Archive for the 'Basics Of Faith' Category

(Posts Archive)

The LORD Bless You…

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Temple leaders wanted to know by what authority Jesus had turned over the tables of the moneychangers. It was then that he made his veiled comment about rebuilding this temple in three days— a comment that even his disciples didn’t get until after […]

Beyond the Curtain

With the passing of someone we love, our minds go to questions of what lies beyond the curtain. And as we honor and remember those who have preceded us in death, I’m guessing that many of us will also admit that we love God to the extent that we believe he loves us— and those […]

Divine Parallels

During three years of public life, Jesus told religious leaders who envied him that he only said and did what his Father told him to say and do. Hours before his death he told his disciples that— as they had heard the voice of the Father in him— so they would soon hear his voice […]

The Humility of God

The thought might seem laughably self-contradictory. If it is so, why does the God of the Scriptures seem pathologically consumed with his desire for praise and glory? Why would he demand that we love him? But if it is not the case, how could Jesus be mirroring something about the heart of his Father and […]

One Thought!?

AW Tozer (1897-1963) famously claimed in The Knowledge of the Holy that “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” While recently reviewing the book to see if I could find more context for the quote, I was reminded of how the Apostle Paul described his […]

The Short Answer

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of […]

Teachable Moments

In the last post we raised the question of whether a person of questionable motives can say something profound about the heart of our God. Like the wise woman of Tekoa, the high priest who presided over the condemnation of Jesus also shows us that the goodness of our God can show up in some […]

A Wise Woman from Tekoa

After deceiving David with a  made up story of woe, a wise woman from Tekoa says, “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when […]

Before and After

In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis describes the mystery of his spiritual awakening. Of a certain sunny day, he writes, “When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor […]

Room to Breathe

When the messenger of Christ urges his readers to stand firm against the divisions, arguments, hypocrisy, and enslavement of legal solutions— and to believe that it is for freedom that Christ has made us free—he was not writing like the man he used to be. Instead of reasoning like the legal scholar of his earlier […]

Implications

Sometimes, and maybe always, the Scriptures make sense only if we read between the lines. For instance, what’s the point of Israel—if God doesn’t choose everyone? Why would Jesus’ answer about the greatest of all commandments be so good and wise— if (behind the scenes of our collective wrongs and chaos) God didn’t love us […]

The Humility of God

Humility without a trace of hypocrisy. That’s what set him apart in the moment of his execution. Instead of offering a blistering, blustering attack on his accusers, he gave fulness of meaning to a song sung by a lesser king. O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; […]

A Time to Wonder

Others had said something similar. But it was during a dark time in my life that, through the novels and Unspoken Sermons of Scottish author and poet, George MacDonald (1824-1905), I began to take to heart— what I now believe to be some of the most helpful counsel and caution I’ve ever heard: If, while reading […]

TPOJAP #2

When Walt Disney’s classic animation of Bambi was re-released in theatre’s, many moms and dads relived childhood memories by bringing their young sons and daughters to the see the tender story of a little deer. A friend’s sister, whose husband was an avid outdoorsman with an impressive trophy room, was one of those parents. With […]

The Politics of Jesus and Paul

Early on we learn that religion and politics are two subjects that intrigue, animate, identify and divide us. Neither is easy to avoid in a world that is at the same time so material and spiritual. We are drawn into politics by real issues that tend to leave us with the impression that all of […]

Chosen

In sport being chosen can be about making the team. In employment it may involve making it into and beyond a final group of applicants. Being chosen or not can be so personal. When we’re the one brought in— or left out, it can seem like it’s all about us.  Up close, it sometimes is. […]

Quote Unquote 2.0

We’ve talked before about something that seems important beyond words. Together with the New Testament Acts of the Apostles, the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John refer often to Jesus but hardly ever quote him. The four Gospels do. But after his ascension to the Father, actual quotes of Jesus are few and far […]

Words and Statistics

Over the years we’ve seen together that words, like statistics, can be used to say or hide just about anything we want to say or hide. We’ve also seen what happens when words and thoughts, whether ours or God’s, are used to express the wonder of shared cares and smiles. I say this with renewed […]

On the Other Side

In the Garden of the Olive Press, Peter was too tired to pray with the One who had prayed for him (Luke 22:31-32). In the cold darkness that followed, he denied ever knowing the teacher from Nazareth. If Jesus hadn’t done for Peter what Peter couldn’t do for Jesus, who can imagine what the rest […]

It’s Time to Pray

In the Garden of the Olive Press Jesus urges his disciples to pray. If that’s all we were told we might imagine him saying, “Pray for me, for I have come to the moment for which I came into the world.” Instead, Jesus reminds them to pray for themselves, as he has been praying for […]

Riddles

The teacher writes four words on the blackboard, one over the other— defeat, deduct, defense, and detail. “Class”, she says, “Let’s see if we can spend the next hour using these four words in a sentence.” Little Johnny says, “That’s easy,” walks up to the board and adds four more, Defeat of Deduct went over Defense before Detail. Johnny is a […]

From What?

From the good conversation around the last post, I think many of you are way ahead of me. But let’s stay with the question, “Saved from what?” Let’s think together about what we hear when, “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation…” says “Here I am! I stand at the […]

World Views

Fifty years ago, Bill Anders of the three-man Apollo 8 flight crew took a picture of earth that changed our view of the world. In an article for Space.com, he describes what it was like to give us a different picture of ourselves at a time when our world seemed to be unraveling. He recalls […]

Herod the Great

I remember the day in May 2007 when Professor Ehud Netzer, an archeologist from the Hebrew University, announced the discovery of Herod’s Tomb among the ruins of the Herodium, a man-made mountain fortress built about 3 miles southeast of Bethlehem.   The emotions surrounding the announcement remind me of what Matthew tells us about the day Herod and […]

Unhitched and Irresistible

I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately with recent YouTube videos and writings of Andy Stanley on a subject that has compelled him to take some risks. Andy’s current video series, “The Bible for Grown-ups—last things first”, offers his reasons for writing “Irresistible” in an effort to explain the life-changing difference between the Old […]

Who for Who?

Does God exist for us, or do we exist for God? Isaiah spoke of the God who acts for his own Name and glory (Isaiah 48:9-11). Yet, the Apostle Paul asked, “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). He follows with, “He who did not spare his own Son, but […]

Overthinking

I’ve become more aware lately of how many costly mistakes I’ve been making by not taking the time to stop, take a breath, and think—and by my inclination to think too much. Am guessing you’ve noticed, as I have, that inspired words meet us on both sides of the road. The first Psalm urges us to meditate day and […]

Otherness

As the Holy One of Israel, Jesus gives us a new understanding of the God who asks, ““To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. (Isaiah 40:25). Long before Jesus, the prophet Isaiah had been overwhelmed by his vision of One who caused him to say “Woe is […]

The Rule of Law

In the beginning, there was 1. Then 10 multiplied into hundreds— and thousands. Later we learn there is a time for everything—a time to see the importance of laws… and a time to see their worthlessness. If Jesus is in the process of renewing and refreshing all things, how does he throw light on what […]

All things New

While thinking about some of the last words of the Lamb in the 21st chapter of Revelation, I found a quote from Terrance Klein in America… The Jesuit Review”. Klein writes of a well-known American actor and filmmaker, “He has many critics, as a man and a moviemaker, but in his movie “The Passion of […]

Believe it or Not

As much as I don’t like snakes… one more thought. In the Garden, the fiction sounded believable. The words, logic, and appearance of the Serpent—  encouraged trust rather than alarm. The prelude to the sequel is easy to forget. An embittered enemy, disguised in the appearance of a pre-cursed creature, seemed to offer a better hope […]

The Gospel of Matthew

Two days ago, Steve from West Virginia took time to tell us about the unexpected kindness that he and his son Matt saw at a local Dairy Queen. Their experience reminds me of another Matthew and another story. The New Testament Gospel according to Matthew shows how impressive and memorable mercy is when it shows […]

Empathy

Why does the Bible say nothing about how Eve was feeling after her first son killed his younger brother? Did word get back to her that, when asked where Abel was, Cain had said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Did she know that he seemed more concerned about losing the affections of his fields than […]

For Better or Worse

Better than we think—and worse. As in life itself, in all of us— there is something of the best and the worst. For me, it’s a wake up of a thought—that started in the Garden, and keeps beeping in the background, like an unexplained but familiar-sounding reminder that something about us—and everything— isn’t as good […]

Something in Everything

When you know what to look for, you see it everywhere. An exaggeration to make a point? Yes or no, the idea implies its opposite. The author of the 136th Psalm seems captured by the thought. 26 times in 26 verses he says things like— To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love […]

In a Tent

In another post, we thought together about a promise that sounds too good to be true. The Blessing1 that was to be pronounced by Aaron and his sons on the family of Israel, with implications for us2, was authorized by God even after Aaron had lied about a golden calf that mysteriously jumped out of the […]

The Rhymes of Life

Mark Twain is one of those attributed with the quote that “Although history doesn’t repeat itself, it often rhymes.” The truth goes deeper than words or events. When the Word of God was tested by Satan in the wilderness(Matthew 4:4) (Deuteronomy 8:3), the last Adam was challenged to do for himself what the first Adam […]

The Gift of Song

This past week I’ve been reading a description of the 1904-1905 Welsh revival by G. Campbell Morgan. One of the things that caught my attention is that the author repeatedly describes the role of song in this revival. Morgan notes his personal observation that “The Revival is borne along upon billowing waves of sacred song…It […]

All Things New

I ended the last post with the thought that— the best time to “judge” may be when we can do so at our own expense, for the sake of others. If this is so, it is only because the Judge of the world is already in the process of making all that is broken— new […]

A Time to Judge

Many of us grew up hearing the quote, “Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24 KJV). I don’t remember reading those words in light of the motive and moment in which Jesus said them. Now I’m looking at them again in a story of rivals who were accusing our Teacher of […]

Spirit of Truth

Misinformation interrupted by deafening explosions of truth. We’ve been here before. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, went on record in behalf of One who at his own expense exposed a world of darkness for the good of all. Before his stunning death, Jesus left his disciples with more than partisan moral arguments to selectively expose […]

Conspiracy Theories

With the release of the Kennedy Assassination Papers, we may find ourselves in the mirror. Some of us are drawn to conspiracy theories. Some of us aren’t. Am wondering whether every culture has its own examples of tragic events that divide citizens between those who believe the official story, and those who don’t. What is apparent, […]

The Enemy

When faced with unspeakable evil and terror, it’s probably important to remember that the first move into our darkness was not a good God’s judgment of sin. It was the Accuser’s shrewdness in leading our first parents to see a forbidden tree as evidence of God’s self-centeredness. The Accuser never stops accusing God— or us— […]

Acts of God

What was the man thinking when, in the tragic losses of war, fire, and wind, he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)? Is it the hand of our Father […]

Love Songs

In 1936, American song writer, Billy Hill, wrote “The Glory of Love”. Before long a nation was singing, “You’ve got to give a little, take a little and let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” Fifty years later, in 1986, another song reached the top of […]

The Lion and The Lamb

Let’s take the upside down nature of the kingdom of God a bit further. If I understand authors like N.T. Wright and Gregory Boyd, here’s why they are suggesting that the holy war of God is a real battle— waged in terms and drama that are understood only by seeing the Lamb-like heart of a […]

The Hidden Right and Left

What were James and John thinking when they infuriated the other Ten by asking for the honor of sitting at Jesus’s right and left— in his coming Kingdom? (Mark 10:35-37, 41) Jesus had just warned the Group, “We’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. […]

A Final Solution

In 1979 George Steiner wrote a controversial work of fiction that ignited an international firestorm. In The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H., Steiner  created a scenario in which an aged Adolf Hitler was found and captured from his hiding place in the Amazon jungle— and then given the last word in a court of law. Hitler […]

Agreeing to Disagree

A bitterly polarized nation is one thing. A divided body of Christ is another. As Jesus’s mission of rescue neared its moments of tragic surprise, he prayed that his disciples would have such unity that the world would see the truth about him and the Father who sent him (John 17:18-26). Later, Paul also focused on […]

Redemption

To be released— like a slave bought to be set free. Something? Someone? Everything? Everyone? However all-encompassing, narrow, or personal our thoughts, the Scriptures speak of redemption in earthshakingly, cosmic, and personal terms. Who or what doesn’t need to be released from bondage in the grand scheme of redemption that has been set in motion by Jesus’s […]

Caring too Much

I began today in an updated edition of Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional. The text is “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you.” Psa 55:22. The words that followed were hard for me to deny. We can care too much. The thought surprised me by hiding behind the assumption that we can never […]

The Curse

This Spring, a Robin built her nest in this wreath on our front door. I watched as she wove the nest, mudded it, and then made it into a soft bed for her family to be. Over the next few days I got pictures of three blue eggs and then babies barely able to lift their heads. But four […]

The Blessing

I’ve mentioned before how puzzled (and intrigued) I am with “The Blessing” God gave Aaron and his sons to pray over the nation of Israel. Seemingly out of nowhere— for chosen ones who fall so short of their calling, God gives the priests of Israel a way of mediating divine favor and generosity with the words, “The […]

Unforgivable!

