Why Do We Doubt Easy?

NamaanJesus mentioned Naaman once in Luke’s Gospel (4:27).

He used the veteran warrior from Syria to illustrate how God’s prophets go about their business. That inspirational message caused Jesus’ listeners (which is to say his friends and neighbors), to try to drop kick him off a nearby cliff. Less than happy with Jesus’ example, they wanted to see how far the messenger could spiral down before smacking the ground.

However, Jesus “passed through the midst of them, and went on his way.” In other words, he escaped a lynch mob. Preachers and writers: beware when Naaman is mentioned!

But why not talk about him? (You prepare your escape from angry crowds while I plan mine.)

Though the name Naaman surfaces several times in the Bible, I’m interested in the fellow that starred in the fifth chapter of Second Kings. Outside of Kings and Luke, this particular Naaman barely registers. As with many Biblical characters, he appears and then vanishes. But while “on stage,” he makes an impact (and I don’t mean like a body falling off a cliff.) Naaman, a “commander of the army of the King of Aram,” or Syria for modern Googlers, is by all accounts a warrior, feared and fearsome.

In other words, one tough dude. Continue reading →

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On the River Flows

Jeanie's photo
She had captured the river, leaning over an edge to see the liquid thread of life that created, and keeps creating, the grandest of canyons.

The Grand Canyon is . . . grand.

And then rattle off more glowingly descriptive and never adequate adjectives.

While heading for Colorado and a family gathering, we stayed in Flagstaff, Arizona for several days and couldn’t resist an opportunity to visit the nearby park. My wife Jeanie had never seen the breathtaking “hole in the ground.” I had visited the Grand Canyon twice, once as a kid, and once in my mid-twenties while in seminary.

Flagstaff, a boisterous burg in Arizona’s northern half, is an easy drive to the park’s entrance. Though limited by time, my cranky knees, and a dog in the backseat (pets aren’t allowed on the canyon’s below-the-rim trails), we at least wanted to buy an overpriced T-shirt and to make sure Jeanie witnessed one of the natural wonders of the world.

And yet she wanted more. Continue reading →

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Don’t Take Pentecost So Literally


I was born and raised in California where Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco are prominent cities. Rivers flowing within the state’s borders include the San Joaquin and Merced. The Golden State is famous for the El Camino Real, the wandering trail linking the twenty-one Roman Catholic missions founded by Father Junípero Serra between 1769-1823.

History proclaims a lesson in Spanish nearly everywhere in California. I went to school by Sacramento, the town of the sacrament. My grandparents owned a farm near the Merced River, the river of mercy. In elementary school, learning Spanish was required. Though not as extensive as the proverbial 3 Rs of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, we studied the language of Father Serra and those famous missions.

I was lousy at Spanish, even after escaping the elementary years. At most, I can count to ten:  uno, dos, trace, cuatro, cinco . . . Continue reading →

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