The gist of today’s message is this: One of Israel’s founding fathers, the man Jacob, defeats a divine being in an all-night wrestling match. Go to Genesis 32:22-31 and read it for yourself. Jacob struggles with a “man,” also referred to as “God,” and as Jacob prevails God knocks Jacob’s hip out of joint. Jacob holds onto God and won’t let him go until Jacob receives a blessing. Honest, I didn’t make this up. Before we referee the wrestling, we must raise the issue of Jacob’s peculiarities. Jacob is known as the father of the nation of Israel, and he supposedly had twelve sons byRead More →

Today we will touch upon a recent, recurring theme, the latest chapter of which is found in Romans 8:1-11. Here we find summary statements about the flesh and law, sin and death. Next, we’ll spend most of our time with Jesus, turning to seeds and planting as we consider a selection of Matthew’s gospel (13:1-9, 18-23). As far as Romans, one of the definitive verses today is this: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). Here we have a splendid statement that can set us straight. WeRead More →

We continue our journey in the New Testament book of Romans as we focus on chapter 7, verses15-25a. The issue today is that of internal struggles, particularly the will of the flesh versus our other intentions. There is a timeless quality inherent within any discussion about the struggle between what we want to do and what we actually do. In this way, Paul is referring to a universal human condition, which can be parsed as the epic “war within.” However, simply referring to our internal struggles with vague references doesn’t fully illuminate the awesome forces involved. This is why I’ve labeled today’s message as “TransformingRead More →

Among all New Testament books, the most profound theological discourse is found in the Book of Romans, from which we continue to draw our weekly lectionary message. Today’s focus is what Paul wrote about our freedom of faith, a state we enjoy since we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:12-23). Paul encourages us to no longer be captive to our sinful nature. This is great advice because once we become followers of God we have declared ourselves to be free from sin’s eternal grasp. The difficult part involves thinking and acting in a new and better way. Sin slavery is pernicious because thoseRead More →

If you’re reading this, you are no doubt alive. I’m glad of that! Today’s message reminds us that we were once dead in sin before we became aware of God and formed a life-giving relationship. Paul narrates in his book of Romans (6:1b-11) how our pre-Christian life was one of sin and therefore of spiritual death. We are reminded as God’s children that we are to walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:4). The idea is that just as Jesus was raised from the dead so also are we participants in God’s life-giving salvation. The gist is also that we are no longer slavesRead More →

Fare thee well! Now bear with me on this. I’m not going anywhere other than to a point, to a literary one that is, a journey of a discussion about today’s gospel selection in Matthew 28: 16-20. In this brief selection of verses we have Jesus saying “good-bye” along with a crucial instruction. Some of the eleven disciples didn’t believe that it was Jesus who was speaking. Apparently, they couldn’t get over the ongoing, miraculous appearance of their leader whom they thought was dead and buried. Incredulity notwithstanding, those eleven disciples witnessed either the last or near the last time Jesus would speak on earthRead More →