Contemporary Christian music

Recently I was astonished to hear someone say his main method of teaching was to use “Contemporary Christian music” in his Bible classes. He pointed out that the lyrics of many rock, rap and country songs were sinful and degrading, while the Contemporary Christian songs featured lyrics that were “spiritual.”

There is no question that a great deal of popular music is trashy, mean-spirited and hateful. The Christian should turn that music off just as surely as he would walk out of a movie that is laced through with ungodly content.

You do walk out of such movies, don’t you? Continue reading “Contemporary Christian music”

Contradicting the Lord

Peter was only human. Admitting Jesus as the Christ must have taken courage.

But not long after that confession, there was poor Peter telling the son of God he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Jesus was discussing his approaching suffering and death. Then, Peter contradicted God the son by saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 ESV). Continue reading “Contradicting the Lord”

Why mountains?

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV).

I have been blessed with opportunities to travel to many parts of the earth. I have visited five of the seven continents, and at least thirty different countries. I have visited some of the world’s harshest deserts, beaches on many different oceans, seas and lakes, tiny villages, and huge metropolitan areas. Of all the places and geographic categories that I have experienced, my overwhelming favorite is the mountains. From the moderate heights of the Appalachians in the eastern U.S., to the towering Himalayas, there is just something awesome and wonderful about all of the mountain ranges I have seen. Continue reading “Why mountains?”

True love

In the upper room, Jesus gave the apostles a new commandment, to love each other. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV).

This new commandment is echoed throughout the letters written by the apostles and writers. John expands on it in his first letter, telling us what love is and what love is not. Continue reading “True love”

Truly meaningful

I recently visited a beautiful early 1900 mansion in a small southern Texas city. The spacious grounds filled with nut bearing trees and the winding driveway that leads up to a still elegant country house overlooking the Guadalupe River instills a pastoral restfulness upon its visitors. And yet, lying nearly within the shadow of this tranquil elegance is a stark reminder – at least it was for me.

Continue reading “Truly meaningful”

Of goats and mice

I read recently that a trade union is upset because a college campus has purchased twenty goats to clear up an overgrown portion of the college campus. The union objects that by using the goats the University of Western Michigan has taken jobs away from union workers. Apparently the reason the university employed the four-footed mowers rather than two-footed is environmental. Goats do not spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere the way a rider mower might.

They’re not kidding around, either. The goats are making quick work of the brush, eating through scrub, poison oak, everything. But union leaders insist this is ba-a-a-a-ad for employment. It seems the four-footed mowers will eat anything, and are thus scape goated for the poor employment in the region. So we are faced with a dilemma. Do we support jobs or the environment? Continue reading “Of goats and mice”

Not so simple

The humble zinnia is still brightening up the garden as it weathers the late season temperature changes. It is only an annual, a flower that completely dies at the end of the growing season and won’t re-grow again from the roots.

Still, there is no need to plant them every year, in spite of their transient nature. The birds, while collecting the prized seeds after the blooms are spent, inadvertently scatter some seeds in their feeding frenzy.

The blooms themselves, in spite of the often vivid coloring, would appear to be the very essence of simplicity due to their plain form. At first glance, they appear to have the classic “petals around a yellow middle” type of shape that we all drew in kindergarten. Continue reading “Not so simple”

Consistency

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

The first few years I traveled to South Asia I was able to obtain a visa on arrival at each of the countries I visited. I usually preferred to obtain my visa in advance while still in the U.S., but it was good to know there was an alternative in case of emergency.

One year another American was traveling with me, and due to time constraints he chose to wait to get his visa when we arrived. However, when we got to Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, where we were to begin international travel, we were told that the host country had changed its policy abruptly and we would have to wait over the weekend, go to San Francisco, get a visa, then come back to LA to travel. That was a major upheaval to our plans and completely unacceptable. Thankfully, we were able to find another way that was not so time intensive and our trip was not severely affected. Continue reading “Consistency”

Unity in the Lord’s Supper

Sometimes we get the idea that God’s people should never have problems, that they should always get along, and that there will always be harmony. Anyone who thinks this cannot have read Paul’s letters to God’s people at Corinth. It is hard to imagine a group of Christians who could have so many problems including not getting along!

But they were still God’s people! In the opening verses, Paul referred to them as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2 NET). Just because they had problems did not negate who they were in Christ. Continue reading “Unity in the Lord’s Supper”

Zero hour

The Germans refer to it as Stunde Null, or “Zero Hour.” It was the moment when Germany had lost World War II, her cities bombed to rubble, the NAZI apparatus destroyed. It was as if the prone body of a nation died, flat lined for a moment. Then, after a terrifying moment when everyone watched, breath bated, a pulse began again.

It’s interesting to note the change in Germany in 1945: Continue reading “Zero hour”