on signs and laws

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:1-12

If we’re super honest, sometimes it feels like God is a little inconsistent with his miracles. Almost like he had a quota of miracles to perform, and it seems like he used them all up during Bible times, and he’s basically run dry nowadays. Why can’t God part traffic like he parted the Red Sea? Why can’t God multiply red marks like he did with the loaves and fish? 

Why can’t he heal me with a word? 

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which Jesus?

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. 

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:1-9

Who is Jesus? If you’ve ever been to church, you might have a ready answer. Maybe something along the lines of He’s the Son of God. Or maybe He’s a nice teacher, or even He’s a figment of our imagination.

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a leaving song

Oh little heart
What mountains will you climb?
What vistas will you take in?
What heights will you tumble down from?
What snakes will you uncover?
What rock will hold firm, and
What sand will crumble below?
What blades will you cross?
What wings will shelter you?
What misty frontiers will you push?
What great and terrible things,
What horrors inside and out
Will spur you and haunt you?
But earn your scars and stories and tears
And come home safely
Wherever that is.

this is my King

This is my King. He doesn’t wear a suit of shining armour. He doesn’t wear a fine business suit. He doesn’t have nice hair, or a secretary. He doesn’t have a PhD, or a career in politics. He is the Son of God, but that doesn’t stop him from coming to find people who are lost. He is the Commander of all the armies of Heaven, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to talk to people who hate him.

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How much can we blame barbarisation of the Roman army in leading to the end of the western empire in AD476?

Introduction

The ‘barbarisation’ of the Roman army has become a popular explanation for the end of the Roman Empire. While the empire possessed a strong army of professional Roman soldiers, it could not fail; therefore its end in AD476 was the result, directly or indirectly, of the failure of the army. And since by the fifth century AD the army had come to incorporate many non-Romans into its ranks, logic follows that this ‘de-romanisation’ of the army – the deterioration of Roman military discipline, the end of the legions of the Principate – made the army ineffective and weak.¹

Continue reading “How much can we blame barbarisation of the Roman army in leading to the end of the western empire in AD476?”

on God doing his job

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ’Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:1-8

There’s an old meme floating around the internet, poking fun at Christianity. It goes something like this:

Jesus promised to get rid of sin. How many bad people do you see running around now?

Thor promised to get rid of all frost giants. How many frost giants do you see running around now?

Thor – 1, Jesus – 0.

It’s a silly old joke, but it does give voice to the idea that, well, sometimes it seems like God isn’t very good at doing his job. Or that even when he does something, he does it in a really bizarre way.

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