Archive for the 'Ideas to think about' Category

(Posts Archive)

Apocalypse has Begun

In everyday usage, the word apocalyptic represents horrific events that preview the end of the world as we know it. When used of the Bible it suggests a cosmic unveiling, intervention and new world order. Normally, we think of apocalyptic events as future. But, according to the Gospel, the greatest of all revelations has already […]

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 Games we Play

On the heels of an amazing Wimbleton final between Sweden’s Roger Federer and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic; and as World Cup competition begins to move toward a final crowning in Rio, I’m once again trying to weigh the global fascination with sport and competition. It could be that the examples I’m looking at are of little […]

The King of Hearts

According to an online news source, a couple of regular customers of a Loveland, Colorado, fast-food restaurant, ages 52 and 85, ended up in court after disagreeing over a parking space. Assault charges were filed after the younger man swung open the door of his vehicle knocking the older to the ground. As in all […]

Jacob’s Legacy

In All’s Well That Ends Well, William Shakespeare gives us the thought that “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” Two centuries later, a French author by the name of Victor Hugo showed his readers that a legacy of honesty—without grace—can turn us into devils. In his 19th-century novel Les Misérables (i.e., The Miserable), Hugo […]

Jacob’s Sleepless Night

When a loving father lets his little boy tackle him to the ground or match muscles in arm wrestling, we don’t expect to see dad suddenly subject his young son to a painful arm twist or body slam. So why then do so many of us feel roughed up, abandoned, and even left for dead […]

Jacob’s Ladder

In 19th-century America, a generation of oppressed slaves sang a spiritual about “Jacob’s Ladder.” The repetitive, rhythmic lyrics about climbing higher and higher helped them envision themselves on a hard journey to a better place. The original story is about a great ladder reaching up to heaven, and it’s as down-to-earth as the man who […]

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 […]

Ligers and TomTatoes

Two recent news articles describe attempts to alter nature.  One tells the story of a 922 pound cat that made it into the 2014 edition of Guinness World Records. Hercules is a Liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger that lives at a Myrtle Beach wildlife preserve. According to the cat’s owner, ligers […]

Adam and Jesus

In the era of the Great Depression, the dust bowl, and breadlines, it might seem fitting that the 1930s also produced a dark comedy cartoon that came to be known as The Addams Family. Created by illustrator Charles Addams for The New Yorker magazine, the single-frame comic gags took a satirical look at a ghoulishly […]

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 […]

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 […]

A Realistic View of the Bible

The Bible pays a price for being one of the most quoted and talked about books in the world. Even those who haven’t read it for themselves often assume they’ve heard enough to know what it’s about. But there’s more to this Book of books than its reputation may suggest. Being anything but predictable, first […]

Grounds for Mercy

A French news report told the story of a young field dog that jumped on its deer-hunting master in a playful show of affection. When the pup’s paw caught the trigger of the hunter’s firearm, the gun accidentally discharged, resulting in the loss of the owner’s hand. The victim later blamed himself for not having […]

Solomon and Jesus

Long ago, a young king of Israel wrote, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, . . . she is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15 NIV). The Wisdom of Solomon: To this day, we still tell the story of how God appeared to him in a dream and […]

Samson’s Eyes

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH • Time: 1070 BC • Place: Land of Israel • Spirit of the Age: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. —Judges 21:25 NKJV • Growing Crisis: A group of people known as the Philistines have brought their foreign gods and influence […]

Samson and Jesus

Samson is one of the most interesting people of the Bible. Like the Philistine Goliath, he’s remembered for his legendary physical strength. After killing a lion with his bare hands, he took on a whole army with the jawbone of a donkey and, in his last act, pushed down the pillars of a huge temple […]

Bully

When my wife and I walked into the small, darkened auditorium, we saw something that has been almost as unforgettable as the documentary we had come to see. Scattered and spread out among the many empty seats, a few parents sat with children in a manner that, as I recall, looked more like a visit […]

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 […]

Norway’s Trial of the Century

In July of 2011, a 33-year-old Norwegian bombed an Oslo government building and then gunned down scores of guests at a Labor Party youth camp. Seventy-seven people died, and many more were injured. Prior to the attacks, the young gunman wrote a lengthy manifesto titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. In chilling detail, he […]

Gold for Claressa and Flint

Never thought I’d find myself choking back cheers of joy watching a 17 year old girl box her way to Olympic Gold. But that’s what happened last night as I watched Claressa Shields beat an opponent almost twice her age. Wasn’t raised to anticipate celebrating a woman boxer even though I was raised to read […]

Curiosity

After hurtling through 352 million miles of space for 8 and ½ months, carrying a 2.6 billion dollar Mars rover, the space-laboratory named Curiosity survived seven minutes of terror to make an amazingly ingenious landing on the red planet. Why curiosity? Because in yet one more attempt, NASA scientists are trying to find evidence of how […]

The Bible and Cut Flowers

The words of the Bible can be like cut flowers. The words of Jesus, like the laws of Moses, can be selectively chosen and arranged for anyone’s temporary purposes and enjoyment. But once the words are sheared from the stem and root of the story they are telling, they begin to fade in significance like […]

Giving Facts a Chance

In the early 1950s, a small Chicago-based religious sect predicted that the world was going to end on December 21, 1954. Their leader claimed to have received this information from an alien reincarnation of Jesus who went by the name of Sananda. Their prophecy caught the attention of researchers from Stanford University, who decided to […]

Load Tests

While meeting with a group of co-workers in Singapore, I looked out a seventh-story window and noticed a pile of huge, concrete blocks. When I asked about it, a colleague gave me some background. He said that since Singapore is a city-state built on an island, it is a common practice to test the stability […]

Our Fathers

On StoryCorps, a project of National Public Radio, I heard 73-year-old Walter Dean Myers tell a story that he says has forever changed the way he remembers his father. Myers, an author with almost 100 books to his name, recalls that at 14 he already had a love for writing. Since his parents didn’t have […]

How Could a Good God Allow This?

