Showing posts from May, 2016

Jesus prophesies to the Samaritan.

When the woman at the well realized Jesus hears from God. John 4.16-24. John 4.16-19 KWL 16 Jesus told the Samaritan , “Go call your man and come back here.” 17 In reply the woman told him, “I don’t have a man.” Jesus told her, “Well said, ‘I don’t have a man’— 18 You had five men, and the one you now have isn’t your man. You spoke the truth.” 19 The woman told Jesus , “Master, I see you’re a prophet.” Well duh he’s a prophet. Notice when Jesus replied to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well, he commended her twice for telling him the truth. Probably ’cause she’d never told anyone the truth before. For all we know, no one in her town, Sychár, knew her whole story. But clearly Jesus did. Yet he was in absolutely no position to know anything, so the Samaritan naturally concluded he’s a prophet. ’Cause he is. This woman previously had five ándras /“men.” Most bibles translate it “husbands,” ’cause in Hebrew custom, ishí /“my man” (or Aramaic enáshi ) meant a woman’


Are you truly happy? ’Cause the Holy Spirit wants you to be. Joy /dʒɔɪ/ n. Feeling of great happiness and pleasure. [Joyful /'dʒɔɪ.fəl/ adj. ; joyous /'dʒɔɪ.əs/ adj. ] You’d think I wouldn’t need to include a definition of joy before writing on the subject. You’d be wrong. Not everyone agrees with, or even approves of, this definition. Joy’s a feeling. An emotion. A positive emotion, one which God wants us to feel. He wants us to experience joy on a regular basis. He wants us to be filled with pleasure and happiness. It’s how his kingdom’s meant to be. No more tears; Rv 7.17 nothing but joy. But there are a large number of joyless Christians who claim it’s not a feeling of happiness; it’s not an emotion whatsoever. Instead it’s a “state of well-being.” Once you decide, regardless of your circumstances, you’re gonna be okay with things—despite suffering, chaos, or general suckitude, you’re gonna tamp down those feelings of despair and just tough it out— that’s jo

Arminianism, Calvinism, and Pelagianism.

Eek! -Isms! Some years ago I joined the Society of Evangelical Arminians. (Hey guys! Thanks for helping me tweak the Twitter meme. ) Some months ago I also joined their Facebook debate group. Officially it’s called a discussion group, but let’s be honest: Debate happens. Even when we largely agree. Hey, so long as we keep it respectful. Most of us can. Whenever I mention to people I’m in this group, it confuses ’em. Y’see, they don’t know what an Arminian is. Most of the time they think I mean Armenian , and are surprised: I’m so pasty white! I’ll get sunburn on an overcast day. Don’t Armenians tan way better than that? Nope, not Armenian. Arminianism is named after Dutch theology professor Jakob Hermanszoon (1560–1609), whose Latin name is Jacobi Arminii, and in English that became James Arminius. He attempted to bring Calvinism away from what he (and we Arminians) considered extreme views about salvation, and get it back in line with the scriptures and historic Christian the

Samaritans, and Jesus’s living water.

A bit about the woman Jesus met at the well, and her people. John 4.1-15. To give you a better sense of how the ancient Judeans felt about Samaritans, you gotta think about how the average Evangelical in the United States feels… about Muslims. Yeah, there y’go. Distrust. Uncertainty. Fear. The assumption that because some terrorists claim to be Muslim, all Muslims are terrorist. The assumption that because Muslims in various countries live under strict interpretations of the Quran and Hadith, they wanna implement those customs in this country, and inflict their commands upon us. (Never mind the fact a number of Christians wouldn’t mind inflicting our strict interpretations of the Old Testament upon everyone as well.) Samaritans had a similar reputation in ancient Judea. The Judeans figured they were right, and Samaritans wrong. Really wrong. Dangerously wrong. They considered them pagans and foreigners, and had nothing to do with them. And Samaritans believe (yeah, t

Sad prayers, mournful prayers, and weepy prayers.

