A Time for Self-Examination

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:3-6) One of the most important…

Light for Any Path

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)   A profound truth struck me while reading our Associate Pastor Kyle’s last devotional for our church’s e-newsletter. It wasn’t the devotional itself (no offense, Kyle), excellent though that was; rather, it was the passage Kyle had chosen. Our church is using The Gospel Coalition’s Read the Bible Bible-reading plan this year, and he chose a passage from this week’s reading…

Three Bad Bible-Study Questions

In many ways, the prevailing (and dramatic) shifts in western culture during the past few centuries all center on a single issue: truth—and how we learn it (if we can). To Christians, who worship the One who claimed to be Truth (John 14:6), these cultural shifts prove exceedingly relevant. If we are not mindful of our culture’s changing views of truth, we will imbibe the spirit of the age unwittingly. This is especially evident in…

On Marriage, Intimacy, and Evangelism

The elements in the title are meant to be a tad incongruous. While marriage and intimacy certainly belong together, what could they possibly have to do with evangelism?   One of scripture’s most common metaphors for our life in Christ, our relationship with God, is that of marriage. For example, the prophets routinely refer to Israel’s running after foreign gods as spiritual adultery. And at the close of the grand redemption narrative, we witness the…

Devotional: “Cut It Out” (Mark 9:42-50)

Mark concludes this series of short stories by giving us a collection of Jesus’ sayings about the cost of discipleship. He begins by warning those who cause immature believers to “stumble”—that is, fall away from the faith—in very strong language. It would be better for them to die a painful, public death than face the wrath of God in the age to come.   But, of course, we usually don’t need anyone else’s help to…

Devotional: “Learn to Share” (Mark 9:38-41)

The disciples have not learned yesterday’s lesson. Still overrun by a desire for status and recognition, they turn to jealousy, rivalry, and sectarianism. When one of them spots a rival disciple casting out a demon in Jesus’ name, he quickly turns tattle-tale.   The immaturity of the moment is palpable. First, remember that the disciples have just had a rather publicly unsuccessful bout with exorcism (cf. Mark 9:14-29). So John seems to be saying, “Make…

Devotional: “Act Like a Child” (Mark 9:30-37)

This story opens with Jesus predicting his brutal death for a second time. The disciples are either unwilling or unable to understand what he means by this. They expect a conquering military king, so his death makes little sense to them. But they are afraid to ask him anymore about it—probably because they are scared to hear the answer he might give. They prefer their uncomprehending delusions.   As they continue on their way to…

Devotional: Mark 9:14-29

When Jesus, Peter, James and John return to the rest of the group, they find the other disciples arguing with a large crowd. Seeing Jesus, the crowd hurries to him, and he questions them about the argument.   It seems the disciples had attempted an exorcism in Jesus’ absence, and it hadn’t gone too well. While this probably should have driven everyone present to prayer, instead it leads to pettiness, factionalism, and childish bickering. What…

Devotional: Mark 9:2-13

The story of the Transfiguration thunders with all the awe and wonder of Mount Sinai. Just as Moses and three companions climbed the mount to witness a vision of divine glory, just as God himself speaks—just as the whole event takes place “after six days” even! (Exodus 24:1-16)—so now Jesus and his three followers climb to a brief interlude of glory.   When they reach the top of the mount, Jesus is transfigured. He is…

Spending Time with God

This is my annual New Year’s post about establishing the discipline of devotion. I hope it encourages you to new depths of intimacy with him this and every year!   Nothing is more essential to experiencing the riches of God’s grace than our regular time with him in prayer and study. However, disciplining yourself to spend time with God can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you on…