2023s

    December 14, 2023

    Philippians 3:7-11 Advent, Day 12 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

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    December 12, 2023

    Isaiah 4:2-6 Advent, Day 10 “Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” I've never thought about the glory of God being a shelter and a refuge.

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    December 11, 2023

    Psalm 27 Advent, Day 9 ”...even then I will be confident.” Psalm 27 was one of the readings today and it has this little line, “even the I will be confident.” I am thinking a lot about what it means to be confident right now for a series of talks that I will be giving in March, so of course this popped off the page. The Psalm opens with a declaration of the identity of who God is for the psalmist.

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    December 7, 2023

    Hosea 6:1-6 Advent, Day 5 “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.” This is one of those passages that grabs me consistently in so many different ways. I read it and sit, almost stunned by its beauty and its challenge to my soul. This morning the line quoted above was like a 2x4 between the eyes. How often is this true of me regarding God?

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    December 6, 2023

    Luke 21:34-38 Advent, Day 4 ““Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” I've been meditating on today's passage for a few hours now and something has clicked in my heart as I have pondered on it. A number of years ago God broke me of my legalism about all sorts of things.

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    December 5, 2023

    Micah 4:6-13 Advent, Day 3 In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation.” This verse is fascinating to me. Honestly, it challenges me and at the same time encourages me. I am astounded by the God that self-identifies as the one who brought people to grief.

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    December 4, 2023

    Micah 4:1-5 Advent, Day 2 They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. As we fully enter into the Advent season, I am looking forward to reading and meditating on the prophets. Each year most of the readings come from them during this season. Advent is a time of preparation and fasting and waiting and hoping.

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    December 1, 2023

    Psalm 80:1-19 “Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” This repeated line in Psalm 80 rings out to me today. This psalm opens by crying out for help and as the cry continues there seems to be a recognition that the people deserved a rebuke from God. The first time this line is uttered it is in reference to a perceived persecution but then the second time it is in light of the recognition of rebuke.

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    November 27, 2023

    2 Timothy 2:19-26 “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” Do you know how to get something to go “viral” on the internet? Make a foolish and stupid argument. It's easy. I've had a few. Do you know what happens after a time though? Your soul begins to wither. You become cynical and jaded. Your heart hardens. Happiness is found in other people's distress and anger.

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    November 20, 2023

    Romans 2:1-11 (The Message) “Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.

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    When Religion Goes Bad

    God-washed power pollutes everything it touches but there is hope Over the last year I've read three books that have caused me significant pause. The first was, A Church Called Tov by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. The second was, Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. The third was, The Flag and the Cross by Phillip Gorski and Samuel Perry. All three of these books evaluate the state of the American Evangelical church from slightly different perspectives.

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    November 16, 2023

    Judge 2:6-15 “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” There may be no more enduring meme than the angry old guy yelling, “Get off my lawn!” It seems that every generation feels like the “youth” are terrible and only getting worse. They look at the world and say, “These darn kids are hopeless.

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    November 15. 2023

    Jeremiah 31:31-34 “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Self-centeredness has been on my mind lately due to the readings that have I been meditating on this week. As I come to this little passage where God unveils the next development in God's covenantal relationship with God's people, I am struck by the communal aspect of it. In American Christianity we have often been enamored with the individual.

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    November 14, 2023

    Nehemiah 8:1-12 “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” Nehemiah is one of those books in the Bible that get used for “leadership” retreats and the like. It always amazes me how we can take these ancient texts and make them fit into whatever we want them to fit.

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    November 13, 2023

    Psalm 78 “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.” This psalm is one that constantly grabs my attention. It does so on multiple levels. Today, as I sit here meditating on it verse 18 almost levitated off the page. It wasn't the putting God to the test bit that jumps out. It is the “demanding the food they craved,” bit. I am such a selfish and self-centered person.

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    November 10, 2023

    Psalm 78:1-8, The Message “We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation— GOD’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done.“ This theme of passing things along to the next generation has been running through a lot of my reading lately. I wrote about it a bit on November 6 and the need to be intentional with relationships. Today, I'm struck by this idea of passing along the stories of “the marvelous things he has done.

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    How Do You Read the Bible?

    What if meditation was the key to reading the Bible? I was in high school and attending something called a Summer Institute at Eastern Michigan University. Rising high school seniors could attend the institute in a number of disciplines. I attended this two week experience for music. It was an amazing couple of weeks and I met some really fun people. It was at this Summer Institute that I was first exposed to meditation.

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    November 9, 2023

    Psalm 70 “Let those on the hunt for you sing and celebrate.” Throughout my life of faith the hardest thing for me has always been the reality that I can not experience God with my senses. You would think that this would create in me a lack of belief, yet it has not. Why? Because I think I see all around me the effects of God. I guess it's like that truism, “I can't see the wind but I can feel it's effect.

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    November 8, 2023

    Matthew 15:1-9 “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands?” I am sure that someone with religious authority would never, and I mean never, create rules to “play and fast loose with God's commands.” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is happens all the time. If I'm really honest with myself I know that I have done this. I have used my authority as a religious leader to make rules so as to get people to do what I want them to do or to manipulate a situation for my benefit.

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    November 7, 2023

    Psalm 128 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him. I don't like the word, “obedience.” It makes me feel like God is some sort of task master. I do like the word, “blessed.” I like the idea that God is doing something special for me. These double feelings are ones that I'm guessing I'm not alone in having. If we are really honest with ourselves we prefer “blessed” over “obedience.

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    November 6, 2023

    Joshua 4:1-24 And then he told the People of Israel, “In the days to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What are these stones doing here?’ tell your children this: ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ Maybe it is because I just spent significant time with my daughter at her college campus; perhaps it's seeing the little ones running around at missional community; but this story from Joshua 4 hit me particularly hard today.

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    November 2, 2023

    Romans 2:17-29 “You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law.” This passage in Romans is one that I think about often. I have come to the conclusion that for those of us Christians in the United States, particularly, should likely find our parallels with the Jewish people that Paul addresses more so than the Gentiles. Why? Because we are the people who have largely grown up with the Bible and religion and God-talk.

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    Silence Is Scary

    Entering into silence can spiritually form us There's only a few sermons that I've heard that I remember. As I write that I want to make sure you understand what I'm not saying, I'm not saying that sermons are unimportant. I think they are very important. The sermons I remember are likely not sermons that someone else remembers. They are moments in time that God uses in the lives of people.

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    November 1, 2023

    Psalm 34:1-10, The Message “Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. When I was desperate, I called out, and GOD got me out of a tight spot.” When I'm going through something heavy or hard I often think, “Why am I feeling this way? Compared to what so many others are going through this is nothing.” Often, when I feel like this, I will not pray because I don't want to burden God or in some sense I think that these feelings are not worthy to be brought to God.

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    October 31, 2023

    James 2:14-18 “Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” I have a friend whose favorite saying is, “acta non verba,” this translates to “actions not words.” He's one of those people who will do anything for you. His actions clearly demonstrate that the words he uses have meaning. Many of us are good talkers. We know the right things to say. But what about our actions? How often do you promise to do something but then don't follow through?

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