2 Corinthians 5:17-18  “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

When my husband and I start getting excited about some new endeavor, we get carried away talking about the plans. At some point one of us quotes a one liner from the movie True Stories, “I personally believe I can see Fort Worth from here.”  It’s kind of obscure as far as jokes go, but we’re poking fun at the way our imagination wanders—as though saying what we’ll do makes it so.  Unlike this quip, these verses in 2 Corinthians say we are something new. What we had been is now gone.  This is an unbelievable claim! Continue reading

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You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.  Galatians 5:4-6

By faith we wait for the hope of righteousness.  When I think of faithfulness I usually think of the ways I’m not faithful.  For some reason the word immediately draws my attention away from the concept of grace to the opposite concept–my failures.  This reveals that I have a faulty idea of what faithfulness is, because these verses are saying we do not become justified by works, but the only thing that matters is faith working itself out in love. Continue reading

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Startling Humility


John 13:1-5; 20-21
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.

This preamble to the washing of the disciples feet starts out with a lot of subtext.  It says Jesus is aware that his hour has come, he will soon be crucified.  Then the verses move on to say that the devil had already entered Judas to incite him to betray Jesus. The passage goes back to Jesus reflecting on who he is, his mission and his relationship with God.  After doing that he washes the disciples feet—including Judas.  That piece can get lost in the mix because our focus is often on the interaction Jesus has with Peter, but Judas is also there.

Something inside of me wants this to not be how it went down.  Continue reading

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Worry: Not Allowed


Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7,  NASB

Sometimes it’s tempting to use the Bible like a “Christianity for Dummies” with step by step instructions on how to do Christianity.  We can’t do Christianity that way.  The Bible is more like a really long letter from a person who’s rescuing us and who loves us. When people use the Bible like a car manual, this is a favorite verse because its so plain and there are clear instructions that are so easy to foll……  Wait a minute—this is one of the most difficult instructions in the Bible to actually follow (aside from “be perfect like my heavenly father is perfect”). Continue reading

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For the Joy


Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the people of Israel, Rahab, Gideon,  Samson, David, Samuel and the prophets…

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 11:39 – 12:1-2, NIV

This list of notable Bible characters comes at the end of a chapter in Hebrews describing how these people lived and died for their faith.  The writer then says we are surrounded by this “cloud of witnesses” and because of that we should also follow God faithfully. Continue reading

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Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread


You’ve been walking for two weeks.  The horizon in front of you looks just as desolate as the one behind.  Your family is road weary.  Your small daughter is crying because she’s hungry.  “When can we go home?” asks your son.  You haven’t fully explained to your children that they’re never going back home.  The thought of having to watch your children die is just a little more than you can bear.  It seemed like God himself was asking you to leave the only home you and your family have known.  What’s worse is you didn’t even hear God’s voice for yourself, you took a man’s word for it—a self-proclaimed prophet.  He said lives were at stake and we needed to follow all of his instructions carefully.  Now in the face of starvation, the doubts and anger come rushing to the surface.

“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:3, NIV

Why didn’t those silly Hebrews see God’s provision ahead of time?  Of course God wouldn’t suddenly abandon them.  Of course Moses was God’s chosen man—it’s Moses for goodness sakes.  In our shortsightedness we might not stop to think that any of us would be in a state of panic in that circumstance. Continue reading

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