Bleeding Ink for Christ’s Sake

Galatians 1:1-12 – The second Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, May 29, 2016

“If I were still trying to please people, I wouldn’t be Christ’s slave.” (Galatians 1:10)

It’s never easy to craft a note with honest, heartfelt criticism. Especially when it’s to a person, or people, you deeply care about.

When Paul wrote to the folks at Galatia, his intentions were obvious in the opening sentences: confronting their false faith, challenging them to choose “the grace of Christ,” and asserting his claims to authority.

Galatians is the ninth of twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

According to most scholars, it’s indisputably one of Paul’s authentic works.

Along with Romans and the Corinthian correspondence, it reveals Paul’s theology, serving as a benchmark for “Pauline” Christianity.

For believers, it is sacred text and holy verses.

And yet, isn’t Galatians first the most difficult of love letters?

Paul frets. Paul worries. Paul struggles. Paul . . . loves. Continue reading →

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The Woman in Purple (or Acts as a Movie)

Acts 16:9-15 – The 6th Sunday of Easter – for May 1, 2016

“One of those women was Lydia, a Gentile God-worshipper from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth.” (Acts 9:14)

PurpleWeave
A dealer in purple cloth . . .

They met down by the river, some Jews, a handful of Gentiles, and the usual suspects from other places beyond the city of Philippi.

Paul, with Timothy and Silas, ventured to the riverbank. It was Friday, the Sabbath. According to the 16th chapter in Acts, they’d been in Philippi only a few days. Their visit to this strange-to-them speck on the map of Rome’s empire was inspired by a vision Paul had one night.

In the vision a man of Macedonia urged Paul to come and help.

To bring the good news of Jesus?

To bring the good news of Jesus!

And so a dream with a mysterious man from a faraway locale compelled these spirit-fed, God-led disciples of Jesus to venture into the unfamiliar. They chose to trust a midnight hint, a divine nudge, a vision that lingered after waking.

Sometimes that’s enough. Continue reading →

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Blindsided

Acts 9:1-20 – Third Sunday of Easter – for April 10, 2016

“After they picked Saul up from the ground, he opened his eyes but he couldn’t see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus…” (Acts 9:8)

What horse?
Caravaggio’s “Conversion on the Way to Damascus”

Back* in 2009, The Blind Side made wheelbarrows of money and garnered Sandra Bullock an Oscar. I recently watched it again. The film’s title refers to a football team’s need to protect a quarterback’s blind side. Nasty things can happen when a quarterback focuses on a receiver while an unseen opponent approaches to thwart the play.

But it’s more than a football phrase.

There’s still Survivor, the ancient reality show. Contestants fret about blindsides. When—not if—will another player stab them in the proverbial back? Promises will be tossed under a bus . . . or the nearest coconut tree.

Years ago—yes, I recall the exact date—a United Methodist District Superintendent called to say I’d be moving to a different church. Nothing like answering the phone near bedtime to learn your whole world has been upended. He and I never got along. But he possessed the bureaucratic power to rearrange my future. Call me blindsided.

Have you been blindsided? Hasn’t everyone experienced a “bad” thing that unexpectedly caused havoc? Continue reading →

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