The Rains

Sous la pluie: La mère et les enfants by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

I want to share what happened to me a few weeks ago. Here in northern California, we’ve had an extremely wet winter; storms have been “on” more than they’ve been “off.” In an evening of respite, while expectant clouds painted the night sky, I visited the old town grocery store to fetch my daily bread. As I passed by, I noticed what appeared to be a homeless man shuffling through shopping carts by the entrance. If he was homeless, I mused, he might appreciate a meal. It was too late for the store to serve anything warm, so I fetched … Continue reading “The Rains”

Rules for Me, Not for Thee

The Bible talks a great deal about brothers and neighbors. We must love our neighbor as ourselves, reconcile with our brother before we present our offerings to God, and not bear false witness against our neighbor. I wish now to discuss protocol towards those who are not our brothers or neighbors. Just as the Good Samaritan was a neighbor, the Pharisee and Levite were not. The world is full of people who cannot care for us, for whom we cannot set aside time. More specifically, though, I’d like to check our stance towards unbelievers, predominantly through the lens of the … Continue reading “Rules for Me, Not for Thee”

Unity: God or the Church?

Unity in the church is a very important notion, especially now. It’s the champion concept of nondenominational churches, and particularly applicable to the fragmented sects of Protestantism. Even so, I consider it one of the most misused and abused concepts in the faith. I’d like to bring one case in point to the forefront. I cannot know for certain the deepest meanings of the words of Jesus in John 17, but brash interpretations by many warrant confrontation. Jesus says in John 17:11 “[T]hat they may be one, even as we are one.” “Ah,” says the common reader, “He must be … Continue reading “Unity: God or the Church?”

Pruned Branches and Full Silos

The skies were smoky orange last week. That doesn’t have anything to do with today’s piece; I figured it was worth denoting. I love living in California. About a month prior, I listened to a sermon on Luke 12:13-21. While I haven’t tackled this chapter specifically, its themes echo through articles I’ve already written (“Salvation for the Wealthy,” “The Imperative of Work,” “Resolutions,” “On Haman and Pettiness”). It is perhaps my favorite passage in the New Testament, so one could imagine that I was salty that the sermon felt slightly off (albeit admittedly adequate). I’d like to take a shot … Continue reading “Pruned Branches and Full Silos”

The Majesty of Evensong

Over the past couple weeks, I toured Great Britain. There were a few wonders there, though I might say that there were few so universal yet so outstanding as the churches there: massive architectural wonders, even in the small towns. As someone who once attended church in a synagogue, I valued highly the Christian imagery wrapped around me. These monuments to Jesus and His glory are well past their age of peak attendance, with tourists outnumbering attendees by several orders of magnitude. Still, they maintain one tradition that I think would be quite valuable in the States: Evensong. Evensong is … Continue reading “The Majesty of Evensong”

Five Tips for Handling Agnostics

the peasant fight, 1547

Tonight was tiring. I was reviewing James 3 with my bible study. We had moved into the lounge of the host church’s foyer, which someone had already occupied. I wanted to discuss how James’s critique of the tongue was contextualized with a preface on teachers, and how his analogies for the tongue controlling the body could just as well apply to a teacher managing a student body. However, the stranger was invited to join the conversation. The stranger was an agnostic. The bible study almost completely abandoned James 3 and turned into a slogged debate on Christianity. Despite numerical and … Continue reading “Five Tips for Handling Agnostics”

On Haman and Pettiness

Our Bible study finished Esther this month, and we decided to celebrate it by watching the 2006 film One Night with the King. It was partly well acted and very well-funded but laughably inaccurate and overall rather bad. You know your film is a poor retelling of the biblical story when it’s based on a fiction book that’s based on the book of Esther, rather than just being based on the book of Esther. Don’t worry; I watched Big Idea’s Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen myself afterward and so did not go to bed angry. While I could fill … Continue reading “On Haman and Pettiness”

God Is Real: Surrender with a “Yes!”


When Sally was in elementary school, she was sharing God with her fellow students. Her teacher scoffed and walked up to her. “God doesn’t exist!” Sally responded patiently, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” The flustered teacher said, “There’s never been any evidence of God, so He can’t exist!” Sally remembered what her parents had told her. “Have you ever been to Zimbabwe?” “Well, no, but—“ “Do you know anyone from Zimbabwe?” “No—“ “Then by your definition, Zimbabwe doesn’t exist either! But you believe in Zimbabwe, don’t you?” I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of unbelief out there! Jesus … Continue reading “God Is Real: Surrender with a “Yes!””

Taking Up the Sword – On War and Revolution

battle scene

Honestly, I didn’t plan for this to coincide with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This has been in the back of my mind for years; I’m quite surprised that I didn’t write about this sooner. The final impetus was derived from a Bible study a couple weeks ago, the week before the invasion. We were going through the book of Esther. Somehow we got lost in the weeds, ending up in the citation of Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except by God, and those that exist are put in … Continue reading “Taking Up the Sword – On War and Revolution”

Food and Free Stuff Doesn’t Cut It

bountiful meal with wine and cheese

Earlier this week, I signed up for an experimental online bible study. The organizers were looking for gentlemen across the nation between the ages of twenty and fifty. It was quite a shock to me, then, to receive an email saying that they couldn’t find enough interest to organize a men’s group! I found the notion ridiculous. Just tonight, I attended a bible study with ten men in their prime, and this was apart from the separate all-men’s bible study in the same building! How could one organization excel so well while another organization falls so short? I figured that … Continue reading “Food and Free Stuff Doesn’t Cut It”