Bible: Dead faith and the sin of partiality

Aug 10, 2020 by

“Faith without works is dead,” asserts James 2:17. But 500 years ago the Catholic monk Martin Luther had a problem with James’ theology. Among other concerns, he was disturbed by the church’s practice...

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Bible: Ask for wisdom, with confidence

Jul 28, 2020 by

Do you wish for more wisdom? You can ask God, and God will give it to you. But if you doubt God will answer your request, forget it. Doubters should not expect to get anything from God. That sounds pretty...

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Bible: Hometown boy’s surprising wisdom

Jul 13, 2020 by

In April 2019, a friend and I walked the Jesus Trail in Galilee from Nazareth to ­Capernaum. Walking about eight miles a day, up and down hills and through meadows thick with spring flowers and towering...

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Bible: Wisdom proves her worth

Jun 29, 2020 by

Our July lessons highlight Woman Wisdom’s presence beyond Proverbs and into all four Gospels. However, her feminine name changes from the Hebrew hokmah into the Greek sophia, so we can recognize her gracious...

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Bible: Dame Folly is the wrong girl

Jun 15, 2020 by

In Proverbs 7, Boy meets Girl. Bad mistake. It’s the wrong Girl. Dame Folly is alluring, but the Boy doesn’t recognize the danger. He “is like a bird rushing into a snare. Not knowing it will cost him...

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Bible: Who listens when Wisdom speaks?

Jun 1, 2020 by

I don’t know how many teenage boys will read this column, but these texts are addressed to young men your age! Even though the NRSV says, “hear, my child . . .” (Prov. 1:8; 2:1), in this case the word...

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Bible: Steadfast prophet, faithless wife

May 18, 2020 by

When Hosea prophesied at the sunset of the northern kingdom of Israel, he cast a vision for the people’s future by recalling their past with God. It’s been all downhill since Jeroboam II: king after king...

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Bible: We reject the bunker mentality

May 4, 2020 by

Drive south out of our community toward Wichita and you’ll spot an advertisement for a bunker. It’s not a billboard, but a display of the real thing: a full-size corrugated steel hidey-hole. It looks like...

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Bible: The rider on a pale horse

Apr 20, 2020 by

So this is how the world ends: not with a bang or a whimper but with the sound of your last square of toilet paper going down the tubes. God’s people have been here before (sort of) — enemies from within...

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Bible: Nevertheless, God rescues

Apr 6, 2020 by

I almost drowned in the ocean once. I consider myself a strong swimmer, and that afternoon I confidently waded out from the beach and slipped under the waves. Except that those waves began to batter me as a...

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Bible: Resurrection changes everything

Mar 23, 2020 by

When the miners in the collapsed Copiapó mine in Chile were finally rescued and shuttled to safety through three miles of stone on Oct. 13, 2010, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera was there to greet them....

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Bible: The trumpet call to holiness

Mar 9, 2020 by

We were driving through the night in a pickup truck somewhere in the deserts of northwest Mexico. After an evening church gathering, I and several other hermanos were headed home, bumping along in the back as...

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Bible: Scaling the watchtower

Feb 24, 2020 by

Lake Titicaca, impossibly wide and deep and high above the sea, fills an immense mountain trough in the Andes along the Peru-Bolivia border. The lake is so big that it encompasses rocky islands. Strangely...

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Bible: Forgive us our debts

Feb 10, 2020 by

In the Gospel of Matthew, the account of Jesus’ teaching on prayer is found right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. One way to understand the sermon is to see it as a description of the character of...

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Bible: Temptations of kings — and Jesus

Jan 27, 2020 by

The connection between the passages from 1 Kings in our previous lesson and Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness might not be obvious. But what if we reflect on the meaning of the title used of Jesus in...

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Bible: The clash of king and covenant

Jan 13, 2020 by

The eighth chapter of 1 Kings may capture the ­moment in the Old Testament where the two great cov­enants — Davidic and Mosaic — come together with the most harmony. Solomon, David’s successor as...

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Bible: Houses for a king and for God

Dec 23, 2019 by

The place of the temple in biblical faith is complicated — with emphases on the temple as the God-ordained center for worship contrasted with sharp critiques from prophets that the temple helped empower...

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Bible: David’s prayer, Mary’s song

Dec 9, 2019 by

In the first three lessons of this quarter, we looked at how 1 Chronicles 15-17 presents kingship and the temple in ancient Israel. Now we turn to a story that seems to stand in contrast with David and...

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Bible: The chronicler’s story of hope

Nov 27, 2019 by

First and Second Chronicles are pretty obscure for many Christians. The Common Lectionary that many Protestant groups use for worship covers most of the Bible in its three-year cycle but does not use a single...

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Bible: Exiles, aliens and six virtues

Nov 13, 2019 by

Both texts for Nov. 17 and 24 are from letters attributed to the Apostle Peter. Both take the gospel of Jesus from its Jewish origins into different ethnic contexts later in the first century. Both emphasize...

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Bible: On holy ground with the Thessalonians

Oct 28, 2019 by

My friend Robin loves mystery stories, as do I. But when she starts one, she always reads the ending first so she won’t worry about things ending badly. Me, I like the suspense! Our text for Nov. 3 reminds...

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Bible: Finding faith in unexpected places

Oct 14, 2019 by

Our last two faith stories in October take place some 800 years after our visit with Elijah on Oct. 13. We are back in northern Israel, although now Roman domination replaces an Israelite king. Both this story...

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Bible: Faithfulness is a two-way street

Sep 30, 2019 by

“Watch your step! Behave yourself! Remember the rules I told you!” September’s lessons focused on God’s faithfulness to Israel. October’s theme includes human responses to God’s faithfulness. Our...

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Bible: Rebellion in the wilderness

Sep 16, 2019 by

Imagine your family has been excitedly preparing for a two-week camping trip. You have a new tent and lots of supplies and food. The first few days are great fun — hiking, watching birds, swimming and eating...

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Bible: Gifts from heaven: a son, and bread

Sep 2, 2019 by

“God Is Faithful” is the Uniform Series lesson theme for September. The five examples of God’s faithfulness are the rescue of Lot’s family, Hannah’s prayer for a son and three texts from the Exodus...

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