Murders, mobs, dictators and the gospel

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(originally posted March 7, 2016)

In the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was before the ruling Jewish council, he made a reference to his divine status. To the ruling council, this was taken as blasphemy. Within Rome, they didn’t have the authority to execute Jesus for his action, so they took him to Pontius Pilate, who was the governor of Judea

Pilate questions Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. (Matthew 27:11-14). Continue reading “Murders, mobs, dictators and the gospel”

A Sinner’s Guide to Repentance

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Repentance is sincere remorse or regret for an action. Theologically, repentance is associated with the idea of turning away from sin and turning to God.

James 4:7-10 gives what’s almost like a “how to” guide for repentance. It’s not exhaustive, but he says five things that are important to repentance.

1. Repentance involve submission to God

Repentance isn’t just about moralism. It’s about an actual desire for God.

It’s not “well I’ll just drink less” or “get control my temper better.” It’s not just “don’t do that,” but it’s a turning to God. It’s recognizing that God is greater than your sin, that he is better. That his ways are better. That turning from sin is turning to a better way. Continue reading “A Sinner’s Guide to Repentance”

Wisdom is as wisdom does 

There are two ways to go. The way of the wise and the way of the fool. This is based off of the wisdom tradition of the Old Testament. Which often talks about these two roads.   

In James 3:13, he asks a rhetorical question, “Who is wise in understanding among you?”

Who’s wise?

James has much to say about wisdom. 

There’s a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is knowing facts. Wisdom is living out a life that is applying what God has revealed.  

Knowledge is knowing that you have brownie mix in the pantry. Wisdom is making brownies.     Continue reading “Wisdom is as wisdom does “

Blessed are the persecuted? 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:10

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins the sermon with a section called The Beatitudes, 8 statements, most of which seem counterintuitive at first glance. But these are much deeper than pithy statements. They point us to the ethics of Jesus. 

The final beatitude is in Matthew 5:10, while verses 11 and 12 elaborate on it. 

Blessed are the persecuted.  Continue reading “Blessed are the persecuted? “

Only you can prevent forest fires: the destructive force of our words 


I was in Florida several years ago and Florida was having wildfires. Some areas were evacuating. If a person smoked a cigarette, they were told that they couldn’t throw it on the ground or it would start a fire. 

Something so small, such a small amount of smoke, could start a huge fire. 

With our words, the tongue, a relatively small part of the body, can be hugely destructive if a person isn’t careful. 

James uses fires as an illustration for the destruction that our words can cause. “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5).  Continue reading “Only you can prevent forest fires: the destructive force of our words “

Greatest quarterback, greatest coach, greatest Super Bowl 

Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall
I don’t care about the New England Patriots. But I do appreciate greatness. And Tom Brady showed tonight why he is the best quarterback of all time. There’s not even a legitimate debate. The only thing the Joe Montana camp has is the terrible argument “well he never lost a Super Bowl.” 

So? He had fewer teams who were good enough to MAKE it to the Super Bowl.  Continue reading “Greatest quarterback, greatest coach, greatest Super Bowl “

The misery of politics 

I think essentially all Americans would sincerely like other people to be happy. Even people who we don’t know and with whom we will never have any interactions, I think we would still like those individuals to have happy and fulfilled lives.

Everyone wants what’s best. It’s just that there is disagreement on the best way to get there. The 2016 election was hard fought, and often times ugly. I had hoped that there would be a period of calm afterwards, but things have seemed to get even worse since the election. 
The hatred and disdain that politics brings out towards our friends, our relatives, our neighbors is unfortunate. Continue reading “The misery of politics “