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There are untouchables.  People and people groups that are above reproach.  No matter what happens, we can never call these groups to account for what they have done. 

The Jewish people have often been persecuted.  The holocaust and genocide are concepts linked in the minds of the people of earth.  The holocaust was a genocide.  Genocides are like the holocaust.  Most people accept that the holocaust happened, and the majority of people would say that it was a bad thing in the history of the world. 

The Jewish people were persecuted and murdered by the Roman Empire around the first century.  They were taken captive by the Babylonians.  They became a nation as slaves in Egypt.  Somehow, they have managed to survive 4+ millenia of persecution and found themselves once again facing destruction at the hands of yet another empire during the 30’s and 40’s. 

In a sense, the Jewish people have become untouchable.  They are above reproach.  I know that I was taught to believe that the Jews were God’s chosen people and as such they must be revered and protected.  They must have a homeland, they’ve been blessed by God and to position yourself against the actions of Israel is to position yourself against God and his works. 

The older I grow, the more willing I am to admit that I am a person who is full of contradictions.  I am a person who has changed my mind, and will likely continue to change my mind.  You could argue that I am a rudderless ship, or a blind person stumbling in the darkness. 

Do I believe that the Jewish people were chosen by God and exist today because of his protection?  Yes. 

Do I believe that the favor of God means you are above reproach?  No. 

The Bible speaks of David the son of Jesse as being a man after God’s own heart.  David.  The little shepherd who was left behind when his brothers went to war.  David.  Who slew the giant Goliath when all others feared to even try.  David.  The musician who’s skilled playing calmed the king of Israel during fits of rage.  David.  The boy who married the daughter of the king of Israel for a bloody price.  David.  The same boy who grew up to become the future king’s best friend.  David. Who mourned the death of the king that had called for his death, and the death of his son.  David.  Who became the 2nd king of Israel.    

David lead the people of Israel successfully for many years.  He encouraged them to worship God.  His heart’s desire was to see a home built for his people, and for his God.  He bemoaned living in a palace while his God was still in the tent built for him as they crossed the wilderness into the promised land.  David the king was still a man after God’s own heart.  David the king clearly had the favor of God, and was loved by many.  

King David was so loved, that the strong men of Israel, instead of setting themselves against him and his efforts to be king, instead fell under his will, and were known as David’s mighty men.  Those men who could have been squabbling or battling to take their place as leader of the kingdom instead humbled themselves to be servants of the king. 

King David was a man who had it all, and had the blessing of God on his life.  He had wives, children, money, property, and faithful servants.  Who could deny him what he wanted?  A king is untouchable.  His rule is law.  Anything goes and don’t you dare stand in the king’s way or you will feel the weight of the kingdom brought against you.

The day came when all that David had was not enough.  He was not satisfied.  He took the wife of one of his mighty men, slept with her, and then murdered her husband, Uriah.  Uriah died on the battlefield, fighting for his king as the king’s commanders withdrew the men supporting Uriah. 

The king was untouchable.  What could anyone do? 

Nathan was a prophet who listened to the voice of God.  God told him that David had done wrong, and that David needed to repent.  Everything in the life of David seemed to indicate that he had God’s favor.  He was still a man after God’s own heart in the eyes of his people.  Nathan found himself speaking against the king, alone.  Nathan likely fully believed he would be killed for his message, but he knew that when he heard the voice of God, he had no choice but to speak the truth. 

The message Nathan had for David was thus. 

“And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought.
 And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him.  Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

David was furious at the rich man who, while having plenty, instead took from the poor man.  When Nathan revealed that David himself was the rich man stealing from the poor man, David’s heart broke.  He was caught.  He was in the wrong.  He sought God’s forgiveness.

The world needs Nathan’s.  The world needs people who listen to God’s voice and who are not afraid to tell even God’s chosen that they are doing wrong. 

I pray that we understand that no one is untouchable.  I pray that we understand that a past filled with righteous deeds does not negate present sin.  I pray that we open our hearts to the poor man whose children are dying, and that we stand up for them in whatever ways we can. 

Are we alone?

