Archive for the 'Grace' Category

(Posts Archive)

Implications

Sometimes, and maybe always, the Scriptures make sense only if we read between the lines. For instance, what’s the point of Israel—if God doesn’t choose everyone? Why would Jesus’ answer about the greatest of all commandments be so good and wise— if (behind the scenes of our collective wrongs and chaos) God didn’t love us […]

The Rule of Law

In the beginning, there was 1. Then 10 multiplied into hundreds— and thousands. Later we learn there is a time for everything—a time to see the importance of laws… and a time to see their worthlessness. If Jesus is in the process of renewing and refreshing all things, how does he throw light on what […]

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 […]

The Curse

This Spring, a Robin built her nest in this wreath on our front door. I watched as she wove the nest, mudded it, and then made it into a soft bed for her family to be. Over the next few days I got pictures of three blue eggs and then babies barely able to lift their heads. But four […]

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 […]

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 […]

One Last Drink

Over the years, I’ve wondered about Jesus’s comment to the Samaritan woman about the last drink she would ever need. Standing at Jacob’s well, in the heat of the day, she didn’t know what he meant either. Has anyone ever gotten what they would call one last drink from Jesus? So what was Jesus promising […]

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 […]

Torah

The New Testament offers us citizenship in a monarchy where the King serves— and calls his servants friends. The idea isn’t completely  new. It’s a story that begins to unfold in the drama of Eden— but is soon lost in the confusion of a world where muscular strength and social authority are used to build kingdoms of self-serving […]

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 […]

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 […]

Terror’s Other Story

In Roman culture– crucifixion was a slow, cruel, humiliation and death meant to publicly serve notice of what happens to those who challenge political power. Within the biblical storyline, the curse of being hung on a tree seems to have echoes of the law (Gal 3:13; Deut 21:23), and deeper still of the tragic consequences of what […]

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 […]

Why Some Veterans Miss War

In a provocative 13 minute TED Talk war correspondent Sebastian Junger tries to answer a disturbing question. Why do so many veterans, especially those who served in active duty, miss war? After 20 years of covering the horrors and inhumanity of the battlefield, Junger found a painful irony—what veterans miss is the opposite of what […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Peace on Earth

Moments of peace point beyond themselves to One far better than ourselves. Sainsbury’s, the third largest chain of supermarkets in the UK, has produced a Christmas 2014 Ad that rises above its commercial interests. In attempting to re-create a World War 1 Christmas “miracle”, it provides a taste of peace, foreseen in an ancient prophecy […]

Am I Listening?

Am thinking it might be important to have another conversation about issues of authority and obedience. Many of us have been taught to net out our relationship with God in two words— trust and obey. Trust God. Do what he says. Could anything make more sense than the thought that our Creator God deserves our trust and obedience? […]

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 […]

Loving in Loss

Two days ago dear friends lost an adult son in a tragic work accident. This morning I received an e-mail from the father who described what happened last night when their grieving family reached out to the man who had accidentally killed their son, brother, husband, and father. The note described not only their overwhelming […]

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 […]

Rectification of Names

I found a quote the other day that intrigued me. Attributed to Confucius, it read, “Social disorder often stems from the failure to perceive, understand, and deal with reality. And that social reality is tied up with language.” Since I was reading words out of context, I did some checking to see if there was […]

A Story and a Prayer

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

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 […]

Separated

It’s been called a spiritual law: man is sinful and separated from God. The resulting word picture is a deep, uncrossable chasm between a holy Creator and the sinner. What seems worth thinking about together, though, is how this separation looks in the unfolding story of the Bible. Let’s back up and think about what […]

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 […]

Beowulf, Juliet, and Jesus

An article on the Geekosystem website says that a professor from the University of Manchester, has published a paper suggesting that students of literature have been misinterpreting the first line of the old English, heroic epic poem Beowulf for 200 years. The article  was too complex to draw me into the debate. But I understood […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Mixing it Up

Syncretism is an interesting subject. We see an example not only in Dr Livingstone’s Sechele, but also in the life of Solomon. 1Kings 3 indicates that Solomon, the young king of Israel, took a peace bride by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter. Born in the home of a warrior king, Solomon probably had his fill of killing […]

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 […]

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