God is on Your Side


18th Sunday after Pentecost: Psalm 124

This short Psalm is a Psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord, who delivered the people of Israel from certain death. I don’t know if this was originally written about a specific victory. Psalm 124 is one of the Psalms of Ascent, which were sung each year as the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem for Passover. This song reminded each generation to remember God as their deliverer from many instances of oppression. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions. Tagged with , , , , , , , , .

Who’s the Greatest?


17th Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 9:30-37

While Jesus is teaching his disciples that his path involves a spiral of rejection and persecution, they miss that part of the lesson entirely. Instead they immediately discuss amongst themselves which of them is the greatest. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions. Tagged with , , , , , , , .

Words Will Never Hurt Me?

forest fire

16th Sunday after Pentecost: James 3:1-12 

You know the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. This little chant from the last century was used primarily to mock bullied people for being “triggered”. Or at least that would be the modern translation of this rhyme. Different words, same mockery.

At first hearing, this chant makes sense, except words do hurt. Words can do real damage. The fact that James is spending time on this issue means this social dynamic isn’t new. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions. Tagged with , , , , , , .

Defender of the Poor

15th Sunday after Pentecost: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

This lectionary selection pulls these three proverb “couplets” that all relate to how we treat the poor. In fact, all of the lectionary readings for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost include the theme of caring for the poor or standing up for the oppressed. This is one of my favorite themes found in the Bible. While following God doesn’t align with any political party, Scripture is clear that God cares about the poor and the oppressed. How we care for the poor in our context may vary, but we should care. We should take the time to consider how to use whatever power we have to help those with less power. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions. Tagged with , , , , , , , .

Rules Much?

task list

14th Sun after Pentecost: James 1:17-27

This letter sounds a little harsher and rules oriented than many of the other letters found in the New Testament. Sure, the other letters have rules, but they’re also relational and include encouragements. Before jumping into this text, it would be good to zoom out a bit and look at the style of the writing. James is categorized as wisdom literature, the same style found in the book of Proverbs. So, instead of having the tone of explaining the faith, James is urging this community to examine their ethics and to take action. Wisdom literature speaks in extremes, comparing good and bad, right and wrong. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions. Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , .

Armor, really?

armor, really?

13th Sun after Pentecost: Ephesians 6:10-20

This Biblical passage is quoted often. This encouragement has inspired many sermons, children’s costumes, and for some a prayer practice of mentally putting on the armor. It seems like we gravitate to these instructions in America, because they imply a sentiment of war or striking back. The individual-centric picture of putting on armor is attractive to independent people.

I feel like the imagery of this text is often remembered out of context. This has fueled a false picture of Christianity as one where throughout history we have justified warring against unbelievers (and believers who disagree with us)—a dangerous premise that has cost the lives of many people whom God also loves. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions. Tagged with , , , , , , , , , .