Holy Desolation

I have a riddle for you. What does the offering of Isaac have in common with the destruction of Jerusalem? The simple answer is that Jerusalem and more specifically, the temple, had become Isaac. Maybe we should go back to the story of Abraham offering Isaac. It’s a difficult passage, isn’t it? This story has become a sticking point for many people. Continue reading

Opportunities in the Storm

In the parable of the two builders (Luke 6:46-49), both the wise man and the foolish man have to face a raging storm; a house destroying torrent. Well, for the foolish man anyway. The only difference between the two men is that the wise man heard and lived the message of Jesus; he built his house on the solid rock. Following Jesus does not keep the storms from raging. It gives us a solid foundation to withstand the storms. Ah, but the health and wealth gospel still clings to the tapestry of Christianity like cigarette smoke. Follow Jesus and get yourself a new car! Or house! Or a boat load of money! Continue reading

Sacred Space

In Josephus, War 6.288-311, the Jewish historian Josephus rebukes the Jews for not understanding or accepting the signs which foretold the destruction of the Temple. Many of the signs he tells of are the same as those mentioned by Jesus: earthquakes, wars, and the such. Some were very different like the heifer who was being led into the Temple to be slaughtered who gave birth to a lamb. Well, that’s just weird. Continue reading

Weight to Fathers

I am more and more convinced that we need the fifth word of the Ten Words. We need them all. I know. But the fifth one seems to experience some serious lack in our culture. What does it mean to honor your father and mother? The word “honor” is the Hebrew word for “weight, burden.” So, first of all, I don’t think the point is that our parents become a burden. No. There is plenty of that kind of thing happening in our culture. But they should have weight. We shouldn’t treat them lightly, as if they don’t matter. Continue reading

Generously Small Gift

I don’t take issue with what Jesus said. Goodness no. He is my master. I do take issue with how his message is used. I suspect that the message concerning the widow giving her two small coins to the temple treasury, is used to beat people up until they give more. Give until it hurts and the like. There just may be a couple of things to keep in mind here. Continue reading

Beware Ostentation

Its not the clothes. It’s the attitude. As a chaplain, I have to wear a badge when I am out at the youth correction center I work at. That badge opens doors – literally. I also have a radio. Maybe, when I am wearing that badge and that radio, I feel important. Maybe it is more than that; maybe I feel more important than those poor slobs who don’t even have a badge or a radio. Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges. Continue reading

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Ah, the old reductio ad absurdum ploy. What? You don’t know what that is either. Hold on a minute and let me Google it. I’m back. It is Latin for “reduction to the ridiculous.” It is an argument that takes a line of thought and displays it within a scenario that is designed to make the whole think look absurd. Here is an example of one that is used on me somewhat frequently: You say God is a loving God right? Continue reading

Mother Dilemma

Mothers; good mothers; have to make difficult decisions. I think this is always true, but there are varying degrees of difficulty. One year, when my family and I were on a mission trip in Honduras we visited an orphanage for special needs children. In this area, it was the first of its kind. We listened in horror as the director of the orphanage told us the stories of these precious children. These children, because they were born with special needs had been abandoned. Wait! Before we become all indignant, we may need to walk a mile and all that. The families are poor, barely existing. They already have five or six children and along comes another one who has needs that you cannot pay for. Continue reading

Image Bearers

If I bring up the subject of taxes does it fill you with warm positive feelings? Maybe you can feel good knowing that all of your taxes are being used for good things; things you can really get behind; things you would have contributed to anyway. Yeah right! We are adults here. We know that some of our tax money is used for evil. It was no different in Jesus’ day. Continue reading