It’s not about the nail

Nail in a tireMy email brought a link to a video called, “It’s Not About the Nail.” The woman whines about the effects of a nail in her head, but gets upset if the man suggests that she remove it.

The message promised that men would find it hilarious and women would wind up wondering if men would ever get it.

I’m a man. I found it hilarious. I also recognized that, apart from the stereotypes of the different conversation styles on Mars and Venus, the video points to a more profound truth.

Men and women fall into this subtler trap equally. Why do so many people, men and women alike, cling to behaviors and conditions that only cause them pain?… Read the rest

What are you going to believe?

Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Women at the empty tomb, by Fra Angelico, 1437-1446.

A woman entering her hotel room was shocked to see a naked woman, who appeared to be dead, draped across the bed. Her husband, bending over the corpse, looked up and said, “Dear, before you say anything, I have a question. Are you going to believe what you see, or what I tell you?”

That is exactly the same question God has for each of us. We believe what we see, and that’s the wrong answer.

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Construction tools and weapons: spiritual multitasking

tools and weapons on the wall

from Charming Bible Stories / Henry Davenport Northrop (Philadelphia, 1893)

Nehemiah’s best-known accomplishment is getting a wall built. Lots of people have supervised similar construction projects. Not many have done so in the face of armed opposition that forced them to resort to multitasking. And even fewer have had their stories enshrined in Scripture so that thousands of years later, we can learn spiritual lessons.

Nowadays, multitasking seems to be the rule, not the exception. I have long observed people who claim they can be more efficient by doing several things at once. Usually I observe that they do at least one of the tasks so badly that they have to do it over.… Read the rest

The Christ Peter misunderstood

Peter's confession

Unknown Master. The confession of Peter, from Martin Luther. Kercken Postilla, 1563

No one has any trouble understanding Jesus as a man. It’s the concept that Jesus Christ is God made man that causes problems. Peter, the first person to declare that Jesus is the Christ, had the same trouble.

Jesus first asked the disciples who men said he was. They could have mentioned that the Pharisees and others thought he was a menace to the community and unqualified to teach on Scripture, but apparently they didn’t.

All of the gospels record what the disciples had heard from the adoring crowds that had followed them.… Read the rest

Trusting experts or trusting God

Trust in the Lord

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not into thine own understanding.” Pass under this sign whenever you enter St John’s Church Hall (Knypersley, Staffordshire, Great Britain)

In traditional translations, Psalm 146:3 says not to trust in princes. We don’t have very many princes around any more. Even in traditionally Christian countries that still have kings and queens, they reign, but don’t rule. Perhaps we could update it to say not to put trust in politicians, but what’s the point? Everyone obeys that commandment, Bible or no Bible. But let’s look at how The Message renders the verse and read ahead a little more:

Don’t put your life in the hands of experts
 who know nothing of life, of salvation life. 


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What does it mean to trust God?

Trust

I love this rainbow. It reminds me that God is watching, even when it was stormy.

A simple, straightforward question in a workbook, but I was at an emotional low point. What does it mean to trust God? I know I ought to. I like to think I do. I’ve advocated trusting God in lots of blog posts. But as I say, the question caught me at an emotional low point. I didn’t have a quick answer.

After some thought, I figured it means not to second guess God, not to doubt, not to fall into unbelief. But that’s all negative.… Read the rest

Paul, his government, and where faith takes us

Paul before Agrippa

St. Paul before Agrippa / Sir James Thornhill, ca. 1710

Acts 26 records part of a conversation Paul had with Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice. Officially, those three dignitaries were the Roman governor, the King of Judea, and his wife. A man with his mind set on his circumstances (that is, on the flesh) would have conducted himself very differently than Paul did. He shows us faith in action.

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God: an ever present help in trouble

Tower of refuge

Maiden Tower, Baku, Azerbaijan (12th century)

God is our refuge, says Psalm 46, an ever present help in trouble. Everyone knows trouble. Some people know a lot of trouble:

  • Job loss and other financial distress
  • Relationship troubles, which can include various toxic relationships or the loss of loved ones.
  • Sickness and injury
  • Oppression and persecution
  • War and violence
  • All manner of natural disasters
  • Etc.

We commonly call the natural disasters “acts of God.” It takes robust faith to believe that God is our help in trouble.

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Trusting the God of ordinary things

Trust in the Lord“Trust and obey,” says the hymn, “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

That’s easy, even fun to sing in church on Sunday or perhaps at home during personal devotions. It’s nothing but church talk if we don’t put legs on it, set our hands to work on it, and let it control our mouths and, yes, our thoughts once we close the hymnal.

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Raising Ebenezer

Ebenezer“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” has been a favorite American hymn for about 200 years. The second verse notoriously starts, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” I say notoriously, because it has been generations since large numbers of church goers have understood the meaning of “Ebenezer.” It’s a stone of remembrance, set up by the judge and prophet Samuel on an occasion well worth remembering.

Humiliating loss

When Samuel was a child, two worthless priests under judgment from God decided to take the ark of the covenant into battle with the Philistines. Since they had no relationship with God and no regard for him, they must have regarded the ark as some kind of magic box that would turn the tide of battle.… Read the rest