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 +
Sep 16, 2014

The Time That Is Given to Us

Ephesians 5:15-16
I cannot leave Ephesians 5:15-16 without sharing a bit of Gandalfian wisdom (or, if you prefer, wisdom from J. R. R. Tolkien, spoken by his character, Gandalf). It comes early in The Lord of the Rings series (though somewhat later in the movie). Gandalf, the wise wizard, was visiting the...Read more +
Sep 15, 2014

Ransoming Time

Ephesians 5:15-16
In last Thursday’s reflection , we investigated the meaning of the phrase “the days are evil” in Ephesians 5:16. We saw that it’s not so much that literal spans of time are evil as that they are in the clutches of evil. The days in which we live are dominated...Read more +
Sep 12, 2014

A Pollyanna-ish Psalm?

Psalm 112:1-10
When we refer to someone as a Pollyanna, we don’t usually mean it as a compliment. Pollyanna-ish people always look on the bright side, so much so that they seem to ignore the genuine pain and unhappiness of life. In fact, our words “Pollyanna” and “Pollyanna-ish” are based on a...Read more +
Sep 11, 2014

How Are the Days Evil?

Ephesians 5:15-16
As I sat down at my computer to write today’s reflection, I began by typing in the date: “9/11 …” Before my fingers touched the keys for the year, 2014, I felt a sinking feeling in my soul. “9/11” – Oh! Even though wonderful things have happened on 9/11—births, weddings,...Read more +
Sep 10, 2014

What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 5

Ephesians 5:15-16
Today is the final part of this mini-series responding to the question: What helps you pay attention to how you’re living? So far, I’ve suggested that the following can help us see our lives more clearly: “watching how we walk” throughout the day; a daily discipline of prayerful examination of...Read more +
Sep 9, 2014

What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 4

Ephesians 5:15-16
So far, I’ve devoted three reflections to the question: What helps you pay attention to how you’re living? (See 9/3 , 9/4 , 9/8 .) I’m taking extra time to consider this question because I think most of us desperately need to watch carefully how we’re living yet find it...Read more +