I instantly answered, “Jesus.” Though if I had given the question perhaps thirty seconds more thought, I would've said my dad. But I thought reaction time was a factor and that was the first thing that popped into my head.

The three questions I would ask Jesus would be:

1. The concept of free will and how is it really supposed to work and do you think it's working as your Dad had intended it to.
2. That whole predestination thing.
3. How do you think the world's going these days?

And then I would be watching really closely to see if Jesus ate anything, and if the bread baskets magically refilled themselves, ho ho ho.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated Hall Of Fame Section!

Hey everybody!

Check out the sidebar ==============================================>

We got the best posts of 2013 up there!  How spiffy!

Take a tour, look around, maybe you missed something and need a laugh. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The thing is, we knew it was coming. 

 Bella has made several appearances on the blog, here, here, and  here.

She and Ginger Puppy were some of the happiest dogsitting clients I had ever seen, and I was sad that I couldn't ever get them together for a doggie play date.

Do not doubt for a second that dogs can't smile. They absolutely can, and Bella was living proof. 

Bella's family adopted her specifically because she was an older beagle with health issues that not a lot of people would want. And yes, she was absolutely one of the chubbier beagles I had ever seen.

It didn't matter. Bella owned her weight like a boss. Trotting around like nobody's business, no I don't care how big I am, no, I don't care if there's growths on my face, and yes, I snore like a brick house, but I am the world's happiest dog, see?



You will love me no matter what, because my smiles are pure gold.

And they were. They totally were.

I got an email from Bella's mom last September. Bella wasn't doing great, her health issues were catching up with her, so did I want to come by to say hi, possibly for the last time?

Of course, of course, of course.

So we took these pictures. Even when she was uncomfy, she would smile. And we thought that might be it for little-not-little-used-as-term-of-endearment-Bella.

But Bella is a go getter. Her specialty was sneaking out of doors and gates when people weren't paying attention to her (Never on my watch, thank you very much. I am an awesome dogsitter.)  The next month, painters were working on the outside of the house and despite repeated warnings from Bella's mom, they didn't close the gate all the way, and so off Bella went on her grand adventure.

This happy beagle that was supposed to be down for the count trotted her hefty, happy butt through the neighborhood. Bella enjoyed the freedom, smiling at everything and everyone, especially the nice nice lady who saw a happy trotting beagle wandering around the neighborhood and pulled her car over to see what was going on. Bella smiled at the nice nice lady and of course Bella wasn't wearing her collar that day, so the nice nice lady took Bella home, and slipped a spare collar and leash on her, and started walking Bella's hefty happy butt up and down the street to find her owner, which is how Bella's mom, frantic and sick and more than a little pissed at housepainters finally caught up with her.

And that's how Bella met the actress and nice nice lady Shannon Elizabeth.

Because that's how Bella rolled, see? When Bella went on adventures, she went on adventures HARD. Her smiles attracted FAMOUS PEOPLE. Didn't matter that she wasn't feeling good.

Maybe it was that adventure and rubbing shoulders with Hollywood actresses, but Bella rebounded and sailed through Christmas. So her mom thought it would be all right to take a 10 day cruise to Antarctica at the end of January, because why not, she nabbed the deal on Black Friday, and Antarctica was on her bucket list. And Bella's dad, the hospital pediatrician would be here should anything go wrong.

Bella started not wanting to eat a day or two before her mom's trip. They asked if I could help out, and of course I said sure. I'd stop by on my lunch hours, or after work, and would feed Bella the version of doggie Ensure, one of those caloric packed drinks that they give cancer patients. My dad was given those and didn't like them, so I didn't blame Bella one bit for not wanting to eat. But we had to get the stuff in her somehow, so her dad started bringing home hypodermic plungers, which I'd load up with doggie Ensure, and aim for the back of Bella's throat. Bella hated it, and I wasn't thrilled with force feeding one of my favorite pups, but we got a fairly good routine going, and made it through the 10 days until her mom came back. Which was really the most important thing.