The stars are such a beautiful thing. Each star in and of itself is a marvel, a big ball of gas burning up there in that big, bluish-black thing, but taken together the stars are more than the sum of their parts. The universe is so big and we are so little, everyone we know and love squeezed onto this pale blue dot that is just one of an unknown number of planets in orbit around a star. Who of us haven’t been awestruck as we gaze up into the clear night sky and are swallowed by the enormity of the cosmos?

On the night I remember here, I wasn’t just awestruck, I was terrified. Our mobile home was situated east to west, my bedroom was on the east end, and I had been looking out the window from the top bunk as I waited to drift off to sleep for the night. The stars were clear and bright, and I watched as one drifted across the sky from south to north, made an abrupt 90 degree turn, fell several hundred feet, made another abrupt 90 degree turn and then continued on to the edge of what I could see from my window. It was out of sight in seconds.

That isn’t how airplanes fly, I told myself, they can’t turn that quickly or move that fast.

Surely it had to be a plane, right?

The light hadn’t been flashing like the airplanes I was used to seeing.

What was it? What could have possibly made that turn so quickly, appear to fall for hundreds of feet, and then resume course so quickly it seemed like nothing had happened?

Are we alone here? Are we alone in this universe?

Terrified, shaking, I trembled in fear until finally I fell asleep.

I don’t think I told anyone the next morning, but if I did I wasn’t believed. Slowly that moment has slipped further and further into the past, but the memory is clear to me. I saw something I can’t explain that night. Even as I think about it now, I can not explain what I saw. Satellites look like a moving star, like this did, but it would be impossible for one to make such a dramatic shift in it’s course so quickly. A falling star or meteor is discounted for the same reasons. There was no airport along the flight path that would have necessitated a landing light being turned on for an airplane, and it couldn’t make that turn. A helicopter could have flown as this did with straight angles, but at nowhere near the speed I witnessed. We live in a world that obeys the laws of physics and whatever I saw that night seemingly ignored inertia. There was no curve to it’s path. Straight, falling, then straight again in a matter of moments. Out of sight in seconds.

I’ll suspect I’ll never forget that night.

In the past few years, the United States government has been increasingly open to saying “we can’t explain this” when confronted with evidence of what are now called Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena or UAP’s for short. Whistleblowers have released stories this week of a massive conspiracy to hide the retrieval and reverse engineering of objects of non-human origin across the globe over the course of decades. With the preponderance of the internet and cameras we all carry in our pockets at all times, more and more is added to the body of evidence that seems to indicate we are not alone in this universe.

Am I telling you there is irrefutable evidence intelligent beings from another place are real? No, I am not telling you that.

What if we aren’t alone, however? How does that change what we have believed about our place in the world, in the galaxy, and in the universe?

As a Christian, I must ask myself how does this change my faith? Can faith exist in a universe with more than one home of intelligent life? Does your faith fall apart if we aren’t God’s one and only special creation?

Will you allow me to share a few thoughts that I’ve been slowly ruminating on since the night I saw the impossible?

Let me begin by saying that if there is other life out there, God is not surprised. If we truly believe in a good and loving God who is omnipotent and omnipresent, when confronted with evidence of other life in the universe, we must conclude that God not only knew about it, but created it intentionally with a purpose to fulfill. Will we understand that purpose? I’m sure we won’t understand it immediately. Will it be the same purpose as that entrusted to the human race? Maybe, but maybe not. Will there be a purpose? Yes! Will this life bear the image of God? Yes! Will it look anything like us? Probably not!

If this other life exists and God is not surprised, I would argue that he has left us instructions on how to interact with it. I think we may find a deeper level of truth in the entire Bible that we have simply not been aware of. Love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have them do to you can be deepened and broadened to include our celestial neighbors. Biblical instructions in Leviticus to treat the foreigner as you would a native born become even more meaningful in light of visitors from another world. If we are to follow the will of God, we should be prepared to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, and to heal the sick, as by doing this we are doing it unto the Lord.

Heaven help us if this be the case, but we are even to bless those who persecute us.

I have always gravitated to the verse in John 10:16 that says “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Ostensibly this verse is about Jew and Gentile, but couldn’t the Bible have a deeper current still than the one we see on the surface? In James it speaks of us Christians as a kind of firstfruits of all that God created. Are we to lead other sheep to God’s fold?

