1 One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” 2 So he said, “When you pray, say, Father, Reveal who you are. Set the world right. 3 Keep us alive with three square meals. 4 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.” 5 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. 6 An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ 7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. 9 “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open. 10 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. 11 If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? 12 If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? 13 As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing – you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”
14 Jesus delivered a man from a demon that had kept him speechless. The demon gone, the man started talking a blue streak, taking the crowd by complete surprise. 15 But some from the crowd were cynical. “Black magic,” they said. “Some devil trick he’s pulled from his sleeve.” 16 Others were skeptical, waiting around for him to prove himself with a spectacular miracle. 17 Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. 18 If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, 19 but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists? 20 But if it’s God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure. 21 “When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. 22 But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered. 23 “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse. 24 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ 25 On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. 26 It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”
27 While he was saying these things, some woman lifted her voice above the murmur of the crowd: “Blessed the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 Jesus commented, “Even more blessed are those who hear God’s Word and guard it with their lives!”
1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening. Lot was sitting at the city gate. He saw them and got up to welcome them, bowing before them 2 and said, “Please, my friends, come to my house and stay the night. Wash up. You can rise early and be on your way refreshed.” They said, “No, we’ll sleep in the street.” 3 But he insisted, wouldn’t take no for an answer; and they relented and went home with him. Lot fixed a hot meal for them and they ate.
4 Before they went to bed men from all over the city of Sodom, young and old, descended on the house from all sides and boxed them in. 5 They yelled to Lot, “Where are the men who are staying with you for the night? Bring them out so we can have our sport with them!” 6 Lot went out, barring the door behind him, 7 and said, “Brothers, please, don’t be vile! 8 Look, I have two daughters, virgins; let me bring them out; you can take your pleasure with them, but don’t touch these men – they’re my guests.” 9 They said, “Get lost! You drop in from nowhere and now you’re going to tell us how to run our lives. We’ll treat you worse than them!” And they charged past Lot to break down the door. 10 But the two men reached out and pulled Lot inside the house, locking the door. 11 Then they struck blind the men who were trying to break down the door, both leaders and followers, leaving them groping in the dark.
12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have any other family here? Sons, daughters – anybody in the city? Get them out of here, and now! 13 We’re going to destroy this place. The outcries of victims here to God are deafening; we’ve been sent to blast this place into oblivion.” 14 Lot went out and warned the fiancŽs of his daughters, “Evacuate this place; God is about to destroy this city!” But his daughters’ would-be husbands treated it as a joke.
15 At break of day, the angels pushed Lot to get going, “Hurry. Get your wife and two daughters out of here before it’s too late and you’re caught in the punishment of the city.” 16 Lot was dragging his feet. The men grabbed Lot’s arm, and the arms of his wife and daughters – God was so merciful to them! – and dragged them to safety outside the city. 17 When they had them outside, Lot was told, “Now run for your life! Don’t look back! Don’t stop anywhere on the plain – run for the hills or you’ll be swept away.” 18 But Lot protested, “No, masters, you can’t mean it! 19 I know that you’ve taken a liking to me and have done me an immense favor in saving my life, but I can’t run for the mountains – who knows what terrible thing might happen to me in the mountains and leave me for dead. 20 Look over there – that town is close enough to get to. It’s a small town, hardly anything to it. Let me escape there and save my life – it’s a mere wide place in the road.” 21 He said to him, “All right. If you insist. I’ll let you have your way. And I won’t stamp out the town you’ve spotted. 22 But hurry up. Run for it! I can’t do anything until you get there.” That’s why the town was called Zoar, that is, Smalltown. 23 The sun was high in the sky when Lot arrived at Zoar.
24 Then God rained brimstone and fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah – a river of lava from God out of the sky! – 25 and destroyed these cities and the entire plain and everyone who lived in the cities and everything that grew from the ground.
26 But Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.
27 Abraham got up early the next morning and went to the place he had so recently stood with God. 28 He looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah, surveying the whole plain. All he could see was smoke belching from the Earth, like smoke from a furnace. 29 And that’s the story: When God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham and first got Lot out of there before he blasted those cities off the face of the Earth.
30 Lot left Zoar and went into the mountains to live with his two daughters; he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He lived in a cave with his daughters. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is getting old and there’s not a man left in the country by whom we can get pregnant. 32 Let’s get our father drunk with wine and lie with him. We’ll get children through our father – it’s our only chance to keep our family alive.” 33 They got their father drunk with wine that very night. The older daughter went and lay with him. He was oblivious, knowing nothing of what she did. 34 The next morning the older said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Tonight, it’s your turn. We’ll get him drunk again and then you sleep with him. We’ll both get a child through our father and keep our family alive.” 35 So that night they got their father drunk again and the younger went in and slept with him. Again he was oblivious, knowing nothing of what she did. 36 Both daughters became pregnant by their father, Lot. 37 The older daughter had a son and named him Moab, the ancestor of the present-day Moabites. 38 The younger daughter had a son and named him Ben-Ammi, the ancestor of the present-day Ammonites.
1 Quick, God, I need your helping hand! The last decent person just went down, All the friends I depended on gone. 2 Everyone talks in lie language; Lies slide off their oily lips. They doubletalk with forked tongues. 3 Slice their lips off their faces! Pull The braggart tongues from their mouths! 4 I’m tired of hearing, “We can talk anyone into anything! Our lips manage the world.” 5 Into the hovels of the poor, Into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: “I’ve had enough; I’m on my way To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.” 6 God’s words are pure words, Pure silver words refined seven times In the fires of his word-kiln, Pure on earth as well as in heaven. 7 God, keep us safe from their lies, From the wicked who stalk us with lies, 8 From the wicked who collect honors For their wonderful lies.
– 1/12/2005 2:28:26 PM
Phil, Believe it.. or not. But I used to kind of believe until about when I was 8. I lost my right ear’s hearing. I was stuck with a guy named John as a father. That’s about the time I gave up on the idea that there was a god. People ask me all the time “Why don’t you believe in it?” I always answer “Because I was taught to believe in it. I’m a leader – not a follower.”