Category Archives: Bible Passages

Bible Passages: In Context or Out of Context?

Everybody has a favourite Bible verse or several that they keep referencing to. Whether you are a pastor, missionary, seminary professor, student or the average pew dweller, you must have at least one passage you have memorized. We find them engraved on plaques, in greeting cards, on calendars or quoted on other items around the house.

But how many of the most popular ones do we know the biblical context? How many of them are loved by some and others keep them out of their lives?

“Which verses are you referring to?” you may be asking.

A popular one that we see around, especially in late spring, coinciding with graduation season, is Jeremiah 29:11, which is a promise of God’s plans, His will for His people. 

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:10-12, NIV. Emphasis added.)

According to several folks I know, this passage holds absolutely no promise for Christians today. What is their reason? The historical context of Jeremiah is the prophet warning the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah of their impeding doom. The Babylonians are coming and will destroy the nation. In verse 10, Jeremiah prophecies the length of time of the exile, 70 years. The kingdom of God’s people is destroyed, which seems to go against this promise of prosperity. According to some people I’ve talked with in order to hold on to this promise you have to be able to “remember” your time in the Babylonian exile, which no one today can.

Instead of dismissing Jeremiah 29 as a promise only for the exiles or the returning exiles, why can’t we take a promise for ourselves? What would the spiritual implications or personal context for twenty-first century Christians be?

“The plans I have for you, to prosper and not to harm…” says the Lord (paraphrase). God’s plan is for us to prosper… God’s plan in for Him not to harm us… So what’s the issue here? Just because the Lord’s plan is for something, does that necessarily mean in the physical sense or in monetarily? By no means.

Although the “Prosperity Gospel” movement has claimed this promise for themselves, in a twisted  and materialistic sense, that does not mean that we cannot hold to this promise in a spiritual sense.

Here is a popular phrase from Joshua 24:15 (one version), which many who reject the Jeremiah passage hold on to.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The problem is there are major sections of the passage missing. Missing to fit their personal theological views? To each their own reason.

Here is the full passage from Joshua 24:

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (vs. 14-15, NIV. Emphasis added.)

While Jeremiah was written to the exiles, Joshua was written to the Israelites who had just conquered the Promise Land. If you dismiss Jeremiah for the sole reason that you cannot remember being in the exile, then we have to reject this passage on similar grounds, we cannot remember our time as slaves in Egypt.

Why is one passage rejected while the other is not? Is one more inspired? Can it’s promise be more easily understood or applied today? Absolutely not. Both passages are in equal standing.

Instead of rejecting passages due to false gospels claiming them we need to studying all the contexts of the passage in light of how it fits in the grand picture of God’s redemptive story. Once this is all said and done, we can safely look at how it applies to our personal lives, and our culture.

We can examine many more passages that are accepted and rejected. I will leave it at this. When you are reading your Bible, studying it alone or in a group, please remember the four types of contexts before you claim it or reject it: historical, cultural, literature, and theological. The final one is personal context, this is when you can apply the truths found in the passages to your own life.

God bless.


Concerning Bullies

This post was first published back in 2016 in my other blog site “The Unwarranted Bachelor”, under the title “The Nature of Bullies”. This has been edited and renamed for “Writings of Seb”.

Bullies can come in all shapes and sizes…and ages. As a kid, growing up in southern Manitoba, I experienced taunts from all age groups, this included teachers. You know those people who are supposed to teach you things? Those who are supposed to protect students from the mean students (to some degree)? Yup, those teachers.

I know there are children out there who take it upon themselves to bully teachers. This I’ve also witnessed. But why do teachers take the sides of the bullies? Or become bullies towards their pupils?

I can’t answer for them. What I can do is tell you my experiences and hopefully share some advice.

As a child, from an immigrant family with English being my second language, I was a slow learner. (This was especially true in grades one through four.) With that I was a slow reader. I actually couldn’t read properly until mid-way through grade four. I never told my teachers and they never really seemed to care.

The only students that they cared about was the smart kids and the special needs kids. (That was the term used for such children back then, and if it offends anyone than so be it.) I found myself in the middle and thus I was left out of their care.

As a child that is how I felt. My learning disability was kept a secret as much as my childhood depression was hidden from the world. So it seemed to me.

Back on topic: a teacher, who believed she was constantly the focal point of mockery, was a major culprit in this. As a slow reader and a slow note-taker, it took me ages to copy her lectures from the board and go on to the next section. One day when such a thing occurred, and I hadn’t finished jotting everything down and hadn’t opened my textbook to the page she demanded me to read, she snapped. “You think you’re too good to open your book?”

That day I knew she hated kids and despised her job. The question I have for such teachers is: why are you teaching our children if you loath them so much? Get out now before you destroy their lives forever.

I was afraid to tell the right people about this incident. Instead I handled it the best my young mind knew how. I exploded at her just as I did against all others who bullied me. My low self-esteem got the better of me then and, unfortunately, I find that this training is still prevalent in my way of thinking today.

Old habits die hard.

