Bible: Glory of God, and the priest-king

Mar 12, 2018 by

Last week, we readers were part of the crowd of Israelites at the original Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the dedication of the first temple. The chapters leading up to this moment are filled with descriptions...

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Bible: Child sacrifice, then and now

Feb 26, 2018 by

Lessons for our spring quarter are titled “Acknowledging God,” a broad theme that includes both familiar and lesser-known texts. The subtitle for our March lessons is “Follow in My Ways,” and includes...

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Bible: Get up, we need you

Feb 12, 2018 by

Tabitha’s story is life-giving in more ways than one. Honestly, simply reading, “There was a disciple whose name was Tabitha” quickens my heartbeat, so seldom have I been shown the lives and told the...

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Bible: Faith’s evidence, and tongues that burn

Jan 29, 2018 by

What good is it if you say you have faith but do not have works? James’ question in chapter 2 doesn’t so much pit faith and works against each other, as two opposing beliefs about the path to salvation, as...

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Bible: We have a confession to make

Jan 15, 2018 by

The language of confession is both under- and overused at present, in different ways. On the one hand, in church settings most of us practice confession in a corporate manner, speaking in unison our...

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Bible: From fire to favor

Jan 1, 2018 by

Dan. 1:8-21 centers on dietary practices as markers of identity. The opening chapter of the book introduces Daniel and his companions in exile and sets up the challenges they will face, trying to live...

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Bible: Body of Christ, bodies of women

Dec 18, 2017 by

“You’re either with our bodies or against our bodies,” Amber Tamblyn wrote recently in The New York Times, responding to the flood of revelations of sexual misconduct, from Louis C.K. to Charlie Rose to...

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Bible: The baby who threatened a king

Dec 4, 2017 by

Acts 14 showcases the people’s impulse to make gods of human leaders. Listening to Paul and Barnabas speak, seeing them manifest God’s power, the people mistake these men for something they’re not,...

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Bible: Eyes open to wonders

Nov 20, 2017 by

Acts 3:11-21 picks up after a miraculous occurrence: Peter and John pass a beggar, lame from birth, as they go to the temple to pray. He asks them for money, and “Peter looked intently at him, as did John”...

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Bible: Yes, worship does something

Nov 6, 2017 by

Afriend once waxed poetic about the peace he experienced when receiving the communion wafer in the Cath­olic mass. Since I had been reared on a diet of just-a-symbol cracker breads and grape juice cuplets, I...

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Bible: Channeling the zeal of Phinehas

Oct 23, 2017 by

There may be nothing more unsettling to the (post)­mod­ern mind than zeal. Faith’s OK, many suppose, so long as it’s small and well-behaved, trotted out on a short leash at the odd moments — like birth...

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Bible: No faith without struggle

Oct 9, 2017 by

When we visit family in Lima, Peru, that cement city hustling under a concrete sky, we’re always a little taken aback by the traffic. Though our surprise could be chalked up to country-mouse sensibilities,...

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Bible: Abraham’s stardust children

Sep 25, 2017 by

It would have been a strange thing to do, cutting all those animals in half, if God hadn’t told Abram to do it. But that’s how it goes. Covenants aren’t made in Hebrew, they’re cut (Gen. 15:18; Jer....

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Bible: High-stakes Sabbath

Sep 11, 2017 by

At my ordination interview, I didn’t give the best answer when the committee asked me about my practices of self-care. “One day each week I take a sabbath rest,” I said brightly. And then for good...

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Bible: A covenant of moral fruitfulness

Aug 28, 2017 by

Once I interviewed a Pentecostal pastor for a seminary project. He was famous locally for his prison ministry and outreach — as well as for his six-shooter-wearing swagger. In the course of the interview, he...

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Bible: Breaking a thousand-year tradition

Aug 14, 2017 by

I’m thinking of a fable where a wolf is accepted into lamb society. As Aesop tells it, the wolf in sheep’s clothing is a fraud. But Saul’s transformation is real. The sheep hunter becomes a sheep. Think...

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Bible: The food committee leads the way

Jul 31, 2017 by

What great lessons this month for antiracism and breaking down racial-ethnic barriers! When the Greek-speaking Jews complained their widows were being slighted in the distribution of food, the apostles...

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Bible: Tasty scroll with bitter words

Jul 17, 2017 by

During children’s time in the church basement when I was a child, often we saw an “object lesson.” The teacher had some ordinary object from home — an egg, a needle and thread, a jar full of beans —...

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Bible: Reluctant prophets of doom

Jul 3, 2017 by

These lessons are about reluctant prophets. Isaiah wasn’t worthy, and Jeremiah was too young. Or so they thought. Isaiah’s call came in a vision “in the year King Uzziah died.” Uzziah had been king of...

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Bible: Life begins at 80?

Jun 19, 2017 by

A friend said he always wished he could have a burning bush experience. Instead, most of us spend years wondering what God might be calling us to do. We might sense God’s call to this or that profession or...

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Bible: Were these men heroes?

Jun 5, 2017 by

How do we square the God revealed in Jesus with the stories of Samson and Jephthah, which barely reflect any understanding of a God of love and grace for all people? Jephthah is known more for an impulsive vow...

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Bible: The weak made mighty

May 22, 2017 by

My wife, Gloria, tells about the time her mother used the story of Jael, Sisera and the fatal tent peg for the children’s story in church. Parents were aghast, but she just said, “It’s in the...

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Bible: Enough love to go around

May 8, 2017 by

Perhaps we should start with enemies. Who is our fiercest enemy? A neighbor? Relative? Boss? Past or current president? Another nation? We really can’t understand the story of Jonah unless we reckon with the...

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Bible: Mercy wider than we imagine

Apr 24, 2017 by

It’s worth reading the Book of Jonah in one sitting. It won’t take more than five minutes. Getting the details freshly in mind as well as the entire scope of the story can make an old, familiar tale come...

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Bible: How can we keep from singing?

Apr 10, 2017 by

“Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus,” the speaker said. “Nothing at all. Not anything we do — or anything we don’t do.” I pushed the rewind button and played the recording...

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