The B-I-B-L-E

“Blessed are the Christians who challenge The Bible Series in its Biblical correctness yet be the same ones who sing scripturally incorrect gospel and worship songs.” –Sue Duffield

 

bible memesWe watched The Bible five Sundays in a row. Our church, like many, made it an event. We had in-home viewing parties, our pastor tied it in with his sermons, and we Facebook’d it like the Oscars or something.

Basically, Christians who also happen to be fans or followers of pop culture get Excited when Christian-based entertainment is offered that is not cheesy, cheap, or that panders. It is rare.

I grew up watching the 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and the classic Ten Commandments. In my little world, those were the gold standards of Biblical representation on film, and both have stood pretty well against the test of time. Then in 2005, Mel Gibson gave us the phenomenal The Passion of the Christ. That movie was so challenging to watch, so raw and beautiful all at once, but alas, it showed only a portion of Christ’s life and a sliver of the whole Bible. I know I am one of many who wanted more.

jesus

The Bible miniseries is extra culturally-relevant because of the explosion of social media that has occurred since those other films were made. And from the night the very first segment aired, the debates began:

 

 

  • Why didn’t ‘they’ show Joseph’s coat of many colors, or Elijah and Elisha, or Ruth and Naomi, or _____ (other favorite Bible story)
  • Why are there LIQUOR commercials?! My eyes! My eyes!
  • Why is Jesus so good looking (/smoking hot/etc)? {Really, people? He is the King of Kings…why not?}
  • So and so did not say that at such and such a time. What gives, Touched-By-An-Angel Lady? You are going to mislead millions of people! (I especially enjoy this article… and pose to this author: Any of these ‘kingdom’ issues? Does it really matter if King Saul was peeing or pooping in the cave? REALLY?!)

I think it is safe to say that many, many Christian viewers missed the point.

And that got me thinking: maybe this series wasn’t for us.

I mean, if “we” are such experts on what the absolute correct details of the whole Bible are, and the order of importance of each, we don’t need to see a series.

And if “we” are so sensitive to what we watch that a Jim Beam commercial is going to send us straight off our holy high horses on to a bender, then by all means, we should avert our eyes. {I’m not talking about people who struggle with alcohol here, either… I’m talking about the pious}

I choose, rather, to participate in the dialogue. I don’t know “who” outside my circle was watching The Bible. But I do know that between 11 and 14 million people were watching it for 5 straight weeks. And what did they see?

– God made us
– we are flawed
– God loves us anyway
– God gives us amazing things, like children when we are infertile, strength to slay giants, protection from fires and floods and hungry lions, and second chances. And third chances. And many more chances…
– God came to Earth in the form of a man, His son Jesus.
– Jesus served humbly, loved politically-incorrectly, ministered supernaturally, sacrificed completely, died painfully, resurrected miraculously, and ascended to Heaven after leaving us a Spirit to comfort and empower us.
– The Spirit of God visited the followers of Jesus after His ascension, showed off by causing them to speak in different languages, and gave them power to Do His Work.
– God continued to speak with, inspire, and enable His followers to preach the good news and live in service to Him.

I saw someone today call the last two hours of The Bible a “weak and almost unidentifiable Gospel presentation.” I am not sure what he was watching. In particular, the representation of the “Upper Room Experience” (the different tongues, from Acts 2) was surprisingly 1) not offensive, 2) cooler than even I imagined it, 3) fairly self-explanatory.

In my own opinion, majoring on the minors is the tragic flaw of the mainstream Christian churchgoer. Literally *millions* of people saw The Bible series and heard the gospel. As a result, they might accept it, reject, research it, argue it, love it, balk at it, understand it better, care about it more, debate it, or pass it on. But chances are, they will not forget it…because when God sends out His Word, we are unable to ignore it.

Regardless of what details went askew (and I am willing to bet most of the quibbles are based on denominational theologies, but that’s just a guess, and that’s a whole other post…), 14 million people saw and heard that God created us, Jesus loves us, and that He is the way, not to mention that He calls, equips, heals, and walks with us still today. I’m feeling pretty excited about 14 million people hearing that! That they saw it with modern special effects and attractive actors is a method, not a new gospel.

Today, I visited my favorite entertainment website and saw they had finally paid attention to the series (and will mention here that it was the back page ad of their weekly mag a few weeks ago – prime real estate):

EW on The Bible ratings

Along with this, celebrities Tweeted their congrats to the producers… some of the same celebs who showed very little regard for Mel Gibson’s work in 2005. Columnists from a variety of outlets are reporting on a hunger for ‘religious entertainment’ and a new interest in Bible stories. A game app has been developed, and there are already talks of spin-off that will focus on Jesus. Maybe it will all end up a twisted mess, or maybe, these pieces will continue to break barriers and speak to people who won’t, just won’t, pick up a Bible or go to a Bible study.

Let’s at least agree that turning their eyes toward Jesus is a good thing…

The Bible – the book, not the miniseries, is available to read for free at many places on the internet. Check out YouVersion or Bible Gateway.