Bella passed last Friday. Peacefully. In the backyard in her bed and blankets under a magnolia tree. As her mom wrote me later, she had made the fateful appointment with the vet for 12:30pm, but Bella passed around 10:30am.

Because that's how Bella rolled, see. She did things her way. Smiling the entire time.

I'm really sad, but I'm also really happy that she's not in pain anymore. And I'm positive that she's romping around in heaven, chasing squirrels and rolling in green fields and delighting God with her smiles and wagging tails.

I've heard a lot of conversations about how when we die, we get the perfect version of our bodies in heaven, the way that God intended us to be, before our base desires and/or lack of discipline took over.

I dunno if it's true for dogs, but if it is, I have no doubt that Bella is just as chubby zooming around in heaven as she was here on earth. Because she owned everything about herself. Her adventurous ways, her smiles, her bumps, and her magnificent canine Botticelli physique.

This is my favorite picture of her.  I love her lots. I'll miss her forever.

And her real name was Abby.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Animals In The Bible #6 – The Revelation Gang!

Hey everybody! Here we are, at the end of our Animals In The Bible series. And what better way to say bye bye then with horses of different deadly colors, lions, bears but NO! Not a single tiger in here! DAMMIT IT ALL!

So context! The apostle John is writing this book somewhere around 95 C.E. while in exile on the island of Patmos. The emperor in Rome is named Domitian, and he's at the start of his bloody reign of persecuting Christians. Because everything John writes down and sends out is being scrutinized by Roman guards, he uses symbolic imagery and metaphors that his audience would understand when writing the book of Revelation, but that his guards would read and think, “Yo, this guy is off his rocker.”

The message of Revelation is ultimately – God wins. Ya-wooooo!

So let's start talking about the Revelation critters! There's a bunch of them!

Revelation opens and we get through the letters to the seven churches (Revelation 1 – 3, to sum up: good job Philadelphia!)

Then we get to Chapter 4:

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a LION the second was like an OX, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying EAGLE. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

 I dare you not to think about this image the next time you sing “Holy holy holy, merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed trinity.” (thank you Brick Testament!)

Chapter 5 gives us one of the Bible's favorite Animal As Metaphor for Jesus – The LAMB! He's already slain and everything and he's got “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

The Lamb opens the first four seals of The Seven Seals and unleashes the Four Horsemen, who are appropriately on Horses. White Horse = War, Red Horse = Bloodshed, Black Horse = Famine, Pale horse = Death.

(No, I don't know why Pale horse = Death and not Black Horse. Colors are weird in the Bible.)
But never mind that, the Lamb opens the rest of the seals, which unleashes martyrs, earthquakes, bloody suns, falling stars, etc. etc. etc.

But we're not done yet, we've got seven angels with seven trumpets. And they unleash hail and fire mixed with blood, a third of the earth is burned up, a third of the sea turned into blood, and the Wormwood star fell into a third of the rivers on earth and poisoned them, amongst other horrible things.

BUT WE'RE LOOKING FOR ANIMALS! There's a talking eagle in Ch. 8:13, and he's saying “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” This meaning “if you thought the first four angels were bad, hold on to your hats, shit's about to go DOOOOOWN!”

Were you thinking insects? Why NOT!? I got locusts for ya! They show up in Chapter 9, when the fifth angel blows his trumpet. But these are Super Locusts, because they've got “powers like that of scorpions of earth.” (Ch. 9:3) One wonders why Scorpions didn't just elbow the Locusts out of the way and say, “Yo, I got this.” but it's hard to argue with an angel and a trumpet.

Chapter 10 – 13 gets pretty fantastical, with its dragons and beasts like in Chapter 13:
And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.” (Revelation 13:1-2)

I wonder what that looks like. Oh! Brick Testament knows!

But if you're looking for some animals to ground you, you gotta go to Chapter 16:13:

“13 Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.”

Frogs! Wheeee!

Perhaps you were looking for your fair feathered friends?

Chapter 19:17 - "And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18: so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

Maybe you're not so much anymore?

