Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

(Posts Archive)

Us and Them

What did Jesus mean when he referred to people like us as evil parents (Matthew 7:11)? If some in the crowd thought he was insulting them, they may have been hearing what he said rather than what he meant. Who needed most to hear his heart when he said, “If you, then, though you are […]

Defining Moments

Moments of truth come to us in different ways. And for many of us the Bible has given us our best understanding of defining moments. Like the first time our first parents pointed their fingers at one another in an effort to protect themselves. Or when the long-awaited Hope of a nation refused to defend […]

Teachable Moments

In the last post we raised the question of whether a person of questionable motives can say something profound about the heart of our God. Like the wise woman of Tekoa, the high priest who presided over the condemnation of Jesus also shows us that the goodness of our God can show up in some […]

Prelude to a Standing Offer

Yesterday, as the shudders of a global pandemic turned more dire, a close friend sent me a Youtube website that offers a visually calming voicing of reassuring promises of God, faith, and strength in Christ. When I tried to access the link again this morning, the site was unresponsive. May have been a problem with […]

Family Issues

In a memorable episode of The Big Valley (TV 1965-1969), Heath (Lee Majors) is shaken when a stranger by the name of Charlie Sawyer (Buddy Hackett) comes to the ranch of Victoria Barcley (Barbara Stanwick) and claim’s to be Heath’s father. Charlie has a marriage certificate showing that he was once married to Victoria. Years […]

It is no Secret

A song recorded long ago by Mahalia Jackson, Elvis, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash and many others—has been calming the rough waters of my heart lately. Stumbling to recall some of the lyrics, I Googled the title and found what was news to me on Truth or fiction? The fact-checkers’  attempt to find the story […]


In the likeness of a Father’s heart A Son is born In the love of his Spirit In the joy of his love In the peace of his joy In the patience of his peace In the kindness of his patience In the goodness of his kindness In the faithfulness of his goodness In the […]

Salt and Light

According to Matthew, Jesus described his people as the salt and light of the world— after telling them what it would take to make them good in the eyes of heaven (Matthew 5:1-16). By the time he was done showing what that looked like, he had, at his own expense, taken apart a religious community […]

Left Unsaid

Have you ever imagined what it might be like to sit down with the Apostle Paul and— with no time constraints—to ask him, “What were you thinking when you wrote: ‘Every part of Scripture is God–breathed and useful one way or another— showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live […]

Reading Between the Lines

In the end, God will make his enemies his footstool (Hebrews 10:13). For most of my life I saw this as an allusion to the way God will condemn and humble his enemies “under foot”— as ancient warlords put their feet on the necks of conquered enemies. What I didn’t notice until recently is that […]

This I Believe

I don’t know whether what I’m about to say is right, or true. But I’ve come to a place where I don’t know how it couldn’t be. Many of us believe the Bible is inspired, a gift from God, containing words that give us meaning and hope, important for every moment in life—and yet subject […]


Imagine being able to spend a couple of hours every week with our neighbors, in a local theatre, watching on a big screen a reality-show-documentary of The Word of God— without words. No sound. No closed-captioning. Just action—all the way to the last scene when he leaves his friends staring into the clouds. What would […]

The Politics of Jesus

If Jesus was a king, he was a different kind of king. His politics and policies call for a different kind of revolution. His wars are to be fought with a different kind of spirit. His victories with a different understanding of outcomes. If Jesus was a king, his face doesn’t need to be seen […]

Touch Wood

Touch wood. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring? So much wonder. In such simplicity and complexity. In a Japanese cell phone commercial. describes it like this: “We promise you’ve never heard Bach’s Cantata 147, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” quite like this. It’s rare to see an advertisement so artfully and skillfully done, but Sharp’s […]

Who’s There?

There’s a story going around the Internet suggesting that some of us may not see or hear ourselves the way others do. It goes something like this: Knock. Knock. Who’s there? Jesus. What do you want? Let me in. Why do you want me to let you in? So I can save you. Save me […]

Does Love Make us Gullible?

From time to time I’ve wondered what the Apostle Paul was thinking when he wrote that love “always believes”— or as some translations put it “always trusts” (1Cor 13:7). Could he possibly be urging the kind of love that believes whatever anyone tells or promises us? Over the years I’ve tried to take his words at […]

Alive Inside

Earlier this week I watched a documentary about the effect of music on persons with dementia and memory loss. I hope I never forget what I saw. You may be aware of the work of Dan Cohen since video excerpts of his research and work have gone viral on social media. The film is an […]


With the thought of mercy, what comes to mind? The cold kindness a bully shows when his victim admits defeat? Or Jesus on the cross praying, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” My guess is that if we could sit down around the same table— and share a meal of memories about […]

Who for Who?

Does God exist for us, or do we exist for God? Isaiah spoke of the God who acts for his own Name and glory (Isaiah 48:9-11). Yet, the Apostle Paul asked, “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). He follows with, “He who did not spare his own Son, but […]

Legalists Anonymous

While spending time in Paul’s letter to the Galatians I’ve begun to wonder whether getting intoxicated together at the open bar of the law is actually more dangerous than alcohol. Early on, Paul describes how violent he used to be— while living by a system of Law he thought he was keeping (Gal 1:13-14). Now […]

Irenaeus and the Word

Irenaeus was a second-century follower of Jesus known for his writings against heresy and for his summary of teachings handed down from the Apostles. Tutored by the martyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who in turn was taught by the Apostle John, Irenaeus is important because of the way he used both Old and New Testament […]


Why does the Bible say nothing about how Eve was feeling after her first son killed his younger brother? Did word get back to her that, when asked where Abel was, Cain had said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Did she know that he seemed more concerned about losing the affections of his fields than […]

Connecting Epic Dots

In Genesis, the Serpent shows up as an accuser and a deceiver. In the story of Job, Satan shows up as an accuser of both God and Job— allowed to do violence to Job—to deceive Job and friends… In the story of the Cross—Satan is allowed to enter Judas to do violence to the Son […]