Some of the most difficult words of the Bible come from the mouth of Jesus. For example, he is the one who talked about 2 sins, one against God (insulting the Holy Spirit), the other against one another (an unwillingness to forgive), that he called unforgivable. (Luke 11:18; Matthew 6:15) Writing about the unnecessary suffering a misunderstanding […]

Glory!

Some time ago a friend recommended to me a short daily e-mail audio and text meditation that I’ve been listening to ever since. Today’s Seedbed Text by J.D. Walt is so timely that I couldn’t think of a better way to follow up my last post by passing along to you a link to “Why […]

One Last Drink

Over the years, I’ve wondered about Jesus’s comment to the Samaritan woman about the last drink she would ever need. Standing at Jacob’s well, in the heat of the day, she didn’t know what he meant either. Has anyone ever gotten what they would call one last drink from Jesus? So what was Jesus promising […]

What’s Helpful?

In our Father’s goodness, we find new ways of relating to one another. Instead of only noticing whether something— or someone— is right or wrong, we get a chance to ask “what’s helpful?” For the sake of all, or anyone—our God shows us how to come along side with care and interest— or even friendly curiosity, rather than a challenge or threat. Isn’t […]

As Needed

So much of life isn’t simply a matter of right or wrong. Medications, sedatives, painkillers, doctors, hospitals, courtrooms, prisons, weapons, and armies, look different— as needed by us or someone we love. We don’t have to walk down this road too far before coming to the hill on which Jesus was crucified. What does his […]

Not Quite Right

Those of us who have struggled with mental illness, either in ourselves or in someone we love, have learned what it means to be not quite right. And when we read the story of the Bible we discover that what we think of as troubled thinking— is a hint of something common to all of […]

The Sniff Test

Five senses—to see, hear, taste, touch— and about this time of year the last reminds us that we are not alone. A skunk smells. But what? Itself? Grubbs? Danger? I recently read the words of someone who understood our human inclination to call out the wrongs of others—while giving ourselves a pass, a passing grade, or a […]

It’s Imperative

Authority issues are hard to avoid and easy to confuse. According to the Gospels, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray “Give us … forgive us … lead us… deliver us…” he gave us verbs in the imperative mood. When he prayed from his cross, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing”, […]

Unimaginable— Part 2

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” Here Paul seems to give us a loose quote of prophets who saw that God has unimaginable plans for humanity (1Cor 2:9) (Isa 64:3-4). Yet even Isaiah and others could not conceive of […]

If Then

Sometimes understatement says the most. The other day, I was reading an author who caught my attention with just a few words. He said, “If God is anything like a father, and… if I am anything like his child… then…” Since then, I’ve found no end to ways of adding to that one thought. May the most important if/then […]

Sounds and Silence

Why did the Savior of the world need to be born with so much acclaim— only to be followed by 30 years of silence— before stepping onto the stage for which he came? Why couldn’t the Lamb of God just show up like one of those Old Testament prophets who seemed to step out of nowhere… to get […]

Living by the Broken Rule

Threat for threat. Insult for insult. Wrong for wrong. Bluff for bluff. Blood for blood… The broken-rule promises the upper hand, control of circumstance, and self-protection. Yet it drags us to the threshold of mutually assured destruction. Could someone who spent three years with Jesus— before denying that he ever knew him— know what he […]

Torah

The New Testament offers us citizenship in a monarchy where the King serves— and calls his servants friends. The idea isn’t completely  new. It’s a story that begins to unfold in the drama of Eden— but is soon lost in the confusion of a world where muscular strength and social authority are used to build kingdoms of self-serving […]

A Certain Kind of Love

Where did Paul get the idea that without love— eloquence is noise.. and that knowledge, understanding, faith, and even charitable sacrifice amount to nothing? If we knew nothing about his story we might assume that Paul was probably just a thoughtful observer of life in the home, neighborhood, workplace, temple, or halls of political debate. On […]

Imagination

At telling moments our Accuser has made his case for why people like us shouldn’t trust our God— and when that worked—why we shouldn’t believe that our God could possibly love people like us. In both cases the Great Divider appeals to our imagination. First he stretches our minds to believe that the source of […]

A Personal Word

For most of my adult life, I thought of the words of Isaiah 40:7 as the words that I wanted to represent my life. That text says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” I wanted (and still do) to give my life to the wisdom of […]

Fill in the Blank

When we think of filling in the blank, we fill in the blank. The phrase itself doesn’t tell us in what sense we mean it. Is it a reference to the kind of test we took in school? If so, it we are reading in our recall of a testing method that was used by […]

Our Father’s Business

Jesus’ first recorded words are revealing— and maybe a clue to all that follows. When his mother asked her 12 year old why he had caused her and his father so much anxiety, he answered with his own question. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (or “Didn’t you know I […]

Looking for What’s Missing

In the previous post, “What’s Wrong With this Picture?” the close up of the ant sculpture in the Atlanta Airport shows what happens when perspective is missing. My guess (trying to read the lines, and between them) is that when Paul says to the divisive church in Corinth (inconsiderate of one another, and drinking to […]

What’s Wrong With this Picture?

As a child I remember a learning game that recently came to mind while thinking about a New Testament letter. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is an interesting study in human nature and in what he believed it means to be followers of Christ— together. From his opening words he is focused on what […]

Memorial Hope

This past weekend US citizens did what people all over the world do to recognize those who have lived and died in the service of their country. We remembered and honored our heroes of war— and those whose lives were changed forever by their loss. In remembrance, we probably sensed that this was not a […]

Terror’s Other Story

In Roman culture– crucifixion was a slow, cruel, humiliation and death meant to publicly serve notice of what happens to those who challenge political power. Within the biblical storyline, the curse of being hung on a tree seems to have echoes of the law (Gal 3:13; Deut 21:23), and deeper still of the tragic consequences of what […]

The Sign of the Cross

When Jesus was crucified, he suffered under signage that bothered the religious leaders of Israel. Pilate the Roman governor of Judea had written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” But when the chief priests saw the sign, they objected saying, “Don’t write King of the Jews, but instead, […]

A True and Better Ethic

I’ve been trying to immerse myself in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians to see if I can get a sense of his frame of mind when writes the 13 verses of his 13th chapter. What I’m finding will not surprise you. Paul writes with a courage and clarity that lifts him above the superstitions, […]

Our Kind of Kingdom

The Bible’s first mention of a kingdom shows up in a reference to Babel and a strong man named Nimrod (Gen 10:10). In the clamor that followed Babel’s attempt to build its own greatness (Gen 11:1-9), competing regimes tried to enforce their will on one another. Eventually a new kind of nation was born out of bondage, nursed in a no man’s land, […]

Money, Cover-up, and Conflicting Reports

Follow the money. The tomb was empty. The soldiers who had seen what happened were terrified. When the religious leaders who demanded Jesus’ death heard what happened, they paid off the guards to say that, while they were sleeping, grave-robbers had stolen Jesus body (Matt 28:11-15). Women told another story Meanwhile Mary of Magdala, with a […]

The Cup Jesus Drank for Us

As we think together about how our Lord suffered in our behalf, let’s reflect again, as thoughtfully and reverently as we can, about what he was suffering. In Jesus’ sin offering and sacrificial death for us… as he drank the cup giving to him by his Father… do we know what was in the cup (Luke […]

Transformative Spirituality

We count on doctors to give us the right diagnosis and prescriptions for our illnesses, and are grateful when they do. The wrong answers and medications could either make our problems worse or just mask the illness by relieving our symptoms. Dr Mark Hyman is the Director the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He […]

Origins and Outcomes

In our last post we talked together about how in the 9th century BC, the prophet Elisha counseled the king of Israel not to kill his prisoners of war. As a result, Joram (king of Israel) prepared a feast for the soldiers of Ben-Hadad (king of Aram/Syria) and sent them home. After that, we’re told, that […]

The Word of God

Imagine talking to someone who has never read the Bible before. Literate, intelligent, intrigued with the Scriptures, and knowing of your interest in The Book, the person asks, “how do you read it’? Which of the following do you think you might, or definitely would not say? I read every word as the Word of God. I read […]

Life 101

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith […]

What has God Said?

Thanks to all who jumped into the conversation, “Under Fire”. Seems like we are all rightly sensitive to the original “has God said?” challenge of our enemy. Yet, we now face a different set of problems. Today, when it comes to interpreting and applying Scripture, if we don’t say, or at least wonder, “has God– really […]

Under Fire

How do the Scriptures work for us in the declared war with our spiritual enemy? Is our challenge to do as Jesus did? When tempted— either to prove himself, or to negotiate a settlement for the world— he responded three times with quotes of the Jewish Scriptures (Luke 4:1-13). I’ve often thought about how skillfully […]

Why Jonah Ran

Be fair to Jonah. His mission was dangerous. Bearers of bad news had been killed for a lot less, even within the borders of Israel. Imagine hearing, “Go to your enemies. The awful ones.  Tell them that in 40 days the God of Israel is going to destroy them.” Yet when the prophet eventually delivered his message, people as evil as […]

Jonah and the Perfect Storm

Fearing for their lives, the crew called out to their gods and did everything they could to save the ship and themselves. Desperate, the captain went down into the hold, woke Jonah up, asked how he could sleep at a time like this, and urged him to cry out to his god for help. Meanwhile the crew resorted to a game […]

Jonah and Jesus— for Openers

Continued… from Jonah’s no Jesus. Thanks to those of you who’ve taken the challenge… Here’s an example of the kind of reflection I’ve been alluding to. It’s done not by turning the subplots of the Bible into allegories, but rather by reading forward and then backward to see how the greatest of all true mysteries, tragedies, […]

Jonah’s no Jesus

Jonah’s story ends abruptly. We’ve been given narration, dialogue and miracles. Like so much of the Bible we’ve been told what sounds like a tall tale— but haven’t been told what we are supposed think or conclude. All that is truly clear is that Jonah is not on the same page as his sender or […]

What is it About Jonah?

I don’t remember the first time I heard about Jonah. But looking back, I can see how differently his short story has played out in my imagination over the course of a lifetime. Early on, it was about a man who was swallowed by “a whale”. At some point I learned that it was a […]

Hearing the Joy

In past Christmases I’ve written about how much I love listening over and over to “Mary Did You Know” by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd. This year one of my co-workers asked me if I’d heard the Pentatonix version also on You Tube. Once again we’ve all come to this day from many places. Some of our […]

Unwrapping the Greatest Riddle

We’ve talked in the past about riddles. I think my favorite is: The poor have it. The rich need it. If you eat it you die. What is it? As we all know, riddles work by play on words; by layers of double meaning or ambiguity understood by the speaker but not revealed to the hearer. […]

Self-Opening Gifts

In the beginning, Genesis describes a God who was mysteriously wonderful, creative, loving, strong, wise, present, personal, and generous. When the son and daughter of his likeness opened the one gift marked “Do Not Open”— only to suddenly feel as if they had been locked out of the house without their clothes on— he came […]

Unopened Gifts

It’s been called the first hint of the Gospel. God says to the Serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Reading our Story backward, we know that it was the Great Accuser who shows […]

Over-personalizing a Harvest Festival?

Down through history, and all over the world, thanksgiving festivals have given communities a chance to thank the God or gods who gave them another harvest. Such celebrations have been more than expressions of gratefulness for personal health, wealth, marriage, children, and happiness. They have been opportunities for neighbors to celebrate together their shared good […]

Father?