That's the thing, isn't it? There's a whole slew of animals in Revelation, but 9 times out of 10, they're doing apocalyptic things, or they're used as metaphors to do bad things (not bothering with Ch. 22:15, where man's best friend the dog, is used as metaphor to describe wicked ones outside the New Jerusalem.)

Animals in and of themselves aren't bad. It's just a matter of the particular prism you wield on your vision to look at them.

I guess you might say the same thing about the Bible itself. Maybe.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Animals In The Bible #5 - Fish (and Fish-Like Creatures)

Fish! Fish, fish, fishes! Fishies are everywhere in the Bible, from the 150 days that they literally ruled the world because there was no land (Genesis 7:24), to metaphors and parables and netloads of fish in the Gospels, fish swim all through the OT and NT, probably because they were a major food group for Biblical times. Some notable fish stories include:


In Job 40:2, God is admonishing Job - "“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” And even though Job essentially says, "I can't, I'm not worthy," God's not letting him get off so easily and says, " “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me." (Job 40:7)

Thus God sets off on a longish rant that boils down to, "I did this, I made this, can you do that? No? All right then, shut up." (Nicer than that.)

In his rant, God talks about how His arm is longish, His voice is thunderous, his wrath is wrath-i-ness, and He made a lot of cool stuff including a Behemoth, which could be a hippopotamus, a dinosaur, or a crocodile, but is definitely a land monster because starting in Job 41, God talks about the Leviathan, the sea creature counterpart.

God (or whoever wrote Job) is quite taken with the Leviathan, because He goes on for a FULL 34 VERSES describing the thing. It's got a "graceful form" (v12), a "double coat of armour" (v13) "snorts flashes of light" (v18), "its chest is as hard as a rock" (v24), "its undersides as jagged potsherds,"(v30). God kinda like this sea serpent he made, but no mention of what He thought of the movie 

Great Fish (That Is Not A Whale.) 

Yep, Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, as your Sunday School lessons would have you believe, but he was swallowed by a "great fish" (Jonah 1:17), and stayed inside that fish for three days and three nights.

Though it's tempting to imagine what it was like for the Biblical precursor of Pinocchio, let's consider it from the Great Fish's POV.

Great Fish - Hi, God. It's me, the Great Fish. I did what You wanted me to and I swallowed this guy Jonah. Now what? 

God - You have done well, good and faithful Great Fish. Just hang out for a bit. 

Great Fish - Cool beans. Need me to swallow anyone else?

God - Not right now. 

Great Fish - Kay. Hey, can I eat that school of plankton over there?

God - Uh... sure. Go for it. 

Great Fish - Thanks!

(Second Day)

Great Fish - Hey, God?

God - Hmmmm? 

Great Fish - the dude You wanted me to swallow, he's, um, praying.

God - Yes, I know. He was praying to Me, actually. I was listening to him. 

Great Fish - It's a little uncomfy. 'Cause it's an echo chamber in my belly, and all the "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer ode to you, to your holy temple," (Ch. 2:7), it's just bouncing off the walls over and over and over again. It's the meal that keeps me remembering, you know what I'm saying?

God - Just hang on, Jonah's not quite done learning stuff yet.

Great Fish - Learning, awesome, great, listen. Could he maybe learn somewhere that doesn't involve my gastrointestinal system?

God - Just hang on. 

(Third Day)

God - Hey, Great Fish. 

Great Fish - Hmmm? What? Sorry, I'm really miserable, this tummy ache You're making me carry is not cool at all.

God - I know, I know. Good news, he's coming out. Today. Right now. 

Great Fish - Really? Fantastic, but um, um, um, how?

God - Check it out. 

(God punches Great Fish in the tummy. Great Fish vomits Jonah out.)

Great Fish - That, that, that, was... a really gross way to do that, man.

God - Not as gross as if he went out the other way. 

Great Fish - .... uh, wow. Wow. You really do know everything, don't You. 

God. - Yep. As advertised. 

Multiplying New Testament Fish 

Jesus employs a ton of fish in the Gospels.

In the popular Feeding Of The Multitudes, these are actually two separate miracles.

