Grandfather

The bench

There is a photograph floating around that depicts five old African men sitting on a bench, holding hymnbooks and singing. Four of the men are black men, their faces distorted, their thoughts transposed by the beauty and intensity of the words they sing. The bench is as sturdy as a politician’s promise.

The fifth “old African man” is my father, his face similarly transfixed by the Shona hymn they sing. He is one of them, melded and fused, the third sekuru (grandfather) in the picture. Their voices are in harmony, their thoughts in unison.

He is an African, one of them. Forty years of working with, crying with, rejoicing with, worshiping with these people will do that to you. Continue reading

jesus-teaching

Now, I get it

“But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you” (John 16:4John 16:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 But I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them. I didn’t tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.

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Great truths have a way of growing on you over time. I can still see my dad sitting down in his recliner in the living room, and saying, “There’s just not enough hours in the day.” What? Not enough hours? I didn’t get it.

Now, I’m married. Now, we’re raising 6 children. Now, my wife and I both work full-time and are active in our local church and community. My perspective is a little different now.

Now, I get it. Continue reading

mob345

Guilty until proven innocent

Someone is accused of a crime or a serious offense and a supposedly civilized society morphs into barbarians. An accusation is all the court of public opinion needs to convict. Reason is extinguished and the noose is prepared.

Shaking our heads at the hysterical execution of several women in Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials in 1692-1693, we do the exact same thing when a scandal arises. Continue reading

Lavender blue iris

Nothing in the water

Water is a great delivery system. It brings not only moisture to the plant and its cells, but also nutrients.

I used to use an attachment for my hose that sprayed Miracle-Gro plant food on my ornamentals. Now that I am back to using mostly organic methods, I use water to soak pokeweed plants or manure until a nutrient rich “tea” is rendered.

But I got to thinking, that it’s not what’s in the water that matters, so much as getting the nutrition to the plants. Continue reading

expectations

Familiarity and honor

“But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house’” (Mark 6:4Mark 6:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

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NKJV).

It can be difficult to determine just how people in other places really feel about you. On the one hand, there are often expressions of great honor and respect for the foreigner who has come to their land. Visitors are often assumed to be of higher social or economic status than the local inhabitants. They often are given special legal privileges which ensure favorable treatment. Much of the time it is assumed that such treatment may produce advantage to the good host. All of these and other factors argue for a generous welcome with appropriate honor to the guest. Continue reading

Creatioi

Father

The Jews refused to say the name of God. The use of the name Yahweh was thought by the Jews disrespectful at the least.

How, then, should we address God in prayer? Jesus taught in Luke 11:2Luke 11:2
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2 He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven, May your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come. May your will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven.

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God should be called “father.”

Thinking of God as father changes the way we view God. Instead of addressing him as the Almighty or Creator, he is father. We are coming to a being who loves us as a father and is deeply interested in our lives.

In a recent movie, one of the lyrics of a song said, “I don’t believe in an interventionist God.” If one does not believe in a God that intervenes in the lives of people, then one does not believe in the God of the Bible. Continue reading

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Living Stones

“So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture, ‘Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and priceless cornerstone, and whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.’ So you who believe see his value, but for those who do not believe, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do” (1 Peter 2:4-81 Peter 2:4-8
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 coming to him, a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, precious. 5 You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Because it is contained in Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, chosen, and precious: He who believes in him will not be disappointed.” 7 For you therefore who believe is the honor, but for such as are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected, Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” For they stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed.

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When we build a house we often cover the exterior with bricks. Bricks are relatively easy to make and therefore inexpensive. Because they are all alike, they fit together well using some type of mortar to tie them together. When it all dries you end up with a strong wall which will last many years. Even in developing countries, people can make their own bricks using clay, some type of form, and leaving it to set and harden in the sunlight. Continue reading

Man Praying

As a man worships, so is he

In his book More Than a Feeling: Worship That Pleases God, Jimmy Jividen makes an impressive statement: “As a man worships,” he declares, “so is he,” (page 21). Of course his declaration is drawn from Proverbs 23:7Proverbs 23:7
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7 For as he thinks about the cost, so he is. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.

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, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Both Jividen and Solomon draw from the biblical understanding that human actions are drawn deeply from the well of human thinking, human motivations.

“Set your mind on things that are above,” Paul urges us, “not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2Colossians 3:2
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2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.

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, ESV). “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander,” Jesus declares, “These are what defile a person …” (Matthew 15:19,20Matthew 15:19,20
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19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands doesn’t defile the man.”

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Divorce

Saving souls is much easier than you think

“And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:12Mark 10:12
English: World English Bible - WEB

12 If a woman herself divorces her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery.”

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KJV).

I suppose if you were a member of the Jesus Seminar, or at least cut from a similar cloth, this is one of the sayings of Jesus you would certainly eliminate from the gospels. Think about it.

First, from a legal point of view, it’s entirely counter-cultural. In Matthew’s account – generally speaking, the more heavily favored one among those who discuss this subject – the focus is entirely on a husband putting away his wife. That is natural. In most cultures, and ancient Judaism was no exception, men enjoy legal preeminence. However, in Mark’s record, Jesus indicates that the law works both ways (Mark 10:11-12Mark 10:11-12
English: World English Bible - WEB

11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife, and marries another, commits adultery against her. 12 If a woman herself divorces her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery.”

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). Surely, the real Jesus wouldn’t have said this. Continue reading