May 9, 2011

Part 4 of series: What Was the Message of Jesus? In my last post in this series, I began to clarify the core message of Jesus: “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). Our word “kingdom,” it turns out, misses the precise sense of Jesus’ own language. What he proclaimed was not the approach of a place where God rules (our typical sense of “kingdom”), but rather the dawning of God’s kingly authority on earth. Thus, when we… Read more

May 8, 2011

Listen to My Prayer, O God! Psalm 54:1-7 Listen to my prayer, O God. Pay attention to my plea. Psalm 54:2 When I first moved to Texas, I was impressed by road signs I had not seen in California. One read: “Drive Friendly – The Texas Way.” You sure don’t see that in California, I thought to myself. Another sign read, “Don’t Mess with Texas.” The footnote on the sign clarified the intent: “Up to $2000 fine for littering.” One… Read more

May 7, 2011

Electronic Devices Redefine Quality Family Time In “Quality Time, Redefined,” Alex Williams reports on the impact of digital devices on family relationships. Here are some provocative excerpts: CERTAINLY, people have been hyper-wired as long as there have been laptops, and the tendency became more pronounced with the advent of wireless Internet. Nearly 60 percent of American families with children own two or more computers, and more than 60 percent of those have either a wired or wireless network to connect… Read more

May 7, 2011

My new column at the Patheos Preachers Portal is up. It is the fourth and final part of my thoughts about pastoral loneliness.  Here’s the beginning: ________________________________________ Essential Relationships for Pastors: The Loneliness of Pastoring, Part 4 This is the fourth and final installment in a series on “The Loneliness of Pastoring.” Let me offer a short recap of what I’ve covered so far. Part One reflected on the recent suicide of a pastor I knew and how it underscores… Read more

May 6, 2011

Part 3 of series: What Was the Message of Jesus? In my last post in the series, What Was the Message of Jesus?, I explained that the core of Jesus’ preaching was the good news of the kingdom of God. This is summarized succinctly in Mark 1:15, where Jesus proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Of course this summary leads to an obvious follow-up question: What… Read more

May 5, 2011

Note: This post is my Daily Reflection for May 5, 2011. The Daily Reflections are part of The High Calling. To receive a reflection in your inbox each morning, visit this page. Biblical Passage “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:13) Reflection How do you feel when you come before God in prayer? How do… Read more

May 5, 2011

Part 2 of series: What Was the Message of Jesus? In my last post I began a multi-part series that seeks to answer the question: What was the message of Jesus? I mentioned that many people would answer this question by saying something about love, because we rightly associate Jesus’ teaching with love. But, as it turns out, love is not the core of his message, though it is close and essential to that core. What Jesus actually proclaimed, first… Read more

May 4, 2011

Part 1 of series: What Was the Message of Jesus? Just about everybody wants Jesus on their side, or so it seems. Yes, there are a few zealous atheists who seem happy to dismiss the relevance if not the historical reality of Jesus. But, for the most part, people like to claim Jesus as a supporter. This includes large numbers of secularists and Muslims, ironically enough. In the United States, Jesus is used to prop up politics on both sides… Read more

May 3, 2011

Part 3 of series: Handel’s Messiah: An Unexpected Easter Masterpiece In my last post I began examining the libretto (words) of Handel’s Messiah, showing the Easter focus of this piece. Last time I summarized the first two parts of the composition. Here’s a quick review: Part I: Prophetic expectation of the Messiah; the birth of Jesus; the shepherds; the ministry of Jesus. Part II: The passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His exaltation in heaven and sending of preachers into… Read more

May 2, 2011

Part 2 of series: Handel’s Messiah: An Unexpected Easter Masterpiece In Friday’s post I explained why Handel’s Messiah, a piece we ordinary associate with Christmas, is really an oratorio for Easter. Today, I want to begin to examine the libretto (the words of the composition) to show the strong Easter themes. The Messiah comes in three parts. I’ll provide a short summary of each part. Part I Part I focuses on the birth and life of Jesus. It begins with… Read more

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