I was recently reading a number of articles concerning a theological dispute taking place on a college campus. Both sides made good points and all agreed that calmer heads will prevail in due course.
I was pleased to see a seminary professor, whom I know personally, weigh in on the topic. I especially appreciated his comment “The shortest axiom of knowledge, which I learned from a Jewish professor, is this: ‘No Contrast, No Knowledge.’ What this axiom essentially means is that knowledge is gained from differences, not from similarities.” Continue reading
Recently I was in a group discussing C. S. Lewis and the topic of sin came up. What did we think of sin? How relevant is sin in Western culture today? Do we still have a concept of sin?
As always happens, I found the discussion both interesting and enlightening. Sin has not only been expunged from the vocabulary, it’s been re-introduced as an absolute positive. One search engine follows the word “Sinful” with “Sinfully delicious,” “Sinfully spicy,” “Sinfully sweet,” and (not sure what this one means) “Sinfully thin popcorn.” Continue reading
Our parents said it to us and we said it to our children. Some of us heard it from a schoolteacher, others from a coach. Maybe you heard it from a supervisor, drill instructor, or spouse. It can be said a lot of different ways but it essentially comes down to “It has to be done.”
Often we don’t like to say it and we try to think of a way to say it nicely. Whether it’s leaving home for the first time, having to take the exam, needing the surgery, or realizing you need to move on without someone, someone had to tell us “It has to be done.” Continue reading
Everyone growing up in the 1950s-60s knows either the name or image of Alfred E. Neuman. Even people who never read Mad Magazine are familiar with good old Al.
According to the magazine’s editor, they wanted a logo, someone who would become as familiar as the RCA dog and Jolly Green Giant. They wanted someone who looked lovable, not idiotic. Someone who didn’t worry much. Hence the slogan, “What? Me worry?” Continue reading
It’s surprising, and at times humiliating, to realize what little it takes to set you off. An individual can go through an entire day facing what appears to be insurmountable problems, making decisions that affect dozens of people, and then on his way home he is angered at a red light or exasperated as he walks through the front door and hears, “Oh, before you sit down I need to ask you . . .” It’s like, “Seriously? Now?”
A passage I’ve often reflected on is one found in a book that almost no one reflects on. Tucked away in the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon, is this pithy saying, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom” (2:15). Continue reading
A practice I learned a long time ago, and one I occasionally ask folks to do in my own ministry, is to insert your name in a passage where it is appropriate. Now you have to be careful. You can’t just stick it in in place of any personal pronoun. But when the passage is speaking in general, it’s not a bad idea to make it specific and personal.
Two examples by way of illustration:
I might read Romans 5:6–10 this way,
“For while I was still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly . . . but God shows his love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. Since, therefore, I have now been justified by his blood, much more shall I be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while I was an enemy I was reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that I am reconciled, shall I be saved by his life.”
And Colossians 3:12-15 reads this way, Continue reading
Ever sit next to someone with a deadline? It can be worth the price of admission. Everything is set on fast-forward. Their eyes dart all over the room, primarily at their watch. And they mutter a lot. They drop something and they mutter. They look at a piece of paper and they mutter. They look at their watch and they mutter.
Meanwhile, there you sit. You don’t have a deadline so you can just kick back, sip your coffee, and smell the proverbial roses. Life is good. And sometimes (this has happened to me) when our fast-forward moving friend leaves, you can say “Excuse me, you left your phone on the table.” Continue reading
The old saying is that ignorance is bliss and I will admit I’m usually a pretty happy guy. But ignorance is anything but blissful when you get involved in people’s lives. Continue reading
It was one of those quips destined to become timeless from the moment it was uttered. It was during the 1988 vice presidential debate in Omaha, Nebraska. Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen delivered one of the most devastating slights ever. Turning to his GOP opponent, Sen. Dan Quayle, who had defended his inexperience as similar to that of John F. Kennedy, Bentsen responded (with scathing disdain): “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.”
Ouch. Continue reading
Some people were raised to recite certain prayers. Many children grew up saying “God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food.” And those who grew up in certain faith traditions know how to finish “Our Father who art . . .” And still others know what follows “Hail Mary, full of grace . . .”
But in other faith traditions, prayer is a practice of spontaneity. One doesn’t recite prayers, one simply prays. The idea of reciting a prayer strikes such folks as peculiar. They don’t sense any life in such praying, it’s all a matter of rote. These folks fully understand the request “give us this day our daily bread,” but they don’t need bread. They need a job. And so they pray something like “Lord, you know where I’m at. I got bills to pay and no way to pay them. Please, can you give me a job. Any kind of a job.” Continue reading