All posts by Lloyd Hamilton

Luke 23:13-25

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 23:13-25
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”[a]

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who’s really in charge here?
Pilate?
Herod?
The chief priests and rulers?
They all thought they had the power, didn’t they?
Yet, who’s the one person here who did exactly as he planned?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Tuesday Picks ~ 6-27-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Good explanation of an important recent SCOTUS decision…

Why a Church Playground Matters for Religious Liberty
Joe Carter
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/playground-swing.jpgThe issue of whether a church playground can qualify for states grant to purchase rubberized surface material seems rather trivial. So why is the decision considered a significant victory for religious liberty? Here are three reasons why this ruling matters:

1. It upholds the First Amendment understanding of religious liberty…

2. It’s a win for equal participation of religion

3. It requires the state to treat religious people fairly


Perhaps you need this encouragement today…

Victory over Porn Is Closer Than You ThinkJimmy Needham
Is actual, extended freedom from besetting sin really attainable, or am I bound to this sin until death, like a leech on my soul? It might seem like a silly question to those who aren’t in the throes of addiction, but having been a porn addict for a decade, it was a question I desperately asked for years.

If you find yourself in this seemingly hopeless cycle, there is good news for you: victory, real and lasting victory, is possible…


What Your Kids Really Need is Your Authentic Christian Life Melissa Edgington
So, you see, I found out that what God has called me to is much higher than lesson planner. I do need to teach my children scripture. I need to give them sound doctrine. But, I can teach these things to my children, as the Bible says, when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we rise up and lie down. In other words, impressing the things of God on my children is an all-day, every day, life-long pursuit. It is more than a curriculum. It is a way of life.


Yeah, no. I think I would sort of say that I agree…

3 Phrases Smart People Should Stop SayingEric Geiger
I have listened to a lot of podcasts. Some sermons, some NPR, some HBR, and some random ones too. All really smart people, smarter and more articulate than I am.

Yet I have noticed some recurring phrases that make the intelligent people seem less so, that blunt the impact of their words and distract from the message. …here are three phrases smart people should stop saying…


Parenting transitions made easier…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDYvWml0c19udGIuMjAxNzA2MjVfOTAwLmdpZg==
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 23:6-12

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 23:6-12
When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Read verse 8 again.
What did Herod want from Jesus?
What did Jesus give him? (v. 9)
But, what could Jesus have done for Herod, had he asked?
What do you want from Jesus?
What does he give you?
How did Herod respond? (v. 11)
How do you?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


The Gospel: More Beautiful Than You Think – Intro

I’ve always been taught that the word “gospel” means “good news.” If that’s true, if what we Christians proclaim to the world is such good news, why is it that Christianity has developed such a negative public perception in today’s culture?

I’m sure there are many answers to this question, but I suggest that one contributing factor is that we Christians have done a poor job of communicating this good news.

Maybe that’s because we don’t even quite grasp how good this good news really is. We’ve bought into some popular notions about God and heaven that sound kind of right, but have really only served to dull the beauty of who God is and what He has done.

A survey by U.S. News & World Report in 1997 asked Americans who they thought was most likely to go to heaven.

65% said Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson were “very likely” to go to heaven when they die.

79% believed Mother Teresa would “very likely” make it.

But there was one person who had a higher percentage than even Mother Teresa. Can you guess who? That’s right. It was the person taking the survey.

Over 80% of the people taking the survey felt it was “very likely” that they would go to heaven.

Yes, I know this survey is 20 years old, but do you really think it’s changed much?

There are some very basic assumptions shared by many people, even many who claim to be Christians. These assumptions have become embedded in our minds. They sound right.

I’d like you to watch a short video clip. In August of 2004 a couple of my friends took a video camera down to Fountain Square in Cincinnati at lunch time to see how people would answer three questions…

Now, you should know that Cincinnati has a strong Roman Catholic heritage, and is a fairly conservative city in comparison to most U.S. cities of its size. Also, it’s hard for me to believe, but this video is 13 years old! If we were to make this video today I imagine the results would probably be fairly similar, except I think we would encounter more open hostility to Christians and Christian beliefs, even in conservative Cincinnati.

I suggest that one contributing factor to the hostility our culture has to Christian faith is our own misunderstanding and miscommunication of these very basic points.

In the video, you heard a variety of answers but three general trends can be detected:

God is tolerant.

He is the white-bearded grandfather in heaven.  He understands that nobody is perfect so he accepts people because they try hard and do their best.  Sure there are some folks that he could not accept, like maybe Adolph Hitler but if you are sincere and do your best he will accept you.

The other two go hand in hand with the first – it’s a package deal.  If you believe the first the other two tend to follow close behind…

People are basically good.

This is why God can be tolerant of our shortcomings.  This is why God loves us – because of our goodness.  Our imperfections really aren’t all that important because our basic goodness can outweigh whatever badness there might be.

People can and must earn God’s favor.

Since God is tolerant, and we are basically good, it is possible for us to earn God’s favor. In fact, if we want to go to heaven that’s what we must do.

We want to believe these things. Maybe you do believe them.

But, if you think about it, Christianity doesn’t really make any sense if these things are true. I mean, why would Jesus have to come and sacrifice His life for us if God will accept us because of our “goodness”?  If God is tolerant, why go to such great lengths to cleanse us from our sins?

In fact, I believe these seemingly good and right beliefs have undermined the church’s witness and have contributed to much of our culture’s rejection and animosity toward Christians and Christianity.

They make the “good news,” …well, not so good.

In the next few weeks I want to challenge each of these assumptions. To look at each one and compare it with what we read in scripture. This isn’t about proving people wrong. It’s about showing them how truly, and amazingly beautiful Christianity really is!

