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May 2011

Rise and shine

When morning comes the phrase trips off our tongues.  Yet we rarely think of its strangeness.  To say “Rise and shine” is odd.  We’re not simply exhorting the slumberer to notice the sun or respond to the sun.  We’re telling them to be the sun – or at least, like the sun. The sun rises.  […]

Led like a lamb to the slaughter

When someone is “led like a lamb to the slaughter” it’s not pretty.  Perhaps a partner in the firm is about to be ousted for the sake of the company.  As he blithely enters the boardroom he’s like a lamb to the slaughter. It’s a brutal verbal picture.  An innocent lamb will follow a leader […]

They shall mount up with wings as eagles

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the […]

Take root

In common parlance, ideas “take root” or cultural movements “take root”.  But in the bible it’s people who “take root.”  In fact there is a whole theme of “uprooting” and “taking root” that bears examination. In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the people, even before they entered the promised land, that they faced exile for disobedience.  And […]

A drop in the bucket

A sense of proportion is priceless.  But it can be very elusive.  When things go wrong we speak of life getting on top of us.  Chips on both shoulders.  We can be weighed down with worry, drowning in troubles, outnumbered.  It’s us against the world.  And the world is winning. Isaiah knows how this feels.  […]

The lion shall lie down with the lamb

Here’s a phrase that has morphed from it’s biblical origins.  Isaiah wrote about “the wolf dwelling with the lamb while the leopard lies down with the kid… and the young lion” (Isaiah 11:6).  Yet, as with a phrase like “Pride goeth before a fall“, it’s the abbreviation that has survived the test of time: the […]

Unto us a child is born

I grew up with Summer Christmasses.  Mangoes for breakfast.  Cold meats for lunch.  Backyard cricket.  Swims and BBQs.  And I loved them.  But, biblically speaking, a summer Christmas is a contradiction in terms.  Christmas is not a celebration of our sunny circumstances.  Christmas comes in the darkness. That’s what Isaiah prophesied in chapter 9.  It’s a […]


A man begs for change.  Some throw him coins.  Most pass on by.  But imagine a true philanthropist (meaning “lover of man”). He doesn’t just reach into his pocket for some change.  Imagine he stoops down beside the poor man and sits down in the gutter.  Imagine he reaches an arm around the man and […]

Woe is me

What does a spiritual experience look like?  Warm feelings?  Groovy vibes?  Not if you ask Isaiah. In Isaiah chapter 6 the prophet has the ultimate spiritual experience.  He meets the LORD: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train [i.e. […]

Swords into ploughshares

Bill Hicks used to joke: “A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he’s gonna want to see a cross?” Hicks wasn’t original of course.  The incongruity has always been there.  A method of extreme torture and humiliating execution has become the most prominent religious symbol in the […]