Graceful words

They are more powerful than a punch to the gut, and potentially more inspiring than a sunset over a beach. Words have the power to build or destroy. We vastly underestimate the power of words, for good or ill, to affect others. And, what is more, the Christian is obliged to use gracious words:

“Let your speech always be gracious,” the good apostle said, “seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). Continue reading “Graceful words”

Faithfully serving God

David was nearing the end of his life. Although he had wanted to build the temple for God, he had not been allowed to because he was a warrior (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). Instead, he drew up the plans and what needed to be made, as well as organizing the Levites and priests to serve in the temple (see 1 Chronicles 28:11-21).

God had chosen David’s son Solomon to be David’s successor and rule for God in Israel. “He said to me, ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my temple and my courts, for I have chosen him to become my son and I will become his father. I will establish his kingdom permanently, if he remains committed to obeying my commands and regulations, as you are doing this day’” (1 Chronicles 28:6-7). Continue reading “Faithfully serving God”

The Sounds of silence

One question that comes up frequently in a discussion over a cappella music is whether arguing from the silence of Scripture is a legitimate way to study the Bible. Does silence communicate? I recall that my mother could communicate without saying a word. Does the Bible suggest that it should be interpreted by its silence as well as by its words? What if the Bible actually expressed how it was to be interpreted?

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Jesus was capable of fusing the entirety of the Law of Moses into two principles: Love God and love your neighbor, noting that “on these two commandments depend all the law and prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Continue reading “The Sounds of silence”

One minute late

Last Sunday, our time changed here in Brazil on the same date as in the US. That’s unusual. Usually, it occurs before, but was put off a few weeks because of the runoff presidential election last month. The US went off Daylight Savings Time, and Brazil, or much of it anyway, went on. So our time difference from Central Time, where most of our family members are, went, overnight, from two to fours hours.

They say that Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of DST. Whatever caused this normally practical and good-ideas man to come up with this, we’ll never know. Must have been the same day he dreamed up the post office.

On Sunday Brazil held its country-wide National Exam, which also functions as a college-entrance exam. Some people missed getting in for the exam because we lost an hour. One girl was one minute late, after the gates had been closed, and missed her chance. When the gates close, no pleading will open them. Continue reading “One minute late”

Do this

“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NKJV).

At the elephant breeding center near Chitwan National Park in Nepal, we were fortunate to see and photograph their latest arrival, a three-day-old baby female elephant. Though tiny (and seriously cute) she was already “all elephant” as the picture above demonstrates. Not only was she just like her mother in biological detail, she also mimicked the adult in posture, actions and other behavior. Our party was enthralled with her performance. Continue reading “Do this”

Be a friend

Chapters 23 to 27 of 1 Chronicles do not make the most interesting of reading for most of us. We find long lists people who were organized to do work that was needed in the temple, which Solomon would build. It would seem that David was a good organizer.

In 1 Chronicles 23 we have the Levites organized to do various work, both in the temple and to serve as judges. 1 Chronicles 24 details the organization of the priests as well as the remaining Levites. In 1 Chronicles 25 the musicians are organized – of note is the mention of “Heman,” “Asaph,” and “Jeduthun,” all of whom were in some way involved with the Psalms, either writing them (Heman and Asaph) or possibly composing music for them (Jeduthun – several Psalms are identified as “according to Jeduthun”). Although not mentioned here, the sons of Korah were also involved in writing many of the Psalms and served in the tabernacle. Continue reading “Be a friend”

The new birth calls us to action

The letter of 1 Peter reminds us God has provided us with new lives filled with hope and characterized by our souls being cleansed. Yet, the new birth is not just about what we receive. In the ancient world and within the New Testament, it was understood that progeny exhibit the qualities of their parents. God expects particular behaviors from us. Continue reading “The new birth calls us to action”