As students of Jesus, unfortunately we can easily drift from regularly and consistently looking closely at the actual stories of the days when Jesus feet strode the streets of Palestine, found in the four gospel narratives (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). At least I can. By God's grace, the Spirit has drawn me back to John's biographical telling of Jesus' life (the narrative which I most personally connect with.).
As I re-read the story of the wedding at Cana, I closed my eyes and visualized the encounter. I tried to hear the festive wedding sounds, see the celebratory atmosphere (difficult, admittedly, for my 21st century eyes). I meditated on the words found in John 2 and tried to open up my spirit to receive the story, to let it shape me. Rather than analyzing it, I tried to let it rule my heart and mind. This is the difference in Christian meditation: we let God's words - his voice, his Scripture - fill us and form us into the likeness of Messiah Jesus. Yes, we empty o…
The advent of each Fall semester never ceases to shoot an arrow of wonder into my perspective as I watch the campus fill to the brim with 44,000 students from around the world. Hundreds of student organizations litter the campus, representing a mosaic of sub-cultures which make erase any notions of homogeneous UIUC persona. Point in case: this year, 9,400 international students from 115 different nations call UIUC home, pushing the campus to the top of the list of international student enrollments.
Tucked here in the cornfields of east-central Illinois is a crowded campus where young travelers roam, each whom is deeply loved by our Father, each who needs the transforming grace and power of Jesus Christ.
Recently, I had the privilege of sharing a message at our Saturday worship meeting about an "everyday radical" perspective on the subject of mission (We did a five-part Everyday Radical series on sex, money, Sabbath, emotions and mission - you can find the messages online at…
Sitting on couches, chairs, stools and on the floor, we gather around one another. Having just finished up another homemade meal, our home fellowship continues a semester-long conversation on the subject of "getting to know the God whom Jesus reveals."
This night, we’re discussing: "What are the significant words, images, relationships and experiences which have shaped your beliefs about who God is? What are the words of Scripture which dominate your thinking about who God is?" Whether seasoned disciples, baby Christians or spiritual investigators, these questions compel each of us to evaluate our thinking, beliefs and actions about the fundamental question: "Who is God?"
One student talks about his history with his dad and how he is tempted to think of God as a demanding judge who is never satisfied. Another talks about the way media has unhelpfully shaped her thinking about God. We open Scripture and reflect on passages which students suggest. Feeling …
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Who is with me?
The LORD who made the cosmos ex nihilo..
The LORD who walked with Adam in the garden.
The LORD who made a covenant with Noah to never again bring chaos to the earth with a flood.
The LORD who made a covenant with Abraham to give him a son, a good land and to make him a blessing to all peoples on earth.
The LORD who spoke with Moses.
The LORD who spared his people at Passover, liberated them from slavery and carried them through the Red Sea on dry land.
The LORD who revealed his glory to Moses on Sinai.
The LORD who graciously gave his covenant people a good body of law.
The LORD who provided manna, quail and water for 40 years in the barren Sinai wilderness.
The LORD who fulfilled his covenant and led Joshua in a conquest of rebellious inhabitants of Canaan.
The LORD who spoke to Samuel.
The LORD who chose th…
It is common for new testament believers in Jesus Christ to hold a muddled view of the "old testament God." Was God full of grace before the incarnation? Was God less loving and more harsh before the advent of the Messiah? Was God all "law" in the OT and only warm fuzzy grace in the NT?
While it is true that history is a story of God's self-revelation and we have most graciously and clearly seen the radiance of God's glory in Christ Jesus, God is consistent and was compassionate and gracious before the incarnation.
I like what Hill & Walton say in their Survey of the Old Testament on their discussion of Deuteronomy:
"We are used to drawing a sharp contast between law and grace. This would have puzzled the ancient Israelite for whom there was hardly any greater display of God's grace than that demonstrated in his giving of the law. In the ancient Near East, gods were not known for their consistency. Worshipers were left to guess what might plea…
I want to learn to live well. In response to that thought, I know of no other response than to echo the words of Peter who said to Messiah Jesus: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." You alone, Jesus. We turn to you for life. We sit at your feet to learn to live this earthly sojourn. With this in mind, I was freshly bitten with wonder at the words of my Lord, spoken during his trial, as recorded by the apostle John: Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fa…
It was a bustling Friday afternoon at the local Starbucks. I sat in my static perch upon a street side bar stool from which I watched the dynamism of the streetscape move to and fro before me. Given that I was already in a state of contemplation in order to gather my thoughts for an upcoming teaching at Illini Life's large group campus meeting, I was well-positioned to carefully observe the scene which was about to play out before my eyes.
Awash in the refreshing warmth of a beautiful autumn day, two girls with Starbucks in hand were wrapped up in each other's words about their latest college experiences. Separated only by a window pane and anonymity, I watched as a wheelchair slowed to a stop adjacent the girls' cozy table and the two girls' afternoon bliss plummeted from its lofty perch. A woman whose face and posture bore the marks of a somber numbness made acquaintance with these two young women and presumably requested some form of charity. Rarely does such a scen…