Sep 30, 2014

Why Bring Up Being Filled With the Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18
As we saw in yesterday’s reflection , Ephesians 5:15-18 is structured by three parallel don’t-do injunctions: don’t be unwise, but do be wise (5:15); Don’t be foolish, but do understand the Lord’s will (5:17); don’t get drunk, but do be filled with the Spirit (5:18). The first two pairs make...Read more +
Sep 29, 2014

Don’t Get Stuck in the Don’ts

Ephesians 5:15-18
Sometimes we can get stuck in the “don’ts.” As parents, we can sound like a broken record with our children: “Don’t break that. Don’t touch that. Don’t go in the street. Don’t talk to me that way.” Sometimes the church has fallen into the “don’t rut” as well, emphasizing all...Read more +
Sep 26, 2014


Psalm 114:1-8
One Saturday morning when I was a teenager, my friend Mike and I rode our bikes to our school in order to play handball. The school was deserted, and we had our pick of the outdoor courts. During the game, three older boys approached us. They were dressed in gang...Read more +
Sep 25, 2014

Living the Gospel in an Alcohol-Soaked World

Ephesians 5:18
This is my fourth reflection focusing on the first part Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” You may be wondering why I am lingering on this passage for so long. I realize that I am playing into the stereotype of the Christian pastor who...Read more +
Sep 24, 2014

Why Should We Avoid Drunkenness? Part 2

Ephesians 5:18
In yesterday’s reflection , we began to consider why we should avoid drunkenness. Ephesians 5:18 answers this question by pointing to one result of inebriation, namely, debauchery, or “vicious indulgence in sensual pleasures.” The Apostle Paul had no doubt witnessed the causal link between drunkenness and debauchery. Alcohol abuse was...Read more +
Sep 23, 2014

Why Should We Avoid Drunkenness? Part 1

Ephesians 5:18
Ephesians 5:18 states clearly, “Do not get drunk on wine.” Of course, this verse does not imply that it’s fine to get drunk on other alcoholic beverages. In the first century A.D., wine was the predominant alcoholic beverage. In today’s world, with all kinds of wineries, breweries, and distilleries, we...Read more +
Sep 22, 2014

Should Christians Drink, Smoke, or Chew or Go With Folks Who Do?

Ephesians 5:18
Growing up in a conservative Christian church, I sometimes heard the ditty, “I don’t drink, smoke, or chew, or go with girls who do.” This was usually said humorously, but the underlying message was one we took seriously. There were certain sins of the flesh good Christians should avoid as...Read more +
Sep 19, 2014

How Does God Lift Up the Poor and Needy?

Psalm 113:1-9
Psalm 113 celebrates the greatness of God. It calls us to praise the Lord because he is “high above the nations” (113:4). Yet, though he is “enthroned on high,” God “stoops to look down on heaven and on earth” (113:6). He not only looks, but also acts: “He lifts the...Read more +
Sep 18, 2014

How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?

Ephesians 5:17
As a pastor, I have often been asked, “How can I know God’s will for my life?” This question was presented to me dozens of times when I was a parish pastor. I still hear it from my “flock,” often in the form of emails from folks who receive these...Read more +
Sep 17, 2014

Don’t Be Foolish!

Ephesians 5:17
When I read Ephesians 5:17, I hear echoes from my past. “Mark, don’t be foolish,” my mom would say. Or, perhaps she’d declare: “Mark, use your head.” I’d hear these exhortations when I was tempted to do something silly, to do something I knew I shouldn’t do. Perhaps I was...Read more +