Tags: Bible

The Short Answer

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of […]

Personal and Family Matters

Students of first century Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culture point out that in the days and lands of the Bible it went without saying that the value of the individual was a family matter. Name, identity, and honor were closely connected to parentage, tribe, and what a father, mother, son or daughter contributed to the […]

A Time to Wonder

Others had said something similar. But it was during a dark time in my life that, through the novels and Unspoken Sermons of Scottish author and poet, George MacDonald (1824-1905), I began to take to heart— what I now believe to be some of the most helpful counsel and caution I’ve ever heard: If, while reading […]

Looks Like Might Rain on Monday

A lot of what I’ve come to believe about God and country, Jesus, the Bible and how to interpret it, sin, politics, war, law and order, the future, forgiveness, and the better part of wisdom— could get me in a lot of trouble and cause conflict, hurt, feelings, disillusionment, alarm, loss and regret. The best […]

The Word of God

Imagine talking to someone who has never read the Bible before. Literate, intelligent, intrigued with the Scriptures, and knowing of your interest in The Book, the person asks, “how do you read it’? Which of the following do you think you might, or definitely would not say? I read every word as the Word of God. I read […]

Reading in Low Light

The book of Ecclesiastes, like the books of Job and Psalms show how easily we confuse our own understanding with our thoughts of God. How else can we read “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless…” (Ecc 1:2 NLT), followed soon by, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every […]

What has God Said?

Thanks to all who jumped into the conversation, “Under Fire”. Seems like we are all rightly sensitive to the original “has God said?” challenge of our enemy. Yet, we now face a different set of problems. Today, when it comes to interpreting and applying Scripture, if we don’t say, or at least wonder, “has God– really […]

Under Fire

How do the Scriptures work for us in the declared war with our spiritual enemy? Is our challenge to do as Jesus did? When tempted— either to prove himself, or to negotiate a settlement for the world— he responded three times with quotes of the Jewish Scriptures (Luke 4:1-13). I’ve often thought about how skillfully […]

Jonah and Jesus— for Openers

Continued… from Jonah’s no Jesus. Thanks to those of you who’ve taken the challenge… Here’s an example of the kind of reflection I’ve been alluding to. It’s done not by turning the subplots of the Bible into allegories, but rather by reading forward and then backward to see how the greatest of all true mysteries, tragedies, […]

What is it About Jonah?

I don’t remember the first time I heard about Jonah. But looking back, I can see how differently his short story has played out in my imagination over the course of a lifetime. Early on, it was about a man who was swallowed by “a whale”. At some point I learned that it was a […]

What is Biblical?

When God became a man to mirror in flesh the exact likeness of his Spirit, there was one kind of person who loved him, and another that ended up demanding his death. What do we know about the people who loved him and what/Who was the Word that they became known for? Who hated him, […]

True and Better

If the spirituality and miracle of the Bible comes to us— not just in its individual thoughts and events— but in the way all of them, together, help us see our need of the God who has come to us in Jesus, then, Can we also conclude that living with conscious reliance on the Spirit […]

The Blessing

Many of us treasure the Bible as an inspired gift from the Creator who wants us to know his love for us— and our need of him. What is just as clear is that those same Scriptures can leave us with the still unfolding Story of a wonderfully good Servant-like God who is calling us […]

Foreshadowing in The Lottery

In 1948 the New Yorker Magazine published one of the most famous short stories in American literature. Titled “The Lottery”, and written by Shirley Jackson, it’s about a small town that held an annual drawing in which every family picked a slip of paper out of a black box. As town people look at one […]

Has God Said?

The question has a history. Before it was first asked, human experience was limited to a paradise of undisguised trust and innocence (Gen 2:25). Then… from behind the mask of one of God’s own creatures, the hellishly subtle question was asked, “Has God said….?” In the next few words, Genesis gives us a hint of […]

Why the Mystery?

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

Dark Thoughts

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

Why is the Bible Called the Word of God?

This is an important question because there are many voices in the Bible. In its pages we hear our Creator quoted as saying, “Let there be light”, and Satan’s subtle challenge, “Did God really say…?” Between the first words of Genesis and the last words of Revelation we find prophets and poets speaking in their […]

Questions About The Book

A recent Gallup Poll indicates that three out of four people in the United States still think of the Bible as divinely inspired. According to 2014 research, 28% think of it as the Word of God— that should be taken literally. 47% think of the Scriptures as the word of God but don’t think that […]

Living Letters

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

Staying with the Story

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

Jonah and the Word of God

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

The Voice

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

Mandela and the Bible

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

Jalapenos and 2013 Nobel Honors

While doing some reading on this year’s prestigious Nobel awards, I bumped into the video of a little boy who insists that jalapeno peppers are not hot. Then I continued reading about the recognition given to 3 researchers who have been honored in the category of physiology and medicine. Together and individually they have discovered […]

2 Ways to Read the Bible

A friend and co-worker recently passed along some thoughts that he’s had about our natural inclination to miss the big story of the Bible. Jeff, is a licensed counselor who has a deep concern about how our hearts interact with the heart of God.  While reflecting on Revelation 3:14-20, he  suggests, “There are two ways […]

How we Read the Story

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

A 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 […]

As the Leaves Fall

When I wrote in my last post about the way time has changed my thinking about the Bible, I was thinking of what has happened as a result of: Listening to the way others interpret or apply the Scriptures. Discovering the complexity and simplicity of life, circumstance,  love, and honesty. Seeing that many of us […]

Adam and Jesus

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

What Opens the Bible?

