Saturday, July 18, 2009


I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8.38-39

More than Anything

You are loved. More than anything else in this world, you must know this. The God Who made you by His own hand and breathed His very life into you loves you. And he loves you with all the force and commitment of a Creator. What do I mean by that? Step back and think about something you’ve created—a story, an artwork, an item of clothing, a garden, a meal, a child, even something as ephemeral as “a moment.” Think of how thoroughly, passionately, and wholeheartedly you love that thing. You know it’s not perfect. You know where it didn’t meet your expectations. You know others don’t value it as dearly as you do. Some may even sneer at you for how much faith and devotion you place in it. Yet you love it. Every fiber of your being is committed to its success and you take pride in it, no matter how well it actually succeeds.

Now, think about how much God loves you—and how he loves you in the same way, only more so. Your imperfections are visible yet not divisive to Him. Your shortcomings are only reasons for Him to show His care and concern. How others see you has no impact on His view of you or His passion for your wellbeing. The God of eternity, Who covers all space and time, and Who knows all things—our great God is committed to you and He’s proud of you. More than anything we must know this.


There is nothing, Paul writes in Romans 8, to prevent God’s love from reaching us. His love is our bond with Him; it’s what makes us inseparable. Paul’s so sure of this—and enraptured by it—that he starts ticking off categories of things that threaten love. Death? God’s love overpowers death; it survives. Life? Because God transcends time, His love is timeless. “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” He tells us in Jeremiah 31.3. What about supernatural and government agents—angels, principalities, and powers? Can they sever our love connection with God? No. In one of His final earthly statements, Jesus clears that up. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” He says in Matthew 28.18. No doubt whispering in your mind, no preacher screaming from a pulpit, no elected official, no prelate, no council, no school board, no family member, no one and nothing can supersede Christ’s authority and He is Love Incarnate. Nothing you face today and nothing you face in the future holds any potential or influence affecting the love God has for you. There’s no mountain high enough, Paul writes, no valley low enough, no creature strong enough to prevent God’s love from reaching you or to pry you out of His hand. Oh yes, you are loved.

Slow Down

I’m writing this from my parents’ home, where my folks spend every waking moment showering their children (natural and spiritual) with love. They’re the kind of people who aren’t easily satisfied; there’s always something else they can find to do, another touch of grace or kindness to add, another act of consideration to perform. At times, when you just want them to sit down and relax, their drive can actually become unnerving. “Can I get you something?” “Are you comfortable?” “Is everything OK?” And about two hours before dinner, a battery of questions begins about every possible menu combination—inevitably followed by, “Or we can just go out for dinner.” In my younger years, my response often would be “Enough already! I get it! You love me. I’m grateful, but I wish you’d lighten up a bit.” All of these questions and suggestions were slowing me down—or so I believed. Now that I’m older, however, I realize the need to slow down; I see why it’s important to stop long enough to be loved.

Chances are, some of you have scanned through this post, seen its topic, and said, “I get it, I get it! God loves me. He wants to do nice things for me.” But while this is nothing new, it is nonetheless thrilling news we can’t take for granted. It’s essential for us to slow down long enough to be loved. We need to feel God’s tight grip of love around us, to relish the security of His love, and to allow the healing warmth of love to permeate our minds, hearts, and souls. Nothing, Paul says, “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You entire world can change today—everything else you know to be true could turn upside-down and inside out. But God’s love is secure. It holds you securely to Him. You are loved.

Know you are loved. And share your knowledge of God's love. This picture moved me tremendously by proving how important shared love is.

(Tomorrow: Hands Up)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mercy - The Early Edition

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90.14

We Need Mercy

A friend recently told me about a former colleague of his, a type A-plus-plus, whose standards of professionalism were—literally—unforgiving. “She said to everybody she worked with: ‘You get one chance to screw up with me. I don’t suffer fools and incompetents.’” As a result, no one stayed with her very long; either they quit, finagled transfers, or got fired. It took little time for her superiors to see beyond the efficiency and intelligence, noticing she didn’t command staff loyalty. This troubled them. So my friend (who’d lasted only two months before volunteering to relocate) got a call from the senior boss, who was curious about why her retention rate was so low. He repeated her line about not suffering fools and incompetents. “Interesting,” the boss said. And the legend goes he hung up the phone, called the merciless manager in, accused her of foolish incompetence, and informed her that her presence would no longer be suffered at the firm.

