Worship

Christmas 2016

As your heart gathers around memories of Christmases past and delights of Christmas present, as the busyness and stillness collide in something called “holiday,” I pray that like all those involved in the first Christmas, this would be a day of wonder for you.

I pray you would embrace joyfully the beauty of mystery – knowing that the mysterious is a cousin to the miraculous – and you are gloriously free from being able to explain everything in 140 characters or having to control any and every outcome. [click to continue…]

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Woman's hands on black background

“If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:33).

The Bible has its share of comical scenes.  Here’s one.  A man born blind can now see.  But because Jesus “broke the rules” by healing him on the Sabbath, in the minds of the Pharisees, this was impossible.

Moses?  He was righteous.  He gave us the law.

Jesus?  He broke the “law,” and had to be a sinner.

But there’s this pesky issue of, “once I was blind… now I can see.”  And now here’s Mr. Newsight offering a little theological insight to the no-sight clan:  “If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” [click to continue…]

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Hey.  Bible scholar.

Yes, you.

I have a thought question for you.

Remember David?  King… giant slayer… and that other nickname he is famous for?

Yeah, that one – a “man after God’s own heart.”

God Himself used the phrase first and it is repeated throughout scripture. Samuel said to Saul, “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart…” (1 Samuel 13:14). And He found that in David.

And He repeated that over and over again, not just during David’s lifetime, but throughout the Bible.  Something about this man, who obviously had some pretty serious personal flaws (liar, adulterer, and murderer for starters) was so unique that God used His version of neon lights and pointed to this man again and again.

Why? [click to continue…]

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(Life in the Public Eye Edition)

I’ve been listening to a lot of professional communicators lately. I’ve also been seeing a lot of people in the public eye, for better or worse.  Politicians. Preachers. Entertainers. Protesters. Prophets of doom. Leaders, or leader wannabes.  Victims or those pretending to be victims.

I’ve had some thoughts about all that.  Wildly accurate thoughts, of course, because hey, they were mine.  But rather than blather on about my forgettable opinions, I thought I would share some real wisdom.

As I have mentioned in previous posts like this one, I get a front row seat to some amazing writing, all sent like these with the hopes of earning an A on a paper or discussion forum.

(I get plenty of bad writing too, but I’m saving that for another day.)

So I’ve been keeping a file of my favorite student quotations for quite some time now, and today I would like to share a powerful collection with you. All of these are about something to do with living in the public eye, either as a leader or as a public servant or communicator.  Sooner or later this could be you in your 15 minutes of you-know-what.

Read on (it’s a quick read) and brace for impact. You will be impressed and blessed by these insights. [click to continue…]

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Alabaster Jar

Suppertime.  And it’s quite a little dinner party there in Bethany.  All twelve disciples of Jesus are there, as is Jesus Himself, for whom the dinner was made.

Curiously enough, Lazarus – the friend of Jesus who never uttered a recorded word – is there, too.  And this is after his four-day journey to the pit.

Martha is there, of course, being Martha, and making things happen.

And in comes Mary.  She’s carrying an alabaster box.  With all the movement and conversation as people recline at a Middle Eastern dinner table, I doubt very many people notice her at first.  But that’s OK.  Mary wasn’t interested in being noticed.  She was interested in something – and Someone – much greater.

That said, no one could escape the fragrance that filled the room.  It penetrated everything, everyone, everywhere.

Is that nard?

Nard it is.

That’s expensive stuff.  To say nothing of the now-broken box that carried it.

Where is that coming from? [click to continue…]

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names of God 2

A Celebration of the nearness and faithfulness of a God who reveals Himself by His names.

(Try reading this out loud, perhaps with a partner.)

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near… And Your nearness is our good.

I AM THAT I AM.

And we give You thanks.

I always have been and always will be.

And we give You thanks.

I need no one to define Me, or remake me in their image.

And You are near.

I reveal Myself unceasingly.

And Your nearness is our good.

I am faithful and true in My covenant love.

So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture
Will give thanks to You forever.

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We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near… And Your nearness is our good.

I am Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord Your Banner. [click to continue…]

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Beautiful single woman with perfect teeth and skin and a nice smile(Celebrating Jesus Christ Edition)

One of the joys of teaching in Christian universities is that I get to read the research and reflections of students who freely and openly follow Jesus Christ. They are still learning from Him and in offering their insights (almost always for a grade!), they continue to teach me.

In this edition of quotes from actual papers and assignments from students from all over the world, I celebrate the life, death, resurrection, return, and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Read on… you’ll be as blessed and challenged as I was.

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Average Guy

What are you good at? I mean, really good? When people ask you about your strengths, what are your boilerplate answers?

Now, the dreaded weaknesses. What are those things you repeatedly tell people or God or yourself that you need to work on and improve?

Now I’m sure as soon as you read those questions, the ready answers showed up. And at some point you’ve probably had the tug-of-war about which you should work on – do you leverage your strengths or work on your weaknesses?

Uh huh.

Now take both of those mental lists and set them aside for a minute. Let’s boldly go where no one dares to go…

Let’s talk about your mediocre middle.

See, none of us are awesome at everything, and none of us is terrible at everything. A significant part of your life falls somewhere in the middle. And because it isn’t all that remarkable, you just don’t give it that much attention.

Too bad, since that’s where most of us live most of our lives. [click to continue…]

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student-in-lecture-hall.150603

(Defining Moments Edition)

“I believe every Christian walk has a string of defining moments.”

So wrote Brian Fouts, a former student. And since I’m buried in grading papers and watching for more treasures like that one, I thought Brian and some of his peers could show you a few of their defining moments.

The following quotations come from student assignments and represent amazing writing and insight, or a unique way of capturing truth or marshaling language. They taught me a thing or two about those defining moments we all have, and I think they’ll encourage you as well. Enjoy…

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Boxing Gloves

How would it change the way you approached God if you knew – with confidence – that He was not angry with you? Or even arguing, wrestling or wearying you?

Take a look at this promise:

“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made” (Isaiah 57:16).

The essential Old Testament story of the relationship between God and man is one of contention. The Lord had His standards – His Law. Man had his willful rebellion and sinful nature – so bad, even the finest of heroes is revealed as deeply flawed.

But in the verse above the Lord reveals another side to His character, and promises another kind of relationship. It will be one not based on contention or anger, but on revival and rebuilding.

I thought you should know today that this promise has been fulfilled. God is not contending anymore. He’s out of the wrestling business. [click to continue…]

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