Sharing our sorrows with God. Or not. When we’re in emotional distress, we need to cry out to God. Not just when we’re angry, although you knew that. But when we’re sad. When we’re mourning. When we’re miserable. In lament. There’s a whole book in the bible called Lamentations , y’know. That’s its point. And there are plenty more passages where people shared their sorrows with God. King David was an emotional guy. When he got low, he had no qualms about writing the Bronze Age equivalents of the blues. Psalm 38.1-9 KWL 1 L ORD , don’t correct me angrily, instructing me in heat, 2 because your arrows fall on me. Your strong hand has me beat. 3 My flesh’s instability from your indignant face; my bones lack peace; my sinning moves your presence out of place. 4 I’ve more misdeeds than height! a heavy, heavy load for me. 5 My wounds all stink and rot thanks to my clear stupidity. 6 I’m twisted, bent way down; I walk in darkness all the day. 7 My burning genitals!—un

Tradition… and why it’s harder to quit than crack.

Our brains are wired to embrace old, familiar, wrong information.   Verses cited: Mark 7.7 . John 14.6 . 2 Corinthians 10.5 . 1 Thessalonians 5.21 .

John the baptist’s shrinking ministry.

Which he was okay with. Hey, it was his job to point to Jesus. John 3.22-36. The gospel of John doesn’t tell us about John the baptist’s arrest and execution. That’s in the other gospels. I’ll get to it. But in all the gospels, John’s role was to get Judea and all Israel ready for their Messiah. Now that Messiah’s around, John’s job was largely complete—as he himself expressed in John . What prompted John’s teaching was an incident: Someone from Judea got into a debate about katharismú /“[ritual] cleansing.” Here, I’ll get to the scripture: John 3.22-25 KWL 22 After these things, Jesus and his students went elsewhere in the Judean province. They stayed there with the people , and were baptizing. 23 John was also baptizing in Aenon-by-Salím: Lots of water was there, and people came and were baptized. 24 John had not yet been thrown into prison. 25 So a debate about ritual cleansing arose among John’s students and a Judean. We don’t know which sect this Judean wa

Elisha’s double portion.

No, it’s not about getting twice as much as your predecessor. Just your fellow heirs. 2 Kings 2.9-10 The first time I heard of the idea of “the double portion,” it was in Sunday school, in a lesson our overeager youth pastor taught us about the eighth-century BC prophet Elijah of Tishbe, and his apprentice Elisha. On the day Elijah got raptured, he and Elisha had this conversation: 2 Kings 2.9-10 KWL 9 This happened when they crossed the river : Elijah told Elisha, “Ask me to do for you, before I’m taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please assign the double portion of your spirit to me.” 10 Elijah said, “You ask for a serious burden. If you see me get taken from you, it’s yours. If not, it’s not.” Elisha, our youth pastor explained, requested twice the spirit of Elijah. Double the anointing. Double the power. And after he watched Elisha ascend to heaven, he got it—as proven by the fact Elijah performed seven miracles in the bible, but Elijah performed twice that numb

Covenant: How God makes our relationship official.

Despite what you may have heard, it’s not just an extra-special contract. Covenant /'kəv.ən.ənt/ n. Committed, intentional relationship. The parties who enter such relationships spell out the duties of one to the other, made with firm, binding promises. 2. v. To enter such a relationship. [Covenantal /kəv.ən'ənt.əl/ adj. ] Our culture, including popular Christian culture, seldom understands the significant difference between “covenant” and “contract.” Usually because of marriage. Seriously. Y’see, back when there was no such thing as separation of church and state, the government formally recognized various religious covenants: Baptisms, christenings, marriages, religious vows, and so forth. After the United States decided it was in our best interest (particularly the church’s best interest) for government to remain neutral, our governments nevertheless still kept marriage on the books. Because it comes in handy to know who is married to whom—for the purposes of in