Posts by mep06e@acu.edu

Posts by mep06e@acu.edu

Closeup shot of open page with the fifth book of moses called deuteronomy text

Practicing The Shema

After delivering the Shema, the greatest commandment (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), to the Israelites, Moses immediately follows it up by saying, “Keep these words in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your…
Multiethnic friends helping hand outdoor, copy space

To See My Neighbor

When Jesus is asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” he responds with his famous parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The question is not asked in good faith. We’re told that the questioner, an expert in Jewish law, wants to test Jesus and to himself be declared right and justified in the process. So “who is my neighbor?” really means “who is not my neighbor?” The questioner wants to know whom he is allowed to exclude. He wants…
close up of paper with brain shape as dementia symbol

Love Overflowing with Knowledge

The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) calls us to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” But when Jesus quotes the Shema (Matthew 22, Mark 12) he adds “with all your mind” into the mix. We might be prone to keep love and the mind, the emotional and the intellectual, affections and knowledge, in separate hemispheres of life, but Jesus is giving us a gift: these are one cohesive thing. The Bible is…
Mind body soul

Everything God Has Made Us

When we think of the “soul,” we’re probably thinking of the non-physical aspect of our existence, the “real me” that lives on when the body dies. And while it’s true that our life in God is not bound only to our bodies, it’s also true that we get this concept of “soul” more from the Greek philosopher Plato than from Moses, Jesus, or anyone else in the Bible. Plato taught that our present experience of life, the world around us…
Asphalt road in autumn forest at sunrise and road sign

Reoriented

The Shema begins by calling us into silence, that we may hear, and then into our confession that God is one, that the LORD only is worthy of our devotion. So what comes next follows pretty logically. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart.” If God is one, then so shall our love be one, not splintered into many loves, but unified and moved solely toward our one God. The rest of Deuteronomy reiterates this commandment,…
a small pile of broken glass lying on the asphalt

Un-Splintered

The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; “Shema” being the Hebrew word for “hear”) and Deuteronomy as a whole anticipate that once the Israelites move into the promised land, the temptation to idolatry will be a regular struggle. And so it is in The Shema, the daily prayer and greatest commandment according to Jesus, gets us in the habit of saying, “Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” It’s a way of building up immunity to idolatry. If The…
Closeup shot of open page with the fifth book of moses called deuteronomy text

His Answer Begins with “Listen”

Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. This comes from Deuteronomy 6 and is both a commandment and prayer typically referred to as the “Shema” (Hebrew for “hear”/”listen”). In Matthew 22 and Mark 12, Jesus is asked point blank what the first and greatest commandment of Jewish law is, what the most important thing in the…
Chest X-ray

Already Praying

The life of prayer can be intimidating, but it’s not meant to be. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus speaks these words to those he knows have been burdened by religion. Faith has been…
sheep herd on pasture at sunrise

The Birth of a Shepherd

The nativity scenes you see in front yards typically look pretty similar to each other – the baby, Mary and Joseph, some animals, maybe the shepherds and wise men are there. They’re not likely to include a great red dragon looming over Mary’s shoulder, even though that’s how the book of Revelation tells the story. In Revelation 12, we meet a woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her…
Number 1

It’s All One Thing

John 14-17, often referred to as the “farewell discourses,” are the final teachings from Jesus to his disciples in the hours leading up to his arrest. However, John 17 wraps up the farewell discourses not with another teaching but with a prayer. Jesus prays that the Father would be glorified (not unlike teaching us in the Lord’s Prayer to begin praying with “Father, hallowed by thy name”). He prays that the disciples would experience complete joy, be protected from evil,…
Thorn vine

Earning Hatred

“I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus says to us in John 15. His life is our life. What is true of him is true of us. As Jesus goes on in John 15, this also means that his struggle is our struggle. The places he fits in are the places we fit in. And the places he doesn’t fit are the places we don’t fit. Discipleship requires dissonance, like a symphony orchestra playing in perfect accord except for…
Thorn vine

What Remains?

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:5 There’s a mystery at the heart of the Christian faith: how is the God and creator of the universe supposed to communicate with and make himself known to us flawed, limited, sinful humans? In the words of the Psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is so high…