Of dips and dales

Rousing successes and mountain-top victories are not the stuff of life. They do not produce life nor can they define it.

Elijah discovered this, post-Carmel, 1 Kings 18-19. Wise men warn against letting the dips and valleys of experience determine personal value and satisfaction; let them alert the foolish that neither can the peaks and heights of accomplishment.

Many seek to increase time spent on the slopes of success. They strive for the vibrant hills of a moving heart. But the tops can be, in their own way, as draining as the dale. For beyond the pinnacle lies the downward incline to the next dip. Continue reading “Of dips and dales”

Show, don’t tell

“Show, don’t tell.” This basic principle rules the writing world. It makes life easier, also. To teach a man to fish, he must see you fishing. Personal-development guru Anthony Robbins wrote in his 1991 book, Awaken the Giant Within,

If you’re not sure how to get yourself out of pain and to feel pleasure as a replacement to your smoking, drinking, worrying, or other undesirable emotion or behavior, you can simply find the answers by modeling people who have turned things around for themselves. Find people who have made the lasting changes; I guarantee you’ll find that they had an alternative to replace the old behavior (p. 135).

The Bible both tells and shows. It communicates the message of truth and gives us visual lessons, both positive and negative, on how to be holy. Examples abound from beginning to end. All the great virtues shine in flesh-and-blood people throughout the pages of Scripture. Continue reading “Show, don’t tell”

The problem is not in the harvest

He started out as a practicing Catholic. He made pilgrimages to Aparecida, Brazil’s religious center for the veneration of Mary. He hated “believers,” as fundamental evangelicals are called here. Once, he even threw a pail of water on two Protestants who were doing door-to-door evangelism.

Elijah, as we’ll call him, later converted to Protestantism. He became a Pentecostal pastor. As a dedicated man, he received in return that pail of water from someone who also hated believers. Continue reading “The problem is not in the harvest”

Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’

In 1 Thessalonians 2.3, a section of the letter where he defends himself against accusations of disinterest or self-interest, Paul described his evangelistic work among the Thessalonians as “our exhortation.”

For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

The quotation above, from the NET Bible, translates “our exhortation” as “the appeal we make.” An exhortation is an urgent appeal for someone to take a course of action. An exhortation tells someone, “You ought to do this.” Continue reading “Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’”

Taking action so that others will believe in our ‘favorable future’

Researchers think they’ve discovered a strange phenomenon in the area of persuasion. The more a person believes strongly in a future, the more likely he thinks that others will eventually come around to his belief. But there’s more.

“… partisans believe they are so correct that others will eventually come to see the obviousness of their correctness,” says behavioral scientist Todd Rogers of the Harvard Kennedy School, lead author on the research. “Ironically, our findings indicate that this belief in a favorable future may diminish the likelihood that people will take action to ensure that the favorable future becomes reality.

Continue reading “Taking action so that others will believe in our ‘favorable future’”

Holiness is a big deal

This is an excerpt from Randal’s upcoming book, tentatively entitled “Total Transformation.”

In God’s eyes, holiness is the goal. Without it, we are nothing and can go nowhere, spiritually. “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord” Heb 12.14. Holiness is the basic condition for seeing the Lord. It arises out of Christ’s sacrifice for us, so it is not strange to read this statement in the book of Hebrews. The Lord makes the effort effective. But without the effort there is no change and no chance of a future with him. Continue reading “Holiness is a big deal”

Five hideous truths about sin—and one great truth of hope

Behind sin works a living, personal, spiritual force called Satan. He opposes God and he considers mankind his battlefield. We know little about his origin, but we have learned much about his tactics and objectives. These should be studied carefully.

When we speak of sin, therefore, we are actually speaking of the work of Satan against God’s special creation of mankind.

Sin overpowers

It cannot be controlled. It is the lion crouching just outside the door ready to pounce and kill, Genesis 4.7; 1 Peter 5.8. It is the kudzu that will not stop growing until it has covered every good intent and smothered all good works. There is no dabbling in sin, no setting limits for sin, no negotiating with sin. Continue reading “Five hideous truths about sin—and one great truth of hope”

Can Facebook replace the church?

Facebook’s creator and sovereign Mark Zuckerberg said that his product can replace the church. He should really get out more.

He should also read the Bible more.

Unless he considers himself the Savior of All Mankind, Mr. Zuckerberg can never replace the Lord Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, who was sent by the Father to redeem people from sin. It was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that created the church. The church is not a social club, but rather God’s assembly to spread out, united, across the world with a saving message. Continue reading “Can Facebook replace the church?”

How did we get here? Start from the beginning.

Probably not a few Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert wondered how it was they got there. Maybe even Moses was asking how he had got himself into the long trek to nowhere. None of them could have been a happy camper. The majority were circling the desert until they died off. The generation under 20 years of age had to pass the best years of their lives in a waiting game.

How did the chosen people of Israel come to a full stop? More importantly, what did the 40-year-pause mean for the plan of God? And how might the young generation remember they were God’s special people in the midst of the nations? Perhaps to that end Moses writes. Continue reading “How did we get here? Start from the beginning.”