Archive for the 'Life in Christ' Category

(Posts Archive)

Blowin’ in the Wind

In the early 1960s, Bob Dylan got into the heads and hearts of his generation with a series of thoughtful questions… and conclusion that “the answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…” Maybe he was saying more than he realized… Jesus promised answers that would come with the wind… But before going there, and […]

Old New Year Thought

One more thought from the late British author and pastor of Westminster Chapel (1904-1919), G Campbell Morgan. After describing what he had personally seen in the Welsh Revivals of 1904-05, he went on to urge his readers to learn from what the Spirit had done in the lives of others. While acknowledging the impossibility of […]

Outrageous!

Why did Jesus give thoughtful people so many reasons to doubt and reject him? Many of us overlook things he said and did that were outrageous—in his day. Yet to whatever extent we can think like those who feared and resented him, we too may begin to feel some of the ridiculous drama of someone […]

This is my Body

We call where we are staying— our place. Paul likened us to Bedouin-backpackers. He made a distinction between us and our address (2Cor 5:1). Another way this gets tricky is when we try to work out what Paul meant when he said, that when he did wrong—in his place, it wasn’t really him, but sin “living in […]

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 […]

Origins and Outcomes

In our last post we talked together about how in the 9th century BC, the prophet Elisha counseled the king of Israel not to kill his prisoners of war. As a result, Joram (king of Israel) prepared a feast for the soldiers of Ben-Hadad (king of Aram/Syria) and sent them home. After that, we’re told, that […]

The Wonder of a Tree

A tree doesn’t need to look busy to get a lot done. Without apparent effort, it makes shade and oxygen while filtering the air of carbon monoxide. Without going anywhere, its branches slow erosion by breaking rainfall with its leaves even as it holds soil in place with its roots. Without conscious effort to make a name […]

Jonah’s no Jesus

Jonah’s story ends abruptly. We’ve been given narration, dialogue and miracles. Like so much of the Bible we’ve been told what sounds like a tall tale— but haven’t been told what we are supposed think or conclude. All that is truly clear is that Jonah is not on the same page as his sender or […]

Who Am I?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is widely remembered as a German author and pastor who was arrested in 1943 for his role in resisting the policies of the Nazi government. While in prison he continued to write and was assisted by sympathetic guards who smuggled his letters to the outside. He was executed on 9 April 1945 as […]

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 […]

Her Father’s Zoo

June Williams was only four when her father bought seven acres of land to build a “zoo without bars”. Growing up with exotic animals, one of her closest friends was Mary the chimpanzee. June tried to teach Mary to tie a knot but never succeeded. She inherited her father’s empathy for animals and recalls his […]

Life in the Spirit

While reading an article on what the Apostle Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit, I was struck by the author’s reminder of something that we might regard as either too obvious to mention, or a wonderful re-discovery of what we already know. The author pointed out that it’s important to remember that the fruit […]

Heartbleed and Identity Theft

Someone left the backdoor open. Until recently no one realized the problem. Computer hackers could come and go without being noticed. While the technical side of the internet and computing world may elude us, the idea of an unlocked door to our personal information probably isn’t too hard to understand. Thanks to alarms set off […]

She Did What She Could

This week on Discover the Word, Elisa Morgan has been leading our conversations with a fresh look at a woman Jesus honored for doing what she could to show her love for him. Has been so good to take another look with Elisa and Bill at Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive […]

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 […]

In Low Visibility

Was too preoccupied during the week to stay with the conversation as it unfolded. But I’ve had a chance this morning to catch up and appreciate the way you’ve interacted with one another. Am guessing that others who came and checked in without posting found something helpful (as i have) in the thoughtful ways you’ve […]

Elementary Watson

In the TV series Elementary, a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes, I find an interesting bit of dialogue in an episode called The Rat Race. Detective Holmes is talking to Watson about something that Watson, played by Lucy Liu, says she hasn’t noticed before. Holmes asks Watson about a recent date. She tells him how […]

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 […]

Persecution Complex

In general usage the idea of a persecution complex refers to an unhealthy state of mind that causes persons or groups to assume that they are the victims of an evil conspiracy that has singled them out because they are different than the mainstream. The term therefore is apt to cause many of us to […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

