As we think about the dawn of redeeming grace, about a silent night where all is calm and all is bright, and everyone is sleeping in heavenly peace, let’s remember that an ancient spiritual conflict is still raging.
How do your typical prayers stack up next to Jesus’ model prayer? The Lord’s prayer is one of those passages of Scripture where the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” is applicable. Not that we would necessarily hold the Bible in contempt, but we do tend to react with a nonchalant “ho-hum” to well-known texts. We think we already know all about such texts, but our current issues and experiences always sensitize us to see “new” things that have been there all along! We can always use a reminder that centers our prayer-lives on what really matters for eternity.
We’re familiar with the expression “Do the right thing.” In today’s politically charged environment, doing the right thing may become virtue signalling or humblebrag, striking a pose for the approval of our peers. It’s easy to posture in ways that get likes on social media. It’s easy, but is it right? Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 6:1-18 that virtue signalling has no place in the life of a Christian. Following Jesus isn’t just about the right thing—it’s about the right motive. Are we performing for God’s eternal approval or for the momentary applause of our peers? Who is our audience? What is our motive?
Recently I was honored to be the officiant at the wedding ceremony of a family member. Preparing for the ceremony led me to revisit the eternal question about the meaning of love. Here’s the reflection I gave during the ceremony.
Well-meaning Christians at times speak of “law and grace” as opposite ways of salvation, as if the the Old Testament and the New Testament were opposed to one another. This viewpoint results from thinking of the law of Moses as legalism rather than God’s gracious instruction for Israel. Anyone who thinks that the New Testament is at odds with the Old Testament, that Jesus’ message contradicted Moses’ message, has to deal with Matthew 5:17-48. We learn here how Jesus understood the Old Testament and his relationship to it. This teaches us how we ought to read the Old Testament today.
Who doesn’t love a birthday party? It’s fun to celebrate another year of a friend’s or family member’s life, especially when there’s cake and ice cream involved. Make mine chocolate cake with white icing and vanilla ice cream please. This is all good fun, but understanding and participating in the birthday of the Church is infinitely more important. Sadly, many evangelical Christians miss the significance of Pentecost, and the annual celebration this week that’s familiar to Anglicans and Roman Catholics. This post aims to change that! We need to to remember Pentecost, celebrate it, and get in step with the Spirit whose coming inaugurated the church’s participation in the mission of God. We need the Spirit like a turbine needs the wind.