What your Mother gave you

Remember to thank God for your mother, and all the things she gave you.

M is for the many things she gave me.
O is for the other things she gave me.
T is for the things she gave me.
H is for her things, which she gave me.
E is for everything she gave me.
R is for the rest of the things, which she gave me.
-Bob Dylan

Yes, that really is Bob Dylan's mother on stage with him and Joan Baez.

Yes, that really is Bob Dylan’s mother on stage with him and Joan Baez.

Why I’m glad Jesus is gone


The Good News of Jesus is that He is crucified for sinners, dead, buried, and resurrected after three days.  But it is not complete without the fact that He has ascended to heaven.  The Ascension is an often overlooked piece of the Gospel account.  Not only has it given birth to many, slightly-comical, old paintings of Christ’s feet disappearing into the clouds; it also is source for incredible encouragement and faith.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  Acts 1:9
We may not think of it as being a good thing that Jesus is gone from us. He left the disciple in order that His Spirit might be poured out.  He is also now in the presence of the Father, praying for us – which for me, is one of the most comforting thoughts.

But there is a reason that seems especially encouraging lately, given that it seems we are living in such discouraging times.

Jesus is raised up into heaven, far above all other powers and rulers, with all things under his feet.  That means demagogues, and ugly politics are under his feet.  So if the news cycle has got you down, remember!  Jesus is above it all.  And he is in charge and ruling over all things.  No matter how chaotic and unpleasant the world around us may be – He is over all.

That is Good News.


"see ya"

“see ya”

Religions are all the same? Not so, said Prince


Prince (1958 – 2016)

“What’s that?  All religions come from the same place?”                             Prince (1958 – 2016),  musician, pop legend, philosopher of religion???


Wisdom can come from anywhere.  Such as it is with music legend Prince, who died yesterday. Prince was very deservedly hailed as a musical genius and cultural icon.  I remember Diamonds and Pearls and the Love Symbol Album dropping when I was but a lad and being amazed.  He was also incredibly sexually explicit in many respects.  Religiously, he was a Jehovah’s witness – a heterodox sect far outside the mainstream of Christian Faith.  So on those two points I wouldn’t encourage anyone to follow him. But even someone who may be wrong about so much may have incredible insight.

In an interview give a few years ago , he was challenged on the contradiction between his sexually charged career and his strange but seemingly sincere religious life.  Joel Miller at the time picked up on an interesting moment in the interview and it’s worth reflecting again upon it. Prince pushes back on the interviewer and asks:

“First of all, do you see a difference in religions?”

The interviewer gives a typically post-modern response:  I say no, suggesting all religions are based on the same idea and then corrupted by their human leaders.   This is such a common sentiment that it is almost boring to hear. It may be considered disrespectful or even less “spiritual” to acknowledge difference. “It’s all the same” is the refrain of the spiritual-not-religious mindset. Even though some may sincerely believe in it, I wonder how many have actually thought it through

Prince is apparently unhappy with the answer. Before he dodges the entire issue and changes the conversation, he lays down a simple statement:

“If one religion believes Christ is the king, and another doesn’t, then there’s a difference in religions.”

Maybe Prince was just trying to deflect the pressure she was placing on his incongruous life. And certainly the Christ described by his JW beliefs is not the accurate New Testament Jesus. But there’s a great nugget of truth in his words. If one religion says something is A and the next says it is Not A, then they can’t both be right.  They can both be wrong. Or one of them can be right and the other wrong.

So, yesterday the world lost one of its greatest guitarists and music legends.  And, even though he may have been confused on any number of other issues, someone who could think clearly on at least one point.



(HT:  Joel J. Miller)


Jesus Loves Me (and you)

child hands

I was driving my children somewhere this morning. They began to sing the old song “Jesus loves me”.  You don’t even need to be a churched person to recognize it…  Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…

It was one of those nice dad moments. My daughters almost got the lyrics right.  That song may be relegated to Sunday School or even looked down on for being so simplistic.  Though the truth it contains is simple, it is far from shallow.  The love of Jesus is at the heart of the Good News.

The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) was once on a tour of the United States. After a lecture, a student stood up and asked him to summarize his entire theology. Most likely the student was expecting a profound answer from the man who was known neither for his simplicity nor brevity. Instead, Barth allegedly said:  “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

So from the greatest minds to the youngest of children – the truth is the same. Nothing could be more simple, nothing could be less shallow.


Find Yourself? or Lose Yourself?

I was hoping to find a cheesy image to use for this post. The Internet did not disappoint.

I was hoping to find a cheesy image to use for this post. The Internet did not disappoint.

How do we find ourselves?

I did a quick check online and sure enough Oprah an online quiz to help us find ourselves.  But I don’t want to pick on Oprah too much because it was only slightly harder to find Christianized versions of such ideas. The faithful often possess the exact same outlook on life as the surrounding culture, merely shellacked with spiritual gloss.

How we find ourselves is a question not many people asked in previous times. In previous cultures (and present ones different than our own), our identity was for the most part inherited. Our social position in family and society gave us an identity and we found ourselves within it. Now we can easily imagine the shortfalls of this and are probably repulsed by a perceived lack of freedom in determining who we are.

But given our own culture – where are forced to not just find but even to construct our own identities – we may be blind to the dangers on the other side. Whatever the pitfalls of finding identity in social and familial expectations, few wrestled with issues of identity with the same angst as we do today. This is evident from looking at the literature of the day.

It can actually be exhausting on our side of things. Because if we are completely free to find ourselves, or even to self-create ourselves, than it really rests all on us. The burden is entirely individually borne. And it betrays the general fact that if want to find yourself you ought not to look to yourself.

The Gospel – the Good News of Jesus with all its implications – offers something completely different than the older inherit your identity from tribe-social position-family-religious/ethnic affiliation. When people embraced Jesus as Lord they often had to forsake reliance on ethnicity or social position to construct identity.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free the Apostle wrote to the Galatians.  Not even family ties, as vital in the Biblical view as in most other cultures, was where we are to find our identity.  Think on that and consider Jesus’ words about fathers, mother, sons, and daughters.

But the Gospel also does not urge us to look to ourselves or find ourselves. This repudiates the contemporary obsession with self-discovery, self-invention, or self-construction. Instead urging us to find ourselves, we must instead lose ourselves – even our very lives. It’s then that we truly will find what we’re looking for.