A Misunderstood Warning

Joe and Marissa have never met. But they have a lot in common. Both found that spending 4 years in a state university was hard on their faith. Marissa became a follower of Jesus at a spiritual retreat during her last year in high school. Joe made his decision of faith at the age of […]

The Gambler

How much of the world beyond has echoes, or reflections, in the world we know? While thinking about the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I’ve been thinking again about The Gambler, the Don Schlitz song that Kenny Rogers made famous in 1978. While The Gambler isn’t Bible, the perspective it offers from the mouth […]

The Middle Song

Why is the shortest 2-verse song and chapter of the Bible (Psalm 117) separated by only one other song (118) from the longest 176-verse song and chapter (Psalm 119)? While guessing that there is  more than trivia and coincidence in such an unusual arrangement of songs, I think I see  additional  irony. As Steve of […]

In the Dawn’s Early Light

The conversation around the last post was good. It is so important for us to be reminded that in so many ways we are neither alone, nor alike, in our struggles. My guess was that on the question of what makes a good day, we would weigh in somewhere between the thoughts that we have […]

Dangerous Words and Safe Places

There is such irony in our last conversation about Jesus’ words to “hate”  family so as to give full attention to him (Luke 14:26). When any other religious leader asks for such commitment, most of us  assume that the person is self-absorbed and dangerous. But for those who believe that the words of Luke 14:26 […]

What About this Rumor?

Imagine hearing that the leaders of a major church denomination have decided to ask all of its members to stop using the word “holy”. With a little research we confirm that the report is true, that the denomination’s elders are discouraging the use of the word and are even recommending a rewording of the Apostle […]

How Should We Rate this Song?

Does it take a course in music appreciation to read the songs of the Bible? I’m wondering this while reading Psalm 5, knowing that David was a man after God’s own heart; remembering that this song has been sung by God’s people down through the ages; and realizing that it is a song that is […]

A New Day is Happening

I was deeply moved over the last couple of days by the personal ways that friends of this blog once again expressed their own thoughts in response to the “Business as Usual” post. In the spirit of what these friends have written, may we together enter as many days as we are given with the […]

The Wonder of Life and Non-Life

How long will it be before newspapers of the world announce that a team of scientists has discovered the chemical formula of life? Will they be beaten to the starting line by another group that discovers the mysterious subatomic factor that keeps even non-living matter from self-destructing? As Iranian scientists try to replicate the technology […]

Stress Test

Yesterday, I was staring out the 7th floor window of our  Singapore office, watching a tropical rainstorm move in, and thinking about the snow that is beginning to fall back home. At some point I noticed the garden or plant nursery on the roof of a building below and wondered whether it was someone’s hobby […]

Implications of Supporting Israel

This question is important not only for followers of Christ, but for people of all religions and points of view. Ultimately, it is not just about God’s promise to Abraham that he would bless those who blessed him, and curse those who cursed him (Gen 12:3). It also raises the question of what the Apostle […]

Schalit Palestinian Prisoner Swap

The announced prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas appears to have broken a 5 year stalemate in negotiations. The Jerusalem Post confirms that Israel and Hamas have agreed to exchange 25 year old Jewish soldier Gilad Schalit for 1027 “security” prisoners. Have been thinking about the guarded sense of deep emotion that families on both […]

Are Good People Jinxed?

As children use the term, you don’t want to be around a jinxed person. Who wants to be around when bad stuff messes up something good we thought we could count on? In the world of sports, athletes do a lot of strange and superstitious things to avoid the dreaded curse, field gods, or anything […]

Unexpected Answers

The Bible answers the most important questions we can ask: Where did we come from? What matters? Who can we trust? Who is God? Is he good? Who is Jesus? Why did he die? Did his life end in failure? How can we be counted among his followers? How should we treat our enemy? Where […]

Before and After

According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus began telling his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die at the hands of the religious leaders (Matt 16:21). The same Gospel shows that the Lord predicted his death several more times in the days to come (Matt 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 20:28; 26:2). One text even […]

Does Jesus Walk What Paul Writes?

