Archive for January, 2018

The book called Isaiah quietly lays layer atop rhetorical layer as it ambles forward in the general direction of glorified Zion.

By the time one arrives at the stirring reversal of fortunes that takes the steering wheel firmly in hand at chapter 40, we have encountered the expression רעהו with a prefixed preposition multiple times. It has described the action of a derelict or judged person to his fellow or to his companion. In the Isaianic way, this otherwise neutral expression has accrued with each new layer a discernibly negative connotation. (more…)


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Because we are fashioned as embodied creatures, we live an embodied life and are shaped, damaged, and nurtured principally by other embodied people. They have names and faces.

Sometimes they lead us close to our Maker. Sometimes they provide such direction and sustenance that we cannot imagine life without them.

Or truth beyond them. (more…)

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It is difficult, in these mangled days, to focus. One lives distracted and, therefore, enslaved to the mundane blur that swirls on all sides without pause.

Yet not all have lived this way, and not all must.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13–16 ESV)

I come uneasily to this company of exiles, for I love this soil, this place, this fecund rooting. (more…)

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The poet who stands behind our 104th psalm contributes to a compendium that adds to YHWH’s activity in history a celebration of his work in creation. It is a beautiful oddity.

Curiously, two features of divine participation in creation interweave the psalmist’s celebration. (more…)

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Psalm 103 insists that we live in a world in which clear vision leads to gratitude.

Blessedness is reality. The failure to see this means that someone has gone blind, perhaps even succumbed to a lie.

Yet gratitude requires a choice—and even that ongoing choice which becomes a discipline—because for some unnamed reason we are liable to forget. Blessing is a fact on the ground, yet gratitude seldom occurs in nature. It requires practice, discipline, even culture, lest blessing go unanswered by thanksgiving. (more…)

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It is impossible to imagine the ethical lifestyle towards which the apostle Paul encourages the churches without reckoning with the prominence of gratitude.

Simply put, thanksgiving is a powerful  motor. Apart from whatever else it represents, thankfulness fuels and in some ways summarizes the way of the believer in Jesus Christ. (more…)

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We are being saved from what we were.

We come in from the muck and the cold and slowly, with muscles labor-sore, drop our clothing on the mudroom floor. It is foul, cold, unsheltering stuff, redolent with things we would forget, toils that damaged others and ruined ourselves. They fall, articles of clothing that once provided some modest protection, no longer needed in this new, warm, nourishing house. (more…)

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The apostle Paul’s anguished struggle for reality in his relationship with the Corinthian believers probably explains the precision he seeks in this letter. Theirs may well have been one of those uneasy friendships where everything that can go wrong does. In a crazy-making ecosystem like this, the slightest ambiguity takes a direction that is the opposite of what is intended.

In ordinary life, the word ‘dysfunctional’ comes without effort to our lips. It probably applies here. (more…)

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