Lean In, Listen, and Learn

Or Why I Listen to NPR News Even Though I’m Not Liberal and Read Desiring God Even Though I’m Not Reformed

On occasion, I meet a new friend and quickly discover we are much alike. We have the same opinions on major issues, we love God and the Bible, and we parent in similar ways. Such people are easy to love and fun to hang out with. They encourage us to be better versions of ourselves through reinforcement of our values. That’s important.

Other times, I meet people who clearly value different things and have different opinions than me. While they may be entertaining, we don’t “click” like we would if we were more alike. The other person may not respect the Bible or be a Christ-follower. She may have been raised in a different part of the country where people just don’t think like we do here in the south, honey. He may be pursuing an alternative lifestyle.

When I meet such people, I have two choices. Continue reading

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The Blind Man’s Been Bluffed

Someone led him to his usual spot on the side of the road in Jerusalem. He made himself comfortable on this Sabbath morning and prepared to do the same thing he’d done every day for years. The same thing he expected to do every day for the next thirty years, maybe longer. It was his penance. For what, he did not know. He groped at his side for his bowl and cleared his throat. “Some alms for the blind? Can anyone spare a half-cent or a quadran?”

Sometimes people were generous, especially on holy days, when more people passed and more of them gave alms. Sometimes a wealthy man would put his hand in the bowl and rattle it but the weight of the bowl didn’t change. Strange that the poorer people never did that sort of thing. Rarely, someone would stop to talk to him; those were the best days. Continue reading

The Weight of Waiting

Imagine Hannah’s heart (1 Samuel 1) as she trudged up the hill to the temple yet again without a child. Imagine her inner struggle as to whether she should continue to believe God.

We’ve all been there: times when we were ready to go but God was ready for us to wait. It’s a unique kind of burden.

This month on Pastor’s Wives, I reflect on waiting and how God expects us to act in the meantime. Continue reading

Obedience is Not My Goal

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time had a particular way of doing almost everything. They had taken the Old Testament laws and dissected them, working out the best methods and restrictions to ensure they obeyed those laws. Their work led to piles and piles of instructions, details, stipulations, and exceptions. They even had a formula for getting dressed in the morning. If, in your morning ministrations, you skipped one of the prayers or started with the wrong foot, you had to go back and start over. There’s a mindfulness to such deliberateness, but it would have been exhausting—always worrying about prescriptive rules and working to remember every. single. thing. Continue reading

Juxtaposition

A wealthy, powerful Roman military man in a large city (Capernaum) and a poor, helpless Jewish widow outside a small town (Nain). What could these two have in common? Luke 7

An influential synagogue leader with everything to lose and a broken woman who had already lost everything. How could they share a story? Luke 8

A ritually pure home where Pharisees gathered and the home of a wealthy but despised tax collector where prostitutes and other sinners found a seat. How could the same man be comfortable in both? Luke 5 Continue reading

Nothing Much Happens in Nain

In the good-sized city of Capernaum, where Jesus was well-known, he healed a respected Roman military man’s servant without even entering the man’s home. Jesus marveled at this Gentile’s faith. Then for some unknown reason, Jesus led a huge group of people more than twenty miles away to a little town called Nain.

Nain was a small,
backwater sort of place.

It was south-east of Nazareth, not on the way to anywhere, not mentioned elsewhere in our Bible—a small, backwater sort of place. Nothing much usually happened in Nain. I imagine Jesus’ crowd doubled the population of the town. I imagine the merchants there rubbed their hands together when they saw so many people approaching while the mamas of the town let out a sigh of resignation. Continue reading

Walls and Weapons (part 2)

swiss army knife
I cut myself taking this photo of my 20-year-old, dull pocket knife! (c) Carole Sparks

You wouldn’t attack the Great Wall of China with a Swiss army knife…or would you?

Back to our study of 1 Corinthians 10:3-5. Are you ready to “finish the imagery and find our success,” as I said last week? I’m working to memorize these verses as part of my demolition plan! Continue reading