Claiming to be a follower of Christ, the Apostle Paul  wrote that without love, our words are like meaningless noise (1Cor 13:1-3). He followed up saying that “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it […]

Confession by Billboard

What’s going on when a church puts up a large billboard publicly acknowledging itself to be among those who have been acting like jerks? A friend sent me a link to a CNN interview about a Texas billboard that “shouts out” to passing traffic “What a Bunch of Jerks“. The billboard is accompanied by an […]

The Big If

Seems to me that the Snoopy 1 and 2 MetLife blimps that cover televised sporting events with the slogan “For the if in Life” are a pretty effective way of getting out an insurance company’s name and message. Could even get us thinking about the bigger “ifs in life”. If we make criticizing others our […]

Abbas and Netanyahu in Washington

On Thursday, September 2, the latest rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are scheduled to begin in Washington. According to Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, the talks will collapse if Israel does not extend its freeze on construction in the West Bank. On the same day Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, reportedly said […]

Three to Watch For

Everyone has faith in something. No one can live very long without hope. And those who don’t believe in God often make a strong case for loving one another. So is it any wonder that those who do not think Christ is the only way to God are not impressed when they hear his followers […]

Don’t be Like Them?

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he told his followers not to be like the religious leaders who did acts of piety, gave to the poor, and prayed—all to be seen and honored by others (Matt 6:1-8). To this he adds, “That’s what they do. Don’t be like them. They have their reward.” But are […]

The Pharisee in Me

Over the years I have occasionally noticed the similarity between my own values and those held by the enemies of Jesus. According to the New Testament and the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, the Pharisees were: People of the Book—Devoted to the memorization and study of the Law. Lovers of God—Deeply committed to the God […]

Adoption Option

I’ve been thinking lately about inviting a guest blogger from time to time to give us a change of pace and some different perspectives to think about. So please welcome Mike Wittmer. He’s one of our regular bloggers at Our Daily Journey. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be featuring a few of his posts […]

Waking Up to Life

We can live and yet be dead. We can think we are awake and yet be asleep. Death can be like sleep. Sleep can be like death. (Eph 2:1; Rom 13:11). But sometimes as our eyes slowly open and focus, we find ourselves taking a fresh breath of air that, as it turns out, was […]

An Olympic Tribute

During Vancouver’s opening ceremonies, organizer John Furlong encouraged Olympians to compete in honor of the Georgian athlete who died in a luge training run prior to the beginning of the winter games. Urging the Olympians to rise to the spirit of the event, Furlong said, “You are our beacon of hope in a world so […]

One to One

According to an online encyclopedia there are probably more than 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. The smallest have as few as 10 million stars. The largest ones have a trillion stars. The same summary of astronomical projections goes on to say that our own Milky Way is thought to have between 100 to […]

Can Salvation be Lost?

The Bible offers strong warnings about the danger of “falling from grace”. But does that imply the possibility of losing the gift of salvation? This question has divided followers of Christ for centuries. Once again we are faced with a subject that seems to offer Scriptures in tension. One side can quote our Lord’s words, […]

Let There be Light… and Darkness

Have been thinking that one way to understand the Bible is to see the way it tells the story of light and darkness. The first quoted words of the God who brought something out of nothing and order out of chaos are, “Let there be Light.” Then God divided the light from the darkness in […]

How Are We Doing?

In “How the Mighty Fall,” author Jim Collins analyzes how once successful corporations cycle through predictable patterns of decline. In his analysis, problems begin when companies take their success for granted and begin to stray from what worked for them in the past. Collins goes on to say the tendency is for managers to overextend […]

The Wisdom of the Second Opinion

While thinking lately not only about some bloody 15th and 16th century periods of church history, but also about the way church people continue to bitterly divide over theological and political differences, I’m reminded how important it is to try to attach authority to no more and no less than what the Bible says. In […]

Turning Good News into Bad News

The Gospel of the Kingdom begins with the good news: blessed are the poor in spirit (Matt 5:2). In other words, We are to be envied and congratulated if we see our spiritual need of the King who teaches us how to: Admit our spiritual bankruptcy Mourn our wrongs rather than defending ourselves. Inherit the […]

