Offensive

“But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23,24).

The word Paul uses in Greek for “stumbling block,” is skandalon – a “scandal,” or an “offense.” First century people did not feel warm and fuzzy emotions when they thought about crucifixions; they felt fear and revulsion. Continue reading “Offensive”

When life takes a rough turn

So OK, you don’t need this, your romance is going along just peachy; could you keep this just in case a “friend” needs it sometime? I won’t tell!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

There are many ways that life could throw a “curveball,” a “spanner in the works,” but I am specifically thinking of when a Christian young person has his/her heart broken in a romance. You might react by saying, this isn’t exactly a subject dealt with in Scripture, is it? But remember that the Bible is all about the following: Continue reading “When life takes a rough turn”

Angry at God

As a young man C.S. Lewis was angry at God. His mother had died when he was still a boy; he had been sent to a boarding school, which in the long and undistinguished history of English education was “horrid.” Then he had fought in World War I, in the filth and mud of the trenches of France.

How, he angrily wondered, could a good God allow such pain and suffering? How could a powerful God not do something to stop such suffering?

The angry young man became an atheist. Continue reading “Angry at God”

Burning in our hearts

The boisterous crowd fell silent. They had gathered in the summer of 1536 to witness an execution, a man burned at the stake. He was just a little over forty years old, an Oxford scholar, and a felon facing the death penalty.

So what had he done?

All eyes were on the victim. Flames snapped and crackled as the wood at his feet began to be consumed. Soon the man, too, would perish in its flames.

So what was his crime? Continue reading “Burning in our hearts”

The sacrifice that costs nothing

And what, you might ask, is a sacrifice that costs nothing? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Don’t all sacrifices cost something?

David used a phrase something like the one in the title of this article. He wanted to offer a sacrifice just outside Jerusalem on the land of an Israelite named Araunah. To his credit, Araunah offered the king all the resources needed for a sacrifice. Here they are, he declared, the wood, the oxen, the fire. That’s when David used the phrase, “a sacrifice that cost me nothing.” Continue reading “The sacrifice that costs nothing”

Choose this day

One of the most tragic teachings in Christianity is that God sovereignly chooses who will be saved and who will be lost. It matters little how we live, this teaching declares, for in the end God will save only those whom he chooses. If the doctrine of Calvinism seems skewed and unjust, that’s because it is. There are a multitude of ways to counter it, but one of the best ways is to remind ourselves that God has made us free moral agents, people with the power to choose. We can choose to serve God, or choose not to; God has given us that ability.

Toward the end of his distinguished career, Moses called on his people to choose: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Continue reading “Choose this day”

The strings of the heart

This particular truth is presented as if it is the ultimate “’aha!’ moment.” Someone heard from someone who told them that the Greek word in Ephesians 5:19 for “making music” actually means “plucking the strings of.” The passage, as you probably know, goes this way:

“Addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” The word translated “making melody” (psallo) indeed means to “pluck the strings of” (as in, a harp, lyre, etc.). Continue reading “The strings of the heart”

Contemporary Christian music

Recently I was astonished to hear someone say his main method of teaching was to use “Contemporary Christian music” in his Bible classes. He pointed out that the lyrics of many rock, rap and country songs were sinful and degrading, while the Contemporary Christian songs featured lyrics that were “spiritual.”

There is no question that a great deal of popular music is trashy, mean-spirited and hateful. The Christian should turn that music off just as surely as he would walk out of a movie that is laced through with ungodly content.

You do walk out of such movies, don’t you? Continue reading “Contemporary Christian music”

Of goats and mice

I read recently that a trade union is upset because a college campus has purchased twenty goats to clear up an overgrown portion of the college campus. The union objects that by using the goats the University of Western Michigan has taken jobs away from union workers. Apparently the reason the university employed the four-footed mowers rather than two-footed is environmental. Goats do not spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere the way a rider mower might.

They’re not kidding around, either. The goats are making quick work of the brush, eating through scrub, poison oak, everything. But union leaders insist this is ba-a-a-a-ad for employment. It seems the four-footed mowers will eat anything, and are thus scape goated for the poor employment in the region. So we are faced with a dilemma. Do we support jobs or the environment? Continue reading “Of goats and mice”