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John Holbert
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John C. Holbert was born in Indiana, raised in Arizona, and educated in Iowa and Texas, receiving a Ph.D. in the Hebrew Bible in 1975. He has been a local church pastor in Louisiana, professor of religion at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and was Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology, where he joined the faculty in 1979. He retired from this faculty position in May, 2012. John is married to Diana, a retired minister of the United Methodist Church. They have two children: a son, Darius, and a daughter, Sarah. John has extensive vocal solo experience, having sung in musicals, opera, and oratorio. Darius has sung with the Texas Boys' Choir, and is now a studio musician in Los Angeles, writing for film and TV. He and John have written an opera, based on the book of Job, entitled “Job’s Truth.” Sarah lives in Los Angeles where she works for the ABC Channel. John has authored eleven books and many articles in scholarly and church journals. He was the editor for the Psalms and Canticles material of the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal. He has also served as Interim Senior Minister of two large United Methodist churches, 1st UMC in Fort Worth in the Fall of 1994 and 1st UMC, Dallas, in the spring of 1997. He has preached and taught in over 1000 churches in 40 states and 20 countries. In 2007, he was named an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Southern Methodist University. His first novel, King Saul, was published in 2014.

Works by John Holbert
What Child Is This? Reflections on Isaiah 49:1-7
John Holbert | January 09, 2011
The season of Epiphany attempts to explore the fuller meaning of the Christ child by......
Wisdom from Below: Reflections on 2 Kings 5:1-14
John Holbert | February 07, 2012
There is wisdom in low places, and we who are high must listen to what they have to say....
January's Comfort: Reflections on Genesis 1: 1-15
John Holbert | January 06, 2012
The first Sunday of Epiphany offers to us the grand curtain raiser of Genesis 1:1-5. No......
All of us, like the dastardly David, need openness to those who are different if we are......
Good Bible reading can open our eyes to the realities of our world and send us forth in......
In the light of the man David, the oily, clever trickster who stops at nothing to become......
It has been said that we need a far more rich and comprehensive theology of marriage if......
"Beulah Land" is the transformed Jerusalem, a marvelous symbol of God's power to change......
Luke presents us with a key to unlock many of the conundrums we continue to face in our......
If you know you have been saved by God, your whole life has been transformed, both......
The poet offers us a David who utters the very words of YHWH, laced with two of the......
This is fully a Genesis tale: trickery and hatred and deception abound, and the hero is......
Wherever the power of death is overcome by the power of resurrected life, we see again......
We really do need Advent/Christmas this year! We need its joy and its hope, to be sure,......
So Abram Went: Reflections on Genesis 12:1-4a
John Holbert | March 11, 2014
How are we to be a "light to the nations"? What if all nations prefer their own light,......
Through clever and complex ways, including full inclusion of women, the tireless Paul is......
A rich and continual questioning of the ways of God is my way to stay close to God, to......
When we seek knowledge apart from God, we run the dangerous risk of making the search......
The powerhouse woman Ruth is beyond compare. In short, it should be concluded that in......
Real Peace: Reflections on Isaiah 2:1-5 (Advent 1)
John Holbert | November 21, 2013
How easy it is to become jaded and rushed and overwhelmed by the oncoming train of......
When we think that the end has finally come to our hopes and dreams for justice, the......
This a story about the marginalized brought into the community, a new community that God......
Why in heaven's name do so many Christians spend vast amounts of time speculating on......
Like Jesus, we still live in the world of Zephaniah....
We are all in the desert of Sin with this question on our lips: is YHWH near us or not?...
Solomon was a very dangerous king, and so are we dangerous the minute we forget the......
Can any man or woman really know what God actually wants, no matter how how prophetic or......
The Bible gives us always the stuff of real life, not merely the romanticized would-be......
This Sunday follows by one day the loud celebrations of July 4, and it could be that......
In this passage, Isaiah calls his people, and calls us, to something we are loathe to......
I have no doubt that all of us are called to open our ears to YHWH/God and to speak......
How would our history be different if the ancient Watergate were better remembered than......
On this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, may our own life's baptisms, those that are pleasant......
It turns out that the greatest trial for the Israelites is not unlike our greatest 21st......