On the Ground

I appreciate your willingness to smile and reflect with me on the stunning repetition Moses used to describe what happened on the ground—shade in the day, warmth and light in the night—as God led in The Cloud overhead (Numbers 9:15-23). Your comments show that in the wilderness of then and now, the direction of God depends […]

Day in Day out

I’ve been thinking again about a section of the book of Numbers that we’ve looked at together in years past. But it always makes me smile. It’s about how the LORD led his people— day in day out, as he protected and provided for them through the wilderness on their way to a Promised Land […]

On Wikileak Sea

How can we make sense of a world where all who have something to hide live in constant fear of being exposed by a power seeking, money hungry— or ever loving rival? How different are such thoughts from the “What is truth?” asked by a cynical judge when he was asked to seal the fate […]


Why did God create us with such an enormous capacity for hurt, misunderstanding, bad blood, family division, and tribal warfare? Could it be for the same reason Jesus was born not just to die, but to be crucified? In allowing himself to be insulted, tortured, and killed, did the Source of all power, authority, and […]

Acts of God—2

An interesting thought surfaced in the comment section of the last post. In misunderstanding the Acts of God, there are two possibilities: Attributing to God the acts of Satan and attributing to Satan the acts of God. In both cases, misunderstanding the consequences of demonic darkness results in blaming God for what he allows. Confusion […]

Stockholm Syndrome

In 1973 four hostages were taken in a Stockholm bank robbery. When eventually released the victims defended their captors and refused to testify against them in court. Their experience led to the coining of a term that represents, by some estimates, 8 percent of persons who have been intermittently harassed, beaten, threatened, abused, or intimidated […]

Glances and Glimpses

One of the stubbornly resistant facts of the Bible is that all of its words, affirmations, and denials have to be interpreted. Take for instance a hint of of God’s goodness spoken by the LORD to Moses and remembered by Paul, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15). Anyone […]


I’ve been reading a book about the effects and treatment of trauma titled, “The Body Keeps the Score.” Written by psychiatric researcher, Bessel Van Der Kolk, it describes how different parts of our brain need to work together to help us avoid and survive danger. In general terms, Van Der Kolk describes at great length […]

Thanksgiving for Better or Worse

National days of Thanksgiving happen for better or worse. Unless we stand together in gratefulness for a shared harvest— or unless our prayers are childlike enough to not stir up adult issues, our family and political differences can overcook more than the turkey. Thanksgiving Holidays seem to have the unintended result of reminding us of painful […]


In the 8th century before Christ, King Uzziah ruled Judah for 52 years. It was a time of unusual stability, material prosperity, and national security, marred by a devastating earthquake and— the leprosy that forced a popular leader to give up his throne. In the year that King Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah had a […]

Law and Order

In the beginning there was one Word. One rule. One voice. One law. One “don’t do this”—surrounded by beauty, truth, and goodness. Yet there was more in the wonder than the eye could see. The one “don’t do this”— became a compellingly dark hole, an irresistible pull, offering the right language and leverage— to test the […]

State of Emergency

Concerns felt for the tragic losses of the people of Haiti, and for those in Florida and our own Southeast coast go far beyond our sense of moral duty. States of emergency bring out the best in our common humanity—and sometimes the worst. When “acts of God” turn lives upside down, neighbors reach out to one […]

One in Many

How can many be one? On the eve of his tragic execution, the Son asked of his Father that those who belong to him “Will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will […]


Would God ask us to love others as we love ourselves, and even more— only to break our hearts in the end? Maybe for a while, he would— as he allows our pains and longings to turn our hearts to him, and as he allows our concern for others to deepen our trust in what […]


There are different kinds of glory. As the Olympic games of Rio played out, many of us saw glory in the glowing eyes of those who won the honor of standing on a podium, with a gold medal around their neck, and their national anthem playing in the background. Jesus reflected a different glory when he was […]

How We Look

Is there a difference between what we see and how we see it? For example, is there a difference between what we see in ourselves, others, the Bible, current events, personal circumstances, the future, etc. and how we look at it? We’ve talked together before about the observation that we see things not only as they […]


Can you imagine Jesus living the way we do? What if his schedule wasn’t open enough to be spending time at the lakeshore with friends? What if he didn’t have time to be alone, to pray, or to even to talk so much about what was important to him? What if he had to do […]

A Time to Laugh

Laughter can be a wonderful gift… full of wonder, joy…sometimes foolish, sometimes cruel. In a dark season of life, Solomon sensed there is a time to laugh… Modern science and medicine might lead us to believe that, for all of the benefits observed and measured, we were made to laugh— for our own health, and the good […]

Laughing at Ourselves

Someone said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” For the sake of love… and joy… Wonder if Jesus made tax collectors and self-described sinners laugh until they couldn’t catch their breath… or until they cried? If so, am guessing the religious leaders of Jerusalem didn’t find him […]

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 […]

Looking Back to go Forward

Some of us like to read a book backward—the end first, before the beginning. Others are on the look out for spoiler alerts and enjoy the experience of not knowing how the story is going to turn out in the end. The Gospel writer Matthew had learned to read the Scriptures of Israel both forward […]

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Those of us who have seen and felt the horrific impact of Mel Gibson’s 2004 “The Passion of the Christ” may recall the dark opening scene of Jesus groaning in the Garden of Gethsemane; the Satanic whisper that One cannot bear the sins of all; the troubling image of a snake slithering out from beneath […]

Calming Thoughts

Earlier this week a few short words from the 131st Psalm caught my attention. The songwriter seems to have found a way to calm his mind about the kind of questions that could drive us mad. He writes, LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great […]

And the Greatest is…

What could be more important than a discovery of who Jesus is, and who he loves? And does he only love those who love him and those who accept him rather than reject him? Did he? Second to that finding, even if it is far down the line of other important discoveries about who Jesus […]

No Eyes On

During the search for two escapees from a maximum security New York prison, many of us watched competing news media press for information on the status of the pursuit. At one point commentators began quoting a source who admitted that—though law enforcement officials believed they were in “hot pursuit” of the subjects— they  had “no […]

Inside Information

Sometime back a fast food sandwich by the name of Meat Mountain made news. Layered with six different kinds of meat, two cheeses, topped with chicken tenders and three strips of bacon, it sounded like a one of a kind sandwich made for a temporary media splash. According to a BBC article, Meat Mountain was […]

Coming Together into 2015

Day is starting here in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. at 15 degrees with blowing and drifting snow. Just got a phone voicemail alert that our offices have a 2 hour delay in opening as we all dig out and face the icy, snow covered roads. As you can see, I have access […]

Mary Did You Know?

