Dreams and Suffering

Joseph dreamt his brothers were sheaves of wheat that bowed to his sheaf; he dreamt the sun, moon, and 11 stars all bowed to his star.  His brothers hated him because of his dreams, and because he was his father’s most loved son.   One day, their hatred brimmed over.  They stripped Joseph of the…

Fruitful Hostility

So Isaac left there, camped in the Valley of Gerar, and lived there. Isaac reopened the water wells that had been dug in the days of his father…. Then Isaac’s slaves dug in the valley and found a well of spring water there” (Gen. 26:17-19). Isaac lived in the realm of king Abimelech. But as…

The Defeat of Islamic Fanatics

Last week, a friend asked an interesting question: What did I think about ISIS and the situation in Iraq?  What did I think God was doing or allowing in Iraq?  Had I blogged on this topic? I confessed: Other than being grieved by ISIS’s crimes, I hadn’t given the topic a lot of thought or blogged…

The Fruitlessness of the Cross

The following is excerpted from a booklet I am close to finishing–Despising the Lamb: Pictures of Contempt in First Samuel *** First Samuel opens with a story about Elkanah and his wives, Hannah and Peninnah.   Hannah was unable to have children.   Peninnah bore children for Elkanah and smugly needled Hannah about it: “Her…

Call Me Bitter

What follows is something the Lord started dealing with me about just the other night.  It’s rather unrefined but I wanted to share it anyway. *** The book of Ruth opens with a story about a woman named Naomi.  Naomi moves to Moab with her husband because there is a famine in Israel.  Naomi and…

Fact & Fiction

The fiction: Trying circumstances, instability within or without, personal failure, weakness, a lack of spiritual discipline, temptation, and the devil can separate us from God. The fact: “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put…

The Cross and the Departure of Glory

A deep sense of grief permeates Ezekiel’s account of the temple’s destruction. The loss felt by the Lord is poignantly expressed when He says, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain” (Ezek. 9:7).  Defile the temple?  Defile the place chosen out of all creation as a dwelling for God?  Why should the…

Lord of the Dead and of the Living

Picture by Patrick Murphy Death and resurrection cannot be separated.  This is so obvious it seems like a platitude.  Often our words and thoughts divide these into separate categories.  For the sake of clarity it’s sometimes helpful to consider them separately.  But it’s disastrous in real life.  Perhaps we are too used to treating death…

Give Me Your Worst

Sketch by Patrick Murphy “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). “Grace” is the Life which can suffer and die yet be raised again.  Christ in us is grace.  He can go through weaknesses, difficulties, persecutions, and the like (2 Cor. 12:10).  Not only do these not…

Less Is More: The Gospel of Surgery

             I recently had ankle surgery.  Almost two weeks later I still can’t walk on that leg.  I am in pain all day.  Evenings and nights (OK, and mornings) are worst.  My wife does everything to care for the house, our kids, and me.  Sometimes, for long stretches, I can’t do anything but groan…