“Follow me”

Jesus never intended that his mission to the world be one of solitude. If he had been independent and worked by himself, what would have happened when he was executed? The intention was to always have others working with him. To that end we find him gathering a group of men to train after returning to Galilee from the time spent in the Judean wilderness after being tempted for forty days by the devil following his baptism. Continue reading ““Follow me””

John’s doubt, our challenge

The forerunner for the Messiah was in prison, punished for presuming to speak truth to power. Though John had pointed others to Jesus, he still had followers. These disciples reported to John all that Jesus had been doing (Luke 7:18), most notably raising a widow’s only son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).

When John hears of these wondrous miracles, he is dismayed. He sends two disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19). Perhaps John is discouraged because Jesus is doing these wonderful things and John is confined. Perhaps John was anticipating the Messiah’s work to be quickly accomplished.

Remember, this is the one who announced with such conviction, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29). It is he who received confirmation from the Father that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 1:34). John is no stranger to the nature of the one called Jesus. But prison and possible death likely has a way of causing a person to need reassurance. Continue reading “John’s doubt, our challenge”

For the sins of the whole world

Religions are often identified with certain people groups. They are limited, mostly, to certain regions of the world. They make up a part of the culture of those groups. They do not always welcome outsiders. There are a few so-called world religions, but most of these are also limited.

Jesus died as the “atoning sacrifice” sent by God, “not only for our sins but also for the whole world” 1 John 2.1-2. This is a staggering affirmation. The apostle John writes it in the context of the need of a group of Christians to have a sacrifice for their sins and to be forgiven even after their conversion. It implies several things. Continue reading “For the sins of the whole world”

Make some space!

Our new habit of social distancing has made everyone even more aware of giving space to one another. In the garden, we have no such methodology, but even in a crowded garden bed, proper spacing must be maintained. 

The surprising gift of two Veilchenblau roses last year was reason enough to rearrange the patio bed. These fragrant purple roses were perfect to go on my backyard trellis. There was one problem; we had a beautiful “Jude the Obscure” rose bush too close to one side of it already.  Continue reading “Make some space!”

Are we worldly?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NIV).

I visited a congregation in southwestern Bangladesh and on the way back out, near dark, the Banglas who were with me had me sit in the back seat, surrounded and mostly hidden, by them. After a few miles they stopped and I was able to get back in the front passenger seat where I usually ride. When I asked them why the “musical chairs” they replied, “That is an area notorious for robbers; we did not want them to see you and think we were a good target.” Continue reading “Are we worldly?”

When Christians disagree

It is difficult at times to distinguish what we believe and accept from what scripture actually says. Because we believe them both we often assume that all we believe is part of scripture. That can apply to our view of politics as well as other areas of life.

This is not a new problem, but one which Christians struggled with in the days of the apostles. Often the background to this was Christians who were of a Jewish background and Christians who from a Gentile background. Because they were brought up Jews, many would restrict what they ate or would do certain things on certain days. The discussion as Paul presented it in Romans 14 centered around what people ate as well as what days they considered to be special. Continue reading “When Christians disagree”

Saved through childbearing! What is this? (2)

A library story can contribute toward illuminating the phrase, “But she will be saved through childbearing.” Clarity, however, might challenge our perceptions on salvation as well as our views on gender roles within worship. Or it might be 1 Timothy 2:15 will confirm what we already accept as true.

Our reaction will likely reveal more about us than it does Paul’s message. His message never changed. Continue reading “Saved through childbearing! What is this? (2)”

The Ruler of this world

When man sinned in the garden, Satan won a significant victory. Sin entered the world. Man was separated from his God. The world, fashioned by the Creator, was spoiled. The struggle for men’s hearts became apparent.

Yes, Satan won a victory, but it would not be lasting. The God who declares the end from the beginning showed us the ending, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

God would be victorious over sin, over sin’s effects, and over sin’s greatest proponent. But that victory would not always be evident. At times, in the struggle with sin, Satan would appear to have the upper hand. Continue reading “The Ruler of this world”

The Savior of the world

Since earliest times people and nations have looked to earthly figures and political powers to save them. The people of Israel hoped Egypt would protect them from Assyria. Brazilians have long talked about a salvador da pátria (savior of the nation) to rescue them from their problems. It is a human trait to wish for, await, or appeal to someone to save.

Inevitably, however, humans disappoint. The prophet Isaiah wrote about Pharoah: Continue reading “The Savior of the world”

In limbo

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. . . . For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now, and not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:19, 22-23, NKJV).

During the Red-Shirt Rebellion in Thailand several years ago I was in Nepal, with return tickets to home on Thai Airlines with a layover in Bangkok. The Red-Shirts captured the airport through which I would be flying and stopped all travel for about two weeks. I inquired about changing my travel arrangements but the airline refused to deal with me until time for the flight to occur. For all of that time I was in a state of suspension, not knowing what would happen or when and how I might be able to return to the U.S. Thankfully, the rebellion was ended and the airport reopened just before time for me to travel. We completed our journey without difficulty. Continue reading “In limbo”