Working to Rest

It takes effort to be at peace with ourselves, with our God, and with others. That may be one reason the New Testament author of Hebrews encourages us  to work to rest in the living Word of God. Used to think that the reference to the Word of God as a two-edged sword referred only […]

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 […]

A Pastoral Paul Cuts us Slack

If we read the Apostle Paul as a black and white thinker who wrote rule-filled letters to followers of Christ, we may be forgetting that his pre-occupation with rule keeping was a thing of the past  (Philip 3:3-14). Listen, for instance, to what he wrote to the Corinthians, “The time is short, so that from […]

As is…Just as I am…

In a recent conversation one of our friends made a comment that I haven’t been able to forget. It was something to the effect that “You probably would all think I’m a creep. Have been married several times…” My guess is that along the way others have also made self-disclosing comments that have gotten lost […]

Love

As indispensable as truth, good words, and faith are, what is more important… To know all there is to know… To say all that can be said… To have faith that with God all things are possible… or to love? An inspired Paul writes that knowing all that is true, and saying all that is […]

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 […]

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 […]

Black Friday and Terror in Mumbai

Something about the news on this morning after a Thanksgiving holiday feels like being on the wrong side of the road in fast traffic. So much is coming at us too fast even to process. Black Friday with doorbuster deals. Developing terror in Mumbai. Warnings for NY subways, and a president-elect facing such economic and […]

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 […]

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 […]

Didn't Paul Say, All Things Are Lawful?

When Paul acknowledges in his 1st letter to the Corinthians that “All things are lawful” (1Cor 6:12), he uses a word that occurs about 40 times in the New Testament regarding whether a behavior is legally permissible. Since Paul adds in another letter that we are under grace, not law (Rom 6:14-15), how do we […]

Messianics, Law, and Grace

There are a number of reasons to have issues with the Apostle Paul. Even Peter acknowledged that Paul had written things hard to understand (2Peter 3:14-18).  But in addition to the fact that, in this text, Peter acknowledged Paul’s God-given wisdom and grouped his letters with “other Scripture,” here are some things I think we […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

PGA Practice and the Basics

Went with my son and daughter-in-law to a practice round of the PGA Championship that finishes up this weekend in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I think what impressed me the most was seeing how far these players hit the ball. While watching them on television give a sense of the amazing touch they show from sand […]

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. […]

Four Kinds of Wisdom

While in Asia recently I saw examples of eastern religion that were foreign to faith in Christ. My heart went out to mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who have not yet discovered the incomparable and unparalleled life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Thinking back, however, I also remember how, on another trip to the region, […]

Formulas and Guarantees

If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that God does not guarantee us a 1 + 1= ___ for the kind of outcomes we can see, physically– on our own time schedule. No matter how great our faith, even the best of material gains or human relationships will disappoint us in life– and leave […]

Leaving Singapore

Packing up to leave Singapore. Headed for Malaysia. Have been thinking about what we’ve seen here the past several days. Was looking over some pics I took and I think I found two that tell a story. What the people of Singapore have done with God-given ingenuity– On one hand, Singapore’s cutting edge technologies, land […]

Applying for Heaven

We endure application forms for credit cards, employment, life insurance, and driver’s licenses. We fill them out when applying for tax credits, college entrance, and passports. Sometimes they are required when applying for church membership. So let’s push the idea of applications to another level. Think about what it might mean to fill out papers […]

Reflecting on Yesterday

Yesterday’s post was upsetting to many of us. In some cases it shifted our focus from our agreement about Christ to disagreements among ourselves–or with “Charles”– over our relationship to Old Testament law. In retrospect, we don’t know what’s going on in “Charles” heart. He could be a brother who believes in Christ while being […]

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 […]

The Olympic Trials

The Olympic trials have gotten under my skin. Love watching the exhilaration of those who win a ticket to Beijing. Hate seeing the disappointment of those who lose a coveted spot on their national team by a few points, an untimely injury, or some other twist of fate. Keep thinking about how much these athletes […]

Memories

Memories can haunt us. I was listening to a story on NPR’s StoryCorp recently and heard a tender conversation between an aged father who told his adult son that, all of his life, he regretted a moment when he had abusively beaten him in a moment of frustration. The son was moved by his father’s […]

Children and Disciples

Is there a difference between being born into the family of God and becoming a disciple (student) of Jesus? Or are these just two different ways of describing what it means to come into the family and kingdom of God? The way we answer this question will determine how we interpret the New Testament, and […]

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 […]

An Open Letter to Old Friends

If I could write an open letter to some of the friends I’ve had who didn’t buy my reasons for faith in Christ, I think I would imagine them as a person I’ll call Aaron and write something like this. “Dear Aaron, I hope you are doing well. I miss our conversations. Even more, I […]

Does Anyone Have Faith to Move a Mountain?

