The Elegance of Faith

The Elegance of Faith

Recently I reached out to a young woman—I had the blessing to walk alongside her during her journey of coming to faith in Jesus several years ago. She came to mind because I am in the process of preparing a talk for a women’s gathering titled, “Blind Faith to Confident Hope,” and I was curious if there were any answers that were especially meaningful to her at the time.

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Who is my King?

Who is my King?

Jesus came to us to be our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Of all the ministries filled by Jesus, this is probably the one we think about the least. Why? Is our avoidance due to our impressions of flawed human kings of history and this world—who have often been despotic in their rule, or the other extreme, mere figureheads? But when Jesus mounted a donkey to enter into Jerusalem six days before His Crucifixion He was pronouncing Himself King. Before any of us reject the Kingship of Jesus perhaps we should consider the many differences between His Kingship and that of the world’s kings:

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Waiting for a good purpose!

Waiting for a good purpose!

A first reading of this verse forces us to ask the question: If Jesus loved them, why would He have waited two days before He went to them? By the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. He had suffered the pain and agony of dying. His sisters had cared for him during his illness, and then grieved his death with sorrow and weeping. In the meantime, Jesus had been performing miracle after miracle elsewhere, as signs that He was the Son of God. If He really loved his friends, shouldn’t He have run to heal Lazarus? Shouldn’t He have spared them of this suffering and grief?

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God is Bigger than the Boogie man

God is Bigger than the Boogie man

My children were too old to enjoy Veggie Tales when its series of videos, books and songs came out. But I have had another chance to be entertained by the collection, for even at five-months old, my grandson is captivated by the music of the cartoon vegetables. Now that I have gotten over the ridiculousness of talking and singing vegetables, I have to admit, I find myself singing the songs over and over again in my head.

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I was blind, now I see!

I was blind, now I see!

Last year, I wrote a blog about the man born blind, whose story is recorded in John 9. I have referred to him as the “one thing man.” After Jesus healed him, the religious leaders of the day interrogated him. They tried to discredit what had happened to him in an attempt to discredit Jesus as well. First, some claimed that he wasn’t the same man. When that was verified, they tried to prove that he had not been born blind. Finally, they attacked Jesus, claiming He had violated the Law by healing the man on the Sabbath. Each time the man was interrogated he reiterated the facts surrounding his healing. To him, how Jesus had done what he had done was irrelevant. What mattered was simple: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

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This new year, I resolve...

This new year, I resolve...

The new year is a time for resolutions. We resolve to get physically fit—to exercise, and to lose weight. We resolve to become spiritually fit—to return to a church community, to restore a daily devotion, or to pray more regularly. And for some, resolutions are made to search for life’s meaning and purpose— to search for answers to some of life’s difficult questions:

 Why does God allow suffering?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

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The Miracle of Christmas

The Miracle of Christmas

All around us people define this time of year as the “season of miracles.” Many cards declare, “Celebrate the miracle, that is Christmas.”  The word, “miracle” is bandied about, and yet I realized, as I was laying out my Nativity with the little baby Jesus, that I have not always appreciated the magnitude of the miracle. The birth of Jesus was a miracle in the truest sense of the word. It was a birth like no other. On that day, God became Man. Still God, but yet Man. C.S. Lewis said it this way, “He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created.”

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Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

As I think about this coming Thanksgiving, I feel grateful. Grateful that my family is healthy. Grateful that I have a new grandbaby. Grateful that I have a strong marriage and a loving husband. Grateful that I belong to a giving and Bible-centered church community. Grateful that I have supportive friends. Grateful that I have a faithful editor, Jennie Jang, who clarifies and often makes sense of these blogs! Yes, I feel grateful.

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Truly marvelous!

Truly marvelous!

Over the years, I have found certain stories in the Bible difficult to teach—not because they are hard to understand or have complicated theological doctrines, but because they are overly familiar. The account of the Samaritan woman is one of those stories. It is perhaps my favorite of all the stories in John’s gospel, and countless lessons can be gleaned from the conversation that Jesus had with this marginalized woman. But more recently, as I was studying to give a teaching on the passage, I found myself stopping repeatedly at one line.