This year, just before Christmas, a wonder-filled five minute National Geographic YouTube video has captured my attention. It has also renewed my appreciation for one of the wonderful lines of Mark Lowry’s Mary did You Know—“that your baby boy… is Lord of all Creation?” Without him was nothing made that was made… (John 1:1-4) (John […]

The Heart of a Park Ranger

While thinking more about our Father’s world, I found an inspiring article in the BBC Online Magazine about Africa’s oldest national park. It’s the story of Andre Bauma, a park ranger, who describes how, in addition to his love for his family, has found a special place in his heart for an adopted orphan gorilla […]

Blood Moon

The interest in the recent lunar eclipse has stirred up thoughts about what an amazing gift the moon is to us. While the sun is far greater, a lunar eclipse shows that the moon has an apparent size in the sky equal to the sun. A fascinating online article in Universe Today explains this in […]

Living in Riddles

We  struggle among ourselves about how to use words like loving, forgiving and judging others. Together we’re discovering that all such words have a range of meanings and an unlimited capacity for intent, application—and their place in a story. Maybe that’s one reason  we are called by the Bible not just to words, but to […]

Theology With a Limp

Jacob walked with a limp after his encounter with God (Genesis 32:31). As a result, according to Genesis, when his descendants ate the meat of an animal, they had a practice of not eating the tendon attached to the socket of a hip (Gen 32:32). Since Jacob’s people have given various explanations to this event, […]

Questions about Questions

Honest questions can be priceless. Without them our minds and character remain unchallenged and undeveloped. Without the freedom to ask honest questions we remain little more than the extension of someone else’s self-centered will and control. Without a healthy and purposeful curiosity we cannot reflect, reason, or try to determine the difference between imagination and […]


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

The Word that Changes Us

What comes to mind when we hear “the word of God” or “the word of truth”? 1.  God’s word of provision behind every good gift (Deut 8:3) 2.  A living and eternal Person  (John 1:1-3) 3.  The good news of what the living Christ did and does for us (Eph 1:13) (Eph 5:25-26) (Eph 6:17) […]

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance

With tornadoes cutting swaths of destruction across the US South and Midwest, families in Malaysia, China, and South Korea continue to mourn their lost; as many more in the Ukraine and Russia move to the edge of war… as our world moans… as we grieve our losses… and as our God groans with and for […]

What are We Hearing?

What do we hear in the words of a king who sobs over a son who died trying to overthrow his own father, “Oh Absalom, my son Absalom, if only I had died instead of you”? 2Sam 18:33 Is the emotion similar to what we hear in the boldness of a leader who asks for […]

Seven Days to Remember

The seven days we remember this week were a long time in coming. Heaven didn’t seem to be in a hurry.  Since the first hint and promise of a rescue, thousands of troubled years had passed. No one’s parents had survived. Everyone’s children were dying. A brief moment of expectation was followed by 30 silent […]

The Gift of Time

This is National Volunteer Week in the U.S. April 6-12 has been set apart as a time to honor those who have given one of the greatest treasures in life to the service of others. During the week I’ve had a chance to have lunchtimes with groups of Service Partners who donate time to our […]


Now that Malaysian officials have declared flight 370  lost—beyond all reasonable doubt—many are thinking today about the reality of unanswered prayer. Some will hear in the groans and silence certainty that there is no God. Others will see reason to believe that, for now, God alone can make sense of the lingering questions of who, […]

The Mystery of Malaysian Airlines 370

At any moment we may hear the answer. But for now the mysterious disappearance of the 239 passengers and crew of the missing 777 has captured the minds and hearts of the world. For many of us, the developing story raises disturbing questions of personal risk and security, procedural errors, truth and misinformation in reporting, […]

In the End and Beginning

As we come to the end of the Sochi Winter Games, an article in the Washington Post asks whether any other host city will ever be able to match the size, cost, and 51 billion dollar showcase created by Vladimir Putin. At the same time we are hearing stories of some athletes who expect this […]

The Vision of Sochi

Seeing the nations of the world coming together peacefully around the common language of sport says a lot about our shared humanity. So does the fact that our athletes are competing with one another for personal and national glory in snow covered mountains, surrounded by fences and armies of anti-terrorist security. May be a small […]

The Spirituality of Sport

On the heels of Seattle’s stunning Super Bowl victory over Denver, and in the week leading up to 18 televised nights of the Sochi Winter Games, it seems like a good time to think about one of life’s great ironies. In some ways religion and the games we play seem like a strange pairing. But […]

Avoiding the Potholes

With the recent thaw after a lengthy period of below normal temperatures, Michigan roads have suddenly become littered with axle-busting potholes. Our local paper reported yesterday that road crews are out trying to fill as many as possible. But as the the snow has begun to fall again, we have more than slippery conditions to […]

Mark of the Forgiven

With just a few words, someone who knew what it was like to deny Christ gave us a lot to think about. According to Peter, if we are not growing in our love for others, we have forgotten how much we’ve been forgiven (2Peter 1:8-9). Jesus said something similar to a Pharisee who objected when […]

The Relativity of Time

It’s been said that a twin living at the top of a mountain ages slower than a twin living at the base. But the idea based on Einstein’s theory that time is relative to energy and mass is beyond me. I have all I can do to explain the relatively different way that time seems […]

Christ and Culture

As we transition into a new year, it seems like a good time to post once again an excerpt from an early 2nd or 3rd century letter explaining and defending the faith of Jesus’ followers. The letter was originally written in Greek to an unknown person named Diognetus from Mathetes (probably a pseudonym since it […]


A BBC African news story tells how four Kenyan villagers out ran and then  captured alive two cheetahs that had been killing their goats.The owner of the goats said that the large cats had returned repeatedly to kill 15 of his animals. So how could these men run down, on foot, the fastest animals in […]

So What?

