May 22, 2014

What Are We Supposed to Make of God's...

Ephesians 5:6
Ephesians 5:6 delivers bad news. God's wrath is coming "on those who are disobedient." What should we think of this? How should we respond? Do we have to think about God's wrath? Should we talk about it? Historically, Christians were less tentative than we are about the wrath of God...Read more +
May 21, 2014

Watch Out for Empty Words, Part 2

Ephesians 5:6
In yesterday's reflection , we saw that "empty words" are those lacking truth. Such words promise life but lead to death. They appear to be wise but lead us in the path of foolishness. The Apostle Paul was particularly concerned about "empty words" that might deceive us concerning the best...Read more +
May 20, 2014

Watch Out for Empty Words, Part 1

Ephesians 5:6
As I considered Ephesians 5:6, I was struck by the phrase "empty words." This seems like such an apt phrase in our world today. Yet, obviously, empty words were a matter of concern to the Apostle Paul as he wrote two millennia ago. We don't know with any precision whom...Read more +
May 19, 2014

What Is Your Heart's Desire?

Ephesians 5:5
What is your heart's desire? What do you want more than anything else in the world? What do you long for most of all? If, like me, you grew up going to Sunday School, then you know the right answer to this question: God. This may very well be the...Read more +
May 18, 2014

Holy Rest for Holy Work

Mark 6
A few months ago, a young woman, new to faith, reached out to me with a pressing need. After years living with an alcoholic boyfriend, she had decided to honor herself and leave the relationship. It was a step towards health every pastor prays for, and it raised a need...Read more +
May 17, 2014

God's TLC

1 Kings 19:11-12
Sometimes you run out of words. You don’t know what to say and God feels far away. Even though you know you ought to, praying feels like another check box that leaves you feeling guilty. Life is complicated. In an age of information a Google search away, with friends on...Read more +
May 16, 2014

Praise to the One Who Stretches Out the...

Psalm 104:1-35
Psalm 104 celebrates God’s greatness by reflecting on the wonders of creation. As we see the glories of this world, even in its fallenness, we glimpse the infinitely greater glory of God and cannot help but lift our voices in praise. “Let all that I am praise the LORD,” writes...Read more +
May 15, 2014

A Threat or a Promise?

Ephesians 5:3-5
When you first read Ephesians 5:5, you might wonder if this verse is a threat. Is Paul threatening us with exclusion from Heaven if we engage in sexual sin or greed? Is this threat meant to motivate us to get our act together and avoid especially bad sins? Verse 5...Read more +
May 14, 2014

Make Your Words Count

Ephesians 5:3-4
"Words matter. So make your words count." This is a Twitter-sized version of a major theme in Ephesians. We see this theme in Ephesians 5:4, which focuses on language we should avoid: "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking." Why? In part, because words matter. We find this same assumption elsewhere...Read more +
May 13, 2014

Should Christians Ever Joke Around?

Ephesians 5:3-4
During my tenure at Irvine Presbyterian Church, the men of the church went on an annual retreat. Yes, there was plenty of time for singing, prayer, and Bible teaching. But one of the most distinctive elements of our men's retreat was humor. We told jokes and stories. We did silly...Read more +