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The Miracle at Cana

On Wednesday evening I gave a teaching on John 2—Jesus’ miracle in which He turned water into wine. Today I visited Cana, the site where this, the first of Jesus’ miracles, took place! I tried to imagine what it would have been like to be at the wedding celebration to witness the miracle. Would I, like the disciples, have believed In Him? What other explanation could exist? The six, very large jars, had been filled to the brim with water. (The picture below is an urn that has been uncovered that is the size and shape as that described in Scripture. It is much bigger than I had imagined!) No one could have carried them away and snuck some wine into them. Additionally, there was no room to add some wine—they were filled to the brim with water. And there were witnesses. The only conclusion possible is that Jesus converted water into wine. If this miracle were the only one recorded in the Gospel, wouldn’t it be enough to believe He is the Son of God?

As I was walking through the ruins, I passed an area that has been covered up with fencing. Despite the covering, some visitors to the site have managed to squeeze different forms of currency through the netting. It would have taken a lot of effort. (A picture is below.) Why had they done this? Did they consider it similar to a wishing well? Did they think that their “offering” would grant them favor with the One who had turned water into wine? Did they think it would give them good luck? It made me sad. They had missed the entire point! Jesus’ miracle demonstrated that He is the Son of God. He came to us. If we believe that, we need to believe everything else He did and said—nothing we can do or give God can grant us favor. He has given us a free gift. I couldn’t leave without praying for all the visitors to Cana. I prayed that they would see the miracle with hearts to believe.

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Day 1: Israel

We landed at 7 A.M. and our tour bus took us through the city of Tel Aviv, and then to the ancient city of Joppa (also referred to as Jaffa). Lon Solomon gave a wonderful talk/sermonette about the two most famous references to Joppa in Scripture. The first is recorded in the Old Testament book of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet in Joppa, and God asked Him to preach to the evil Ninevites to warn them of His impending judgment. Jonah refused God and ran away. Why? Jonah knew that if he warned them, they might in fact repent, and if they repented God would then extend mercy. Jonah did not believe that the Ninevites deserved mercy. God gave Jonah another chance to obey, and ultimately Nineveh did repent and God delayed His judgment.

The other reference to Joppa is in the New Testament—Acts Chapter 10. While in Joppa, Peter had a vision in which God told him to kill and eat certain animals that had not been made ceremonial clean under the Jewish laws. Thereafter, Peter declared, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:35). The point of the vision was to demonstrate that God had come to fulfill the Law of Moses so that Gentiles and Jews alike could be saved through Christ.

While there is a lot more to both stories, I realized today that in addition to taking place in the same city, they both share the same main lesson, despite that they occurred hundreds of years apart. Simply, God is the same merciful God yesterday, today and always, and His blessings are available for all people, and all nations!

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Can I have writer's block

Can I have writer's block

Is it possible to have writer’s blog block? Or should it be called blog writer’s block? Regardless, I have recently found myself afflicted with it! I have been stressing over its weekly content for several weeks. Why?  Upon a little introspection, I finally had to confess that my focus had changed. I noticed that my “readership” increases when my post includes pictures, or a catchy title, leading me to think that I have to be clever to reach people or inspire them with God’s Word. But that is ridiculous! God’s Word is God’s Word. It needs no embellishment from me.

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We can know God!

We can know God!

I don’t remember the specifics of the argument, but I can clearly recall what my husband declared at its conclusion: “You don’t even know me.” His words struck my heart. How could he think I don’t know him? Not one for the clever retort, I responded, “You don’t know me either!” After we had made up, I continued to reflect on those words. Did I know him? I wanted to. He was my husband. We had joined together as one before God. That day was a turning point in our early marriage as we resolved to work on knowing each other. I didn’t want to just know about John’s interests, his looks or other superficial facts about him. Anyone could know those things. I wanted to know what motivates him, what his goals are, and how deeply he loves me. Anyone who has been married for any length of time realizes that “knowing” one another requires effort and intentionality, and, this “knowing” is absolutely necessary in a relationship. Next month we will celebrate our 35th anniversary, a testament not only to our love, but our diligence!  

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Did I tell you?

Did I tell you?

Each time one of my children departed for college, I had this burning sense that I had not told them everything they would need to know to navigate the world on their own. I am sure that in the last weeks before leaving, they were annoyed by my incessant instructions about their budget, time management, where to make friends, how to find a church, and on and on. Somewhat similarly, before my dad’s passing, he kept reminding my sister and me to care for my mother, including how to help with her finances, their house and his legacy of World War II photographs. He wanted the assurance that he had told us everything we would need to know before he left this world.

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