Does the whole Bible really help to tell the story of Jesus?  I found this 2 minute answer by Tim Keller fascinating. Then earlier this week, a friend passed along a video link of a musical presentation by Sam Robson. Seems to me that it expresses so well what can happen when inspired words […]

More than a Cameo

As Job becomes increasingly upset with his friends for what they are saying—and with God for his silence—suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, Job expresses a hope that looks like a small cameo appearance of Jesus in an otherwise lengthy, angry, and hopeless debate. Text: Job 19:21–27 (NIV) 21“Have pity on me, my friends, have […]

Terror in Tacloban

In another day and age, the victims of a catastrophic storm like Typhoon Haiyan would have gone unnoticed by most of the world. But today the images and eyewitness accounts stream to us in almost real time. A BBC news report says,”Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from […]

Progressive Thinking?

After offering his reasons for declaring as blessed those who are poor in spirit; and those who mourn, Jesus said, blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (Matt 5:3-5). Of the word for “meek” Thayer’s Hebrew lexicon offers the opinion that, “Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we […]

Wisdom Riddle or Super Woman?

As part of our Discover the Word recording schedule this week, Alice Mathews led us through a fresh way of thinking about the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31. What Alice described is not the “Super Woman,” who is so intimidating to women and perplexing to men, but a literary device that brings to conclusion the […]

Life on the Run

Have been thinking about some of the most obvious differences between ourselves and people like Abraham, Ruth, and John the Baptist.  For one, their lives were oriented to the seasons of an annual agricultural cycle. By contrast many of us live on the run, without being forced into the slow-down rhythm of waiting on crops […]

For a Healthy Heart

Two recent articles on developments in heart research sound promising. One talks about a form of gene therapy that uses a heart-healing virus to help rebuild heart muscle. Another describes the effectiveness of using the crisis that requires a procedure to open one blocked artery as an occasion to clear out the rest of the […]

The Mystery of Moon Dust

Yesterday, NASA launched a 280 million dollar unmanned rocket dubbed LADEE (The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer). This project may be different from other NASA projects in that its announced purpose isn’t to search for the origins of life in other world environments. Instead it’s an exploration designed to help scientists learn how to […]

Secret Disciples

At the time of Jesus’ burial, two men are ready to take a risk. Both appear to be members of the Sanhedrin, a ruling body of Israel. One is Joseph who had been a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of other Jewish leaders (Luke 23:50-51) (John 19:38). He is the one who went to […]

Bargaining with God

When Jacob left home to avoid being killed by his furious brother, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and assured him that he would be with him on the road ahead; that he would protect him, and provide for him; until safely bringing him back again to the homeland he was leaving behind […]

The Science of Attitude

An article of the BBC Online Magazine asks whether science can explain why some people see “the glass as half empty” while others see it as “half full”. The answer offered by medical journalist, Michael Mosley, explains additional research on genetic discoveries that we alluded to in a recent post, “God only Knows.” According to […]

Barred and Bored

Writing from Normandy France for the BBC News magazine, journalist Natasha Breed writes of her reaction at seeing a caged King of the jungle—as a traveling circus rolls into town. “I have spent years working with wildlife film crews following lions in Africa, and I have learned to read the big cats’ moods in their […]

God Only Knows

Do you ever find yourself feeling like your mind is going to unravel over some of the most obvious and mysterious questions of life like: Why does anything exist? Me? You? Us? Now? Here? In a conscious state that cannot be explained? Above all why, would there be an eternal self-existent God? Why can’t science […]

A Song for the Journey

The 84th of the Bible’s book of songs is full of thoughts about a safe place. Verses 8 and 9 though have caught my attention today. The songwriter, prays and sings, In two sets of parallel thoughts in which the second line of each couplet brings  clarity to the first. Hear my prayer, Lord God […]

A Sleepless Night

20 years had passed since Jacob left home, on the run for lying his way into more than his share of the family inheritance. Now he was coming back, with 2 wives, 12, children and large herds of animals. As the sun set, Jacob would once again try to fall asleep with his head full […]


Honor to whom honor is due… When we consider any soldier who has died or been wounded in the service of others, and when we consider how many have paid that ultimate price, we have only begun to consider the inequalities of life… Jesus knew we’d consider him and his Father unfair. He told a […]

If Insects Could Talk

Genesis tells about a God who spoke into existence insects and everything else that we see and sense (Gen 1:24). This God says the word. Something comes out of nothing. Light pushes back the darkness. Order emerges out of chaos (Gen 1:1-3). In the resulting paradise God begins sharing his life with children bearing a […]

Like a Snake

Somewhere in the Bible it implies that Jesus would be treated like a snake, for us. It’s a stunning thought, especially when we think about the fact that Satan is pictured in Genesis and Revelation as the great serpent and deceiver of the world. Yet Jesus, himself, makes the connection between himself and the snake.  […]

Another Look at Law and Grace

Recurring tensions in this blog reflect the history of our faith. In every century followers of Christ have had a running disagreement about how much emphasis to give to law and/or grace. One side thinks the other tends to emphasize grace to the point of moral license. The other side thinks their counterparts are morally […]

Three Women Found

The report of three women found alive in Cleveland, Ohio after they went missing about a decade ago is the kind of news we could live for. While much information isn’t yet available, it appears that all three were abducted in separate incidents and held captive, for 10 years,  in a normal looking home with […]