In Genesis, God promises Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars. What if God has always planned to take us to new planets so that descendants of Abraham could truly be as numerous as the stars in the sky? By mathematical predictions we estimate that there are nearly 200 billion trillion stars in the sky, and mathematical predictions suggest that only 117 billion people have lived on the earth thus far. As Roy Scheider famously said “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

I don’t say all of this to say “This is what is truth.” Instead I am simple trying to say, “There is room for this, in the truth.” The truth hasn’t changed, it won’t change, but our understanding of it will grow. Even if we have no celestial neighbors, we can certainly stretch ourselves to better love those we have here on this planet with us. Perhaps as we think of someday meeting intelligent life on or from another planet, we can learn how to love and cherish the life of this one in a way that truly honors our creator.

Perhaps tomorrow all of this hype will be revealed to have been a hoax. Perhaps someone will come out from behind a curtain somewhere and say “Gotcha!”.

Either way, I believe in a God that is big enough for either possibility.

I also know that we are not alone.

Disclaimer: All thoughts are my own, and are in no way reflective of any statements or stances of my employers, associates, or friends. I stand alone in these statements, although we may not be alone in the universe.

Cat of the Living Dead

There is a famous thought experiment known as “Schrödinger’s cat” that seems so obviously false that many people dismiss it immediately as ridiculous. The thought experiment starts with a cat trapped in an opaque box with a poison that will be released by the decay of a radioactive element. Without observation, there is no way to know if the cat is still alive because we can’t know if the poison has been released. So quantum physicists treat the cat in the experiment as both dead and alive simultaneously.

Ridiculous right? Most adults would emphatically state that a cat can not be both dead and alive at the same time. Even the person who is aware of this thought experiment understands that the cat isn’t really dead and alive, but rather that we don’t know which it is.

The real use of the thought experiment is beyond my understanding of physics, I’m just not that smart. It occurred to me, however, that I see the experiment playing out in my own life every day, and I’ll bet that it plays out in your life too.

For example, how often do you not open a text because you are afraid of what it might say? You know that it contains one of two possible messages, but rather than accept the truth of the message right away, we put off reading the text because while it remains unread, there is still hope. We fool ourselves into believing that both possibilities still exist, while in reality one of the two possibilities ceased to exist the moment the text was written.

We chose not to observe because we are afraid of reality and the consequences of it in our lives.

Suddenly this absurd thought experiment starts to reveal a deeper truth about ourselves. We are so often afraid to confront reality.

Perhaps for you this experiment is revealed in your approach to society. Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying that there “is no racism” in this country without really looking in the box to see the truth. Maybe you’ve decided that the pandemic is fake, or the election was stolen, or the election wasn’t stolen or the pandemic is very real without actually looking for yourself. While the truth remains unobserved, we have the freedom to act as if both things are true. We chose to act in line with our thoughts and feelings rather than acknowledging and accepting the truth that would be evident if we were just brave enough to look in the box.

Perhaps for you this experiment reveals itself in your relationship with the people around you. You are afraid to ask for help, because you are afraid no one will be there for you. You won’t express your emotions, because you are afraid you will be rejected or thought poorly of. You can’t ask someone for forgiveness because you are afraid they’ll never forgive you.. We are afraid we are unloved, so we never tell anyone we love them.

Or perhaps you avoid new situations, new challenges because you don’t know if you will succeed. You refuse to ask for the promotion because they may not feel you deserve it. You won’t try completing a marathon because you’re afraid you might fail. You won’t invest in your education because you’re afraid you’ll discover that you just aren’t smart enough. You won’t invest in your business idea because you might not be any good at it.

Why does it matter if I’ve chosen to look in the box or not? When applied in it’s original context, bad data equals incorrect results. In one interpretation of quantum mechanics, the superposition of the cat who is dead and alive results in a splitting of one world into two. (Fans of Marvel movies should be well acquainted with multiple timelines at this point.)

Humanity builds its actions and future from what we have observed. I see that a traffic light has turned red and I make the decision to stop. I see that the sink is full, so I turn off the water. My wife sees that I have fallen asleep, so she stops talking to me. Knowing the truth guides us to the best course of action in any given moment. A society that sees and acknowledges the truth of an issue can take steps to correct it, mitigating consequences. A society that refuses to see the truth reaps the consequences of ignoring it in full.

