Beneath the bull

Nov 9, 2016 by

Exodus 32:1-34 In Aaron’s defense, the idea really wasn’t quite as stupid as it sounds. The Israelites are scared. They have reason to be. They’re camped in the middle of a desert without a single...

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Who’s got the keys?

Apr 29, 2016 by

There’s a particular mystery to this story that I never even noticed until my professor Len called my attention to it this past fall. There are nearly 50 parables of Jesus recorded in the Bible — stories...

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Myth of many mansions

Apr 11, 2016 by

This passage from John 14 is one of the most beloved in Scripture, particularly in times of loss. It’s also one of those rare biblical passages that have become so deeply embedded in Christian imagination...

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Gifts of weakness

Mar 16, 2016 by

2 Cor. 12:5-10 I have prayed for strength many, many times in my life. Before difficult conversations. In the midst of painful decisions. Every morning as I contemplate the insurmountable three steps between...

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Bible: No need to wait to wipe the slate clean

Feb 15, 2016 by

Growing up, the first day of school was the most sacred day on my annual calendar. Whatever regrets, whatever mistakes had marked the previous year were suddenly rendered gloriously irrelevant...

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Bible: The day will come when you’ll forget

Feb 1, 2016 by

What do flatbread, dead donkeys and tambourines all have in common? (Hint: They’re not just key ingredients in the world’s worst dinner date.) They are symbols of remembrance, memory devices meant to...

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The triumph of Light

Jan 20, 2016 by

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” — John 1:5 For as long as I can recall, my favorite part of Christmas has been the Christmas Eve service. Growing up, I remember...

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Bible: That’s your first miracle?

Jan 18, 2016 by

It’s no small thing to choose a first miracle. After all, this will be your public introduction, the image that will travel with your name as word of you gets out. Pundits and commentators will pick it apart...

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Bible: Mirror of God or idolatry?

Jan 4, 2016 by

It’s hard to tell which makes Christians more nervous — talking about God in the language of sex (Hosea) or talking about sex in the context of God (Song of Songs). The Book of Hosea makes sexual...

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Bible: God with us! God with them?

Dec 21, 2015 by

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Immanuel. God with us. What a dangerous name. Jacob and Laban strike a deal: seven years...

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The Bible’s final words

Dec 7, 2015 by

I have a thing about endings. For me, the last few lines of a book or TV show or movie make or break it. The final words are the capstone, a revelation of what the writer believes was really the heart of her...

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Bible: Her whole life in the offering box

Dec 7, 2015 by

One story, two tellings: No. 1 — Jesus and his disciples are visiting the Jerusalem temple. They’re sitting around, people-watching. They observe worshipers placing money in offering containers in the...

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Bible: Sabbath-keeping, empire-breaking

Nov 23, 2015 by

I’ve never been very good at keeping the Sabbath. To my knowledge, this is the only case where public admission of habitual commandment-breaking might actually get one a raise. We moderns have a term for...

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Sociopaths, Samaritans and all the rest of us

Oct 29, 2015 by

I’ve never been especially fond of the Parable of the Good Samaritan — or, as I like to think of it, “the Parable of Common Human Decency.” I mean, I know all the stuff preachers always point out about...

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God’s bloody-knuckled door

Oct 7, 2015 by

Confession: I really like Taylor Swift love songs. (I can almost hear the sizzle of respect evaporating.) In my defense, I do know it’s ridiculous — dances in a dingy parking lot, lingering looks that last...

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Jesus didn’t blow his own trumpet

Sep 14, 2015 by

Like a lot of Christians, I’ve often found Jesus’ reluctance to talk about himself strange and even unsettling. This is a particular theme in the Gospel of Mark — Jesus seeming to go out of his way to...

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God can plant seeds where tears are falling

Aug 7, 2015 by

Our community lost someone a few weeks ago: a young wife, mother of five, a friend and mentor, a follower of Jesus with a passion for the lost. She was living, laughing, serving, loving God with all she had,...

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Adventures in mis-unity

Jun 25, 2015 by

The following is a recent sermon I preached based on Gen. 11:1-9 and Acts 2:1-11. Every once in a while the Spirit lays a message on my heart that seems to fall with a particular weight. As I pray, it seems...

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Not on French fries alone

May 20, 2015 by

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight. — Jeremiah 15:16 I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. — Job 23:12 Jesus answered, “People...

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The traveler

Apr 20, 2015 by

I saw him the moment I stepped outside my office, visible through the glass front doors — the man sitting beneath the church carport. He wore a beard and a ragged sweater, and beside him lay a small hiking...

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