Over the last few months, I’ve returned occasionally to read a few more pages in The Ragamuffin Gospel. For some reason, I have not found it to be one of those books that I can’t put down… Written in 1990 by Brennan Manning, it reflects the findings of a Franciscan Priest who discovered in his own […]

Where’s the Good News?

My guess is that most of us have been around long enough to hear questions asked either to avoid or find answers. For example, If the law of God is written on our hearts, as Paul says, why do we need the Scriptures of Moses or Jesus? Or, if all law is fulfilled in one, […]

The News We Hear

In the last post I mentioned a couple of books that take up the question of why the best news the world has ever heard is so often heard as bad news. In Simply Good News, author N.T. Wright considers some important questions like— Why would we refer to information that’s been around for thousands […]

Why Some Veterans Miss War

In a provocative 13 minute TED Talk war correspondent Sebastian Junger tries to answer a disturbing question. Why do so many veterans, especially those who served in active duty, miss war? After 20 years of covering the horrors and inhumanity of the battlefield, Junger found a painful irony—what veterans miss is the opposite of what […]

A Center— high and wide

Knowing when to settle for our agreements rather than trying to graciously forge through our disagreements requires the art and gift of wisdom. Beginning with our differences is a non-starter for getting anywhere together. But all too often finding agreement isn’t easy. Pope Francis’ visit to America, like Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, is a timely […]

Life Light and Love

In spite of the wealth and diversity of life in and around us, how often do we hear of efforts to replicate—or explain the mystical something that animates a single living cell? Yet every multi-billion dollar space probe carries with it the hope of discovering that spontaneously generated life is not unique to us. One […]

Knowing and Being Known

The 139th Psalm is one of the most loved songs of David. It starts and ends with the thought of a God who understands us better than we know ourselves. David sings of One who is with us in life and in death, who saw us before we were born; who sees our days before […]

What is Biblical?

When God became a man to mirror in flesh the exact likeness of his Spirit, there was one kind of person who loved him, and another that ended up demanding his death. What do we know about the people who loved him and what/Who was the Word that they became known for? Who hated him, […]

True and Better

If the spirituality and miracle of the Bible comes to us— not just in its individual thoughts and events— but in the way all of them, together, help us see our need of the God who has come to us in Jesus, then, Can we also conclude that living with conscious reliance on the Spirit […]

The Blessing

Many of us treasure the Bible as an inspired gift from the Creator who wants us to know his love for us— and our need of him. What is just as clear is that those same Scriptures can leave us with the still unfolding Story of a wonderfully good Servant-like God who is calling us […]

Foreshadowing in The Lottery

In 1948 the New Yorker Magazine published one of the most famous short stories in American literature. Titled “The Lottery”, and written by Shirley Jackson, it’s about a small town that held an annual drawing in which every family picked a slip of paper out of a black box. As town people look at one […]

Tired in Trying

After a wind storm took down big limbs and snapped trees in our neighborhood last week, my neighbors and I wore ourselves out trying to get down a heavy wild cherry branch that was hanging dangerously just beyond the reach of our ladder and ropes. Yet, as I think back on it now, our physical […]

News Without Borders

The ongoing debt crisis that has become such a defining moment for Greece and the nations of the Eurozone might be a parable for the world. What do you do with a debt that cannot be paid? Many believe that to cut Greece from the Union would amount to the imposition of a national foreclosure […]

Echoes of the Garden

While working in my yard the other day, I was startled by something moving in the bushes. Once I calmed down and saw what was happening, I ran to get my camera. A harmless (to me) garter snake had its jaws around a live toad and over the next half hour gave me a chance […]

Words in the Night

In the middle of the night, lately, I’ve found myself waking, with some of the same words running through my mind, over and over… and then over and over— as if something deep inside me is trying to reach and grasp something that seems too good to be true, suspended teasingly just beyond my will […]

What Was Adam Thinking?

In our last conversation about forgiving ourselves, I think many of you sensed that, if the God who revealed himself in Jesus is our reference point, then the root of forgiving others, and ourselves, is the highest kind of love (i.e. not just feeling, but choosing to actively seek the highest good of another). In […]

Forgiving Ourselves

We’ve talked in the past about what it takes to forgive ourselves. When we did, some of us had mixed feelings. On one hand who hasn’t beaten up ourselves for things we’ve done in the past? But then comes the question of whether forgiving ourselves is like playing God? And, with yet another twist, if […]

Living in the Spirit

With the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, followers of Jesus found a new awareness of God’s presence—not only with them, but in them. Suddenly, and then slowly, they discovered that individually and together they had personally become the New Temple of the living God. Before Pentecost, and for awhile afterward, these […]

Ubuntu

A story is going around the internet that, in some ways, sounds more like legend than fact. But the idea behind it seems to represent a cultural value that is real. As related on an Ubuntu website, an anthropologist made an important discovery after completing his study of a tribe in a southern region of […]

The Hiddenness of God

If the goodness and glory of God was hidden in the cross1, and if the word picture of a “consuming fire”2 hides the love of One who urges us to love not only our neighbor—but our enemy3, then in how many other disconnected ideas, and misunderstood Job-like epics does our God hide his real and […]

Authority Issues

My guess is that few of us like being told what to do—especially if we don’t think the person has our best interests at heart. Yet we have different ways of showing (or not showing) our true feelings. Jesus spoke to such differences. He tells the story of two brothers who were told by their […]

Has God Said?

The question has a history. Before it was first asked, human experience was limited to a paradise of undisguised trust and innocence (Gen 2:25). Then… from behind the mask of one of God’s own creatures, the hellishly subtle question was asked, “Has God said….?” In the next few words, Genesis gives us a hint of […]

The Consuming Fire

Does God want us to be afraid of him… or to be afraid of not knowing and remembering how much he loves us? The 12th Chapter of Hebrews ends with a sobering thought: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence […]

Backward and Forward

A journal article speaks of reading the Bible backward and forward to see how each page and chapter helps to tell the Story. A pastor’s weekly messages reinforce the thought that what God has done in the past helps us to understand what he wants to do in us again today. A treasured book reinforces […]

Why the Mystery?

In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we remember and celebrate events that no one but the Messiah, himself, saw coming. Even when Jesus began repeatedly telling his friends that he needed to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die at the hands of religious leaders— before rising the third day (Matt 16:21), it was […]

What are we Thinking?

We have entered into the remembrance of  the last days leading to  Jesus’ crucifixion. Together we are moving again toward the dark moment in which, according to the Scriptures, justice and mercy met together in a terrible act of execution and death, for our rescue and deliverance. Many of us have learned to think of […]

While we Wait

In “He Still Moves Stones”, and as quoted in his “Grace for the Moment” inspirational guide, author Max Lucado suggests that, “Sometimes God is so touched by what he sees that he gives us what we need and not simply that for which we ask. It’s a good thing”, Lucado adds, “For who would have […]

Dark Thoughts

Because there is so much we don’t understand about the eternal purposes of the God of the Bible, he can be read like a self-centered father who plays favorites with this children; a moral monster who takes pleasure in the cruel deaths of his enemies; or a powerful bully who uses his strength to intimidate […]

Holy What?

For much of my life I’ve had trouble with the word holy— and with those who seemed to love and long for it. My associations with the word— didn’t seem to put a good face on God. Left me thinking of him as distant, frightening, and not like someone I want to be with. So […]

The Unchosen

Some time ago I read an article in the BBC Online magazine about the 500 year old silver mines of Bolivia’s Cerro Rico mountain. According to journalist Catharina Moh the tunnels that riddle the mountain are like a death trap for the men and boys who still lug wheelbarrows of rock to the surface. Locals […]

Is God Like the Weather?

Does our Creator change like the wind? The Scriptures describe the One who has made us as being loving, merciful, and compassionate. But then they speak of him as being like a consuming fire, into whose hands we don’t want to fall. Even Jesus might leave us wondering if he speaks with the ever changing […]

High Ground

It’s hard to leave the high ground of 1Corinthians 13. Maybe we are not supposed to… except to linger… and then walk… for the rest of our lives in the thought of Who such love comes from… and where He is leading us. Most of us know the story of this song’s author. He had […]

Love Song

How do we know we are in love? Am guessing many of us can remember with a smile the wonder… and the pain. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to discover that seasons of blind desire aren’t the same as the love that makes us good for one another. Without taking anything from the gift and […]

Terrorists, Jonah, and Jesus

Terrorists, whether trained abroad or at home, are succeeding in placing themselves center-stage of a global audience. The world is being transformed not by love and peace, but by fear, anger, hatred, and social confusion. Every year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the story of Jonah is read in synagogues around the world. […]

The Spirituality of AA

I recently heard a friend say that going to an Al-Anon meeting was like going to church. This person talked about what it was like to be able sit together in such broken love. I’ve heard others talk or write about what it is like to walk into other12 Step meetings where they immediately feel […]

Why is the Bible Called the Word of God?

This is an important question because there are many voices in the Bible. In its pages we hear our Creator quoted as saying, “Let there be light”, and Satan’s subtle challenge, “Did God really say…?” Between the first words of Genesis and the last words of Revelation we find prophets and poets speaking in their […]

Mindsight and Violence

In an unpredictably violent world it’s hard to think straight. This isn’t all bad. In dangerous moments our survival often depends on reactions that enable us to act quickly either in our own behalf or for the sake of others—when we don’t have time to think. Way too often, however, we all end up doing […]

In Mystery and Hope

As we recall the events of 2014, the tragic loss of AirAsia 8501 renews memories of the lingering sorrow and lack of closure on flight MH370. The mystery of the missing Malaysian flight and all of the unanswered questions surrounding it are a reminder that, even in an age of instant access to global information, […]

Peace on Earth

Moments of peace point beyond themselves to One far better than ourselves. Sainsbury’s, the third largest chain of supermarkets in the UK, has produced a Christmas 2014 Ad that rises above its commercial interests. In attempting to re-create a World War 1 Christmas “miracle”, it provides a taste of peace, foreseen in an ancient prophecy […]

The Gift of a New Testament

In our last conversation, Bill mentioned a book by Gaylord Enns called Love Revolution. I remember reading it some time ago, finding it to be a surprisingly important book, and then forgetting about it. So went to my shelves this past week, found it, and have been mulling over it ever since. In this book […]

Am I Listening?

Am thinking it might be important to have another conversation about issues of authority and obedience. Many of us have been taught to net out our relationship with God in two words— trust and obey. Trust God. Do what he says. Could anything make more sense than the thought that our Creator God deserves our trust and obedience? […]

Ed’s Story: Gratitude

Some of you may have seen the story of Ed Dobson either on a widely distributed CNN.com link or on the five Day of Discovery conversations that I did with Ed about his experience with a slow progressing form of ALS. I just got word from Ed’s wife, Lorna, that the Moody Radio Network is […]

Simplicity and Complexity

I found the conversation following the last post  thoughtful and encouraging. Yet my heart aches for the friends who, as Jeff1 suggests, have been led to distraction, disappointment, and disillusionment by false leads about the Bible. In that regard, I think Pooh’s questions about how to recognize misinformation about the Spirit and Word especially helpful. […]

As Philae Sleeps

Some of us have lived long enough to remember the Russian accomplishment of putting Uri Gagarin in space, followed by the US achievement of landing Neil Armstrong on the moon. Now European scientists have given us a new memory—maybe even more amazing and unforgettable!! Will we ever forget the day this week when we first […]

When God Withholds

In Haddon Robinson’s booklet on The Lord’s Prayer, he quotes from George MacDonald’s comment on Luke 18:1. The section that Haddon quotes ended with the thought, “God withholds that man will ask.” I thought the quote was so thought provoking that I went back to the original source and am copying what I found here. […]

Ebola and Leprosy

Toward the end of a BBC article on the tragic story of Ebola, a video provided by Street Child quietly whispers the story of African family members who have lost loved ones. Their subtitled words and talking eyes portray the humanity behind the sterile images of suited, goggled, and masked health workers. While recalling their […]

Moses, Joshua and Jesus

One of the most convincing evidences of the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments for me is the way so many patterns and word pictures end up being fulfilled— in a way that could not have been foreseen or orchestrated by human authors. One example that I have been thinking a lot about lately […]

