I really hope this column will bless you. You can read the most recent column below and previous columns at the archive.
Something about the recent Indiana religious freedom restoration act has really bothered me. It doesn’t bother me that business owners refuse to participate in practices they do not believe in like it bothers the liberal multitudes. And it doesn’t bother me that people from jurisdictions with similar laws criticize Indiana’s version, like it does the conservative legion.
You may wonder at my untimeliness. I’ve waited to see if the new legislation in Indiana bothers anyone the same way it bothers me. I would like to invite you to be bothered by Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act the same way I think it would bother Jesus.
In 2003, Dan Brown took the literary world by storm with a murder mystery that based much of its intrigue on the controversial and extraordinary claim Jesus was married. Dan Brown was able to make this claim because he didn’t take the canonical 66 books of the Bible seriously. Neither do Mormons, who also like to claim that Jesus was married (to two women, no less).
Since the beginning of civilization, marriage has been a cornerstone institution. Almost as long as marriage has been an institution, marriages have begun at ceremonies we call weddings. And as long as there have been weddings, weddings have gone terribly wrong.
Grooms say something stupid. Brides pass out from standing too long. Embarrassing secrets are revealed. Cakes end up places cakes shouldn’t be. Rings get lost. At the very best, the weather doesn’t cooperate.
One of the burning questions people who study the life of Jesus tend to have is what Jesus was like before the beginning of his public ministry.
John and Mark’s gospels begin the story of Jesus with his baptism. Matthew and Luke give great details on his birth and Luke’s gospel shares a brief story from Jesus’ adolescence, but still there is very little information to go on.
In 325 A.D., the church was in trouble. Over the nearly three centuries since Jesus ascended to heaven, Christians had been struggling with exactly what Jesus was. They had a pretty good understanding of who he was, and what his significance was, but what he was proved a much more elusive idea.
A pastor friend of mine has a catchphrase I’d like to borrow. He says his job is to “make much of the name of Jesus.”
Lately, I’ve been considering who this man we worship and praise and serve really was. If we are to make much of his name, we should know what his name stands for.
I have found when I have a conflict with someone, the easiest thing to do is to just write him off. Just don’t talk to him anymore. Boot him right out of your life. Give up all hope the relationship can be repaired.
Being the easiest and most expedient way to handle relationships gone awry, it’s interesting to note Jesus never employed such a modern approach.
Jesus of Nazareth has proved to be one of history’s most influential figures. Plenty can be said about how he changed the course of human history, but very little seems to ever be said about how he began human history.
John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 both affirm Jesus, God the Son, was the most active person of the Trinity in the creation of the universe and, consequently, of Adam, Eve, you and me.
There’s a funny little chapter in Isaiah. Sometimes I’ll read it to people when I do street evangelism without telling them where it is. It says things like, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that fell upon him was for our well-being.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Something terrible happens when we tell a story over and over again.
Familiarity with people breeds contempt and familiarity with stories breeds blindness. How many times to we tell the Christmas story use words like "stable" and "manger," and fail - because of our own desensitization to the story - to realize that when the King of the Universe came to earth, he was born in a barn and slept a feeding trough?
My hand stung a bit, but otherwise I felt really good. I had just punched my main playground rival in the face. Boy, did he have it coming. The next thing to deal with? That annoying teacher who would tell me to apologize. I didn’t want to apologize. I didn’t feel sorry. But I knew if I apologized, even if I didn’t mean it, she wouldn’t call my parents, so I just said, “Sorry.”
The teacher bought it. I did exactly what I was supposed to.
I don’t think Jesus would’ve bought it, though.
Lately, I’ve been looking carefully at how Jesus lived. How did he handle anger? How did he manage his time? What was his prayer life like? Most importantly, how did he teach? How did he talk?
How we talk is important. Jesus’ half-brother wrote “We stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body (James 3:2).” Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” What we say matters.
I was people-watching recently. Nothing is quite as interesting, stimulating or entertaining as observing how people live. Because God seems interested in us, it just makes sense to be interested in people, too.
I was watching a group of students waiting to be picked up after court-mandated community service. As I watched the way they interacted with each other and with their parents over the phone, I noticed a striking similarity among them. They were all angry about everything. I have known many of these students for at least several months, and as I thought about them, I realized they were always angry. Every one of them.
She called me from a retreat another Christian group was sponsoring. She was crying. She told me that because she did not, could not and would not speak in tongues, the people running the retreat told her that she was either “quenching the Holy Spirit” or that she wasn’t saved at all.
Never mind the supernatural love I had seen her show to others. Never mind her uncanny devotion to the Word of God. Never mind the amazing way I had seen the Spirit give her courage to overcome her shyness. According to the church running the retreat, there was something deeply wrong with this young woman’s personal walk with the Lord.
New Year’s resolutions are the worst. I avoid making them at all costs because I know I am no different than most people, and most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions. Citing a study by the University of Scranton, Forbes asserts that only 8 percent of Americans actually accomplish their New Year’s resolution.
If pressed to make a resolution, however, I really struggle with being more punctual. I know that it’s rude to be late and I really hate when I’m late, but sometimes I just struggle with managing my time. More frustrating is the fact that Jesus never struggled with punctuality.