In a world as messed up as our own, there are many reasons to ask how a good God could allow this? And why? Long ago, a grieving, angry man found himself tormented by such questions as his friends accused him of hiding the scandal that would explain why he was suffering more than they […]

The Roar of Deception

In October 2011, 56 wild animals terrorized the town of Zanesville, Ohio. The owner of an exotic animal park, troubled by legal challenges and neighbor complaints, had lashed out against the community by deliberately opening his cages just before dark. Local authorities responded by warning neighbors, barricading roads, and closing schools. After a couple of […]

The Tree of Life

A recent motion picture begins with powerful images from the Hubble telescope and the whispered question, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7). As a film, The Tree of Life (written […]

Higher Learning for All

Before Jesus returned to his Father he challenged his disciples to teach others what he had taught them. At this point, questions linger from our past conversations. Were Paul, Peter, James, and John faithful to that Great Commission, even though they seldom quoted their Teacher in their New Testament letters? Seems to me that their […]

Who or What Has Changed?

Malachi, the last prophet of the Hebrew Scriptures, quoted God as saying, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (3:6 NKJV). Down through the centuries, however, many have noticed that, somewhere between the Old and New Testaments, the God of the Bible does seem to change. Instead of sending down war, floods, fire, and […]

Famous Pairs

Famous pairs usually have something in common. They are the right combination of two people who help one another do together what they could not have done on their own. A short list might include: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Abbott and Costello Car Talk’s Tom and Ray Sherlock Holmes […]

The Bible and Truth

In all of our lives there are defining moments that come with the realization that our world will never be the same again. Some of these events changed the course of history. We may have been around long enough to remember where we were when we heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Others […]

Being a Man

Some of King David’s last words were a challenge to his son. To Solomon, who would inherit the throne, he said, “Take courage and be a man” (1 Kings 2:2 nlt). What was this father saying? What did his son hear? Just as importantly, what do we hear in those words? Thousands of years later, […]

Famous Pairs

Am guessing that when you see the following short list of famous pairs, you will think of other duos that have a way of doing together what neither could do on their own. In addition to bacon and eggs, there are, Sherlock and Watson Tom and Huck Abbot and Costello Batman and Robin Lewis and […]

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 […]

Who Would Have Thought…?

National Public Radio’s StoryCorp has just released a wonderful story told by a grandfather to his two granddaughters. (NPR Link) According to attorney Martin Levin, while in college back in he 1930s, he met a fellow student who in his words was, “the most obnoxious, most difficult, and most awful person I’ve ever met in […]

God on Trial

After surviving the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, Elie Wiesel wrote a novel titled The Trial of God. Reflecting Wiesel’s own crisis of faith, he created a character who accuses God of “hostility, cruelty, and indifference” for silently turning His back on His people in their time of need. In this plot, the only one […]

What’s Going on Here?

Store manager: What are you doing here? Stranger: Why do you need to know? Store manager: I’m making it my business to ask, why are you here? What are you going to do before your leave? Stranger: I’m here to do my father’s business. Store manager: Who’s your father? Stranger: You’ll know before I leave. […]

Camp Hope

Now that 33 miners have been lifted from 2000 feet below the surface of Chile’s Atacama desert, Camp Hope will soon be a memory. At one point the temporary tent city in the middle of a barren nowhere hosted between 2,500 and 3,000 family members, journalists, volunteers and rescue workers. Now 70 days after the […]

Poison Ivy or Wild Blackberry

Years ago I chased a softball into patch of poison ivy. Ever since, I’ve been looking for it (not the ball but PI) along the edges of wooded areas, in fields, and even among the myrtle of our yard. Haven’t forgotten the weeks of blisters, itch, and discomfort. Along the way, I’ve appreciated the simple […]

What Comes to Mind?

Got this picture the other day after coming upon a couple of young bucks sparring. Have been trying to think of a reason to post it. It’s a bit small. But you should be able to  enlarge the picture by clicking on it. Remembered it again this morning while thinking about the way the New […]

What’s More Important?

In a business, what is more important, people or process, relationships or product? Or to clarify, what is more important in a commercial enterprise, people and relationships or process and product? My guess is that some of us would say that this is a no-brainer. But I’m also guessing that among those of us who […]

Studies in Contrast

Does the Bible contradict itself? More than a few people have written books or hosted websites to say that they lost their faith after seeing how often the Bible contradicts itself. Some have spent a lot of time compiling lists of apparent discrepancies in both Old and New Testaments. Collections of alleged Bible contradictions are […]

Letterman Without a Laugh

Long time, late night host and comedian, David Letterman told his audience last night that he has had sexual relations with members of his staff. CNN story. The story needs to be made public, he said, since he had appeared earlier in the day before a Grand Jury to give testimony in an extortion case. […]

Hope for A Dying Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is dying. Water levels of what the Bible also calls The Salt Sea, already rest at the lowest on earth (1378 feet below sea level), and are dropping at a rate of three feet a year. The problem has developed not only from natural weather cycles, but also from the amount of […]

The Geico Gecko

A Science article by Henry Fountain in the New York Times yesterday tells an interesting story about the little Gecko whose animated likeness has been  so cleverly used in the TV Gecko/Geico Insurance commercials. According to the author, “Like some other animals, the gecko can perform a neat trick when threatened by a predator: it […]

Seeing as We Are

One of the thoughts that has intrigued me over the years is that, “We see things not only as they are, but as we are.” I’ve wondered whether that could be one way of paraphrasing Paul’s words to Titus when he wrote, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled […]

Don't Kiss the Saint

A Madrid AP news item caught my attention over the weekend. It reported that the emergence of Swine Flu has necessitated a new rule: “Don’t Kiss the Saint.” For hundreds of years visitors to one of Roman Catholicism’s holiest shrines— claiming to hold the remains of the Apostle James—have hugged or kissed a statue Spain’s […]

Peace Child

Don Richardson, author of Peace Child and Eternity in their Hearts, is known for a discovery that he and his wife, Carol, made among the  Sawi people of Dutch New Guinea. At the time (1960s) the Sawi people were headhunters, at war with rival tribes, and absorbed in a culture of aggressive self-protection. To the […]

Bragging Rights for Losers

This isn’t going to be about losing pounds. It’s about feeling down, confused, and wondering why prayers keep coming back like undeliverable e-mails, or unopened envelopes marked “return to sender,” … and then finding help from someone who endured similar fears and frustrations– but to a far greater degree. He had made a name for […]

The Wonder of Boredom

He knew things he wasn’t allowed to talk about. Bound now by a law of silence he lived with the memory of being caught up into what he called “the third heaven” where he says he heard things that a man is not allowed to repeat. Am wondering whether he was allowed to see anything. […]

What Can We Learn From our Dog?