We all know cautionary tales like this, proving the inverse of what Jesus teaches in Matthew 5.7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” If there’s one thing each of us needs, it’s mercy. Without showing mercy, however, we can’t expect—let alone believe—mercy will be shown to us. But I’ll go even one better. We need to wake to mercy, to greet each new day knowing we’re forgiven and starting with a clean a slate. “Each day has enough trouble of its own,” Jesus says (Matthew 6.34) Carrying yesterday’s problems into today—slights we can forgive, mistakes we can overlook, resentments we can set aside—only adds to the troubles we’re destined to deal with today. So in order to obtain mercies we’ll need tomorrow, it seems wise to extend mercies to others today. In other words, the principle of mercy depends on our staying one step ahead—doing all we can to forgive and love now to receive mercy and love later.

Controlling Our Tempers

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city,” Proverbs 16.32 advises. We’ve come up with a number of ways to spin untrammeled anger and wrath—“brutal honesty,” “openness,” "evening the score," "preempting hurts," and “not suppressing our feelings.” Call it what you will, if controlling our tempers is such an onerous task we’d rather drive around the block to justify not doing it, we need to examine our priorities. Whenever I lash out at you, what you’ve done to anger me ceases to matter; I now have a bigger problem. I’m squandering mercy I’ll need tomorrow by not showing you mercy you need today.

In Psalm 4, David endures merciless ridicule and opposition. Yet in the fourth verse he says: “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” That’s when we control our tempers and set the stage for mercy—the night before a new day. We clear our hearts so we’ll rest easily and rise to fresh thoughts and potential. Lamentations 3 reminds us, it’s because of God’s love that we’re not consumed; His mercies never come to an end. “They are new every morning,” verse 23 says. It’s not a question of new mercies being provided each day; they’re there. It’s an issue of having overextended ourselves the previous day until we can’t afford to experience the morning mercies.

Singing for Joy

The King James Version of Psalm 90.14 reads, “O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” A joyful life begins each day with God's mercy—His unsolicited forgiveness, tolerance, and understanding. And we emulate this immeasurable gift all day long by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The early edition of mercy, which gets delivered every morning, makes the evening news fairly predictable. Harms take aim at us, yet there’s no harm done, because we forgive as we go. Disappointments cloud the sky, yet because we understand everyone fails just as we fail, the sun never fails to appear by day’s end. Judgments and prejudices are leveled at us, yet we stand tall, unshaken, and proud, because we tolerate differences in others—including their differences with us, justified or not. So we spend our all of our days singing for joy. We clear our hearts of anger and resentment as we lay down each night. And we rise to new mercies every morning. It’s a great way to live!
Each sunrise brings new mercies; we can experience them in all their splendor by not carrying yesterday's grievances into today.

(Tomorrow: Loved)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Seeing God

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.

Isaiah 6.1

Life-Shaping Experience

Isaiah—justly regarded as the Old Testament’s greatest prophet—is an extraordinary man born into mediocre times. Israel is divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The Judean ruler, Uzziah, is incapacitated by leprosy after disobediently usurping the priests’ responsibilities in temple rites. After years of successful rule, Uzziah oversteps his bounds. He enters the temple to burn incense. In 2 Chronicles 26.18, the priests confront him: “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests…. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.” (Note: separation of church and state is actually a Biblical principle.) Uzziah’s son takes over as prince regent. Under his less capable leadership, much of the progress Judah experienced is lost.

