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The Parable of the Fig Tree (Luke 13:6–9)

October 4, 2018 // 17 Comments

A man had a fig tree, which had been planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” And he [...]

The Blood of Righteous Abel (Matthew 23:35)

September 13, 2018 // 17 Comments

Does God punish nations for the sins of their forefathers? Did God punish Israel for killing his prophets? It seems like it when you read these words of Jesus: Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your [...]

Forty Fulfilled Prophecies

August 30, 2018 // 24 Comments

Here’s a quiz question: When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, was he received as (a) the long awaited Messiah, or (b) a prophet? It might surprise you, but the answer is (b): When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is [...]

Did God Ruin Job? (Job 2:3)

August 16, 2018 // 44 Comments

Pop quiz: Which Biblical character has attracted the most comments on this blog? Yes, it’s Job, which tells me that the story of Job-who-lost-everything is one of the most divisive in scripture. For the past eight years, I have maintained that God was not complicit in the ruin of Job. God did not rob him, kill [...]

Branches are Not Sticks: Why God Will Never Cast You Away

August 2, 2018 // 37 Comments

“Whoever comes to me I will never cast away” (John 6:37). Jesus promised he would never cast away those who come to him, yet some people fear he might. Because Jesus is fickle and he changes his mind a lot. Of course, that’s not true, yet some worry that it might be true, because of what he said here: If [...]

Why Flee to the Mountains?

July 19, 2018 // 7 Comments

When trouble comes, you have two choices: fight or flight. Fleeing is the underrated choice. In these days of belligerence and bullying, the temptation is to fight or die. Yet Jesus told his disciples that there would be times when fleeing is the better option: Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the [...]

Is God the Author of Evil?

July 6, 2018 // 84 Comments

Whenever I tell people that God-is-all-the-time-good, I am invariably rebuked by those who say he isn’t. And they’ve got the scriptures to prove it. Job 1:21 says God robbed Job 1 Samuel 2:6-7 says God makes people poor and kills them Exodus 4:11 says God gives people disabilities Isaiah 45:7 says God is the [...]

Every Knee Shall Bow: Was Paul a Universalist?

June 21, 2018 // 19 Comments

Here’s a verse to fire the imagination: It is written: “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.” (Rom. 14:11) What picture comes to your mind when you read these words? Some see this verse as pointing to universal salvation. “Everyone who [...]

Does Jesus Want You to Sell your Stuff? (Luke 12:33)

June 7, 2018 // 36 Comments

The Bible is full of treasures that we are afraid to open. We fear scriptures that are meant to bless us, and we run from words that should fill us with joy. Here’s an example: Sell your possessions and give to the poor. (Luke 12:33) There is treasure here. Do you see it? Do you realize what Jesus is saying? [...]

The One about the Millstone and the Sea

May 24, 2018 // 30 Comments

A pastor makes an announcement: “Great news, church. Our kids’ program is growing and we need teachers. If you have a heart for teaching children, let me know. But take care, if you do a poor job, God will punish you. It would be better for a millstone to be hung around your neck and for you to be drowned in [...]

Are Unfruitful Branches Lifted Up?

May 2, 2018 // 83 Comments

Here is possibly the worst verse in the Bible: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. (John 15:1-2, NIV) I say worst verse because this is a shockingly poor translation. A better one is, “He takes up or lifts every branch in me.” If you’re not [...]

The Sign of Jonah

April 20, 2018 // 44 Comments

The scribes and Pharisees could have won the gold medal for insensitivity. One minute they’re accusing Jesus of being in cahoots with the devil; the next they’re asking for some sign of his divinity (Matt. 12:24, 38). Jesus responded by telling them: A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But [...]