Surveys show that 43 million households own a dog.  Some of those pets are service dogs. Others are used for security or hunting.  More than a few have been inherited by parents of college age children who left them behind. But most are kept for companionship. Because of the love many of us have for […]

Moses and the Taliban

In The God Delusion, author Richard Dawkins makes a connection between Moses and the Taliban that must have occurred to some of us as well. Who among us has not listened with horror to reports of young women being stoned for adultery or for going out in public without head coverings. Some of us may […]

Limited Free Will

The wisdom of the Proverbs says, “A man plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps” (Prov 16:9). In a few words, the Bible reflects the mystery of the interrelationship between the freedom of our thoughts and the enabling, limiting, and over-riding will of God. The extent of our freedom is something that is […]

High Lows and Heavy Lifting

Since the 1920s the High/Low has become a common part of industrial heavy lifting and warehousing. With the convenience comes the risks of working with heavy, potentially falling loads. So, many of the modern forklifts are designed with an overhead guard and also a heavy counterweight behind and below the driver (neither of which is […]

Liberty and Justice For…ever

On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson and 55 others signed a Declaration of Independence from the King of England. Their resolve began with these words, When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to for one people to dissolve the political bands that have connected them to another and to assume among the […]

Billy Mays TV Pitchman Dies

Another well known personality has passed unexpectedly. According to an AP news report Billy Mays, 50, was found unresponsive by his wife in his Tampa home Sunday morning. The same report indicates that he was interviewed by local television a day earlier after being hit on the head by a falling object when his airliner […]

New Tears and a Long Lost Ark

A co-worker’s father died this week at the age of 87. Ed McMahan passed at 86. Farrah Fawcett at 62. Michael Jackson at 50. Meanwhile the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church announced the unveiling today of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant. The whereabouts of the ancient lost box that was built by God’s […]

Why we Worry!

Why do you worry? Jesus asked his disciples that question while repeatedly encouraging them not to be consumed by the kind of everyday concerns that bother those who don’t know him and his father. But was the Teacher asking us to detach ourselves from the real concerns of life?… when he said, ” Therefore I […]

Heaven on Earth?!

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” Remember seeing an upscale Singapore condominium complex advertised as “Heaven on Earth”. Googled “Heaven on Earth” and got the lyrics of a Britney Spears song of […]

GM and Us

For most of my life, GM has been a big part of our local economy and identity. When traveling outside of the U.S. I often explain that my home is in Grand Rapids, Michigan about 150 miles from Detroit. So when General Motors, became the second-largest bankruptcy in history, it was a sad day for […]

Wage Issues

One of the concerns we keep hearing about in the present job market is that in a downward adjusting economy those who are laid off may have to re-employ at a lower base wage than they left behind.  And if inflation kicks in? Seems like a good time to review our contract/covenant issues with the […]

What’s Happening Here?

Oh no. I remember my sense of alarm when I heard someone talk about the New Testament discrepancy between two different accounts of Jesus feeding thousands with a few pieces of bread and fish. Then I discovered something else. Both accounts were described in the Gospel of Matthew  in two consecutive chapters, with a summary […]

Killing One Another

Many of us are trying to understand why an army sergeant turned his weapon on five fellow soldiers at a stress clinic in the outskirts of Baghdad. What was going through the mind of a man who already had his gun taken away before coming up with another? (See article here) The soldier had three […]

Good Conversation

Few disagreements continue on the basis of 100% error. From the beginning, our spiritual enemy told a half truth (Gen 3:5) and ever since we have been unintentionally, falling into his example. Sometimes the art of telling half-truths is intentional. But more often it reflects the limitations of one point of view. Monologues tend to […]

Listening to One Another

In an earlier post I mentioned that a first meaning of words translated “obey” in the Bible is “to listen” and “to be attentive, as one listening for a knock at the door.” As I’ve  thought about the relationship between listening and obeying, I’ve  imagined hearing a knock at the door in the middle of […]

A Surprisingly Strong Woman

In my last post I said that I find it interesting that Job shows up in the time of Abraham, apparently outside of Israel, with such Jesus-like  social conscience. Find a similar description of an ideal woman that comes from a time when men were expected to rule their homes, and when daughters and wives […]

A Surprisingly Good Man

As Satan gloats over the progress of his rebellion, God asks, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8). So I find myself absorbed in the memoirs of Job. What made him such a […]

Earth Days and After

Have had a lot of conversations over the years with Dean about whether “earth care” should be one of our priorities. We’ve always shared a love of the outdoors, even though he’s always been the teacher whenever we are out in the field or woods. I’ll admit that I used to argue that this earth […]

Surprising the Crowd and the Judges

While remembering the emotion I felt watching Susan Boyle amaze the judges and the crowd, I’ve just read the third and fourth chapters of Acts with new appreciation. If you have time over the weekend, am thinking you also may find a smile if you see any relationship between: i.e.  (a) Susan and those who […]

The Mysterious Third Feast of Israel

Moses asked Israel to remember their Exodus Passover on the 14th of the Hebrew month of  Nisan (Lev 23:5).  He said the next day (the 15th) was to begin  seven days of Unleavened Bread and called the first day a no-work/Sabbath (vv 6-7). Moses went on to say that, once Israel was in their promised […]

One for All and…

Last night, went for a long walk and listened along the way  to a podcast of a  Los Angeles Times religion reporter telling NPR’s Dick Gordon how he had been born-again– only to later lose his faith while covering the scandals of the church community. Woke up this  morning to hear the disturbing news that […]

What Does the Cross Mean to Us?

Most civilized people would consider it morbid to wear jewelry or clothing that displays the likeness of a hangman’s noose, an electric chair, or a guillotine. Yet millions display the most cruel form of Roman execution around their necks  or on the tops of their houses of worship. And within the next 24 hours even […]

Why Doesn’t Paul Quote Jesus?

In so many ways, the Apostle Paul mirrors the heart of Christ. Where can we find a better example of a transformed follower of Jesus who suffered so much, and worked so tirelessly for the growth and perfection of “the Body” (i.e. 2Cor 11:23-31)? Who else can we point to who so faithfully speaks in […]

Pastoral or Elder Rule?

