On this icy morning in south Texas, a mission team is scheduled to board an airplane in Austin to begin their trip to Brazil. I do not yet know if their flight will be cancelled due to the inclement weather. Reflecting upon the work they are about to undertake reminds me of our own stories in Brazil. Stories people can’t make up. Stories filled with God’s grace, mercy and work. Continue reading “God’s love, grace and faithfulness still at work”
A documentary style TV series recently reminded me about the cartoon He-Man. As you may remember, prince Adam would proclaim the words, “By the power of grayskull” while holding his sword aloft. Lightning would energize him, transforming him into He-man as he cried out, “I have the power.”
Apparently the creators of He-man were trying to appeal to the typical 10 year old boy whose sociological position had left him powerless longing for more. The He-man fantasy invited youths to fill this void by imagining their own powerfulness in shaping their world.
For me, the clash between He-man’s mantra versus Peter’s and John’s answer to the question, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7) could not be more stark. Jesus’ way is so counter-intuitive to our world. Continue reading “By the power of …”
What makes for a really great life? Can everyone access it? Or is it built upon limited resources available to the privileged few?
According to Jesus, the truly blessed life lies within reach of all people. Why? Because it arises out of what we already possess, namely our ability to choose how we will act. Here’s a partial list:
Just the other night, a short TV advertisement promoted a culturally forged love. Part of its message was quite biblical and healthy for society – love everyone. What disciple could argue with this? Just as God loves all people, so too Christ’s followers should seek the well being of everyone. While Christians should hate evil, they should neither hate sinners nor saints.
However, another aspect of its message was quite cruel. As might be expected in our culture, the epitome of love was presented as affirmation and acceptance. However, this makes no sense, unless you assume society exists within a vacuum. Continue reading “The cruelty of cultural love”
Did you know that in Isaiah’s new heavens and a new earth people die (Isaiah 65:17-22), but typically not before reaching a hundred years old? Put another way, they will succeed in living as long as trees do. This can span several hundred years. Yet, I thought that people would live forever in heaven! What’s this?
How do we handle such an unexpected wrinkle? Ignore or downplay death in heaven? Assert Isaiah’s descriptive language constitutes a metaphor for something else? Embrace the security of the most popularly accepted viewpoint?
Perhaps the best approach begins by avoiding intuitive conclusions in order to examine the context. As many have acknowledged, “Context is king.”
Continue reading “Isaiah’s new heaven and new earth”
Self-centeredness, rudeness and keeping a list of failures might be expected from a dog-eat-dog world. However, what happens when those who profess Christ and have made a commitment to “do unto others what you would have them do unto you” repeatedly treat us in unloving ways? The disappointment and frustration can be even greater.
Thoughts like, “they know better” and “they should not be so unkind,” can eat away at our peace releasing anger and bitterness. What can we do?
We have heard her story. It does not take much imagination to fill in the blanks. However, have we allowed Jesus’ words to profoundly shape our thinking? Continue reading “How many tears does it take?”
Oppressive freedom sounds like an oxymoron. How could freedom possibly be oppressive? Such a question betrays our cultural conditioning and prejudices. Paul challenges us to think more deeply. Could Paul actually lead us to conclude that freedom is not always the goal, not always a blessing?
I recently visited a beautiful early 1900 mansion in a small southern Texas city. The spacious grounds filled with nut bearing trees and the winding driveway that leads up to a still elegant country house overlooking the Guadalupe River instills a pastoral restfulness upon its visitors. And yet, lying nearly within the shadow of this tranquil elegance is a stark reminder – at least it was for me.
It probably sounds too good to be true. Yet, through his actions and teachings, Jesus revealed he wants to help us build indestructible lives. What Jesus is offering should not be confused with that message of prosperity some pander in his name.
What Jesus promises leaves no room for such self-centered motives. Yet, he hopes all of us will embrace his offer to live lives capable of weathering not only the trials on earth but also possessing eternal life with God. Continue reading “Indestructible lives”