Showing posts from March, 2018

What kind of a hero do we need? Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Mark 11:1-11 Phil 2:5-11 Mark 14-15
I have to admit that I love superheroes. When I was a kid I collected comics. I watched superhero TV shows and movies. I played superhero video games. I had superhero toys. Every few months a new superhero movie comes out and the toy stores are always in sync with the latest movie.

When I was a kid I loved superman. I used to pretend I was Clark Kent. I had a pair of sunglasses with the lenses popped out that I would wear around town when my mom had to run errands. I had a little briefcase I carried around that had a towel I could tie into a cape, and a pair of underwear I could pull on over my pants for when I had to transform into superman.

Superman looks human. He looks so human he can be overlooked and ignored as Clark Kent. … But he is more than human. He can lift trains over his head. He can shoot lasers out of his eyes. He can freeze with his breath. He’s bulletproof. And, he can fly. He is a powerful force f…

A death so that you can truly live- John 12

John 12:20-33
The symbol of Christianity is a cross. The cross is so normal to us that we don’t usually grasp how strange it is. It was offensive and grotesque. It was a shameful and horrifying way to die. It was considered so awful that no Roman citizen was allowed to be executed that way. For Christians to claim that Jesus died on the cross was scandalous. The disconnect is particularly obvious when we buy jewelry made into a cross. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we had little gold guillotines, nooses, and electric chairs hanging around our necks.

The cross is sometimes a difficult aspect to explain for missionaries in foreign cultures. Good people aren’t supposed to die that way. The universe doesn’t make sense if they do. In the 16th century, a Jesuit missionary named Matteo Ricci arrived in China. He was a brilliant renaissance man who quickly mastered Chinese language and culture. In the style of Paul in Acts, Ricci attempted to find the truth in Chinese culture a…

Look with Trust- the bronze serpent Num 21

Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21
Some of us have a tendency to take the blessings of our lives for granted. We focus on the negative, or what we lack, rather than be thankful for what we have. I don’t know if you notice this in yourself at all, but I know I see it in myself. Some of us really have to struggle against that negative habit.

This has become a significant field of research. There have been a number of studies done on gratitude and they have found that people who are thankful are generally happier, less depressed, are more satisfied with life, have a greater sense of purpose in life, and tend to be more generous. That also implies the opposite. A lack of gratitude leads to being less happy, more depressed, less satisfied with life, having less sense of purpose in life, and less generosity. The field of positive psychology has been trying to find practices to help people become more grateful in order to help people have better lives.

It sounds like the Hebrew people in the book …

Morality-Ten Commandments Ex 20

Exodus 20:1-17
The Ten Commandments have been held up as an icon of morality for at least 3000 years. In the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus was asked by a rich young man, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus replied by saying,  “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19:16-17).Jesus went on to list commandments from the famous ten. Now, we have to read this in the context of the rest of Scripture, and so account for the cross and the grace God offers us. But, this Scripture is enough to show that the Ten Commandments were highly regarded by Jesus. And so, they should be highly regarded by us as well.

When we talk about the Ten Commandments it is perhaps important to talk about morality in general. We live in a society that is paradoxically very willing to place judgement on others (see reality TV and social media), but we also aren’t very clear about what morality is besides an opinion about how things should be.

The Commandments open wit…