I’m convinced that there are few callings more honorable or difficult than that of a pastor-shepherd. If we think the relationship between husband and wife is problematic, imagine the complexity involved in the relationship between church congregations and their spiritual leaders. Interestingly, the New Testament likens both church and marriage to a body and discusses at […]

In Crisis

Have been trying to decide what to think about a recent news story that a well known and respected pastor is predicting that a catastrophic, imminent event will devastate American and global cities. Says he doesn’t know where or when. But feels compelled to warn. Another article described the soon collapse of the evangelical movement […]

Feeling Down

What do we do when we’re out of sorts, on edge, not ourselves, dogged by a dark cloud of sadness, and then, on top of it all, feeling guilty for not being able to think or pray ourselves out of it? Spiritual talk that is supposed to help leaves us cold. So, with a bit […]

Ruth and the Law of Exclusion

One of the provocative questions raised by the Old Testament story of Ruth is how a Moabite could be accepted into the community of Israel. Moses had said in behalf of God, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter […]

The Variety of Nature and Spirituality

Maybe the variety of nature can help us laugh at ourselves, and grow in our appreciation for one another… while still taking life seriously. Scientists estimate that the number of species on earth ranges somewhere between 5 and 30 million, with about 8 million different kinds of bugs. Could there be a parallel between what […]

The Spirituality of Redwoods

The oldest of California redwoods are said to be 2000 years old, grow to 379 feet, with a diameter of 22 feet, and 12 inch thick bark. Their close relatives, the giant Sequoias, have been measured at 311 feet high, with a life-span in excess of 3000 years, trunks that have grown 40 feet in […]

Alcatraz

A visit to Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay harbor has left me with some stark and troubling images. Here on The Rock, men were known by their number and warehoused like hazardous material. Row after row of cramped, cage-like cells housed men who were told, “You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and […]

What is a Real Christian?

The Bible seems to give us different ways of answering this question. Some parts of the New Testament indicate that “real Christians” show their faith by the way they live. Other sections of the Bible show that “genuine” children of God can live without faith. So, what’s the answer? In short, here’s an attempt to […]

Elephant Seals and Us

On a recent 40th anniversary trip to the West Coast my wife, Di, and I saw one of the most amazing sights. Just north of San Simeon on the Pacific Coast we caught these pictures of an elephant seal birthing and breeding colony. Couldn’t believe the sights and sounds. All ages of males fighting in […]

Super Faith vs Super Doubt

If you’ve been a follower of Christ for some time, would you say that your spiritual journey has been about what you expected it to be? Or have you been somewhat disillusioned to discover that followers of Christ seem to have about a many physical, emotional, and family issues as the general population? Seems to […]

Newsweek and Heaven

In the February 2 issue of Newsweek magazine’s “Beliefwatch”, Lisa Miller, writes, “You likely believe that when you die, you’re going to heaven. More than 80 percent of Americans do. But in what form? Are you “you”? If so, are you old or young, fat or thin? If not, what are you? An angel? A […]

Israel's Sh'ma and Monotheism

The “Sh’ma” of Israel is at the heart of her monotheism. it represents the first Hebrew words of a prayer, central to the morning and evening prayers of observant Jewish people. “Hear O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the […]

Christ Alone

Have you noticed that the right answer can be regarded as proof of being wrong? For instance, when Larry King or another talk show host asks Christian guests whether they believe that receiving Christ is the only way to heaven, a “yes” answer can be taken as proof that the guest has been shown to […]

Words with an Attitude

The devil who shows up in the first two chapters of the book of Job is both articulate and intelligent. So are the friends of Job who unintentionally sided with “the accuser.” Both used truth/half-truths… not to lift Job up… but to knock him down. I remember temporarily losing a few notches in my hat […]

God's Answer

The argument was intense. A man was suffering and he didn’t know why. His friends thought they understood what God was doing. They tried to tell him what was really happening. But they said more than they knew. They had some good insight about God, but were wrong in the way they used it to […]

Who is this Man?

If for no other reasons than the trouble in which we find ourselves, and the hopes that have been inspired by the grueling, successful campaign of Barack Obama, this is a momentous day for the United States and for the world. The opinions that have swirled around our president-elect remind me of something in the […]

I Have a Dream

Born in 1947, I grew up during the years of the civil rights movement. But looking back I was insulated and isolated from the struggle of those whose lives were bound up with the cause so eloquently and courageously expressed by Martin Luther King. Over the last few days, I’ve been deeply moved to see […]

Smart Dog

When you get a chance I wish you’d watch this brief YouTube clip called “Smart Dog” and then see if it helps to illustrate the following perspective on the Bible. And if you’re wondering whether the dog’s “intelligence” is faked, here’s an in the studio before a live audience angle that is more convincing. Seems […]

Miracle on the Hudson

Some events help us reflect on the bigger story of our lives. The heroic actions of ”Sully”, a veteran pilot who safely landed 155 passengers of an Airbus A320 on the frigid waters of the Hudson River… after being brought down by a flock of birds… is one of those events. The rescue of  US Airways […]

Could This be True?

Just read something I find hard to believe. Found it in a short article by Liz Szabo writing for USA Today. She says that, according to a report released online in  The New England Journal of Medicine, “Eight hospitals reduced the number of deaths from surgery by more than 40% by using a checklist that […]

A House Divided

On one occasion, Jesus reminded his listeners that “a house divided will not stand” (Mark 3:25). In another setting, he said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, […]

Liberal and Conservative Labels

With words we bless and curse, agree and disagree, expose truth, or hide it. With words we also label, name-call, and characterize in ways that can make it difficult to separate facts from perceived guilt by association. (Caught a picture of this fellow on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda street. Was in costume for the Jewish feast […]

Gaza, Samson, and Us

As the US turns over control of the Green Zone to Iraqi authorities, and as another powerful earthquake shakes Indonesia, the eyes of the world have shifted once again to a small strip of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Around the world, in London, Paris, and New York, shouting crowds have taken […]

Learning to be Different Together

A new church in our neighborhood has a sign out front that I think has such a good message for the New Year. It says, “Let’s Learn to be Different Together.” After seeing the sign for the first time, I later drove past it again to make sure that I could remember exactly what it […]

What is the Calendar Telling Us?