Uzziah’s punishment eclipses Israel’s view of God. Its fear of the divine Presence dwelling in the temple causes people to keep their distance. This is why Isaiah notes Uzziah’s death as he begins to relate his life-shaping experience. Uzziah’s removal removes a hindrance to seeing God. Isaiah is caught up in a vision in which he’s swept into the temple. There he views the Living God, lifted high on His throne, the train of His robe covering the entire expanse of the temple. Since Isaiah is a layman—therefore unworthy (as Uzziah was) to enter the temple’s holiest sector—it is widely presumed that Isaiah’s vision is a prophetic metaphor of God’s supremacy. He’s seated above all else and the whole of His glory fills the Earth.

High and Low

During my high school and college years, I’d arrive early for Sunday evening worship just to spend some time with “Mama” Henderson, an elderly woman who took special interest in me. When something I said suggested doubt that God cared about my circumstances—perhaps I thought my problems were too trivial for His concern—Mama Henderson always said the same thing: “Son, remember He sits high and looks low.” And when I’d confess feelings of doubt and confusion, she’d say, “Stop looking for answers and start seeing God.”

This is where Isaiah is. He sees a God Who sits high and looks low, One Who covers all time and space, holds all power, and retains the answer to every problem. The solutions to Israel’s troubles may not be visible, but Isaiah marvels at the God Whose visible presence contains them. He stops looking for answers. He starts seeing God.

Blind No More

We live in a mediocre world, much of it mishandled by haughty leaders who’ve overstepped their bounds. Our borders are no longer sacred—faith and politics intermingle at the pleasure of civic officials usurping priestly authority and priestly figures playing politics. We hear a lot of God talk, but the fear it generates prevents many of us from seeing God, high and lifted, filling the world with His majesty and might. This is psychosomatic blindness—an inability to see caused by traumatic events. We must resolve in our hearts and minds to be blind no more. Seeing God is as simple as believing He’s there, sitting high, looking low, caring about every detail of our lives.

We see God’s glory filling the Earth, as He sits high and looks low.

(Tomorrow: Mercy – The Early Edition)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If Only We Would

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Psalm 107.8 (KJV)

Saved from Ourselves

Psalm 107 is interesting for many reasons, one of which is its structure. It reads more closely to a traditional hymn than most other psalms: stanza-chorus, stanza-chorus. The first stanza is about people who can’t find a home. “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” (v5) and the Lord delivers them out of the their troubles (v6-7). Hence the chorus: “O that men would praise the LORD for His goodness…”

Then, the song takes a fascinating turn. It becomes about how God saves us from ourselves. The second stanza is about rebels “against the words of God” (v11) who land in prison. God brings them “out of darkness and the shadow of death.” (v13) Stanza three focuses on people whose cravings for pleasure supplant their will to survive. “Their soul abhors all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.” (v18) Yet, despite their self-indulgence, God “sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions.” (v20). The next stanza talks about people whose over-reliance on intelligence results in hubris. “They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble.” (v26) Still, God saves them. He makes the storm calm; He brings these explorers to “their desired haven.” (v30) And after every example of God’s merciful guidance out of self-inflicted trouble, a chorus rises: Oh that men would praise the LORD!

Help That Happens

Whether it’s a rebellious nature, insatiable craving, or intellectual pride that gets us into trouble, in the end, we’ll need God’s help. And, as the psalm says, help will come. Many times, however, our problems get compounded because we’re so caught up in our drama we won’t accept God’s help because (from our view) it’s out-of-scale with our turmoil. In 1 Kings, we see the prophet Elijah hiding in a cave because he’s opposed Ahab and Jezebel, the idolatrous monarchs of Israel. He waits for God to save him. A big wind howls, but God isn’t in the wind. An earthquake shakes the ground beneath him; no God there, either. A fire breaks out; sorry, no help there. Then, a still, small voice whispers into the cave: “What are you doing here, Elijah? Get up and get going. I’ve mounted an army in your defense.”

