From Good Gifts to Gods

“Every gift of God is to be enjoyed as from God and not as a god.”1 Twice when I sold houses, I struggled to let go of them. They had clearly been arranged by the Lord and I doubted whether He could ever match His provision again. In some ways I had turned a good […]

Trials and Temptations

“No pain, no gain.” That’s a saying many athletes like. They might like the words that James launched into his letter to Jewish followers of Jesus with. Others might cringe. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (peirasmos), knowing that the testing (dokimion) of your faith produces endurance (hypomone). Blessed is a man who perseveres (hypomone […]

Plans in Context

One of the hardest temptations to resist is the temptation to selectively hear God’s words. Ignoring the context of God’s promised plans for good makes those plans seem unconditional. Here’s a common example showing how it works: “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not […]

Parable of the Idols

“Lord, why am I often so dull and undiscerning of spiritual things?” That was my prayer once. And I think He answered me, starting with the parable of the soils. This parable explains how all parables are a secret heart check-up. Some hearts are receptive to the truth of the kingdom of God; many hearts are dull […]

Mary’s Treasured Things

Every mother remembers the details of her pregnancies: each visit to the doctor, finding out the gender, what she was doing when she went into labor, and those statistics of birth weight, length and presence or absence of hair etc. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was no exception. But she had much more to remember and many […]

Fantasies and Freezing Rain

Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:2) Fantasies work like freezing rain. When raindrops that are below freezing temperature touch another surface they instantly crystallize. They might hit a vehicle, a roadway, […]

Love Trumps?

Playing Whist for an hour a day for five years while riding the school bus taught me (and won me) a trick or two. One lesson was about the importance of trumps. In Whist, every player wants cards of the trump suit in their hand. Trumps, as the name implies, triumph over other cards and […]

Kites without Strings

The Kite Festival at Lincoln City on the Oregon coast is worth a visit. Hundreds of multi-colored kites in an unbelievable range of designs swoop and swirl between blue sky and golden sand. The simple ones tug on a single string. Skilled flyers maneuver the larger and more complex models using two or more strong […]

A Sigh at Sunrise

Nothing can stop the Lord answering those who cry out to Him sincerely. Psalm 130 begins with an anguished cry for the Lord to meet some deep request; it ends with unswerving hope. Sin might separate us for a while but repentance breaks the power of iniquity (straying from or twisting the abundant life that […]

My Identity Box

I like my box. It contains my life, defines who I am, gives me identity. There is nothing fancy about it. It has some flaws, dents and scratches, but it feels cozy and secure inside. It’s bigger than some of your boxes. And, yes, smaller than others (but we won’t talk about that). I’m working […]