The battle for your heart

There's a battle for your heart. The only question is whether you're going to join the fight.To understand the battleground and the nature of the fight, I think it's useful to take two things Jesus said about the kingdom and place them side by side. The first is from the seventeenth chapter of Luke's gospel. "[T]he kingdom of God is within you," said Jesus (v. 21). And the second is from the eleventh chapter of Matthew's. "[T]he kingdom of heaven suffers violence," he said, "and the violent … [Read more...]

Pursuing God through the small things

We live in a day of extremes, and sometimes it seems our culture's highest virtue is going overboard. Everything is super-sized, quad-shot, high-energy, maximum-strength, full-throttle.I wonder and worry about how much of that infects our faith. If being radical for Jesus means being totally committed to the kingdom, that's great. But if we're obsessing on doing something big for Jesus, as if that's the only thing that counts, then we're missing something. The truth is that holiness and … [Read more...]

There is a final judgment; act accordingly

It's a sobering thought to realize that we will all someday face a final judgment.In the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, The Departed, Jack Nicholson's character, mob boss Frank Costello, walks past an associate in a bar and asks how his mother is doing. The man replies, ruefully, "She's on her way out.""We all are," says Costello without a trace of sympathy, "act accordingly."It's a telling insight into the character. The murderous Costello is not a man who believes he'll live forever. He … [Read more...]

Appreciate where you’ve come from

When you note personal or spiritual growth in your life, there can be a tendency to disparage your past, to look down on a self that you might now regard as wrong or naive or simply juvenile.I've been listening to tracks stored in the dusty, cobwebbed corners of my iPod lately. Songs I haven't heard in years are tumbling out, one after another. There's a lot of 77s, Bob Dylan, Bill Mallonee, Tom Petty, and Daniel Amos. Sometimes the songs still work for me. Love the Byrds! Other times not. … [Read more...]

What’s growing while you’re not looking?

Little things can affect dramatic change -- good and bad -- even if you're unaware that any transformation is underway.If you walk into my kitchen, it might appear at times like a laboratory. Meg and I brew our own kombucha, several gallons of which sit on the countertop, happily fermenting away. We also make our own yogurt, kefir, and lactofermented vegetables, carrots mostly. We're next thinking about making our own sourdough.It's as easy as it is fun. All you do is ready the raw … [Read more...]

Jesus comes to us so we can go for him

On the Sunday after Easter the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates the encounter of the Apostle Thomas with the risen Jesus.You know the story. Skeptical about his fellow disciples' enthusiastic claims of the resurrection, Thomas took a wait-and-see attitude, earning him the moniker Doubting Thomas. But then, when Christ appeared to him, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" There in that moment Doubting Thomas became Believing Thomas.Two things stand out for me about this … [Read more...]

April fools for Christ

The Bible presents us two kinds of folly, both very different. We meet the first in Proverbs. It's the folly of the person who denies the existence of God, the person who embraces a materialist worldview.We encounter the second in the writings of the apostle Paul. This folly proclaims a God so real and imminent and palpable that he takes human flesh, walks among us, and expunges our sins upon the cross.These two views are as different as whisky and chicken broth.In a flatly … [Read more...]