acts_of_the_apostles_chapter_21-2_bible_illustrations_by_sweet_media

The need for fellowship

“After we tore ourselves away from them, we put out to sea, and sailing a straight course, we came to Cos, on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went aboard, and put out to sea. After we sighted Cyprus and left it behind on our port side, we sailed on to Syria and put in at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. After we located the disciples, we stayed there seven days” (Acts 21:1-4 NET).

One thing that becomes very apparent as we read about Paul’s travels is that he desired to be with Christians. It wasn’t that Paul wasn’t with Christians all the time – he was travelling with a group of at least seven other Christians (see Acts 20:4 and the “we” statements in Acts 21, indicating that Luke was also with him). Continue reading “The need for fellowship”

Hell

Is there a Hell?

Is there such a place as an eternal hell, and would a loving God actually consign anyone to that place?

This is a very, very serious question. Those of us who are, well, more mature, will recall a style of preaching known as “hell, fire and brimstone.” Where did that brand of proclamation go? These days, preaching describes only a kind and loving God, and mention of eternal punishment is as unfashionable as a pair of bell-bottom pants. Continue reading “Is there a Hell?”

listeners

What are we hearing?

Three true stories. Three very different messages. We might agree with some, but not all. Yet, all contain the same fundamental truth. Can you identify it?

#1 The speaker related Osama Bin Laden’s claim how a divided Christianity had significantly shaped his negative view of Christianity. Then this presenter further prepped the audience with various statements before asking, “How many churches are there in the US?” Affirming ecumenicalism, the audience shouted back, “One!”

#2 A preacher explained how the elders in his congregation had rallied around the principles of Romans 12:1-2 and “You can not do together what you are not doing individually.” These two principles had led them into pursuing habits of personal spiritual formation to transform their elders’ meetings from business board meetings into a more spiritual time for serving the congregation.

#3 Wading through verses in the Gospel of John while sprinkling in several humorous antidotes, the professor asserted that John powerfully portrayed Jesus as allowing himself to be crucified. Jesus was always in control. Jesus was no victim.

Continue reading “What are we hearing?”

dug-squirrel

The sin of distraction

A non-Christian friend of mine participated in a professional pop-music video a few months back, and the gist of the song was how staying connected 24/7 turns people into zombies. The message is a good one, even if the details might not be appreciated by saints. (Hence, no link.)

Last week, a well known news figure wrote at length about the great sin of today — distraction. An atheist, he even fled to a monastery for a time and gave up his electronics, as he attempted to free himself from its control.

If he’s right that distraction is today’s great sin, then Dug, the cute dog in the “UP” movie, captures it perfectly. He can’t finish a sentence for seeing a squirrel.

There’s always a new buzz, tone, text, tweet, post, status, email, video, link, or grandbaby pic to take us away from a conversation or thought. (Only the grandbaby pics really deserve the distraction, see?) Continue reading “The sin of distraction”

patio-build

Do it yourself

DIY. “Do it yourself.” Whether landscaping, plumbing, electrical, or painting, my husband (the Yard Boy) and I have done just about all of it.

Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Having spent the bulk of our adult lives in the full-time service of various churches, we have never had enough funds to have professional work done on our house. We have learned how to do most repairs ourselves, because there was usually no other choice.

When it became apparent that the septic tank was a hazard to anyone walking over it, since it could never be adequately covered with soil, we decided that a patio with loose stones would be a good remedy for the uneven ground it presented near the back porch. Continue reading “Do it yourself”

bearing-burdens

Bearing burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NKJV).

It would be difficult to find a more appropriate way for one to begin his new life as a Christian than that which I witnessed recently. A young man was baptized into Christ, and as he was preparing for his obedience, he carried his elderly mother across a field, down a river bank and into the water where she too could be baptized. He took “bear another’s burdens” quite literally.

The older woman was tiny and very frail, yet when she made her confession of faith in Jesus and expressed her desire to put him on in baptism there was commitment and joy in her eyes. Her gratitude to those who taught and assisted her was expressed in tears. No one watching could doubt her conviction of the need for salvation; her awareness of her burden of sin. Continue reading “Bearing burdens”

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Wisdom is justified in her children

My father once wrote, “Just as children can learn goodness by the lives of their godly parents, so faithful Christians can evidence in themselves the valuable wisdom of God.”

Those words were written in the margin of a commentary on the book of Matthew by H. Leo Boles in the 1950s. Boles, of Matthew 11:19 wrote, “The works of wisdom are the best evidence of wisdom.”[1]

Boles was addressing one of my favorite sayings of Jesus, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Matthew 11:19 NASB). Continue reading “Wisdom is justified in her children”

the-unknown-god-2

What a great God we serve!

While Paul was in Athens waiting for his companions, it gave him a chance to look around the city. What he saw disturbed him! There were shrines to virtually any false god you could think of, complete with images that were supposed to represent them.

A friend recently visited ancient Athens and he said that you can see exactly what Paul was talking about, as the foundations for the shrines were packed tightly together along the side of the ancient street. They weren’t large, but they were everywhere! Continue reading “What a great God we serve!”

Magnifying Glass

The failure of the unexamined Christian life

On trial for his life, Socrates was determined to pursue truth.

“Refusing to accept exile from Athens or a commitment to silence as his penalty, he maintains that public discussion of the great issues of life and virtue is a necessary part of any valuable human life. ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’”/1

Continue reading “The failure of the unexamined Christian life”