Coming Thursday: “The Top 10 Details That May or May Not Have Been Completely, Documentary-Level Accurate But That I Totally Loved About The Bible Miniseries.

 

 

Just as I am, established by grace

Ten years and one day ago, I was an adulteress and a fornicator. Those were the correct terms according to the Bible. I had been in love with a man for nearly five years, who up until 6 months prior, was still married. And not only that, but I acted on my love for him. I lied to everyone I knew, including myself. I rebelled against Biblical teachings that I knew to be true. I moved in with him shortly after his divorce. And all the while, I yearned for forgiveness, grace, and a second chance.

On March 28, 2003, I was given one. The worship pastor of our then-church was given permission by the senior pastor (who didn’t feel he could do it himself), to perform a simple matrimonial ceremony in the church conference room. My parents were there, along with Rod’s children and two special friends who had “been there.” Our marriage was made holy in the eyes of the Lord that day, which is all that should matter.

Our adultery, our mistakes and failures, will never be “right.” They will never be justified. They have been forgiven… by God, by Rod’s first wife, by his children, and by many of the people hurt as a result. But that will never make those decisions and actions “Ok.” I don’t condone them, stand by them, or recommend them.  But somehow, nor do I regret our relationship.

How can I?~

theburtons_grace

There were many, many “believers” who extended grace to us right from the beginning. And there were many who only did after years. And there are some who still have not. And there are some who went to their graves without doing so. Ten years, two babies, and a whole lot of life and learning later, *I* am still learning to extend grace to those who did not have it for us. I have even had to smack myself down for not having IMMEDIATE grace for people who have gotten themselves into a situation similar to ours.

Good thing I don’t have to be God. His grace is without hesitation or condition. It is there because He loves us, and there every time we seek it. Please understand: I know I do not deserve the life I have. I do not deserve God’s grace. I do not deserve to have been embraced first by a community of ministers and then by the staff of a local church, getting mentored by pastors to become one myself. And though I did not wake up one day and decide, “I am going to love a married man with little kids and hopefully inspire him to move ahead with a divorce!,” the ugly things people called me were at one time very accurate labels. And yet…

There is no explanation why God has blessed a formerly adulterous couple with an amazing life and beautiful family and opportunities to minister to others, except that He loves us. He loves us as much as He loves the one who has never committed a sexual sin. He loves us as much as He loves the pastors and church leaders who have to make very difficult decisions when it comes to dealing with complicated relationships. He loves all of us who are still learning just how far His grace will go.

just as i amI have seen a lot of words thrown around lately about what grace is, what marriage is, who we should love, and what we should hate. I generally steer clear of the marriage debate, because God knows in conventional eyes, my marriage is not a traditional one. I know what the Bible says, and I have seen God move in miraculous ways, so it is my conviction to choose my words and my battles carefully. The fact is, we don’t, won’t, cannot know exactly how God’s grace works. In my adult life, since ‘getting right with God,’ I have fancied myself a bit of a Grace Hippie, and yet, I am learning things now (from my pastor, with my pastor & my church), that are blowing my mind about God’s grace… as my friend Kenny has said, His grace is crazy! That isn’t a liberal or new age notion; it’s older than the songs in our hymnals, if we still have those! That is God’s love stripped down and set free from the interference of religion, the misinterpretations of the misguided, and the agendas of the self-righteous. That is God’s love saying that not just the fallen and publicly redeemed Davids and Sarahs and Pauls will be with us in Heaven, but maybe the Delilah, the Lot’s Wife, the Judas – those hopelessly weak, distracted, sick, and used – will be as well.

God created us, He knows our flaws, and He sees our souls. If we struggle and fall, if we are confused and make a mistake, and if we are ignorant and think we *are* living the right way, I believe He is merciful! Furthermore, if it turns out that God’s grace is BIGGER & BETTER than what we have all been taught all our lives, and because of that more people will be in Heaven…isn’t that a GOOD thing?

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4

I know the Bible also says we must reach out to Christ in faith and turn from sin. Along with that, it tells me to grow in grace…to administer grace to others… to set my hopes on grace. We are not all equipped exactly in the same way and at the same time to do those things. Of course, we need a Savior, whose grace, another old song tells us, is greater than all our sin.

I do not have all the answers. I do simply pray that everything in my life, my words, my relationships, and my marriage, point people to the love of Jesus. HIS LOVE empowers us to overcome any sin, obstacle, and failure.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18

plenty to love

Yesterday, my Facebook was filled with all kinds of red squares to express opinions on love. I have a lot I could say about it, but I try to sum it up simply. Does it address all the political questions and intellectual details? Nope. But it speaks my heart.

GodI Is Love

Yesterday, my heart swelled with love as the life of my friend’s 13 year old son hung in the balance, and the tide gradually shifted from terrifying to hopeful… and as another friend said goodbye to her sweet mama.

Yesterday, I started taking the time that I always try to during this holy week to reflect on the true greatest love of all. If we model our love after His – laying down our lives for our friends – we can’t go wrong (John 15:13).

