The beauty of Christ

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV).

Beauty is attractive. There was “not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than [Saul]” (1 Samuel 9:2). It was likely that Saul’s looks and height made him appealing to the people as king. But his character failings were why he was rejected as king.

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah is the clearest description we have of the physical appearance of Jesus. This prophecy informs us that Jesus had “no beauty that we should desire him.” God did not want people drawn to Jesus for superficial reasons like with Saul. Continue reading “The beauty of Christ”

Genesis as the foundation of theology

Genesis is the most theologically significant historical book in the Old Testament. By some counts, the New Testament quotes from, or alludes to, Genesis over 200 times.

Many of the most heated discussions of the book of Genesis center upon its historicity. Should we take the first eleven chapters of Genesis as literal history, or should we read it as poetry? I stand firmly in the historical narrative camp. The details of Genesis are accurate and important. But if all we ever focus on are the historical details we miss something of even greater importance. Continue reading “Genesis as the foundation of theology”

A quiet mind

Do you ever have moments, hours, or even days when your mind is troubled? In an earlier part of my life my mind might race over inconsequential things. It was as if I could feel my mind moving inside but I could not slow it. I have not felt that in years, but now I feel something different.

These last two days my mind has been troubled, not as a roaring engine, but as an agitated body of water. This is not the first time I have felt this. When some friends walked away from Christ, and when others seemed to follow, my mind was troubled. Perhaps you have felt similarly. Continue reading “A quiet mind”

Life and immortality

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8-10 ESV).

Life and death. It is a lesson we learn early on; that which is born is going to die. It seems to be an unbroken cycle. Life is a gift, death is a curse. We rejoice with those who experience new life, and we mourn with those who experience death.

For thousands of years people lived and died without knowing the full measure of God’s grace. The faithful longed to see it (Matthew 13:17). The prophets wished to know the fulness of their message (1 Peter 1:10). What is the meaning of life? How will God deal with sin and death? Continue reading “Life and immortality”

Humility and hypocrisy

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord (Colossians 3:22 ESV).

Jesus saved some of his harshest criticisms for hypocritical Jewish leaders (see Matthew 23). A hypocrite, one who wears a mask, is a person who is duplicitous. Hypocrites say one thing and do another, or think one way and act or speak another.

Peter acted hypocritically in Antioch. Peter ate with Gentiles, but when Jews came from Jerusalem, he separated himself, fearing the “circumcision party.” Many other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s example, even Barnabas (Galatians 2:11-14). Hypocrites are dangerous because they can fool people, and the people they fail to fool often are put off by what they see. Continue reading “Humility and hypocrisy”

Becoming humble

Becoming like Christ is a full-time, life-long pursuit. It is a journey which includes both forward and backward movement. Times of advancement and times of stagnation should be expected. It is important to understand that this “walk” with Christ which we are on is our life’s work. We must continue to press forward. While perfectly emulating Christ is impossible, it is likely that some aspects of Christ’s life may be easier to imitate than others.

Humility is one quality of Christ that requires dedication and persistence. Acquiring humility is difficult, for the moment when you think you have it, it is gone. It is also difficult because the world is so devoid of humility. The absence of humility gives us all the more reason to develop and demonstrate a humble life. Continue reading “Becoming humble”

Humility now, exaltation later

Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:5, 6 ESV).

Pride and selfishness are the besetting sins of mankind. Always lurking nearby, ready with an enticing word that plays to our vanity and to our self-importance. Many have fallen victim to the siren song of self. Few find the strength to resist.

The answer to these sins is pure love exhibited in humility. Augustine is reported to have said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Continue reading “Humility now, exaltation later”

Let peace reign

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hears, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 ESV).

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. It is important to consume a healthy diet and exercise adequately. Those who are at higher risk may have a doctor examine them. Some tests examine the heart from a distance, while others can look right inside the heart while it pumps.

While our physical hearts are essential to our physical well-being, there is another heart that is essential to our spiritual well-being. Merriam-Webster defines this heart as “one’s innermost character, feelings, or inclinations.” Imagine if you could look inside this heart while it pumps. What would you see? Continue reading “Let peace reign”

Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution

Every day sorrow strikes somewhere. Every day people experience loss, pain, and grief. The prevalence of such tragedy does not lessen the importance of – nor should it dull our senses to – the sorrow.

Today, Monday the 18th, the lives of three people ended in a Walmart parking lot. The early reports are that it was a domestic dispute and not the result of a mass shooter. The only reason I’m writing about this is that this particular parking lot is just down the road from where I live. I once worked in the store, and my family shops there most Monday mornings.

When these incidents happen, and they happen frequently in many places all over the world, it is important to recognize the cause and the solution. Continue reading “Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution”