Category Archives: Uncategorized

DON’T ADD TO THE UGLINESS!

riot

After Charlottesville’s disaster on Saturday, while waiting in my car for some friends with whom I was going into the park to try to love some people toward Jesus, I broke into tears. I just sat there and cried––overcome by the sadness of it all.

I’m appalled and grieved by the demonically inspired hate that one group of humans can have for another, by that hate turning violent and murderous, by our President’s wet noodle, obfuscating seesaw remarks about it, and by the adolescent rhetoric and sloganizing that, predictably, has followed in the media.

Let’s be clear, this isn’t about “free speech.” You can’t have “free speech” if someone brings a gun to intimidate those they despise. You can’t argue with the armed, especially if they have friends in the White House. Continue reading

Half Seeing (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 3)

half seeing

We’ve been talking about the relative depth of our walk with Jesus and how we might––no, must––find a way to go deeper in him.

  • In Part 1 “He’s Not Here” we looked at how easy it is to forget what Jesus says, especially when we didn’t hear or want to hear it in the first place.
  • In Part 2 “Who Is That Masked Man?” we reviewed the conversation two men had with Jesus, bemoaning how Jesus was nowhere to be found, and how the first prerequisite for deeper revelation is that we actually want

Speaking of actually wanting more revelation, God has ways of increasing our want. One of those ways is found in one of Jesus’ stranger miracles.

When he had spit on the (blind) man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-26

Pretty weird, right? And I’m not just talking about the “spitting” part. The thing that interests me most is that this is the only one of his miracles that required his second touch to finish it. Continue reading

Who Was That Masked Man? (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 2)

walking

You did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.  Luke 19:44

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  1 Corinthians 2:10

I’ve been bemoaning the relative depth of my own commonplace Christianity and what seems so typical among many Christians and their churches. In my last post I talked about how we shut the door to exploring the realm and the Person of God any further than our initial salvation and have no expectation or intention of delving any deeper. God’s invitation to a deeper place begins with our dissatisfaction with the place we’re in.

After his resurrection Jesus made some curious appearances, including his stroll with a couple of befuddled believers on the road to Emmaus.

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him . . . we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel . . . it is the third day since all this took place. Luke 24:15-16, 21

Strange episode. Right? They were walking with Jesus complaining to Jesus that Jesus was gone and wasn’t coming back! If that doesn’t depict us when we’re hot and bothered about something going on in our lives and interrogating God about why he doesn’t hear our complaint. Continue reading

He is not here; he has risen! (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 1)

deeper

“If you were to fall into the sea, and were that sea infinite, you would fall from one depth to another for all eternity. This is how it is with the Christian who is continuously abiding in him. He is sinking with inconceivable swiftness to the most inward depths of God.” Jeanne Guyon

“Put out into deep water…” Luke 5:4

No one plans to be a shallow Christian. But it does take some forethought and action to be a deeper one. Deep spirituality doesn’t happen by default.

Some people are shallow in their walk with God simply because they didn’t realize that the form of faith that was modeled to them and into which they were invited was shallow from the start. Superficiality is all they know, all they’ve been exposed to.

Others were blessed with a better beginning and were on a trajectory to dive progressively deeper into the mystery of who God is, but somewhere along the line they got waylaid and took a detour into a decidedly thin version of Christianity. Their faith became increasingly trivial. They read the Bible, pray, go to church most Sundays, give offerings, and even help other people when they get a chance; but their spirituality is more superficial than not. Continue reading

How’s Your “Epieikes”?

3d business people greet

Here are some sound bytes from an audio message I gave years ago based on a certain Greek word in the New Testament that summarizes how Christians should act in society. I’m reintroducing it because I think this quality is more necessary today than ever.

Please give it a listen and see if the Spirit doesn’t nudge you toward this Christlike quality.

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Scholars say that epieikes means:

to be sweetly reasonable… human with humans… not extreme… patient and not picky… not unduly rigid… not exactingly just… willing to meet someone half way… a person that knows when to relax justice and introduce mercy… makes allowances so that justice does not injure… taking human weakness into account…

After having to put his old dog down, one little boy had an epiphany about why animals don’t live as long as humans. “Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life,” he said, “like loving everybody and being nice. Animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

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A few places epieikes is found in the Bible:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,   1 Timothy 3:1-2

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. Titus 3:1-2

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away! 2 Corinthians 10:1

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An epieikes person is the safest person to be with on your worst day!

“If you had any idea what the Scripture meant – ‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’ – you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this.” (Matthew 12 in The Message Bible)

“Lord make the bad people good and the good people nice!”

“Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with.” Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the US Senate.

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How’s your “epieikes”?

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 5:7-20

privilege

These few highlights are from our concluding podcast message on the epistle of James. If you’ve followed these 8 or 9 teachings, you’ve already heard me say that James, the half-brother of Jesus, had a very specific theme in mind when he wrote, a class-less Christianity. In his last chapter, he pulled out all the stops and confronted those from a higher socioeconomic status who oppressed those with little to no status with impunity. Read at your own risk!


Here are a few select sound bytes of mine from the podcast

Jesus, the justice-maker is coming… The Leveler is coming and he will even things out…

The oppressor will be judged and the oppressed will be vindicated…

When the Lord returns, he’ll fix all inequities. You’ll get justice, if not now, certainly when he comes back. And he is “near.” Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 5:1-6

classism image 2

Here we are finally in the last chapter of James making a slow descent toward the runway to land this thing. We’ll be taking just the first half of chapter 5 today and finishing up next time.

As I’ve been saying all along, James’ letter addresses and undresses classism, the idea and lifestyle that one human is better than another based on external factors, like economics and social standing. You can’t be the kind of Christian that James, to say nothing of his half-brother Jesus, approve of, and at the same time, judge the relative worth of other humans based on their socioeconomic success or race or any external factor.

As in previous posts, I’ll be whetting your appetite with some hors d’oeuvres from my podcast on these verses from James 5. Please listen to the brief-ish audio and share it with someone you love!


A final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.” The Message Bible

“Making a killing” to describe a good financial deal in stock market or real estate market is an interesting colloquialism, don’t you think? Who or what is being “killed” and who benefitted from the killing? Continue reading