Category Archives: Discipleship

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 […]

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 […]

Anger and Violence

What do you think? Are anger and violence expressions of power or of weakness? Moses explosive outburst against an Egyptian slave-driver was about as fruitful as an expensive firework. The loss of a taskmaster didn’t weaken pharaoh. The Hebrews sneered. Moses ran for his life. How counterproductive our self-efforts can be! Now it came about […]

Wild Butterflies

I have often wondered why there is confusion in the Christian life between what God does for us and our own continuous struggle. Paul’s words to the Philippians capture the tension well: Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to […]

Are you the salt of the earth?

Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:34-35) Forget the tiny white grains that you sprinkle on your food. In Bible times, long […]