I really hope this column will bless you. You can read the most recent column below and previous columns at the archive.
Think quickly. What is the one best thing about you?
If your life depended on that one thing being good enough, would you live?
I’ve been a full-time pastor for a little over a year, and there have been times when I sat back and wondered to myself things like, “What am I even trying to accomplish here? What do I really want for this person I’m working with? What’s the point?”
Galatians 6:6-10 has the answer to my questions. The passage shows how best to respond to God’s Word and those who teach it.
Humility is a particularly tricky virtue. Those who have mastered it do not instruct in it — and those who instruct in humility are rarely worth listening to. Something just rings false in a claim like, "I'm the humblest man I know!"
To be clear, I make no claims to be humble here, only to proclaim and explain what the Bible says.
What is truth?
The question was not sincere. It was sarcastic, proffered by a frustrated bureaucrat stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Pilate, stuck between the decision to risk a rebellion or execute an innocent man, completely ignores the opportunity standing in front of him. John 18:38 says immediately after his sarcastic question, Pilate left the room without even sticking around to hear the answer.
Do you care about the answer?
I had a government professor in college who told me something I never forgot, “Liberty is the ability to do what you should, not the freedom to do what you want.”
Paul’s letter to the Galatians largely concerns liberty. Someone began preaching in Galatia that in order to be truly saved, men needed to be circumcised and all people had to follow the statutes described by Moses in the first five books of the Bible, which the Bible refers to as “the Law.”
Life is not fair.
That’s what my mother always told me. It’s probably what your mother always told you, but the lesson never seemed to take.
We always seem to expect some level of fairness out of life, and we count it a tragedy when things aren’t fair.
Easter has always been my favorite holiday.
As a child, it wasn’t because of the celebration of the goodness of God to send his only son to die for our sins and raise him up from the dead on the third day. It was because the music was always awesome and the church I grew up in busted at the seams and always needed extra ushers.
Life tends to get complicated. Schedules get busy. Relationships get strained. Nerves get frayed. Decisions bear unforeseen consequences.
History holds an inevitable grip upon the future, and things that should seem black and white are often tinted in an inconvenient shade of gray.
To make matters worse, we add to the complication and confusion in our lives by complicating things that are actually simple.
Rules were made to be broken — sort of.
God’s standard is high. In Galatians 3, Paul builds a strong case showing how you and I have no hope of ever being good enough for God. It’s just not possible. No amount of holiness or piety or good works you or I could ever do will earn God’s favor or grace or generosity or whatever it is you want from him.
I am so glad I am not from Galatia.
No book of the New Testament is quite as harsh or chastising as Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Peter, the brash and impulsive man who always had his foot in his mouth, became the superstar of the early church 10 days after Jesus left earth.
The church enjoyed a 2,500 percent growth over just a few hours when Holy Spirit came at Pentecost because of Peter’s first message. He began to do miracles. People would lie in the streets they knew Peter frequented hoping his shadow would pass over them and heal them.
Where Jesus did miracles, now Peter did. Where Jesus opposed the religious establishment, now Peter did. Where Jesus received direct revelation from God, now Peter did.
Have you heard about the scandal? It’s perhaps the most controversial issue of our generation. Really, of any generation.
It doesn’t include Macklemore or Natalie Grant. It’s not gay marriage, or immigration or abortion. It’s completely unfair and it goes way beyond how people treat each other. This has to do with how God treats us.
Have you ever been in an argument and right after you end it, you think of the perfect thing you should have said, but now it’s too late to go back and say it with any sort of rhetorical force? The French have an expression for that. It’s called l’esprit de l’escalier, which roughly translates as “staircase wit.”
As bad as it is, it’s worse with a letter or an email. You had all that time to review it and make the words just right, and you sealed the envelope or hit “send” just a few seconds too early.
There’s nothing quite like the end of the year.
Retailers finally turn a profit. Businesses work on their end-of-year earnings reports. Charities make most of their money. Income taxes come to the minds of millions of Americans (which may very well explain the success charities enjoy this time of year). Along with all the trappings of Christmas and the new year, there is always the colossal issue of money.
One of my favorite things continues to be epistemology.
If you’re not familiar with the study, you’re in for a treat. Epistemology examines how we gain knowledge and information and with what certainty we state that it’s true.
In short, epistemology studies how we know what we know and how we know we know what we know.