August 1, 2016

There’s a dangerous political subtext that runs through New Testament. When Herod slaughtered the children in Bethlehem, it was a political act. He was afraid that, when Israel found out its Messiah had been born, his power and influence would be usurped. To the magi who had traveled from the east to see the new king, he suggested that he wanted the Messiah’s location so that he could come and worship. In the end, he slaughtered every child under two-years-old…. Read more

July 16, 2016

It’s incredible that communication is possible at all. Every one of us is one island in an archipelago—a profoundly complex world separated by an immense expanse. We’re all trapped in our own minds as we struggle and make sense of the world around us. It’s not easy to share our inner world with each other. We have to take all of these complex emotions, mental images, and bits of information and convert them into a language. This is no small task. It’s difficult enough to… Read more

July 2, 2016

“Do you renounce Satan and all his works?” “I do renounce them.” “. . . and all his works?” “I do renounce them.” In one of the most profound scenes in cinematic history, Michael Corleone stands in as Godfather for his nephew Micheal Francis Rizzi’s baptism. The movie intercuts the priest’s questions with scenes of the murder of the rival mafia heads. To give him an alibi, Corleone has planned the killings to coincide with the baptism. It’s a quizzical, emotionally… Read more

April 5, 2016

It’s probably no surprise that many people associate the word “Christian” with the word “hypocrite.” Christians have developed a reputation for saying one thing and doing another. Anton LaVey, the founder of the church of Satan and the author of The Satanic Bible, attributes his philosophic origins to his early exposure to Christian duplicity. While playing the calliope for traveling carnivals and organ for subsequent tent-revival meetings, he watched it play out every weekend. “On Saturday night, I would see men lusting after half-naked girls dancing… Read more

February 17, 2016

Jesus sat in a shaded outcropping of rocks as the heat rose off the desert floor in distorted waves. After forty days of fasting, starvation was beginning to set in, and with it, a tired lethargy. It was in this desperate state that the tempter appeared. These tests of the devil are not the enticements we typically associate with “temptation;” they’re not related to leisure and diversion.  Instead, they offer Jesus alternative routes to fulfill his legacy and calling. Like all temptations, they leverage… Read more

February 12, 2016

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.—Matthew 4:1 I can’t imagine the silence of the desert. In fact, I can’t really imagine silence at all. Let me tell you about my typical day: I wake in the morning and scroll through my phone while I chat with my wife. As she gets ready for work, I’ll turn the news on and keep staring at my phone. When she leaves, I will… Read more

February 6, 2016

I’m tired to death of self-help, formulaic Christianity. For the last 25 years, I have sat through sermons and conferences, and read books and articles that imply a cause and effect relationship between Christian expectations and my personal happiness and fulfillment. We’ve been force-fed Christian steps to better health, more successful businesses, stronger interpersonal relationships, and unlimited joy. And even though these steps never exactly deliver, we keep showing up to receive more. But when I stop and think about John the… Read more

January 30, 2016

The second chapter of Matthew demonstrates a powerful lesson that we’ve never bothered to learn. This instruction’s delivered using a tale of some well-intentioned protagonists caught in the web of a deceitful and monstrous villainy. The story opens upon our heroes: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have… Read more

January 28, 2016

Matthew gets a lot of love for his inclusion of women into Jesus’ genealogy (Matt. 1:1–17), and rightly so. It’s a big thumb in the eye of a strongly patriarchal culture where women were chattel. With this in mind, however, I find the omission of a lot of Mary’s story surprising. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the… Read more

January 7, 2016

I committed to write my way through Matthew. But honestly, nothing dampens your enthusiasm like having to start with a genealogy. I’m not ashamed to say that I tend to scan them if I bother reading them at all. I mean, come on. I don’t even know the name of the people three generations back in my own family tree. Our culture doesn’t really care where we came from . . . or where we’re going. So despite the fact that I know that all Scripture… Read more

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