WHY WE MUST REFUSE TO BE ANGRY

  We live in an angry world, both inside and outside of the church.  Everywhere you look or listen people seethe and smolder over the many things that displease them.  Church people rage against the culture, of course.  But also against each other whose differing views of the culture and how to respond to its non-Christian values and practices cause bitter divisions.  Out in the world, away from the church, it is the same story.  Political and social divides cut across every segment of the population and every sphere of endeavor. In view of that context, let me tell you why I am refusing to be angry.  First, though, I admit that I am sometimes a little, and sometimes more …

The Word that Reads You

We who are learned in the ways of Scripture, whether by professional preparation or by personal devotion or both, are vulnerable to a grave danger.  We are vulnerable at the point of taking control of the Word for our own designs.  Pastors may do this by taking the Word as a tool of the trade by which to earn a living, while other followers of Jesus as a means of various forms of gain.  How to be happy, raise children, make a million dollars, overcome depression, affirm self-esteem and much more. Here, then, is a challenge: Let the Word work!  You may have much of the Word down, but does it have you down?   You own it, but does the …

MLK’s “Auto-Eulogy”

Fifty years ago, tonight, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of a Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.  I believe that all Americans, and people from every other part of the world, who love freedom should grieve this tragic and traumatic event in our history.  Likewise, every American, and all others, who cherish the hope of recovering the Image of God in all persons, should thank God for the courage of conviction, strength of character, and lasting legacy that continues to bless the world through Dr. King’s life and work. I do not know whether he had a sense of what might happen to him, but two months prior to his murder, Dr. King spoke at the Ebenezer …

Caiaphas, Caesar, Christ

Can we live in the way of Caiaphas or Caesar in the name of Christ? Are there multiple ways Messiah can wage the battle, achieve the victory and save the world and us? Does the supreme value of Kingdom-come justify whatever means are necessary to get there?   When Jesus told them what being Messiah would mean and Peter rebuked him, Jesus named him “Satan.” When James and John asked for special places on Jesus’ right and left, and Jesus says those places are already taken, Jesus may have meant the crosses that would be on either side of his. When James and John asked about fire-bombing the unwelcoming Samaritan village, Jesus rebuked them and continued on to Jerusalem, signaling …

Kingdom, Lent, and Blessing

The Kingdom that begins with Lent also begins with blessing.  There is the call to turn—repent!—which is Lent.  There then comes a pronouncement: “Blessed!”  Consider how stunning this is. When Jesus begins to teach about the Kingdom of God, the first word is “Blessed!”  This is not what we expected, not from God almighty in the season of Lent.  We think it’s the time for sober and brutal assessment; time for acknowledging our failures; time to confess we are moral losers, spiritual losers, and relational losers.  Gather it all up and summarize our human condition as failed. Our natural default, sometimes even after long association with Jesus and his friends, leads us to expect that a perquisite of entering and …