Category Archives: Bible-Theology

A Wise and Understanding People

Under what terms of engagement should we as Christian researchers join the broader academy in this search for knowledge? In research, we stand on the shoulders of, and beside, other scholars in our fields. Besides the general imperative to conduct our research ethically—do the premises and aims of our research overlap with those of other convictions? Continue reading

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Love of Wisdom

This is the next in a series of pastoral reflections from 2020 about academic research: “Researching Christianly.” Read the first post, “It Must Not Be This Way Among You.” The terminal degree in most of our fields is doctor of … Continue reading

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Sermon: “I Have Dealt With You for My Name’s Sake” (Ezekiel 20:30-44)

The elders in Ezekiel’s day were at a loss as to how to approach God. Their guilt was before them, and everything that YHWH said through Ezekiel was abundantly true. Continuing to the time of Jesus: How did God deal with his sinful people, still in exile, still oppressed by the Romans and their gods, and victims of their own sinfulness? There seemed to be no way out.
But God, who was rich in mercy, provided a solution for his people, in Christ. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days, as Israel was for 40 years. Jesus went into “exile,” the death of a cross, separation from his father. Not because he deserved it, but because he chose to take our sin upon himself. Jesus “passed under the rod of the Father’s anger” for us! Jesus did so, so that he could bring his people into the land, that we would be fit to bear the name of YHWH God! And, he gave us his body and blood, continuing offerings so that we can be in fellowship with God! Continue reading

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It Must Not Be This Way Among You (Series: Researching Christian-ly)

These words in particular stand out to me: “…but it is not this way among you.” In our profession, more so than in others, projecting confidence and authority tends to be rewarded; we stand in front of our students and tell them truths that they need to remember and regurgitate in order for us to authorize them to continue on in their studies. But Jesus says that the authority among the community of his followers must be exercised differently. It requires humility, sacrifice, and service. Continue reading

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Sermon: “Laws Through Which They Could Not Live” (Ezekiel 20:11-29)

If we don’t live by God’s law, the alternative is not “freedom”—it is slavery—either slavery to chaos and disorder, or to human-made law. If we will not say to God, “Let your will be done!” then God says to us, “OK, let your will be done.” We probably live in the time where at least people in the developed world have the most self-determination, but it seems to lead to depression and anxiety, rather than to liberation.
God wants us to be holy because it’s good for us, and because of his reputation. If were so consumed with God’s reputation, what would that mean for our personal discipleship—the choices we make on an hour to hour, day to day, year by year basis? For our worship? For our evangelism? We should be shouting it from the rooftops, and it should work into our lives like yeast and affect everything that we do. Continue reading

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Sermon: “Shame Rolled Away” (Ezekiel 20:1-11)

Each of us here today still lives with the scars and the effects of sin in our life: the sins that we have committed, and the sins committed against us. That is a reality of life in this fallen world. But the good news is that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, for those who believe and turn to God in repentance, we are no longer defined by our past sins. Continue reading

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Sermon: What Are You Building? (Eccl 3; 6; 7)

Things fall apart, and they don’t bear fruit like they should. Sometimes, a farmer plants a seed in the ground—and there is no rain. Sometimes, an entrepreneur builds a great business by wise decisions and honest dealings—and a hurricane wind comes through and wipes her investment away. Sometimes, a married couple tries for years and years to get pregnant—with no success. Sometimes, a single mom works for years scrubbing floors to get out of debt—and then she gets sick, can’t work, and falls right back into debt. In a broken world, wisdom, hard work and obedience to God’s law don’t always yield the results they should.
But the good news, Paul says, is that there is hope for redemption and re-creation. Human beings subjected the world entrusted to them to frustration, to futility—but because of what one perfect Human Being has done, all of creation can be reborn. The creation itself, Paul says, groans as if in labor pains, waiting for us as reborn human beings to be re-created in our resurrection bodies. In one sense, the creation has more “faith” and hope than we humans have! The trees and beasts of the field know that Jesus Christ is risen, and when he returns they will rejoice to see him restore creation to its full purpose. Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Job 42:10-17 and Isaiah 49:14-23, “Receiving Double from YHWH’s Hand”

COVID-19 and the reaction to it has caused deep divisions in our societies, and right down the middle of Christian communities as well….When we come back to meeting together, as a full church, or as an LCC family, or as societies reckoning with the effectiveness of policies (as I hope there will be investigations and evaluations, based in actual scientific understandings of how these viruses work that we had at the time), there will be anger and resentment that has to be dealt with….If we don’t, we could have a permanent division in our communities, which would be tragic.
…As we build back our lives, and build back our church community, can we think of our process as parallel to this—and also see it as an opportunity? Can we articulate our losses, express our anger and our sorrow, hear the anger and sorrow of others, and pray that God would help us to direct it and deal with it appropriately? Can we accept that nothing happens outside of God’s knowledge or control? Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Ezekiel 11:14-25, “I Have Been a Sanctuary”

The human desire to commune with God is very powerful, and when sacrifice according to God’s law was not available, it was very painful. Many allowed themselves to be squeezed into worshiping God on their own terms, rather than according to God’s law. But other Judeans were faithful and accepted the promise of God’s continuing presence through this time of suffering, a presence revealed in ways that they hadn’t seen before, and trusted that he would eventually bring this time to an end. For these Old Covenant saints who were truly seeking YHWH God, this disruption was a time of “creative destruction” that stripped away many beliefs and practices, and allowed them to see just how big and powerful YHWH truly is. Continue reading

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Online “Church”: United, or Merely Simultaneous?

If the entirety of my pre-COVID worship experience has been simply passive and receptive (hearing and observing the preaching and the musicians) while I am standing or sitting beside someone else in the assembly with whom I am barely acquainted—then there is little benefit to the incidental simultaneity of our passive reception of the information presented to us by the pastor or the worship leader. If this is all that church has been, then it is not surprising that people would feel little loss by introducing the mediating technology, i.e., receiving preaching and music while at home—with or without a pandemic. Continue reading

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