Over the years, my satisfaction with the word of God has moved me to write songs to various passages. To date I have over nine hours of Bible passages set to music–over 100 full or partial chapters of the Bible (see my growing list here). If that sounds like I’m boasting in the broadness of my phylactery (Matthew 23:5), I assure you I am not. When I look at the number of passages I have sung versus the number of passages I have yet to write music for, I’m ashamed at how much of the Bible I do not know with my whole heart, the way I know these ones. It’s a mere sliver.
And yet, I am not discouraged. Each passage that I sing is bound to my forehead, as it were, right where God wants it, ever before me, rattling in front of my eyes where I can’t forget about it. Haven’t you ever Read More…
We humans need every reminder we can get that the Bible contains the very words of God, spoken from the same mouth which created us and which continually sustains our lives. In the Bible song I’m sharing this month (Deuteronomy 6:4-12) God essentially tells his people to do whatever they need to do to remember his word. Tie it around your wrist. Strap it to your head. Graffiti it on your front door if that’s what you have to do. Which is why this devout Israeli soldier looks like this:
I’m not telling you to dress like this guy, or to confine yourself to a study all day and copy the Bible in calligraphy. The gospel, we are told, has accomplished much more than any phylactery (also called tefillah.) “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts,” God promised in the days of Jeremiah. And that is just what he has done by the presence of his Spirit in us, continually speaking the word of God–his word–to our hearts (Hebrews 10:15-25). Read More…
Branches have secrets. They are capable of a kind of faithfulness that is truly remarkable–a faithfulness God desires and requires of his people. Branches–woody, tasteless, and hard–are capable of squeezing out sweet, juicy, yummy fruit, but the secrets by which they do this may surprise you.
One of the biggest detours Christians take when they read John 15 happens when they mistakenly fixate on Read More…
This is the trunk end of an olive tree. See the spriggy pieces in the foreground in front of the moss? They look like miniature trees–which is essentially what they are. They’re “shoots,” branches that grow up from the root of the original tree. We have them on all our trees, too, and when they show up you just have to cut them off and haul them away because chances are, they aren’t going to produce any fruit. Sometimes they’re even called suckers, because normally all they do is steal resources from the plant without giving anything back. In Hebrew, the word for these unwanted branches is “netzer.” And yes, there is a point to all this.
But first, a short story…
Last winter our avocado tree froze. Eventually, it died. When John, my husband, went out to do something about it he noticed that a netzer had shot up from the tree roots and was passing up the actual tree. The netzer was green and healthy; the original tree was brown and shriveled. Read More…
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First things first: How we know God can raise the dead
The Bible opens with a declaration that God loves life. Genesis’ account of the origin of life does not describe the supposed long and lethargic mutation of evolution, but an explosive, noisy, springing forth of creatures at God’s command.
The water teems and bubbles with living creatures, the birds fill the sky, the land breaks forth with walking, crawling, slithering, hopping things. I assume they didn’t take long to begin making noise, looking for food, moving, snorting, rooting. Activity everywhere. Colors, sounds, and textures of every kind. Creatures ranging from bizarre to cuddly. And God loved it.
Genesis 1 provides the foundation for the biblical hope of resurrection. Were it not for God’s delight in life, his determination to bring forth life where once it did not exist, and his power to do so, we would have no hope that he is able or that he even desires to bring us back to life from the darkness and void of sin. Genesis 1 provides a thesis statement for the whole Bible:
God loves life, and he loves to give life!
And on that premise, the story continues. Read More…