Matthew’s Table

Why were “sinners” so drawn to Jesus even before learning that he had come to suffer and die for their rescue? Can we put ourselves in their place, and his? (Matt 9:9-13) Is it possible that the most righteous person who ever lived can identify with “the worst” among us better than we can? Seems […]

Hedges, Fences and Walls

The Bible uses the word picture of hedges in some provocative ways. Satan complains, for instance, that God has bought Job’s loyalty by building hedges of protection around him (Job 1:10). Later after the Lord has taken some of the fences down to give the Devil access, Job wonders why the Almighty has shut him […]

In Our Search for Answers

As the FBI leads the investigation into yesterdays Boston Marathon tragedy, many will be tempted to try to pin the blame on one or more individuals responsible for such loss and suffering. But even when the investigations of Federal, State, and Local agencies are done, we won’t be at the bottom of this or any […]

Jacob and Israel

Isn’t it ironic that what so many call The Good Book doesn’t put a high value on moral pride and seems to go out of its way to honor those who have made a mess of their lives? What’s even more amazing is that the people of the Book haven’t found a way to clean […]

The Riddle of the Cross

Needed by all, deserved by none; A life for death, a death for life; In one, all; for all, one; By rejection, acceptance; By weakness, strength; In sorrow, joy; In right, made wrong; For wrong, made right; By injustice, justice; Through judgment, mercy; Through despair, hope. What love is this, and what difference could it […]

As the Music Plays

An article on the BBC news website describes the process by which experts have affirmed the authenticity of a violin that was played by the bandleader of the Titanic. As I thought about the eerie irony of an orchestra playing during the 1912 tragedy at sea that took the lives of 1500 people, the biblical […]

Interests vs Values

When I wrote about diplomacy and the art of peacekeeping in the last post, some thought I was suggesting that we negotiate or compromise on important truths. Admittedly, that would not be a good thought. Unhealthy compromise should be a concern. So let’s narrow our focus to the idea of interests vs. values, which according […]

Famous Stone Throwers

Just before Jesus healed a blind man (to release him from spiritual dependence on men who thought they could see but couldn’t), there is an eye-opening conversation recorded in John chapter 8. That episode picks up as a group of Moses’ followers drag a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. Hiding their real intent to […]

What are we Seeing?

I’ve been sitting here reading a question over and over that any of us can find in the ninth chapter of John’s gospel: “…And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was […]

Where’s the Smile?

What are we to make of joyless religion or faith? We’ve spent quite a bit of time emphasizing that the goal of Christ is love for our neighbor. So what about joy?  What if we find that we don’t know what to make of the words of David when he sings about a kind of […]

Focus Check

In thinking back on the last conversation, it seemed to me that we actually stayed within ourselves as “friends” better in talking about different perspectives of prophecy (which can be such a divisive issue) than we did in dealing with the role and meaning of love. Ironically, sometimes love can be so intuitive that even […]

Law and Love in the Balance

One of the questions that keeps coming up in our conversations is whether an emphasis on uncondemning mercy, love, and compassion will leave us with an unhealthy devaluation of moral law, spiritual virtue, and social order. Who among us hasn’t by now seen or read the drama of life that gives us the answer? The […]

Mystery of the Wise Men

A bumper sticker says, “Wise men still seek him”.  But why? Am having a hard time recalling anyone  who claims to have relentlessly pursued the hopes and fears of all the years— until the equivalent of a guiding star finally settled over the sound of God crying in a manger. Some of our personal stories […]

Evil Access

No one can doubt the evil that coldly takes the life of another– let alone a little child or many. But would we be missing something to leave the impression that evil happens apart from the human experience that is common to all of us– whether awakened by rejection, fear, hopelessness, rage, abuse, neglect, mental […]

Lingering Tangled Questions

Am thinking there may be questions lingering in our minds after considering that evil sinners are seen as “righteous” in God’s eyes if they are ‘in Christ’…and that such people are to be considered well off and to be envied– not because they “have it all together”– but because they have seen their deep spiritual […]

A Gift Even for Our Animals

In out last post and conversation we saw together that when God calls someone “righteous” it is easy for us to mishear what is being said. By our ear, it may sound as if God is putting his stamp of approval on that person’s moral and ethical character. In fact, at the moment of being […]

Lost and Found

We’ve been thinking about the unfolding drama that gives meaning to every word in the Bible, and that, in turn, every word, subplot and supporting person (i.e. Caesar Augustus and Pilate) helps to tell the story… from many different perspectives. Something similar is true of our lives. Every word we speak, every purpose we pursue, […]

4- Unusual Facts About the Bible

The four Gospels offer eye-witness accounts that vary in ways that are often difficult to reconcile. The Bible’s critics cite these apparent discrepancies as reason to question the Bible’s reliability. The other side of the coin, however, is that these reporting differences reflect a lack of cover-up by an early Christian community. Rather than suggesting […]

3- Unusual Facts About the Bible

Here’s another fact about the Bible that turns out different than it begins. There aren’t many clear predictions of Jesus in the Jewish Scriptures. We’ve talked in the past about how followers of Christ have  claimed more than 300 prophecies fulfilled in him. Yet on closer look, only a few are clear predictions in their […]

2b–Unusual Facts About the Bible

Am trying to use  a series of posts to think with you about the multi-sided realism of the Bible that is so important to its credibility. In that light I’m taking another shot at the first two points before moving on. The Bible is full of its own people’s dirty laundry. Both testaments describe the […]

#2–Unusual Facts About the Bible

Because the timeless, global reputation of the Bible doesn’t just rest on one unusual fact, but on many converging lines of evidence, let’s add a second to the first we’ve already begun talking about. We began last time noting that some of the Bible’s credibility lies in the fact that it does not just tell […]