We cannot read Peter's sermon innocent of what has happened as a result of its......
With a God like this, none of us is past our day; this sort of God still has something......
Do not allow anyone to make the book of Revelation into a thing of scary fear, of......
When preaching or prophesying, should we not all carefully assess what we are told to be......
God invites us to think -- and live -- higher than we could ever imagine....
God's so-called revelation at the burning bush is that God's name may not be known, and......
We need to look for God not in the great deeds or in the torn heavens, but under and......
Many readers of this story focus their attention on the spooky details of wind, fire,......
The definition of just who the neighbor is I am to love as I love myself is made clear......
Yes, David is not where he is supposed to be in this passage, and yes, his hands are......
In whatever exiles we are in, we all need stories of hope like Esther's....
New Names for Us: Reflections on Isaiah 62:1-5
John Holbert | January 13, 2013
To be a Christian and a cynic is nothing less than an oxymoron for we are named "Delight......
As we begin Lent, let's start at the very beginning and consider why we need to go on......
What has a Christian to do with Leviticus, filled as it is with obscure food laws,......
Sharing Gratitude: Reflections on Psalm 116
John Holbert | May 01, 2011
How now shall we live on this side of the Resurrection? Psalm 116 offers some heartfelt......
Must we bow to the wonder of this grand story, fall on our own faces in reverent awe,......
Seeing and hearing God, for Job, reveals to him a God he never knew, a God vast and......
This poem is easily 3500 years old, yet its ancient cry for strength leading to the......
Great nations are not defined by the size of their armies or the power of their culture;......
We can experience God’s compassion, grace, love, and faithfulness, but of God's name and......
"Jacob wrestles with a man" is in fact what the text itself says, but that designation......
When Advent rolls around, it will hardly do to upset the Christmas-eyed folk with these......
God is working on us at this very moment to turn us toward the healing of the planet,......
Ascension Sunday is about the dangers of looking high when Jesus asks us to look low at......
Too many Christians pray mightily for the Second Coming and neglect completely the First......
Lady Wisdom is not only the right way to go; she also offers the most pleasurable way to......
It is far past time for us to relinquish these antiquated and absurd notions about a God......
Is it not interesting that in this ancient tale all the great men are fools, while the......
Out of a Job? Reflections on Jeremiah 31:27-34
John Holbert | October 14, 2013
Jeremiah's famous words are thus hope and warning; do the work of God but allow God......
As YHWH's special people, we are called to take responsibility for ourselves and for one......
Nowhere in the Scripture is one chosen by God for ease and comfort; responsibility for......
Could it be that this weird tale is a cautionary one for the would-be new king of......
The Impatience of Job: Reflections on Job 1:1, 2:1-10
John Holbert | September 30, 2012
If God doesn't reward the righteous and punish the wicked, then what is God doing?...
Through Christ, Micah predicts justice, unity, and peace for God's people and the world....
If we so-called chosen ones, we 21st-century Christians, await the victory of God over......
We preachers have more than once been confused in our lives about when our claims to......
It is always far easier to play the tyrant than it is to be God's people....
The text on this first Sunday of Lent (Deuteronomy 26) does not talk about giving......
What can we Christians learn from this peculiarly intrusive ritual text concerning the......
The light of God pierces our gloomy and dark lives and offers to us a hope that we must......
God's promise of care for the cosmos invites us to align ourselves with that good......
Choose Life! Reflections on Deuteronomy 30:15-20
John Holbert | February 09, 2014
It is in our mouths and in our hearts: YHWH loves us and chooses us for YHWH's purposes......
Just Who Is God Anyway? Reflections on Job 1:1, 2:1-10
John Holbert | September 29, 2015
The first two chapters of Job are the curtain raiser of the drama, the opening act of......
It is time for us, past time, to end this foolish and incorrect notion that it is our......
David's story is yet another example of "what goes around, comes around," and the bad......
Even the "man after God's own heart," isn't immune to the poisoning corruption of......
Every preacher needs to ask each year that haunting question that lies at the base of......
Why tell such a grim and unrelenting tale about one's greatest king? That's a question......
We preachers must learn to speak of the demands of faith without resorting to stories......
