The image above serves probably looks like a generic leaf to most people, but to me it is an entire sermon.
The first thing we know about God and His character—before anything else—was that He created, profoundly speaking the very existence of something into being without canvas, brush, paint, wood, metal or even clay for that matter.
Have you ever stopped to consider how experiences in your childhood may have impacted your perceptions of God?
Harari assumes a God-of-the-gaps approach to science and progress generally; he assumes that, because we now know how things like disease, weather, and war arise and function, we can no longer chalk these things up to God’s Will. Though this is a faulty assumption—just because we know about the biochemistry of sickle cell anemia doesn’t mean it cannot be part of God’s plan—it is not an uncommon one, especially in scientific humanism.
The nations surrounding Israel can praise Yahweh not because of any suffering, pain, or judgment they are currently experiencing, but because of what God has done with Israel—and through repentance and faith and the ongoing plan of God, what God can do with them as well.
After years of persecution, years of praying, years of crying out to God, years of waiting… God shows up and fights for his people just when all hope is gone.
Our God is a God that loves to burst forth. God created flowers that burst forth from buds, butterflies that burst forth from cocoons, and dogs that burst forth from open doors to run around the yard at the end of a long day.
Life is hard. Loss is part of it. Pain is part of it. But: the one who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps, and we are not alone. The psalmist certainly knew that sometimes it’s important to look back at where we’ve been and what we’ve been through, so that we can see how God has “brought us out into a spacious place.”
I wish I had kept Psalm 102 at the ready for such a time as this. This psalm voices deep anguish of the body and the spirit, something to which we can all relate in ways big or small.
When confronted with distress in others, words dry up in our throats. If the words we seek do come out, they sometimes seem awkward or out of place. Thus, the best commentary on the prayer of Psalm 102:1-12 may be the blank page. Silence.
Psalm 31 gives us the opportunity to explore and express our lives of faith.
How often do we still make our God an easy god? We can manipulate the theology of calling and vocation to make it a rubber stamp on our ambitions. We can cheapen grace until the very concept of sin seems old-fashioned.
The Creator provides in the extraordinary way, like the crossing of the Red Sea, and God provides in the ordinary with daily bread. The Lord is present in their waking in the morning, in their walking in the wilderness, and in their slumber in the night.
The Biblical mantra reminds us over and over again what it means to be in covenantal relationship with God. It is not a privilege to be flaunted, but a sacred obligation to be for each other.
Does our soul pant for God in the same way that a dog that has been playing outside on a hot summer day pants for a bowl of cold water? Do we really long for fellowship with God? Or do we just take a sip as we pass by out of habit, rather than because we are really thirsty?
How difficult must that message have been, and how difficult is it to hear the same in our lives? Our trials may be significant, but our passage today reminds us that we serve a God who will surely deliver us.
What can I do? This isn’t just a question about preventing the same thing from happening; it’s about trying to generalize, to learn how to do better in any situation, especially how we can uphold values like human life and justice when they are tested to their limits.
I was struck by this quote, because I have heard it said before that “Christian” is great as a noun, but pretty lousy as an adjective.
All of life is worship, but can we draw a distinction between glorifying God through our lives and the intentional activity of practicing worship? My answer is yes.
What is the true result of a God-pleasing fast? Personal piety? Outward signs of humility? Merit and recognition from God and others? No. The true result of a God-pleasing fast is justice, equity and freedom, both physically and spiritually, amongst humankind.
It seems to me that this distinction between knowing about and knowing relationally applies to more than just the nonhuman creation (or nature, if you will). It also applies to our relationships with others, with ourselves and with God.
In my research work I am regularly able to live life on the frontier, in an unfamiliar land, as an immigrant and an explorer. Day-in and day-out I get to experience the unfamiliarity which is so rewarding and exciting, satisfying the insatiable appetite to do something daring.
As a pastor, I always kind of dreaded the big holidays….I felt like I had prepared a message and service that was woefully inadequate.
I am a medicinal biochemist, which means I discover new medicines and seek to understand how the medicine affects the physiology of diseased cells. Am I playing God when I do these experiments? Can CRISPR be used to bring glory to God? Is part of God’s unveiling of God’s kingdom the fact that we now have a glimmer into how God creates or redeems creation?
While the law may assume rationality, it’s a fair question whether people are really all that rational. At the same time, if we so often behave irrationally, how is it that we are competent to judge something like reasonableness?
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