Tags: faith

Life 101

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith […]

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 […]

Unwrapping the Greatest Riddle

We’ve talked in the past about riddles. I think my favorite is: The poor have it. The rich need it. If you eat it you die. What is it? As we all know, riddles work by play on words; by layers of double meaning or ambiguity understood by the speaker but not revealed to the hearer. […]

Where’s the Good News?

My guess is that most of us have been around long enough to hear questions asked either to avoid or find answers. For example, If the law of God is written on our hearts, as Paul says, why do we need the Scriptures of Moses or Jesus? Or, if all law is fulfilled in one, […]

Inside Out and Outside In

Am reading a book by a young author who decided to take her lack of religious faith undercover into the heart of the evangelical world, with the intent of writing about her experience. The woman admits struggling for awhile with the lies she knew she was going to have to tell to pull off her […]

While we Wait

In “He Still Moves Stones”, and as quoted in his “Grace for the Moment” inspirational guide, author Max Lucado suggests that, “Sometimes God is so touched by what he sees that he gives us what we need and not simply that for which we ask. It’s a good thing”, Lucado adds, “For who would have […]

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 […]

Spiritual Math

In a disturbing book titled, “You Lost Me”, author David Kinnaman attempts to tell the story of “Why Young Christians are Leaving Church… and Rethinking Faith”. Kinnaman writes about “the irreverent, blunt, and often painful personal stories of young Christians— or young adults who once thought of themselves as Christians— who have left the church […]

When it Comes to Specifics

I recently listened to the lecture of a Jewish rabbi who explained at length that Jewish and Christian people part ways not only over the New Testament, but over a large body of oral law which he said is essential to Jewish faith. According to this teacher, most if not all laws of written Scripture […]

What We Know and Don’t Know

In the ongoing search for answers to what happened to Malaysian Flight 370 the plight of those waiting for word on the fate of their loved ones is reaching a new level of frustration, anger, and lingering hope. Ships from several nations comb an ocean that, according to one source, is littered with 20 million […]

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 […]

Living with Questions

Over the years I’ve heard of those who have left the church saying that they have not been allowed to ask their questions. My guess is that for some of them, the issue has not been that they always expected answers, but rather that they were not allowed to honestly ask. Admittedly,  questions can be […]

Ligers and TomTatoes

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

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 […]

Thoughts in the Rubble

Once again “end of the world” associations are being given to a natural disaster. For example, an online video shows video of the destruction observed by a survivor who emerges from a storm cellar to capture images of  apocaplyptic destruction.. The only audible words are, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” Other survivors […]

Mixing it Up

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

What Dr Livingstone Presumed

Many of our generation probably know little more about a legendary African missionary, doctor, and explorer than the smile of “Dr Livingstone I presume?” While some question the historicity of those actual words, they apparently were reported by the New York Herald Newspaper in 1869. The Herald had sent Henry Morton Stanley to Africa to […]

Vu Deja May Be Part of the Answer

While wondering why trust is so important to God that he put a deadly tree in the middle of paradise; and then made “trust” not only the means of avoiding that tree—but the antidote for being born of the parents who didn’t—I’ve been thinking about a  short song (Psalm 131:1-3). In the process I bumped […]

Seeds of Hope

When a troubled Solomon tried to make sense of the times and seasons of life, he observed that “there’s a time to plant, and a time to harvest (Ecc 3:2). Got to thinking about how much of following Christ involves personally planting seeds of faith, hope, and love in the God whose story includes large […]

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 […]

Beyond OSAS

In our last post we pushed from two sides on the question of “Once Saved Always Saved?” I acknowledged that on this issue “there has been longstanding disagreement in the body of Christ” not because I don’t have an opinion, but because it is a fact. Real believers in Christ have disagreed on this. Sometimes […]

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 […]

A Faith That Works

Can faith and works exist apart from one another? The authors of the New Testament seem to be so concerned about answering this question that they sometimes sound as if they are contradicting themselves. In some texts, for instance, the apostle Paul takes pains to emphasize that salvation is by faith alone without any hint […]

Can We Admit to Doubt?

A friend recently passed along an article from USA Today titled “Why Certainty About God is Overrated.” The article told the story of John Polkinghorne, a world class physicist who also has the reputation of being a leading voice on the relationship between science and faith. Polkinghorne maintains that “We don’t believe in quarks because […]

God on Trial

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

Counsel of the Columns

The counsel of the Bible can sound contrary to all reason—and against our best interests—while showing us the meaning of wisdom. For instance, the Apostle James says something that could sound more like mental illness than spiritual health.  He encourages his readers to “count it all joy when they fall into various kinds of trials […]

Waiting or Not Waiting

I’ve been sitting here for the last hour or so, sipping on a strong cup of coffee,  reading… and thinking about the thoughts and stories posted here over the last couple of days–by friends. Most of us have never met each other face to face. Yet here, in thoughts typed thousands of miles apart, we […]

People Jesus Loves

Today, Bethany is a little Arab neighborhood that lies behind an Israeli security wall, on the eastern slope of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. On a recent visit, I had a chance to meet this man who was selling a refreshing pomegranate drink. As it turns out, he  lives within a hundred miles from my house […]

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 […]

Unwanted Opportunity

Followers of Christ often find it easy to affirm the importance of faith, hope, and love. We acknowledge that according to the Scriptures, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). We hear that without love we are somewhere between noise and nothing (1Cor 13:1-2). We admit that without hope, we are just […]

What’s so Important About Trust?