What utter arrogance to think we can dictate the scale and nature of our rescue—as though big trouble deserves big salvation. We don’t need help that impresses; we want help that happens. Many of you already know this proverbial story, but it bears repeating. A flood sweeps through a town and sends one of its citizens to his roof. A boat comes by and offers him a lift. “No thank you,” he says, “I prayed and God’s going to save me.” Later, a helicopter pilot lowers a lifeline but the man waves him away. “Thank you, but no—God’s going to save me.” The water eventually overtakes the man, who now stands before his Maker with disappointment and anger crossing his face. “I thought you were going to save me,” he complains. “I sent a boat. I sent a helicopter,” God answers. Psalm 107 assures us God will lift us out of our despair and anxiety; we may not care for His mode of transportation—it may not suit our “style”—but He will lift us. If only we would praise Him for this, instead of passing on the boats and helicopters and continuing to fret about how we’ll be saved!

Praising With All

“Praise the LORD, O my soul,” Psalm 103.1-2 reads. “All my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” The help and salvation we seek are on their way. In many cases, they’ve already come. If only we would praise God instead of doubt He’s coming to our assistance or complain about how He’s working in our lives. Psalm 22.3 tells us our praise is God’s throne; the glory we raise to Him becomes His dwelling. Therefore, ensuring and activating God’s presence in our situations starts with praise. And when He’s present, help is present. So, if we connect the dots, praise makes help happen. If only we would stop getting into trouble and start praising our way out!

Instead of being concerned about HOW help happens, we should praise God THAT help happens.

(Tomorrow: Seeing God)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To Be Seen

Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

Psalm 4.6

A Prayer for Our Time

I’m suffering right now from bad-news fatigue. The moment something good happens, here come the doubters and defamers to throw sand in our eyes and make us feel like fools for thinking anything can get better. When society comes under the grips of bad news boors, though, it starts to break down in crucial ways, because a society without hope is one without drive. And nothing gets me more tired than pundits whose warped worldview is based entirely on what’s good for them rather than what’s best for all.

In America, nearly 50 million people have no access to health coverage; either it’s not offered to them or its cost prohibitive. (Yesterday I spoke with a bright young woman—a mother of teenagers—who told me because she can’t afford healthcare on what she makes, she’s taken a second mortgage on her home.) Listening to some overpaid, under-challenged, cable-news nabob argue about the “inconveniences” and “inefficiencies” of a nationalized healthcare plan depresses me no end. People worrying about their stock portfolios above showing concern for their fellow humans exhaust patience and understanding. (And, by the way, protecting people and profits is not mutually exclusive. It’s just not easy.) Now that we’re in the thick of trying to rebuild so many areas of life that went neglected, fatigue is starting to take its toll. The work is hard, the tired ideas more tiresome than ever, and the will to do good wanes. When I read Psalm 4.6, I hear a prayer for our time: “People are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.”

Basking and Beaming

“Let your light shine before men,” Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “so they’ll see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” The world needs our light, and our light is not our own. It’s God’s light shining on us, reflecting through us to the world. We should bask in God’s light. In the midst of this dreary and cold world, we should wrap ourselves in warmth of hope and luminescence. (It’s much, much brighter and inspiring than the dim bulbs of TV, by the way.) But we can never absorb all of God’s light. It’s more than any one individual can contain. So as we’re basking, we’re naturally beaming—showing the goodness of God to those around us, radiating kindness, energy, love, forgiveness… all the goodness that shines on us should shine out of us, too.

Each Other and Everyone Else

In 1 Thessalonians 5.15, Paul writes, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” Each other and everyone else—it’s not an inside brand of kindness, it flows out of our hearts to everyone around us, Christian and non-Christian, friend and enemy, supporter or detractor. We’re kind to all for three reasons: First, kindness is a hallmark of Christ’s laws of love for our neighbors. Second, we have no right to judge anyone as unworthy of our kindness—indeed, some of the most difficult people we’ll ever know are the ones most seriously in need of kindness. But third, treating each other and everyone else kindly ensures our potential to be seen—for others to observe God’s love and light at work in us.

We can’t afford not to reflect what’s good in this life and this world. We can’t afford not to be kind. It’s good for us. It’s good for others. It’s good for all.

Being kind to all, randomly even, ensures others can find good they're hoping to find in the world.

(Tomorrow: If Only We Would)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Good Stuff

Test everything. Hold on to the good.