A Spiritual Renewal: Reflections on Pentecost
John Holbert | May 22, 2012
The miracle of Pentecost is not babbling speech, but clear Gospel speech....
What sort of sentimental clap-trap is this Isaianic picture of animal peace? Just what......
Now that we got Jesus born again, what do we do? I admit to liking this Sunday a good......
This week's text shows that despite our too clever actions and desires, God is working......
It has long been said that in Ezekiel we get one of our first hints of resurrection from......
Our own journey of Lent draws near. It can at times be a fearsome journey, but Isaiah......
This grand and desperate passage warns us, preachers and teachers, that we must hear the......
We need to hear our Jobs, despite the sometimes too-easy nostrums of our too-certain......
A Super-Nova Shining: Reflections on Epiphany
John Holbert | January 05, 2012
We 21st-century Christians are no different from our 2600-year-old Israelite forebears.......
Luke is far less interested in the dramatic appearance of tongues and the rushing sound......
Yes, I get the goal of Peter's sermon in Acts 2, but I decry its means of reaching that......
Lady Wisdom calls to us in the streets and highways of our cities, crying out, "How......
The ruler YHWH has in mind, the leader we all should have in mind, judges people with......
You Are Mine: Reflections on Isaiah 43:1-7
John Holbert | January 07, 2013
In this time of Epiphany, when the light has come again into our world, may we hear the......
Here we discover a God of new heart, a God madly in love with someone who too often does......
Communism, socialism, capitalism are not finally the problem; are there needy among you?......
A Drama of Despair: Reflections on Lamentations 1:1-6
John Holbert | September 29, 2013
The reality of Lamentations presents us with our own realities and offers genuine and......
Without doubt, we are all under threat from the certain heating of the planet. It's past......
Would God rather have an unpleasant, demanding believer than a self-assured, comfortably......
When priests stop speaking of God, disaster among the people cannot be far behind....
Miracles are like that. They don't provide solid foundations for ongoing faith. Just ask......
What gives me the right to think that God has called me to ministry? How could anyone......
How in the world can we believe any prophet who demands that we forget those things......
Habakkuk's clear words in this tiny book are among the most important phrases that the......
Maundy Thursday is a celebration of the glorious community of equality of goods and......
A Fresh Wholeness: Reflections on Acts 4:5-12
John Holbert | April 22, 2012
Any time that the name of Jesus is used to divide, and not unite, to generate hatred and......
In Ruth's story, we find a model of devoted love to enrich a famine-plagued world....
Great Events from Small Beginnings
John Holbert | November 14, 2012
We all need to be reminded that God often works through the unexpected, the......
A Bargain with YHWH? Reflections on Psalm 30
John Holbert | April 06, 2016
God in fact needs us. Is that so hard to believe or accept?...
Psalm 98 confirms that our roles as God's Easter people remain the same: unchanging and......
The day of Pentecost is far more than the birthday of the church. This is the......
God comforts us in order that we may at long last become what God wanted us to be from......
This mode of living, enough for today, "our daily bread," as a later prophet asked us to......
Just who are God's righteous ones, and how exactly can you tell when you meet one?...
Old Jeremiah is my very favorite prophet from the Hebrew Bible for many reasons,......
On this typically sparsely-attended Sunday after Christmas, have a quiet conversation......
Prophet Gone Bad: Reflections on Jonah 3:1-5
John Holbert | January 19, 2015
Whenever we read the Bible and use it to exclude, deny, and reject living creatures of......
Like Jacob, in the face of God's free gift we too often grudgingly give God a crumb or......
Whose Voice? Reflections on 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
John Holbert | January 13, 2015
I can only conclude from the scene of Samuel's confrontation with YHWH's voice in the......
However much we want to claim they we are not like these very human characters; in fact,......
We ask that God rule with justice and righteousness so that our darkness may become......
A helpful reminder in election season: ultimate loyalty, final devotion, and complete......
By quoting Isaiah 61 Luke reminds his hearers and readers that the sweet little Jesus......
Peace is one thing, but peace without justice is no peace at all....
In taking on Goliath, was David as ill-equipped and innocent of a boy as we've been......
Within the huge collection of prophetic oracles that make up the fifty-two chapters of......
This passage is the Bible's lynchpin, because the remainder of the Bible's story will be......