If you want to spend your time with a complicated study try doing some research on calendars and dating systems. The details of how various cultures have tried to keep a record of time while making adjustments for lunar or solar cycles is mind bending. Natural new beginnings— One thing that seems clear is that […]

Mysterious Prophecies and Fulfillments

In the eighth century before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish prophet Micah predicted, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Then there are […]

Slipping and Sliding Toward a White Christmas

With the weather forecast calling for more snow and near blizzard conditions for later in the day, a local weather forecaster says that only a collision with the sun will keep it from being a white Christmas in West Michigan this year. So far, December has seemed more like January or early February around here. […]

A Christmas Story (5 of 5)

Who hasn’t been frustrated trying to find the perfect Christmas gift? So why bother? Probably for any number of reasons… none of which is more important than giving out of a heart that is once again being warmed by the true meaning of the Christmas story. The Gifts of the King Continued from Christmas Morning […]

A Christmas Story (4 of 5)

Sometimes the best thing about Christmas is the anticipation. When the day actually comes, it passes all too quickly … often leaving warm memories mingled with unrealized hopes and let down. The real Christmas story follows a similar pattern… Continued from Children Waiting Finally Here! After 400 long years, the silence was broken by unkind […]

And on Earth Peace, Goodwill…

Over the years, the ethnic relatives of Jesus have not been the only ones to ask, “If Yeshua was the Messiah, where is the peace he was supposed to bring? The prophet Isaiah clearly predicted that in the days of the promised King, ‘They will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning […]

A Christmas Story (3 of 5)

Do you remember how hard it was, as a child, to wait for Christmas? Our parents told us to be good, as if being good as children was possible. Hopes and fears raced through our minds as time slowed to a crawl. Continued from, Freedom to Choose… Children Waiting When the king came looking for […]

A Christmas Story (2 of 5)

One of the ironies of a modern Christmas is that gifts around a tree are at the center of our celebration of an ancient story… a story that begins and ends with a tree-centered gift of immortality (Genesis 1-3; Revelation 22:1-3) Continued from,  In the Beginning… Freedom to Choose Hiding in the shadows, a rebel […]

A Christmas Story (1 of 5)

All over the world the story is being told. Around a campfire on the African Savannah, under the star filled skies of the Australian Outback, in the storefronts and meeting halls of Asian and American cities, gravely voices rise and fall with emotion, telling the oldest of stories, phrase by phrase, once again… as if […]

The Missing Script of Application

In a provocative article called “How Can the Bible be Authoritative?,” New Testament Scholar and Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright, discusses a problem that many of us have wondered about. In short, the question he raises sounds like this: If the Bible is a God-breathed story written to people living in another time and culture, […]

What About Women Elders?

Seems to me that if appointing anyone to the church office of elder or deacon– man or woman– would significantly divide the church over whether such an appointment was forbidden by the Bible, the better part of wisdom is to avoid such action until the church can act with unity. The New Testament is clear […]

Men, Women and the Bible

The conversation we began yesterday about women and the Bible shows how many of us are trying to understand the intent of God for gender-based roles in the home and church. Together we have seen how followers of Christ divide over the interpretation and application of statements made by the Apostles Paul and Peter in […]

Entitlement and the Holiday

Started thinking that entitlement and thanksgiving are mutually exclusive, and that what’s at risk, if I don’t see the difference, is not only a heartless holiday, but also a shrinking spirituality. Then the most basic Google search gives me definitions that complicate my thoughts. For openers, I find, “The state of meeting the applicable requirements […]

Auto CEOs and Labor

As CEOs from Detroit’s Big Three appealed to Congress for government relief, a friend sent me a link to a short 3 and 1/2 minute piece of video journalism by the Detroit News. What I found was a compelling story about one of the most sophisticated and efficiently run car manufacturing plants in the world. […]

Yogurt, Yeast, and the Bible

Made a batch of yogurt this morning. At least I think I did. Packed away a gallon of brew in a couple of thermal containers and will wait now for about 30 hours to find out if the little animals multiplied. The long wait is because I like yogurt extra sour. I’ve had it that […]

A Team of Rivals

By showing their regard for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton have reminded us that, in the face of shared need, former enemies can come together around a cause far greater than themselves. Nowhere, however, do I find a nobler expression of […]

What Does it Mean to Live by Faith?

Everyone has faith in something. But the author of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews has a specific kind of faith in view when he writes, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that He is a rewarder of those who […]

Doing Ministry in a Business-like Way?

Well, after having second thoughts about this post early this morning, I’ve tried to take another approach to it. I doubt that I’ve got it right yet, but would be interested to hear some discussion. Some of us believe ministry and business are mutually exclusive. I’ve seen the sincerity in the eyes of those who […]

What Matters Now

Am beginning the day with this thought: Those of us who have found life in Christ, and who can speak and write gratefully about our BC/AD story have a big challenge today. On one hand we have discovered that– by nothing more than entrusting ourselves to what Jesus did for us– he has settled forever […]

BC and AD

The man from Gadara was in bad shape. Naked, out of his mind, and living in a graveyard, he was so out of control that he broke the chains of those who tried to restrain him. Yet, what really tormented him was the thought of being approached by Jesus (Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28). In Gadara […]

Sodom and the Rest of the Story

There is more to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah than is commonly known. The prophet Ezekiel and Jesus combine to add some important details to our understanding of these ancient Dead Sea communities. The Rest of the Story–In the 16th chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet doesn’t emphasize the violence and sexual behaviors for which […]

What Do Evangelicals Really Want?

What if followers of Jesus won every election for leadership and public policy? What if, in the process, we collectively earned a reputation for being a decent and honest people? What if we were universally regarded, not as self-righteous, money-loving, hypocrites, but as faithful, sincere advocates of personal and social morality? What if all of […]

Jesus but not Paul?

I had a discussion with a friend over lunch the other day that got pretty intense. We’ve had these kinds of conversations before and have always ended up parting with a smile and looking forward to the next time. This day was no different, except that, looking back, we came closer to being farther away […]

Vote today for. . .

A friend sent me a note reminding me to “Vote for… [name omitted].” The truth is that my friend and I are voting for different candidates in this election. So was he pulling my chain in telling me who to vote for? Yes. But, actually he didn’t name a candidate. He said, “Vote for [someone […]

This Election and Emerging Churches

Seems to me that this season of cutthroat politics gives us a way of looking at how some of us are handling our opinions about “the emerging church” issue. All too often we have seen opposing parties put the worst possible face on the other side. Over and over we have seen both sides look […]

A Conversation About Faith and Economic Uncertainty continued…

I’ve been deeply moved, as have many others, by reading your personal responses to the post on “Personal Economics and Uncertainties,” Here’s one I thought I’d bring forward, as a post. innkeeper says: With the colorful foliage falling down in rural Maine, the deepset poverty and desperation is visible just driving down most roads. Mile […]

Emerging Problems

In my last post I listed a number of ways that some followers of Christ are trying to do church differently than their parents’ generation. But the pendulum of change often swings from one extreme to another and reactions can  result in over-correction. For that reason, and because we’ve already acknowledged some of the problems that […]

An Emerging Church

Over the past decade there has been growing controversy about “a new way of doing church.” The debate has been generational in nature. Many of our sons and daughters are forming or joining congregations that don’t look or sound like our kind of church.  Yet, they are likely to tell us that they are just […]

Where are we Going and Who Can we Trust?

