Author Archives: Rich Neal

Time to stand and stare

There are many ways and reasons to fall. Leaves in this part of the world are preparing for their annual autumnal fall. Some already have fallen, and the maple in front of the house is nearly halfway from green to red. In another four weeks, maybe sooner, I expect it will be bare. The annual […]

Keeping first things first

When James was a young boy, he wanted to be the most famous and wealthiest maker and seller of cheese in the world, so he started a small business with a little wagon and a pony named Paddy. After making his cheese, he would load his wagon, and he and Paddy would drive into the […]

On the will of God

We’re constantly making choices about how we spend our time. We’re also living with the consequences of those choices. Of course, how we choose to spend our days is how we end up spending our lives.1 All the big and little choices we make every day make us who we are and determine the quality […]

The wisdom of the woodsorrel

When the teacher makes the same point again and again, you can be sure it will be on the test. In the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16), Jesus said, “the last will be first, and the first will be last.” At the end of the previous chapter he said, “many who […]

On forgiveness

Abundant life, life in all its fullness, a life rich and satisfying, more and better life than you ever dreamed of – these are some of the ways to describe the aim of the way of life Jesus invites us to follow (John 10:10 NRSV, GNT, NLT, MSG). And he starts by assuring us that […]

If we’re to be whole

Sometimes what Jesus does not say is more important than what he does say. For example, take his instructions for how to respond to someone who sins against you (Matt. 18:15-17). At first, it seems a simple process, and it can be very effective at restoring a strained or broken relationship. But it turns out […]

Take off the mask

If the first words I heard from Jesus were these, I’d probably follow someone else. “If any want to become my followers,” he said, “let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). Another time, I heard him say he came so we might have abundant life, more and better […]

A firm foundation

It may be the most important, revealing, personal question in the gospels. After asking his disciples who people were saying he is, Jesus put them on the spot: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:13-20). At some point as we grow in faith, every one of us must answer the same question. […]

A Jesus I might follow

An amazing thing happened when Jesus met that Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:21-28). It’s not that Jesus healed the woman’s daughter and might have done so remotely. It’s not that he had close contact with someone his social and religious training insisted he avoid. What’s amazing is that when this foreign woman challenged him, he learned […]

The word in your heart

“The word is near you,” Paul writes, “on your lips and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8). It’s a stunning, breath-taking idea – the word is in your heart – and the more I sit with it, the more powerful it becomes for me. Paul is writing about the word of faith he proclaims, and he’s […]