The right order is crucial

The cart before the horse. It may be dated, but it still gets the message across. It could be updated to say, “Don’t put the caboose in the front of the train.” But now trains don’t even have cabooses anymore. What’s the world coming to!?

We have a ton of sayings that are concerned with putting things in the right order. You have to walk before you can run. That’s one.

And cooking! How many recipes tell us to mix some things first, then add other ingredients. The wrong order of the steps will ruin the recipe. Continue reading “The right order is crucial”

Releasing the captives

Under the cover of darkness and utilizing stealth technologies, a couple of Black Hawk helicopters approach a political prisoner compound. Deploying with rapid descent a team of highly specialized soldiers drop into the compound neutralizing opposing forces. The prisoners suddenly realize they are being rescued. The thought of release flooding their minds quickly evolves into experiencing good news.

Such storylines comprise action filled cinematic drama. The New Testament recounts a story no less dramatic and exquisitely more applicable to each of our lives. Why? Because it is an historical story revealing good news for our lives. The good news of the kingdom is more than just a story about God making forgiveness possible. It announces the complete triumph of God’s power through Christ. Continue reading “Releasing the captives”

Character can be destiny

“Character is destiny.” This quote, attributed to the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, has been on my mind these last months. Seemingly a response to those who claim that fate controls one’s life regardless of one’s life-choices, “character is destiny” places the path and end of one’s life into one’s own hands.

Certainly, there is much truth in this statement, both from a secular and religious viewpoint. It does not mean to suggest that a person of poor character cannot be successful from a worldly standpoint. Only that the result of their life will reflect the choices which they made, and the character which informed those choices.

We might be dismayed to see wicked people, liars, cheaters, and the like, rise to prominence and power in our world. We might be saddened to see the world seemingly support such people. But we, like the Psalmist, have a more informed perspective. Continue reading “Character can be destiny”

Wang and I — Helping one another

Wang, a Chinese woman from Nanning, was surprised when a bus seat was offered her, with smiles from everyone around her. Someone finally showed her the note taped to her back: “Please take care of this pregnant lady.”

Wang recognized the handwriting of her husband, who must have stuck it to her back before she left home.

We in Christ show the same care for one another. We seek to ease the burdens of those weighed down by their cares and struggles. Continue reading “Wang and I — Helping one another”

Both Lord and Christ

There had been no announcement. No one had come with a message. Jesus told his disciples, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there that you may believe” (John 11:14-15a).

Can you imagine the look of shock and surprise on the faces of the disciples?

Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead so that his followers and others might believe he is the son of God. But they hadn’t seen anything, yet. Not too many days after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the Jews finally had the Lord killed as they wanted. Continue reading “Both Lord and Christ”

Who cares?

“The righteous perishes, and no one takes it to heart” (Isaiah 57:1 NKJV).

It was just another story in the local newspaper. A schoolgirl accused her principal of sexual abuse. Shortly afterward she was set on fire and after struggling for life for a few days lost that battle too. There was a brief outrage in the community which soon settled down so that the incident became just one more of many. The principal of course denied any involvement with the girl or her death. Continue reading “Who cares?”

Jesus is the way

As we look at the conversation Jesus had with his disciples in the upper room, we can understand some of the frustration they were having. Jesus had been their teacher for a few years. They had travelled around as his pupils, learning from him. But they could feel that something was about to happen. He had washed their feet. He had talked about bread and wine representing his body and blood. And he kept talking about going away.

“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:1-5 NET) Continue reading “Jesus is the way”

I wish more people were dull

By Johnny O. Trail — As I drove to my office on Wednesday, I was listening to XM Satellite Radio. I seem to continually scroll through stations until I find the song I want to hear. Oftentimes I land on country music stations and listen to a great variety of artists. On this day, the disc jockey was talking about an artist who is now deceased.

I had heard of this country music performer via a compilation of people in the performance industries who were listed as being members of the churches of Christ. In addition to this performer being on the list that was provided on social media, he was singled out by many who knew him as being an excellent example of Christian living and service. Continue reading “I wish more people were dull”

Kingdom future

Jesus, his apostles, as well as the early church proclaimed a message revolving around the good news of the kingdom. After Jesus’ death and ascension, preaching shifted to Christ and the kingdom.

This kingdom proclamation contained a message for the present. Through Christ, God’s power was overcoming all the binding weapons of evil to usher in a new manifestation of God’s rule. Christ brought release. People were to live with kingdom values and behaviors. Upon Jesus’ resurrection, he was exalted as Lord.

However, their proclamation also included a message regarding the future. At the end of time, some would inherit the kingdom while others would not.

How does today’s preaching compare with their message? Continue reading “Kingdom future”

When hating yourself is in your best interest

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26, NIV).

 

“Literally, self-hatred refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group to which one belongs.” —wikipedia.org

How to hate one’s own life? Some have learned to hate themselves because they have been ridiculed, derided, or devalued by people around them. They find many reasons to hate themselves and consider themselves worthless, but Jesus isn’t talking about one’s self-worth. Continue reading “When hating yourself is in your best interest”