Category Archives: Giffones in Lithuania

Our journey to LCC International University in Klaipėda, Lithuania

Travels and Transitions

It’s been a very long time since I’ve shared a personal update on this blog–or really, anything other than sermons and links to publications. I suppose I have been so busy living life–surviving, if not always flourishing–that I have not always had time to process and share.

But it seems an appropriate time to share some important news, and what the past few months have looked like, and what we’re looking ahead to in the months to come. Continue reading

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Sermon: “Those Who Sigh and Groan” (Ezekiel 8-9)

Our passage for today is one that has been rattling around in my head for the last two years, and I’m finally collecting my thoughts to say something about it. It’s kind of like an expose, a bit of “hidden camera footage” that shows what the religious leaders of Israel were doing in secret, in the Jerusalem temple, in its last days before it was destroyed. They thought that they could use their power to do whatever they wanted, and that no one would see—including God. We will see from this passage that God does act to stop those in power from abusing their power in secret. And there is a message for us who don’t always have “inside access”: how are we supposed to react to corruption? And, how can we look to Jesus as an example of how to live faithfully in a sinful world? Continue reading

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Sermon: “Hide the Fugitives!” (Isaiah 15:8–16:5)

The church is Jesus’s household, his kingdom on earth. We should absolutely be a place of refuge for refugees and those fleeing for their lives—just as the Davidic kings of ancient Judah could be a safe place for Moabites and others from all over the world. Continue reading

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Sermon: “Oh, That You Would Rend the Heavens!” (Isaiah 63:7-64:12)

The prayer in Isaiah 63–64 is a great example because the faithful prophet knows what his people need: they need God to change their hearts, and they need God to be near to them. It is passionate, and thoughtful, and based on God’s promises to his people. It’s also beautiful for us to think about how God answered this prayer: including in ways that his people did not expect. Continue reading

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Epiphany Sermon: “Nations Shall Come to Your Light” (Isaiah 60:1-14)

This was YHWH God’s purpose all along in calling Israel to be his people: that his glory would be shown in their midst, and the nations would see and be attracted to it. Very often, Israel failed to live up to God’s glory—as we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. None of us is worthy to carry forth God’s glory into the world. In Isaiah 60, despite all that Israel, Judah and Jerusalem had done to bring shame on God’s name: God still displayed his glory through them. In Matthew 2: despite all that the Jews, and all that humanity, had done to dishonor God: God still chose to be born a Jewish baby, a human baby, and to show his glory in the world through Jesus Christ. Continue reading

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Advent Sermon: “He Will Stand and Shepherd His Flock” (Micah 4:9-5:6)

The fact that Micah mentions “the land of Nimrod” is not just trying to be more specific—“Oh, you mean that Assyria, the one founded by Nimrod.” It’s reminding us of the rebellion and evil that Nimrod spread throughout the world. But this king from Bethlehem who would bring peace and lead Israel, will not just defend his people from outside attacks, although that is part of it. In the first part of verse 6, we see that he will lead the people to the gates of Assyria, the land of Nimrod, the heart of the land where evil dwells. In other words, he is going to lead an attack, to take the fight to the evil land—and he will win! Continue reading

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Seminar on Old Testament, in English and Lithuanian

This summer, I was honored with the invitation to speak at a retreat for one of our sister churches in Vilnius, 180º Bažnyčia (Church). This Saturday seminar was in two parts and is titled, “How Can Christians Make Sense of the Old Testament?” (“Kaip krikščionys supranta Senąjį Testamentą?”) 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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