In John's Gospel, Jesus will rarely answer questions. This situation is no exception. He gives no explanation precisely because He alone has the authority and owes no one an explanation. Instead Jesus prophesies.
We Will Find Him
Dec. 18th, 2019
Lord, we would be seekers of you. We would be the ones who embrace your Wisdom. But it is you who have sought and found us. It is your Wisdom that has embraced us. It is you who begin and finish it all.
Nov. 29th, 2019
A promise. Most of the other promises in the Bible - if you look closely at them - are only a variation on that same theme. They concern Jesus, who would come to be known after all as the "Promised One."
"The Singing Stars"
Nov. 6th, 2019
I am continually learning from songs I have written. Sometimes we need to write and sing songs to help us remember important truths we tend to forget with time. Other times, songs enable us to put words to painful feelings, and just by singing them the hurt can be forgotten. So songs help us to forget as well as remember.
"The Path of Sovereign Sorrow"
Oct. 16th, 2019
It was a shadowy path that began outside the garden. It meanders through all our lives, inevitably leading us through the darkest valleys of our fallen experience. But we must never forget that it is a path, that it is going somewhere. There is a final destination somewhere outside the gates of a city. But I'm getting ahead of myself for now.
"The Despairing Denier"
Sept. 25th, 2019
Though we can know for certain that he was completely forgiven, one wonders if he ever completely forgave himself.
"The Lonely God of the Garden"
Sept. 4th, 2019
These incidents hint at something that is both extremely sad and also wonderfully encouraging at the same time. Perhaps Jesus, even Jesus, lived His life, as we all do, within the context of the silence of God.
"Good News to the Poor"
August 14th, 2019
We don't need to be fixed, we need to be re-created. The only way we, all of us, will ever experience that re-creation is to open the door of our lives to the poor, to enter redemptively into their suffering, and to discover through it our suffering as well.
"To Whom Shall We Go?"
July 25th, 2019
He is the Bread of Life, the true Manna that has come down from heaven. The words that fall from his lips are alive and life-giving, no matter what scandalous effect they may have.
"An Artisan for God"
July 3rd, 2019
The little-known individual named Bezalel is the first person in Scripture who is said to be filled with the Spirit. Bezalel becomes an artisan for God, equipped by the Spirit to create a place for God to dwell among his people.
"Called to Complete"
June 12th, 2019
While the call may be to write books or sermons or poems, the deeper call will always be to give ourselves away to others whom God places within our reach. Besides a few words scribbled in the sand, as far as we know, Jesus never wrote a single line. Instead He wrote the Living Word across the pages of those twelve unlikely men who changed the world.
"The Discipline of Being Silent Together"
May 23rd, 2019
"This is the kind of time He desires with us. Not busy, but slow time. Time not necessarily filled with words, but always with His presence. For those of us who need it, what could possibly be more affirming than to be invited to take a walk with Jesus - not because of our intellect or our ability to ask or answer questions, not because we are pretty or fun to be with - but simply because He desires to be with us?"
"The Monumental Nature of Kindness"
May 1st, 2019
God commands his people to do justly and to love hesed. We struggle with both. If it were simply a matter of doing justly or loving hesed, we might be able to come up with a formula, a set of rules to follow. But the two must function together.
"God of my praise, do not be silent."
April 10th, 2019
The significant lesson we learn from David and Psalm 109 is that we do not take our anger and outrage to the streets or to Washington first, but to the One we hope and trust and believe cares more deeply for the poor than we ever will, even as at the same time he cares for our enemies.
March 20th, 2019
"It was God's perfect preparation for the coming of the light to make people aware of the depth of the darkness in their own lives."
The First Day
Jan. 15th, 2020
They were embarrassed at how difficult it was to say good-bye, though they had just met Jesus a few hours ago. They walked out into the dusk.
The excitement they both felt seemed to fill the air around them; they were numb with it and filled with it. And this was only their first day.
Dec. 11th, 2019
At this they tore their eyes from the holy light that was the angel's face and looked into each others' faces. Each seemed bathed in a new light all its own. Wide-eyed they began muttering to themselves, "Christ, He has come! Messiah!"
"The Character of Creativity"
Nov. 20th, 2019
In most cases an integral part of giftedness from God is not only the mechanical ability to paint or sing or dance but a deeper call. This call can be seen as part of an aesthetic value system, a system that helps determine what is beautiful and what is not.
in the Bible"
Oct. 30th, 2019
There are practical as well as spiritual reasons why creativity flourishes in community. Today's "industrial" approach to music and art by and large goes against this common-sense approach. The best way to view this stark difference is to compare the gifts of community to creativity against industry's denigration of the same gifts.
"The Reluctant Reconciles - Saying 'No" To God"
Oct. 9th, 2019
What an earthquake this caused in Peter's soul! It was a direct assault on one of his most basic beliefs. But Jesus had come to shatter and redefine everything. Certainly it is a shattered Simon who makes his way, for the first time in his life, into the Gentile dwelling. He will find there men and women, like himself, who want nothing less than to eat the true bread of heaven.
"Back To Fishing"
Sept. 18th, 2019
As they made their way down the narrow alley, past the synagogue to his home, Peter remembered the last time they were here together. He remembered the excited crowd pressing into the courtyard just to catch a glimpse of Jesus.
"Confusion and Clarity, Poverty and Presence"
August 27th, 2019
That final end-of-the-world state of confusion we read about in Matthew sheds an enormous amount of light upon our present state of confusion. The call of Jesus becomes crystal clear precisely at the meeting of these two states of bewilderment. We are to provide food, drink, clothing, hospitality, and visitations to those in prison, realizing that we will never reach the bottom of the bottomless needs of the world. But in so doing, we can enter redemptively into the suffering of the fallen, confused, and hurting world, there to find...Jesus Himself.
