Archive for January 2012

A Way to Read the Bible

January 25, 2012

There are a couple of lines in today’s Hebrews reading that remind me of something Mike Breen talks about in his book Covenant and Kingdom. Breen is trying to provide for people a simple template by which to read Scripture. I think he may be on to something.

He suggests that we can read any particular passage in light of both covenant and kingdom. While biblically and theologically covenant and kingdom are definitely overlapping realities (and I wouldn’t want to stress the difference between the two nearly as much as Breen does), I think his distinctions can be helpful for us in our personal reading of Scripture.

The word “covenant,” Breen suggests, focuses on our relationships with God and each other, while the word “kingdom” points to the responsibilities we have in representing God’s interests in the world. (more…)

Coming Clean

January 17, 2012

Let’s face it. There is a deep resistance in all of us to growing spiritually — heck, to growing at all. That may come as a shock to some of us who pride ourselves on being very intentional about our spiritual lives, including our spiritual growth. Many may even deny that it’s true; at least it’s not true of them. They know other people who dig in their heels, but that’s because ‘those people’ aren’t as committed to Jesus as we are. (more…)

Mandate or Mission?

January 7, 2012

Yesterday was Epiphany. Epiphany is the celebration of the revelation of Jesus as God’s Son to the Gentiles. It’s historical reference point is the visitation of the Magi to the baby Jesus.

And it’s surrounded by controversy.

I mean, what’s God doing using astrology to announce his Son’s birth? Astrology is a forbidden practice in the Old Testament, and is always seen in a negative light. The Hebrew word for astrology literally means “divining by the heavens.” In Leviticus 19:26 we read, “Do not practice divination or sorcery.” Just this week I talked with a friend whose mind was twisted into a spiritual knot because of what a Christian astrologer told him. He had no idea, being a young Christian, that “Christian astrologer” is an oxymoron. (more…)

The Sound of Silence

January 4, 2012

After the fire, there was a soft whisper.”

A soft whisper. A still small voice. The “sound” of silence. How and where Elijah experienced God after his battle with the prophets of Baal and close escape from the queen.

As I read these words in yesterday’s Old Testament reading, my mind went to “The Hut,” a small, single room cabin I used to visit for monthly overnight retreats. It’s on the property of a retreat center in Three Rivers, Michigan called The Hermitage. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, just a wood stove to ward off the winter chill. The Hut stands by itself in the woods, about a half-mile from the main retreat complex. (more…)

The Improbable Body

January 2, 2012

Okay, so I’ve been just a little obsessed with the body lately. Not mine, but his. The body of Christ. I don’t think I’m obsessed with it because it’s what I want. For many years, I wanted nothing more than to keep my distance from the church. I was too frustrated with it, too embarrassed, too angry, too bored. I didn’t want to waste my time and my life on something I felt was hopeless and had long ago crossed the line of impossible. Like many today, I liked Christ, but I didn’t like his church. I liked the idea of the church well enough, but not the reality.

Thing is, the apostle Paul probably had at least as many reasons to feel frustrated, embarrassed and angry. Frustrated because he had to spend a lot of time in prison, and couldn’t “go to church,” and because the churches he’d planted were constantly plagued by heresies, divisions, personality conflicts and competing agendas. Numerical growth was slow. Mostly they were immature. (more…)