Jesus said that by faith his disciples could move trees and even mountains (Luke 17:5; Mark 11:22-23). His words remind us of other things we find in the Bible. If we start with Genesis and read through to Revelation, we see some pretty amazing miracles. Moses lifts a stick, and the Red Sea parts. The […]

A Friend's Struggle For Assurance

He was known in the small town where he grew up for breaking the county high school pole-vault record. Strong-willed by temperament, he also had a reputation for being a troublemaker. When he let it be known at the age of 17 that he had decided to become a follower of Christ, the community took […]

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 […]

Answers for a Young Convert

A new convert to the Christian faith wonders how to fulfill his duty to God. An older and seasoned follower says, “Love God with all of your heart and then love your neighbor as yourself. Do these things, and you will fulfill your obligation to God.” Another seasoned Christian joins the conversation saying, “Yes, focus […]

The Platypus And Us

What is it? Looking like it was stitched together with the spare parts of other creatures, the Platypus has the body of a beaver and the face of a duck. According to a Yahoo featured article out of Paris today, when specimens from Australia arrived in Europe in the 18th century, biologists thought they were […]

Authority Over the Devil?

Can a child of God “take authority” over the devil? Can we, by our prayers and appeals to the blood of Christ, “bind” the evil one? Or are such thoughts echoes of what the New Testament author Jude referred to when he said that even Michael the archangel didn’t dare to rebuke Satan but said, […]

Word Puzzles

To love well, we must also learn to hate. Some of what we hate, we must learn to love. Much of what comes easy will be difficult to endure. Some of what comes with work will give us rest. Riches are discovered in seeing our real poverty. Safety in a place of risk. More in […]

The Logic of Intercession

I don’t like to think about how many times I’ve told someone “I’ll be praying for you,” before only following through in a token way. And when I have prayed repeatedly for those I really care about– with no apparent results– I sometimes wonder why I don’t seem to be able to touch the heart […]

Living by Polls and Numbers

In the middle of an election year, with gas prices rising, the market falling, and the human costs of war constantly on our mind, I’ve been thinking of how inclined I am to live by the numbers. In so many ways numbers, statistics, and polls can be deceiving. On one hand, we need to measure […]

The Mystery of Intercession

Why, at unexpected moments, do I have a profound sense of the Lord’s presence? Why do I wake some mornings with a song of praise and worship running through my mind that seems to have come out of nowhere? Why after times of discouragement does my heart turn back to Christ? The thoughts are my […]

The Secret of Contentment

Is the secret of contentment to have more than we need? Or does having more than we need prove that no amount of material success can keep us from wanting more of what we have enough of already? Thoughtful people have offered many suggestions for dealing with addictions, jealousy, covetousness, and the problem of envy […]

The Passover Connection

Last night, at sundown, Jewish families in Israel began celebrating a seven day Passover week also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Meanwhile Israeli security has gone on a heightened state of alert in anticipation that Palestinian militants will attempt to disrupt the celebration of this ancient holiday. My concern, however, is that a […]

Splash and Second Thoughts

Someone passed along to me a YouTube video of a baptismal moment that made America’s Funniest Home Videos. I got a big smile out of it and passed it along to a few friends. But then, I started second guessing the kick I got out of it. On one hand, I find myself thinking, “Oh […]

Mathetes to Diognetus

I just remembered a quote from a second century letter that might be a good way to wrap up our series of posts on our “dual citizenship.” This ancient document shows that from very early in the church’s history, followers of Jesus saw their distinct roles as citizens of both heaven and earth. This ancient […]

Political or Prophetic?