So much of the Bible seems to be about God testing our willingness to trust Him. It was an issue in the Garden; in Job’s troubles; in Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac; in our response to the Good News of what Christ did for us… and at each step of our journey home… Why does […]

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. […]

For Better or Worse

Imagine leaving home, never to return, without knowing where we are going… except that our destination has been promised to be “far better”… In some ways that’s what Abraham and Sara did. God asked them to leave an ancient home in modern Iraq– without telling them for where (Gen 12:1; Hebrews 11:8). Is it different […]

The Misused Name

One way to break down someone’s faith may be to quote Jesus’ promise that… the Father in heaven will give us any thing we ask in Jesus name (John 16:23). Many of us have discovered the hard way that ending our prayers “in the name of Jesus” doesn’t necessarily make a difference in whether we […]

Taking Inventory and Steps

Over the months I’ve talked every once in a while about how 12 Step thinking and process echoes basics of true spirituality. Even after the specific language of the Bible has been removed to make the Steps “accessible” to those who come with an aversion to the “religion” of their past, real wisdom remains. Step […]

What We Can or Cannot Do

Can we count on God to give us the ability to do anything we “believe him for”? The Apostle Paul wrote that he had learned how to do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philip 4:13). But why then, on another occasion did he write, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. […]

In Hope of Changing Seasons

It was raining and 43 degrees yesterday when I stopped to look up into this tree. Its trunk and branches are strong. Yet by its appearance, it is joining the rest of us in acknowledging that we have no power to resist the seasons of life. Solomon, struggled for a while to make sense of […]

Praying Like a Broken Record

Looking back, it seems that life is full of answered and unanswered prayers. It’s clear that, as a wise Father who for our good thinks in ways far beyond our ability, our God has every right and responsibility to say “Yes,” “No,” or “Not Yet.” But how, as we live with unanswered requests, can we […]

Why we Worry!

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

What’s Happening Here?

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

Talk Radio

Whether the issue is stem cell research, health care, or the economy, my hunch is that more than a few of us are getting our own talking points by listening to those who make a living attacking rather than listening to, or trying to find common ground with, their political opponents. Is it possible that […]

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 […]

Super Faith vs Super Doubt

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

Newsweek and Heaven

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

The Bible: What Really Happened?

Tonight the Discovery Channel is running a three hour special on Jesus: The Complete Story. Consecutive hours will address The Early Years; The Mission; and The Last Days. Advertising copy for the first segment reads: “Explore the strange fables that surround Jesus’ birth. Follow the childhood and early adult years of Jesus using a first […]

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 […]

What Does it Mean to Live by Faith?

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

Doing Ministry in a Business-like Way?

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Pendulum Riders

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

People Watching

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

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 Voting Booth

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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Caesar and Christ

It’s tax day in Rome. Caesar slouches back in his chair and says to his advisors, “I don’t have much patience with these Christians. They’re so absorbed with their “phantom king” I’m not sure we can keep them under our thumb. Yeh, most of them pay their taxes, but only because “he” tells them to. […]

Snoopy and God

FOR 50 YEARS, cartoonist Charles Schulz gave us pictures of ourselves wrapped in a smile. One of the last strips I clipped from our Sunday paper showed Snoopy the dog sitting on top of his doghouse with a typewriter, writing about his life. He titled his story . . . The Dog Who Never Did […]

The Unfairness of it All

There are reasons so many of us struggle to “forgive” a God who seems to have wronged us. The life he gave us isn’t fair. Helpless children suffer for their parents’ mistakes. Some who work hard are cut down prematurely by accident or disease. Others who hardly work at all inherit the wealth of someone […]

One Man's Anger

I don’t know of anyone who would say that God has broken his own rules. But neither do I know anyone who hasn’t had issues with God. As a number of us have already acknowledged, when we talk about our struggle to “forgive God” we don’t really mean we think God has sinned against us. […]

Forgiving God

My guess is that the idea of forgiving God could sound irreverent. I also know, however, that for some of us it’s a struggle that is real– even if that makes us morally and spiritually suspect. Because of terrible things that have happened to us, we are angry, embittered, and beside ourselves in disappointment with […]

Miracles

Have you ever seen someone go into a healing meeting with a withered arm or leg, and come out whole? Have you ever seen someone go to a miracle healer with advanced Parkinsons’, a cleft palate, or a prosthesis of any kind and come out completely and totally healed? Now, don’t get me wrong. I […]

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 […]

Imponderables (2nd of 3)

In my last post, I ended saying that the Bible introduces us to a God who makes no effort to answer questions that feel at times like they are driving us to the breaking point. Instead he gradually leads us to conclude that only when we have exhausted the limits of our own reason can […]

What I Can’t Do (3rd of 3)

In my last post, I talked about some specific examples of things I can’t do regardless of how much faith I have in God, myself, or anyone else. Let me give you a couple more examples and see if we can come to terms with what we can’t do: In addition to all of the […]

What I Can’t Do (2nd of 3)

In my last post, I talked about believing that we can be or do anything God wants us to be or do, but that I am also sobered by the awareness of what I can’t do. Let me give you some examples: I am troubled by the fact that I cannot control my circumstances. I […]

What I Can’t Do (1st of 3)

Over the years, I’ve reminded myself that, with God’s help, I can do anything God wants me to do, say anything he wants me to say, and go any place he wants me to go. In spite of some setbacks along the way, those convictions have not changed. I still believe a thousand demons with […]

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, by continuing to use this site you agree to this. Find out more on how we use cookies and how to disable them.