Stay tuned…

Lloyd

Monday Picks ~ 6-26-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Church of CrossFitJulie Beck
A woman makes an intense face while doing a deadlift during a CrossFit workout.CrossFit is his favorite example of a trend he has noticed: how, in the midst of the decline of religious affiliation in America, and the rise of isolation and loneliness, many ostensibly non-religious communities are “functioning in ways that look a little bit religious,” he explained…

As institutional affiliation decreases, people have the same age-old desires for connection, relationships, connection to something bigger than themselves.”

…meditation groups, adult summer camps, fandoms, and even fitness communities at specialized gyms like CrossFit or SoulCycle are stepping in to fill some of those needs.


Loving the People You Love to HateJared C. Wilson
Here’s how you know if you hate something someone has done or if you actually hate that person, according to [C.S.] Lewis:

The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible?


The Climbing TreeManuel Luz
At the risk of sounding heretical, I think many Christians make too big a deal out of finding out God’s will. They pray about what job to take, or what vacation to go on, or how to handle a particular situation. And praying about these things are good and very necessary, really. But I think that our God cares more about who we are becoming in the process of doing, than in the doing itself.


Open carry…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDYvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNjI2XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Luke 23:1-5

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 23:1-5
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar”???
This from the Jewish leaders who hated the Romans!
Why do you think these good Jewish people were so concerned about Jesus’ alleged “anti-Rome” teaching?
Did they really love Rome?
Did they really think this is what God would want?
Or, was there some selfish motive?
Did they vote for pragmatism, or principle?
Did they sell their soul for politics?
Did their desire for political power kill the Son of God?
Could this ever happen to you?
Did it?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Weekend Picks ~ 6-23-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Easy “Wisdom” of CynicismDerek Rishmawy
Image result for cynicism…default cynicism isn’t the same thing as biblical discernment. Discernment seeks out truth and falsehood. It sees as much as it sees through. Ironically enough, being too cynical can make you undiscerning, rendering false judgments, leaving you open being deceived, not positively, but negatively.

In other words, being “wise as a serpent”,  is a lot harder than thinking everybody’s a liar all the time.


The Unwritten Law That Helps Bad Cops Go Free
David French
http://c1.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/philando-castile-shooting-police-must-display-reasonable-fear-b.jpg?itok=Qap7QuSvOfficers aren’t omniscient, and they can only react to the facts as they perceive them. Absent corruption, incompetence, or malice, most officers are going to make reasonable choices in high-stress situations.

Some, however, will fail, and it’s imperative that juries understand that not all fear is reasonable, and some officers simply (and wrongly) panic. Perhaps some have unreasonable fear because of racial stereotypes. Perhaps some have unreasonable fears for other reasons. Perhaps some have a brutal habit of escalating force too quickly. But every officer must uphold the rule of reason, a rule that compels a degree of courage, a measure of discipline, and a tolerance for risk that is inherent in the job that they’ve chosen.

The vast majority of officers are up to that challenge. A few are not. They must be held accountable. Justice demands no less.


I absolutely love this piece from Amy Medina…

Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other CulturesAmy Medina
It’s easy for us, as foreigners, to come to Tanzania and point out what they are doing wrong.  Those deficiencies pop up to us broadly and clearly.  But I wonder, what if a Tanzanian Christian came to the States and was given a voice in the white American Church?  What deficiencies would be glaringly obvious to him? …

The truth is that every culture–including every Christian culture–has blind spots.  We have our hierarchy of sins and our hierarchy of godliness, and we know we are right and no one can say otherwise.

But that is dangerous.

I think sometimes western Christians assume they have the trump-card on what Christian culture should look like….but why?  What if an African (or Asian, or South American) Christian holds to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, uses solid principles of interpretation…and yet comes to different conclusions and applications?  Is it possible that they could be seeing things that we’ve missed because of our own culture’s influence?

This is why we were created to need each other.  And in a country as diverse as America, I wonder why it is so rare that white Christians grasp that truth.  Don’t we realize that we are missing out when we refuse to bring other cultures, other colors, other languages into our church conversations?  Don’t we realize that even in that refusal is a major blind spot that we will be held accountable for?


And now for something completely different…

The History of Pews Is Just as Terrible and Embarrassing as You’d ImagineLuke T. Harrington
https://christandpopculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/img_0110_small.jpeg…seating in churches didn’t really become a thing until parishioners got bored enough to wish they were sitting down—that is, about the time of the Protestant Reformation. In order to emphasize how not-Catholic we were, we began to jettison everything from our worship: confessions, creeds, communal prayer, a weekly Eucharist—basically everything except long, boring sermons. And when your “come to church” sales pitch is essentially “Listen to me yammer about Jesus for several hours!” the response is predictably going to be “Uh, can I at least sit down for that?”

And so, the pew was born…


Got your tickets yet?
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/upcoming-summer-concerts2.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 22:63-71

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 22:63-71
63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Which do you think was worse: the night of being mocked by secular soldiers, or the day of being judged by religious leaders?
Which is worse for you, being mocked by unbelievers, or being judged by fellow believers?
Do you see the irony here?
Doesn’t this make you frustrated?
These men have been taught to look forward to the coming Messiah for generations, and when he finally arrives they condemn him simply because he said that’s who he was.
He didn’t fit into their carefully constructed box.
Take some time to consider: how could this happen?
Do you have any carefully constructed boxes?
What do you do when I decide I don’t fit?
Could this happen to you?
Remember: I don’t fit in anybody’s box.


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.