When do you feel alive? I can understand people wanting to use substances to drown their sorrows, but sorrows turn out to be good swimmers.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to come alive, how about this:
Do not get drunk on wine … Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
This isn’t random advice. It’s part of a bigger story of how people who feel like the walking dead can come alive in our resurrected king (Ephesians 2:1-5).
The one thing that overpowers our pain is the life-generating work of the Holy Spirit bringing us to life in Christ. He’s establishing a whole new society where our feelings of alienation are replaced with the music of life — Spirit-inspired songs of gratitude for the rescue that’s underway, the restoration of humanity in the leader God has given us.
So, c’mon: God is calling us to let go of the brokenness and participate in being truly human together:
Ephesians 5:15–20 (NIV)
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why raise this contrast at this point of the book? Why wine specifically? Is there anything in the Bible’s larger narrative that would suggest this contrast.
Continue reading “Happiness without harm (Ephesians 5:15-20)”
When God experienced our pain, he was restoring our joy.
There’s the grief you feel when you hoped your team would win, and they lost.
Then there’s deep grief — the grief you feel when you lose someone.
Jesus’ disciples faced that grief. They expected him to save the world. Jesus had a brave agenda for a new world, an agenda that challenged the people in power.
They expected a showdown, but they didn’t expect Jesus to lose. They didn’t expect him to lose his life.
Continue reading “Journey to joy (Good Friday)”
How do you cope with criticism from people who don’t understand where you’re leading them? Could we learn from the Master?
Open Matthew 9:14-17.
What do you do when you’re criticized? It’s easy to get angry and sound off, or to cave in and give up. I’m interested in how Jesus, the king of the kingdom, handled criticism.
He copped it from the scribes (9:3). He copped it from the Pharisees (9:11). Now he cops it from friends: John the Baptist’s disciples:
Mathew 9:14 (my translation) Then John’s students came to him saying, “How come we and the Pharisees fast often, but your students don’t fast?” Continue reading “Managing criticism (Matthew 9:14-17)”
Even when Isaac is born, the heavenly king still cares for the ones his representatives reject.
Laughter finally comes to Abraham and Sarah’s tent. Decades have passed. In their old age, it looked as if God’s promises would die out with them. They felt like a joke: the whole idea of a future nation under God’s rule seemed laughable (Genesis 17:17; 18:12). But Laughter (the meaning of Isaac) finally arrives. Even those who doubted now join the laughter: Continue reading “Share the laughter! (Genesis 21:1-21)”