The “Dimmer Switch” of Faith

The Bible talks a lot about faith. Some people seem to have it, some don’t. Sometimes, the people that have it in one story, seem to lose it in the next. Faith is the stuff of salvation and everyone seems to have an opinion about what it is and how to understand it.

One common theme regarding faith is that people tend to see faith as an “all or nothing” commodity. Do you have faith? Yes… or no. In one sense, I suppose you can talk about faith in those terms, but I think faith is much more complicated than that.

Jesus talks about faith in terms, not only of existence (Yes/No), but of quantity and quality as well.

Sometimes He refers to “little faith”…

You of little faith! – Matthew 6:30b

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” – Matthew 8:26

… Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:31

Jesus said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?” – Matthew 16:8

He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith… if you have faith the size of a mustard seed…” – Matthew 17:20

and sometimes “great faith”…

(Jesus) marveled and said… “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” Matthew 8:10

Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great…” – Matthew 15:28

IRUBThe Bible seems to present faith more like a dimmer switch. You know… the light switches some of us have in our homes that allow us to regulate, on a sliding scale, the amount of light in a room.

Continue reading “The “Dimmer Switch” of Faith”

Honoring My Father

My dad, Larry Hall, passed away on Jan 26, 2017. He had a very aggressive type of cancer that moved rapidly through his body over his last two years. On February 18, 2017, his family and friends gathered to celebrate his life. Below are the words I shared that day.

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Dad, Jodi and me (the short one) – Seattle, WA, 1971

Memorial to my Dad

On behalf of the Larry Hall family, I’d like to thank each of you for being here today. Some of you are here because you encountered my dad at some point in your lives. I suppose some of you never met Dad but are here to support someone else. Whatever your reason, thanks for taking time out of your life to be with us in honoring and remembering him. We also want to acknowledge there are several good friends and family members that wanted to be here but couldn’t make it today. Their presence is felt even in their absence. 

My dad was a big man in many ways. I knew that before he died… and since his death I’ve been reminded again of his significance. We found out a couple of years ago that he had cancer. Part of the beauty of the last two years has been getting to watch my dad fight his cancer. He really had an extraordinary outlook throughout the process. Even when the end seemed obvious to those of us around him… he kept looking beyond his diagnosis. He kept putting events on the calendar. I’m really not sure how he was able to do that. 

I have many stories I could tell about my dad, but today I feel compelled to talk about grief a bit. That’s where I find myself this morning. It’s where we all find ourselves at some point. As awful as dad’s cancer was, it did allow us all to grieve a little bit during each season over the last two years.

Grief is an interesting friend. I been trying to find a good analogy for grief. I think it is a type of friend. I suppose we’ve all had a real friend that acted like grief. You know, the one that shows up unexpectedly at your front door… comes in… cleans out your fridge… and stays well past their welcome. 

This type of friend is exhausting.

Continue reading “Honoring My Father”

Communion and New Covenant

I’d like to share a perspective on communion that has really changed the way I view this sacrament.

At the last supper, Jesus took the bread and the cup and served it to his disciples. When he served the cup he said, “… this is the New Covenant in My blood.” I’m not sure if you’ve thought about those words recently. Those who take communion acknowledge they have, through faith, entered into a covenant with God. A covenant is an agreement, a contract. But what exactly does this mean in the context of communion?

There’s a scene in the Old Testament, in Exodus 24, that I believe foreshadows our New Testament communion. Continue reading “Communion and New Covenant”

A Literary Look at Luke 9

I’m learning to read the Bible as a piece of divinely inspired literature. It’s been a real paradigm shift from the set of “here’s how to understand the Bible” rules with which I grew up.  The story that Luke 9 shares is pretty amazing when one looks at it in light of the entirety of scripture.

In Luke 9:18, Jesus asks for the latest gossip on who people say that He is. Some of the proposals are, John the Baptist (come back from the dead), Elijah, or maybe one of the OT prophets. Peter then nails it when he says, “You are the Christ.” Good job Peter! It is interesting that directly following the identification by Peter… Jesus says that the Son of Man must suffer, be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Notice he doesn’t mention the manner of death… but in his next statement He says that his followers must deny themselves and take up their crosses daily (Luke 9:23). He then says it’s not worth it if someone gives up his soul in an attempt to gain the whole world… an offer proposed to him by Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:5-7).

Luke 9:28-36, the next story in Luke’s gospel, is the transfiguration… where Jesus is up on a mountain with Moses (the “prophet of old”), and Elijah. I can just hear Jesus encouraging his disciples to take a picture. See… I’m not Elijah… cause he’s right there. And by the way… I’m also not a prophet from the OT… like maybe Moses… cause he’s right here. They start talking about the “exodus” that Jesus was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Moses lead his people out of the slavery of Egypt. Jesus’ exodus was to be accomplished at Jerusalem. It had become the new symbol of spiritual slavery on earth. Then a cloud forms at the top of the mountain and everyone walks into it.

Did I mention that Jesus’ name is really Joshua? Its a confusing set of circumstances that got us to how we translate His name into the English language as “Jesus”… but his name is “Joshua”. That little gem should make this whole transfiguration scene a little more familiar. Continue reading “A Literary Look at Luke 9”

The Blood Frees… The Body Sustains


I’ve been contemplating some words Jesus said right before he died.

Before I get to those thoughts… I need to give a little background information. I grew up in a good Bible-believing evangelical church… and I took communion on a regular basis. The symbolism of “taking communion” was always a really hard thing to understand. (I come from a tradition that views communion as a symbolic act. I acknowledge that other traditions within the church apply different understandings.)

Regarding communion, Jesus said that we are supposed to “do this in remembrance” of Him (1 Corinthians 11:23 and following). So, in my adolescence, I would sit, in the pew, with the small plastic cup in my hand (trying not to spill)… and hold the even smaller square of mass-produced “bread” between my two fingers (trying not to drop)… and I would try my hand at “remembrance“.

It went something like this…

“Jesus died… Thank you, Jesus…. His body was broken… His blood was spilled… He died… Jesus died… remember that Jesus died… Thank you… Died.”

Then when everyone else had received their same small cup and bead of bread… the pastor would allow us to eat and drink. I’d lick out the bottom of the cup with my tongue… and put it in the round rubber cup holder in front of me.

I did a lot of “remembering”… but never got much past that. Every time communion was served… I remembered… but it seemed really repetitive. I mean… I never really forgot about Jesus’ death between times. Continue reading “The Blood Frees… The Body Sustains”