When we refuse to open the box we are like the man who looks in the mirror but immediately forgets what he looks like. The unkempt hair of injustice is uncorrected, the stain of hatred on the clothing of humanity remains untreated. Our souls perish because we refuse to observe the truth.

We are afraid we’ve sinned too much, so we never seek forgiveness.

We are afraid that we are un-redeemable, so we accept separation and exile.

Friends. Sometimes the truth hurts. It is still true, and we should still seek it out.

And in that day you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

I say to you truly, you are loved. The price of your redemption has already been paid.

Open the box.

Arise (Part 2)

Jarius turned away from the sight of his servant struggling through the crowd towards them, forcing himself to focus instead on Jesus and the woman. He couldn’t bear to face the news that he was sure the servant had come to deliver. It couldn’t be.

“You’ve healed me Jesus, I knew the moment I touched you that I was healed!” the woman said quietly, her face still bowed towards the dirt at his feet.

“Arise my daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

As the woman stood and cautiously looked up at him, a small smile seemed to tug at the corners of Jesus’ mouth, his eyes seeking hers for just a moment. A smile broke out on the face of the woman, her face glowing with a barely contained joy.

Jarius felt a gentle tug on the hem of his sleeve. He slowly turned to confront the man he feared had come to tell him of his daughter’s death. The tears on his servant’s face as he turned confirmed his worst fears, and Jarius collapsed into the arms of the servant as he spoke the words he feared the most.

“Master, your daughter is dead. There is no need to trouble the teacher anymore.”

How could his little girl be dead? His sweet daughter, their only child, gone? Who would laugh at his jokes now? Who would wake him early on Sabbath with her happy voice full of excitement. Who would he make silly faces at while her mother scolded her for some minor offense, until his wife caught on and turned her scolding to him? Was all of this gone?

Would he never again be gently awoken in the night by his daughter who was certain there was something outside that she certainly wasn’t afraid of but wanted her father to check on…just to be sure everything was okay? Would he never again bravely put on his wife’s cooking pot as a helmet, with a bread knife as a sword and stand guard just inside her door until she drifted back to sleep?

How could he ever be brave again if she was gone?

The noise of the crowd suddenly crashed over him like a breaking wave. The people next to him who had heard the news were already beginning to mourn loudly. It was over this and the continued muttered spreading of the news of his loss through the crowd that he heard the voice of Jesus break through.

“Do not fear, only believe, and she will be made well.”

The crowd that followed Jarius to his home had become quite somber as the each step drew them closer to the home they knew contained a mourning mother.

Jarius could hardly escape his own thoughts as he stumbled through the dusty streets. One arm held by the young man who had brought him to Jesus in the first place, his other arm steadied by the servant who had brought him the terrible news. Each landmark along the path to his home seemed to have some memory of his daughter associated with it. Each person they passed along the way quickly avoided his look, as if they were ashamed to look on and share in his misery.

Why had this man Jesus stopped to speak with that woman? Didn’t he know that the interruption had condemned his daughter to death?

It was only gradually that Jarius became aware that Jesus’ disciple was speaking to him. The quiet voice came as though through a fog.

“All is not lost, friend. Even yet, there is hope. Even yet your daughter may live. Remember the centurion’s servant, my mother-in-law, even the widow’s child was brought back to life.” The young man seemed to be pleading with Jarius.

What good would it do to hope? God above had ordained this moment, who was he to deny it? Surely death itself could not be defeated by this wandering teacher. God had demanded of him that which God had given, and there could be no argument.

Jarius spoke quietly to the young man at his side. “How could there still be hope, my only daughter is dead.”

“Remember our father Abraham, friend. His own only son condemned to death, laid on the altar to die. Abraham believed that even if he must sacrifice his son, God could return him to life,” the young man continued. “We share the hope of our father Abraham, that even though death takes our children from us, God will raise up through us a mighty nation. Believe in this man Jesus, I have seen him do miraculous things with my own eyes. Even this is not beyond him.”

“God was testing Abraham.” Jarius replied. “He needed to know that Abraham would follow his voice no matter what was asked of him. No matter the cost.”

“So also is God testing you, my friend,” the young man countered. “He asks you to believe in this man Jesus, to believe that even though your daughter is taken from you, she will be restored to you.”

