First Glance: Luke 8:1-15

“A farmer went out to sow his seed…” (Luke 8:5a) As a child raised in the city, I knew very little about farming. For a long time, I simply took for granted that this line was the beginning of Jesus’ parable. But the longer I live in Iowa, the more I see the work assumed…

Review: Spiritual Friendship

Wesley Hill, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015. 137 pages. We had a saying about family when I was growing up: “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives.” While this saying is meant to indicate the value and permanence of family, it…

First Glance: Matthew 18:21-35

“…In anger his master handed him over to the jailors to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.’ ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’” (Matthew 18:34-35) If I’m honest, I find these verses a little…

Review: Washed and Waiting

Wesley Hill, Washed And Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2010. 160 pages. This book deserves to be read. Wesley Hill’s voice is needed both in the church and in the wider culture. In his beautifully written and deeply honest book, Washed and Waiting, Hill reflects on his journey as both…

Review: Ordinary by Michael Horton

Michael Horton, Ordinary: Sustainable faith in a radical, restless world. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2014. 221 pages. Christ did not found a movement. He is building a Church. In Ordinary, Michael Horton argues that the ‘next big thing’ is not a radical endeavor, but the slow work of Christ in his church. While the situations faced…

First Glance: Luke 15

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field…” (Luke 15:25a) The Parable of the Prodigal Son is probably misnamed. Don’t get me wrong, the younger son was certainly lost. Twice the father describes him as ‘dead, but alive again. He was lost and is found.’ The parable begins with the younger son wishing death upon…

Review: Ordinary by Tony Merida

Tony Merida, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, B&H Publishing Group: Nashville, 2015. 137 pages. Who wants to be ordinary? For much of the last few decades, the church has encouraged those devoted to Jesus to be radical and extraordinary, to be transformed, and to embrace the shocking message of Jesus. Tony Merida’s…

Review: The Parables

Brad H. Young, The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 1998. 332 pages. A full one-third of Jesus’ teachings are in the form of parables–the Good Samaritan… the Prodigal Son…the Persistent Widow. These teachings are some of the most beloved and also some of the most confusing in the whole Bible.…

First Glance: Matthew 13:44-52

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away…

Review: Understanding Genesis

Nahum M. Sarna, Understanding Genesis: The Heritage of Biblical Israel, Schoken Books (New York), 1966. I first heard about the Jewish scholar, Nahum Sarna, on our trip to Israel last year. Our guide, Ray Vander Laan, referenced his work repeatedly and recommended that we read his books. After receiving Understanding Genesis (as well as Exploring Exodus) for Christmas,…