Writing

In Exodus 34:1-3 Moses is recorded as writing (for the second time) the commandments of God on Mount Sinai. Many skeptical scholars in the 1960s pointed out that although the Bible records both God and Moses writing, there was no evidence that humans had learned the technology of writing at all by the time of Moses (about 1400 BC). No civilization had a system more complex than hieroglyphics, they declared, a picture system, rather than a symbol system complete with vowels, consonants, and grammar.

The first thing we should note is the logical fallacy in play. Continue reading “Writing”

Behind Jesus’ greatest commandment

Some people are wanting to modify the Brazilian flag. They propose adding a word to the phrase, “Order and Progress,” written across it. They want it to read, “Love, Order and Progress.”

People know love is important. They just don’t know what love is. The Bible explains and demonstrates it. The Way of Christ is defined by it.

You know, of course, that Jesus didn’t create the commandment to love God during his time on earth, Matthew 22.37-38. It was already in the Old Testament. He did, however pick it out and join it to the commandment to love one’s neighbor in order to make the two the great hook upon which hang God’s great plan of salvation. Continue reading “Behind Jesus’ greatest commandment”

Lavender’s Blue

The lavender in our garden is blue….as in sad, depressed, and pathetic.

In spite of what that old song says, lavender’s color is not really blue, it’s…well…lavender. Sometimes it is actually outright purple, which is one reason I love it.

But my failed endeavor to grow it sure makes me blue, and the drooping plant resembles my mood about the failure. Yes, this is one plant that eludes the list of success stories in our humble backyard garden. Even the new so-called “foolproof” variety, “Phenomenal,” has shown itself less than phenomenal when it comes to survival under my black thumb. Continue reading “Lavender’s Blue”

Giving thanks

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV).

When I first began traveling to South Asia I was told that there was, until recently, no word in their languages for “thank you.” The word, “Dhanyabhad” had been invented during the period of British control and is now shared by several south Asian peoples to express gratitude. But until that occurred there was little thanksgiving acknowledged.

Generally speaking, if a culture lacks a word in their language for a thing (whether tangible or intangible) that thing is unknown to, or at least unused by, them. If they don’t say “thank you,” it is safe to conclude that gratitude is not a valued emotion. Continue reading “Giving thanks”

Cleansing our temple

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:13–17 ESV)

This event seems out of character for Jesus. It is quite a violent scene: animals driven out of the temple courtyard, coins scattered, tables overturned, people ordered to pack up and leave. Continue reading “Cleansing our temple”

Offensive

“But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23,24).

The word Paul uses in Greek for “stumbling block,” is skandalon – a “scandal,” or an “offense.” First century people did not feel warm and fuzzy emotions when they thought about crucifixions; they felt fear and revulsion. Continue reading “Offensive”

Of dips and dales

Rousing successes and mountain-top victories are not the stuff of life. They do not produce life nor can they define it.

Elijah discovered this, post-Carmel, 1 Kings 18-19. Wise men warn against letting the dips and valleys of experience determine personal value and satisfaction; let them alert the foolish that neither can the peaks and heights of accomplishment.

Many seek to increase time spent on the slopes of success. They strive for the vibrant hills of a moving heart. But the tops can be, in their own way, as draining as the dale. For beyond the pinnacle lies the downward incline to the next dip. Continue reading “Of dips and dales”

A good place to visit

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV).

We have all heard the saying, and probably said it ourselves, “That is a good place to visit, but I would not want to live there.” There are many beautiful and exciting places on this earth which God has made, but not all of them provide security and comfort. It is one thing to visit the Himalayas of Nepal for a few days or weeks, but would you really want to live at 10,000 feet, grow your meager food in tiny terraced fields, and go without electricity, nearby water, competent medical help and other necessities? Most of us would quickly say “No, thank you.” Continue reading “A good place to visit”

How can we have unity?

Before he was betrayed, Jesus spent time in prayer for both himself and his followers (see John 17). He prayed for the men he had chosen and even for those who would believe through their work. His concern was for unity among his followers.

He prayed, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 ESV). Sadly, unity at times seems to allude Christians. Perhaps that is why so few today believe in Jesus. Continue reading “How can we have unity?”

Show, don’t tell

“Show, don’t tell.” This basic principle rules the writing world. It makes life easier, also. To teach a man to fish, he must see you fishing. Personal-development guru Anthony Robbins wrote in his 1991 book, Awaken the Giant Within,

If you’re not sure how to get yourself out of pain and to feel pleasure as a replacement to your smoking, drinking, worrying, or other undesirable emotion or behavior, you can simply find the answers by modeling people who have turned things around for themselves. Find people who have made the lasting changes; I guarantee you’ll find that they had an alternative to replace the old behavior (p. 135).

The Bible both tells and shows. It communicates the message of truth and gives us visual lessons, both positive and negative, on how to be holy. Examples abound from beginning to end. All the great virtues shine in flesh-and-blood people throughout the pages of Scripture. Continue reading “Show, don’t tell”