Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  (Mark 1:14b-15)

When we think of kingdom, we often think of place, but the kingdom of God is not a place: it refers to the reign of God, or God's in-breaking, saving activity. Eschatological living means envisioning life in light of the saving activity of God in our midst -- not only what He has already done, but also what He promises to do in the future. God's kingdom is not fully manifest yet; we live between the beginning and the completion.

-- Ben Witherington III in Christianity Today, October 15, 2012


Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves -- the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us. But happiness is not a word we can understand by looking it up in the dictionary. In fact, none of the qualities of the Christian life can be learned out of a book. Something more like apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us, by his or her entire behavior, what it is. Moments of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate association with a ‘master,’ picking up subtle but absolutely essential things, such as timing and rhythm and ‘touch.’ When we read what Paul wrote to the Christian believers in the city of Philippi, we find ourselves in the company of just such a master. Paul doesn’t tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He is simply and unmistakably happy. None of his circumstances contribute to his joy: He wrote from a jail cell, his work under attack by competitors, and after twenty years or so of hard travelling in the service of Jesus, he was tired and would have welcomed some relief. But circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that Paul experiences from the inside. For it is a life that not only happened at a certain point in history, but continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of those who receive Him, and then continues to spill out all over the place. Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this ‘spilling out’ quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.

-- Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the book of Philippians in The Message


Monday, July 21, 2014


"The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world."  (Psalm 19:1-4 NLT)

In the beginning God spoke all things into being -- and for the rest of time all things are speaking of God. This is a sacramental vision of the world: God comes to us in and through the very stuff of the earth.

“Let your mind roam through the whole creation,” the influential fourth-century theologian Augustine urged; “everywhere the created world will cry out to you: ‘God made me.’… Go round the heavens again and back to the earth, leave out nothing; on all sides everything cries out to you of its Author; nay the very forms of created things are as it were the voices with which they praise their Creator.”

Caring for creation sharpens our sacramental sensing: the more we live out this practice in our daily lives, the more we see that all the earth gives testimony to “a God who is ineffably and invisibly great and ineffably and invisibly beautiful.”

-- On Our Way: Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life, edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Susan R. Briehl


Friday, July 18, 2014


Driving down a country road, I came to a very narrow bridge.  In front of the bridge, a sign was posted: "YIELD".  Seeing no oncoming cars, I continued across the bridge to my destination.

On my way back, I came to the same one-lane bridge, now from the other direction.  To my surprise, I saw another "YIELD" sign posted. "Curious," I thought, "I'm sure there was one positioned on the other side."

When I reached the other side of the bridge, I looked back. Sure enough, yield signs had been placed at both sides of the bridge.  Drivers from both directions were requested to give the other the right of way.  It was a reasonable and gracious way of preventing a head-on collision.

When the Bible commands Christians to "be subject to one another" (Ephesians 5:21) it is simply a reasonable and gracious command to let the other have the right of way and avoid interpersonal head-on collisions.

-- Stephen P. Beck


Thursday, July 17, 2014


"Then Jesus wept." (John 11:35 NLT)

[After the death of a loved one] we pull ourselves together when we need to. We do the things that have to be done. But we need to give ourselves times and places in which to mourn. This is strength, not weakness.

-- Madeline L'Engle in Two-Part Invention