Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 8:11-20, illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company
Lent is a time of repentance and preparation for Easter. That Jesus died for our sins and rose again to take them away means nothing if we don’t recognized ourselves as sinners. For all our individual differences, we all have one sin in common. We forget God.
Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt to the doorstep of the Promised Land. and they refused to enter.
They had forgotten God’s power, protection, and provision. When they heard the report of fortified cities, they wailed and declared it would have been better if they had died in Egypt.… Read the rest
Society acts like it’s a good thing!
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, during which Christians are encouraged to ponder their sin and their own mortality. Sin can be difficult to face. Quite apart from the fact that no one really wants to think of their own evil, it can be difficult to identify what sin is.
Despite the claims of an odd team of Christian legalists and enemies of Christianity, biblical Christianity has no list of rules or prohibitions. The Bible says, “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
That verse comes at the end of a chapter that demonstrates that something can easily be sin for some people, but not sin for others.… Read the rest
Christ Enthroned / Bartolomeo Vivarini (1450)
In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (NASB). What commandments?
Just a while earlier, in John 13:34, he had said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Does that seem new?
Jesus had earlier said that the greatest commandment of the law was to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. The second was like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-34).
With this new commandment, Jesus raised the standard. … Read the rest
Joshua and the Israelite People / Korolingischer Buchmaler, ca. 840
“Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls come a-tumblin’ down.” Then he and his people sinned. The next part of the story didn’t go as well for them. Joshua decided to attack the small town of Ai next. They chased his warriors out of town and killed some of them. What happened?
Most obviously, someone named Achan took some of the spoils and hid them in his tent. God didn’t appear to Joshua and tell him what had happened and what he thought about it. He hardly ever does.… Read the rest
Christ Enthroned: West Portal, St. Colman’s Cathedral, (Cobh, Ireland)
The kingdom of God is not like other kingdoms or nations. Since time immemorial, when one nation has invaded another, the invaded nation knows. Eventually so does everyone else who cares at all.
Most of you can probably name the years for the last two or three times Germany invaded France. It doesn’t have to be an invasion with armies, either. Regardless of where you stand on immigration, you have to know that a lot of Latin America has taken residence in the US.
Has there ever been any kind of invasion on earth where it was not clear just who was invading?… Read the rest
One of the odder little stories in the book of Judges concerns a man named Micah (Judges 17). He stole 1100 pieces of silver from his mother and then confessed. When he returned it, she dedicated 200 pieces of it to the Lord took it to a silversmith.
She commissioned a graven image and a molten image. Then she gave them to Micah. He promptly set up a shrine and consecrated one of his sons as priest.
Lest anyone think this ancient story has nothing to do with us in the 21st century, today’s newspaper has a story with the headline, “Atheists find solace in prayer.” I’ll be thinking about that a lot and have more to write later.… Read the rest
Society acts like it’s a good thing!
“All things are lawful,” says Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12. Does that mean that idolatry, murder, stealing, sexual sin, and perjury are lawful?
That’s exactly what it means. And Paul wrote that to a church where he observed elsewhere that some of them had formerly been just like that.
Christians are not under law. That is, Christians do not have a long list of dos and don’ts to live up to. We’re under grace. Paul goes on to say, “not all things are profitable.”
Idolatry, murder, stealing, sexual sin, and perjury are lawful. Nonetheless, they’re still sin.… Read the rest
My 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
When my youngest sister was about three, Mom needed a serving spoon at supper. So Sis jumped up to get it for her. She grabbed a slotted spoon, and when she looked at it, she said, “Broken! I’m sorry!” and started to cry.
Cute story. I know a grown woman who left church after a sermon on how God loves everyone and commented that she had never felt so condemned in her life! Not such a cute story.
Recently I read about a poll that found that the people who most actively care about the environment are much more guilt-ridden than those who care far less.… Read the rest
Every once in a while, someone will make the news by declaring that some event is God’s judgment on, well, fill in the blank. The immediate reaction in the media is outrage, often well deserved. Unfortunately, such dustups obscure an important fact: God’s judgment must come upon America. Let me approach the subject with three stories that, at first, will seem wholly unrelated.
The attitude, which we all have, that causes divine judgment
Tom, a friend of mine, once told me about the first car he ever owned. To make a long story short, he never thought to change the oil.… Read the rest