In Esther chapter 2, King Ahasuerus finds himself without a queen.
He had sacked Queen Vashti in a rage because she had refused to entertain him and his guests with her beauty, thereby encouraging uppity-ness in all the women of the kingdom.
But a king needs a queen. My goodness, where does one even begin? His advisors come up with a doozy of an idea:
'…let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the capital…And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.' This pleased the king, and he did so. (Esther 2:3)
Yes, the king was pleased. I wonder if he g…
Uncertainty is a difficult thing to bear. We want to know where the provision is going to come from or if we’re going to die of this disease or how this child is going to turn out or if our job will still be there next month.
But as we see in Luke 9:57-58, Jesus makes it clear that his disciples must be able to bear uncertainty if they are to follow him.
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
I’m sure that whoever made this public declaration to Jesus was sincere. They likely had heard him preach and seen him perform amazing signs and wonders. As Jesus’ fame increased, so did the number of his would-be disciples.
What the person might not have known was that at that moment Jesus wa…
When Jesus was dead and buried, with a big stone rolled against the tomb, the Pharisees came to Pilate and asked for permission to seal the stone and guard the tomb. Pilate said, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can” (Matthew 27:65). So they did. They gave it their best shot—in vain.
It was hopeless then, it is hopeless today, and it will always be hopeless. Try as they may, people can’t keep Jesus down. They can’t keep him buried. They may use physical force or academic scorn or media blackout or political harassment or religious caricature. For a season they will think the tomb is finally sealed. But it never works. He breaks out.
Today in 1631 John Donne died. For those who know him at all, he is known mainly for his poetry. He was born in London in 1572. As a Roman Catholic he became disillusioned and was converted to the Anglican faith.
He took a doctor of divinity at Cambridge in 1618 and was appointed as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 1621. He was there till his death. He married Ann Moore in 1601 who bore him 12 children before she died in 1617. He never remarried.
He was careless and erotic in his early years, but in the end became a devout lover of Christ. His poetry is among the greatest Christian verse in English.
I read some lines of Donne recently that moved me deeply because of a…
Here is Moses’ amazing monotheistic appeal to the people of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land, after 40 years of wilderness wandering.
Ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of.
Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live?
Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand a…
As you may have already heard in the sermon from March 27-28, the elders graciously approved on March 22 a leave of absence that will take me away from Bethlehem from May 1 through December 31, 2010. We thought it might be helpful to put an explanation in a letter to go along with the sermon.
I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the…
Who do you identify with in the Passion narratives?
Of course, as good Christians, we say Jesus. He’s the good guy, our protagonist. As we relive the story, we pull for him, and against his enemies. And a long list of enemies it is: Judas who betrays him, Peter who denies him, the chief priests who hate him, Herod who mocks him, the crowd that calls for his crucifixion, Pilate who washes his hands and condemns him, and Barrabas who is guilty but gets to go free.
Wait a minute.
Barrabas—the guilty one who gets to go free?
In his 23rd chapter, Luke leads us sinners, in his careful wording of the narrative, to identify in this significant way with Barrabas. As Jesus’ cond…
Who else would call Noah’s ark “a floating zoo of creepy-crawlies”? Sam Crabtree is a skilled turner of curious phrases and has the rare gift of never being boring. His most recent article wrestles with how to be both green and missional. Here’s a sample:
We can strive to save both mortal mammals and immortal souls, while realizing that saved whales will not save souls, while saved souls might so earnestly desire for everything that has breath to praise God that they set out to save whales. So wise Christians put their God-given energy where it might make the greatest difference in the long haul. Once again God presents us with a situation that is both/and, and first/then. Save…
The BBC reported recently, concerning the recent revelations of more sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, "It is like a tsunami." Elke Huemmeler said “About 120 cases had come to light so far in Munich, about 100 of them at a boarding school run by monks.”
Hans Küng, long-time Roman Catholic critic of his own church (whose right to teach theology the church rescinded), has posted a challenge to the Pope. In it he says, “In Germany 86 percent of Roman Catholics charge the church's leadership with insufficient willingness to come to grips with the problem.”
Then he asks and answers these four questions:
1st Question: Why does the pope continue to assert that what he calls "ho…
Today is David Livingstone’s birthday. He was born March 19, 1813. He gave his life to serve Christ in the exploration of Africa for the sake of the access of the gospel.
On December 4, 1857, he spoke the sentence that has made the greatest impact on me. It is one of the clearest applications I have seen of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-30. Jesus said,
Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal l…