Pursuing Biblical God: Reflecting on God, the Bible, His Church, and Us
The Benefits of Group Bible Study We Should Study God’s Word in Community and Expect Significant Outcomes Have you ever been part of a group Bible study? Over the years I’ve experienced many, but they always felt lacking. I never stuck with them for the long-term, preferring to study the Bible with just me and […]
Be Thankful (Visiting Church #33) We only recently learned of today’s congregation, discovering them in a printed directory of churches. Their rural location seems further removed from us than our 8.8 mile drive. Their scripture for today is Habakkuk 3:17-19. Verse 17 recaps the dire conditions of the day, with a transition occurring in verse […]
Nine Guys Named Simon in the Bible In the last post, we talked about the disciple Simon, who Jesus named Peter. I only know of one person called Peter in the Bible, but there are several guys named Simon in the Bible. Simon Peter (the disciple) Simon the Zealot (another disciple, which may be why […]
Will God Ever Tell Us Not to Pray? Even If We Don’t Understand Why God Tells Us to Do Something We Should Do It Anyway After giving Jeremiah a stinging message to tell the people, God gives a personal message to his prophet. He says, “You are not to pray for these people.” He says […]
Why Getting a Sunday Sabbath Rest Is Essential Something Is Wrong If I Wake Up Monday Morning Unprepared to Embrace My Week The Old Testament talks a lot about the Sabbath, the final day of the week. God—through the Old Testament writers, especially Moses—tells us to keep the Sabbath holy and to rest. But this […]
A Simple Gesture (Visiting Church #32) We ascend the steps of the church, and a gregarious woman approaches. She’s wearing a white vestment, and I spy a clerical collar underneath. We’ve never been received so cordially. She thanks us for visiting and asks if we’re familiar with the Episcopal Church. We say no. She smiles […]
Four Johns but One Mark In “Another Man with Two Names” we talked about a guy known as John Mark. Although no one knows why he’s called John Mark, it does distinguish him from other men in the Bible named John. John In addition to John Mark, I count four guys in the Bible with […]
Can the God of Creation Control the Sun? Justifying Bible Accounts Through Human Reasoning Limits God’s Power As Joshua leads the nation of Israel into the promised land, they defeat Gibeon in a most amazing battle. Though Joshua’s army does its part, God plays an even bigger role. He orchestrates a hailstorm that pelts the […]
Why I Don’t Dress Up for Church—Anymore May My Clothes Never Keep a Visitor from Encountering God My parents, especially my mom, taught me to dress up for church. That’s what people did when I was a kid, and I didn’t question it—even though I’m still looking for a biblical command to do so. Never […]
A Traditional Yet Modern Service (Visiting Church #31) It’s Saturday, and we head to church, a Seventh Day Adventist gathering. The focal point of the sanctuary is a large stained glass array. Modern and abstract it portrays an arm reaching up, with a dove upon an open hand. I’m not sure if the dove is […]
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Who is Jude? In the Bible, there is only one mention of a man named Jude. That lone reference occurs in the opening greeting of the letter that he wrote. However, Jude is a variation of Judas. Apparently, Judas was a common name two thousand years ago: Judas Iscariot: who betrayed Jesus Judas (not Judas […]
Jesus Will Return Unexpectedly: Are We Ready for His Return? The End Will Come Unexpectedly Like a Thief in the Night John’s epic vision that he records in the book of Revelation includes many perplexing allusions. One is a warning that Jesus will return unexpectedly, like a thief (Revelation 16:15). Note that this doesn’t say […]
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Make a Difference by Having a Meaningful Spiritual Conversation We Can Impact Others by Being Intentional with Our Words Are we someone who others want to talk to about spiritual matters? Are we open to pursue a meaningful spiritual conversation? A Timely Phone Call As I made lunch, my phone rang. Few people have my […]
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Enthusiastic Faith (Visiting Church #30) As people drift in, excitement mounts. Anticipation surrounds us. The church seats about 150, with perhaps seventy present, although their milling about makes it seem fuller. Most of the men wear coats and ties, with most women in dresses. All age groups are present. A choir opens the service, singing […]
Philemon and His Friends The short, often overlooked book of Philemon is tucked towards the end of the New Testament, nestled between letters to Titus and to the Hebrews. Philemon and Onesimus Philemon is a letter written by Paul to his friend Philemon about a man of mutual interest, Onesimus. The short version is that […]
Do You Have Life? Whoever has the Son has life In the first of John’s three letters, he writes to the early followers of Jesus, reminding them of God’s essential message about Jesus, light, and life. Jesus, by the way, is the light and he gives life. So amid John’s poetic flare, his words all […]
How Can We Be Children of God if Jesus is the Only Son of God? Discover How God Can Have One Son and Have Many Sons (and Daughters) Too The Bible calls Jesus the Son of God. We see this in forty New Testament verses from speakers ranging from his disciples to his detractors, including […]
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A Laity Led Service (Visiting Church #29) The lighting of three candles ceremonially begins today’s service. The pastor is gone and a lay speaker is filling in. She opens with announcements and some updates. Then we sing to organ accompaniment. Another layperson leads us in a liturgical call to worship. We sing a second song […]
Are You the Criminal on the Cross Next to Jesus? When Jesus is executed, two criminals are executed with him, one on either side. While we don’t know what these two men did to deserve the death penalty, we can assume it must have been something really bad, such as murder or insurrection. Luke’s report […]
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Does Jesus Offend You? Though many people like an easy Jesus, not everyone accepts what he says Jesus normally teaches the masses in parables. Though most don’t really understand what he means, they like his stories because they’re so countercultural. Inaddition, he sometimes gives them food and heals them. He’s a cool speaker who does […]