                        1 Thessalonians 5.21

Not Everything That Glitters…

We all want the best for our families, our communities, and ourselves. As lofty as this sounds, the downside comes with always wanting better. The best we’ve got is seldom the best we can have. It’s good for us to desire improvement. Human progress and our personal development depend on it. Yet we can get swept up in seeking to better our circumstances and ourselves to the degree that we risk what losing what we’ve gained for ideas that prove more harmful than they appear. A playground analogy explains what I mean. Kids often become so fixated on winning the friendship of one playmate—the most popular or athletic, say—they’ll sacrifice friends they already have in the process. They don’t really know the kid they want to be with. Is he loyal? Is she kind? Is he/she anything like the person he/she projects? But immaturity spurs the ambitious child to leap before looking. And when the coveted friend turns out to be a selfish brat or a manipulative nightmare, the neglected friends look like lost treasures. It’s a lesson we learn again and again and again: not everything that glitters is gold.

Sounds Good to Me

The Early Church’s inexperience and gullibility leave it no better off than children at play. Living on this side of history, with much of our faith already worked out, doctrinally sanctioned, codified, and ritualized, it’s impossible to imagine what first- and second-generation believers deal with. There’s next to no organization, no established liturgy, documented theology, or living precedents to emulate. They figure it out as they go—not just what all these new concepts mean, but how they work. A visitor could infiltrate their ranks and introduce a crazy idea (e.g., Gentiles must convert to Judaism before becoming Christians), and without written Scripture or prior teaching to refute it, the response could amount to something like “Sounds good to me.”

The apostles devote much time to firefighting—stamping out misguided, unbalanced embers before they spread out of control. They’re not shy about painting advocates of errant doctrine in the worst possible light. John calls them “false prophets” sent by “the spirit of the antichrist.” (1 John 2.1, 3) In Titus 1.10, Paul warns of “many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers.” Peter calls them “brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.” (2 Peter 2.12) Since dependency on their efforts can’t go on forever, though, they urge early Christians to assess fresh ideas based on what they know thus far. If it doesn’t match what they learned, they’re told to ignore it. “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” John writes. Peter says, “You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5.21, Paul goes furthest of all, saying, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” In other words, if it doesn’t sound right, leave it alone.

The Marketplace of Ideas

The mass-media explosion has created what communications gurus call “the marketplace of ideas”—an unregulated forum of opinions, theories, and beliefs. It’s a tantalizing place that encompasses every aspect of life, including faith. Straight-Friendly, like every other blog, discussion board, podcast, program, and publication centered on Christian belief, is part of it. Yet simply because so many untethered ideas float around, we should heed Paul’s advice to test everything, throw out implausible and reckless ideas, and keep the good stuff.

There’s plenty of good stuff, too. If you’re unconvinced, click through the blog roll here. While the writers and their responders don’t blanch at grappling with new ideas, their sites are first and foremost testing grounds. The good stuff rises to the top, more than a reader can digest in one sitting or day. What we must be wary of, though, is being seduced by far-fetched, extraneous opinions that gravely conflict with—or directly contradict—our knowledge of the truth. They may make sense on their own. They may actually cite Scripture to support their views. This is hardly new. In 2 Peter 3.10, we hear “[Paul’s] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Such distortions run the gamut from malignant doctrines of exclusion and punishment to dangerous skepticism about the lordship and reality of Christ. If it doesn’t sound right, it’s not for us. We hold on to the good stuff. The rest we let go. (And we let it go without argument.)

We test everything, hold on to the good stuff, and let the rest go.

(Tomorrow: To Be Seen)

Postscript: Online Bible Study

The next Straight-Friendly online Bible study will be held on Thursday evening, July 30, at 8 PM CDT, with a second opportunity on Saturday morning, August 1, at 11 AM CDT. The topic will be Thinking Like Christ—an exploration of what distinguishes the believer’s thought processes. A study guide will be published early next week, along with study site access codes, etc. If you’ve not yet participated in an online study and are curious about how it works, you can find out more here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

                        Isaiah 53.5 (NKJV)

The Back Story

When we look at Jesus on the cross, what do we see? The brow mockingly crowned with thorns. The beard that is every Jewish man’s glory savagely plucked and matted with blood. Dried saliva and parched lips evidence dire thirst. We see hands and feet affixed to this torturous altar by iron spikes. His arms and legs convulse with spasms caused by the strain of supporting all of His weight. His torso is swollen and bruised from sadistic pummeling with rods. His chest heaves beneath the suffocating pressure of mid-air suspension. Blood and viscera ooze from an open stab wound in His side meant to finish Him off. And, as the day wears on, the blistering sun scorches every inch of flesh on His body. It’s a heartbreaking, hideous sight.