Being shown that one doesn’t matter, or is demonstrated to be a waste of time and space, remains in the subconscious far too long. A child grows up with the training of adults and his/her mind is moulded more by the negative experiences as with the positive. This is a sad truth.

What can a child do if a “trusted” teacher or other role-model is the bully?

Nothing! That is towards the culprit.

Everything! This is to get help. Children, no matter their age, need to be encouraged by their parents to share how their days went. All information given are clues parents need to be open to hearing.

As parents (which I am not one yet) we need to listen to our kids more than we need to probe them for information. If something seems amiss you, as loving parents, need to relay this information to someone at the school or school board who can do something about it.

Parents, ask questions about everything. Be in your children’s lives from the beginning. Foremost, be their parents; not their best friends; not police officers nor their lawyers. You need to find a balance to deal with bullies and help your child deal properly with bullies of all ages.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, ESV). Too much caring and too little caring can both lead a child to anger. Be careful.

When I say don’t be “their lawyers” I mean two things:

First, don’t ask leading questions. Especially when your kid doesn’t want to talk and you suspect the reason. Usually your suspected reason is the wrong reason. Never put words in their mouths just as you don’t want them to put words in your mouth.

Be respectful of them.

Second, don’t always take their word as hard core evidence in any case. If something in ongoing you will know. If it’s the first time a teacher bullied your kid (according to his/her account), listen but don’t go witch hunting that second. The story your kid just told you is from his/her recollection of the day’s event.

Always check the facts.

It may be difficult to sit by while your child is bullied, but what if your little one directly or indirectly asked for it?

One last thing to remember: what your kid believes is unfair treatment may not be unfair treatment. But teacher-bullies do exist and they need to be removed from their teaching posts, a.s.a.p.

DISCLAIMER: I am no expert in the field of mental illness or of childhood counselling/caregiving. All of my posts are solely my experiences and/or my opinions. There are a lot of people around who have opinions on anything and everything. Please, be careful and don’t believe all you read as fact or dismiss it as fiction.

Jesus Said, “I AM”

Jesus said,
“I AM the bread of life.” Come to Me if you are hungry, I will give you manna from heaven.
“I AM the light of the world.” Come to Me if you are in darkness, I will show you eternal life.
“I AM the door of the sheep.” Come to Me if you are lost, I will give you a family of true bliss.
“I AM the good shepherd.” Come to Me if you are weary, I will give you rest and guard against your foes.
“I AM the resurrection and the life.” Come to Me if you are dead, I will set your spirit alight with the Holy Spirit.
“I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
“I AM the vine and you are the branches.” Be rooted in Me and I will bestow unto you the fruit of My labour.

These are partially my paraphrase of Jesus Christ’s message in the Gospel of John.

Today’s Church

What the Divine has set aside for blessings,
Churches have turned into goals.
“The more the merrier,” they believe.
Fill the pews, fill the bank accounts,
And fill the week with programs.

Our primary goal should be this:
To make disciples by growing in faith,
Then all else will fall into place.
The Lord will bless those who seek after Him,
And not those after personal glory.

The blessings He has set aside
For a pure church, a true church are this:
Increase in numbers, wealth, and influence.
Remember: these are not for vain gain
These blessings are to further His Kingdom.

Remain humble in the sight of the Lord
And all these blessings will be multiplied again and again.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness
and all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6:33.

Why In Such a Hurry?

This is a question I’m always asking the road when vehicle after vehicle passes me with such speed it surprises me they don’t flip over into the left side ditch. This post goes out to Christians who (by merit) should be holding to a similar worldview as I do.

Now I’m not saying I’m perfect nor better than anyone else. At times I am just as guilty as the next person. This is just as much a reminder to me as it is rhetoric to self-proclaimed Christians.

“So,” I ask you, “what’s your problem?” Going over the speed limit out of habit. Really? That’s the issue? That can’t be it. Well, there’s more to it than that. “The real problem is obeying the law of the land.”

What I’m referring to when I say “the law of the land” is the laws which by nature are neutral. That is the laws which don’t infringe on anyone’s religious or moral (human) rights.

Let’s take a look at what God’s Holy Word tells us on the subject matter:

“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor” (Romans 13:1-7, HCSB).

The question that often arises in regards to this passage is: what if the law of the land contradicts God’s commands? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command” (Matthew 22:37-38, HCSB).

With that said the answer is simple: obedience to God must take precedence, then obeying the laws set forth by the government.

Riddle me this: why do you feel the abundant urge to go over the assigned speed limits on a regular biases? Can you not slow down in life and on the road? Give yourself more time for the journey and less time for road rage.

Yes, you heard me right. I said road rage. One thing I’ve noticed is those who rely on high speeds and reckless behaviour while behind the wheel tend to exhibit road rage more frequently then the cautious drivers. And this road rage tents to be directed towards the cautious drivers.

This also goes for red lights and stop signs (even if you are turning right). Stop means stop, at least that’s what I was taught in grade school.

Please, obey the law of the land as long as it doesn’t contradict God’s commands. By doing so you are obeying God. Disobeying God has no other name then Sin.

[This is my first short essay I wrote entirely on my smart phone before I edited and posted it.]