Church Blog

Church Blog

Austria, Tyrol, couple hiking at Unterberghorn at sunrise

Let There Be Light, Again

The way the Gospel of Mark tells the story of the crucifixion, Jesus has nothing eloquent to say in his final moments, nothing like, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” or “It is finished.” The way Mark tells the story, Jesus’ final moments include only him screaming and then dying (Mark 15:37). We’re meant to witness the complete agony and complete despair that Jesus is experiencing on this day. Mark wants us to know how miserable Jesus is, and…

When the Joy Is Mixed with Fear

Here is Easter according to Mark 16:1-8, the joyful proclamation that we hear from the mysterious messenger in the tomb: “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has been raised! He’s not here anymore!” But for as good as this good news is, it’s sandwiched in between a lot of despair and crippling fear. Just because Jesus is risen doesn’t mean our hearts immediately find rest. We don’t immediately experience this good…
Gardening tools and spring flowers in the garden. Gardening concept.

New Creation

As John 20 begins, three days after Jesus’ death and right before dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene approaches the tomb where her grief has brought her and sees that the stone in front of it has already been rolled away. Thinking there has been a grave robbery, she runs to tell the other disciples. Peter and “the beloved disciple” (whose real name is never told to us) now run to the tomb. The beloved disciple looks…
Closeup shot of a sledgehammer with shallow depth of field on a concrete floor

Break, Smash, Burn

The first eleven chapters of Deuteronomy deal with the big picture – history lessons and spiritual foundations (like the Shema). Chapter 12 begins the nitty gritty commandments of Deuteronomy, the tangible “here’s what to do with your hands and feet” kind of commandments. And the first thing the Israelites are to do is to break, smash, and burn anything that has anything to do with an idol. (Deuteronomy 12:2-3) How startling (and how invigorating) that the life of covenant faithfulness…
Remember - notepad and pen

What God Has Already Done

Perhaps the most under-talked about sin in all of scripture is the sin of forgetfulness, the sin of forgetting that life and livelihood are a gift, and forgetting the gift giver himself. The book of Deuteronomy is essentially Moses’ farewell address before Israel crosses over the Jordan River into the land that God has been promising them since their ancestor Abraham (nearly 500 years earlier). They’ve spent 40 years in the wilderness living on simple manna, but now they are…
A young man is reading the holy scriptures pointing to a Bible topic. bible book Bible reading

Wisdom, Provision, Joy

Some of what we encounter in the book of Deuteronomy strikes us as strange and obscure (which will be true of anything written for people who lived thousands of years ago). But at the heart of Deuteronomy is a God who wants to make a covenant with his people. Deuteronomy is God’s way of saying, “Come, my beloved, let us enter into covenant relationship with each other and let us express the ways in which we will practice our faithfulness…
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…