Visiting folks in the hospital always raises the question about God and healing. Does God heal, and if so, why does it seem to occur so rarely? Is God's power waning, or does He just not care? I've prayed for healing over many people both at home and in the church. Why do I not see "miraculous" healing more often?
Jesus once asked an invalid, "Do you want to be healed?" (John 5:6) This may seem like a silly question, perhaps even rude, but maybe it reveals more about both God and us than we realize.
Interesting how packing to move has shed light on Syrian refugees and ministry. I had to wrap up a large framed poster of a photographed lion that hangs over my desk. My wife had it framed and matted for me before we moved to New Orleans ten years ago. The lion is galloping toward the camera. Eyes locked. Locked on you, or through you? Will the lion eat you, or is he on his way to something? The quote framed with my photo: "Aslan is not safe, but He's good."
Strangely, looking at ancient ruins challenged me to consider what matters most. I doubt the people who lived in the basalt-stone homes of Capernaum ever thought someone would want to see the remains of their dwellings two thousand years later. If the remains of my house were even able to last two thousand years, would there be any remarkable reason to study them? Would the ruins of my home testify to a remarkable moment in history as the ruins in Capernaum do?
The shelves in Christian bookstores display orderly rectangles of bound pages promising neatly packaged ways to deal with a messy life. Daily radio broadcasts by para-ministries attempt to encourage strong families and share better ways to navigate every area of life. All too often, however, they can make our sense of inadequacy worse. What if I fail to do a family devotion every single night? What if I fail to write my congressman? What if I fail to have a balanced budget or fail to take my wife on a date this week? Will my kids grow up to be axe murders?
Goliath's skull is found. The final resting place of Noah's ark discovered. There have been some wild archaeological claims over the years. I also know there have been some credible and helpful finds in biblical archaeology, but I'll admit that I cautiously and rarely cite archaeology (or statistics) in my preaching. But now, I'm challenged to reconsider archaeology in sermons. Here's why...
We parked on a small turn-around off of a highway in the Galilean countryside. Men were sitting next to their ice cream truck, hoping to gain some customers from the traffic and tourists like us. We walked down an overgrown, steep path through a tree-covered area where people were camping. Then, after walking down another steep, overgrown path, I found myself standing by the Jordan River. Immediately, I was struck by the almost cobblestoned riverbed, half inundated and half exposed. This detail shed new light on a familiar story...
My trip to Israel is coming to a close and it appears there will be several mysteries left to solve. We have been digging in an ancient tunnel and the experts are trying to determine its nature and purpose. It is awesome to be part of such a project as it is one of the most important archaeological digs in Israel at this time. I'm looking forward to what will be discovered in the coming years, but here's what I've been up to for three weeks...
My son recently asked me what languages I knew. Very little Spanish. A little more German. Mostly ancient Greek and Hebrew. (I forgot to tell him about my rough Pig Latin). He said, "Teach me some Greek." The first word that came to mind was doulos. I told him what it meant and something unexpected happened...
NBC has a series of public service announcements entitled "The More You Know." It offers advice on navigating pressing social issues. The general idea is that if we are just aware and have the information, we can make good decisions, be healthier, and safer. Does it really come down to being informed?
It seems the media is more prepared for Easter than many Christians. CNN has been running a "fact and fiction" series and related articles on the life of Jesus. NBC will air A.D. - The Bible Continues on Easter. The Discovery Channel will likely run one of their highly inaccurate shows.
If such media existed in the first century, what would the headlines have been?