Manifest identity

“… Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 NKJV).

It came as something of a surprise to me, over a period of several years, that our common English word “God” is not a name of a specific divine being. It is rather the generic term meaning “a divine being.” Hindus and Buddhists may name thousands of gods. Adherents to other religions may refer to different specific beings as “god” than that intended by readers and believers of the Bible. Continue reading “Manifest identity”

Add virtue

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue . . .” (2 Peter 1:5 NKJV).

Virtue is difficult to define. If one thinks of it as a positive characteristic, desirable in individual personalities, he is forced to recognize that those vary from culture to culture, and from age to age. One society admires the accomplished thief, another honors a fierce and capable fighter, while others promote patience, peacefulness, and tolerance over more physical attributes.

In South Asia one of the most desirable traits is honor or respect. It is easier to be forgiven for stealing from someone than for insulting or dishonoring him. Given these disparate connotations of the word virtue, what exactly was Peter instructing us to grow towards? Continue reading “Add virtue”

The mission of making people happy

“But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:1-2 NKJV).

Paul had a tumultuous relationship with the church in Corinth. He apparently wrote at least three letters to them (1 Corinthians 5:9), one of which he described as being produced “with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:3). While writing the letter we know as Second Corinthians he mentions plans for a third physical visit to them (2 Corinthians 13:1). At least one of his previous visits seems to have been confrontational, producing grief (2 Corinthians 2:1). Continue reading “The mission of making people happy”

Solitude

“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him” (Mark 1:12-13 ESV).

When traveling to distant and sometimes unfamiliar places I miss home, with all of my family, friends, and normal routines. Though I am usually busy and in the presence of many people, I can still feel lonely and isolated because of who I am not with and what I am not doing. Loneliness is a condition most of us experience at times, and it is one that is not generally pleasant. Continue reading “Solitude”

Hunger

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied” (Luke 6:20 ESV).

Esau would have been perplexed by Jesus’ approval of hunger (see Genesis 25:29-34). His raging appetite caused him to sell his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a mere pittance. A later inspired writer labeled him “unholy” (Hebrews 12:10) for his lack of discipline and judgment. Granted, Esau’s hunger probably exceeded our normal mealtime appetites, but it is highly unlikely that he was actually near death from starvation as he claimed. After all, his mother Rebekah could not have been far away and, though Esau was not her favorite son, she certainly would have fed him. Continue reading “Hunger”

To God, alone wise

“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27 NKJV).

A doxology is a statement of praise and honor towards and / or about God. The word derives from the Greek word “doxa” meaning “brightness, splendor, and radiance.” In its verbal form it is often rendered “to praise, honor, magnify, or glorify.”

Casual readers of the Bible may be unaware of the many doxologies which are part of its text such as that which is cited at the beginning of this article. These are formal statements of praise containing many doctrinal and theological themes which add significantly to our understanding of the nature and identity of God. Continue reading “To God, alone wise”

Keys to learning

“My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your nearest kin” (Proverbs 7:1-4 NKJV).

I have written before about the different systems of education between East and West (Asia versus Europe and North America). Though changes are occurring it is still generally true that the emphasis in western education is comprehension and application while that of the east remains to a great extent simply accumulation of facts through memorization. Continue reading “Keys to learning”

Who am I? Thoughts are the true measure

“Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:6-7, NKJV)

It is frequently stated that the figures of speech used in Biblical times regarding body parts may be relocated one organ higher for today’s audiences. Emotions were thought then to originate in the bowels or intestines, and thought or reason were properties of the heart. Today we feel emotionally with our hearts and think or reason in our minds. Continue reading “Who am I? Thoughts are the true measure”

Man sitting on ground looking at mountains and lake

‘In his right mind’

“And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the ‘legion;’ and they became frightened” (Mark 5:15).

Sometimes you just can’t win. The demoniac from Gerasea (or Genneserat, see Matthew 14:34) had lived for some time in the tombs, isolated from normal society because of his bizarre behavior (Mark 5:2-5). He was rejected and feared by the villagers about him. But when Jesus cast the demons out of the man, restoring him to his right mind, the people were even more frightened. Actually their fright at this time was directed towards Jesus rather than the former demoniac, but it was this man’s now normal behavior, at least in part, that caused their reaction. Continue reading “‘In his right mind’”

Knowing the unknowable

“But we speak God’s wisdom among those who are mature; … but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.’ … For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:7, 9, 11 NASB).

A favorite pastime in recent days has been to try to anticipate or out-guess the authorities as to when restrictions of travel and assembly might be reinstated. In Alabama this week many were surprised and disappointed when Governor Ivey displayed much caution only slightly relaxing previous “Stay at Home” orders. People in other states and countries continue to deal with rigid restrictions with no end in sight. Especially in South Asia hunger and desperation are growing as close to 2 billion people remain under imposed lockdown with no travel, work, or business permitted outside the home. Continue reading “Knowing the unknowable”