"Isaiah's Unimaginable Image"
August 8st, 2019
The scars were allowed to remain on Jesus' otherwise perfect resurrection body. He would be recognized by them. They were His identifying mark, not His brown eyes or the freckle on His cheek. Jesus was recognized by the scars He had incurred on the cross.
"The Stumbling Block"
July 17th, 2019
A stumbling block. A scandal. Few of us ever think of Jesus in those terms, yet both the Old and New Testaments present him that way. The prophet Isaiah understood, perhaps better than any of the prophets, that when the Messiah would come, he would be an offense, a scandal. That is why he said, in another place, that the Messiah would be despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.
"Listen to the Word"
June 26th, 2019
A listening stance before the Word means keeping your mind as quiet as possible and letting the Bible finish its sentences, its stories.
"Known By The Scars"
June 6th, 2019
"That phrase - "the scars I have incurred" - played over and over in my mind as we drove back to his house. I had the feeling of escorting a warrior who was familiar with the scars and tears of the battlefield."
"A Lifestyle of Listening"
May 15th, 2019
"Like parables, our lives also often lack closure. But this should not be seen as a frustration; rather, it should be understood as an invitation to listen! For it is still Jesus who is creating the story as you live day by day."
"How to Amaze Jesus"
April 24th, 2019
The person who understands the lovingkindness of God is always ready to persistently seek, ask, and knock on the door that opens up to a world they have done nothing to deserve. As we come to understand God's hesed we will have a growing confidence that he is delighted to give us his blessings. Like the centurion, our attitude will become "Just say the word..."
"When Dinah Held My Hand"
April 3rd, 2019
Not a welcome or a greeting, and certainly not an affectionate holding of my hand. But if she didn't love me, who else was going to? In that old, simple church over twenty years ago Dinah Smith taught me what it means to become the object of hesed.
"Protect and Sanctify the Eleven" John 17
March 14th, 2019
"According to his prayer, what sets the disciples apart is the truth and the word that is truth. Since they are being sent out into a world that is hostile to the truth, the Father must protect and sanctify them."
Jan. 8th, 2020
The One who is Life and Light, who was from the beginning, is the One through whom the Father created time and space. The Creator-Christ is also the Re-Creator, the source of new creation as well as the old, the One in whom all creation is sustained and held together.
The purpose of John's sermon is to set the tone for the rest of the Gospel. The Light came to the darkness, but the darkness could not, would not, understand.
Dec. 2nd, 2019
As much as anyone could understand, that first Christmas, Mary was given to understand. The Life had come. A baby from a virgin's womb. A child that belonged less to her than to the whole world... But for a time, He was hers!
"North Star People
Nov. 13th, 2019
But Jesus has always remained there, rooted to the same place in the universe, unmovable. He constantly calls out to us to turn around and behold the dazzling dimness of his light, as it shines in this present world - to find our way to it, and then to find our way by it.
"Singing A New Song"
Oct. 24th, 2019
When God's Spirit moves, he leaves singing in his wake, and in particular he leaves new songs, songs that embody his truth and are an obedient response to his beauty. These songs are a spontaneous and joyful response to the great truth that it is in fact God who is doing something new! He is coming, and his approach is meant to be strewn, like palm branches, with new songs!
"The Fearless Water Walker"
Oct. 2nd, 2019
There is one certain way to know if you've had a brush with that other impossible new world. You will find yourself doing what the disciples did when they got Jesus back into their boat: you will find yourself worshiping him. Worship is the language of our new reality. But we must never forget that it always begins with a cry for help.
"So Much More Than A Nickname"
Sept. 11th, 2019
Not by any virtue of character or accomplishment but solely because of the call of Jesus, Simon will serve as the representative of the Twelve whose head and leader is always unquestionably Jesus.
After Jesus returns to the Father, Simon will be the vital bridge between two disparate worlds: the world of a physically present, perfect Leader and the other world of diverse and decidedly imperfect leaders.
August 21st, 2019
By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength.
"The Gulf Between Faith and Correctness"
August 1st, 2019
As we struggle in our search for the hidden face of God, lament encourages us to never give up, to never quit the conversation. We may kick and scream if we must, and when we don't have the words, the Bible will provide them. But never, never, never let go of God. Never walk away.
"The Gift of His Spirit"
July 10th, 2019
Jesus teaches us that what we ask for in prayer is rarely what we need. We usually ask for provision, when the God who knows how to give good gifts is ready to give us His presence through the Holy Spirit.
"The Mysteries of God"
June 19th, 2019
Then I heard someone refer to the mystery of Christ, I assumed that Christ was a mystery only to non-believers. I have since learned that the mystery of Christ is reserved for those who do believe. To “know” the mystery of Christ is to realize that it is indeed just that, a mystery.
"Everything Begins and Ends with Prayer"
May 29th, 2019
"Together the two of them presented a poignant picture. Both men of faith - one older; the other pitifully young - both dealing with their individual ordeals with amazing faith and courage."
May 8th, 2019
"But Bill was a man under authority of a different kind. He had learned that this kind of authority cares for its own and can always be trusted to give a compassionate response."
"I am hesed [hasid]."
April 17th, 2019
The context of Jeremiah specifically and the Prophets in general is one of stubborn disbelief and disobedience among God's people and of his persistent reaching out to them because of his hesed. In light of our inability to keep any of the covenants, God will graciously grant to us a new covenant, based solely on his faithfulness.
March 27th, 2019
"Hesed: When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything."
"A Joy No One Can Take" John 20
March 6th, 2019
"Jesus had promised them this moment, a time when they would experience the transforming joy that no one would ever be able to take away from them. This is that moment!"