I really hope this column will bless you. You can read the most recent column below and previous columns at the archive.
Life tends to get complicated. Schedules get busy. Relationships get strained. Nerves get frayed. Decisions bear unforeseen consequences.
History holds an inevitable grip upon the future, and things that should seem black and white are often tinted in an inconvenient shade of gray.
To make matters worse, we add to the complication and confusion in our lives by complicating things that are actually simple.
Rules were made to be broken — sort of.
God’s standard is high. In Galatians 3, Paul builds a strong case showing how you and I have no hope of ever being good enough for God. It’s just not possible. No amount of holiness or piety or good works you or I could ever do will earn God’s favor or grace or generosity or whatever it is you want from him.
I am so glad I am not from Galatia.
No book of the New Testament is quite as harsh or chastising as Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Peter, the brash and impulsive man who always had his foot in his mouth, became the superstar of the early church 10 days after Jesus left earth.
The church enjoyed a 2,500 percent growth over just a few hours when Holy Spirit came at Pentecost because of Peter’s first message. He began to do miracles. People would lie in the streets they knew Peter frequented hoping his shadow would pass over them and heal them.
Where Jesus did miracles, now Peter did. Where Jesus opposed the religious establishment, now Peter did. Where Jesus received direct revelation from God, now Peter did.
Have you heard about the scandal? It’s perhaps the most controversial issue of our generation. Really, of any generation.
It doesn’t include Macklemore or Natalie Grant. It’s not gay marriage, or immigration or abortion. It’s completely unfair and it goes way beyond how people treat each other. This has to do with how God treats us.
Have you ever been in an argument and right after you end it, you think of the perfect thing you should have said, but now it’s too late to go back and say it with any sort of rhetorical force? The French have an expression for that. It’s called l’esprit de l’escalier, which roughly translates as “staircase wit.”
As bad as it is, it’s worse with a letter or an email. You had all that time to review it and make the words just right, and you sealed the envelope or hit “send” just a few seconds too early.
There’s nothing quite like the end of the year.
Retailers finally turn a profit. Businesses work on their end-of-year earnings reports. Charities make most of their money. Income taxes come to the minds of millions of Americans (which may very well explain the success charities enjoy this time of year). Along with all the trappings of Christmas and the new year, there is always the colossal issue of money.
One of my favorite things continues to be epistemology.
If you’re not familiar with the study, you’re in for a treat. Epistemology examines how we gain knowledge and information and with what certainty we state that it’s true.
In short, epistemology studies how we know what we know and how we know we know what we know.
There’s a funny little word in the New Testament. I don’t want to tell you it’s English translation yet, though, because its English counterpart is extremely unpopular and misunderstood. It only accounted for .00025 percent of the words in works published in 2007.
There was a king who loved this woman. He wouldn’t do anything without first consulting her. When he started one of his greatest construction projects, he consulted her first. She helped him with every decision on how it should be built. They worked side-by-side. She was perfect and he loved her. And what they built together was perfect ...
One of my greatest failures in ministry came in the middle of a particularly hard mission trip.
Every now and then, you might get the opportunity to minister to someone who just gets it. They actually live like they love God and his people, and you can see them growing in leaps and bounds. They are natural leaders who draw other people in and make them feel comfortable in their own skin. They smile no matter what.
Martin Luther — hero of the reformation and champion of the phrase “sola fide,” or “by faith alone” — hated the book of James.
On the one hand, he thought the book as a whole lacked a clear and logical line of thought from beginning to end and that it seemed to be a disjointed collection of wisdom sayings. (Luther and I completely disagree here.)
Are you a good person?
I like to think of myself as someone who “has it together,” is kind to the people I love, and doesn’t delight in cruelty to others. I even treat my waiters well.
But does that make me good? Does that make you good?
A dream job is getting paid to do the thing you would do even if you weren’t being paid. Last May, I started my dream job.
My church, where I had been volunteering as the youth program director for several years, hired me as a full-time associate pastor for the purpose of helping the church grow in the areas of youth, young adults and young families.
True to my considerable book-learning and no so considerable experience, I began gathering information and formulating plans. I decided I wanted to know what my own generation thinks about church, and I discovered something kind of heartbreaking.
Everybody knows James 1:22, even if they don’t know where it is. It’s one of the more forceful and convicting verses in all of Scripture:
“But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”
If you’re in the Bible, hearing the “Word” at church and think you’re a “Christian,” but don’t actually do what the Bible says you should, James is calling you a fool.