Why do armies sing?

In 1981 I woke up one morning to a sound as beautiful as a nightingale and as frightening as a cobra. When I looked outside my window I saw about five hundred Zimbabwean soldiers singing as they marched. Now I don’t know about the singing quality of five hundred American or British soldiers, but these men sang in four part harmony with a sound as rich as a Johannesburg gold mine. Here they were, men in the prime of their lives, trained in the ungentle art of war, yet they sang with such beauty as they marched past my house and down the road. Continue reading “Why do armies sing?”

Our glory, to know God

Humans were created to seek their worth in God. When man cut himself off from God, he began to seek his worth in other things. No longer did he have God’s measure for himself and his existence. He lacked any objective, spiritual ruler for himself.

The prophet Jeremiah speaks of man’s casting about for worth as glorying. To glory in something is man’s attempt to raise himself up and value himself. Having rejected God’s measure, he winds up comparing himself to others. The weeping prophet must have cried when he wrote: Continue reading “Our glory, to know God”

Being a father

I love being a father.

If every bit of progress of my children isn’t imprinted on film or memory card, it is in my mind as fresh as the day it happened. Those memories include when each of our three children walked, when they learned to ride a bicycle, and graduated from college. Sure, there have been trials and difficulties but the joys outweigh them all.

Each child has repeatedly assured us of their love for their mother and me. I know their love is genuine because they show it often. Continue reading “Being a father”

Familiar faces

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid'” (Matthew 14:27 NKJV).

On one of my first trips to Nepal I missed a flight and arrived at a different time from that for which I was scheduled. After waiting alone at the airport exit for some time, I finally recognized the local preacher whom I had met only once before. Though I fully expected to be met by someone, it was still a great relief to see him and know I was not forgotten.

Can you imagine the fear of the twelve disciples of Jesus as they fought the strong winds and waves of the Sea of Galilee? It was dark. They were alone, without their master and teacher, Jesus. Some of them at least were professional fishermen who knew all too well the hazards of their position. Continue reading “Familiar faces”

Love and obedience

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.…So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:6-11 NIV).

Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they had conquered the land. Each tribe had been allocated their inheritance and they had settled into their homes. Joshua was now a very old man (Joshua 23:1) at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29). He called the leaders of the tribes together one last time to remind them of what God had done for them and what God required of them. “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14). Continue reading “Love and obedience”

He knew it all along

Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

We often consider the unfair treatment Jesus suffered. He was mocked, beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, struck, blindfolded, stripped, beaten, humiliated (Isaiah 53:1-12; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:19-23). All this, before he was nailed to a cross and hung up to die.

He who created man and placed him in a Garden of paradise and showered him with blessings, found himself in a Garden of sorrow, showered with bloody sweat. Continue reading “He knew it all along”

The journey continues (5): the weakest link?

Whenever people wish to dismiss an idea, they gravitate toward their perception of the weakest link. Discredit that link. Feel justified in rejecting the idea.

While such a decisive response could neither be justified nor wise, what might each perspective in the “faith of Christ” discussion regard as the opposing viewpoint’s weakest link? Ironically, both sides might point to whether or not this phrase should be rendered with “in.”

For those favoring “faith in Christ,” they might perceive the opposing opinion as fighting an uphill battle against the combined testimony of classic Greek grammars and commentaries. However, for those supporting “faith of Christ,” they might view “in” as being unwarranted by the text.

In my journey, two important questions surfaced: 1) How appropriate is it to translate a genitive with “in”? 2) Should “faith of Christ” be identified as an objective or subjective genitive?  Here are some milestones influencing my path. Continue reading “The journey continues (5): the weakest link?”

Suggestions for song leaders

You will run across several kinds of song leaders:

  • The “super humble” song leader, whom you can’t hear. Yet such an approach instills hesitancy on the part of the congregation, who generally do not want to be the “only” ones singing.
  • “I’m the show, look at me.” On the other hand, the song leader should not draw undue attention to himself.
  • It’s good ‘nuff for the folks I go with. This song leader feels no need to develop or improve himself.
  • Scolding Song leader – “Come on, people, sing like you mean it!” This is usually deplorably bad psychology and will have the opposite effect that the song leader seeks; rather than sing better, the congregation shuts down.
  • My genre or the highway. Contemporary? Traditional? Stamps Baxter? Classics? He forces his favorites onto the congregation and will never contemplate leading songs enjoyed by other members of the congregation.

Continue reading “Suggestions for song leaders”

The church that pleases God

The young couple came to the truth because, as he said, they quit looking for a church that would please them both—since they were from different branches of Christendom—to search for a church that pleased God.

A coworker had told him to look for a church that “met in the name of Jesus.”

Before that, he’d begun reading his Bible. He noticed the differences between what Scripture said and what his church taught. When he asked a religious authority in his church about such differences, the answer was not convincing. Continue reading “The church that pleases God”