It’s Saturday and a cool rain is falling in West Michigan. Not supposed to get over 50 degrees F. Leaves are turning and dropping. Sort of happy they are too wet and heavy to rake today. Big 10 football game this afternoon. This year’s underdog University of Michigan plays rival Michigan State. But for the […]

This is a Football

According to an often repeated story, legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, once expressed his frustration by stopping practice and saying to his Green Bay Packer professionals something like, “Let’s start at the beginning. This is a football. These are the yard markers. I’m the coach. You are the players.” (Although I haven’t been able to […]

Bi-Partisan Citizenship and Communion

One of the most memorable church services I ever attended was a communion service preceded by a message on a controversial war. A young pastor began by honoring those members of the congregation who had family members or friends serving in our country’s military. Then he paid an equal tribute to those within the church […]

Coney Wise

The hyrax (also called a coney or rock badger) is a rodent-like creature mentioned at least four times in the Bible and still common in certain regions of Africa and the Middle East. I caught a picture of this one a few years ago while visiting En-Gedi on the western Shore of the Dead Sea. […]

A Political What-if?

What if everyone who confessed to being a follower of Christ would agree to, and then to comply with, the following terms of political engagement? To avoid denying our citizenship in the kingdom of God, and to reflect well on the real Leader of our lives, We will be so committed to truth telling that […]

Sukkot and the Holidays of God

Today, on the 15th of October, 2008, Jewish people around the world are celebrating Sukkot (the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles). Once again a nation is remembering how God provided for ancestors under the severe conditions of a barren wilderness. For the people of Israel, this seventh and last of an annual cycle of Jewish […]

Would 12 Apostles Take 12 Steps?

In my last post I referred to #4 of 12 Step Recovery that says, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Then I used Paul’s letter to the Romans as a basis for some soul searching. In the process of taking my own inventory, I sensed again why 12 Step Recovery has been […]

Taking Inventory

Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” And Step Four of 12 Step Recovery talks about making “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Both resonate with the wisdom of Jesus. So, if we haven’t already been doing so, how different would our lives be if, once a week, we asked our […]

Inclusion and Exclusion

Years ago I saw a colorful poster that said: “Jesus of Nazareth requests the pleasure of your company at a dinner to be given in his honor.” The fact that the poster hung in a public place seemed so appropriate. The Jesus of the New Testament offered his friendship to everyone (John 3:16). But it’s […]

What-if

With global markets sliding, banks failing, and personal questions about employment, retirement accounts, and home mortgages multiplying, it’s not surprising that many of us have been worrying more than usual. Sometimes my thoughts echo the person who said, “If you’re not worried, you don’t know what’s happening.” On the other hand, we’ve all found that […]

Underdogs and Overcomers

Long before the “miracle on ice” in which the 1980 United States hockey team beat the powerful Soviet Olympic machine, there was David and Goliath. The Bible gets a lot of its reputation from the stories of little people who won against big odds. But what if we are one of the countless underdogs who […]

Welcome Wonderofcreation.org!!

Long before Jesus entered our world in the body of a Jewish infant, he left his fingerprints and signature all over monarch butterflies, horses, oak trees and salamanders. Ages before Jesus turned water into wine and spoke peace to the churning waters of Galilee, he painted color, life, and ecological balance into a stunning interdependence […]

Are They Afraid of Us

While visiting some of our co-workers outside of the US, I had an experience this week that I assumed was similar to what I’ve had traveling in the States. Woke up in the middle of the night to hear pounding on hotel room doors. Heard voices moving quickly up and down the hall. But couldn’t […]

A Maze n Grace

Life can seem like a maze. Within its walls we have limited vision, and choices that sometimes seem to go nowhere. In narrow passages that make us long for wide open places, we often have more than we need and less than we desire. Sometimes our choices take us in a circle, or to one […]

Our Response to the Promise

Jesus used the promise of his return to comfort his friends and to warn his enemies. On that his followers agree. It is at this point, however, that the Body of Christ divides over several prophetic scenarios. While many of us disagree among ourselves about whether current events are setting the stage for what Jesus […]

What About The Promise?

Only hours before his death, Jesus 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). Years later, a follower of Christ by the […]

Roots and Wings

Someone has said that wise parents give their children two lasting things: (1) roots and (2) wings. I’ve noticed over the years that our Father in heaven seems to follow a similar pattern with us. As time goes on, he “carries” us differently in our spiritual adolescence and adulthood  than He did in our infancy. […]

Jesus and the Fed

Last Wednesday, the front page of our local newspaper declared, “In the Fed we Trust…bailout of insurance giant aims to stabilize quaking global economy.” Then came the bad news. Behind closed doors, Washington lawmakers got enough of a wake-up call to prompt a rare bi-partisan agreement. All said that without urgent Federal intervention, national and […]

Outside the Book Thinking

One of the best teachers I’ve ever had likes to say, “Something is not true because it’s in the Bible. It’s in the Bible because it’s true. My first impulse was to reject the idea. It seemed like a subtle insult to the best measure of truth we have. After all, I thought, in my […]

Why We Disagree About Forgiveness

For the last couple of days, we’ve had a healthy, though difficult, discussion about whether forgiveness is meant to be conditional or unconditional. Not surprisingly, along the way, we’ve agreed and disagreed. There are good reasons for the push and pull of our conversation. Sometimes the Bible, itself, calls for forgiveness based on a change […]

To Forgive or Not

Yesterday, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered recognized the 45th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. It was on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963 that Christopher McNair and his wife Maxine lost their 11 year old daughter, Denise, in the blast that also took the lives of three […]

Envy and the Jealousy of God

Envy is not always bad. But it can be evil. In the best sense it’s a desire for  the good qualities we see in others. In the worst sense it’s a desire to see others deprived of their joy. Reference.com says, “Aristotle in Rhetoric defined envy “as the pain caused by the good fortune of […]

Jesus and Tolerance

Someone has said, “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and, at themselves, with the same critical eye they have for others.” Such advice is difficult to disagree with because it amounts to treating others the way we’d want to be treated. But just because the “golden rule” […]

