These posts are from the 'Scripture & Devotionals' category.


Monday, 04/27/15

What does it mean that God is loving and good?

I took a picture of my shoe next to tattered bits of clothing in the caked dirt of the killing fields in Cambodia where hundreds of thousands were slaughtered with machetes. I walked past a tower of skulls and looked in on the cells where they were tortured. Later I gazed at the pictures of inhuman experiments as I walked the barracks of Dachau where thirty thousand of the people of Israel were executed.

What does it mean that God is loving and good?


My first born son was born by emergency C-section; vaginal birth would likely have killed him. I thanked God for saving his life, but a friend asked, “what about the children God didn’t save?” Through my wife I am once removed from the tragedies of families losing children through drownings, car accidents, illnesses and boyfriends shaking baby’s to death.

What does it mean that God is loving and good?


I have met people in other countries who live on less than $2 a day. They represent half of the world’s population. They do not know our protection of the rule of law. Widow’s houses and market stalls are seized by greedy neighbors because they do not have husbands to defend their property rights. Daily, girls are taken and raped; an estimated 30 million are enslaved.

What does it mean that God is loving and good? How do I turn in trust to One who fails to stop such evil? How do I entrust my future and the lives of my children to One who allows rain to fall on the good and the bad?


I turn to the One who is bringing about His kingdom on earth. In my perception of time His reconciliation of all things to Himself is mysteriously slow. I cry out, Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus, and bring an end to this evil. I lay down my life to be part of His kingdom work. Jesus, show me where you are working and let me join in that work. I know I will not be spared from all evil but you will be with me. Your rod and your staff, they will comfort me. I want to be a part of your work of making things right, of bringing people, situations and institutions to your plan for them, under your reign. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

My wife’s ministry is caring for and saving lives of children as a pediatric intensive care doctor. Her salary allows me to be a volunteer CFO for a Christian camp that brings thousands a year to the mountains to learn to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to join Christ in his kingdom work. What does it mean that God is loving and good? It does not mean that God saves us from all evil. Rather, it means God is with us in the midst of the brokenness of our world. It means that He invites us to join him in his work of reconciling this fallen world to himself.

Monday, 04/13/15

The arc of the lives of the heroes of faith

As I read scripture from the daily office this morning I was struck by the following thought.

The arc of the lives of the heroes of faith who have gone before us was not one of ease and continuous victory. Rather it was one of struggle, persecution, exile and death. They are our heroes not because of their victorious accomplishments, but because they were faithful and righteous even in the face of death; because they turned to God even when it appeared God had forsaken them and prayed, please take this cup from me, but not my will but your will be done.
In so doing they found the ram provided in the bush, the sea parted before them, the empty tomb, the palace guard receiving the gospel proclaimed from a prison cell. They found God with them, calling them forward toward His glorious future.

Scripture does not promise an easy life, but a life under the loving reign of God. In God's kingdom we are not free from death, struggle and uncertainty. Rather, our trials are a crucible in which we are forged. In the face of concern and sorrow, may we seek God. Like the martyrs who went before us, in the face of distress may we take the hard path that is right rather than the easy path that would allay our fears. And may we continue to be formed into the people we were created to be.

Friday, 12/19/08

From Cory: on Ted Haggard and Being a Loser

Cory gave me permission to republish his blog post found here from his blog, This is Cory. Good stuff.
Only The Losers Win

on 19 December 2008 tagged church

Ted Haggard, who resigned/was fired as pastor of New Life Church and the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is the subject a documentary airing later this month on HBO, entitled “The Trials of Ted Haggard.” Haggard, who was caught up in a scandal involving drugs and a male prostitute, and is now selling insurance, says about himself: “At this stage in my life, I am a loser.”

I don’t know the context of the quote–and I don’t know if it matters. What is poignant is that he seemed to imply there was a time when he wasn’t a loser.

Hear me out. I’m not trying to get down on Ted Haggard, nor do I mean to discredit him. But much of what we say and do as a Church seems to stem from the mentality that you and I are capable of being winners. We sometimes teach, preach, politicize, and promote good behavior to the extent that we impair the declaration that God loves and accepts us in spite of our bad behavior. We hurt others, hurt ourselves, and distort the gospel when we imply that, even at one time, we had anything to offer God. If we could win, and not lose, then Jesus would just be a fun guy to have at parties, and not a Savior.

I leave you, Pastor Haggard, with the opening lyrics of Switchfoot’s The Loser:

Only the losers win
they’ve got nothing to prove.
They’ll leave the world with nothing to lose.
You can laugh at the weirdos now,
wait till wrongs are right
They’ll be the ones with nothing to hide.

Sunday, 03/23/08

He is Risen

This morning I explained to Asher that a long time ago Jesus died, but he came back to life, and because he did, we can go and be in heaven with God when we die, like Grandma Julie and Grandma Helen.

May we celebrate God's Easter action on our behalf.

Tuesday, 03/04/08

Fourth week of Lent: Tuesday

Tuesday ....................................................................Eph. 3:14-21

A Prayer for the Ephesians
 14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. Ephesians 3:15 Or whom all fatherhood

Monday, 03/03/08

Fourth week of Lent: Monday

Monday.................................................... II Corinthians 12:7-10

 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.



Sunday, 03/02/08

Fourth week of Lent: Sunday

Sunday ...........................................................................Psalm 51

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
 1 Have mercy on me, O God,
       according to your unfailing love;
       according to your great compassion
       blot out my transgressions.

 2 Wash away all my iniquity
       and cleanse me from my sin.

 3 For I know my transgressions,
       and my sin is always before me.

 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
       and done what is evil in your sight,
       so that you are proved right when you speak
       and justified when you judge.

 5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
       sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts [a] ;
       you teach [b] me wisdom in the inmost place.

 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
       wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
       let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

 9 Hide your face from my sins
       and blot out all my iniquity.

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 11 Do not cast me from your presence
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.

 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
       and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
       and sinners will turn back to you.

 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
       the God who saves me,
       and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

 15 O Lord, open my lips,
       and my mouth will declare your praise.

 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
       you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

 17 The sacrifices of God are [c] a broken spirit;
       a broken and contrite heart,
       O God, you will not despise.

 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
       build up the walls of Jerusalem.

 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
       whole burnt offerings to delight you;
       then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 51:6 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.

Saturday, 03/01/08

Fourth week of Lent: Saturday

Saturday ...................................................................Acts 12:5-17

 5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

 6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists.

 8Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

 11Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."

 12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!"

 15"You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel."

 16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the brothers about this," he said, and then he left for another place.



Friday, 02/29/08

Fourth week of Lent: Friday

Friday ...................................................... I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.



Thursday, 02/28/08

Fourth week of Lent: Thursday

Thursday ............................................................ Matthew 6:9-15

 9"This, then, is how you should pray:
   " 'Our Father in heaven,
   hallowed be your name,
 10your kingdom come,
   your will be done
      on earth as it is in heaven.
 11Give us today our daily bread.
 12Forgive us our debts,
      as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 13And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from the evil one.[a]' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.