As James looked out over the congregations of his day, did he perceive the need to address a particular problem? Commentators generally regard his original readers as being largely poor Jewish Christians. However, might there be more? Continue reading “A background for James?”
Decades ago I read church bulletins and missionary reports as a student worker in the Missions Information Office at a Christian college. My work entailed compiling relevant notes and data into an occasional report for interested faculty, students and staff.
As might be expected, some reports and bulletins were more engaging than others. I always looked forward to what John Gipson would write.
I have never met John nor do I know much about him. I doubt he knows I exist. Yet, he impacted at least part of my life. Your influence as salt and light might be greater than you think.
Some modern Bibles render part of Romans 1:5 as “believe and obey” thus making faith and obedience two separate entities. This would seem to reflect more of the editors’ theological outlook than Paul’s mindset. Yet, we should not be surprised. How many people separate faith from obedient actions?
Paul joined faith and obedience into one unified idea. Yet, do we expect this?
The story is an old one. Spirituality fluctuates between a wasteland and vibrancy. This narrative reoccurs throughout time. King David experienced it.
As people grapple with the current crisis, some will trod this well-worn path. Others may never reach the vibrancy. Continue reading “Self-confidence, crisis, then praise”
Life gets rough. How people respond is well known. “Why did God do this to me?” “How can God be good if he allows this to continue?” Adversity can foster many temptations. What role does God play in all of this?
James’ letter takes us straight to our questions about God. He does not answer every question we might pose. Rather he counsels us how to think about God when we are in the thick of it. Continue reading “How to think about God when life is rough”
James described both the poor and the comfortable encountering economic trials. Although details of their challenges differ, nonetheless both situations test one’s mettle. Furthermore, both trials go to the heart of the matter.
Fortunately, James offers us a practical path foward filled with uncommon wisdom. He turns our financial perspectives upside down. His counsel reorients us by calling us to reframe how we think about ourselves.
While our current crisis differs in details, the letter of Philippians contains a message enabling us to navigate our own troubled waters. If we listen closely Philippians depicts an ancient church caught between a rock and a hard place. Yet what comes first to our minds when we think about Philippians? Is it not joy and rejoicing?
Let’s take a closer look at their problem. For if we agree points of commonality exist between our situation and theirs, then Paul’s message could lead us to rejoice in the midst of our adversity.
His counsel seems counterintuitive. It certainly doesn’t represent our intuitive reaction. What’s more we might wonder, how can it be possible? “Consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials” (James 1:2). How can James write this? Did he know something that could help us in the current crisis?
Continue reading “Handling adversity”
Yesterday my wife and I spent most of the day driving in order to assist our college age son move back to our city before the mayor’s shelter-in-place order took effect. We are safe and hunkered down.
The ability to say and embrace, “I’m safe” evokes peace. However when the heart is fearful, these words don’t ring true and fear persists.
What can assist us in getting over the hump to experience a plane of peacefulness? A brief understanding about what makes us tick reveals why the suggestions listed below offer practical help. Continue reading “I’m Safe”
“God is a God of second chances.” This comforting message peppers blogs and sermons. It might even work its way into everyday conversations. We rightfully celebrate such good news. After all, the gospel with its message of forgiveness announces genuine hope and lifts heavy burdens.
Yet, to say that God is a God of second chances stops short. In fact, it could be misleading. Continue reading “God gives second chances? More like a complete makeover!”