Monday, November 26, 2007


I have lately been privileged to own a number of short teaching video's done by a young pastor by the name of Rob Bell. They have short misleading names like Flame or Noise or Bullhorn. They are all no longer than 15 minutes or so and focus on a simple theme or concept that Rob explores. They are quite insightful.

One particular video, Dust, is excellent. Through it I have gained a greater understanding of the relationship that Jesus Christ had with his disciples. The video gives some clear description of life in first century Palestine - (Spoiler warning - I am going to describe the video Dust here in detail). If you've never seen the video, I encourage you to do so. Rob begins by sharing what religious education was like for a young jew: first, around the age of 6 or so, young jews were expected to memorize the Torah (the first 5 books of the old testament) by the age of 10. Then at the age of ten they entered the next phase of religious education (each has it's name that I can neither pronounce or spell) wherein they are expected to memorize the REST of the old testament: all 30 some odd books - most of the bible. So then, at the age of around 15 or 16 or so, if they've done well and have shown great aptitude in this oral memorization, they would greatly desire to be apprenticed by any one of a number of Rabbi - religious teachers. The idea being that this young teenager, if they showed promise, would dedicate their life to becoming like their Rabbi! They would then begin to follow this Rabbi around everywhere, living with, eathing with, debating with, learning from this teacher. But only if the Rabbi first thought this young person had what it took to be like him. To become like the Rabbi. To carry his 'yoke', as they called it. If they young person was not shown to have promise to be like the Rabbi, didn't have what it took to become like the Rabbi, they would be encouraged to go home and take up the family trade or business.

Well, when Jesus approached Peter as he was fishing, he said, 'follow me'. That was what a Rabbi would say to a new apprentice who had just been accepted! The reality is, though, that Peter, fishing in the family trade with his father, was one of those who didn't make the cut ... he didn't have what it took to become an apprentice of a Rabbi. He was probably no older than 20 years old! And Jesus, a Rabbi, comes to him, and essentially says - 'I believe you can become like me - follow me'. No WONDER Peter just drops his nets and follows! This is the most coveted and honoured profession of his time and some respected and esteemed Rabbi comes to him and says these words. God is saying to him - I believe you can be like me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Why is it that when someone dies, those that go to honour that persons death tend to, it seems to me, over-exaggerate their life's good attributes. It's almost as though the deceased was always 'a friend to everyone!' and 'loved by all!'. They could never have done any wrong, it seems, while they were alive. When, as we all know, there is no perfect human being on this earth. I have no problem with respecting life and honouring people and what they've done for others. But why do we remember all these great things - or ...
Perhaps our perspective changes when someone dies, for a few brief moments, or for maybe close to a day or two. While we remember a beloved lost to us, maybe, just maybe, God has made it so that for a brief moment we have a glimpse into the true value of every human being - of that human being that we loved so dearly. And the only way we can seem to describe this new perspective is to hyperbolize their character and relationship to others.
Just a thought.