Archive for the 'His Love' Category

(Posts Archive)

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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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