Unusual Facts About the Bible

Seems that some of the Bible’s credibility lies in the fact that it does not just tell us what we might expect to hear. For instance, both testaments describe in detail the weaknesses and failures of the people whose story they tell (i.e. leaders of Israel and the disciples of Jesus). Historians view potentially embarrassing […]

Thankless Moments

What if our present circumstances don’t leave us feeling honestly grateful? When it comes to giving thanks, should we just just “do it” whether we mean it or not? What if the truth is closer to, “I never expected to be surrounded with such feelings of loneliness, fear, anxiety, confusion, and unanswerable questions?” Seems as […]

Big Ideas in Small Matters

Am at a theological conference this week, attending wall to wall, morning to evening lectures. While all of the sessions so far have been about how we understand the Bible, some have dealt specifically with principles and methods of interpretation; some on Creation Care; one about contrasting statements Jesus made about forgiveness; and one on […]

All Together Now

Went to a college women’s volleyball game the other night. Was a regional final, with the winner going to the national tournament. Turned out to be a hard fought 3 out of 5 match in which both teams played their hearts out. I had a special interest because a niece of ours’ was playing in […]

God Hates Us?!

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, followed a week later by a chilling nor-easter, the New York Post yesterday boldly declared, “God Hates Us… but we have an angel.” The front-page headline was combined with a provocative picture of a Victoria Secret model. In trying to read between the lines, my guess is that the […]

Win or Lose

Recently while in Curitiba, Brazil, I saw a city caught up in the enthusiasm and display of local elections. As an outsider who didn’t speak the language, it was easy not to get entangled in regional concerns. Today as those of us in the US are entering into the final hours of a national election […]

Sandy’s no Lady

When a 90 mph, category 1 hurricane Sandy made her landfall last night at Atlantic City New Jersey, the breaking news seemed a bit anti-climactic for awhile. Predictions of a Superstorm with a catastrophic storm surge began to seem like one more false alarm. By 9:00 EST time, however, the language of the news groups […]

Home is Where the Heart is

Am back home again after a wonderful few days with our team in Curitiba, Brazil. As the pic shows, it’s Spring in the southern hemisphere. Thanks so much to those who prayed for and with me along the way. I was repeatedly aware of the Lord’s presence and provision in opportunities to talk with different […]

Comfortable in Our Own Skin?

A television commercial series for Dove Soap for Men promotes its product by showcasing well-known athletes talking about their life with a sense of satisfaction. Each ends their ad saying, “My name is i.e. Magic Johnson and I’m definitely comfortable in my own skin.” The effectiveness of the commercial seems to depend on whether enough […]

The Greatest Harvest of All

As we come to the end of Israel’s September 30 to October 8 Sukkot holiday, I’ve been thinking again about the significance of a harvest festival (Exod 23:16). Israel’s annual cycle of seven harvest festivals gave a nation an opportunity to remember that no matter how much human effort goes into the agricultural enterprise, it […]

A Holiday to Remember

Israel, secular as it is, celebrates this week the last harvest festival of the annual cycle of special days called for by Moses in Leviticus 23. (Lev 23:34-44) Intermingling secular, traditional, and spiritually observant customs, the modern celebration of Sukkot/Tabernacles combines elements of present practice and ancient significance. Among the more recognizable are (1) thanks […]

Peace in Troubled Waters

Sometimes… When caught in the rush of all that we cannot grasp or change, We sense what it means to live in the moment One breath at a time In the strength and weakness that has been given to us… Without having to see or to know, Or to understand all that is going on […]

For the Love of Brannigan

In our last post we used a “dog shoots hunter” news piece to talk about how God shows mercy for unintentional wrongs. But there are other examples of animals who are put down and destroyed after having aggressively attacked a child, stranger or owner. A UK paper tells the sad story of a woman who […]

Mystery of an Unlikely Hero

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 of […]

Paralympic Enlightenment

As the Paralympic Torch arrived in London, the Queen prepared to honor opening  ceremonies  that organizers are calling “Enlightenment, a celebration of the inspirational spirit of the Paralympic Games that challenge perceptions of human possibility”. After already seeing Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius run in the recent London Games, and hearing the sports world weigh the […]

The Story Behind Everything

Millions of miles away, on the reddest planet of our solar system, an ingenious invention we know as The Mars Rover is about ready to go looking for clues to the origins of life. Let’s suppose that Curiosity’s quasi-scientific/religious mission suddenly becomes wildly successful. Red Rover starts sending back pictures of heat and cold resistant […]

The H Word

History can seem like a bad word. What else can so quickly deflate the ego of a scientist who has to accept how many scientific findings have later been disproven; the Bible scholar who has to face how many possibilities, have been suggested over the years for meanings of biblical words and statements; or the […]

Strategies of Diversion

Many of us have heard it said that, at any given moment, the one truth that Satan is attacking is the most important truth to defend. This idea is often supported with a quote attributed to Martin Luther: “If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of […]

At the Foot of Mount Olympus

What is it about Olympic competition that seems to lift the games to a level of spirituality that is usually reserved for thoughts of worship? Why are we so moved? Is it the stories of individual athletes who have overcome all obstacles to realize their dream; the sacrifices they and their families have made; their […]

Roots of a Jinx

Some call it superstition. Others talk with familiarity about the sports gods who lift up underdogs and bring down the mighty. As the 2012 London Summer Olympic games begin, coaches, teammates, and fans all over the world will be trying not to jinx their national athletes. Everyone seems to sense that, for reasons beyond ourselves,  […]

Jesus or Paul?

