The Goldilocks paradox

Our earth resides in the Goldilocks Zone, the region that is just right for life. This habitable zone is neither too far from, nor too close to, the sun. The earth is neither too big nor too small. The atmosphere contains just the right mixture of ingredients. The ratio of water to land is just right. It is undeniable that out of numberless possibilities, our planet has the perfect conditions for life.

To atheists, this principle presents a paradox. How can the earth be so perfectly fine-tuned for life by accident? Continue reading “The Goldilocks paradox”

The glory of the church

In his book Family of God: A Study of the New Testament Church, Batsell Barrett Baxter’s first chapter is entitled, “The Glory of the Church.” It’s a fine title and a marvelous way to begin the subject. Brother Baxter gave eight reasons why the church is glorious: its origin, its foundation, its beginning, its relationship, its universality, its simplicity, and its destiny. It’s worth reading and appreciating.

His chapter needs no rewriting or revision. So allow me to take another tack that complements the points above. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, and the first of many problems he tackled was that of divisiveness. In the longest section of the letter (chapters 1-4), he wrote, Continue reading “The glory of the church”

The road to glory

How does one achieve glory? Humans think glory means to exalt self above others, and so people have tried to find a way to become the most exalted on earth.

Many used politics to find a route to glory by becoming a ruler. Others accumulated wealth as a way to find themselves exalted and enshrined in memory. Others have simply dominated others in an attempt to gain it. All of them have failed because they never understood what glory is. Continue reading “The road to glory”

Credentials

“Master Gardener” — now there’s an oxymoron, if we are being honest. While there is a level of knowledge and expertise that one gains by attending classes and working with plants and landscapes, one never really gains mastery over those plants in general. They’ll just do as they want more often than we care to admit.

In fact, the speaker at the last local Master Gardener event bemoaned the demise of a very expensive Monkey Puzzle tree at the display gardens in Jackson, Tennessee. Apparently, the more pricey the plant, the less likely it will do what you want it to do. Continue reading “Credentials”

Which are we?

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9 NKJV)?

 

“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you” (Ruth 3:1)?

I overheard a conversation in Asia. One asked about how a certain work was going to be done. The reply was, “That is not our headache. It is the contractor’s responsibility; let him take care of it.” On one level, that is not an unreasonable response. We might have better stated it, “It is not really our business, let him do the job his way.” But in the context of the conversation the attitude of the responder was basically, “I don’t care – let them handle their own problems without my help. Continue reading “Which are we?”

It isn’t about numbers

How sad it is when Christians begin to compete with each other. Perhaps we want to have the largest congregation or to baptize the most people. Sometimes Christians will belittle the good work another is doing or even spread gossip and lies about them, all to try to make themselves look better or more important. But this is not what being a Christian is about nor is it what Jesus died for.

There was the potential for this to happen between Jesus’ disciples and John’s disciples when Jesus first began teaching. Both Jesus and John were in the same area and people were going to both to be immersed. John’s followers were concerned about this. After all, John was there first. Surely John should be concerned. Continue reading “It isn’t about numbers”

Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation

Two boys asked a baseball coach the same question, “When can I play ball?” Yet each received a different answer. The first boy was told, “You’ll need to sign up and try out.” The second heard, “Just wait. You’ll be called.” Context enables us to understand why the answers differed. One boy was not yet on the team.

Since scripture provides different answers regarding salvation, Zacchaeus’ story reminds us to interpret messages within their context if we seek an author-centered understanding. Such a reminder promotes an accurate handling of two distinct New Testament messages. Simplistically latching on to either message tempts us to disregard the other. Continue reading “Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation”

When the glory of God returned

The day the temple was dedicated, God’s glorious presence filled his house (2 Chronicles 5:14; 7:1-3). It was a momentous day filled with praise, sacrifice, and feasting. God was with his people. But times would not always be so good. In a preview of Israel’s fickle ways, God promised that if they would humble themselves, repent, and pray, then God would forgive them.

God’s glory would remain in his house through many difficult days. But a time came when no repentance was forthcoming, and a cleansing needed to occur. The last resort, a carrying away of the people into captivity, had already begun. Soon the house would be toppled by foreign invaders. Continue reading “When the glory of God returned”