Class Struggle

All over the world there are indicators of class struggle. In elections, protests, looting, crime-rates, joblessness, and unfair wages— ongoing wars of every kind and degree  reflect the struggle between those who have a voice in what happens to them that those who don’t. In the middle of such tensions and conflict, one of the […]

Loving in Loss

Two days ago dear friends lost an adult son in a tragic work accident. This morning I received an e-mail from the father who described what happened last night when their grieving family reached out to the man who had accidentally killed their son, brother, husband, and father. The note described not only their overwhelming […]

Spiritual Math

In a disturbing book titled, “You Lost Me”, author David Kinnaman attempts to tell the story of “Why Young Christians are Leaving Church… and Rethinking Faith”. Kinnaman writes about “the irreverent, blunt, and often painful personal stories of young Christians— or young adults who once thought of themselves as Christians— who have left the church […]

Christian Mysticism

I woke up this morning with words of Paul repeating over and over in my mind, “…I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved […]

Rectification of Names

I found a quote the other day that intrigued me. Attributed to Confucius, it read, “Social disorder often stems from the failure to perceive, understand, and deal with reality. And that social reality is tied up with language.” Since I was reading words out of context, I did some checking to see if there was […]

Questions About The Book

A recent Gallup Poll indicates that three out of four people in the United States still think of the Bible as divinely inspired. According to 2014 research, 28% think of it as the Word of God— that should be taken literally. 47% think of the Scriptures as the word of God but don’t think that […]

A Story and a Prayer

A friend put me on to reading some 19th century novels by George MacDonald who, according to  Wikipedia, had an influence on such other writers as Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Lewis Carroll, WH Auden, and JRR Tolkien. Even though the 19th century vocabulary and style are not always easy to push through, I’ve […]

Living Letters

In past conversations we have talked about whether quotes of an inspired Bible remain the Word of God no matter how ungracefully or thoughtlessly they are expressed. We may also have observed together that when the written Scriptures themselves speak of the Word of God they may be referring to, (1)  A direct quote of […]

When it Comes to Specifics

I recently listened to the lecture of a Jewish rabbi who explained at length that Jewish and Christian people part ways not only over the New Testament, but over a large body of oral law which he said is essential to Jewish faith. According to this teacher, most if not all laws of written Scripture […]

Losing our Voice

A summary of the day’s international news seems especially difficult to absorb. As families and loved ones of the missing 239 of MH370 begin to receive compensation for losses that have no financial equal, conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine and so many other regions represent the real fear and insecurity that stretches beyond all national and […]

Staying with the Story

We need to stay with the story. If we don’t stay with the unfolding drama of the Bible (looking forward to Christ in the first testament—and back to him in the second) we can end up consumed by worry. Take Paul for instance. In the 9th chapter of his letter to the Romans he admits […]

Separated

It’s been called a spiritual law: man is sinful and separated from God. The resulting word picture is a deep, uncrossable chasm between a holy Creator and the sinner. What seems worth thinking about together, though, is how this separation looks in the unfolding story of the Bible. Let’s back up and think about what […]

A Time to Ask

In a book titled Humble Inquiry a social psychologist and retired MIT professor writes about three kinds of humility: 1) “humility that we feel around elders and dignitaries; 2) the humility that we feel in the presence of those who awe us with their achievements; and 3) Here-and-now Humility, which results from our being dependent […]

Jonah and the Word of God

He was a Jewish prophet who, in the 8th century before Christ, spoke words inspired by God. His name, Jonah, meant “dove”—a bird regarded as a symbol of peace. The Backstory– He was first known as a prophet who predicted that Jeroboam 2, the tenth king of the northern tribes of Israel, would conquer lands […]

Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner?

There may be a point in the distinction between hating the sin and loving the sinner. But it’s risky business. And some of us might be better off leaving the job to someone else. By now, more than a few of us have probably discovered that it is hard to point our finger at anyone […]

Survivor’s Guilt and Deep Gratitude

The story of a 71 year old woman who survived the tragic sinking of a South Korean ferry boat is full of mixed emotion. As she lies on a hospitable be with a broken back, and her life, she expresses survivor’s guilt, and deep gratitude for the young man who hung on to her after […]

Not Seen But Loved

Yesterday, the wife of one of our friends let us know that her husband, BruceC, has passed into the presence of his Lord. As I read MaryLou’s note, and followed the heartfelt words that a number of you so thoughtfully expressed to her, I sensed our shared affections for a man most of us have […]

Is Our God too…?

Astronomers estimate that The Milky Way is made up of 400 billion stars. Yet according to an astrophysicist from the Goddard Space Center, our own universe is only one of hundreds of billions of other galaxies—each being made up of billions or trillions of its own stars. Micro-physicists, on the other hand, looking inward, instead […]

What We Know and Don’t Know

In the ongoing search for answers to what happened to Malaysian Flight 370 the plight of those waiting for word on the fate of their loved ones is reaching a new level of frustration, anger, and lingering hope. Ships from several nations comb an ocean that, according to one source, is littered with 20 million […]

The Clue

The mystery of Malaysian Flight 370 and its missing 239 passengers and crew may be about to be solved. Or the possible signs of wreckage spotted by satellite off the coast of Australia may prove to be another false lead. As we wait for the answer, I’ve been thinking about a far greater mystery that […]

The Glory Seeker

Some of us might find it difficult to be around those who use whatever occasion or means they can to call attention to their own successes. Yet at the same time we can be blind to the endless, subtle, and ironic means by which we ourselves seek attention, affirmation, and praise. Maybe it is because […]

She Did What She Could

This week on Discover the Word, Elisa Morgan has been leading our conversations with a fresh look at a woman Jesus honored for doing what she could to show her love for him. Has been so good to take another look with Elisa and Bill at Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive […]

The King of Hearts

According to an online news source, a couple of regular customers of a Loveland, Colorado, fast-food restaurant, ages 52 and 85, ended up in court after disagreeing over a parking space. Assault charges were filed after the younger man swung open the door of his vehicle knocking the older to the ground. As in all […]

Live Loved

When I first heard a friend talk about the idea that a relationship with Jesus boils down to a chance to live loved, I was hooked. Two words. So simple. So profound. Since then, while working with a variety of texts, plots and characters of the Bible I’ve repeatedly come back to those 2 words. […]

Why is God so Angry?

How are we going to explain to our children and grandchildren an angry, fearsome, merciful, compassionate, beautiful Father? The thought lingers in the lyrics of the ancient song we’ve been thinking about together. Reflecting on the passing days of our lives, Moses writes, “For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish […]

The Star of Christmas

An online BBC article about a celebrated Hungarian-born, British concert pianist is titled Musical Exile: Why Andras Schiff won’t perform— or even set foot—in Hungary. The article goes on to quote Schiff as saying, I have been threatened that if I return to Hungary, they will cut off both of my hands. I don’t want […]

The Voice

Happened to bump into the last 3 programs on The Voice television series. Got caught up in the amazing and varied giftedness of the three finalists— that included a 16 year old who performed way beyond her years. Started watching the final edition last night and announcement of the winner of season five, but ended […]

In Low Visibility

Was too preoccupied during the week to stay with the conversation as it unfolded. But I’ve had a chance this morning to catch up and appreciate the way you’ve interacted with one another. Am guessing that others who came and checked in without posting found something helpful (as i have) in the thoughtful ways you’ve […]

Mandela and the Bible

It’s hard for me to think about how often the Bible was quoted to resist the policies of emancipation for civil rights in the USA, or to support apartheid and to resist Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The question has me thinking again about a conference I recently attended on the trustworthiness of the Bible. […]

Beowulf, Juliet, and Jesus

An article on the Geekosystem website says that a professor from the University of Manchester, has published a paper suggesting that students of literature have been misinterpreting the first line of the old English, heroic epic poem Beowulf for 200 years. The article  was too complex to draw me into the debate. But I understood […]

Jacob’s Ladder

In 19th-century America, a generation of oppressed slaves sang a spiritual about “Jacob’s Ladder.” The repetitive, rhythmic lyrics about climbing higher and higher helped them envision themselves on a hard journey to a better place. The original story is about a great ladder reaching up to heaven, and it’s as down-to-earth as the man who […]

A Signature Mark of Work in Progress

If there is a progression in Jesus’ Declaration of a New Day, then hungering and thirsting for righteousness bears the seeds of what he says next. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt 5:7) Showing up for this Operation Rescue is an indication of having seen the undeserved relief of misery that […]

A Time to Cry

One of the riddles of the kingdom of God is found in Jesus’ words, “Cry now, laugh later”; Laugh now, cry later” (Luke 6:21; Luke 6:25). It was not a new thought. For centuries his people had been singing songs and hearing prophets talk about being deeply troubled by the silence of God before seeing […]

Living with Questions

Over the years I’ve heard of those who have left the church saying that they have not been allowed to ask their questions. My guess is that for some of them, the issue has not been that they always expected answers, but rather that they were not allowed to honestly ask. Admittedly,  questions can be […]

3 Questions and a Dream

Imagine falling asleep, and having God come to us in a dream the way he did to Solomon (1Kings 3:5). But instead of saying, “What do you want? Ask me.” He says, “Ask 3 questions you’d like me to answer”.  Then he adds: “1 question about this life, 1 question about the next one, and […]

Jalapenos and 2013 Nobel Honors

While doing some reading on this year’s prestigious Nobel awards, I bumped into the video of a little boy who insists that jalapeno peppers are not hot. Then I continued reading about the recognition given to 3 researchers who have been honored in the category of physiology and medicine. Together and individually they have discovered […]

The Heel Snatcher

In Greek mythology, Achilles is a great warrior who dies from a poisonous arrow that lodges in his heel. Prior to his birth, a prophecy had foreseen his untimely and early death. So when he was born, his mother dipped him in the River Styx that was thought to give magical protection. Holding him by […]

Politically Correct?

In reading over the conversation about the last post, I’ll admit that I too have been bothered by what Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes. Am thinking there are some of us who would rather that our daughters or wives not hear Solomon saying,  “This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at […]

Adam and Jesus

In the era of the Great Depression, the dust bowl, and breadlines, it might seem fitting that the 1930s also produced a dark comedy cartoon that came to be known as The Addams Family. Created by illustrator Charles Addams for The New Yorker magazine, the single-frame comic gags took a satirical look at a ghoulishly […]

Sense and Nonsense

Imagine a world of  choice without consequence. Or picture the opposite: a world where immediate results always reflected the character of decisions made. Would either of the above be better for us  than a world where evil, reckless, or negligent acts can seem to turn out fine, while honorable acts seem more likely to be […]

The Wrath of God

Is God angry with us, even furious to the point of threatening to kill us, until we accept his Son, at which point he begins loving us? One thing is clear, those who read and believe the Bible must do something with the wrath of God which is said to rest on those who have […]

2 Ways to Read the Bible

A friend and co-worker recently passed along some thoughts that he’s had about our natural inclination to miss the big story of the Bible. Jeff, is a licensed counselor who has a deep concern about how our hearts interact with the heart of God.  While reflecting on Revelation 3:14-20, he  suggests, “There are two ways […]

Brain Scans, Free-will, and Fate

A fascinating, though disturbing, article in the BBC online News Magazine asks the question, “What Can a Brain Scan Tell us About Free Will?” In weighing the struggle of science, theology, and philosophy to explain the relationship between mind, matter, free will, and fate the article describes changes in behavior that turn out to be […]

Degrees of Sin

Is all sin alike in God’s eyes? Our last conversation about God’s words to Moses—that, to our ear, can sound so self-contradictory (Exodus 34:5-7)— have raised a question about degrees of sin. Seems to me that this lingering thought might help us  reflect on the second half of an ancient quote that seems so unfair […]

The Threat of Terrorism

An 8/5/2013 alert on a Homeland Security website says, “There are growing concerns that an al Qaeda affiliate could use a new generation of liquid explosive, currently undetectable, in a potential attack, according to two senior U.S. government officials briefed on the terror threat that has prompted the closing of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies. […]

Mercy Prayer 2

In commenting on yesterdays first Mercy Prayer post, cbrown wrote: “I would like to share portions of a 9 page letter I received from an inmate I met in prison ministry who has been sentenced to a life sentence without parole. “I can remember like it was yesterday; I cried out Lord,I can’t wait much […]

