Always be ready

“As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3 NET).

Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 is still amongst the most controversial of all that he taught. It seems that in every age there are some who believe that Jesus was talking about the time in which they are living. Sadly they miss the context of Jesus’ message and instead begin to look for “signs” which would show that Jesus is about to return. We should notice what prompted the disciples’ question. Continue reading “Always be ready”

What happens to us when we die?

I have often made this statement in my preaching: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” This expresses the central mystery of Christianity: We place such heavy emphasis on feeding the desires of our physical bodies; we should instead be feeding the eternal part of our beings, our soul or spirit.

There is a movement among preachers in our fellowship who suggest that after we die we will inherit the same bodies that we have now. They point to Jesus’ resurrected body, apparently the same as the one he had before his death, bearing the marks of his crucifixion. Consider his invitation to Thomas to touch the scars in his hands and side (John 20:26-28). But it’s also worth noting the image of the risen victorious Jesus, white hair, face like the sun and eyes like a flame of fire (Revelation 1:12-16). This is clearly not describing the physical body Jesus had while on the earth. Continue reading “What happens to us when we die?”

If anyone does not love the Lord

If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him. Our Lord, come! 1 Corinthians 16.22 CSB.

In the last chapter of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul mentions love three times. The sentence above is the second of the three. The curse on the one who does not love the Lord leaves us perplexed. Why end a letter this way?

First, the sentence is a part of the letter’s end written by Paul’s own hand, v. 21. Somebody (Sosthenes?) served him by writing the letter and at the end he signs it, as was his custom. So here, the force of the sentence is even greater. Continue reading “If anyone does not love the Lord”

True greatness

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people’” (Matthew 23:1-7 CSB).

The scribes and Pharisees often received criticism by Jesus – and rightly so, as we can see in the opening of this chapter. Continue reading “True greatness”

Breaking down barriers

If the Gospel of Luke is a handbook on discipleship, then Christian behavior should tear down human barriers. After all, Jesus blazed this trail as through word and deed he revolutionized social norms by dismantling its boundaries. When people are willing to walk in his steps, his principles continue to transform social perception, values and behavior. Here are two examples how his kingdom principles alter daily living. Continue reading “Breaking down barriers”

Six myths about Christianity

People like to take shots at Christianity, and they do so from a variety of motives. Perhaps they had a bad experience when visiting a church, or they realize that taking on Christianity implies a definite and lifetime commitment. Rarely do their critiques stem from actual evidence. In my years as a preacher I have heard at least five myths about Christianity that are simply not true. Continue reading “Six myths about Christianity”

How hard has aging hit you?

“It looks like an ‘old lady’ garden!” This is one of the worst complaints I can make about any spot in the garden that has not been tended well over the years. 

Oddly enough, a crowded garden is actually my goal. As one type of perennial fades away, it gives place to the next month’s glorious growth of another. But once in a while, some of the ubiquitous “volunteers” take over and ruin the aesthetics of a well-tended bed. The bed has “aged,” so to speak, and not gracefully! Continue reading “How hard has aging hit you?”

How did that happen?

“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8 NKJV).

I count myself among those who marvel at how or why things happen the way they do. We live in a tremendously advanced age with regard to technology and scientific accomplishment. In my lifetime we have broken the sound barrier, put human beings in outer space, walked on the surface of the moon, and sent craft into the farther reaches of our solar system. And that does not begin to list the many advances in personal comfort, medical knowledge, and thousands of other important developments. Continue reading “How did that happen?”

Are we ready?

“As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, ‘Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.’ The disciples asked him, ‘Why then do the experts in the law say that Elijah must come first?’ He answered, ‘Elijah does indeed come first and will restore all things. And I tell you that Elijah has already come. Yet they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. In the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:9-13 NET).

Earlier in Matthew 17, Peter, James, and John were privileged to witness what we call Jesus’ transfiguration and also to see Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus. They heard the voice of God which told them to listen to Jesus. Continue reading “Are we ready?”