I love Robert Capon’s reference to Luke 14 as containing the Party Parables of Jesus. Luke reports Jesus at a dinner engagement instructing His Pharisee host and guests about the kind of party etiquette that reflects feasting in the Kingdom of God.
Intently listening for the next few words, she held her breath and leaned a little closer. How could this guy know so much about me? Each word burned into her ears, exposing thoughts she could not say out loud, stinging the back of her eyes.
I vividly remember the first time I was asked to preach to a bunch of preachers. Not just preachers, but preachers whom knew the Gospel well and preached it well. They were the ones who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was the summer of 1519 at Leipzig, in debate with John Eck, where Martin Luther said those fateful words, “Ja, Ich bin ein Hussite”—I am a Hussite. With this, the gallery exploded with murmurs and shouts of dispute. But why?
With so many others, I once thought that e-books were the future. Imagine owning something that moth and worm cannot touch, and thieves cannot steal. But a decade or so on, and I find myself reaching for the real thing. Hardcover. Softcover. I’ll take either.
Bearing fruit is something Christians spend significant amounts of time talking, writing, preaching, and arguing about. For many, it has become a wellspring of vexation. We ask, “How is my fruit? Am I bearing enough?
I’m a drug addict. Specifically, a recovering drug addict. More specific, a grateful recovering drug addict. And as I sit here now, clear-headed, I can reflect on what it was like just before drug use pushed me over the edge of sanity and I hit bottom.
My favorite meal is the English Big Breakfast. It comprises a ration of back bacon, fried eggs, grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast with butter, sausages, and baked beans, black pudding
God made Adam and Eve in His perfect, holy image; He placed them in Eden to live in His rest, peace, and goodness; and He gave them His Word. And they failed to keep it. God chose Abraham to be the father of many nations; God made a covenant with him all while he was asleep, and He formed life in Sarah’s barren womb.
I am not a pastor. I also have a hard time staying in one place for a long time. As a result, I have spent the last several years visiting many different churches. The sad reality is that “the goods” are not always handed over on Sunday morning.
God never gives you more than you can handle. When He closes a door, He opens a window. He will wipe away every tear and restore you to your best life, now. He has a plan and a purpose for your life, and of course, God wants you to be happy.
Nothing sums up the identity of a Christian better than the phrase: "Simul Iustus et Peccator." The Christian is, at the same time, wholly (totus) a sinner, who deserves God’s temporal and eternal punishment, and wholly (totus) righteous* before God on account of Jesus' Good Friday.
I once saw a man holding a sign that read: Divorce is an abomination. Repent! That’s it. Nothing else. Nothing about forgiveness, nothing about God, nothing about Christ or His blood soaked cross and empty tomb.
Since God is most high, He can only look down. Nothing is above Him. No one is more exalted than He is. So His eyes have no need to look up, only down. His eyes bend downward, earthward, to behold those who are in the depths. There He sees us.
Out here in sunny California the church is watching as storm clouds are billowing in Sacramento. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the unsettling bill, AB 2943, being presented in the California State Assembly. If I understand it correctly (and I would be happily corrected), this bill, if it passes, would make sexual orientation change efforts illegal.
There was a time when everyone thought Jesus was nuts, His mom included. The Pharisees accused Him of being possessed and His family thought He was insane. They actually wanted to take Him away, maybe get some help, or hide Him from the public for a little while.
Jesus is the subject, but you are the object. It is our fallen nature to want to interject ourselves into the salvation equation. We always want to try to take some credit for the completed work of Christ on the cross.
In the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus there are two theologies expressed: a theology of scarcity and a theology of abundance. Nicodemus thinks out of his scarcity. That's why he asks Jesus, "How can anyone be born when he’s an old man?" Nicodemus' whole theology, the way he relates to God, comes from a place of scarcity. Jesus. Spirit. Water.
I live in southern California, which has aptly been described as the land of fruits and nuts. It is a place where people deride religion while promoting a vague spirituality devoid of merit, meaning, or morality. Here you can find all manner of talk about experiences of the spiritual variety.
Some of us are tortured that we don’t have the right words. Some of us are terrified that our actions don’t live up to our beliefs. Some of us even second-guess what we know is true and real. Some of us are drowning in the midst of the sea of life.
What does peace add up to? Is it just a word? Is it even true that there is, in fact, such a thing as peace? When Jesus talks about peace in the gospels he means, "to join, to tie together into a whole." That's the kind of peace Jesus points to.
Mordor is a scary place. There really isn’t much more to say about it. It’s the land of Sauron—with that ever-searching eye, hordes of orcs, trolls, giants, ring wraiths, and an insanely large spider. It’s a land filled with the stench of decay and death.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son reflects some of the most outrageous aspects of the grace of God. Wretched living cannot void it and it’s gifted-ness never assumes a shred of individual merit or virtue. Even the most offensive behaviors on our part cannot cancel or diminish God’s desire to treat us with nothing but pure grace.
You have probably heard of the widow’s mites. Sadly, we focus on the pennies of the old lady, but forget the old lady, nameless and formless. We crucified those braggadocios Pharisees who loved to be popular, in the spotlight, let alone rich.
Is the foundation of the church something we think up or do or say? What happens because of us and what we do, is that why the church exists? Or, to think about it another way: when we breathe and we feel it we can (to a certain degree) control our breath. But, if we don't think about breathing it goes on.
As I watched the T.V. show “House” years ago, I often found that I was of two minds about the main character. The show centered around his brilliant diagnostic abilities—he could solve the unsolvable puzzle. Whatever the patient’s ailment, you could know that by the end of the episode, Dr. House would finally discover
He woke. The evening light could be seen slipping through the various cracks. No longer the direct rays of the sun, but that mysterious glow that hangs on for a few moments even as the last rays of the evening sun light upon the Mount of Olives.
With a cloudless sky over our heads like a canopy, and nothing visible in any direction as far as the eye could see except the dark blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, I became a fisherman. I don't remember my first time fishing.
God likes to speak to us and in His speaking opens our ears to hear the truth about ourselves. Our Heavenly Father speaks and we hear that He sees us as He sees Jesus. He speaks and when He speaks He does stuff for us that we are incapable of doing for ourselves—like creating faith and changing our stony hearts to hearts of flesh.