This extraordinary tale of power politics, difficulties of family, and the future of the......
The Backside of God: Reflections on Exodus 33:12-23
John Holbert | October 09, 2011
What does it mean when Moses' request to see God's face is met instead with God's......
Whom Will You Choose? Reflections on Joshua 24
John Holbert | November 01, 2011
We need to hear again and again the careful warnings of Joshua on the hills of Shechem....
Shelter in the Storm: The Promise of Psalm 31
John Holbert | May 15, 2011
In the Psalms, we are reminded that God has always been active in the lives of God's......
If I stay away from the worshipping assembly, I too easily forget that God's rescue is......
If you think that modern day politicians invented the art of the "spin," you need to......
Many exiles live here in Dallas, Texas. Jeremiah asks them to pray for the shalom of......
Telling the Story: Reflections on Ruth 1:1-18
John Holbert | October 26, 2015
"Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my......
If YHWH is God of all, then my choice of YHWH bids me pray for all who call on the name......
The Christmas story is not about a virgin birth; it is about a birth that demonstrates......
God's plan for the cosmos is peace and harmony and beauty. God is bringing this about......
To truly enjoy God's gifts, we must share our bounty in a new form of thanksgiving....
Whatever else Advent means, it means the coming of YHWH's righteousness. When we pray......
Surely, that should end the matter. First husband dead and buried. Child born. All is......
Fasting For Fear: Reflections on Ash Wednesday
John Holbert | March 03, 2014
If Lent is to sound forth its call for transformation, we must think also of the larger......
Perhaps it is past time for more prophets to appear whose eyes see deeper into the heart......
The Cracked Pot Saul: Reflections on Acts 9:1-6
John Holbert | March 31, 2013
Rather then argue about which of the accounts of Paul's conversion is "accurate" in some......
When the messenger of the covenant shows up, he will look carefully at how we've treated......
We must seek, even demand, to see and experience God for ourselves....
Revenge is Sweet? Reflections on Genesis 45:1-15
John Holbert | August 11, 2014
Yes, revenge is sweet, but like all sweet things it is, in the end, not very good for......
Loving our enemies is not some outlandish impossibility; it is the call of a God who can......
Do not imagine that Aaron is dead; he is alive in us whenever we try to have it both......
When a prophetic word remains empty, unrelated to the powerful love and challenge of......
One cannot read the Bible's proverbs quickly; they must be savored, mused upon,......
The founders of Israel are, like us, always ready to get even, always concerned to get......
Like David, we imagine that God is ever with us, approving our actions, blessing our......
Through the death of the servant, we find a way to make the world new again....
"Here am I, send me" often is the first response to those who sense a call from God, but......
I find no joy in Luke's story of the stoning of Stephen, but his introduction of......
Why does this text hold interest for us in the 21<sup>st</sup> century? Because we, too,......
Echoes of Jesus? Reflections on 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
John Holbert | December 23, 2012
Hearing echoes of Jesus in the ancient story of the prophet Samuel....
Cracked Pots I Have Known and Loved: Reflections on...
John Holbert | September 01, 2013
The parable of the pots is less about the ability of God to respond to our good or evil......
God of the New and the Now: Jeremiah 23:1-8
John Holbert | November 15, 2010
Jeremiah points the way to a God who in continually fresh ways serves as shepherd to a......
Thomas Wolfe famously said, "You can't go home again," but the Bible suggests otherwise.......
Baptism of the Lord: Reflections on Isaiah 42:1-9
John Holbert | December 25, 2010
The collectors of the lectionary chose this first servant song to help the preacher......
The stories of Israel in the desert are profoundly theological, asking their successors,......
In this less-preached text related to Passion Sunday, the preacher should focus on the......
What do you think of this Dr. Doolittle God, a God who talks to the animals and includes......
Having reduced God to a tweet ("OMG"), can we once again feel the mystery and wonder of......
What do locust plagues have to do with our Lenten journey? Our Old Testament scholar......
What is a 21st-century Christian to make of the fiery serpents and snake-pole healings......
Why including the Lectionary's Old Testament reading from Acts in your Easter sermon --......
Hello, Is This God? Reflections on 1 Samuel 3:1-10
John Holbert | January 12, 2012
Can any human finally know if the words that fall from her or his lips are in fact the......