On the Seventh Anniversary of 9/11/2001

Most of us remember where we were when we first heard that a commercial airliner had crashed into one of the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Today we reflect, as best we can, on the immeasurable pain of those who lost one of the 2751 victims from 90 countries. We remember the […]

Countdown to the Experiment Looking for Big Bang Results

Today is the day that science news services have been anticipating. For months they’ve been describing the excitement and fear surrounding the firing up of the world’s largest atom smasher– in yet another effort to unlock the secrets of the universe. 10,000 scientists are involved in the 10 billion dollar, 17 mile underground particle generator […]

Dad's Favorite Poem

I remember hearing my dad read this poem. He thought enough of it to have it framed on his office wall. Over the years, I’ve realized that it’s part of a legacy for which I’m deeply grateful. It was written by a 19th century Scottish minister. Certainly not high brow stuff. But seems to me […]

Some What-ifs of Marriage

Over the years I’ve concluded that seeing “headship” in marriage as a basis for the authority of a husband to tell his wife what to do says more about the customs of fallen culture than it does about what the God of the Bible wants for us. My last post is an attempt to explain […]

Who’s in Charge? Or, Who Cares?

Seems to me that “headship in marriage” remains one of the most misunderstood principles of the Bible. On one hand, the Bible predicts that along with the curse of weeds, burdensome work, multiplied pain in childbirth, and death– husbands will dominate their wives (Gen 3:15). The same Bible acknowledges that under the fallen conditions of […]

Jesus on Peace and Conflict

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9). So why did the Teacher from Nazareth say on another occasion, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one […]

Labor Day and Gustav

On this long Labor Day weekend, many of us have mixed feelings not only because another summer vacation season is slipping away from us, and not only because it will now be back to school, and business as usual– but because of a churning monster named Gustav. Seems like cruel irony that while the rest […]

How to Find Unity in the Bible

A few months ago I did a couple of posts on whether the implications we see in the Bible are: (1) necessary, (2) probable, (3) possible, (4) improbable or, (5) impossible implications. I mentioned that I learned this from Haddon Robinson who, from his years of experience as a pastor, seminary professor, and mentor to […]

A Prayer for the End of the Day

“Our Father, At the end of another day, we come to you not just by ourselves– but together. Many of us will readily admit that you have given us again today far more than we deserve. But some of us find ourselves reeling with news that we have not yet been able to understand or […]

Waiting in Line

Few of us enjoy waiting in line. We probably like even less the pushing and shoving that happens when lines don’t form. So does that mean that when we are stuck in a line, we have no choice but to wait? In far more extreme conditions, Victor Frankl learned something about the options that are […]

Conversations in an Empty Warehouse

Yesterday I mentioned that we are working on some video and web-based programs that tell the stories of some courageous men who have been willing to talk about their escape from pornography. The men told their stories in an empty warehouse that provides a visual backdrop for the lonely, secret obsession that had been consuming […]

Doctors, Insurance, and Pornography

To move ahead– without forgetting what we were saying to one another in the discussion about what God uses to open our hearts— I’m going to pick up our conversation here… In response to an expressed concern that I’ve been putting to much value on sources outside of the Word of God (i.e books, doctors, […]

Subs are Subs Forever

My son and his wife asked us if we’d stop by their house and let out the dogs while they were out of town. We were happy to. Just one problem. They had recently gotten a new dog, a large bulldog that I had only met once. When I got to the house, he didn’t […]

The Shack

Because of the problem of pain and evil that raises disturbing questions about the God of the Bible, I thought it might be a good time to talk about “The Shack”. Finally read the 248 page paperback that so many are talking about. In the meantime I’ve been seeing reviews that go from likening it […]

What Michael Phelps Needed

Now we know. Michael Phelps has made believers out of us. His hope of breaking Mark Spitz’s 1972 Olympic record of seven gold medals was not just hype. But as impressed as I am by his dominance of Olympic waters, and his endurance of swimming 17 races in 9 days, what Michael repeatedly acknowledged in […]

Government and Kingdom Ministries

In many regions of the world “ministers” are public servants. Their civil “ministry” is to act in behalf of a government department that operates from a building that in turn is referred to as “the Ministry”. Kurdistan has a Ministry of Justice. India has a Ministry of Environment and Forests. Thailand has a Ministry of […]

The Importance of Your Work

An unknown person has quipped, “The human race is faced with a cruel choice: work or daytime television.” Robert Frost said, “The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” Then there’s Robert Benchley who is remembered […]

Wounded Pride

Self-directed anger. Fear of failure, rejection and loss. Dissatisfaction. Envy. Like an orchestra of untuned instruments, the noisy emotions of wounded pride refuse to be comforted. In the dark halls and back rooms of our hearts, angry feelings slam doors, break windows, raise voices, and start arguments. Feelings of not being able to measure up […]

Judging the Truth, Ourselves and Others

Someone has said, “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and who look at themselves with the same critical eye they have for others.” Yet as balanced and insightful as that quote is, it is not the whole story. Questions remain, especially for those of us who want […]

Black, White, and Grayscale

Some of us tend to think in terms of black-and-white, clear-cut categories. To us, a statement or a conclusion is either true or false. Others are more likely to see how the same statement might be either true or false depending on the circumstances. Some of us work from a truth model which might say, […]

Olympics, National Elections, and Heaven

In this Olympic and election year, I’ve been thinking again about the way competition surfaces in every area of our lives. It shows up not only in sports, but in education, business, and science. Media networks compete for ratings, religious groups for our minds and hearts, politicians for our votes, and companies for our money. […]

Galaxies, Atoms, and Hair Counts

Astronomers tell us that our galaxy is home not only to our own sun and its family of planets, but to billions of other stars. They further explain that our disk-shaped galaxy is about 100,000 light-years wide and about 2,000 light-years thick. Even more amazing is their claim that this “cosmic disk” (itself made up […]

Laughing til it Hurts

On a wall in our kitchen and dining room area hangs a painted board that says, “Live Simply, Laugh Often, Love Deeply.” Unfortunately, a sign on the wall doesn’t assure that those who live under it will follow it’s counsel. But this week, at least some of these words to live by seem especially appropriate […]

The Sufficiency Debate

I appreciate so much all who have weighed in on my “Pastors and Counselors” post. It’s apparent that this is an issue that touches deep nerves of emotional pain and spiritual conviction. Since my last comment, I’ve gone back and found something that I wrote ten years ago. If you are inclined, and have time […]

