Displaying posts published in

March 2011

Balaam's ass

Christianity is big business today.  Speakers can command live audiences of tens, even hundreds of thousands.  Millions more can view on television or buy their books.  What should we make of their popularity?  How should we assess their ministry? Balaam’s ass is in the bible to remind us that speaking spiritual words is no guarantee […]

Brazen serpent

What is faith? Often people think of faith as a special quality that the religious happen to possess.  It’s like some magic elixir.  Apparently some people have lots of faith coursing through their veins, others have very little. But how does Jesus think of faith? Well when Jesus wanted to explain faith to a bible […]

Wilderness Years

The journey from slavery to the promised land should have been straightforward.  If they’d kept the Mediterranean on their left they could have arrived within a fortnight. The LORD took them a different route – through the Red Sea.  The LORD gained great glory by saving them through adversity.  This was some of the reason […]

Spy out the land

What will the future bring?  Blessings or curses? Wouldn’t it be nice to send someone on ahead to make sure the future’s bright? That’s what the Israelites do in the book of Numbers.  Let’s catch up with the story so far… In Genesis, Israel begins as the seed of Abraham then, with Joseph, they head […]

God bless

Some people have only two uses for the name of God.  Either to carelessly curse, or to carelessly bless.  In either case the speaker knows not what they do! In its biblical setting, “God bless” was never said lightly.  In fact it was a distinct privilege of the priests.  In particular, the High Priest, Aaron.  […]

Love thy neighbour

What’s the law all about?  A supposed expert in the law asked Jesus that very question.  Jesus boiled it all down to ‘love’.  He quoted from two places in the Old Testament: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) […]

Unclean! Unclean!

I’ll never forget when Mark told me he was HIV positive.  We were in a cafe in London and had just ordered all day breakfasts.  Many of us had tried to help him off the streets and off the drugs but he’d finally succumbed to a dirty needle. He had quite a few scabs on […]


We don’t like hearing about “scapegoating”.  It sounds like bullying.  A group picks on a weakling, identifies all its maladies with this one individual and punishes the scapegoat for the sins of the community. That’s horrible. But it’s horrible because of the power relationship.  The strong sacrifice the weak. The original scapegoat was modelling something […]

Peace offering

When we think of a “peace offering” we think of guilty husbands hastily purchasing flowers.  Or meek penitents bringing gifts to their fuming friends.  The one giving the peace offering is feeling dreadful.  The one to whom the offering is made is tapping their foot saying “This better be good.”  And maybe, just maybe, they […]


Can the young girl atone for her mistake? Can the sportsman atone for his blunder?  Can the husband atone for his callous remark? If we answer ‘yes’ it’s usually an answer about the guilty party’s need to make amends.  But the bible has a fresh angle on the atonement question. In fact the bible gave […]