The first one is Jesus feeding the 5,000. (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15.) Here, Jesus takes five loaves and two fishes, feeds 5,000 people and has twelve basketfuls left over.

The second miracle is Jesus feeding the 4,000 (but really, what's a few more people, give or take a thousand). This one appears in Mark 8:1-9 and Matthew 15:32-39 , and it's seven loaves, "a few small fish", 4,000 people and seven basketfuls left over.

Jesus liked to make his points using fish. He called the first disciples - fishermen Simon Peter and Andrew - to come follow him and be his disciples, saying, "I will make you fishers of men," (Matthew 4:18-19; Mark 1:16-17; Luke 5:10) I like to think he did this because Jesus knew having fishermen as your best buds meant you'd be able to catch dinner most places.

And if you read further in Luke 5, you see that Jesus instructs Simon Peter where (deep water) to catch a giant load of fish (Luke 5:4-11)

John 21:1-11 mentions another great catch of fish as directed by Jesus, this time by using the all important trick of throwing your nets on the other side of the boat.  

Jesus used a fish to pay the temple tax in Matthew 17:27, but perhaps my favorite use of a fish in all the bible is the one Jesus eats in Luke 24:42.

This is after Jesus has been crucified and resurrected, and it's the first time he's appeared to the disciples (and in a lovely bit of irony, Jesus has shown himself first to a group of women, and then to two total strangers on the road to Emmaus before he showed himself to the guys who've been following him (and fishing for him) for three years).

Jesus greets the disciples, and they think he's a ghost, because... well, I dunno why. You followed this guy for three years, he told you he was the Son Of God, you saw him do miracles and when he shows up after you saw him crucified you think... MUST BE A GHOST! I'VE COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING HE SAID! OOPSIE!

So to prove to his buddies that he's indeed alive (or alive-ish), Jesus eats... a broiled fish. It's broiled, not grilled, not fried. Most likely seasoned with salt, maybe pepper. Delicious stuff, really. :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Animals In The Bible #4 - Donkeys!

Donkeys! We got donkeys all up in here! I am going to be nice and good and not call them asses, even though that is an official name for donkeys, as in Equus africanus asinus. Nope, because this post could get all full of asses, and then we're suddenly showing up in naughty search engines, and then I go to hell.

So! Donkeys it is. Donkeys have been around forever, and in Biblical times,were all around Egypt, and a bunch of them accompanied the Israelites when they got away from Pharaoh and wandered around the dessert for 40 years. 

The most obvious role for donkeys would be transportation, as those little hoofers are quite tenacious. But they're also considered property and Exodus has a slew of rules about donkeys and what you should and should not do with them. Most of it is common sense - if you find your neighbor's lost donkey, take it back to them, help your enemy's fallen donkey, and make sure your donkey gets to rest on the Sabbath, just like you do. (Exodus 23) Deuteronomy 22:10 commands us "Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together." What was simple agricultural sense (different leg lengths means a wobbly plow, different temperaments and diets means ornery animals) takes a different tone when 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us not to be yoked with unbelievers, all because they happen to use the same word "yoked."

 It was a pack of lost donkeys that brought Saul to meet prophet Samuel so Samuel could tell Saul that God had chosen Saul to rule over his people in 1 Samuel 9 and 10. Saul's reign didn't end so well, but hey, the donkeys were found quite quickly.

Samson struck down 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. How? Well, just take a peek at this clip from 1949's Samson and Delilah. It's not exactly 1,000 men, and Samson uses a few things more in addition to a donkey's jawbone. But consider it artistic license (and the donkey jawbone slaying starts around 2:16)

 I've already mentioned Balaam's talking donkey before.

In the New Testament, Luke does not specifically mention that pregnant Mary rode a donkey when she traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem to be counted in the Census, but really to give birth to Jesus in a manger (Luke 2:1-7). However, can a billion Christmas Nativity mangers be wrong?

But it is mentioned in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12 that Jesus rode a donkey (or a colt, the foal of a donkey) into Jerusalem on the last week of his life.

