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 […]

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