The Wonder of a Tree

Discover Magazine published an article called “The Life, Death, and Life of a Tree.” It’s the wonderful story of a majestic redwood tree affectionately named Luna II. According to writer Jack McClintock, Luna II is a coast redwood whose scientific name, Sequoia sempervirens, literally means “ever-living.” He quotes the forest manager of Luna II who […]

The Mercy Prayer

In the Discover the Word recording studio today, I’m looking forward to our interview with Robert Gelinas, author of a book that is releasing in the bookstores this week called, The Mercy Prayer. In preparation, I’m finding the book to be surprisingly provocative in the way it develops the tension between mercy and justice. His […]

How we Read the Story

In considering the idea of bargaining with God, we referred to a moment in Jacob’s life that can be read either as a condition of negotiation, or as a vow of faith. (Gen 28:20-22) Jacob was either at a point of grateful resolve where he was saying, in response to the vision (Gen 28:10-17),  “If […]

A Better Righteousness

On a California beach, young surfers use the word righteous to describe a big wave, a drug-induced high, or a sexual adventure. In a nearby church, members of a prayer circle use the same word to talk about behavior that complies with the moral laws of the Bible. I’m guessing the beach crowd knows they […]

In Search of a Safe Place

In Old Testament times, innocent people could find temporary shelter by running to “cities of refuge” or by getting to and hanging on the “the horns the altar” of sacrifice. But that was for those who i.e. unintentionally harmed others. What about those who were guilty? Only with the Cross of Christ do we see […]

Tolerance and Intolerance

Is tolerance of wrongs a sin? Could intolerance be even worse? In asking such questions, it seems to make sense to wonder why some of us believe that God cannot tolerate sin? Am guessing we might say something like, “Don’t all followers of the Bible believe that? Could anything be more obvious? Isn’t God too […]

Personal Outcomes

David , the shepherd, musician, soldier king of Israel wrote a song with 175 verses that celebrated the teaching of his God–in the words of Moses. In his last verse he sang with words that must have been more lyrical than our English, “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I […]

A Personal Word

When I began the last post saying, “Some of us have been around long enough to see that the Bible we treasure has been used to multiply the pain of racial minorities, women, the poor, the mentally ill, the divorced, abused, addicted, unemployed, and prisoners” I was writing from my heart, and from personal experience. I […]

A Realistic View of the Bible

The Bible pays a price for being one of the most quoted and talked about books in the world. Even those who haven’t read it for themselves often assume they’ve heard enough to know what it’s about. But there’s more to this Book of books than its reputation may suggest. Being anything but predictable, first […]

Can We Think Our Way to God?

Could one of our problems be that we are trying to think our way to God? That thought comes, surprisingly, from a Calvin College professor of philosophy. In a Christianity Today Online interview of James Smith, a professional thinker observes, “Human beings are at their core defined by what they worship rather than primarily by […]

Thoughts in the Rubble

Once again “end of the world” associations are being given to a natural disaster. For example, an online video shows video of the destruction observed by a survivor who emerges from a storm cellar to capture images of  apocaplyptic destruction.. The only audible words are, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” Other survivors […]

Grounds for Mercy

A French news report told the story of a young field dog that jumped on its deer-hunting master in a playful show of affection. When the pup’s paw caught the trigger of the hunter’s firearm, the gun accidentally discharged, resulting in the loss of the owner’s hand. The victim later blamed himself for not having […]

Hedges, Fences and Walls

The Bible uses the word picture of hedges in some provocative ways. Satan complains, for instance, that God has bought Job’s loyalty by building hedges of protection around him (Job 1:10). Later after the Lord has taken some of the fences down to give the Devil access, Job wonders why the Almighty has shut him […]

A Noteworthy Difference

Tragic events, as we’ve witnessed in the bombings of this week’s Boston Marathon, have a way of showcasing the worst and the best of our shared humanity. Even as we shudder at the thought of how people like us could deliberately carry out acts of murder and mayhem against strangers, we hear of the courageous […]

Jacob’s Ladder

As a child I remember singing the spiritual,  Jacob’s Ladder. We sang the words. But I never thought much about them. Now, many years later, I find that I’m ready for another look. I’ll need you to be patient with me because the story turns out to get a little involved. But I’ve found some […]

What’s the Difference?

As baseball season returns, I bumped into an old story that still makes me smile. My apology to cricket fans, and the March Madness of college basketball. Three baseball umpires are each asked how they call balls and strikes. The first explains,”If a thrown pitch crosses the plate between the knees and the shoulders, it’s […]

Mysteries of the Bible

In the somber remembrance of a crucifixion, followed by the joyful celebration of resurrection, many of us have once again reflected on events that solved one of the longstanding mysteries of the Bible. For thousands of years, the identity of the Savior of the world was a mystery. The promise of One whose heel would […]

The Riddle of an Empty Grave

Made for the rich, used by the poor; Unexpected by friends, feared by enemies; Filled with death; emptied by life; Wanted by none, needed by all; Saying nothing, declaring everything;  Explained with a lie, revealing the truth;Denied in time, believed forever. What confidence is this, and what difference has it made?

Hope for Marwa’s World

Marwa was 12 years old, frightened by the wail of air raid sirens and deafened by the concussions of falling bombs. Desperate to do something, anything to escape the terror and confusion, she grabbed her 8 year old sister Adra, and together they began to run. With nowhere to go, they ran, chased by the […]

Mixing it Up

Syncretism is an interesting subject. We see an example not only in Dr Livingstone’s Sechele, but also in the life of Solomon. 1Kings 3 indicates that Solomon, the young king of Israel, took a peace bride by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter. Born in the home of a warrior king, Solomon probably had his fill of killing […]

What Dr Livingstone Presumed

Many of our generation probably know little more about a legendary African missionary, doctor, and explorer than the smile of “Dr Livingstone I presume?” While some question the historicity of those actual words, they apparently were reported by the New York Herald Newspaper in 1869. The Herald had sent Henry Morton Stanley to Africa to […]

One Mission Two Results

We’ve been looking at the tension between Jesus the peacemaker, and the Disturber who said, “Don’t think that I’ve come to bring peace, but a sword.” Together we’ve thought about how the Teacher carried out his mission of reconciliation while creating so much conflict in the process. His Sermon on the Mount is no exception. […]

Vu Deja May Be Part of the Answer

While wondering why trust is so important to God that he put a deadly tree in the middle of paradise; and then made “trust” not only the means of avoiding that tree—but the antidote for being born of the parents who didn’t—I’ve been thinking about a  short song (Psalm 131:1-3). In the process I bumped […]

Samson’s Eyes

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH • Time: 1070 BC • Place: Land of Israel • Spirit of the Age: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. —Judges 21:25 NKJV • Growing Crisis: A group of people known as the Philistines have brought their foreign gods and influence […]

Why Trust?

It was an issue in the Garden. Without it, so many years later, we still miss the mark of what God is looking for in us. Without trust the Bible says we cannot please him. Why would it be such a non-negotiable then and now? And if we had the courage of Abraham, and Moses, […]

Did Jesus Die for a Tree?

Did Jesus die on a tree not only for us, but also for the tree on which he died? The question made me uncomfortable. But I couldn’t deny that a broken trust and resulting curse have done more than tear  into our humanity. As the Bible sees creation as full of the glory of God, […]

Toxic Truth

Who among us hasn’t seen the pain we can bring to ourselves and others by thoughtlessly saying the truth without humility, love, or wisdom. Those who accused Jesus of being a sinner, or worse (demon possessed) weren’t all wrong. They were followers of Moses. They had heard the rumors about Jesus’ birth, and were not […]

Samson and Jesus

Samson is one of the most interesting people of the Bible. Like the Philistine Goliath, he’s remembered for his legendary physical strength. After killing a lion with his bare hands, he took on a whole army with the jawbone of a donkey and, in his last act, pushed down the pillars of a huge temple […]

Seeds of Hope

When a troubled Solomon tried to make sense of the times and seasons of life, he observed that “there’s a time to plant, and a time to harvest (Ecc 3:2). Got to thinking about how much of following Christ involves personally planting seeds of faith, hope, and love in the God whose story includes large […]

Sight by Touch

In a comment on riddle-like proverbs that can be turned around in our minds and looked at from many directions,  SteveWV yesterday posted at 7:20a.m. a poem called The Elephant and the Blind Men. It ends like this: And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff […]

Bully

When my wife and I walked into the small, darkened auditorium, we saw something that has been almost as unforgettable as the documentary we had come to see. Scattered and spread out among the many empty seats, a few parents sat with children in a manner that, as I recall, looked more like a visit […]

Moral Arguments Good to Avoid

A friend of this blog sent me a YouTube link to a brief argument against those who consider themselves more moral than atheists. The thoughts that followed went something like this: Religious people often claim that atheists have no morals because they have no moral guide. It went on to say, for instance, if you’re […]

Mystery of the Son of David

In a recent post we revisited the thought that it’s hard to find many clear prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament–at least in the form that we might expect to find a predictive prophecy. Few of the prophecies we cite are as plain in their context as the vision of Micah who foresaw that […]

Newtown

The Newtown, Connecticut, killing of 20 children and 6 adults once again raises mind-numbing questions. As is the case of any premature death, or tragic loss, there are no adequate  answers for the grief and anger that follow. No attribution of mental illness, social pathology, cultural storming, demonizing, or finger-pointing can begin to fill the […]

The Mystery of the Greenland Shark

How does the slowest shark in the world catch its food? Living in frigid, near-freezing waters, the Greenland shark swims at less than 1 mile an hour. It takes seven seconds for one full sweep of its tail to propel it forward. Researchers, however, have found remains of seals in the sharks’ stomachs. Those findings […]

As A is to B so…

We may remember this kind of comparison from school days. Back then the illustration was something like: As an apple is to a seed, so a thought is to a ___________.  (i.e. conversation?) The point is that an analogy compares two things that are similar in at least one way and yet different in others. […]

A Life-Changing Analogy

In my last post I mentioned being  impressed by an ETS presentation about what the Gospel of John says about our union with Christ. Instead of starting with what the Apostle Paul says about Christ in us (Gal 2:20; Gal 4:19; Rom 8:10; 2 Cor 13:5; Col 1:17), Robert Peterson from Covenant Theological Seminary read […]

A Misunderstood Warning

Joe and Marissa have never met. But they have a lot in common. Both found that spending 4 years in a state university was hard on their faith. Marissa became a follower of Jesus at a spiritual retreat during her last year in high school. Joe made his decision of faith at the age of […]

As the Leaves Fall

When I wrote in my last post about the way time has changed my thinking about the Bible, I was thinking of what has happened as a result of: Listening to the way others interpret or apply the Scriptures. Discovering the complexity and simplicity of life, circumstance,  love, and honesty. Seeing that many of us […]

Over Time

I’ve noticed over time an awkward pain that can show up in followers of Christ in their later years. My first memory of what I’m referring to came when an aging pastor invited me as a young man to have lunch with him.  I’m sure that we talked about many things in the hour or […]

Norway’s Trial of the Century

In July of 2011, a 33-year-old Norwegian bombed an Oslo government building and then gunned down scores of guests at a Labor Party youth camp. Seventy-seven people died, and many more were injured. Prior to the attacks, the young gunman wrote a lengthy manifesto titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. In chilling detail, he […]

Yom Kippur 2012

Today is Yom Kippur. An article in the Washing Post describes what it means this year as a nation recognizes its sins, in the presence of its enemies. Also known as The Day of Atonement, this is a day of national repentance with a view toward national forgiveness and deliverance. I’ve often been moved by […]

Hunting Dog Shoots Owner

Don’t know whether you caught the French news piece a couple of days ago about the young hunting dog that playfully jumped on its owner in a show of affection. A paw caught the trigger of the deer hunter’s, gun, resulting in the loss of a hand. The victim later blamed himself for not having […]

Adam and Jesus

In our last conversation we talked about whether it is helpful to compare and contrast what the Bible says about Samson and Jesus. I raised the issue because I’ve been thinking about the way New Testament authors see Jesus in the Old Testament; whether we should see parallels only when the New Testament  tells us […]

Strength and Spirit

Today is the last day of the London Paralympics. Sounds as if this has been an overwhelmingly emotional and inspirational marathon of the human spirit. I appreciated, early on, hearing Bob from Cornwall talk about how moved he has been by what he’s seen. Would love to hear more from Bob or any one else […]

The Work that Consumes Us

Labor can mean many different things: 1.  The pain women endure to be the bearers of life. 2.  The work done to bring in a harvest. 3.  The history of workers standing together against unfair practices. Freely chosen, it can be the source of some of our greatest joys. Forced, or withheld,  it can break […]

We’re at War

The fight will go on today in declared war zones, political debates, and maybe even a blog or two. But an Apostle of Jesus teaches readers of his letters to rise above conventional forms of personal, military, or political conflict. He reminds us that our real struggle is not with flesh and blood (Eph 6:12). […]

What Opens the Bible?

