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Showing posts from April, 2011

In My Sweet Spot

No Bible reflection today--just some personal reflection.  A few weeks ago, our church concluded a worship service with a video challenging us to make the most of the next 7 days, until we were at church again.  One line challenged us to use our gifts, meaning the gifts God has given us.  That haunted me the rest of the week, as I led meetings and did lots and lots of financial work--which couldn't be less of a gift of mine.
Then today happened.  I started my day with my kids, which is usually a simultaneously joyful and challenging experience--getting myself ready for work while watching a 2-year-old and 5-month-old by myself.  Today it was more joyful than challenging.  Then I cooked myself breakfast, something I never do on a workday.  My mostly egg white omelet with red pepper and spinach was delicious and satisfying.  I love to cook.
Then, I got to lead a devotional at work.  It's really not a big deal, but I love it.  I spent way too much time preparing for it, because I…

Life and Death

Similarly to the way Paul juxtaposes “one” and “many” in Romans 5, he juxtaposes “life” and “death” in Romans 6.When I hear those words, I think of giving birth to my two precious kids and of the funerals of all my grandparents.I think of everlasting life in heaven. But I’m not sure that’s how Paul means for us to read “life” and “death” here.“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)Dying and rising again are the image for baptism.We symbolically die to sin and our sinful lives in baptism, and we symbolically rise to a new life.This “new life” isn’t about living forever on a cloud wrapped in a white toga; it’s about living a new life right here right now. Some churches teach and preach in a way that makes it seem like Christianity is all about life and death—meaning what happens when you die, i.e. that you get to live forever in heaven wit…

The Power of One

In Romans 5, Paul quite redundantly compares Adam and Christ.Verse 19 sums it up:For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.This duality of one to many, or one to all, shows up over and over.In fact, those 3 words show up 20 times in just 8 verses.The repetition makes for cumbersome reading, but it gets Paul’s emphasis across loudly and clearly.Adam, one man, did something that affected all.Jesus, one man, did something that affected all. What I read in the redundancy and repetition is the power of just one person.Obviously, Jesus is no ordinary “person” through whom God works.But, still, Paul emphasizes that with just one man, God “brings life for all men” (v.18).Alternately, “sin entered the world through one man,” Adam (v.12). The idea that one person could so drastically effect the rest of humanity is awe-inspiring…and terrifying.I’m not sure I want that much responsibil…

Hope That Does Not Disappoint

I recall many times when hope has disappointed me.I vividly remember hoping to get a position on my college ministry’s leadership team my freshman year, and then not making the cut.That was eleven years ago, and I remember how that disappointment felt—the tears that fell, the anger that burned.That’s why we have the phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.”When your hopes are up, you are vulnerable to disappointment. So Paul must be talking about a different kind of hope here.He says “that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5)Paul’s both upholding hope and acknowledging suffering.I know people who remained hopeful as they suffered through cancer, but their hope was ultimately disappointing. What is this hope of Paul’s?A brief survey of others’ ideas shows some think this is hope for an eternity spent in heaven wit…