 This fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 that the Messiah will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. So it's the workhorse donkey, not a champion stallion, that escorts Christ to his destiny.

(I'm not even going to mention Ezekiel 23:20, where the prophet talks about Jerusalem as a metaphor for a prostitute named Oholibah, who "lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses." GROSS GROSS GROSS. Who knew the Bible could be that gross? Yuck, yuck, yuck, we're going on those naughty search engines now for sure. Sheesh.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Animals In The Bible #3 - All Star Edition - The 10 Plagues


Tonight’s blog entry has coloring pages!  Wheeeeee!  Coloring pages!  The fact that they’re about the Ten Plagues is…. well…. actually very disturbing.

I tried to check to make sure I wasn’t violating any copyright issues by using these images.  If you happen to be the owner of these images and don’t want them used, please contact me and I will happily take it down.  I will also ask you why you created coloring pages of the 10 Plagues, because that seems very very creepy to give to a kid to color in Sunday School.  But I would love to be educated on this issue, maybe there’s something I’m just not seeing, some educational benefit in coloring pictures of dead cattle.


We’re in OT times again!  (Someday, I will do a Bible Series about strictly NT stuff.  I promise I will.  As soon as I can figure out what an awesome series would be. Taking suggestions on that one.)

The 10 Plagues are located (in Egypt) in Exodus, Chapter 7 - 12).  Our major players include:

Moses - slave baby in the Nile rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, killed a Egyptian beating a Hebrew, ran away, Burning Bush, received call from God to go with brother Aaron to tell Pharaoh to Let My People (The Israelites) Go.

Aaron - I’m the brother and I got a masters in Elocution.

Pharaoh - I’m a Jerk.  And King.

Pharaoh’s Magicians - We Do Cool Stuff.

God - Dude, I’m God.  If you don’t know Me by now, well, hold on to your hats.

Animals In The Plagues - C’mon, get to us already! We wanna break stuff!

So!  The basic storyline is that God has sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to ask for the Israelites’ freedom.  Pharaoh says no way, they’re my chief labor supply, and my temples aren’t going to build themselves.

(This blog entry is not about the classic debate of Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart.  Because it can be interpreted a bunch of different ways, and there’s no clear answer, just your projections that you cast on the situations.  But I can guarantee you, no matter what side you land on, you will always hear this song in your head: )

So when Pharaoh says No, everyone else says WHOA, because through Aaron and Moses, God unleashes the Ten Plagues!  Let’s say hello to…

Plague #1 - The Plague Of Blood - where the Nile River turns into blood. (Exodus 7:14-24) The fish died, and stank up the joint and thus starts an interesting animal chain reaction:

Plague #2 - The Plague of Frogs (Ch. 8: 1 - 15) With the water red, and the fish dead, the frogs say, hey, I’m outta here.  They hop out of the river and infest the city and are apparently cheerful about it, if you're believing this coloring page:

The best part is when Moses asked for God to take the frogs away, the frogs simply died where they were, meaning Dead Frog piles everywhere.  BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR REQUESTS, PEOPLE.  Don’t just say, “Take away the frogs.”  Say, “Take the Frogs Away And Their Frog Bodies, Too!” And since there are no more frogs, in marches….

Plague #3 - The Plague of Gnats (Ch.8: 16 - 19) Can you help this poor gnat?  He can't find his brothers so they can go plague the people of Egypt:

Without any frogs to eat them up, gnats consume Egypt.  This starts the Plagues That Pharaoh’s Magicians Can’t Duplicate.  Which kinda makes you wonder how they pulled off the whole ‘It’s a FROG” thing.  Not that Pharaoh cares, he still says nope, which opens the door to…

Plague #4 - The Plague of Flies (Ch. 8: 20 - 32) Flies?  We just had gnats, now flies?  Kinda similar, don’tcha think?  Didn’t you wanna move on to something bigger?  Like maybe…

Plague #5 - Plague on Livestock (Ch. 9: 1 - 7)  (cut to Pharaoh’s livestock saying, “Thanks a lot!”)

Here's your coloring page on dead cattle!  I know you were waiting for it!