~
Here are some other things I’m loving right now:

love-ulta

love-trees

love-shoes

love-fort

love-baking

love_faces

~

happy Wednesday! What are you loving today?

the village it takes

In this past week, I have come to newly appreciate some of the existing friendships in my life. First of all, there are a handful of special people with whom I have somehow grown closer since we moved away. How is that possible? I give some credit to the constant touchstone of technology, for allowing us to share instantaneous photos & videos, random texted moments, and any-time-of-day deep thoughts. Hallelujah for these people.

And then, just when I give up on making new friends or deepening friendships (I know it’s stupid, but we all have our stupid places where we go), God surprises me with crazy-enlightening conversations, surprising encounters, and total familiarity with brand new people.

I love it all. I love you, ‘my people.’

And I guess there is no better time than an anniversary weekend to count some blessings…

It took a team of 4 sets of babysitters to allow us to get away for 2 nights, not counting the 2 sets who would have if Randa had not been diagnosed with the flu the day before I left (to meet Rod, who was already in Columbia waiting for me, as we’d planned back in December. Ah…plans…).

I often miss and lament the presence of my parents in our geographical lives. This weekend, I was blessed with the older siblings, the surrogate grandma, the surrogate auntie…we are so blessed.

usSo shout-out to Paige, Josh, Kirsten, Sue, Rebekah, Tanja, and Katnetra for loving our littles enough to babysit them (or volunteer to until Randa got the Bug)…so I could be with my favorite person in the world. Thanks for not only administering medicine and cheese and sugar, but sending us pictures of the smiles you put on Randa & KK’s faces!

During our weekend away, we enjoyed seeing Les Mis for the 6th time together (and my 8th overall) at Columbia’s Koger Center For the Performing Arts. Please do not get me started on the scrawny (but well-voiced) Valjean, or the obstructed view (a letter is being written). Anyway, it was fun watching Paige see it on stage for the first time, and hearing one of the best written lines ever never gets old (wait until the end).

On Saturday, we did a glorious bunch of nothing most of the day. I will only disclose that both Superman and Superman II were on the hotel’s HBO, and Christopher Reeve’s earnest but pretty terrible acting and sweet, little curl do stand the test of time.

Oh, and Ruth’s Chris still has the best steaks anywhere!

I will wax sentimental and sappy all week long about our “first” 10th anniversary (Annual disclaimer for new friends and readers: we were married in March 2003 and had our big wedding in August 2003, and we celebrate both because we love celebrating!) I often joke that no one makes me laugh like *I* do, but no one gives me joy like he does! He, as well as this family he gave me, gives life to my favorite line penned by Victor Hugo, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Amen.

PS: If you care about bloggy sorts of things, I have finally updated my “about me” page. A good time was had by all.

 

some positive, encouraging K-love

Paige asked me for a post. I have so much to say about so many things, because life is being lived fully right now, but I haven’t had time to write. The short update is that Rod is doing better. He is adjusting well to gluten-free eating, putting on a little much-needed weight, and hopefully building up nutrition before his next assessments in early May. I am doing fine with gluten-free eating as well, except the weight is not coming off like I hoped. So, Jesus help me, I am cutting out sugar as much as I can. I even drank a cup of coffee without it today. We used some free minutes tonight to go for a walk, and a friend of mine has inspired me to let my kitchen cleaning wait until the afternoon (what?!) so I can walk in the mornings. I need to.

We are working through a situation with our house in Chicago that hopefully means it will be not-ours soon, preparing for kindergarten registration (KK…it’s a whole other blog), Easter, and our 10th anniversary. We spent the last weekend tied up with Rod as Willie for 2 benefit concerts, and the last 3 weeks working on a new ministry through church (I can’t wait to write more about that)!

And the pollen…holy cow! It needs to be gone. Anyway, that is the surface version of goings on. The rest I cannot summarize now, but I give this feeble attempt at my emotional reaction to so many things around us…

candleBlessed are the friends~

who love up close and those who love from afar.
who love in bold declarations and those who love in quiet prayers.
who love in daily text messages and those who love in annual visits.
who love in tough honesty and those who love in flowery greeting cards.

Blessed are the friends~
who show up at the hospital and those who wish they could.
who bring gluten free snacks or cheese for your chili or their empty stomach to your refrigerator.
who love your children and your parents.
who joke about your failures and celebrate your victories.
who don’t want you to change your 708 phone number even though they have no idea what it is.
who share recipes, request recipes, and alter recipes.
who remember your important details and signature stories.

Blessed are the friends~IMG_1321
you’ve known since grade school
you haven’t seen since high school
you have never met in person
you are just now finally getting to know.

Blessed are the friends~
who give what you need
and who receive what you give.

Blessed are the friends
who love backstage, when you need the encouragement,
who love in the spotlight, because we learn from them,
who love all the time… who are needed, and treasured, more than words can say.
~
The more experiences I have, the more clearly I see the incredible variety of friends and relationships that bless my life. There are people across the states, in both my Illinois and South Carolina homes, in my various stomping grounds, even simply on this blog space. I’m behind in keeping in touch and even answering messages, but know that you are appreciated, and that your words and your continued presence in our lives, matter.