Not of stellar engines, nor of Dyson spheres

As I write this, my father is on a ventilator in an ICU, fighting for his 73-year old life. As you might suspect, he has COVID-19. I received the call from my mother that they had made the decision to intervene while we were live streaming our worship from my phone. My mother, one year younger, also has COVID-19. Thus far her symptoms are mild. My sister is an RN who has specialized in COVID treatment over the last year. One of the frontline workers who has traveled to the country’s worst regions, she is now taking on the role of private in-home nurse, PPE and all.*

I am concerned about my dad. I am concerned about my mom. My dad was pretty much only concerned about my mom as they spoke on the phone before he was sedated. This whole situation creates a flood of interesting, if not difficult, emotions and thoughts to assess. Continue reading “Not of stellar engines, nor of Dyson spheres”

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”

Could He Have Called 10,000 Angels?

Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).

There is a beautiful song by Ray Overholt entitled, “Ten Thousand Angels.” The chorus of that song says, “He could have called ten thousand angels, to destroy the world and set him free.” Many have pondered the nature of the biblical statement (Matthew 26:53), as well as Overholt’s poetic rendition of it.

It stirs a profound thought: did Jesus have a legitimate alternative to the crucifixion – specifically, could he have canceled the whole event? Continue reading “Could He Have Called 10,000 Angels?”

A Place For You

I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:3).

It is difficult to fully fathom what the various descriptions of heaven might mean or imply, but they are interesting to ponder.

Heaven is there as opposed to here. Heaven is a place to which one goes. Jesus went to prepare it and will come back and take us there. Heaven and earth are always spoken of as distinct entities. Will earth become heaven? Some Jews believed the earth would receive a “makeover.” Others believe that heaven and hell is a construct of the conscience. When the rich man pleaded with Abraham, he wanted someone to go “back” to where his brothers were (Luke 16:27). Heaven and hell were not in his mind, nor were they the same location. They are entirely different planes of existence. But where, exactly, is there? Continue reading “A Place For You”

We Won’t Hold Our Breath

There have been endless books written, lecture series taught, and sermons preached on “The Hard Sayings of Jesus,” but did anyone ever cover “The Easy Sayings of Jesus?”

In my own study, and in writing (albeit, irregularly) this column on the sayings of Jesus (“Jesus Said”), it has become my opinion that there aren’t really any “easy sayings” of Jesus. Some seem easier on the surface, but in reality, the more you listen to his voice, the more you realize how difficult it is to achieve Jesus’ ideals. But it is not just the ideals of Jesus that challenge us.

Even the worst among us are knowledgeable of lofty ideals, and capable of enunciating them. People before Jesus knew “the golden rule” – or some variation of it. Through the years, I’ve read some who attempt to discredit Jesus because he was not the first to state some exalted truth. So here is an admission: not everything Jesus said reeks of pure originality. Additionally, not everything Jesus said was of a higher moral caliber than had ever been proposed before (to be perfectly clear: Jesus’ moral caliber is not lower than anyone else’s either). Continue reading “We Won’t Hold Our Breath”

Eat his flesh and drink his blood

my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (John 6:55)

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about eating his flesh and drinking his blood is surely one of the strangest of his sayings. The content was so offensive to some that they turned away from him, never to return (John 6:66). All these years later we can probably appreciate Jesus’ metaphor better than the original hearers did.

Of course, the meaning of the saying is important: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). It is indeed a metaphor and it involves something like, “Take me for what/who I am.” It is also parallel to statements like, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Mt. 11:29). Continue reading “Eat his flesh and drink his blood”

Axioms and Proverbs

“…everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32, ESV).

Several days back, my adult son and I had a conversation about marriage (I’m married; he’s not). We shared a common bond, which was that I never had any interest or inclination to get married or have a family (guess who is married and has 6 children?). He was fairly certain that marriage would not be for him, and even more certain that children were not on his radar. As the conversation progressed, I said, “You never know. If the right person comes along, you’ll change your mind.” He strongly disagreed.

Was I right? I’ll give you my conclusion at the end. Continue reading “Axioms and Proverbs”

Logs in our eyes

“… first remove the log from your own eye …” (Matthew 7:1-5).

The Sermon on the Mount is meant to draw a contrast between the kingdoms of men and the Kingdom of Christ. Jesus says, “You have heard it said … but I say.” In this text (Matthew 7:1-5), Jesus says, “Here is what some people do; but here is what I want you to do.”

He included a strange, if not humorous, image to get attention and make his point: someone with a log in his eye trying to get a splinter out of someone else’s eye.

We suggest these four thoughts from the text: Continue reading “Logs in our eyes”