A Tale of Two Betrayers

Matthew wove a subtle thread through his crucifixion account.  All the Gospel writers detailed Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but only Matthew recorded what happened to Judas afterward (Mt 27.3-5; cf. Acts 1.18f.).  He did so in such a way to compare and contrast Judas with Peter: two deniers of Jesus.  Matthew magnified the sovereignty and grace of Jesus to secure his own despite their failings. Satan tried every tactic to […]

Confessions of a Smooth Talker

You recognize smooth talk when you hear it.  Sometimes it’s too late, though, after you’ve set your heart on what you’ve heard.  By then you’ve likely given away something you never thought you would. Smooth talk is a grifter.  Thievery’s chiseled but sinister cousin.  Always cutting the corner as he pickpockets his way out of town.  He was good. Too good.  He said just enough but never quite enough.  He […]

Take Up Your Cross, and Stay There

“In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him and saying, ‘He saved others;  he cannot save Himself.  He is the King of Israel;  let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.  HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM;  for He said, “I am the Son of God.”‘” (Mt 27.41–43) Tell me if […]

Should Christians Buy a Powerball Ticket?

The current Powerball estimate is over $1 billion and counting.  It’s no wonder a recent article in The Atlantic cited this staggering statistic: “According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, lotteries took in $70.1 billion in sales in the 2014 fiscal year. That’s more than Americans in all 50 states spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets, and recorded music sales.” The article concludes: “In an age […]

Jesus, The Feminist

A woman beds her father-in-law and then blackmails him when she becomes pregnant. A prostitute conspires with two Israeli spies to ambush her town. A widowed woman dolls herself up to catch a man, her disenfranchised mother-in-law’s idea to stay solvent. A woman commits adultery with a king while her husband is deployed in the king’s war. A small town’s finest church-going teenager mysteriously gets pregnant out of wedlock and no one knows who […]

Jesus Cannot Be Serious

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Pt 5.6-7). I do a fair bit of worrying.  I worry about long-term, epitaph-related matters like vocation, character and legacy. I worry about our kids’ futures and my wife’s health. I worry about what might happen and what most likely won’t.  I […]

Don’t Pray More or Better, Pray Like Jesus

Eugene Peterson writes in Tell it Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (pp51-52): “Prayer can be learned only in the vocabulary and grammar of personal relationship: Father!  Friend!  It can never be a matter of getting the right words in the right order.  It can never be a matter of good behavior or proper disposition or skillful manipulation.  It can never be a […]

Christmas: The End of a Family Feud

For many families Christmas is as much about family feuds as it is family feasts.  But there is no greater family feud than that on display at the first Christmas. As God slipped into town through the ghetto, Satan stirred in the palace. Herod the Great heard someone Greater had been born (Mt 2.2).  And in Bethlehem no less, which only added to the Messianic lore (Mt 2.5). There had been […]

How Can a Sinless God Sympathize with Guilty People?

As part of God’s sanctifying providence Christians must endure difficult seasons of frustration. Some will be brief and others lengthy, but they will all test our affections and whittle away our worldliness. Our questions will not always be about God’s power or authority but about his care. Will he indeed mend the wounds he is right to cause? Answers will be few for most of them or at least selfishly […]

The Difficulty of Praying “Father, You”

I will never forget a life-altering lesson learned fifteen years ago from my New Testament professor at Southern Seminary (long live Mother Southern).  Dr. Mark Seifrid began each class with prayer.  But not just any prayer.  It was prayer remarkably different from the rote, I-know-exactly-what-this-deacon-is-going-to-pray-before-the-offering sort of prayers.  They were far different than the “bless the gift and the giver for the nourishment of our bodies” variety.  Dr. Seifrid’s prayers […]