In the sixth century BCE, the Jewish people found themselves in a situation of confusion and despair. Rather than living contentedly in the land God had given them, they were living in exile in Babylon. Within this situation, God’s people were tempted either to hate, ignore, or assimilate into city, but the prophet Jeremiah delivered a very different challenge: seek the shalom of the city (Jer 29:7)! Rather than complain or sit on their hands, God wanted his people to be for the city by joyfully pursuing justice, harmony, and wholeness in......
At the heart of Christianity is Jesus of Nazareth who is both fully God and fully human. While those who do not trust in Jesus deny his full divinity, those who do trust in Jesus often struggle with affirming his full humanity. It seems like we have all a version of Jesus we like best, and for most of us, it’s not the version that emphasizes Jesus learning how to read, feeling angry and sad and annoyed, getting physically exhausted, experiencing real temptations, joking around, and relieving himself. But this fully human,......
No book has transformed more people than the Bible, and no single book in the Bible has been more catalytic than Romans, Paul’s letter to the church in Rome that he wrote to give them unified confidence in the gospel of Jesus. Over the last two millennia, Romans has proven to be instrumental in converting and transforming countless Christian leaders, the inspiration behind bold movements to reform and renew the church, and the most treasured resource for believers in their journey from shame to glory. What is it about Romans that has......
What is a movie? According to the technical definition, a movie is a story or event recorded by a camera and shown in a theater or on television. Stated otherwise: movies are works of art. Movies are expressions of the human soul. Movies are dreams. Movies are worship. Movies are prayers. Movies are not merely products for our mindless consumption, but cries of the heart spanning every possible human experience and emotion. Someone once said that prayer is exhaling the human spirit and inhaling the Spirit of God. Movies exhale and inhale,......
When things are going well in life, we often describe ourselves as “blessed.” Although the word has religious origins, “blessed” has become a catch-all word for enjoying the good life according to cultural standards. As the 71 million uses of #blessed on Instagram reveals, it seems we feel blessed when our bodies are fit, our finances are in order, our careers are successful, our homes are comfortable, and our vacations are plush. In Matthew 5:3-10, one of the most famous passages in the Bible, Jesus flips our notion of being blessed upside......
Normal is never neutral. In fact, left unexamined and unchallenged, what we consider “normal life” easily and almost inevitably becomes toxic. Often we insist that our normal is necessary and that our lives are healthy when in reality they are becoming more and more polluted. Beauty is oxygen for the soul, and yet we often view beauty as optional. We choose our polluted normal over the fresh breeze of beauty. What would happen, however, if we let beauty blow through our lives? How would that shake up our normal? What would it......
Most parents today get to choose names for their children. Sometimes they choose a family name; other times they choose a name that has a particular meaning or simply one that they like. Whatever the case, names are normally just beautiful words with nice meanings rather than deep identity statements. It was different with Jesus. First off, his parents didn’t get to choose his name; it was given to them by an angel. And even though he had one common name (archaeologists have discovered over 70 “Yeshuas” in burial sites in first-century......
We all know that life is hard, but what should we do about it? One of the most common strategies is to build rockets that we hope will blast us out of the difficulty, rockets of knowledge acquisition, career success, wealth creation, or healthy living. These rocket building efforts are futile, however, because it’s actually impossible for them to ever achieve escape velocity. We can’t escape or break free from the meaninglessness that permeates our lives. We keep trying, and we keep failing. If we can’t escape the mess and meaninglessness, how......