A Prophet Gone Bad: Reflections on Jonah 3:1-5, 10
John Holbert | January 19, 2012
Read this story at your peril and laugh at the antics of its main character, but know......
God is continuously raising up new masters to serve, offering to them a double portion......
While Amos's unremitting tone of fury is hardly what any of us hunger to hear, we must......
As painful and difficult as the metaphor of Gomer is, she holds the key to YHWH in her......
Preaching Healing, Not Hate
John Holbert | April 17, 2012
Like that old hymn, our charge is to join Jesus in "making the wounded whole," healing......
Is our God far too small, far too explainable, far too graspable? We need the God of......
A Very High Bar Indeed: Reflections on The Ten...
John Holbert | September 29, 2014
Preachers, you and I have a problem, as the old Ten roll around again. We utter the Ten......
Advent is not the time for fear, for hiding, for arming oneself against some foe. Advent......
I have long found this remarkable text to be the antidote to a would-be prophet of God......
Sometimes love means not sweetness and light but a challenge to the beloved to cease......
For Christians there is only one Suffering Servant. The goal of Good Friday is not to......
Taking Off the Veil: Reflections on Exodus 34:29-35
John Holbert | February 03, 2013
When we remove our veils, we can see most clearly God's gift of light and hope for our......
According to Luke, "Christian family" has little to do with abortion or the choice of......
There can be no real dialogue with those with whom we do not agree unless we can imagine......
1 Samuel 16 is about God choosing a deeply flawed human being to be King. It is also......
Why the Israelites' resurrection story is as important this Easter Sunday as the one......
For those of us who have heard the call of our God to leadership, this passage gives us......
Getting Unstuck: Reflections on Isaiah 43:16-21
John Holbert | March 07, 2016
The next time you pass through one desert or another, keep a sharp eye out for a river......
I used to revel in the rousing anthems and loud hosannas of Easter morning. Now,......
We need a larger sense of the resurrection! We need a celebration that announces that we......
When I was in seminary, we were told that the Psalms were not a fit subject for a......
There are and always will be wise leaders who speak the hard word of truth into ears who......
God's Odd Choices: Reflections on Jeremiah 1:4-10
John Holbert | January 29, 2013
When you look at the events that have brought you to where you are now, one thing is......
In the midst of warring times, we find a portrait in Micah of an ancient one who is to......
The Time of the End? Reflections on Daniel 12:1-3
John Holbert | November 06, 2015
You want to act for God? It has nothing at all to do with codes, or great mysteries, or......
The verdict is clear enough; we are and remain guilty of denial of YHWH until we begin......
We are Ezekiel's dry bones, waiting for a fresh breath of the spirit to give us new......
Reflections on Isaiah 65:17-25
John Holbert | November 10, 2013
Not to sound like Scrooge, but I hope you can remind your congregation that what we want......
The prophet Haggai preaches hope in the midst of hopeless ruin, a future in the midst of......
These more obscure corners of the biblical tradition can yield some very important and......
To be progressive is not to be bound by traditional ways and beliefs. Here my hero is......
A Grace-Filled God: Reflections on Genesis 6
John Holbert | June 19, 2011
The God of strict justice who brought the flood has now become the God of grace who......
Genuine Leadership: Reflections on Exodus 32:1-14
John Holbert | October 03, 2011
The so-called "story of the golden calf" is far more than that -- it's the story of......
God is always available, attentive, attuned to those who work for justice. God is far......
Justice, Not Worship: Reflections on Micah 6:1-8
John Holbert | January 20, 2011
Those of us who spend any time with the Bible have learned never to imagine that the......
Parenting "Fail"? or Not?
John Holbert | July 31, 2013
Sometimes the lessons will be learned and lived, but sometimes the students will leave......
What I thought might kill me became for me the way of healing. But I have still much......
The Power of Devotion: Reflections on Ruth 1:1-18
John Holbert | October 28, 2012
Ruth is like the YHWH she has chosen to embrace, a YHWH who will never depart from us......
Being able to recite Psalm 23 is one thing, but actually understanding what it is really......
