The disciple’s heart: its treasure, its focus, its master

In the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus identified earth and heaven as being two places where people might choose to store their treasures, he contrasted two different lifestyles (Matthew 6:19-20). We either look to the things of earth for our security and significance or we look to heaven. If self is in charge, we will seek some source of earthly security. Continue reading “The disciple’s heart: its treasure, its focus, its master”

Preaching partners

“I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel, from the first day until now, being confident… that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:4-6).

In what amounts to a piece of gallows humor, missionaries misquote Exodus 1:8 thus: “There arose in the church an eldership that knew not the missionary.” Continue reading “Preaching partners”

Keeping it real

Would you like to see the weedy patches in my garden? I thought not.

There is a new trend on social media to display our less-than-perfect living spaces and gardens. This concept and practice evolved from a backlash against the depressing notion that we cannot attain to the perfection of our neighbors’ lives, as portrayed by only showing the good and not the bad.

This trend has also morphed into an ugly fad of “keeping it real” by picking apart and pointing out flaws in people. It has become popular to pick out the flaws in formerly respected historical figures, national leaders, and even our church leaders.

People aren’t perfect? What a surprise! Continue reading “Keeping it real”

Watch what you say!

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’ Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon” (Judges 11:29-33 NIV).

Have you ever made a promise to do something if something happened that we wanted? Perhaps we haven’t done this with God, although sometimes we may try to bargain with him in this way, but most of us have said something similar to someone. Continue reading “Watch what you say!”

Love Yourself? Part 2

You might be forgiven for believing that I believe that, when Jesus says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, he is not talking about self-love (Matthew 22:39), that I believe God does not love us.

This is distinctly not so!

While Jesus’ statement on the greatest commandment does not teach self-love, you should know that the Lord values you profoundly, far more deeply than any sappy pop-psychologists might indicate. Allow me to reassure you of the deep biblical teaching of God’s love. Continue reading “Love Yourself? Part 2”

Are you living for the weekend or the world’s end?

The young man in his mid-20s worked behind the counter of the bread store on the plaza next to my office. He served up coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and bread toasted on the grill. His conversation centered on the weekend. He labored five or more days a week, but lived to party on Friday and Saturday nights. His weekdays were nothing more than a countdown to living it up in noise, drink, and carousing.

He worked a dead-end job with a dead-end life. Continue reading “Are you living for the weekend or the world’s end?”

One man’s trash

“But Jesus said to her, ‘Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ And she answered and said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs'” (Mark 7:27-28, NKJV).

Khulna Bible College replaced an outside cooking shelter because the tin was rusted and full of holes so that it leaked to the point of making it difficult to keep the wood fires going as they cooked in rainy weather. Members of a local congregation saw the pile of discarded metal and asked if they could have it to build a meeting place in which to worship. As a church building, it is much less than perfect but certainly better than nothing.

One of the most difficult virtues to obtain is contentment. James taught about the vicious cycle of desire and sin: Continue reading “One man’s trash”

Don’t forsake God

“The people worshipped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works he had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel. The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshipped the Baals and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They angered the Lord, for they abandoned him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths” (Judges 2:7-13 CSV). Continue reading “Don’t forsake God”

Love yourself?

Here is, as they say on Facebook, an unpopular view.

I have noticed a fascinating trend with regard to Jesus’ second greatest command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). What this statement says, many insist, is that we should love ourselves, because Jesus says we should.

This is an excellent example of concluding the exact opposite of what the Lord is trying to teach. Continue reading “Love yourself?”