Orphans and Children Separated at the Border (James 1:27)

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James 1:27

One of the difficulties of our current, polarized political climate is that to speak up on any controversial issue is to be pigeon-holed into a political party or agenda. As Christians our loyalty lies not on a political platform, which will rot and decay, but on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, which lasts forever. It is important to say this before launching into a brief response to the current crisis of children being separated from their parents at the border. Continue reading

Religion that Works (James 1:27)

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James 1:27

The word “religion” often times has a negative connotation. We think of empty rituals, moralism, legalism, etc. The word seems too wooden, too void of feeling. But, when James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts,” he means much more. Continue reading

The Gospel is the Great Equalizer (James 1:9-11)

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How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as the world sees you? Or, do you see yourself as you are in Christ? Continue reading

The Ultimate Black Swan (John 20:1-29)

 

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Submitted by Andy McIlvain.

John 20:1-29

Have you seen a swan lately? Believe it or not White Tundra Swans start out in Alaska and migrate south in February and March. Recently my wife and I observed a “bevy” of White Swans locally numbering 50-100.

Have you seen a black swan? Black Swans are large water birds (wingspans up to 6.5 feet), found only in Australia and New Zealand. They are nomadic birds with no migratory pattern. The global population is estimated to be about 500,000; they are rare.

Black Swans are used to illustrate the Black Swan Theory. The Black Swan Theory is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is downplayed after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient belief that black swans did not exist, but then was reinterpreted after black swans were discovered in the wild. The first documented sighting was in Western Australia in the seventeenth century. The British philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill coined what has become known as “Black Swan Theory”.

There are many examples of Black Swan events: the Titanic sinking, Chernobyl, the Wall Street Crash in 1929, the Dot Com Bubble, Genghis Khan, Nazi Germany, the Black Death in Europe, the 9/11 Attack, to name a few.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his recent book The Black Swan, states there are three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

The birth, death and resurrection of Christ is in human terms the Ultimate Black Swan Event. Black Swan Events are human efforts to understand how God works. But nothing is an outlier or a Black Swan Event to our sovereign Lord. Nothing in your life for good or ill is a surprise to God.Jesus was an outlier, totally unexpected and he defied expectations throughout his life and continues to do so today in the hearts and lives of all people.

Fishermen expected to catch fish, but they encountered the Messiah instead (Luke 5:1-11). A widow expected to bury her son, but Jesus restored him to life (Luke 7:11-17). The disciples expected to send the crowds home to eat, yet Jesus fed 5,000 with a few fish and loaves (John 6:1-15). The Jews wanted a political leader to overthrow Rome; Jesus offered an eternal kingdom that overcomes the control of sin and death. Leaders and other educated people felt threatened by Jesus. They crucified him because he didn’t look or talk like a messiah. He rose again three days later (John 20:1-29) and is still alive today and active in your life and mine.