Archive for the 'Jesus Christ' 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Unforgivable!

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

Glory!

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

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 […]

Sounds and Silence

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

Living by the Broken Rule

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

A Certain Kind of Love

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

A Personal Word

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

Our Father’s Business

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

Looking for What’s Missing

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

The Sign of the Cross

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

Money, Cover-up, and Conflicting Reports

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

The Cup Jesus Drank for Us

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

Transformative Spirituality

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Living in the Spirit

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

Ubuntu

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

The Hiddenness of God

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

Authority Issues

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

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 […]

Why the Mystery?

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

What are we Thinking?

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

While we Wait

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

Dark Thoughts

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

Holy What?

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

The Unchosen

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

Is God Like the Weather?

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

High Ground

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

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, […]

The Gift of a New Testament

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

Simplicity and Complexity

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

Ebola and Leprosy

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

Moses, Joshua and Jesus

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

Christian Mysticism

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

A Story and a Prayer

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

Living Letters

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

Losing our Voice

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

Staying with the Story

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

Jonah and the Word of God

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

Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner?

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

Survivor’s Guilt and Deep Gratitude

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

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 […]

Live Loved

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

Why is God so Angry?

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

The Star of Christmas

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

The Voice

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

Mandela and the Bible

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

A Signature Mark of Work in Progress

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

A Time to Cry

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

The Heel Snatcher

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

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 […]

The Threat of Terrorism

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

Mercy Prayer 2

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

The Wonder of a Tree

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

The Mercy Prayer

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

How we Read the Story

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

A Better Righteousness

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

In Search of a Safe Place

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

Tolerance and Intolerance

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

Personal Outcomes

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

A Personal Word

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

Can We Think Our Way to God?

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

A Noteworthy Difference

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

Jacob’s Ladder

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

Mysteries of the Bible

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

The Riddle of an Empty Grave

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

Hope for Marwa’s World

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

What Dr Livingstone Presumed

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

One Mission Two Results

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

Vu Deja May Be Part of the Answer

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

Did Jesus Die for a Tree?

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

Toxic Truth

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

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 […]

Newtown

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

A Life-Changing Analogy

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

Hunting Dog Shoots Owner

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

Adam and Jesus

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

What Opens the Bible?

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

A Friend Called Satan?

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

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 […]

Return of the Good Shepherd

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

The Day Between

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

Working With Inspired Details

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

The Values and Problems of Discipleship

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

Christ and the Data gods

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

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 […]

Joy to the World

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

What is Our Cross to Bear?

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

Human Inhumanity

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

What are God’s Secrets?

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

What Else is God Hiding?

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

A Defeated Enemy?

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

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 […]

Endless Knowledge

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

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 […]

Personal Weekend Reflection

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

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 […]

One for All

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

Meeting Truth in Person

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

Praying in the Name of Jesus

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

Responding to Insult

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

Jerusalem, Sodom, and Jesus

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

A Shuffled Deck

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

Missing Prophecies

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

Aesop

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

The Road to Realism

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

Joe Friday

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

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 […]

Two Thieves

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

Who Killed Christ?

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

Our Identity in Christ

Identity theft is a problem most of us didn’t think about 5 years ago. Today it is common to hear the stories of victims who are trying to salvage their name and credit rating after learning that someone has stolen and misused a password, social security number, or charge card. Knowing the danger of identity […]

The Values of Christ

Mel Fisher has been called the world’s greatest treasure hunter. His motto “Today Is The Day” came true on July 20, 1985, when his team found the Mother Lode of their dreams in the tropical waters of the Florida Keys. After years of salvaging shipwrecks of lesser significance, Mel’s team discovered stacks of silver bars, […]

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 […]

Shadows Of Doubt

Dear Mel, I’ve been thinking about the spiritual doubts you were struggling with the last time we talked. I didn’t say much at the time because I didn’t know what to say. Now that I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts, I want you to know that I respect you for admitting that you’ve […]

The Return of Christ

Only hours before His death, a carpenter rabbi from Nazareth told His followers that He was leaving them. Then He said, “Let not your heart be troubled . . . . I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Almost 2,000 years later, […]

Picturing Animal Sacrifice

In 1987 the city council of Hialeah, Florida, passed several ordinances banning animal sacrifice for religious purposes. A district court initially upheld the council’s actions, citing four concerns: (1) health risks, (2) possible emotional damage to children present at the sacrifices, (3) cruelty to animals, and (4) the council’s interest in restricting the killing of […]

A King’s Story Unfolds

One of the great challenges to understanding God’s Word is finding its storyline within its 66 sections. But when we uncover the basic plot, we find that not only is the Bible a good read—it’s our story.  ¶  In these pages, we learn of a Great King who outmaneuvers the terrorist strategies of a former […]

The Gift

Imagine filling out an application for heaven. After filling in your name and address, you come to a section marked “Qualifications.” What would you put there? “My belief in God? The people I have helped along the way? I’ve tried to live by the Ten Commandments?” Or would you write, “No qualifications other than my […]

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