I took this week to work on some material for my parenting blog, Intentional Parenting. Click over there to read 3 Things the Sunrise Teaches Us About God. In these ‘Everyday Theology’ posts, I provide starting points for theological conversations with our children, but you’ll find something interesting as an adult, too.
If you’re deep into Advent, you might instead read through my series on Isaiah 9:6. I learned so much when I studied this passage and wrote these posts a couple of years ago!
I’m looking forward to sharing with you again next week, and I hope the quietness of this unusual holiday season is a blessing rather than a burden for you. Personally, I’m enjoying the slower pace and fewer demands.
What’s in a name? Shakespeare said it wasn’t really important:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. -William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
But God prioritizes names. He equates them to one’s reputation—especially His own. God told Abram his name would be great (Genesis 12:2). Later, He changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning “He struggles with God” (Genesis 32:28). And repeatedly, the Psalmists praise God’s Name.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. –Psalm 29:2
Later, Peter heals a man just by saying Jesus’ name:
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” –Acts 3:6
And he insists before the Sanhedrin:
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” –Acts 4:12
There’s power in one’s name—especially Jesus’.
Why do we get so embarrassed
when we forget someone’s name?
And identity. If names weren’t important, we wouldn’t get so embarrassed when we forget someone’s name, and it wouldn’t be so significant if we call someone by the wrong name. We also wouldn’t work so hard to pronounce names properly.
So what does it mean when someone remains nameless in the Biblical narrative? In particular, many people Jesus healed and some with whom He interacted often aren’t recognized by name. Continue reading →
Moses stood on the side of a mountain and delivered commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) to help God’s people behave. Jesus sat on the side of a mountain and delivered descriptions (Matthew 5:3-12) to help God’s people become His representatives. There’s an obvious comparison between the two. In fact, some people say Jesus is a second Moses.* (More about this connection in the introduction to this series, Blessed Are: Ten Commandments Turned Inside Out). Between the two Moseses, prophets, kings, leaders, and at least one simple widow show us all that God’s grand plan has always been about who we are more than what we do. Jesus was just the first to spell it out. Continue reading →
We’re making our way through Acts, talking about the situations and verses that rise to the top this time. Now we’ve come to my favorite story in the New Testament: Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). Not surprisingly, I’ve already written a bit about this here on #NotAboutMe.
In Things Not Said: Philip, part 1, we spend the whole post in Acts 8:26. Meeting Philip at the height of his career in Samaria, we watch his obedience take him down an unknown road–literally.
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. -1 Samuel 15:22
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:9
Finally! In Intersection: Philip, part 3 we see Philip speak to the Ethiopian guy, climb into his chariot, and share the Gospel. It’s Acts 8:30-40, and the principles for evangelism are clear.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. -Hebrews 11:6
I’ve also spent some time with Saul-who-became-Paul. Click on one of these links if you’d rather read more about Saul/Paul.
Acts skips over it, but Paul spent three years in the wilderness before his ministry was effective. Paul’s Inauspicious Beginning pulls from Acts 9 and Galatians 1 to explore the early days of what became the most fruitful Christian ministry ever. The principles for us are clear.
An early post, “Do Me a Favor?” looks at the way we responded to God’s personal leading in our lives, using Ananias (Acts 9:10-19) as an example. There’s also a bit about my friends asking me for money.
This post, A Martyr Mindset, came up in conversation just this week. Sometimes our greatest personal sacrifice isn’t the path to God’s greatest glory. Sometimes we sneak out of town in a basket (Acts 9:23-25, 2 Corinthians 11:21-29)…or the modern-day equivalent.
A pile of previous, but still pertinent, posts on Philip and Paul as we progress through a pair of chapters in Acts. Both my alliteration and my #BibleStudy are #NotAboutMe. (click to tweet)
With over six years of blogging now, I’ve covered a lot of territory. Which of these posts looks most interesting to you? I would really appreciate it if you leave me a comment on that post or pop back over here to let me know.
We return to that hillside somewhere in Galilee. “Large crowds,” Matthew says, from cities across the region and down into Judea, followed Jesus as he taught, proclaimed, and healed (Matthew 4:23-25). As we look back into the Gospels, we call his lessons on that hillside “The Sermon on the Mount.”
He began with an attention-grabbing list, an inside-out set of commandments designed to question everything the people had been taught. I imagined he paused between each one, giving it time to “sink in” before he continued. Continue reading →
When John was thrown in prison, Jesus backed away from Jerusalem, choosing to live in Galilee. At the same time, though, He took up John’s declaration: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). As he taught, proclaimed, and healed the sick (Matthew 4:23), people started to follow Him. Before long, the crowd grew so large that Jesus had to climb a little way up the side of a mountain so everyone could hear him.
He sat down, drew His disciples to the front row, and began to teach the people. I imagine He scanned the crowd, praying silently, and took a deep breath before He began. (With no amplification, He would have needed to project His voice, and that takes some lung power.)
Have you made plans for Christmas yet? I haven’t. I like to plan, but often my plans don’t come to fruition. Not so with God. When God plans something, it doesn’t change. God’s plans are so certain that the Old Testament authors speak of them in the past tense, what scholars call “the prophetic perfect.”
When God spoke to His people about His plans, however, He used future tense. We call them promises, and the Old Testament prophets gave us many of them. What a comfort it must have been for the Israelites to carry these promises into captivity in a foreign land! Continue reading →
Today (2/2) is my birthday. Yes, it’s Groundhog’s Day. No, I don’t like the movie.
As a child, I didn’t like the location of my birthday on the calendar. I never had a birthday party because snow was always a possibility. But as an adult, I like my close-to-the-new-year birthday. A birthday is a far more significant, more personal event than the arbitrary new year determined by Julius Caesar in bc45. IMO, it should be the first day of spring, a time of new life, green growth, Easter, etc. But alas, I don’t run the planet.
Resigned to leaving New Year’s Day in January, I use that month to reflect on the previous and coming years. Then I mark my personal new year on my birthday and work from there. Continue reading →