Better take a look in the mirror

Mirror mirror...

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.
Romans 2:1
(emphasis mine)

Better take a look in the mirror before I judge someone’s choices.
Better take a look in the mirror before I climb up on my high horse.
Better take a look in the mirror before I raise my eyebrows and look down my nose at someone (you know that look) for the wrong choices they’ve made.
Better take a look in the mirror before I take up a picket sign and protest.
Better take a look in the mirror before I judge how “Christian” someone is.
Better take a look in the mirror before I condemn someone to hell.

Because if God forgives me of all the stuff that I’ve done and continue to do, how can I possibly treat people like they deserve anything less than love? How can I act like I’m the only one who deserves God’s grace? I cannot be quick to condemn others because I deserve the same condemnation.

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I hear the train a comin’

For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.
Acts 28:30 & 31
(emphasis mine)

night trainsI cannot read this verse without hearing Dr. Matson point out that the last word in the book of Acts is the word “unhindered” – a prominent theme in the book.

Because the Gospel Train is coming. You can either get on or get off, but get out of the way.

It is, after all, unhindered. It cannot be stopped.

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Has the Teacher been watching CNN/FoxNews/MSNBC or just reading facebook?

listen to ME!

Dear news anchors, commentators, politicians, correspondents, partisans, political party members, wannabe legal experts on facebook and twitter, talk radio hosts, sports fans, and everyone in between:

I’ll just leave this verse here and let y’all read it…

Spouting off before listening to the facts
is both shameful and foolish.
Proverbs 18:13

That is all. Have a nice day.

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A spiritual purge

Scroll of Isaiah from Qumran at Israel Museum

Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple.
2 Kings 23:24

2 Kings 23 is a laundry list of the shrines, altars, and idols that Josiah destroyed. It’s a laundry list of the items that had crept into the community of faith. They had taken on a lot of junk over the decades. But when they were re-introduced to God’s message, they had to have a spiritual purge to get them back on the right track.

When you stop paying attention to what Scripture says and rely on what you think you remember about what God says, you can wind up accumulating a lot of junk in your life that can lead you away from the path of righteousness. It’s far too easy to say “I think Jesus would do (enter the thing here that you really want to do because surely Jesus wants you to be happy),” without ever bothering to look at Jesus’ life or listen to what he said. And people do that all the time. Shoot – I do it much more than I care to admit.

And if we’re not careful, we’ll keep gathering up all this crud in our lives and eventually find ourselves in the same situation that the people of Judah discovered: lives full of a whole lot of spiritual and religious stuff, but no room for the Spirit of God Himself.

Maybe it’s time for another spiritual purge.

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God keeps showing up

A Light
As I’m reading through the opening chapters of Elisha’s story after Elijah rides into heaven on a chariot of fire, I’ve noticed a trend among the stories. I hadn’t ever realized this common theme when I had read these individual stories on their own – especially when I tried to figure out what the floating ax head had to do with anything. But when you read them all together, one thing is very clear:

In the midst of our dark times, God shows up.

The widow was out of money and her sons were about to be taken away as slaves.
God showed up by providing enough oil for her to be able to pay off her debts (2 Kings 4:1-7).

Elisha promised a woman that she would have a son. That son dies at a young age.
God showed up by bringing the boy back to life (2 Kings 4:31-37).

Elisha’s colleagues were accidentally poisoned
God showed up by curing them (2 Kings 4:38-41).

There was a famine in the land.
God showed up by feeding a hundred people with a few loaves of bread (2 Kings 4:42-44).

A man lost the head of a borrowed ax. How could he repay the man in the midst of a famine?
God showed up by causing the ax head to float (2 Kings 6:1-7).

Aramean raiders threatened to destroy cities in Israel.
God showed up by striking them blind and leading them into a trap (2 Kings 6:8-23).