Many of my generation grew up being wary of those who see every story of the Bible as being a picture of Jesus. We were warned by our teachers that the practice of typology (i.e. seeing people and things as a foreshadowing of Christ), if not kept in tight check, could be more about our […]

Close to Home

As so many of us find ourselves inspired by the competition of the Summer Games, my thoughts have also gone to one of the most amazing performances the world has ever seen. His name was Saul, and his deadly game had echoes of his namesake, the first king of Israel. As King Saul raged through […]

Oylmpic Tattoo

Was interested to read a BBC article today about an Atlanta woman who got a tattoo to celebrate her participation as a 2012  Olympic torch bearer.  Only after sending a picture to a friend did she discover that her badge of honor was misspelled. The good natured woman said that, even though the parlor artist […]

A Friend Called Satan?

Jesus isn’t remembered for saying many predictable things. But the unexpected quote that has had my attention today is when our Teacher suddenly talks to one of his most committed disciples as if he is talking to his enemy. One minute he is blessing Peter and telling him that he (Peter) had been entrusted with […]

Mystery of the Greenland Shark

A fascinating online science article reports that researchers have determined that the Greenland Shark is the slowest shark in the world, cruising at speeds less than 1 mile an hour. After tagging the GS for electronic data collection, the scientists also learned that it lives in near freezing water (36 degrees) farther north than any […]

A Family’s Honor and Issues

We’ve often heard that the Old Testament primarily uses the Father-child relationship to picture God’s relationship with a nation (Hos 11:1). It is  a collective, chosen family that is given the hope of a mysterious King/Son who then in turn is referred to as “Everlasting Father” (Psa 110:1) ( Isa 9:6). But it is primarily […]

The Longest Song

Have been thinking again about the surprise and irony of the longest chapter in the Bible. In the Hebrew language it was poetry, a song written to express heart felt appreciation for “the revealed teaching” of the Lord. When numbers were attached to the individual “verses” of this song, the count went to 176 ways […]

The Ostrich and the Cross

Your responses to the previous question have been so good! Let me see if I can pull our thoughts together and move us a bit further. Together, we have found a man named Job at the end of his moral and mental sanity. His stature as the wealthiest, most influential, and most blessed man in […]

Our Response to Loss and Controversy

Thanks to all of you who have been willing to honestly think about what a follower of Christ brings to an issue as tragic as the death of Trayvon, and as controversial as the law’s reaction to George. In addition to appreciating so much of what you have already said, here’s where I am. Seems […]

Return of the Good Shepherd

At the Shepherd’s arrest, the sheep scattered, just as Jesus had predicted (Matt 26:31). At the time it didn’t make sense, just as now so much doesn’t make sense in our own lives. Yet today we can see how that dark moment was combined with with so many broken pieces into a mosaic of salvation […]

The Day Between

Today, Saturday is the day between. Yesterday had great significance to us. Tomorrow the mood will change. That’s us. We have hindsight… and some degree of anticipation. Try to imagine what today was like for the first followers of Jesus. What it would have been like to have all of your hopes, as well as […]

The Roar of Deception

In October 2011, 56 wild animals terrorized the town of Zanesville, Ohio. The owner of an exotic animal park, troubled by legal challenges and neighbor complaints, had lashed out against the community by deliberately opening his cages just before dark. Local authorities responded by warning neighbors, barricading roads, and closing schools. After a couple of […]

Day of Madness and Upsets

The news for those following the March Madness NCAA Basketball tournament is that 10 or 15 years from now some will still be talking about Friday, March 16, 2012 as a day in which the “15s” pulled off some of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. Missouri was crushed by 15th ranked Norfolk State; […]

Lord of the Seasons

Foreseeing the end of the age, the prophet Daniel has a vision of a king who, while speaking arrogantly against the most High, tries to change the laws and seasons of God (Dan 7:25). The character and ways of this rebel leader are in direct defiance of the One of whom Daniel earlier says, “He […]

The Random Dance of Evil

As the suffering deepens in the Bama Amr district of Homs, Syria, waves of violent pre-spring storms have caused at least 27 deaths in several US states, with many injuries, whole communities devastated, thousands homeless, and countless traumatized. While most people in the Middle East and US Mid West will enjoy a normal weekend, an […]

The Tree of Life

A recent motion picture begins with powerful images from the Hubble telescope and the whispered question, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7). As a film, The Tree of Life (written […]

Working With Inspired Details

What are we to make of Jesus’ warning that his Father will turn us over to prison and to torturers until we pay everything we owe if we do not forgive our brother and sister from our heart?  (Matt 18:34-35) And is there any connection between this statement and the way (one chapter later) Jesus […]

The Values and Problems of Discipleship

We started in our last conversation to talk about why the term “disciple” fell out of usage in the New Testament after the Gospels and the record of Acts. Its formal absence from the letters of Paul, James, Peter, and John catches my attention just as I’ve often wondered why those same writers didn’t make […]

Vanishing Disciples

Why does the word “disciple” suddenly stop being used in the New Testament?  While  “disciple” or its plural show up over 250 times in the Gospels and Acts, they don’t show up once in all that follows. My guess is that there is a connection between this disappearance of the “disciples” and the fact that […]

Getting Attention

Is there anything that followers of Christ can do to get the attention of those who dismiss them as uneducated and backward? Our Lord had a reputation of being “unschooled”. He drew crowds of people by healing them of all kinds of diseases  (Matt 4:24) (John 7:15). At one point he sent his apostles out […]

Christ and the Data gods

The good news of our age is that information is king. Knowledge rules. So by desktop, smartphone, or tablet, we have instant global access to the exploding journalistic, scientific, and commercial data of the world—sort of. The challenge is that we have a bit of an issue getting past the unnerving discovery that every question […]

Hating Religion and Family

One more look at the hate religion but love Jesus comparison. What if we hated religion the way Jesus asked us to hate the members of our own family? May sound like a stretch. But Jesus seems to consider hatred of close relatives a condition of his kingdom. While fulfilling the law that requires us […]

Who or What Has Changed?

Malachi, the last prophet of the Hebrew Scriptures, quoted God as saying, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (3:6 NKJV). Down through the centuries, however, many have noticed that, somewhere between the Old and New Testaments, the God of the Bible does seem to change. Instead of sending down war, floods, fire, and […]

What About this Rumor?

Imagine hearing that the leaders of a major church denomination have decided to ask all of its members to stop using the word “holy”. With a little research we confirm that the report is true, that the denomination’s elders are discouraging the use of the word and are even recommending a rewording of the Apostle […]

Wonderful Misused Words

The 91st Psalm is one of the most quoted, claimed, wonderful, mysterious, and misused portions of the Bible.  “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I […]

Fair Calls and Due Process

I remember hearing my dad describe how surprised he often was to hear the second side of a conflict. He said that when a co-worker came to him with a complaint about another, his first impression was to think the person really had a case. But if he took the time to hear the other […]

Beyond OSAS

In our last post we pushed from two sides on the question of “Once Saved Always Saved?” I acknowledged that on this issue “there has been longstanding disagreement in the body of Christ” not because I don’t have an opinion, but because it is a fact. Real believers in Christ have disagreed on this. Sometimes […]

A Shared Frustration

Some themes keep coming up in our conversations regardless of where a post begins. For some time now I’ve been preoccupied with the thought that every proverb, prediction, song, and story in the Bible needs to be read first for what it is– God breathed writing to and through people living in ancient times; and […]

Famous Pairs

Famous pairs usually have something in common. They are the right combination of two people who help one another do together what they could not have done on their own. A short list might include: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Abbott and Costello Car Talk’s Tom and Ray Sherlock Holmes […]

A New Day is Happening

I was deeply moved over the last couple of days by the personal ways that friends of this blog once again expressed their own thoughts in response to the “Business as Usual” post. In the spirit of what these friends have written, may we together enter as many days as we are given with the […]

Joy to the World

Joy to the World , the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing. Joy to the World, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills […]

The Wonder of Life and Non-Life

How long will it be before newspapers of the world announce that a team of scientists has discovered the chemical formula of life? Will they be beaten to the starting line by another group that discovers the mysterious subatomic factor that keeps even non-living matter from self-destructing? As Iranian scientists try to replicate the technology […]

Infinitely Interpreted?

While thinking about the goal of Bible reading and study, I rediscovered a quote by George Gopen, an author and university professor known for his expertise in teaching others to write from the reader’s point of view. About the meaning of words, he says, “Language theorists have long argued that every sentence can be infinitely […]

Joseph, Jesus, and the Bible

Seems to me that the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, is one of the most compelling and provocative stories of the Bible. Indulged as a child of his father’s old age, Joseph, in the apparent innocence of youth, talked to his other brothers about dreams of reigning over them. Together his brothers were […]

Why Sharing Our Faith Can Be Difficult

Some followers of Christ seem to find it natural to talk to others about their faith. Normal conversations, even with strangers, turn into spiritual encounters. They anticipate obstacles along the way, graciously answer objections, and often end up with a story of another changed heart. From the sidelines, many of us envy such persons. We […]

What is Our Cross to Bear?

Ben Child, writing for The Guardian, says that actor Jim Caviezel claims that, since taking the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ, he has been shunned by his own industry. Prior to that film Caviezel was an established actor in Hollywood, but says he was warned by Gibson that […]

Human Inhumanity

While reading the story of WW2 prisoner of war, Louis Zamperini, Devil at my Heels, I’ve found it to be a sickening reminder of our universal human capacity for evil. About half way into a story of suffering, first on a raft, lost at sea, and then in a series of prisoner of war detention […]

What are God’s Secrets?

A few mornings ago, as we were thinking together about the question “What is God Hiding?”, I woke with a song running through my mind, over and over. What seemed strange to me is that it was a hymn that I have not thought about or sung for years. It was also  a hymn that […]

A Faith That Works

Can faith and works exist apart from one another? The authors of the New Testament seem to be so concerned about answering this question that they sometimes sound as if they are contradicting themselves. In some texts, for instance, the apostle Paul takes pains to emphasize that salvation is by faith alone without any hint […]

What Else is God Hiding?

In our last post we saw how a proverb can help us reflect on the wisdom and ways of our God. By giving us a saying that functions like a riddle, our minds are stretched to consider more than one possibility. Yesterday we thought together about the proverb “It is the glory of God to […]

Cardinal Under Pressure

I didn’t stay up last night to see David Freese’s 11th inning game winning home run get the St Louis Cardinals into the 7th game of the World Series. But I read the news this morning of what must have been baseball at its best. Was also interested in after the game comments by Cardinal […]

A Defeated Enemy?

Does it make sense for us to think of the devil as a defeated foe—without thinking twice? On one hand, Hebrews 2:14-15 says of our Protector and Deliverer, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds […]

Schalit Palestinian Prisoner Swap

The announced prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas appears to have broken a 5 year stalemate in negotiations. The Jerusalem Post confirms that Israel and Hamas have agreed to exchange 25 year old Jewish soldier Gilad Schalit for 1027 “security” prisoners. Have been thinking about the guarded sense of deep emotion that families on both […]

What Matters in the End!?

As the sun was setting, I got a shot of this milkweed. Am thinking it might illustrate a way to move forward with our conversation about living in anticipation of end times. There’s a bit of irony here. Many of us believe that being ready for Christ’s promised return prepares us for eternity. Yet, in […]

The Bible and Truth

In all of our lives there are defining moments that come with the realization that our world will never be the same again. Some of these events changed the course of history. We may have been around long enough to remember where we were when we heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Others […]

Can We Admit to Doubt?

