A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 4

Click here to read Part 1, here for Part 2 and here for Part 3 of this series. At this time of year, the focus is on the Baby. If you focus on the incarnation long enough, you might also find yourself drawn to meditate on the Child's future - and your own. The longing and waiting that characterize this season have more to do with the mystery of the end of all things than most of us see at first glance. The trees and tinsel obscure a clear view. But if we take the time to look, we can see … [Read more...]

A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 3

Click here to read Part 1 , and here to read Part 2.Jesus began his ministry with a very audacious-sounding statement of purpose torn right from the sacred scrolls before him:He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach … [Read more...]

A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 2

Click here to read part one of the series.Jesus and religious insidersThe Pharisees' motto: We do life right! You don’t! Color in the lines.Drive 55 miles per hour.Obey the rules.Be an Eagle Scout. President of the Student Council. And while you’re at it, prom queen.It feels good to be good. But it feels even better to have people recognize how good you are.The Pharisees began as a renewal movement within Judaism. These were people who took God seriously. They wanted it to do their lives rig … [Read more...]

A look at the people Jesus loves – Part 1

We focus on a little Baby during this season. That little Baby came to us on a mission of love: "...the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)I've had the opportunity to meditate deeply on just who it is that Jesus loves. Today is part one of a series that explores this topic. Read on. Some of these thoughts may surprise you:When a graffiti artist is responsible for the writing on the wall In recent years, there’s been a mini-torrent of books with very provocative t … [Read more...]

Book review: Start-Up Nation

We climbed into a cab in Jerusalem early one morning and after asking where we were headed, our driver launched into an impassioned monologue about the wrong-headed thinking of some low-level bureaucrat to send the street cleaners off to work at 8 a.m. on a work day."They should be cleaning the streets in the middle of the night," he yelled. "They don't know what they're doing in this government. They're doing this street clenaing all wrong!"I chalked his insistent tirade up to the chutzpah that … [Read more...]

What happens in Vegas…

...stays in Vegas.Clever ad slogan. The guts of it apply to lots of things.During the times I experienced intense church conflict in the past, the battles were weighted in my mind with what was eternally important: theological big stuff like the proper way to preach about repentance were freighted with far more spiritual gravitas than the absurd power struggle over the placement of bulletin boards in the foyer.That was, perhaps, my first mistake. I didn't realize that everything carried the … [Read more...]

Book review: The Bible As Improv

I heard Dr. Ron Martoia speak last month at the Story Chicago conference (I mentioned him in #12 of my blog post about the event here). I happened to receive an advanced reader copy of Martoia's new book a couple of days after the conference, and was really looking forward to reading it after hearing his talk.The Bible As Improv: Seeing & Living the Script in New Ways (Zondervan, scheduled to release in March, 2010) did not disappoint. He tackles the way most of us have learned to read and … [Read more...]