I grew up in the Midwest during the 1950s and got my introduction to the civil rights movement on a small black and white television set. But I don’t ever remember hearing a word in church about the plight of Southern African Americans. In my world, “conservative” churches stood for the gospel of Christ’s death […]

Jimmy Carter and Hamas

The news today includes reports about former Jimmy Carter’s plans to meet with Hamas leaders over objections from the Administration and even his own party. In an article by Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press, the former president’s response was, “I think that it’s very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders […]

Bible Ah-Ha! #10

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. Sometimes I found clear and compelling predictions. But more often than not, when I checked the sources for […]

Bible Ah-Ha! #9

Over time we all come across ideas that change the way we think about ourselves and one another. For me, one of those thoughts is closely connected with 12 Step programs and the Church that we’ve been thinking about together in my last couple of posts. It’s also one of those perspectives that I think […]

12 Steps and the Church

After reading the responses to my last post, it’s clear that a lot of us agree about the need to be realistic about the predictable downsides and disappointments of church life. But at the same time we don’t think that lowering our expectations of one another is the way to go. We share a vision […]

Why I Don't Go To Church

What happens if we lower our expectations for the church? A few weeks ago I expressed a hunch that disillusionment is a problem for many of us who have been around the church for awhile. Since then a number of friends have taken the occasion to tell their own story. Some have struggled with disappointment […]

Bible Ah-Ha! #8

As I try to recall some of the discoveries that I think have changed my perspective on the Bible, each seems, for the moment, to be the most important. That’s the way I feel when I remember learning that, to be genuine and real in our relationship to Christ, we need to be aware that […]

What Makes Jesus Authentic?

By every indication, Mr. Rogers’ advocacy and love for children were real. For over 30 years and 998 TV episodes, his relaxed “won’t you be my neighbor” approach helped a generation of kids to learn a lot about themselves and life. As a former Presbyterian minister, Fred Rogers would undoubtedly be the first to say, […]

Authenticity and Mr. Rogers

A friend challenged me today to do some thinking about why authenticity keeps showing up as a value of young people. Looking for a place to start, I checked out some dictionary definitions for authentic. What I found wasn’t surprising: Definition: Not false or copied; genuine; real But then I bumped into something I want […]

Resurrection Living

I remember, years ago, talking to a Christian counselor who told me he’s convinced that, as a church, we have done a far better job understanding Christ’s death for us, than we have understood the implications of his resurrection. He went on to say that while he believes our reliance upon Jesus’ sacrificial death for […]

Hopeful?

Without hope no one can live. Yet, hope can be cruel. Solomon reminds us that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov 13:8). So much of our unhappiness is the result of thinking we are going to get something better than we end up with. Yet no one will argue that disappointment and despair are […]

Disillusioned?

Why do you think so many followers of Christ start strong and then become disillusioned over time? Or maybe I shouldn’t assume that’s what you’ve seen. Maybe I should ask you a more balanced question. Is it your hunch that most people who begin strong end up being as hopeful, as warm hearted, and as […]

Bible Ah-Ha! #6

Scandals among followers of Christ almost always raise questions about the validity of our faith. As regrettable, unnecessary, and damaging as such moral failures are, I’m convinced that they confirm– rather than deny– the wisdom of our constant need for Christ. Here’s another discovery that has changed the way I look at the Bible. See […]

White Flag

Do you have just a minute? I’ll keep this short. I have a question I want to ask you? How can we possibly come together around the issues that divide us? There’s so much we increasingly disagree about. Yet that is a thought that set up me up for one of the most memorable experiences […]

Our Crucifixion

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. […]

Forgiving Ourselves (4)

What if we can’t forgive ourselves? Is that the worst thing that could happen to us? Or would it be far worse for us to have no lingering sadness for the foolish things we have done? Could that be one reason the Bible does not tell us to forgive ourselves? Instead, the Apostle Paul tells […]

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 […]

Higher Ground

Do any of us think we are on the wrong side of a disagreement? Isn’t it ironic that, in times of conflict, we all think we have right on our side? It doesn’t matter if the disagreement is marital, political, or international. Together with our allies, we all are convinced that our side holds the […]

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