A friend recently passed along an article from USA Today titled “Why Certainty About God is Overrated.” The article told the story of John Polkinghorne, a world class physicist who also has the reputation of being a leading voice on the relationship between science and faith. Polkinghorne maintains that “We don’t believe in quarks because […]

What Is Biblical?

What makes something biblical? The easiest answer may be that, “If something is found in the Bible, it’s biblical.” But that means polygamy, slavery, and genocide all qualify. Another approach is to say that an idea or practice is biblical if it is consistent with the values and nature of the Bible. That’s probably a […]

God of the Burning Bush

As a fugitive from the Egyptian Pharaoh who had raised him, Moses’ life slowed to a crawl. Once he had been an adopted member of the Egyptian royal family. Now, on the back side of the desert, at the foot of Mount Sinai, he was watching over his father-in-law’s sheep. His life as a shepherd […]

More than Ten Suggestions

Down through the years some of us  have pointed out that God didn’t give Moses The Ten Suggestions. With similar conviction we rightly recognize the importance of being obedient to God. Many have also observed that the only real solution for the world will come in a day when God’s Messiah rules the world with […]

The Tree of Life

It begins with Hubble pictures of the cosmos and the whispered question, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7) As a film, The Tree of Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick, and starring […]

Being a Man

Some of King David’s last words were a challenge to his son. To Solomon, who would inherit the throne, he said, “Take courage and be a man” (1 Kings 2:2 nlt). What was this father saying? What did his son hear? Just as importantly, what do we hear in those words? Thousands of years later, […]

For Heretics and Love

Marcion of Sinope’ was a Bishop of the early Church (2nd century) who had a hard time reconciling the Gods of the Old and New Testaments. Without completely rejecting the Jewish Scriptures, he apparently found a way of seeing the God of the Jews as different than the God revealed in Christ. Like so many […]

What Makes Jesus Good for Us?

Who can measure the importance of the statement: “The Word became flesh, and lived among us full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)? Think about the implications of a statement that does not simply say that “The Word was full of truth”, or that “The Word was full of grace.” Imagine what Jesus might have […]

Endless Knowledge

Never before have so many people had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google and Yahoo! at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. The horizons of knowledge—According to Reuters News Service, the Hubble Space Telescope has found 10,000 galaxies in a window of […]

Knowing God’s Will

Because more than a few of us struggle with the question, “How can I know the will of God?,” imagine this scenario: We plead with God to show us what he wants us to do in a difficult situation. That night as we toss and turn, we dream that God shows up to answer our […]

The Trouble With G’d People

Some of us feel story-challenged. If we believed in Christ early in life, without ever doing drugs, time,  or the prodigal thing, we tend to feel at a loss for what used to be called “a testimony.” We may even have felt spiritually deprived the first time we heard the principle that those who are […]

Yemen, Us, Make Overs and Take Overs

The Republic of Yemen lies about 1000 miles to the south of Iraq at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Recently racked by the wave of anti-government protests that have swept the region, the country may be facing a worsening crisis. Some observers expect tribal factions to try to gain control of the country […]

God on Trial

After surviving the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, Elie Wiesel wrote a novel titled The Trial of God. Reflecting Wiesel’s own crisis of faith, he created a character who accuses God of “hostility, cruelty, and indifference” for silently turning His back on His people in their time of need. In this plot, the only one […]

Is This How God Loves Us?

Paul prayed for it. He longed for the faith and actions of his readers to be rooted and grounded in it. He wrote as if it is an immeasurable ocean with which God wants to fill us– in the face of all that we fear and hate (Eph 3:14-21). He saw Christ as its source […]

Bin Laden, Jesus, and us

Justice in the Bible is often linked to God’s concern for those who have been hurt by people like Bin Laden and us. For most of that reason we are rightfully thankful when dangerous people are apprehended. We are reassured by the thought that the offenders of our children will have their day in Court. […]

Authority Issues

In the 1960s, a generation of young people grew up with the slogan “Think for Yourself. Question Authority.” Earlier, the noted physicist Albert Einstein had observed “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” No one, however, gave us more reason to think twice about authority than Jesus. On the night before His […]

Returning to Normal

As thoughts of ‘holy week” and “resurrection day” linger,  here’s an update on the break-away, floating “lake shore” that produced my twi-light zone experience a couple of weeks ago. On our last visit to the lake, we found that city workers have dredged out and trucked away about ¾ of the mystery shoreline. At this […]

Personal Weekend Reflection

On this Resurrection Weekend, I’d like to point you to a couple minutes of personally expressed Jerusalem-based thoughts that have been posted on our Day of Discovery Website. They’re meant for anyone who comes into this weekend with a respect for Jesus, but a question of what to do with those thoughts. Here’s a link […]

Before and After

According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus began telling his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die at the hands of the religious leaders (Matt 16:21). The same Gospel shows that the Lord predicted his death several more times in the days to come (Matt 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 20:28; 26:2). One text even […]

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Let’s pick up on a theme that surfaced a couple of times in the “From Your Window” comments. More than one of our friends talked about how hard it is to see a recurring pattern of church people attacking their leaders and hurting one another. Why does it happen? What causes us to turn into […]

The Day God Died

On April 8, 1966, the cover of Time magazine asked in bold black letters, “Is God Dead?” The lead story described the work of several theologians who no longer held to traditional concepts of God. They were alike in concluding that the God of our fathers had not survived the dawn of evolution and birth […]

Family Business

In our last post we looked at some dialogue about a stranger who comes into a store and talks to the manager about being there to do family business. The words had meaning only if we supplied the story behind it. Of all the possible scenarios, two options were that the stranger was either the […]

Father, Son, and Family

From Moses to Jesus, the Bible tells the story of a Creator who eventually reveals himself in the Son who wants us to know his Father, and a Father who wants us to know his Son. The Son tells us that, at heart, he is just like his Father; that his Father is just like […]

Whether “Love Wins”… or not

After reading Rob Bell’s latest book, “Love Wins”… I remain convinced that God will make heaven as good as it can be… and hell as bad as it needs to be. We have every reason to trust whatever Jesus said and meant about the real danger of hellish loss in this life, and the judgment […]

The Roll of the Dice

Let’s take a second look at the two proverbs we took off from in our last post. I asked whether it is biblical to settle an argument by drawing straws, flipping a coin, or rolling the dice after referring to: “We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall (Prov 16:33 NLT). […]

Counsel of the Columns

The counsel of the Bible can sound contrary to all reason—and against our best interests—while showing us the meaning of wisdom. For instance, the Apostle James says something that could sound more like mental illness than spiritual health.  He encourages his readers to “count it all joy when they fall into various kinds of trials […]

Rumors on Steroids

A few days ago, online communities lit up with pre-publication rumors about a book that is coming out by Rob Bell on the subject of heaven, hell, and the destiny of all. Overnight, a video teaser, and cover copy released by his publisher stirred up enough furor (over what Rob might say) to earn his […]

Beating Ourselves Up

Why do we punish ourselves for old regrets long after we believe God has forgiven us? The question stuck in my mind after a conversation with someone I’ll call TC. TC described himself as being in recovery for multiple addictions. A couple of times he said, “My problem was forgiving myself. I found it a […]

The Value of Something Crazy

Our pastor used an unexpected and effective twist in his teaching yesterday. He started out saying that, while reading the book, Radical, by author David Platt, he began thinking about how much money would be coming into the church this week in the form of engagement rings on the fingers of women of the church. […]

The Story Behind Last Words

According to the Bible, some of the last words of Christ were spoken  through his angel to the Apostle John, exiled to the Aegean Island of Patmos. But what are we to make of Jesus’ message when he says in 22:14, ‘Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the […]

What About Rev 22:18-19?

The 18th and 19th verses of Revelation 22 describe severe consequences to anyone who either takes away or adds to the words of the prophecy. Apocalyptic plagues are promised to those who add to the book. Even worse, the Tree of Life and City of God are to be taken from those who subtract from […]

What Does Revelation 22:11 Mean?

So how does the Big Picture and Story of the Bible help us to understand a quote as difficult as we find in Revelation 22:11? “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is […]

Finding Our Way Ahead

I woke up this morning thinking that I need to move the conversation along to something else, as promised, because of the frustration that erupted over our last discussion. Then I read the comments posted overnight, and heard the heart and reasonableness of friends who expressed that they felt I was just making the Bible […]

Lost You!?

Let’s talk about what’s happening in the conversation following my last couple of posts. By using the literature model of author intention, plot, subplot, character development, mood, setting, conflict, resolution etc., I’ve left some of you with the impression that I’m being disrespectful of the sacred page. That’s what I don’t want to do. I […]

The Author’s Characters

In screenwriter Robert McKee’s book, Story, he says that the question of whether plot or character is more important to a story is as old as Aristotle. He went on to say that Aristotle weighed each and concluded that story is primary, character secondary. McKee goes on to explain that this perspective on storytelling held […]

The Author’s Plot and Subplots

I find it so necessary to keep in mind that the 66 books of the Bible have one all-encompassing, underlying storyline that gives perspective to all of the individual subplots, proverbs, predictions, laws, and letters. From Genesis to Revelation, the Author behind the authors tells us the most important parts of his story and ours. […]

Whose Reality Grips Us?

Has something changed in the way we read the Bible that is affecting our view of reality? Is it possible that we are no longer engrossed in its own story, but instead are flipping through its pages looking for interesting thoughts or anecdotes? Several recent experiences have me wondering. On one hand I recently heard […]

The Two Books of God

Several years ago, an international team of astronomers claimed that images from the Hubble Space telescope give evidence of 40,000 galaxies in a window of the night sky no larger than the size of the moon. Each galaxy containing billions of stars. (source) Then I hear the prophet Isaiah say, “To whom then will you […]

Jesus, Calvin, and 12 Step Awareness

While reading John Calvin (1509-1564) on John 4:10, I found some thoughts that resonate not only with the text he was talking about, but also with some of the basics of what we know as 12 Step recovery. Calvin says of the Help we all need, “We cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we […]

One for All

In November of 1947, Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, lobbied for a United Nations resolution that would divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Truman later expressed his faith in the reborn state of Israel saying, “I believe it has a glorious future before it—not just [as] another sovereign nation, […]

Wonder, Worship, and Wisdom

Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus are known for their wisdom. All three reflect the characteristics of wise teachers. They use short stories and memorable one-liners to help others think for themselves. They help their followers see below surface issues to matters of the heart. They teach their followers to live with priority and perspective. All three, […]

Waiting or Not Waiting

I’ve been sitting here for the last hour or so, sipping on a strong cup of coffee,  reading… and thinking about the thoughts and stories posted here over the last couple of days–by friends. Most of us have never met each other face to face. Yet here, in thoughts typed thousands of miles apart, we […]

Jangling and Jingling

Sleigh bells jingle. But what jangles? The question surfaced as I bumped into the word in a King James version of the Bible. When I checked another version, I saw that “jangling” was a 17th century way of describing the sound of empty talk. According to the Apostle Paul, it can happen when someone tries […]

The Wisdom of the Dog Whisperer

Millions of television viewers around the world have watched a dog trainer by the name of Cesar Millan. Also known as the “dog whisperer,” Millan has the ability not only to rehabilitate troubled dogs, but to do so with a calmness that often amazes the animal’s owner. Whether a dog is overly aggressive, excitable, or […]

Can Authority be Abused?