Israel’s livestock isn’t harmed, but they’re too busy toiling under the sun to snicker about it.

Plague #6 - The Plague of Boils. (Ch. 9: 8 - 12) and Plague #7 The Plague of Hail (Ch. 9 13 - 35)  don’t have any animals in them (and are kinda gross)

Plague #8 - The Plague of Locusts (Ch. 10: 1 - 20) - and if you’re like me and wondering “Gnats, flies, locusts, does it really matter?” The answer is… sorta.  Gnats and flies got into everywhere, but the locusts are the one who do the eating.  If someone had a gun to your head and said Pick A Plague, you’re best off picking gnats.  I feel like you could step on gnats easier than try to brush away flies. And locusts are just bad news all over. It should be noted, though, that when Moses prayed to God to take the locusts away, God sent “a very strong west wind which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea.  Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt.” (Ch10:19) So somebody was learning the ways of the Almighty Clean Up Crew.

Plague #9 - The Plague of Darkness (Ch. 10: 21-29) and Plague #10 - The Plague on the Firstborn (Ch. 11: 1 - 9) get us out of the section (and again, so so sad, why is there a coloring page on this?  Better yet, why is there a Pharaoh Mouse mourning his dead mouse firstborn?!)

The Israelites finally get out of Egypt, into the dessert, where they get lost and wander around for 40 years.  Had to be better than locusts, though.  Just has to be.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Christmas and Starbucks Gift Cards

So I’m really sorry about that lapse in blog posting. I blame the holidays.  You should too.  Anything you didn’t get done in the month of December, just blame the silly season.

And I barely got any writing at all done over the holidays, which is highly unlike me.  I was Chief Wrangler of my Mother Who Used To Be The Phone Harpy But Now Is Chief Check Twice Do I Have Everything?  All of the time I could’ve been writing was spent reassuring Mom that yes, she has everything, the hotel key is in her wallet, her wallet is in her purse, the bag is in the car, the camera is in the bag, and my mind is quickly going to pieces (but I think hers went first).

But there was one thing I wanted to share with everyone, in the midst of the Soon To Be Resumed Animals Of The Bible blog series (because I KNOW you guys are waiting on pins and needles for that one to be resumed, amiright?)

But at the start of the holiday, and facing down the unruly and drop dead depressing wilds of LAX, I hit upon what I thought would be a great idea – I got a set of $5 Starbucks Gift Cards, and decided I would pass them out to the people working at the airport, since that has got to be the ultimate worst – working any part of LAX during the Christmas season.

So maybe handing someone a $5 gift card to make their day a little better would help, right?  Maybe? 

But people, do you realize how hard it is to give a gift to someone when they’re not expecting it?

All throughout the holiday, everyone I tried to give a gift card to looked at me like I had three heads. Like why are you giving this to me?  “Merry Christmas, have a Starbucks on me!”  I chirp to the Delta ticket agent, to the toll booth workers on Orlando toll roads, to the MCO ticket agent.  All of them look damn confused.  What’s confusing about a Starbucks gift card?  What’s confusing about Merry Christmas?

But I get it.  One time when we were rolling up to the toll booth, the worker tells us, “The guy before you paid for you.”  “What?  Why?”  I didn’t know the guy.  So the idea that a stranger did something nice for me didn’t make sense.

But I quickly paid it forward by giving the toll worker one of the gift cards (though upon reflection, I should’ve paid the toll for the person behind me.  Ah, hell.  Botched opportunity.  I’m going to hell now.)

But at least the toll workers smiled and said thanks.  The people at the airport were just confused.  I dunno, maybe I was interrupting their flow.  They were expecting luggage, not lattes.  So concentrated on continuing the flow of people, they couldn’t understand.

Man, working at an airport must really really suck if you can’t immediately recognize a Starbucks gift card.  Oh well.  There’s always next year.  Hell, there’s always Valentine’s Day!  I’ll just run right down to LAX on Valentine’s Day and hand out roses like some Bachelor reject.

Nah.  Coffee is always better.  Methinks. :)