The King of Aram laid siege on Israel’s capital city. The land was thrust into yet another famine.
God showed up by scaring away the enemy and providing for Israel in one single act (2 Kings 6:24-7:20).

God showed up. Over and over and over again, He arrived at just the right time and showed His power in amazing ways. In the midst of people’s darkest hours, God’s light would shine brightly.

The same is true today. In the midst of our darkness, God’s light shines brightest. In the midst of our helplessness and hopelessness and desperation, God shows up at just the right time in just the right way to shine His light the brightest.

I needed to be reminded of that this week. Friends of ours are in the midst of tragedy. And while I still don’t fully understand why horrible events like this are allowed to happen, I believe more than ever that God is right there in the midst of our sorrow, picking up the pieces of our shattered lives and working in ways that only He can so His light can pierce through the darkness.

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It’s so simple. Or is it complicated?

Enamel plaque Naaman BM

But (Naaman’s) officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’”
2 Kings 5:13

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Acts 15:1

We have a knack for making things more complicated than they really are. Don’t we? Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Don’t chew. Don’t date girls who do. Pray 42 times a day. Attend church every week and if you really want to show you’re dedicated, go on Sunday night and Wednesday night.  Jump through as many hoops as you can to try to somehow possibly earn the affections of the Divine. Because it’s only then that you will find healing. Only then will you find grace. I think it’s pretty easy to relate to the way Naaman felt – there has to be something I can do to make God notice me and heal me. It can’t be as simple as merely taking a bath in a dirty river. And the Judaizers? Don’t get me started. It’s pretty easy to sit back and judge other believers, saying “Well, you can’t really be a Christian if you do this, this, or this. You can only be a true Christian if you act this certain way, do this certain thing, and talk this certain speech.”

Peter shatters that line of thinking. In one sentence, he reminds us of the only thing we need:

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 15:11

It’s that simple. Why do we try to make it so complicated?

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Take your medicine

Nurse Smurfette

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
Proverbs 17:22

Be good medicine for someone today. You might wind up finding healing for yourself, too.

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Another verse I don’t understand: the Lying Spirit

Day three: Music to My Ears

“So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”
1 Kings 22:23


I don’t know what to do with this verse. It’s bothered me for 20+ years.

God sent someone to lie?

Some say that God merely allowed Satan to trick Ahab. That sounds like a bunch of theological gymnastics to me. Because that’s not what the passage says. It says that God initiated this task. Every translation I’ve looked at says that God “put” the lying spirit on their mouths. It sure looks like the Lord was active in sending someone to deceive.

Of course, I don’t like this one bit. This text certainly makes me uncomfortable. But I can’t try to force this Scripture to say something it isn’t saying simply because what it’s saying makes me struggle a little bit. Maybe I have to allow myself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable here. I’ve been living with the tension created by this verse for the last 20+ years. Maybe I need to be willing to just live with that tension. After all, God is much bigger than I am.

Can you help me out? Is there a way you have been able to resolve the tension this verse causes? I’d love to hear it.

PS: Ahab was a scumbag. “The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.’ So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle” (1 Kings 22:30). That is all.

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Wisdom from King…Ahab?

sword, sheath, knife, belt

“A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won.”
King Ahab
1 Kings 20:11

I realized that there’s very little that King Ahab did that was right in Scripture. He was a pretty wicked dude. Even so, you’ve gotta admit that this is pretty good advice.

It’s too bad he didn’t learn much about God’s power – even after He led Israel to victory over the Arameans.

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What do you do when you meet an angel?

St Peter Escapes from Prison

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
1 Kings 19:7

The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!”
Acts 12:7

What do you do when an angel gives you a message from God? You don’t stand around and wait. You don’t say you’re going to pray about it. You don’t dilly-dally around.

You get up. And you do what you’re told.

If you don’t, you’re going to miss out on something amazing – like the whisper of God’s voice or the unfolding of a miracle right before your eyes.

God is on a mission and He’s on the move. There’s no time for dilly-dallying.

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