Can the authority God gives be misused? The question may seem, at best, like a no-brainer. How else can we explain corruption of power or the evil things people do in the name of God? But I’m increasingly convinced that it’s important to carefully weigh the difference between God-given authority, strength, power, and freedom. Here […]

Dog and Cat Theology

A friend gave me a smile the other day by reminding me that a dog says, You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, You must be God. But, A cat says: You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be God. Later googled the […]

People Jesus Loves

Today, Bethany is a little Arab neighborhood that lies behind an Israeli security wall, on the eastern slope of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. On a recent visit, I had a chance to meet this man who was selling a refreshing pomegranate drink. As it turns out, he  lives within a hundred miles from my house […]

Fool’s Gold

The California Gold Rush of 1848 created its share of prospectors who thought they had struck it rich—until learning about a glittering rock that came to be known as fool’s gold. More than a few saw their dreams fade in the metallic luster and brass-yellow hue of a relatively worthless mineral called iron pyrite. Such […]

Meeting Truth in Person

While reading a fairly technical book this week on Bible interpretation, I came across a statement that reminded me of the wonder of what God has given us in his Son. In a world that is struggling with difficult questions about meaning in texts, relationships, and life, a scholar by the name of Zimmerman writes, […]

Quoting God

In some circles, those who believe they have heard God speak to them are thought to be unstable. Other groups honor members who routinely quote what God has said to their hearts. Since so many of us think the practice has implications for either our sanity or spirituality, it might be worth thinking together about […]

Praying in the Name of Jesus

Just hours before Jesus’ death, He promised His disciples, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14 NKJV). Two thousand years later, those words continue to echo around the world. Millions of us will end our prayers today “in Jesus’ name.” But what about the promise? If we consider ourselves […]

Responding to Insult

By Internet or television, much of the world saw an Iraqi journalist throw both of his shoes at an American President. The shoe incident, however, was a minor embarrassment compared to a public display of contempt described in the Bible. The insult happened on a day that was already one of the lowest moments in […]

Sovereignty and Free Will

Would God hold us accountable for something He had not given us the ability to do? The people of Israel might have wondered as much when they heard Moses say, in his farewell address, “The Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deuteronomy 29:4 NKJV). […]

Studies in Contrast

How seriously do we need to take the claims that the Bible is full of contradictions? More than a few have written books or hosted Web sites to say that they lost their faith after finding glaring inconsistencies in the Bible. Some have spent a lot of time compiling lists of apparent discrepancies in both […]

Bragging Rights for Losers

The reality television series known as “The Biggest Loser” is in its eighth season. Once again contestants are competing for a cash prize and bragging rights for losing the most weight. Much of the program’s appeal lies in the personal hopes and struggles of contestants that viewers can identify with. Making winners out of losers […]

Man’s Best Friend

Surveys show that 43 million US households own a dog. Some are service dogs and provide assistance to those with special needs. Others are used for security or hunting. But most are kept for companionship. Why do we love our dogs?  Is it because we don’t take time to think about the holes they’ve dug […]

What Trust Looks Like

What does trust look like when we can’t explain our trouble, or see beyond it? Listening to others as they try to show faith in crisis can be confusing. Some say they are “believing God” for a job, restored health, a reconciled marriage, or the return of a prodigal. Others say reliance on Him means […]

False Intimacy

Over the past year, we have been working with some courageous men who have been willing to talk about their escape from pornography. In a compelling video presentation of broken and restored lives, several men told their stories in an empty warehouse that provides a visual backdrop for the lonely, secret obsession that had been […]

The Trouble with Grace

Is grace the fast food of a spiritual diet? Could undeserved kindness be the junk food of slackers? By definition, grace is “the unmerited favor” by which God shows us the kindness we don’t deserve. It is closely related to His mercy by which He withholds the punishment we have earned. The trouble with grace […]

Emerging Churches

Over the past decade, there has been growing controversy about “a new way of doing church.” Many of our sons and daughters are forming or joining congregations that don’t look or sound like our kind of church. Yet, they are likely to tell us they are just trying to be authentic followers of Jesus, and […]

Coneys

In times of financial, social, or medical uncertainty, the coney might seem like an unlikely example of wisdom. But this little rodentlike critter, so common in certain regions of Africa and the Middle East, is worth getting to know.  The coney is interesting for a number of reasons. Based on DNA similarities, some biologists have […]

Children and Disciples

Like clockwork, each new generation rides a pendulum of reaction to “the sins of the fathers.” As grateful as we may be for the good we have inherited, we are apt to “overcorrect” what we see as the failures of our parents. Seems to me that this is happening in the way an emerging generation […]

Jerusalem, Sodom, and Jesus

Why did God judge Sodom and Gomorrah? Most of us could answer the question. We’ve heard about the same-sex culture and out-of-control sexual aggression that Sodom and Gomorrah are known for (Genesis 19:1-10). But is there a story about the twin cities that we might have missed? Let’s take a closer look. Sodom and Gomorrah […]

A Survey

A 2006 Baylor Religion Survey found that Americans have very different opinions about whether God is inclined to be angry. According to the Baylor study: ? 23 percent believe in a God of goodwill who   shows up in our lives and is not inclined to   be angry. ? 31.4 percent believe in an […]

The Wisdom of Motives

Is it right to consider not only whether a law was broken, but why? I’ve been wondering about this after reading how a German court handled the ticketing of a motorist caught speeding by a traffic control camera. When the court learned why the driver had broken the speed limit, charges were waived. Instead, officials […]

A Shuffled Deck

Life is like a game of cards. We have to work with what we’re dealt. But what happens if we make up the rules as we go along? What if we assume that there is no real order or purpose to the shuffled deck of circumstance? Questions like these were raised in 1990, when American […]

The Big Fish Story of Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, a big fish story is read in synagogues. As worshipers fast, confess their sins, and reflect on the words of Moses and Isaiah, they listen once again to the account of a catch and release that is so amazing no one would believe it […]

The Love of God

I looked in the mirror and wondered if I was staring at one of heaven’s spoiled brats. After consuming more than my share of mercies, I could see in my eyes a sadness that reflected not what God had given, but what He had withheld. Questions formed emotional distance between me and the Father I […]

Missing Prophecies

Is it possible that followers of Christ have overstated the case for fulfilled prophecy? Like many others, I grew up hearing that one of the strongest reasons for believing in Jesus is that He fulfilled hundreds of predictions in the Jewish Scriptures. Years later I found myself wondering where most of those prophecies were. More […]

Aesop

Until recently, I thought of Aesop as an ancient Dr. Seuss. Then I started reading his fables. What surprised me is that his stories about talking animals, birds, and insects aren’t just for children. As an adult, I found that many of Aesop’s fables parallel or at least reinforce moral insights of the Bible. Aesop’s […]

The Road to Realism

Someone has noticed that, “Optimists think the glass is half full. Pessimists think it’s half empty. Realists know that if they stay around long enough they’re going to have to wash the glass.” In art, realists paint life with blemishes, wrinkles, and scars. Idealists paint a subject as they imagine it could or should be. […]

Heaven

I’m looking forward to long walks with good friends, shared meals without rushing, and endless laughter at no one’s expense. I’m anticipating meaningful work with plenty of time for reading, photography, fishing, and community service. For occasional entertainment I haven’t written off stadiums and ballparks. If my hunch is right, competition between friends will be […]

Hell

I wish I didn’t have to believe in hell. While seeing the need for eternal justice, the thought of cruel and unusual punishment that lasts forever sounds morally wrong to me. Yet, the Bible describes God as a great King who creates a lake of everlasting fire for rebels who want no part of His […]

The Holocaust

Having just returned from a work assignment in Israel, I’ve been reminded again of the Jewish commitment to never forget their national Holocaust.  I’ve also come back with a renewed concern for friends who see a link between anti-Semitism and the New Testament. While recalling discussions with one of those friends, I’m writing: Dear Eli, […]

The Creative Process

TEACHERS OF CREATIVE THINKING sometimes say, “All things are connected. Try to find relationships where you’ve never seen them before.” The exercise might raise questions among those who are more committed to “living by the book” than to “thinking outside the box.” On the other hand, it could be that no one has a better […]

What We Believe

DO THOSE WHO DON’T SHARE OUR VIEWS on God, morality, and public policy enjoy being around us? Or has the tension of moral politics come between us? If so, here’s a question. Is it possible to remain faithful to our own beliefs while fighting for the right of others to disagree with us? My guess […]

The Story Factor

Some people spend a lifetime trying to understand the Bible. Others reduce it to a few basic principles. In Walk the Line, a film portrayal of country singer Johnny Cash, a conversation between two young brothers suggests another approach. During a reflective moment, just before a tragic accident changes their lives, the boys are lying […]

Rescue

In the summer of 2002, a coal mining accident left nine Pennsylvania men trapped 240 feet underground. For three days the men huddled in the darkness of a cramped space that had filled almost to the top with 55 degree water. On the surface, a nation watched as rescue efforts dragged on longer than expected. […]

Joe Friday

Growing up in the 1950s, I remember the television series Dragnet. Each episode began with the notes of an ominous theme. Then the rich voice of announcer George Fenneman intoned, “The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Producer and actor Jack Webb narrated […]

Imponderables

Where did God come from? Could a creator who made the earth out of nothing come from nowhere? Even a lowly mosquito doesn’t just happen without a spawning pond or puddle. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer. I see the logic of believing in a first cause great enough and personal enough to explain […]

The People vs. Job

Public interest in high-profile court cases often declines once the outcome is known. The People vs. Job, however, is a landmark decision that never loses its significance. In one of the most published trials in history we see the eyes of heaven and hell focused on our times of trouble. In the same public record […]

Why I Don’t Go To Church

1. I don’t go to church expecting to see a group of people consistently reflecting the attitudes and values of Christ. I’ve seen enough of myself in church sanctuaries, meeting halls, and boardrooms to know that we all are at varying degrees of spiritual growth or regression. Some of us are like noisy newborns. Others […]

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code has been on the New York Times Bestseller List since its release in April 2003. In less than 2 years it has become a bestseller in 150 countries and one of the most widely read books of our time. Author Dan Brown has done what many authors only dream of doing. […]

A Prediction

One of the most amazing predictions of the Bible was made in the middle of a national disaster. The pride of Israel had been broken. On the heels of a military defeat, some of the most religious people in the world wondered if God had abandoned them. Many of Israel’s brightest and best young people […]

Misplaced Trust

If God is good, but good isn’t God, how do we avoid making some of our worst mistakes with the best things in life? In an effort to clarify the problem of misplaced trust, what if we said to our hearts: Love God, but don’t depend on your love for Him. Seek to know Him, […]

Spiritual Warfare

In one of the oldest stories of the Bible, the heart of a mere mortal gets caught in the crossfire between a rebel leader and the King of the universe. According to Satan, God has bought the heart of a man named Job by giving him protection in exchange for his loyalty. In response to […]

The King of Kings

Long ago, before dinosaurs roamed the earth, and before there was a star in the sky, a great king issued a decree that shook the realms of darkness. The king spoke and the universe exploded into existence. He said, “Let there be light,” and the darkness ran from him. By the power of his words […]

A Manifesto

Manifestos declare revolutionary ideas. The Communist Manifesto of 1848 called for the redistribution of wealth. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 affirmed salvation by faith alone, and the 13 colonies’ Declaration of Independence in 1776 made a case for citizens’ right of revolt. The most revolutionary declaration of all, however, was the first-century preamble to […]

An Admission

Dear Aaron, I hope you are doing well. I miss our conversations about life, religion, and the Chicago Cubs. Even more, I regret that we haven’t kept in touch after your move to Philadelphia. I’m writing now because time has changed my thoughts on a subject we used to disagree about, and I owe you […]

Snoopy

FOR 50 YEARS, cartoonist Charles Schulz gave us pictures of ourselves wrapped in a smile. One of the last strips I clipped from our Sunday paper showed Snoopy the dog sitting on top of his doghouse with a typewriter, writing about his life. He titled his story . . . The Dog Who Never Did […]

Two Thieves

Crucifixion was torture. Leather straps or spikes were used to hang a condemned man on a pole. Like a helpless animal tangled in a barbed wire fence, the victim could survive for days with excruciating pain. Death usually came by suffocation when, hanging by his hands, the victim lost the strength to draw another breath. […]

Information Overload

Never before have so many had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google, Alta Vista, and Ask Jeeves at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. Ironically, much of what we are discovering helps us to see how little we know. According to Reuters […]

Diminished Capacity

In an age of equal rights, it is sometimes difficult to see the Bible as a friend of women. Although some texts treat husbands and wives as equals (1 Corinthians 7:4), other passages view women as the “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7) and place them in a supporting role rather than a leading role (Ephesians […]

Who Killed Christ?

Could The Passion of the Christ stir up flames of ethnic hatred? Some of our Jewish neighbors fear that Mel Gibson’s film about the last hours of Christ will set the calendar back. Many remember the long history of anti-Semitism that surfaced in the writings of Church fathers, the Crusades, and the Holocaust. Now as […]