Archive for the 'God' Category

(Posts Archive)

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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, […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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). […]

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 […]

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 […]

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). […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Existence of God

A mature Christian woman recently told me of an experience that caused her to doubt the existence of God. Hearing a woman of the church talk about her doubts got my attention. Over the years I’ve thought of women not only as the gender chosen to give physical birth but most likely to nurture spiritual […]

Unfairness

Life isn’t fair. Helpless children suffer for their parents’ mistakes. Some who work hard are cut down prematurely by accident or disease. Others who hardly work inherit the wealth of someone else’s labor. People of faith seem as subject to the luck of the draw as the weekend gambler. As if by a random dealing […]

The Value of a Person

What is the value of a person? In many cultures men are honored more than women. Rich people are respected more than poor people. The current market value of a person is determined like the price of a car. Model, year, and condition all play a part. The disturbing truth is that human worth, like […]

Why Israel Can’t Be Ignored

Whether loved or hated, Israel is a magnet. Although no larger than the state of New Jersey, she draws journalists, statesmen, and tourists from all over the world to a few acres of the most contested real estate on earth. Arriving from many nations, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim pilgrims stream through Ben Gurion airport in […]

A Personal Loss

Dear Al, The last time we talked, you asked a question I couldn’t answer. I remember the concern in your eyes and how helpless I felt to give you any assurance when you asked, “Does the Bible offer any comfort when we’re afraid someone we love has died without Christ?” ¶  Your heartbreak is understandable. […]

Should We Go Kosher?

Do followers of Christ have a moral obligation to keep the Ten Commandments? Even though this seems like an easy question, I’ve struggled with the answer. Why Is This A Hard Question? The question of our relationship to the law of Moses is thorny for a number of reasons. People who believe in the Bible […]

Does God Play Favorites?

Why would a parent do more for some of his children than for others? Why does our Father in heaven seem to repeat the mistake of a well-known biblical patriarch? Jacob provoked family rivalry among his 12 sons by spoiling young Joseph in the presence of older brothers (Genesis 37:3). So often our Father seems […]

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