THE TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. Once when Jesus and his disciples were in the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked them who public opinion considered him to be (Matt. 16:13-20). The report was mixed. One of the prophets in general, some were saying; others, a specific, particular prophet such as John the Baptist or Elijah. And what do … [Read more...]


THE TWENTIETH DAY OF SEPTEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. A gracEmail subscriber understands that the word "Christ" in the phrase "Jesus Christ" is a title and not Jesus' last name. She knows that "Christ" is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means "anointed." Now she wonders whether first-century Jews in Palestine expected one specific Messiah at … [Read more...]


THE SIXTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. A gracEmail subscriber has read that Jesus played down the fact that he was the Messiah, particularly in the beginning of his ministry, and especially in the Gospel of Mark. Can I make any helpful comment about that? * * * A close reading of the first three Gospels justifies the generalizations referred to in this … [Read more...]


THE TWELFTH DAY OF JULY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.   A gracEmail subscriber heard someone explain Jesus' humanity as follows and requests my critique based on the Bible: (1) To rescue us from sin and death, a Savior had to be both human and divine. (2) Before he was born, Jesus was part of God in heaven. (3) In becoming Jesus, God put on humanity as if … [Read more...]

GracEmail special

THE ASSIGNMENT The first rays of morning gradually illumined the volcanic mountains before me, and the cobblestone streets of Antigua glowed softly beneath my feet. It was August 2007, and I was in this picturesque Guatemalan village on professional retreat with my employer, the Lanier Law Firm of Houston, Texas. During this early morning walk, I was asking God for a new assignment -- something … [Read more...]

A man like no other

The Greek word used of Jesus and translated "only-begotten" in the King James Version of John 3:16 is monogenes. This means that as son of God, Jesus is unique or one of a kind. He is also unique as a man. And how? Not in his physical appearance, we will see in this gracEmail, nor because he died, or even because he died by crucifixion. On a few subsequent Sundays we will explore some ways that … [Read more...]


Mama Cass Elliott sang the song and her words echoed the good news Jesus himself had preached. "There's a New World Coming / And it's just around the bend / There's a new world coming / This one's coming to an end" (Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing). Jesus called it "the kingdom of heaven," the new dimension of reality in which God will restore everything, redeem our bodies and liberate creation … [Read more...]

Christianity On Trial (Book Notice)

Imagine for a moment that someone was able to locate, juggle schedules, arrange transportation, and bring together into one room all the following: * a high school prodigy whose minister sometimes invited him to preach in the largest congregation of their association; * a biblical languages major and avid Bible student; * a national debate champion in university competition; * a … [Read more...]


John 3:16 is perhaps the most memorized verse in the Bible. It begins with the familiar phrase: "For God so loved the world . . . ." The Greek word translated "so" can express both manner ("this is how God loved the world") and degree ("God loved the world this much"). God shows his love in many other ways, of course, but this is the supreme demonstration of God's love for human beings made in his … [Read more...]


The midweek ladies Bible class at our church is studying Isaiah this year and they kindly invited me to take three sessions over chapters 34-48. The occasion provided special incentive to read chapter 40 again, a passage that has encouraged and inspired me for at least that many years. This chapter begins the second major division of Isaiah, a message of comfort for Judean exiles during the … [Read more...]