The Bible is more than a love letter

On January 24, 2021, in his Sunday homily, Francis, the Catholic chief, repeated the words of philosopher Sören Kierkegaard who said that “the Bible is God’s love letter addressed to us.” Wishing to emphasize the closeness of God’s Word, Francis had an underling to read the following:

It is a love letter, written to us by the One who knows us best. In reading it, we again hear his voice, see his face and receive his Spirit. That word brings us close to God. Let us not keep it at arm’s length, but carry it with us always … (Homily 2021)

In general, his point is more than appropriate: God speaks through the Scriptures to everyone and we must listen to them often. Continue reading “The Bible is more than a love letter”

The “rest” of the story

The frozen wasteland of the garden is punctuated heavily by the sorry stems of dead flowers, offering up the remaining seed pods to the hungry birds. It is decidedly NOT a pretty scene, however much our feathered friends approve of it. 

Oh, there are a few bits of color already in the muddy back area; the early hellebores are blooming and showing their bright red color. Only I haven’t been able to enjoy them; I have been resting and recuperating since November, just as my garden has.  Continue reading “The “rest” of the story”

In praise of the builder

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him who appointed him, as Moses also was faithful in all his house. For this one has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house” (Hebrews 3:1-3, NKJV).

In a city near my home there is a house, designed almost 100 years ago by an architect of national prominence. Though it contains many impressive features, almost no one speaks much of them. Rather, the house is known almost exclusively because of its designer. Continue reading “In praise of the builder”

Thirsty?

The Feast of the Tabernacles was instituted by God in Leviticus 23. Also known as the Feast of the Booths, it was characterized by the construction of tent-like booths that represented the temporary housing used by Israel during its wilderness wanderings. It was God’s way of instructing Israel to rely on him and not themselves.

Near the end of Jesus’ life, he traveled to Jerusalem during this feast and went into the temple to teach (John 7:14). Imagine sitting and listening to the Lord Jesus teach the truths of God’s word and the magnificent lessons he brought! Continue reading “Thirsty?”

Will we let Jesus in?

The Christians in Laodicea suffered from a condition that many still struggle with: they were ‘wishy-washy’. They thought they were ok, that they didn’t need anything. They thought they were faithful Christians. Notice what Jesus had to say to them.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV)

I don’t know about you, but I like what I drink to be either hot or cold. On a cold winter’s day a hot cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is refreshing and comforting. On a hot day working outside in the summer there is nothing like a glass of iced water or iced tea. These we find refreshing. But I don’t know anyone who asks for a cup of tepid coffee or a glass of tepid water. Yet Jesus said this is what the Christians in Laodicea were like spiritually – they were lukewarm. Continue reading “Will we let Jesus in?”

Toss that dirty diaper

In my father’s house…” (John 14:2).

Radio personality and financial advice-giver Dave Ramsey has a saying about debt that goes something like this: “Some people feel the same about debt as a baby does about a dirty diaper: sure, it stinks – but its warm, and its mine.”

That is not a pleasant picture. But it is accurate. A baby doesn’t know there is a better way to live; that is all she knows. Continue reading “Toss that dirty diaper”

A house of fear or of faith?

Some of us seem to possess the uncanny ability to spot everything that could possibly go wrong or which might fall short. If this statement resonates with you, then you might possess some trepidation in reading further. After all, such thoughts might be a little too painful and too revealing for comfort. However, I promise this article offers hope.

First of all, we need to know how anxiety and fear function. Emotions are fueled by our interpretative thoughts colliding with our values, expectations and desires. When these thoughts are negative, we will feel a negative emotion like fear, anger or anxiety. The stronger the emotion, the more we will be inclined to discover further thoughts corroborating it. In turn these thoughts can unleash even more emotion perpetuating a downward cycle. Continue reading “A house of fear or of faith?”

The Cross of Christ

Note: My in-laws, George and Joy Jensen, are moving back to Tanzania to continue their work after an eight year stint in the states. Hours before beginning their trek to Tanzania, George preached to the saints in Marlow, Oklahoma. He spoke on the cross. I’d like to share some of his thoughts, as I remember them, with you.

Simplicity

Details can be helpful, but often the most powerful stories are the succinct ones. We often try to expand upon the descriptions of events in scripture, to our detriment. The Holy Spirit is perfect, and the words he used to communicate with us are wholly sufficient.

Note this simple phrase in all four gospel accounts: “crucified him” (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:18). While Deity chose to give us many details of what mankind did to our Savior leading up to and after the crucifixion, the silence here is striking. The next time you read the accounts of the cross, linger on those two words. The next time you speak about the cross, allow those two words to hang in the air for a moment. They (we) “crucified him.” Continue reading “The Cross of Christ”

Is your name written there?

Our family had a good friend who was skilled in sleight-of-hand magic. Our children were about 10 or 15 years old at the time and were mesmerized by the illusions he could perform. They were particularly amazed by a finger guillotine he used. He asked each of them to place their fingers in the guillotine, and then it would seem he would close it over their fingers without ever hurting them. They couldn’t figure that out. Continue reading “Is your name written there?”