God bless faithful grandparents

I see it more and more in churches these days. Grandparents enter the building, their hair grey and their bodies a little worn, preceded by bouncing, rambunctious grandchildren.

I note that there is a generation missing.

Please don’t misunderstand. I know many good parents who move heaven and earth to lead their children spiritually. The parents of my grandchildren are both good, faithful Christians. But you and I both know this other phenomenon exists, too. The grandchildren suffer broken homes or parents who have fallen away from their faith. It is at this delicate juncture that grandparents intervene. “Can I take the kids to church?” “Can I pay for their church camp?” Grandparents do what they can to keep their grandchildren faithful. Continue reading “God bless faithful grandparents”

Four thoughts on 1 Corinthians 16.1-4

In many congregations Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church, in 1 Corinthians 16.1-4, is read before the saints make their offerings. It’s a good passage for that. Below are four thoughts on this blessed text.

1. The blessing of limitations

The church of Jesus Christ does not go beyond what is written, 1 Corinthians 4.6. Our practice is restricted to what is commanded. We do not invent new practices. So in order to finance the Lord’s work and express our solidarity with the brotherhood, the family of faith acts within the limitations of his commandments.

This means at least two things. First, the church only makes offerings. God’s people do not engage in bazaars nor do they sponsor or participate in fund-raising projects to raise monies. Continue reading “Four thoughts on 1 Corinthians 16.1-4”

“Too much trouble?”

“But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV).

Some years ago three Americans, including myself, were sitting in a restaurant in Kathmandu, Nepal discussing our experiences. One of the others told of a congregation he had visited which had difficulty meeting on Sunday for worship because Nepal considers Sunday a weekday, with all offices and schools open. He said he had told them “not to be legalistic” and to meet on whichever day they found it most convenient. He then asked what I would have done. Continue reading ““Too much trouble?””

Where is our security?

“Then someone from the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Luke 12:13-15 NET).

Two men came to Jesus with what one of them considered to be a problem: he didn’t think he was getting a fair share of the inheritance. We don’t know the circumstances of his complaint, but it could have been as simple as the way inheritance laws were set up in God’s Law. The firstborn son would receive a double portion of the inheritance (see Deuteronomy 21:15-17). If that is the case here, the younger son might be complaining that the inheritance was not split equally and was hoping Jesus would change the inheritance law so he could have more.

Jesus could see what the real problem was: greed. So he told them a story. Continue reading “Where is our security?”

The day after God has acted

We have all heard someone say something like, “Faith was easier for people in the Bible because of the miracles. Why then did they struggle with unfaithfulness?”

Imagine the thrill of standing on the shore watching God’s power split open the sea. Yet, when you wake up the next morning what kind of a day is it? The miraculous is a memory. What confronts you are tangible problems. The stomach becomes hungry. We would call it an ordinary day. Continue reading “The day after God has acted”

Preaching: the Rodney Dangerfield of worship

Is the term “Long-Winded Sermon” a redundant expression?

I remember telling a brother, in jest, that according to Acts 20:7, I had biblical precedent for preaching until midnight. He laughed, then said, “That’s fine. You can preach until midnight, as long as you can also raise people from the dead” (in a reference to the sleep-deprived Eutychus). I had an answer for him. I reminded him that Paul did not stop at midnight, he was merely interrupted at midnight. He continued to talk to the brethren at Troas until the next morning! Continue reading “Preaching: the Rodney Dangerfield of worship”

Of reincarnation and Ash Wednesday

Some people are not content to be resurrected every single morning when they awaken from their beds, nor to have the hope of eternal life once they give up their earthly existence, so they invent the idea of reincarnation. The endless ups and downs of good and bad stretched over a countless number of lives holds no attraction for me.

When man became darkened in his understanding of God’s ways, he still held some sense of justice. Together with conscience and the Ecclesiastesian heart which yearns for eternity, that sense of justice searches beyond mankind (not peoplekind, sorry, Mr. Trudeau) and the present age for balance. Things ought to be different. Justice ought to be done. So let’s imagine another life in which we pay for our bad deeds and people are rewarded according to what they do and say in the flesh. Continue reading “Of reincarnation and Ash Wednesday”

Open ended

There is nothing that gives a garden a more polished and refined look than a nice edging around the flower beds. It serves the same purpose as a frame does as it defines the edges of a painting or picture, and draws attention to the beauty inside.

A good edge can be expensive. For many years, our little backyard oasis went without the finishing touch of border edging. When we began to formulate the idea of a patio over a barren patch of lawn, we started collecting flat stones for the project. As they were being slowly gathered from blasting sites, we began “temporarily” laying them along the edge of the curved flower beds in the backyard, awaiting the commencement of the patio project. Continue reading “Open ended”

Are we asking?

“Then he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then he will reply from inside, “Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5-8 NET).

How many of us have friends like the one Jesus talked about? Or, maybe more personally, how many of us are like the man who was already in bed when his friend came to knock on his door? He really didn’t want to have to get back up to find some bread to give to his friend. But he seems to have realized that his friend wouldn’t go away unless he did get up and give him what he needed to meet his needs. Continue reading “Are we asking?”

What members wished that preachers knew about members

In the interest of fairness, I follow last week‘s article on what preachers wished their members knew about them with the inverse, what members would like preachers to know about them.

In this list, I will not include demands that are either selfish or unspiritual. Demanding that a church be all about serving “me” is not a legitimate demand to make on the preacher. Demands to do unbiblical things are neither legitimate nor fair. And yet there are some things that preachers should know about their members. Continue reading “What members wished that preachers knew about members”