In this fourth week of Lent, the author of Ecclesiastes continues to speak to me. I have begun to believe this may be my favorite book of the Bible. Despite the uselessness of any teaching I have ever had on it before (including in my college and seminary classes on it), it has so much to offer.
I’m realizing that while it needs the context of the rest of the Bible to help illuminate exactly what it’s talking about, these 12 chapters contain the core of everything the whole Bible has to offer. It lacks the narrative of God’s people and Christ’s gospel, but the fundamental wisdom contained in both are here.
Read more "Meaningless: Reflections for Lent, Week 4"
The writer of Ecclesiastes continues to challenge American common sense. The text continues to point toward the worthlessness of pursuing wealth and power. This third week of Lent, as we contemplate the Christ who gave up divinity, who let go of boundless power and ageless life, in order to experience something better, it’s hard not to see the parallels.
Read more "Meaningless: Reflections for Lent, Week 3"
As we observe the second week of Lent, reflecting on the words of Ecclesiastes, I find myself thinking about the prominent people in our world as I read chapters 3 and 4. I also find reminders for myself. The work I do is important for my clients, and the money I earn is important for my family. The classes I take are important for our future. But if I spend so much time meeting my responsibilities and lose my relationships or let opportunities pass me by, I’m a fool.
Read more "Meaningless: Reflections for Lent, Week 2"
Ecclesiastes. It’s so little understood. My youth pastor once encouraged a group of us to do a study on it and then apologized a few weeks in because it was just…. Well, what would you expect from a simplistic Bible study curriculum designed for teens? So much angst…
But it’s not the dark, useless whole in the middle of the Bible people tend to think it is. It’s beautiful really. It’s not really about what is meaningless, though it sure seems like it most of the time. It’s trying to show what really is meaningful by contrast. It’s the result of someone’s meditating long and hard about life, about love, about God.
Read more "Meaningless: Reflections for Lent, Week 1"
Below is an audio recording of a time of prayer and meditation on Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute. It was presented as the morning devotional for a church retreat, and I decided to share it with whoever else decides they might benefit from allowing the Spirit to work in them with it.
Read more "Love Your Enemies"
Sometimes it does it by saying something that makes you cringe. Sometimes it does it by contradicting itself and making you figure out how both can be true. Sometimes it does it by being vague, forcing you to figure out how it relates to real life. Whatever the method, if you’re taking it at face value and moving on, you’re missing the point.
Read more "The Voice of Wisdom"
Five months. That’s how long I have been practicing meditation and contemplative prayer. It has begun to transform me and the direction of my life. And, providentially, it has saved me as I struggle through balancing and trying to thrive as a student, as a social worker, as a father, as a husband, as a brother, as a son, as a member of my church community, as a thinker and writer, as an American, and as a follower of Jesus.
Read more "With All Your Mind, Part 05: Prayer that Shapes Me"