Time is Near

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy and blessed are those who hear and keep what is written in it; for the time is near.” [Revelation 1:3]

We are beginning a trek through the first four chapters of The Revelation to John this coming Sunday. In the opening verses of The Revelation to John the phrase, “for the time is near,” appears. Given the popularized notion that this biblical book is simply a foretelling of events at the end of time this phrase has an ominous feeling. But did you see and hear Continue reading Time is Near

Whom Shall I Send?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I.’” [Isaiah 6:8]

As we slowly emerge from this pandemic laden world, I wonder what the voice of God is saying to us? In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah had a vision of God in the temple. Seraphs called to one another saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” In the presence of this glory Continue reading Whom Shall I Send?

Only You Know

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

“So, I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them… I prophesied as God commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.” [Ezekiel 37:7–8, 10]

Ezekiel has been brought by the hand of God to a desolate valley. Everything is dry, very dry and brittle bones lay scattered across the parched landscape. Then God says to Ezekiel words that pierce his comfort, “Mortal, can these bones live?” What is like Continue reading Only You Know

Decision Making and Prayer

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

“So, one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us to the resurrection. So, they proposed two…[and] then they prayed.” [Acts 1:21-23a, 24a]

The eleven disciples were making a significant decision, choosing someone from among them who would restore their numbers back to twelve. We know the vacancy occurred because of a betrayal. So, care in choosing the new disciple was important. The text tells us that after Continue reading Decision Making and Prayer

Who Calls You Friend?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” [John 15:15]

Jesus is at table with his disciples on the night of his arrest. In the Gospel of John, Jesus imparts his final wisdom on this night. He washes the feet of his disciples demonstrating that he came to serve, not to be served. He gave his disciples Continue reading Who Calls You Friend?

Are You Connected?

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 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… My Father is glorified in this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” [John 15:4-5, 8]

This spring I have enjoyed a plentiful crop of lemons thanks to my neighbor’s tree. Beautifully bright and cheery lemons greet me each morning, for the tree was pruned well and new growth blossomed plentifully. But, when a branch too laden with fruit fractured and broke earlier this year, lemons were lost. The branch was no longer connected to its source of nutrients that made bearing fruit possible. We, too, are like branches that can be fractured and severed from our source. Jesus doesn’t mince words in this passage for he says, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Being fruitful can exhaust us. Being overly fruitful can even cause fractures in our relationship with the True Vine.  I am keenly aware of this truth in my own life. It is why I have intentional contemplative practices such as journaling and meditation, silence and time in the natural world. I need the nutrients that the True Vine offers.  Yet, if I am only focused on producing fruit abundantly and not concerned with my connection to the True Vine, then I may fracture and break like my neighbor’s lemon tree branch. How do you nurture your connection to the True Vine, so that you can continually bear fruit for the glory of God?

Prayer

True Vine, I am thankful for the nutrients you supply my life that make it possible for me to bear fruit that glorifies you. Help me to develop daily practices that keep our connection healthy and strong, for I know that apart from you I can do nothing other than bring glory to myself. Amen.

One Flock

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me… I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd.” [ John 10:14, 16]

Whenever I read this passage from the Gospel of John, I hear the words of the psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  I also hear the prophet Ezekiel as he talks about Israel’s false shepherds and that God alone is our true shepherd.  I also see in my minds’ eye the classic painting of Jesus with a lamb over his shoulder. What comes to mind for you when Continue reading One Flock

Bearing Witness

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

“And Jesus said [to the disciples], ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so, stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” [Luke 24:46-49]

In the Gospel of Luke, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women went to the tomb. They were the first to remember Jesus’s words and to bear witness to the empty tomb. Yet, the disciples assumed the women were telling idle tales! No wonder the disciples were terrified when Continue reading Bearing Witness

Firsthand Experience

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

“But Thomas (who was called the twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’”

There is a saying that goes, “Seeing is believing.” I wonder if Thomas was the inspiration for this saying. Thomas has eyewitness accounts from his fellow disciples of the risen Christ and yet he still will not believe! What about you?  Are you quick to believe when Continue reading Firsthand Experience

Not Here!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

“5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell…” [Mark 16:5-7a]

Oh, how we all long for a resurrection! For a resurrection from the confines of the tomb of the pandemic. For a resurrection from the confines of social isolation and social distancing. From the tomb of a year that has felt more like a decade.  I can’t image the confines of Continue reading Not Here!