“The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’”
Seldom appearing in the lists of biblical heroes, Hagar and her story give me hope and a reminder.
Born in Egypt, Hagar finds herself hundreds of miles from anything familiar as a house servant to a Hebrew woman who cannot bear children. The woman’s husband has been promised by God that all of humanity will be blessed through his offspring, and it is between this promise and the couple’s doubts that Hagar’s destiny is defined. She becomes a man-made solution to a God-sized challenge. Unknowingly, she moves from obscurity to history’s center stage.
. . . and it’s showtime.
Continue reading “On the way to Shur”
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?” Job 38:31-33
God’s questions to the broken man, Job, are deep and daunting.
There is a unique mixture of compassion and correction in their tone as God seeks to update Job’s understanding of who He is by taking him to the end of his knowledge.
But I am grateful for that.
As my three sons near and step into manhood, I have had more and more opportunities to talk with them about those steps and what they mean.
More often than not, these conversations begin with great questions, too. But as time has gone by, the questions have changed and ended, recently, with a Job-like surprise. Here’s what I mean…
When the boys were just little guys, their questions were direct and easy.
Continue reading “Good Questions”
“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” Psalms 40:4
On February 5, 1976, Franz Klammer created an international sensation skiing the men’s Olympic downhill in 1:45.73 seconds. He skied like no one before him. He averaged about 64 miles per hour over silky powder in the crisp air of the Austrian Alps. He earned a gold medal and a top spot in Olympic history.
Whenever I think of the Winter Olympics, I think of Alpine skiing and the men’s downhill. I think of people like Franz Klammer and a unique behavior that sharpens champion skiers. Simply, it is this:
Continue reading “Making and remaking”
“And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them . . .” Mark 6: 47-48a
I have a deep respect for storms.
Living in the Midwest, I have nurtured a wariness for weather’s fury: the power of sudden, golf-ball sized hail in a summer thunderstorm, the screaming wind that announces the arrival of an F-4 tornado overhead, the smothering white-out of a winter blizzard rolling over the the frozen prairie land of Illinois . . . mountains of powdery, dry snow . . . and the deafening silence after.
Storms have a way of commanding our attention. Sometimes, too much.
Read the story of Jesus walking on water in the middle of a huge storm, and see this picture: the night’s blackness, the pitching waves in the Sea of Galilee, the growing unease with what may be coming, the small group of men in an open fishing boat terrified of it all.
But focus too much on the storm, and we can miss one of those, ” wait a minute. . . ” moments that signal something . . . astonishing.
Continue reading “Against them.”
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, . . . put off your old self. . . . and be renewed in the spirit of your minds . . . “Ephesians 4:17-24
When I was a young student, every class day would begin with our reciting the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance. We said it every day, and then we’d sing a patriotic hymn of our teacher’s choosing.
The words we spoke or sung fell easily from our lips, because we had said or sung them over and over again . . . for years.
We were learning what it meant to be an American.
But it wasn’t always that way. Continue reading “True ways”
“Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt. . .” Acts 7:39
What is it about memory that calls us to recount days gone by, to live and relive the hazy moments of our past?
Continue reading “To Egypt”
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1
When I was a young boy, my dad took me fishing on the lake near our home. Gathering all of our tackle and poles, we boarded a small boat one Saturday afternoon, pushed off from the wooden, creaking dock and rowed toward a series of small inlets near the western shore on the opposite side. (It was a 30-minute trip when the wind was with us.) In the gray/green of hidden, shadowed coves, “the big ones” lay gently moving in the cool stillness of the deep.
That was our goal. We knew where to go. We knew the way to get there, but there was just one challenge, a familiar challenge: Continue reading “Driftwood”
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:4-8 (emphasis mine.)
As a dad with three man-sons, my wife and I have to insist on certain kinds of behavior from them: “Stop jumping on the bed; slow down; wash behind your ears; tell the truth; leave the frog in the pond; say you’re sorry; go to sleep; drink your milk; say your prayers; stop and think . . . ,” all with varying degrees of compliance.
Why do we do that? Continue reading “Next”
“. . . and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord . . .” 2 Chronicles 5:13
Solomon has just completed the construction of Israel’s first, permanent temple. This passage is one sentence from many that describe the grateful king’s dedication ceremony. As a musician, I notice passages like this, and they stop me in my tracks. In this scene, there were 120 priests participating, each with a trumpet. That’s an impressive ensemble if only for scale, but what stuns me here is not the size of the group but what they were doing: they are playing in unison – all together – same notes, same rhythms, same volume. They are one.
How did they do that? Continue reading “Unison”
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:17
When I was a boy, I had a monthly subscription to the magazine, Sports Afield. It was an awesome magazine, full of colorful pictures of wide-eyed, antlered deer in deep woods, huge bass splashing on a line a foot above the rippled surface of a country pond, profiles of tough men telling dangerous hunting stories. I loved their daring journeys through desolate mountain passes. As I read these articles and saw these pictures, I was transformed into a great hunter/fisherman/outdoor expert. I loved it. Among the courageous, I was one of them. This was my personal catelogue of adventure.
There was just one problem: I didn’t actually do any of it. Continue reading “Vicarious”