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 […]

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, by continuing to use this site you agree to this. Find out more on how we use cookies and how to disable them.