The Discipline of Silence

Silence has been an important spiritual discipline since the birth of the church. It may be more important now than ever before, for two reasons—both related (unsurprisingly) to the challenges of living in a digital age. First, the discipline of silence is so important because a digital age is also a distracted age. We carry little devices around with us that quite literally clamor for our attention. Needless to say, this will drastically inhibit our ability to…

Be Very Careful with Your Privilege

For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17) Jesus has just shared the parable of the four soils, and his disciples are confused (as they often are). As he explains why he teaches in parables, he alerts the disciples to the tremendous privilege they have. In the past, God’s prophets—holy…

How We Talk about Each Other

“Great is my boldness of speech to you; great is my boasting about you.” (2 Corinthians 7:4, AT) Paul has had to say a great many difficult things to the church at Corinth, beset as they were by sins of arrogance, sexual immorality, and factionalism. He had chided them many times about the immaturity of their faith, despite their constant boasting in their (self-declared) spirituality. Apparently, he had even had to write them a letter…

Talking to God about God

I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. (Isaiah 63:7) Isaiah is about to make some bold requests of God (starting in 63:15), but before he gets there, he tells of God’s kindnesses, mighty deeds, and compassion. God sympathizes with his people when they…

The Burden of Idolatry

Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. 2 They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity. (Isaiah 46:1-2) I love this image. Isaiah prophesies the Persian conquest of Babylon under Cyrus the Great. As the Babylonians flee the coming onslaught, they pack their idols along with the rest of their belongings. (As they’re…

Why or Who?

Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. (Isaiah 42:24) Jesus promised us we would face trials and tribulations in this life, which means we will be tempted (with alarming regularity) to ask that tormenting question, “Why?” Why me? Why is this happening? Why would a good God allow such suffering in the life…

Are We Ready for Revival?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) If I could give my one-word answer to the question above, I think it would be No. I do not think the church—and I am speaking about myself here, too—is ready for the messiness that will come with revival. Let me explain. I had a conversation recently with someone who is looking for a…

Trust the Farmer

Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful,…

Christ’s Intercession

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25) If you’re at all like me, there are days when you wonder if God really loves you—is really willing to keep putting up with you—given how “prone to wander” you are. And yet here in Hebrews 7:25 we have this precious promise: Jesus is able to save us completely. There is no crevice of…

Meaningless Habits

“The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.” (Isaiah 1:11-13) If you were…