For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. (1Corinthians 7:22-24).
I would have expected Paul to switch the places of “Lord” and “Christ.” He correlates our liberation with Jesus being our Master (“a freedman of the Lord”). And he correlates our new slavery with Jesus being our Messiah (“a slave of Christ”).
But in fact the Messiah came to liberate his people from their captors; and masters take control of people’s lives. Why does he say it this way?
Suggestion. The switch has two effects on our new liberty and two effects on our new slavery.
In calling us “the liberated o…
I often justify my anger by telling myself that I’m not like the person I’m angry at. If someone gives me the finger for no good reason while I’m driving, I instantly feel like I have a right to be mad, because I would never treat anyone that way.
I feel justified in my frustration at that rude driver, because I don’t flip people off when they tick me off. So I must be a better person, right? And if I’m a better person, I can rightly judge that driver for his wrongdoing, can’t I?
Of course, I know I sin in some ways, but I don’t sin the same as that driver. So when it comes to his sins, I have every right to be critical of him. We’re different.
But Jesus disagrees.
In the st…
Jesus never wrote anything. He hung out, and talked, and healed. But if his followers had only done that, we wouldn’t know even that about him. Both-And, not Either-Or. And some people more one than the other.
“Did you know your dream has come true? There's a book of Lilias Trotter's art now—A Blossom in the Desert,” I emailed a friend last week. Miriam Rockness, who edited this book, earlier wrote the book that introduced me to Lilias Trotter, A Passion for the Impossible. I was so inspired by her story that I included it in Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God.
We who admire Lilias Trotter have waited a long time actually to see her artwork. Until now, it was hidden away in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford University and in the archives of the Arab World Ministries.
Lilias Trotter was an upper-class English woman of the Victorian era whose drawings and water colors were admired by John…
As we think seriously about contextualizing the message of the Bible, let’s remember that we must also labor to bring about, in the minds of our listeners, conceptual categories that may be missing from their mental framework. If we only use the thought structures they already have, some crucial biblical truths will remain unintelligible, no matter how much contextualizing we do. This work of concept creation is harder than contextualization, but just as important...
Read the whole article.
C. S. Lewis’ advice to children on writing is good advice to pastors on preaching, or anybody on talking.
- Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
- Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
- Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."
- In writing, don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "deli…
Especially on Sundays, preaching is paramount in a pastor’s life. When we prepare to preach, we remember that our words should fall “as gentle rain upon the tender grass” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” Such speaking is not simple. Pray for us.
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;…
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distil as the dew,
as the gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and as the showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Ascribe greatness to our God! (Deuteronomy 32:1-3)
Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD,
and like a hammer that
There is a knowing of love that surpasses ordinary knowledge. All thoughtful and true lovers know this. Being loved isn't identical to knowing that one is being loved. This is not spooky. It is in fact gloriously ordinary. Just as a blue sky, a bright sun, a cool breeze, yellow-green leaves, and a new bird-song may hold you in unexpected, unselfconscious thrall for a season, so there are moments when the heart apprehends the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
Paul prayed this for us:
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and h…
On this 40th anniversary of his death, I thank God for the life and cause of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was not the first day that he had met God. Twelve years earlier there was another meeting:
He put his head in his hands and bowed over the table. “Oh Lord,” he prayed aloud, “I’m down here trying to do what is right. But, Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now. I’m afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I can’t face it alone.”
He sat there, his head still bowed in his hands, tears burning his eyes. But then he felt som…
Can a pastor preach on joy when he is feeling little of it?
Yes. He is preaching what the word says and will say it whether he feels it or not.
Yes. He will be praying that in the very preaching of it, the gift of joy might be given. It does happen.
Yes. He will be honest with his people and over time communicate to them that he has his ups and downs and may have to preach on a text that does not find great fulfillment in his life at the time of preaching.
Yes. But over time the disjunction between text and person will undermine the ministry of the word. Preaching is expository exultation, and when the exultation is missing for extended periods of time, life will contradict content and…