In our earlier discussion of “The Gambler” one of our friends started a discussion that seems to pit Paul against Jesus, and “life in the Spirit of Jesus” against the “Christianity of Paul.” The lingering subject surfaced again repeatedly in our last discussion about “things that last” longer than a tattoo.  Seems like we are […]

But if not…

What is the faith that pleases God? Is it found in believing that He will do whatever we ask of him as long as we don’t second guess (doubt) our own faith—and him in the process? Or is the faith that God is looking for the kind of trust that leaves the decision of our […]

The Shortest Song

So if Psalm 119 is 176 verses long, why two chapters earlier would there be the shortest song  composed of only 2 verses (Psa 117:1-2)? Reminds me of the shortest sentence in the Bible with only 2 words (John 11:35)? In other posts we’ve already talked about the fact that, if the whole Bible is […]

Conservative Self-Reflection

My guess is that many of us see the mistakes of those who are cynical about: Prayer The existence of God The supernatural side of the Bible The Deity of Jesus His miracles His resurrection Our personal need for his death in our place His promise to return The eventual resurrection of all who have […]


When my wife and I walked into the small darkened theater I saw something that has been as unforgettable to me as the film we were about 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 […]

God and the Ostrich

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork… She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them… She treats her young harshly, as if they […]

Informal Communities

Am in the middle of the long flight home. Still having trouble knowing how to express what I have seen and heard on a week visit to South Africa. On one hand, while in the Durban area I have met people with a deep desire to reach out to all segments of this complex society. […]

Worlds Apart

Have spent a lot of time indoors with the exception of some early morning walks along beautiful Indian Ocean beaches. Am hoping in the next couple of days to get out into the city and some rural districts. Have heard  stories about parts of South Africa that have lost a whole generation to AIDS. Children […]

What Makes it Personal?

After a couple of days of traveling I’ve joined a wonderful group of co-workers in South Africa. Will be learning a lot from them in the next few days. Have found that my host here has the kind of wireless access that allows me to call home with the sound of being “next door”. This […]

How “Knowing God” Could Sound Proud

In our last post we looked at a number of questions that might be raised in response to the idea of “a personal relationship with God”. Your comments have been  good. So I’m taking a chance of wearing you out by repeating some of what you’ve said in my own take. But I’ll test your […]

Norway’s Trial of the Century

The Norway trial of Anders Breivik who has admitted to killing 77 people last July in a meticulously planned attack against immigration and multiculturalism deserves our attention. In Breivik’s widely distributed 2083 manifesto, discovered after the killings, he describes how carefully he planned and trained for the attacks.  According to court witnesses he says he […]

Trayvon, George, and Us

What can followers of Christ bring to the death of a young teenager that has filled the public media with a mix of facts, allegations, and theories that have divided the public of the United States? What we know is that Trayvon Martin (17) is dead and George Zimmerman (28) is declaring that he is […]

Aslan vs Simba

Disney’s musical adaption of “The Lion King” has become the highest earning show in Broadway history. According to a BBC online article, “The musical has earned $853.8 million (£536.7 million) since opening in 1997. Its closest rival, The Phantom of the Opera, has made $853.1m (£536.3m).” Has anyone else noted the comparison and contrast between […]

The Heartbeat of a Word

We’ve been considering together what it means to know and walk with a God who says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, […]

Knowing God

One of the most eloquent and inspiring quotes of the Bible comes out of the mouth of a grieving prophet. Speaking in behalf of the God of Israel, Jeremiah says, This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the […]

What’s a Good Day?

Wonder how many times we’ve said to someone, “Have a good day”, or asked, “What kind of a day did you have”; or “How’s you’re day going?” Also wondering how our  take would look 100 years from now on any given day we’d been given the privilege of living. Just for kicks, was listening to […]

Connecting the Inspired Dots

Since my comments to some of the questions and thoughts raised by the last post are too long to put in the form of a comment, here’s what I’m thinking, even though a lot of this has already come out in the discussion. Much of what the God of the Bible tells people to do […]

The Passing of Whitney Houston

On the eve of the 2012 Grammy Music Awards, Whitney Houston died. With her passing millions will remember a voice and songs that did more than make her one of the most recognized and awarded female vocalists in music history.  Who among us can forget the emotions stirred by her endlessly played “I Will Always […]

The Wonder of Being

Together with the others who meet here, I remain deeply moved by the stories of Steve, Matt, Nyekis,  and all who can identify with the God who is with us through our break downs. Caught this picture a couple of days ago after thinking that winter was never going to show up. Around the 10th […]

Trying to Refocus

Every once in a while I try to to see if there is a way of arranging the most familiar of thoughts in a way that they look fresh again. Here’s the way they are coming together for me today. Wondering what you would add. (can click on picture to enlarge).

Can Love Envy?

Paul says love does not envy. The New Living Translation says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.” (1Cor 13:4) Yet Moses said to Israel, “You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, lest you make a covenant with the […]

Trip Update

Have been meeting with international co-workers to update our efforts and to think through ways of using our wider perspectives to help one another increase reach and impact in each of our regions. Together we have once again found it so stretching and renewing to be able to consider the challenges and opportunities that stretch […]

Open Field and Posts

Am on the road for a while. Not sure when or how often I’m going to be able to post over the next week. But do want you to meet some friends I’ve met along the way. In the mean time please use this site to stay in touch with one another… Don’t try to […]

From Your Window

Wonder if we could try something over the weekend, and maybe into Monday. I think it would be interesting to see where we are coming from (i.e. region, young or older in the faith, special interests, personal challenges etc.) I say this with some caution because one of the values of this kind of blog […]

Hearing Test

Here’s one to tell on ourselves… wherever we are. It’s an old one. But gave me a needed smile. In his first session with a marriage counselor, the guy says, “Doc, it’s gotten so bad she doesn’t even listen to me any more. I think she’s deaf or something. But she won’t do anything about […]

Thoughts on the Why Question

On waking this morning, my mind went to those in Libya, Japan, and countless other places where people have spent the last ours either without sleep, or with a growing sense of fear and even panic. When I checked the international news, I found conflicting reports on wind directions, radiation levels and actual conditions in […]

Biblical People Can be Dangerous

I’m convinced, as so many of you are, that reflecting daily, and throughout the day, on the Word of God is as important to the health of our souls as the 1st, 19th, and 119th Psalms indicate. Jesus’ Apostle Peter joins Paul and others in saying something similar in his first New Testament letter. In […]

