SpiritWalkers

Devotions for Thinking Christians
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The world is on edge right now. Troops muster, missiles fly; hate and violence cast a pall of fear at home and abroad. We feel a sense of unity with those who share our views on world events but more divided than ever from those who don't. New alliances are made but often at the high cost of once-cherished relationships that now lie in the dust.

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Jephthah's Daughter

I have been resonating with a Bible story lately--and not one of the "nice" ones. It is the story in Judges 11:29-40 of Jephthah's Daughter.

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Sermon on the mount

Christians make a big deal out of "discipleship." We claim that we are disciples of Jesus and most churches consider the call of Jesus to "Go into all the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19) to be at the heart of their mission. Our discipleship doesn't seem to be showing.

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Lent is a time when I used to respond to the call to give something up for 40 days. But as life got harder and loss piled upon loss, I began to resent being told that I had to give up something else for Lent.

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A dark pit

"For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit."    --Psalm 16:10

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The Communion of Saints Tapestry by John Nava

Last summer, the house I grew up in went on the market and I went to an open house. Things had changed, of course. Some of the changes were intentional, but mostly the house and lovely grounds were simply showing their age.  Small trees were large trees, the basketball court was like an archaeological discovery in a jungle overgrowth.  The apple orchard was gone.

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Tree mirrored in water showing all four seasons

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
                                                              Ecclesiastes 3:1              

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Gandalf the Grey from Lord of the Rings

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
                                                                                                                  J.R.R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring.

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"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."                             Philippians 4:8-9

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Crucifixion painting by Anthony van Dyck circa 1622

As I wrote my new book, Introducing the New Testament, one thing became increasingly clear to me.   As I wrote about Jesus the man, Jesus the Jewish rabbi, and Jesus the Christ I realized that although we Christians revere Jesus as the Christ and learn to live our lives through the teaching of Jesus the rabbi, we sing songs like "Oh, How I Love Jesus" because of Jesus the man.  And that emotion is thoroughly rooted in Good Friday.

While Good Friday church attendance makes clear that most people would like to avoid the dark and horror of crucifixion and go straight to the Hallelujah's of Easter morning, we don't, in the end, love Jesus becaues he was resurrected.  We love Jesus because he died.