The household of God

Communication is wonderful as well as a bit tricky. Our understanding of what others communicate is partially shaped by our experiences and prior knowledge.

So, when Paul described the church as being the household of God what do we understand? Perhaps what comes to our minds revolves around our relationship with other Christians as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are all in this together.

Does anything else come to mind? Would someone in the first century comprehend additional nuances? Probably yes. Continue reading “The household of God”

Family is everything, unless Jesus is

Michael J. Fox is quoted as saying, “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” Mr. Fox is not alone, this is a common refrain among many.

Family is important. Some disregard, ignore, or abuse their family. Many give themselves over to their work, their hobbies, or their friends at the expense of their children or spouse. Many of the most successful people have chosen business over family. Continue reading “Family is everything, unless Jesus is”

Crying as I pitch historical documents

I’m up to my elbows in paper, going through old files and crying as I throw away tons piles of historical documents relating to the work and the church in Brazil over the years. I have material in English and Portuguese starting from the 1960s and 1970s.

Months ago, I moved from my office space, which I had rented for 17 years, to a home office. There’s not room for everything, so most of the files must go. I have boxes of papers and files scattered around the office and the bedroom, and it’s past time to pare it down. Continue reading “Crying as I pitch historical documents”

Tell me the story of Jesus

The new garden bench got a lot of use today. A young couple showed me photos of the new house they just moved into, and the plans they had to take the barren yard and fill it with flowers.

As about ten different people filtered in and out of the garden today, I heard stories of how the small redbud tree could grow along with a granddaughter, and it filled my heart with joy that the plants I sell will have a story.

I, too, shared some stories. This is the optimum time to transplant irises, the state flower in Tennessee and my personal favorite. My customers smiled as I reminisced about the “Lost Iris” and my quest to fill the void left by a simple garden accident.  Continue reading “Tell me the story of Jesus”

Convinced of God’s power and love

The weather here in northern Alabama this past week or so has reminded me of that old saying, “Be careful what you pray for; you just might get it.” After an unusually wet spring and early summer, we had been in a dry spell for three or four weeks and were beginning to hurt for rain.

Then tropical storm Marko and hurricane Laura showed up bringing deluges over a wide area, including us. Now we continue to have fronts coming through with frequent local showers. For all of these we are very grateful.

When James wrote to encourage Christians to pray he cited Elijah as an example of the power of prayer: Continue reading “Convinced of God’s power and love”

The Good Shepherd

“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice.” Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (John 10:1-6 NET)

At times I feel sorry for those who heard Jesus teach. Don’t misunderstand me – I can’t help but think how wonderful it would have been to hear the Messiah teach the people. But how often did they not understand what he was saying to them? How often did they miss his point? Continue reading “The Good Shepherd”

Eat his flesh and drink his blood

my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (John 6:55)

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about eating his flesh and drinking his blood is surely one of the strangest of his sayings. The content was so offensive to some that they turned away from him, never to return (John 6:66). All these years later we can probably appreciate Jesus’ metaphor better than the original hearers did.

Of course, the meaning of the saying is important: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). It is indeed a metaphor and it involves something like, “Take me for what/who I am.” It is also parallel to statements like, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Mt. 11:29). Continue reading “Eat his flesh and drink his blood”

Last words as saving words

Have you ever noticed how so many of the letters in the New Testament end in similar ways? The writers sign off with concern for the spiritual welfare and salvation of others. And more — they urge their readers to act and speak so that others be saved.

James ends his practical letter with a practical, soul-winning exhortation, James 5.19-20.

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

So does Jude, in some verses hard to sort through, but the general idea is clear, vv. 22-23. Continue reading “Last words as saving words”