Blog Update

Yesterday, our Web Administrator explained to me the problems we’ve had keeping some of our sites up and running the last few days. Apparently the number of people trying to access Our Daily Bread and the family of RBC sites is growing at a rate that has exceeded the capacity of our servers. So our […]

Context Rules

Over time I’ve seen how difficult it is to write something that is clear to the reader. As a result I’ve been spending time in a book that talks about writing from the reader’s perspective. In “The Sense of Structure”, author George Gopen has given me a lot to think about. He explains, for instance […]

A Special Kind of Mercy

In my last post I referred to the fact that even though the Apostle Paul regarded himself as “the chief (worst) of sinners,” (1Tim 1:15) he said he received mercy because he had blasphemed God and done violent things to followers of Christ while in a state of ignorance and unbelief (1Tim 1:13). In that […]

Atlanta ETS Impressions

Just a few quick observations after returning from attending the Evangelical Theological Society Conference in Atlanta: Among the many conversations, sessions and memories, I am left appreciating: The many levels at which gifted scholars are working to show the reliability of the Bible and the unparalleled supremacy of Christ. The overwhelming case that can be […]

So What is Authority?

So to try and net this out, how then do we think of the authority God gives us? Do we think of it first as a responsibility and service to God—and then to one another? Or do we view it as an entitlement to be served? Do we think of the authority God gives as […]

Why Not Forgiveness First?

Have you ever noticed that when our Lord teaches us to pray, he doesn’t begin with our need of forgiveness? Isn’t it our inclination to try to resolve our sense of unworthiness as we begin our prayers? Why do you think Jesus would encourage us to begin our prayers thinking about: Desiring the honor of […]

A Story Called Desire

How much of life can be explained by what we long for? How much of who we are is defined by our desire? What if we spent time, together, thinking about the story that the Bible and life, as we know it, tells about what we hunger and thirst for? What wonderful and wretched things […]

Winter’s Quiet Passing

While acknowledging the passing of a number of celebrities this past week, was reminded of the way CS Lewis quietly slipped away just before his 65th birthday on Nov 22, 1963, the same day that JF Kennedy was assassinated. Something similar happened this past week when an important spokesman for unreached people quietly passed from […]

A Star is Born in Britain

OK, people, I’m probably coming late to the party. But I just heard about this Youtube sensation that apparently is bringing more than a few of us to tears. Came home a little while ago to work on my tax return. My wife sat me down and said, “You have to see this.” So now, […]

Tax Day

Can’t believe it. Once again have put off doing my tax filing until the last minute. Guess I know what I’ll be doing tonight. Death and taxes, isn’t that what they say we all have to look forward to? If that’s all we have to look forward to… Sure glad there’s more. Just remembered Peggy […]

WOC Update

Have mentioned before my conviction that the wonders and disasters of the natural world are powerful evidence of what the Bible tells us about God, the brokenness of our world, and ourselves. For openers we have, The reminder of what God made, called good, and entrusted to us (Gen 1) The physical evidence that tells […]

Israel, Gaza, and Good or Bad Faith

It has now been more than 2009 years since the birth of Jesus. The Middle East remains at the swirling center of worlds news. The descendants of Abraham and Sarah are still fighting over a small strip of land. Many of us see the rockets going into and out of Gaza as being linked, not […]

The Tough Side of Grace

Going into the Christmas holiday, I was focused on what can appear to be the scandalously generous side of grace. Found myself drawn back time and again to the priceless gift expressed in the words, “The Word (God) became flesh and lived among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only […]

Mary Did You Know?

Never got the last winter storm that was supposed to materialize today. Instead we got a lot of rain and a flood watch. The Grand River, for which our town is named (Grand Rapids, MI), has developed an ice jam and backed up to flood stage. Now the wind is kicking up and the temperature […]

The Story of Saint Nick

A friend sent me this four minute and 33 second YouTube link that seems to say something about our discussion of the last couple of days. I have never heard about Nick before. But I’ve found several links on YouTube that tell his inspiring story. He doesn’t call himself Saint Nick, but I am. Here’s […]

You Make this so Worthwhile!

Am still thinking this morning about some of the comments written to this blog yesterday. I agree so much with what SFDBWV wrote when he said, “The Bible is many things, one thing it is, is a story. Not just a story, but a story about God and man’s experiences. Apart and together…Life without others […]

Ten Million Dollars

Someone I have known for only a few days just gave me 10 million dollars. The gift seemed huge until I saw the same person give someone else 500 million. I’m posting the evidence here. This is real currency printed by The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in this current year. Actually the 10 million dollar […]

The Danger of Counselors

I have my first individual session with a marriage counselor and waste no time making my case. I say, “It’s gotten so bad my wife doesn’t even listen to me any more. I think she’s deaf or something. But she won’t do anything about it.” “Well”, the counselor says to me, “I’d like to know […]

Your Interests?

I’ve been encouraged by the interest and involvement that many of you are giving to this blog. Your comments, questions, and willingness to use the rating tool to show how worthwhile you find a post to be are especially helpful. But here’s something I’ve been wondering. While realizing that all of us have changes of […]


Got just a minute? Look around! As you’ll see, there’s a lot to consider together. If you’re short on time now, please bookmark this page and come back when you have more time. I’d love to have a chance to think together about things like: Unanswered Prayer » Father issues » Abuse » Political Correctness […]

Thanks for stopping by!

If this is your first time to the blog, Welcome! Got just a minute? Look a around! As you’ll see, there’s a lot to consider together. If you’re short on time now, please bookmark this page and come back when you have more time. I’d love to have a chance to think together about things […]

Comment Guidelines

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Mart DeHaan is the grandson of RBC founder, Dr. M. R. DeHaan, and the son of former president Richard W. DeHaan. Having served at RBC for over 30 years, Mart is heard regularly on the Discover the Word radio program and seen on Day of Discovery television. The weekday radio program Discover the Word has […]

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