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Prayer as Revolt

Prayer as Revolt
This week I read a quote from a favorite theologian, Karl Barth. He said: “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” I would like to unpack what he said, and to refer to some words of Jesus which I think are behind what Dr. Barth wrote. Let me begin with two questions about Professor Barth’s quote. First of all why would he say there is disorder in the world? And secondly, if there is disorder, mustn’t it be God’s will?
Why say there is disorder in the world? God created a perfect and orderly world, but because of human sin and because (as a result) we live in a fallen creation, the world God created is clearly no longer the world we live in. We live in a world where children die, where wars kill, where famine rages, and where some people are still literally enslaved while others live in bondage to fear, hatred, and addiction. In so many other ways the fallenness of the creation and of our lives is evident. Without …

All I Need to Know About God, I See in Jesus

All I Need to Know About God, I See in Jesus
OK, I’ll admit there is a problem here. I could easily have written “All I need to know about God I find in the Bible (the Old and New Testaments.)” I could have written it, because it is also true.
However, at the end of the day, God is more than a truth revealed in the pages of a book. God is a Person, fully revealed (Yes, through the Bible!)in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Bible, as God’s Word, is clear that God is fully revealed in Jesus. In other words, the Book does not tell me that God is revealed in a book. The Book tells me that God is most fully and finally revealed in a Person, in Jesus, as we know Him in this book.
OK then why do I read the Old Testament? (I read from the Psalms almost every day.) Because in the Psalms and the rest of the Old Testament God is revealed, but in a way that leaves me hungering for more. In the Old Testament, God is revealed incompletely, in bits and pieces. He is revealed like flowers strewn along th…
Two Views of Healing,  Part Two
For last  week’s newspaper column, I wrote “Two Views of Healing, Part One.” The next day I got results from a CT scan which show that the virulent kind of lymphoma that I was in remission from after chemotherapy has returned. We will learn more next week. Even though I knew these test results were upcoming when I wrote the article, having gotten the results makes what I write about healing this week even more, as they say, “existential.”
Since last week I have had conversations with friends and dear family, and I have some new insights. First of all as someone who has an illness, I am delighted when people pray for me, whether they are praying “Lord heal him if it be thy will,” or just “Lord heal him!” If my earlier article said anything that would dishearten or discourage anyone praying for me or for anyone else, I apologize! The prayers of the saints matter, and they don’t have to follow a formula or a law! “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is lib…

Two Views of Healing, Part I

Two Views of Healing, Part I
As I write this (for the newspaper) I am going today and tomorrow for my 6 months checkup to see if a serious form of cancer has returned. I should get results tomorrow. {The next day, before I post this to my blog, I have initial results and it looks like my lymphoma has returned. Ironically, my negative diagnosis of today does not really affect what I will write this week or next week!}
Divine healing is always on my mind, but that is so more than usual today. I think there are basically two approaches to divine healing that I want to talk about today and next time. Actually there are three but the first one I want to dismiss outright: that approach is that either there is no God and therefore God does not heal or that there is a God but He is just uninvolved in the world and in our lives, (a view called Deism), and therefore that “god” doesn’t heal. To me this theory is completely incongruent with the Bible, where God is very involved in His creation, a…

Considering Heaven’s Perspective

Considering Heaven’s Perspective
Recently Vicky and I were visiting my 95 year-old mom in North Carolina where I grew up.One of the things we also did was visit the grave of my brother, Lloyd, who died in 1953 when he was 10 ½ months old and I was 4 ½ years old. At the time, his death was very sad to me and to our family, and it still is. Even now, I wrestle with God about what seems like his untimely death. At the same time I look forward very much to seeing him in heaven.
Since returning from Carolina, I have been thinking about the fleetingness of life. James 4:14 says, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." Earlier in that same chapter James writes:"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spir…
Beholding the Beauty of the Lord
I was reading a verse this morning, one of my favorites in the Scriptures.
“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4 (ESV)
Recently my wife and I were blessed to see some beautiful cathedrals and Christian art in Europe. I remember that when I first saw some of these places as a student, forty-nine years ago, that the sheer beauty of these Christian edifices got my attention spiritually during what was otherwise largely a time of spiritual wandering and significant doubt. I want to share two accounts of how Christian art has brought people to Christ.
Last year in the Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent wrote an article entitled, “One in six young people are practising Christians, new figures show, as research suggests thousands convert after vis…
After Easter, What?
Most Christians celebrated Resurrection Sunday—Easter—last Sunday, April 1, but Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate it one week later, April 8. (This is because in the east people use the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar.) But whenever we celebrate it, Easter is the celebration of the fact, and reality, that Jesus of Nazareth, after having been crucified, dead and buried, rose from the dead the third day! This is the very heart of our faith!!
As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World,” https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-easter-effect-and-how-it-changed-the-world-1522418701 put it: “There is no accounting for the rise of Christianity without weighing the revolutionary effect on those nobodies of what they called “the Resurrection”: their encounter with the one whom they embraced as the Risen Lord, whom they first knew as the itinerant Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, and who died an agonizing and shame…