Circling behind the cross to observe the back story, what we see is equally gruesome. Lashes from leather whips strung with shards of metal and bone have flayed Jesus’s back into a shredded curtain, exposing His muscles, sinew, shoulders, and ribs to the fetid air, heat, and scores of flies nesting the wounds with freshly laid eggs. If we’re able to stomach looking at such horror at length, we can count the stripes hashed across His back—39 in all, one short of 40 prescribed for whipping executions. We’re stunned to realize before the cross was thrust on His shoulders, before the hammer struck the first nail, before the spear pierced His side, Jesus was beaten within inches of His life. Then, remembering Isaiah’s prophecies, we realize He endured each aspect of His suffering for a specific purpose, including His stripes.

Passion’s Elements

Isaiah 53.5 breaks down the Passion’s elements like this: He was wounded for our transgressions. When we transgress, we expose wrongful motives and desires by actively pursuing habits and pleasures that cause piercing pain and leave scars. “The soul who sins is the one who will die,” Ezekiel 18.4 says. Sin is lethal. It leeches the life out of us, just as Jesus bled to death through His open wounds.

He was bruised for our iniquities. Harmful attitudes and emotions buried beneath the surface discolor our appearance when we’re buffeted by hostility. Resisting these impulses doesn’t mitigate the internal injuries they bring. Clotted hatred and resentment interrupt the flow of God’s love and forgiveness. They mar His reflection. This is why passive iniquity and active transgression equally displease God, why seeing Jesus covered in bruises causes Him to look away, and why the psalmist writes, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66.18)

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. The burden of humanity’s sin falls on Christ’s shoulder to restore our relationship with God. His punishment ends the war between our will and God’s purpose. It frees us from what we think to trust His mercy and grace. Romans 5.1 says this: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We’re Healed

And by His stripes we are healed. The lashes driving Jesus to death’s precipice represent the most extreme physical, mental, and emotional pain a human can survive. In a few hours, Jesus suffers more affliction and abuse than the vast majority of us experience in a lifetime. The blinding agony—the undeserved brutality—of the first stripe isn’t absorbed before the next lash tears into Him. Wave after wave thrashes Him, emptying Him of strength, crushing Him with confusion. Yet He endures, because dying beneath the whip will defeat the promise of healing. And here’s something very telling about Jesus’s stripes. After His resurrection, Jesus authenticates His identity by brandishing the nail-prints in His hands and hole in His side. Yet not once in any account does He point to the whip-scars across His back. Were they there? Scripture doesn’t say. But it’s not illogical to believe they were gone—that Christ Himself was the first to experience the healing they deliver.

Because the stripes were real, healing is real. Because Jesus suffered and recovered, we can also recover. Throughout Christ’s ministry, He performed healing miracles at the touch of His hand. Still, not every sick person who sought healing was fortunate enough to feel His touch. His stripes now make healing available to all. Unlike miracles, healing is a process, a gradual restoration of health and resurgence of strength. And, as in Jesus’s case, it often reverses suffering by way of the tomb, plunging us into darkness to rise again in new life and health, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Yet throughout our tomb experience, we believe life’s power works in us. We believe the prophet. By His stripes, we’re healed.

Healing is available through the whipping Christ survived for our recovery. (Troy David: The Whipping of Christ)

(Tomorrow: The Good Stuff)

Personal Postscript: Happy Anniversary!

Today my parents celebrate 51 years of married life shared in commitment to others and dedicated to Christ. I live in awe of their example and love them more with each passing day. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!