Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Holy Water and Fake Money--What is Real?

During my trip to Israel a few years ago, I was privileged to baptize two of the members of our group in the Jordan River. We didn’t do this at the site where Jesus was baptized by John, since (1) no one knows the exact location and (2) the likely area where that took place is the border with Jordan, and you just might have to duck underwater to avoid gunfire. A commercial baptismal site just south of the Sea of Galilee is totally within Israel and is a beautiful and well-run spot. After the baptisms took place, I bought one of their little plastic bottles and filled it with Jordan River water. That bottle now sits on my shelves.
A few days later I went for a run in Jerusalem. I left the hotel and ran down the street that used to be the “no man’s land” between the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the city. I went to the Old City and ran from one side to the other, then turned around and started back to the hotel. It was then that I saw what appeared to be 500 shekels on the ground. I picked up the four bills and kept going, praying a “thank you!” to God for my good fortune. Five hundred shekels is worth over $150. Later that morning I met our group and our Israeli guide, and I excitedly showed him my money. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said “Brother, I have bad news for you.” The money was fake, commonly used by con artists in a money-changing scam. These bills also now have a place of honor on my shelves.
Holy Water…that’s really not holy. The label says “This water is for religious purposes (not for drinking).” Yes, it is from the Jordan River, and so it helps me remember a special time in a very special place. But it’s just water; there is nothing holy or religious about it. Money that appears to be real…but is fake. Monopoly money. Both make great conversation starters. Both give the appearance of being worth something, when the truth is the opposite.
Both make me wonder about myself. What parts of my faith are just fake? It may look real or significant on the outside, but in reality my actions are at best common and ordinary and at worst they are a scam.
My prayer is what David wrote in Psalm 51:10-12: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Guest blogger today is our son, David Nobles, from Midland, Texas.
Thanks, David, for another great essay to make us think about what is real in our lives. (from mom)

David and his dad, Marvin Nobles


  1. Good post! I enjoyed reading it. Good lesson.

  2. Thank you Kay. My son David learned a lot from his dad.