“You ask for much,” replied Jarius. “I shall do my best as we together walk through this valley of shadow and death.”


“Who touched me?”

The crowd came to an abrupt halt at the words, a murmur of confusion spreading quickly through the throng of people pressed into this narrow roadway. The people immediately next to Jesus pushed themselves away from him, as if denying they had done it.

“What now?” Jarius growled to himself. “This whole thing has been one interruption after another. Don’t you understand, Jesus, that my daughter is dying? We need to hurry!”

“Who touched me? Who touched my clothes?” Jesus repeated.

“Is this man insane?” Jarius thought to himself. “We can barely make any head way through this crowd to begin with, and now we’re stopping to figure out who touched his clothes? Everyone is touching you Jesus. Literally everyone. Let’s go!”

A man Jesus called one of his disciples seemed to be explaining this to him. Gesturing to the large crowd that had been following them to Jarius’ home, the disciple seemed to be pointing out the futility of asking that particular question. His quiet words to Jesus seemed to border on admonishment. It was as if the disciple was embarrassed by his own master’s question. The disciple tried to lead Jesus on by his elbow, but Jesus stayed where he stood, with his questioning eyes searching the crowd.

“We don’t have time for this!” Jarius screamed in his thoughts. “My daughter is dying, my little girl!” He glanced back over his shoulder in the direction of the home he and his wife had shared together with their young daughter, desperately hoping he wouldn’t see one of the household servants approaching. Any news a servant would have at this point couldn’t possibly be good news.

He could still remember the night his wife had first told him that he was going to be a father. He had returned to his home, exhausted from a long day of service at the synagogue. After dinner and a small glass of wine shared between them, the small talk of life sprinkled the rest of the evening as the household chores were completed. As the sun set behind the hills, his wife had lit a pair of candles for them, placed in the simple wooden candlesticks that had been a gift from her family. Neither of their families had much to give when they were married, but they always seemed to have enough for the two of them.

As they walked into the bedroom together, he found himself distracted by thoughts of tomorrow’s work. He prepared himself for the night, being sure to follow all of the required practices of a good Jewish man, and he had settled in to his bed, thoughts still churning through his plans for the morning. It was several minutes before he realized that his wife was seated on the edge of his bed, looking at him with her gentle eyes filled with tears.

“What’s wrong my darling?” Jarius had asked. “Is there something the matter?”

“No, no. Nothing the matter.” his wife had cooed.

“Then why the tears my love? Why are you crying?” Jarius reached up to wipe a tear from her cheek.

“God has been very kind to us.” was her response. “We have not been overlooked.”

“I suppose that is true, is this why you cry?”

Laughing, his wife had nodded.

“You know, I don’t understand you.” he had told his wife.

“Yes, I know.” she had laughed.

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

“Eventually.” she joked. “Although if I wait long enough, even you will figure it on your own.”

Laughing, he had asked, “How long do you suppose that would take?”

“Well,” she said” I certainly hope it would be less than 9 months.”

Everything had changed for him that day. His well laid plans for the next morning were set aside, and now, 12 years later, it seemed like nothing had been normal since then. After 9 months of hustling around to prepare his home for their child, his daughter had been born, and he still hadn’t found anything to even come close to comparing to the joy of that day. His heart had expanded so much since he had first held her tiny form in his arms. He had never expected it to change him so much.

A gasp from the crowd had drawn his attention back to the present moment. A woman had stepped forward, and at her sight the people around her had parted. She fell to her knees in front of Jesus, bowing before him. Jarius could see her worn and dirty robes, and what looked like dried blood on the left side of her face. The crowd had recognized that she was unclean, and those closest to her pushed back as far as the could from her, lest they be made to present sacrifices at the synagogue for cleansing.

“I’ve bled for 12 years my Lord. No one could help me. I spent everything I had and still I was sick.” the woman cried. “I’ve heard what the people say about you, that you are a healer. I’d heard that you had restored the paralytic and a man with a withered hand. I had to find you. I thought that if I just touched the hem of your cloak, I would be healed. Forgive me for the wrong I have done.”

Trembling, the woman knelt in front of Jesus, her face in the dirt. The whole crowd seemed frozen, awaiting his reply.

Jarius had begun to tremble as well, he could see his servant at the end of the street, making his way towards them.