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

The Bible and Cut Flowers

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

Being True to…

Thanks to those who waded into my last post with helpful concerns, questions, and observations. Let me offer here a shorter take on what I’m asking you to test with me. Once again, am starting with the assumption that the Scriptures are a God-breathed treasure written over a period of 1,500 years, by about 40 […]

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 […]

Infinitely Interpreted?

While thinking about the goal of Bible reading and study, I rediscovered a quote by George Gopen, an author and university professor known for his expertise in teaching others to write from the reader’s point of view. About the meaning of words, he says, “Language theorists have long argued that every sentence can be infinitely […]

The Bible and Truth

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

Endless Knowledge

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

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 […]

The Author’s Characters

In screenwriter Robert McKee’s book, Story, he says that the question of whether plot or character is more important to a story is as old as Aristotle. He went on to say that Aristotle weighed each and concluded that story is primary, character secondary. McKee goes on to explain that this perspective on storytelling held […]

The Author’s Plot and Subplots

I find it so necessary to keep in mind that the 66 books of the Bible have one all-encompassing, underlying storyline that gives perspective to all of the individual subplots, proverbs, predictions, laws, and letters. From Genesis to Revelation, the Author behind the authors tells us the most important parts of his story and ours. […]

The Two Books of God

Several years ago, an international team of astronomers claimed that images from the Hubble Space telescope give evidence of 40,000 galaxies in a window of the night sky no larger than the size of the moon. Each galaxy containing billions of stars. (source) Then I hear the prophet Isaiah say, “To whom then will you […]

News and Bible too Depressing?

I was talking to a friend the other day who talked about not reading the newspaper or listening to cable news because it is too depressing. Came away wondering whether many have a natural aversion to the Bible for the same reason? Is that why some people quote only the positive, optimistic, or “feel good” […]

Knowledge Without Wisdom Can Drive us Crazy

Knowledge without wisdom can make us naïve, foolish, or crazy. Have been thinking about this after rediscovering a book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend that is titled 12 Christian Beliefs that Can Drive you Crazy (Zondervan 1994-1995). The first false assumption that they list is “It’s selfish to have my needs met”. In a […]

Has God Said?

Satan asked the question of Eve to plant a seed of doubt in her mind. But seems to me that the same question, “Has God said?” can be asked to clarify our faith. What if, hypothetically, I were to say to you, “My car has some brake issues that my mechanic says are very dangerous. […]

What’s a Word From the Lord?

Do we agree with those who say, “Every promise in the book is mine?” If so, in what sense do we mean that? Do we read the Bible until something jumps out as being a phrase we want to claim for ourselves? If so how do we keep from claiming to have a Word from […]

20/20 on Who?

Two passages of the Bible that are often used to emphasize the importance of Scripture may be doing something more. Example One: When, after eating no food for 40 days,  Jesus resists Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread, he quotes Moses as saying “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word […]

To Do or Not to Do

Another combination of statements that could look like a contradiction shows up in the Sermon on the Mount. First Jesus encourages his followers to “let their light shine before others” so that others can see the good that they do (Matt 5:16). But then a few statements later the Teacher begins an extended emphasis in […]

Studies in Contrast

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

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 […]

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 […]

Paperless Spirituality?

Sony Corporation came out this week with the announcement of two new E-readers that it hopes will mount a formidable challenge to Amazon’s Kindle (paperless book). According to an Information Week article, the handheld electronic readers will be able to store about 350 books with a two week battery life. The announcement leads me to […]

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 […]

Listening to One Another

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

Slavery and the Bible

As a follow-up to our discussion about interpreting and applying the Bible to a changing world, let’s look at the way the church has re-focused its view of the Bible and slavery. Looking back, we now see the inhumane and horrendous nature of the abduction-and-racially-based slave trade supported by many church members for a significant […]

Smart Dog

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

Gaza, Samson, and Us

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

The Missing Script of Application

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

Women in High Places

As President-elect Obama formally announces his national-security team later today, news reports predict that he will appoint several women to top posts. Former rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, will replace outgoing Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State; former Security Council Member and Assistant Secretary of State, Susan Rice, will be his choice for US Ambassador to […]

Black, White, and Grayscale

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

The Sufficiency Debate

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

Bible Translations

In the past, some have reasoned that to have a Bible that is completely reliable, we need more than perfect original manuscripts. Such persons have insisted that divine preservation must extend to every word of our Bibles. They’ve said that if we allow for any error of transmission or translation, the Scriptures cease to be […]

Jerusalem Assignment

Wasn’t able to post something on arrival last night in Jerusalem, but did get a picture of a new section of “the holy city,” at night, out of my hotel window. The 10 hour flight from Newark to Tel Aviv was long but uneventful (except that the plane’s video system wasn’t working :-). Even caught […]

The Center of the Bible

Years ago, I read that there are 31,173 verses in the Bible, and that the median verse, the verse at the absolute center of the Bible, is Psalm 118:8. The same source went on to say that “from the very middle of the Scripture we are reminded that, “It is better to trust in the […]

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 […]

Bible Ah-Ha! #5

Is there one discovery about the Bible that can help us respond to the challenge of dangerous religious groups, encourage the growth of young believers, and throw light on our personal blind sides? Over the years I’ve come to believe that the one insight that speaks to all of these areas is that: All truth […]

Bible Ah-Ha! #4

If I had one chance to give one insight that has helped me better understand the Bible, I think I know what it would be. I would not emphasize that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Nor would I use my one opportunity to emphasize the importance of studying grammar, or the differences […]

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