Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Randomly Intentional (...or was that, Intentionally Random?)

This site has been in the works for quite some time.  Probably too long (as in, I should have launched this quite some time ago).  But life has a funny way of getting ahead of us (or simply out of control altogether), sometimes.  And so, today is the day.

Today also happens to be my Dad's 68th birthday.  I don't know that there is any real significance to that - you would have to ask him how he feels about it.  It is kind of one of those random ages, I guess.  I cannot think of a single thing that happens, in particular, when you are 68 - anymore than I can think of anything that happens when you are 37, which I will be on my next birthday.  Just a random age.

Today also so happens to be the first Democrat-vs-Republican Presidential debate (they don't allow any other parties or independents on stage...I guess because you need to meet a certain "threshold" in the "polls"...I think it would be amusing and much more entertaining if they did, though...) for 2012 here in the United States.  And again, I cannot say there is any significance to that, either, insofar as it relates to launching this site.  Just a random event.


And here's a random video you might enjoy:




I've heard that John Wesley, having learned the practice from the Moravians, would sometimes flip open his Bible to a random page and verse/passage for devotions.  I have done this before myself, if nothing else, for a bit of "spiritual entertainment" - and believe me, it can be quite entertaining...just try it sometime... 

Actually, many years ago I put this in my bag of tricks for youth ministry (being a youth pastor actually has an incredible number of things in common with being a magician, trust me - this may be why I did my disappearing act from that particular kind of specialized ministry!)...it was pretty successful the first time I tried it (uh...out of time to write up teaching for youth group...uh...'hey everyone, let's pick a random verse from Scripture and we'll talk about it!')...although you can only do it once or twice at most with any one group before they start to get suspicious ('hey...does this guy have any clue what he is doing???')...

Some people would attribute all this to the phenomena known as "apophenia."  I think it has much more to do with underpaid, overworked staff pastors.  Personal experience, I guess.  Well anyway, believe it or not, there is actually a web site that will randomly generate Bible verses for you, found at, of all places, "bibledice.com" (really?)

I went to this site out of pure curiosity (you do believe that, right?), and randomly generated a Scripture.  Here is what I got:


"For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever" (Psalm 9:18)

The first thing I noticed was that apparently randomly generated Bible verses come out in the King James Version.  I wondered if this was random as well, or if all randomly generated verses are in the King James.

My second thought was, "Hey, I feel needy today.  My checkbook, compared to my budget, says I am quite poor today, and things aren't getting any better."

Which could have led me to proclaim, "God wants me to be rich!"

But since I am not Joel Osteen (thank you, Lord, thank you...I could have been Joel Osteen, but you made me Phil Michaels instead!)...

...I will say this instead:  God is with us in our suffering.  God sees it, God knows it, God experiences it, God feels it.  And God is with us.  Not by random chance, but with great purpose and intentionality.

Today is a random day, given to us by God that we might fulfill God's great purposes with intentionality.  It might not be the day you expected...anticipated...or desired...but it is the day you have.  What will you do with it?

Comments are open.

phil

P.S. - I don't recommend random Bible verse generation as your primary means for spiritual formation.  However, once-in-a-while, it can be something different and fun, and I don't think God is above using it if we will carefully listen, look at the context of both the Scriptures and our lives, and seek further counsel (especially if you get something like "finally the woman died" followed by "go and do likewise") - context always matters!  But what do you think?

PS2 - The context of the randomly generated verse above can be found here...this time in the Message version.

PS3 - I do own one, and enjoy it very much.

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