A Rejected Stone? Reflections on Psalm 118:14-29
John Holbert | March 29, 2016
"Put not your trust in princes" should be emblazoned on all of our hearts this political......
This Ash Wednesday, why not sing, "Ashes, ashes, we all stand <em>up</em>" for those who......
Would not Jeremiah cast a withering glance in our direction today and boom an oracle at......
When we choose to sing that ubiquitous hymn, saying "Here I am, Lord," we had better be......
The garden in Genesis 2 depends on us as much as we depend on it. There is one idea for......
The Bible rarely if ever says, "Be like this or that character." It rather says, "You......
Just what sort of fast does YHWH want? Hint: Not one that majors in public displays of......
I happen to like Transfiguration Sunday myself, primarily because of its spookiness.......
An Irony at Easter: Reflections on Psalm 133
John Holbert | April 07, 2015
Being an Easter person is never a simple thing, and we must never assume that Jesus'......
Thy Kingdom Come: Reflections on Isaiah 65:17-25
John Holbert | November 09, 2010
I want to be honest with you; sometimes when I say "Thy Kingdom Come" in the Lord's......
The Hope of New Vision
John Holbert | December 03, 2010
First, God is "enraged against all the nations" (Isaiah 34:2) and then God is making the......
It's Your Call: Reflections on Exodus 3:1-15
John Holbert | August 18, 2011
From Gideon to Isaiah to Jeremiah to Ezekiel, God's call to service is regularly met......
What Child is This?: Reflections on the Christmas...
John Holbert | December 19, 2011
So, if the great light has truly come for us, how can the world see in us the reality of......
Grumbling at God: Reflections on Exodus 17:1-7
John Holbert | September 18, 2011
Exactly what does this powerful memory of complaining, repeated several times in several......
The story of Deborah shows the surprising way of our God, who does not always use the......
Keeping Us Free: Reflections on the Ten Commandments
John Holbert | September 22, 2011
The commandment says "you must not kill." Why? Because life and death belong to God, not......
The Prince of Peace: Reflections on Isaiah 9:1-4
John Holbert | January 14, 2011
This Son will seek not the implements of battles and power, but rather the authority of......
It is so easy to read the book of Deuteronomy as a simplistic guide to health, wealth,......
How do you preach on the Ten Commandments during Lent?...
Does the popular and beloved 23rd Psalm really say what we think it says?...
Genesis 15 is both troubling and immensely hopeful. Here, I'll discuss a bit of both......
The work of justice is not only for the famous, the public, or the notorious; it is all......
According to Amos, while the poor are forgotten and the needy are shoved aside, no......
The Winning Light of God: Reflections on Epiphany
John Holbert | January 02, 2013
Those of us who preach are in the same business as Isaiah and Matthew, offering our......
Our old way of reading Job needs a more active "seeing," if we hope to catch sight of......
The servant Jesus called his followers to attend to all, not just to some, not just to......
What does the passion of Holy Week teach us about the way we're to live in this world?...
How easily does our gracious laughter turn to angry arrogance when the shoe is now on......
Our "Opening the Old Testament" columnist reflects on the biblical implications for our......
The hope of the birth at Christmas is that God is with us in the midst of our greatest......
We "sheep" desperately need a shepherd....
Psalm 47 is a deeply political psalm, as is the Ascension of the Lord....
Why is it so hard to hard for us to accept that the Song of Songs is simply a bawdy and......
The birth of Jesus is for all people: gays and straights, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and......
The Bible often presents us with surprising actions and characters, dashing our common......
To add immeasurably to the discussion of Easter Day, I would suggest that the preacher......
Why is Psalm 16, an odd little poem about kidneys, hearts, and pulses, read on the......
A Song for Creation: Reflections on Psalm 104
John Holbert | June 05, 2011
God loves, adores the creation, all of it, all the clacking, buzzing, whistling,......
God Returning: Advent Reflections on Isaiah 61
John Holbert | December 05, 2011
The one to come is in every sense of the word returning to us. The question always is......
If I may stretch our Bible just a bit, let me suggest that Isaiah 62 contains both......
Strange Relations: Advent Reflections on 2 Samuel 7
John Holbert | December 13, 2011
This story we celebrate each Advent is so odd, so unexpected, that it is a wonder that......