Overturning Prejudice: Abraham & Abimelech's peacemaking in Gaza challenges us now

Posted Apr 23rd, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Violence in Gaza is once again on the rise as the Israeli Defense Forces battle Palestinian protesters outraged by inhumane living conditions in what is often referred to as the world’s largest outdoor prison. The last time tensions flared Israel brutally bombed Gaza in response to Hamas’ missile attacks in 2014-- killing over 2000 Palestinians and wounding thousands more. The story of Abraham’s conflict and reconciliation with the ancient king of Philistia (located in modern day Gaza) in Genesis 20-21 is an invitation...

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The Invitation to the Cross

Posted Mar 1st, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Last Sunday while preaching at Tierra Nueva Jesus’ words about rejection struck me as highly relevant for us today.
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
Jesus is talking about himself here. But his followers are also included in this trajectory that looks suicidal.
Right before Jesus says these words Peter had confessed Jesus to be the Christ— and Jesus...

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Discovering the kindness of God that leads to repentance

Posted Jan 22nd, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


For the past two weeks Gracie and I have ministered alongside our African partners to run four-day trainings for pastors and leaders in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. We have been delighted to see widespread negative images of God dramatically give way to our teachings and group Bible studies on God’s love and grace, exciting us to further equip people to proclaim good news.
Negative images of God are common in places of poverty and hardship. Christians, Muslims and adherents of traditional...

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Christmas Eve with Inmates: Tidings of Great Joy

Posted Dec 29th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


This Christmas Eve afternoon I read the story of the birth of Jesus with five Spanish-speaking men at Washington State Reformatory. After reading Luke 2:1-7 I sought ways to engage prisoners especially sad to be separated from their families over Christmas.
We notice that Joseph and Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem to comply with a “count” (census) ordered by the Roman Empire (inmates have at least two mandatory counts daily, while most of us may experience one census in...

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The challenge of equipping ministry workers at the margins in East Africa

Posted Dec 16th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Across the developing world, 3.2 million pastors are untrained or under equipped. In Africa, it is estimated that 90% of church leaders may never have received even one day of formal training. This is especially true in East Africa, where poverty, drought, disease, conflict and religious persecution are wreaking misery and chaos.  
While some training is available to the privileged, training is needed for front-line Christian ministry workers who are giving their lives in service of the excluded and under-reached.
As...

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Ransoming hostages and posting bail get God's attention

Posted Dec 6th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


I have been closely following the European refugee crisis due in part to my regular teaching of mission courses in the UK and around the world. Two years ago I visited the refugee camps in Calais, France, where I met refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Iran and many other countries (see update) who were seeking entry into the UK.
Months before visiting Calais I had run into Ismahan, a friend from Ethiopia living in Paris. She had visited us at...

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Ethiopian Adventures

Posted Nov 8th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


The story of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 has always inspired me—making me long for such adventures. Philip is attentive and flexible- wholly given over to Jesus’ movement. His availability to go out on missions is contagious, and Gracie and I are enlisted. May this contagion pass on to you, inspiring you to new ventures.
Philip is first mentioned in Acts 6:5 as second on a list of seven deacons recruited by the first believers to serve...

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Blessed are the leakers

Posted Sep 4th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Followers of Jesus have a spiritual obligation to bring into the light offenses or injustices otherwise hidden from sight. While discernment is certainly needed in knowing how and when to speak, prohibiting leaks is like silencing the prophets, who in Scripture carried out a function in Israel similar yet far beyond that of WikiLeaks or the best investigative journalism.
Jesus himself taught: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled,” affirming all who long for...

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Submission as Resistance: Romans 13 in the light of Psalm 2

Posted Aug 22nd 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


The prophetic witness of Christians before the State has too often been muted by a surface reading of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13:1-7, with its infamous “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1).
Added to this are Peter’s words: ”Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,...

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Informed from above

Posted Aug 15th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


For a number of years my daily prayer and study time includes reading online national and international news articles, preceded and followed by readings from the Psalms, Gospels and Epistles, and often from the Torah and Prophets as well. Reading the news, however, can become an addiction, especially in times of turmoil. The narrower path of seeking wisdom from above involves listening prayer, faith, intercession, and continual discernment-- activities that require time and sometimes can’t compete with carefully crafted and...

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Receiving the life-changing seed

Posted Jul 17th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Sunday afternoon I led two back-to-back Bible studies in Skagit County Jail on the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. After introductions and an opening prayer, a volunteer reads the first nine verses. As I listen a strategy unfolds for the mere twenty minutes that remain.
I ask the fifteen or so men where Jesus was, who else was there and what they were doing in the story. Since nobody seems to remember, we read the first two verses again....

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Posted Apr 27th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Jesus’ parable of the judgment of the nations is often presented in ways that associate our treatment of anyone who is hungry, thirsty, a foreigner, naked, sick and imprisoned as synonymous with how we treat Jesus. Many Scriptures clearly call us to care for the poor, excluded, immigrants and prisoners. But numerous details in this parable suggest a different interpretation.
Jesus here teaches on the future judgment of non-Jews (the nations=ethnos), whom he commissions his disciples to evangelize and make disciples...

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Posted Apr 27th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


Jesus’ parable of the judgment of the nations is often presented in ways that associate our treatment of anyone who is hungry, thirsty, a foreigner, naked, sick and imprisoned as synonymous with how we treat Jesus. Many Scriptures clearly call us to care for the poor, excluded, immigrants and prisoners. But numerous details in this parable suggest a different interpretation.
Jesus here teaches on the future judgment of non-Jews (the nations=ethnos), whom he commissions his disciples to evangelize and make disciples...

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Lamenting False Saviors: A Good Friday Reflection

Posted Apr 14th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


There is a grave danger this week for those watching global events to become excited and drawn into alignment with pretender saviors of the vulnerable.  Today I am trying to deliberately contemplate how Jesus came into Roman occupied Jerusalem as Savior of the World, in contrast to global leaders like Assad, Putin and Trump. It seems we must continually decide who saves and how it is effectively accomplished.
The US bombing of the Syrian air force base in retaliation for Assad’s...

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Seeking and finding lost sheep in a Scottish prison

Posted Apr 10th 2017, 12:00 by ekbladupdates on Christian Living


 
Descriptions of God as a shepherd who looks for, finds and brings home lost sheep have always caught my attention, inspiring me in my calling to seek and find the forsaken. My own journey has taken me from suburban Seattle to rural Honduras and back to a jail and prison in Washington State and beyond— including a recent visit to a Scottish prison in Perth.
As a lonely teenager I remember longing for some wise and caring person to find me,...

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