Evaluating a hymn

The first surprise might be that we should evaluate a hymn at all. Yet why should we not? If our hymns are to be sung not only with spirit but with our minds (1 Corinthians 14:15), then we should think about the songs we sing. If our hymns are to allow “the word of Christ [to] dwell in [us] richly as [we] teach and admonish” each other (Colossians 3:16), then we should think about what our hymns teach.

So how ought we to evaluate a song? What questions might we ask of it? Continue reading “Evaluating a hymn”

How did we get here? Start from the beginning.

Probably not a few Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert wondered how it was they got there. Maybe even Moses was asking how he had got himself into the long trek to nowhere. None of them could have been a happy camper. The majority were circling the desert until they died off. The generation under 20 years of age had to pass the best years of their lives in a waiting game.

How did the chosen people of Israel come to a full stop? More importantly, what did the 40-year-pause mean for the plan of God? And how might the young generation remember they were God’s special people in the midst of the nations? Perhaps to that end Moses writes. Continue reading “How did we get here? Start from the beginning.”

Make a truly great decision

It is easy to think this life is what is important. We may be tempted to think this life is all there is. It isn’t.

Many are swept up in politics, world events, trouble, flood, famine, and war. The newspapers are full of the negative things that happen every day. After a while, we may become convinced those things are more important. They aren’t.

Jesus had his problems with the self-important Pharisees. They wanted to kill him because of his teachings and his growing popularity. Jesus said the game the Pharisees were playing was not important at all (Luke 12:1-5). Continue reading “Make a truly great decision”

Just and honest weights

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16 NKJV).

Most Americans have little or no experience with balance beam scales. That is the type where there is a beam supporting two baskets or trays, itself supported in the middle so as to be able to go up and down in either direction. One places the item to be weighed on one tray, and a standard known weight on the other, adjusting quantities until the beam balances exactly. Continue reading “Just and honest weights”

We will serve the Lord

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15 NIV).

Who will we serve? Will we follow God or will we serve something, anything else? This is a question that people have had to face since time began and one that all people will continue to be challenged with. Even though many, or even most, in our society don’t want to make a choice, that in itself is a choice. “You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God” (James 4:4 CSV). Continue reading “We will serve the Lord”

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”

Faith of our fathers

June is the month for garden tours featuring daylilies in Tennessee, as they are usually at their peak. Today was no exception. With two friends as “enablers,” I went shopping at another friend’s beautiful garden for a few more daylilies to add to my burgeoning collection.

Some new varieties will now grace the garden, with features such as ruffled edges, petaloid segments, and vivid eye zones.

Of course the garden still contains a few “heirloom” daylilies, in stark contrast to some of today’s fancy new additions. I like the old, but also love the new. Continue reading “Faith of our fathers”

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”