Showing posts from December, 2015

Spiritual Arsenal #1: Thinking Right

As we go into the New Year, I want to equip you for the battle that lies ahead and all around. Do you have the right tools in your spiritual arsenal? In Ephesians 6:12, Paul’s words remind us that "our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
In the Christian life, folks are sometimes tempted by attractive yet ineffective pieces of armor or weaponry. They too often go for flashy or showy things that do little to help others. Believers frequently fall in love with equipment that offers no aid in the battle against the forces of darkness.
I love this photo that went viral in 2015. Perhaps you know the famous football (soccer) club on the north side of London named Arsenal. One lifelong fan asked his girlfriend to take a picture of him outside the stadium. He wanted her to capture his face in front of the …

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Leaping for Joy

Mary and Elizabeth might seem unlikely figures for the prominent roles they play in Luke's prologue. Elizabeth is old and barren. Mary is young and not married. They're both women from the more modest layers of society. Hear the words of the text for this coming Sunday from Luke 1:39-45: In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." As Luke describes the prenatal stories of John and Jesus, M…

Third Sunday of Advent: Waiting for Messiah

In Samuel Beckett’s legendary play, Waiting for Godot, the two main characters Vladimir and Estragon wait endlessly for the arrival of the mysterious Godot. They wait and they wait, but Godot never comes. This play belongs to a class of literature knows as “theater of the absurd” because it deals with the seeming meaninglessness of life, leading characters to act in irrational and inexplicable ways.
In our Luke 3 passage for this week, people are waiting on the Messiah. Some listen to John the Baptist and begin to wonder if John might be the one who is coming. John apparently hears what they’re thinking and tells them he isn’t the one they should wait for. Another is coming who is greater and more powerful than John. They should wait for him. John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell yo…

Second Sunday of Advent: Prepare the Way

Advent is the Christian season when we prepare for the coming of Christ. Christmas is about good news. God comes to live among us. Jesus (God in the flesh) takes on our shame and frailty. Immanuel (God with us) demonstrates divine solidarity with the human plight and brings hope of redemption for all creation.
While the glory of Christmas draws us in, the journey to get there should give us pause.
Do you remember how long it took to get to grandma’s house over the river and through the woods? Some folks never had to travel far. But for others, it seemed like an eternity to get there. We did what we could to pass the time, but it often wasn’t easy. Once we got there, though, the reward was great enough to erase the memory of the long, arduous journey.
By the same token, we ought to remember that the road to Christ leads through the desert. There we hear the voice of one crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” John admonished people to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of …