Growing pains

Occasionally my oldest will complain to his mother of pains. This is normal. Occasionally I complain to his mother of pains. This is also normal. But the two are not the same. The former holds the promise of growth. The later holds the promise of more pain.

“Growing pains without growth is just pain.”/1

The life of a Christian is one of growth. We begin as infants (1 Peter 2:2), but we must not stay there. Just as physical growth involves pain, so does spiritual growth. It takes effort to become fully mature (Hebrews 5:14). We must push ourselves, get outside of our comfort zones to thrive. Continue reading “Growing pains”

Weary hands

The eighty-year-old was tired. His hands were weary. Victory or defeat were in the balance. He needed help.

God chose Moses, a man who doubted his own abilities, to lead his people out of captivity. But Moses did not do it alone. His brother, Aaron was by his side, his strengths compensating for Moses’ weaknesses. God’s power was demonstrated through the words and actions of these men.

But the challenges Moses faced did not all drown in the sea. Different difficulties arose with the freedom of this newly forged nation. Food and water were lacking, and the people’s trust in God seemed tenuous in the best of times. Continue reading “Weary hands”

The Days the earth shook

Earthquakes are natural occurrences all over the globe. Every continent shakes to one extent or another. These are normal natural events. Amos dates his prophetic ministry to “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1), an apparently large and naturally occurring quake.

However, scripture records for us a number earthquakes that are miraculous and have theological significance. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Exodus 9:7), and he uses it for his glory and our instruction. Continue reading “The Days the earth shook”

Hating Jesus

Jesus is hard to love.

Perhaps that is shocking to some. Many people believe they love Jesus. How hard can it be to love Jesus? He is perfect and he loves us perfectly. He is our creator and desires to be our savior. Yet I tell you in truth, Jesus is hard to love. Continue reading “Hating Jesus”

If he were here

If our departed loved ones could speak to us, what would they say? Communicating with those who have died seems to be a common desire. “Psychic mediums” take advantage of a combination of grief, guilt, and credulity in order to con people.

But even the well-intentioned attempt to channel the hypothetical words or thoughts of the dead. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “If he were here today, he’d want you to know…” or, “If she could speak to you today, the one thing she’d say…”

If you know someone well you can imagine them saying a number of things. And perhaps there is some educational or motivational value in contemplating what the dearly departed would say. But what can we learn about actual communication from beyond the grave in scripture? Continue reading “If he were here”

Instagram Christianity

Every social media platform has its own personality. Facebook is a great vehicle to keep connected with family, but it can be filled with conspiracies. Twitter can be fun and informative, but it can also be cruel and joyless. Instagram can be a nice place to share photos and short videos with family and friends, but it can also be extraordinarily shallow.

Some people are Instagram celebrities. They have carefully cultivated an image that sells. They attract a following that allows them to sponsor products and reap benefits.

As our lives are being lived more online in recent years, many things have changed about us. Our attention spans have slowly been reduced. Our ability to be in the moment for more than just a moment has degraded. We are always connected and yet not really connected to anyone.

Those personal changes also impact our walk with God. Conspiracies and political idolatry can creep into our sojourn. Our lives, which should be filled with joy, can become heartless and harsh. Our discipleship can become hollow. Continue reading “Instagram Christianity”

His Standing, our blessing

Disciples of Jesus bear the name, “Christian.” It is a divinely given name for those who belong to Christ.

Jesus is our Master (Jude 1:4). Like many slaves of the first century, we take on the identity, character, and qualities of our Master (Matthew 10:25). We have no status of our own. Our will has been subsumed by his, our character has been shaped by his. We should echo Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Continue reading “His Standing, our blessing”

The Essential and the insistent

When Jesus spoke you listened. Jesus didn’t draw people to him because he was physically imposing, like Saul. Nor did he draw people because he told them what they wanted to hear, like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day. He was earnest and kind, forthright and compassionate, full of truth and full of love. He was the master teacher, mentor, debater, defender, and friend.

As the Word made flesh, God incarnate, Jesus demanded your attention, not because he was loud, obnoxious, or insistent, but because his words were essential. He did not speak to hear himself, nor did he waste his breath speaking that which was superfluous (see Matthew 12:36, 37).

As we look back upon the ministry of Jesus, we should be captivated by the brevity of it. God is eternal. He created man as a temporal, mortal being. His plan to help man achieve immortality was gradually revealed over four millennia. Then, when the moment was perfect (Galatians 4:4), he pierced time and wrapped his everlasting spirit with flesh and blood. The pure Word walked around on this sin soaked soil for about one-third of a century. Continue reading “The Essential and the insistent”