An Ambiguous Little Trickle of the Holy Spirit

Cover with words

A snippet of my latest book, Inspired: the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Faith, to whet your appetite for more. Priscilla and I bought our first house in a sketchy corner of Kansas City, about a mile or two from the seminary where I taught at the time. It was a big old house with a grandiose stone front porch, rich wooden beams, and small crystal chandeliers. We had failed to notice that the electricity was outmoded, the basement walls porous, the roof leaking, a ceiling sagging, and the ne … [Read more...]

Simeon’s Song and the Clarity of Christmas

Simeon Rembrandt

We are obsessed with power, but the story of Jesus begins in the corridors of powerlessness—in the Jewish temple, though not among the hustle of priests and the din of the Pharisees’ discussion of Torah, but at the seemingly insignificant fringes of Jewish life, in the world of widows and old men. The scene is prompted by the appearance of peasant parents from Galilee who are so poor they can't afford the offering of sheep for purification after the mother gives birth; this peasant couple brings … [Read more...]

Stop giving! We have more than enough!

offering hands

Ever heard a sermon titled, “Stop giving! We have more than enough!”No?Me neither.That’s why the story of the tabernacle in the book of Exodus is entrancing. (No, I’m not kidding. Entrancing.) The tabernacle was a portable tent the Israelites could put up and take down, like an old-fashioned circus tent, a Bedouin bed-and-breakfast, of sorts, for God.You may not see how entrancing this story is on a first read-through. The instructions on how the tabernacle should be prepared are … [Read more...]

The Spirit & the Dreamer

dream

On Wednesday night, my Hebrew class translated Genesis 41—the dead center of the story of Joseph. The word plays in Hebrew are hilarious and skilled, the storyline suspenseful yet playful. In one verse, the seven scrawny cows of Pharaoh’s dream devour seven pleasantly plump cows, but you can’t tell because the skinny cows come to "the innards” (kidneys, livers, tripe—food thought to be delicacies by everyone but me during my Cambridge days), gobble them up, and stay scrawny. As one student puzzle … [Read more...]

Animals & Ambiguity: The Spirit & the Flood

Noahs-Ark-by-Edward-Hicks-001

About a month ago, I paused with you to ponder humanity’s first breath, when God stooped and shadowed the face of adam, with knees planted in the mud, hands sinking in the soft, damp earth, lips to lips, mouth to mouth—and blew into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life. On the outskirts of Eden we glimpsed the ambiguity of creation, adam created as dust from the earth (adamah in Hebrew). We came to grips with the unfortunate clash between energy and emptiness, life and death, breath and dust ... w … [Read more...]

Does the Holy Spirit Inspire Violence? Obama, Syria, and the Days Ahead

Syria smoke

As Barack Obama, advisers and members of Congress consider how to confront the spiral of violence in Syria, Christians should ask themselves, "Does the Holy Spirit ever inspire violence?"This is a dangerous question, and I am prone to answer it with a loud and clear, "No!" The Spirit inspires peace and love, healing, and prophetic witness, like Martin Luther King Jr.'s famed speech 50 years ago, but the Spirit does not, will not inspire violence.Is my first reaction right? What about the … [Read more...]