Sometimes, the Revised Common Lectionary just doesn’t cut it. Today is one of those days. We’re not limited to the assigned Bible text as we discuss spiritual freedom. Tomorrow is our firework-laden holiday, so . . . Happy Fourth of July! We have much for which to be thankful, including our legendary freedom and independence (which started over two-hundred years ago). Less obvious but more critical is our spiritual freedom, which Jesus shared almost two-thousand years ago. A first task involves sorting freedom from slavery. Old Testament (OT) Judaism was a debilitating burden that inevitably grew worse. The rules and regulations rampant in ancient JudaismRead More →

Today we have a one-two punch from Galatians and Luke, a combined message which covers mutual love and following God. First up is the good stuff from Galatians 5:1,13-25, an encouragement about what it means to love one another. Please join me in celebrating are liberation from the destructive burden of religious law. As you read the Galatians passage, notice that there’s no shortage of cited bad behavior and attitudes. As in real life, the list of bad stuff is almost endless, including such harmful states of anger, addiction, fighting, jealously, and much else. As tempting as it is to slip backwards into religious law,Read More →

Today’s lectionary confronts us with the problem of demon possession. Luke 8:26-39 dramatizes the issue in dramatic fashion. Christians are divided on the reality of demon possession and there’s no sign that the controversy is lessening. Rather than debate demon possession directly—which isn’t the point—it is more productive to approach the larger and more relevant issues. The scripture sets the stage with Jesus’ arrival at the region of the Gerasenes. Immediately, a naked hermit who lived in the cemetery shouted for Jesus to leave. This afflicted man had been previously captured by townspeople, bound by chains and guarded, only to escape again to the tombs.Read More →

Readings from the gospel of Luke and Galatians illustrate faith and action. But which of these is more important? A good answer is “Both!” because faith and action must function together for the best outcome. Are you ready to struggle with how to formulate the strength of faith and action? Today’s message starts with Galatians 2:15-21, which illustrates a tension between religious law and personal faith. The distinction between acting and thinking entails more than academics or theology. Something as massive as a religious system may involve complex interactions between faith and behavior. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is massive controversy about what God wants,Read More →

Paul the Apostle is the traditional author of most of the New Testament letters. Paul argues in Galatians 1:11-24 that he has extraordinary authority and that he received his teachings from God.  What are we to make of this? There are problems and possibilities with such a claim. What we know for sure is that Paul’s writings continue their decisive influence on Christianity. Because of this, we must consider how Paul’s writings impact biblical authority. Paul claims that he had a revelation from God, and he is arguing as hard as he can that his teachings are special.  Paul is struggling to push his viewsRead More →