The land of rest

“And Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died there, in the fortieth year after the people of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. And Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor” (Numbers 33:38-39 ESV).

The Israelites had been without a home for years. Forty years earlier, on the fifteenth day of the first month (Numbers 33:3), they had left Egypt after the ten plagues had culminated with the Passover. They had been “on the road” since that time, in essence “living out of suitcases.” They had no home of their own and were living in tents. They were now into the fortieth year since leaving Egypt. Continue reading “The land of rest”

Five (unpopular) things Jesus said about divorce

“…from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8)

In 17 years of ministry (part and full-time), I have met with numerous married, and to-be-married couples. One thing I’ve found by this experience is that to-be-married couples generally understand the concept of adultery, and see it as a legitimate – if not the only – reason for divorce. Even if their Bible knowledge is somewhat limited, or they are not Christians, they will often say that this is the only legitimate grounds for a biblical divorce. I have this in writing from almost every couple I’ve married.

Yet, in nearly every troubled marriage that I’ve tried to help, one or both have a completely different, and non-biblical view of divorce and/or adultery. Continue reading “Five (unpopular) things Jesus said about divorce”

“Offended”

“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:6).

In the ashes of the World Trade building in New York City, following the devastation of the 9/11 attacks, lay a twisted metal beam, improbably forming the shape of a cross. For many in the dust-filled, heart-wrenching days following the tragedy, the cross served as a symbol of hope. Somewhere in all that crazy confusion was a symbol of a God who still cared.

Well inevitably a group known as the American Atheists have sued the 9/11 Museum demanding the symbol be removed.  Apparently the presence of a cross at this place of such deepest sorrow “offends” them (Scott Stump, Today, March 6, 2014). Continue reading ““Offended””

Church as decentralized web

It’s not in my job description, or wouldn’t be if I had one. But I joyfully spend a not insignificant amount of time helping saints connect with other saints.

Except for Antartica, we’ve touched all the continents. We’ve helped people find churches in places like Japan, France, New Zealand, and Malawi. Even the American states of Virginia and Kentucky have not escaped our searches.

Today, it was closer to home. I finally got answers for a brother in Rio looking for churches or contacts in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Continue reading “Church as decentralized web”

Love through humble service

Mark’s gospel shows Jesus as God’s suffering servant on a mission. Eleven times in chapter one alone, Mark uses the word “immediately” to describe the action surrounding the son of God. Everything Jesus did seemed to happen quickly. He is shown as God’s inexhaustible servant.

In Mark chapter nine, the Master showed how our thinking sometimes gets in the way of being the kind of servant God wants. While on the way to Capernaum, Jesus’ disciples had been arguing. When they arrived, the Lord asked them what they had been arguing about. They had been fighting for prominence in the coming kingdom. Continue reading “Love through humble service”

Encouragement

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NKJV).

When Moses, the Man of God, died at the end of Israel’s wilderness travel, the young man Joshua was elevated to the leadership of the nation. At the time of his appointment he was told to “be strong and of good courage” by three different beings: first by Moses who appointed him (Deuteronomy 31:7), then by God himself (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9), and finally by the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (Joshua 1:18). Continue reading “Encouragement”

Honesty

“Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: ‘This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’” (Numbers 30:1-2 NIV).

God’s desire has always been that his people keep their word. This involves honesty in every aspect of that word. If we are honest, we are “free of deceit, truthful and sincere” (Oxford Dictionary of English). This means that what we say must be true, but it is more than that. It also means that we do what we say and that we don’t use truth in a way that would deceive another person. Continue reading “Honesty”

When God’s power intersects our lives

It is an amazing prayer. The initial request was so simple. The heart of an apostle spilled forth seeking God to enlighten his people.

This was not a request for God’s people to grasp some grand nebulous understanding. With laser precision Paul prayed for God to enlighten his people in very specific ways, ways that have inspired and continue to infuse lives with direction and purpose.  Continue reading “When God’s power intersects our lives”

Obedience

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

Religious leaders will do verbal back flips in order to avoid saying that we need to obey God’s commands. Commentators will write four paragraphs to show that the Holy Spirit really didn’t mean what he plainly said in one simple sentence. People will declare, “Oh surely God wouldn’t condemn us if we didn’t obey that commandment!”

The fact is that the Lord demands that we obey his commands. Continue reading “Obedience”