Fundamentalism

The spirit of the age is tolerance. Its counsel is predictable: Keep your options open. Don’t limit yourself. Play the field. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep an open mind. Never say never. Don’t lock yourself in. Hedge your bets. Be flexible. Don’t be rigid. Don’t be a fundamentalist.” Fundamentalism is regarded […]

Pastors and Counselors

A man, much my senior, and someone I consider especially wise, once reminded me that followers of Christ “are called to be “saints”, but not necessarily “sane”. Looking back, I believe his provocative comment reflects the complexity of life in this broken world. The few words that stuck in my mind seem to reflect the […]

That Question I Couldn't Answer

I mentioned in my last post that, according to an online encyclopedia, only 15 percent of the Singapore population is Christian. I’ve since learned that those numbers are based on a 2000 census that some here in Singapore believe underestimates the number of practicing Christians. The problem is that the census assumes that if a […]

A Declaration of Dependence

Manifestos declare revolutionary ideas. The Communist Manifesto of 1848 called for the redistribution of wealth. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 affirmed salvation by faith alone, and the 13 colonies’ Declaration of Independence in 1776 made a case for citizens’ right of revolt. The most revolutionary declaration of all, however, was the first-century preamble to […]

Power Down

Was our turn to get hit with a strong line of thunderstorms moving across Lake Michigan. Power went down at the house yesterday afternoon about the time a bolt of lightning ripped the bark off of a neighbor’s tree. Got a generator running to keep the sump pump going in our downstairs. First time I’ve […]

Soft Answers, Volume, and Motive

Am guessing that a lot of us admire the person who can use humor, thoughtfulness, or a self-deprecating comment to defuse the tension of an angry moment. Maybe that’s why I’ve become so intrigued with the proverb that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). I’m […]

Response to a Good Natured Challenge

Overnight we got a tongue-in-cheek comment/question from a friend in the UK.  It came in the form of a fairly long note, but raises an important question. So I’m going to copy the comment here, break it after a few lines, and then let you read and respond to the rest of the comment. The […]

Pendulum Riders

One of the characteristics of our human nature is that we spend a lot of time reacting to, and trying to distance ourselves from, the sins of our fathers. As we react, it is as though we were jumping up and grabbing a great pendulum as it swings away in the opposite direction. In the […]

People Watching

An article in the New York Times says that “People-watching is to New York City what vista-gazing is to the Grand Canyon.” It suggests riding a subway from one end to the other to… “Watch the ethnicities change, and the reading material – from Bibles to library studies textbooks to ethnic newspapers. Are the smilers […]

A Time to be Quiet

Was ready for the return flight from Tel Aviv to the US, even though any trip to the land of the Bible seems like an undeserved chance of a lifetime for me. Once home, was also more tired than usual. After a week of fighting a “travelers’ bug” and working under a hot, June, Israeli […]

The Holocaust

I’m traveling today to Jerusalem to work with our Day of Discovery team on a new series of “land of the Bible” programs. As I prepare to leave I’m reminded of some thoughts I had after returning from a similar assignment a couple of years ago. What I wrote is a bit long for a […]

Ramblings of a Recovering Idol Maker

What do I need to hear again today? My guess is that it’s something like– Get knowledge–but don’t depend on your knowledge. Seek to be wise-But don’t depend on wisdom. Work hard–but don’t depend on hard work. Work smart-But don’t ever depend on your own cleverness and efficiency. Make plans. But don’t depend on plans. […]

The Voting Booth

As the last two US Democratic primaries are held today in South Dakota and Montana, I’ve been thinking again about the different ways followers of Christ enter a voting booth. During the course of this lengthy election process, with far more to come, it’s been clear that some of us believe we have an obligation […]

Jerusalem Day 2008

Today (June 2, 2008) is Jerusalem Day in Israel. With parades in the streets and prayers in synagogues, Jewish citizens will celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967. Jerusalem remains, however, a contested city. Palestinians believe that East Jerusalem, including the holy site now occupied by the Al Aksa Mosque […]

Where Do We Find Ourselves?

A man flying in a hot air balloon realizes he is lost. He reduces his altitude and spots a man in a field down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?” The man below says, “Yes, you’re in a hot air balloon, about 30 feet […]

What About Praying to Pray?

No one said prayer would be easy. But had I missed the obvious? I didn’t want to repeat myself over and over like a child that won’t take “no” or “wait” for an answer. So how are we supposed to come before the Father in a meaningful way, when prayer is something we have done […]

The Value of a Person

Until I saw it, I didn’t realize that much of Israel’s Mount of Olives is a cemetery. Here, those who remember the dead place a stone of remembrance on top of their loved one’s grave. Today, in America, we use this Memorial Day to honor those who have lost their lives fighting for our country. […]

Already But Not Yet

The phrase sounds self-contradictory. But I think it helps to capture what the Bible tells us about the forgiving rescue and kingdom of God. Many of us would say that we already know Christ, but not yet as we will in the future. The Apostle Paul teaches us to think this way in his famous […]

Who Gets into the Kingdom of God?

Like Jesus, the Apostle Paul sets high standards for entering the kingdom of God. In his first letter to the Corinthians he writes: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…will inherit the kingdom of […]

Jerusalem and Sodom

None of us can afford to call good bad, or bad good. The prophet Isaiah says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and […]

Sixteen Tons and…

In 1955, Tennessee Ernie Ford had a big hit in a mineworkers’ song called “16 Tons”. Many of us will never forget his rich voice singing, “Sixteen tons and what do ya get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don’t you call me, cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to […]

The "H" Factor

Like pride, the closets of humility are filled with different hats and clothes for different occasions. Popular opinion regards it as a doormat personality, and maybe even pride in disguise. Yet our books of common language describe it as the kind of realistic view of ourselves that is necessary to share the pain or joys […]

The Great Imposter

It can swagger with self-importance one minute before writhing in self-contempt the next. Its closets are stuffed with masks of deception. We think we know what it is. Our books of common language describe it as an exaggerated sense of self importance. We’ve watched it pile pain upon pain. But the more I think about […]

Does God Change?

When we talk among ourselves about miracles, gifts of the Spirit, or the covenants of God, some of us are apt to remind the others that, according to the Bible, God does not– and cannot change. Others are likely to point out that, over time, the God of the Bible has changed the ways in […]

Am Wondering and Eye-Q

One of the things I’d like to do with this blog is to think together, not only about the things that are on my mind, but on your’s as well. I’d especially like to come together around ideas that tend to divide us to see if — together– we can find some honest and friendly […]

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