Every day sorrow strikes somewhere. Every day people experience loss, pain, and grief. The prevalence of such tragedy does not lessen the importance of – nor should it dull our senses to – the sorrow.
Today, Monday the 18th, the lives of three people ended in a Walmart parking lot. The early reports are that it was a domestic dispute and not the result of a mass shooter. The only reason I’m writing about this is that this particular parking lot is just down the road from where I live. I once worked in the store, and my family shops there most Monday mornings.
When these incidents happen, and they happen frequently in many places all over the world, it is important to recognize the cause and the solution. Continue reading “Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution”
They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).
God desires peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He came to bring peace between man and God, between man and himself, and between man and his fellow man. We are to seek peace and pursue it. But how far should we pursue peace?
As forth-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of reminding God’s people of the covenant that they had made with God. As fore-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of warning the people of coming judgment due to their refusal to repent.
The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, was God’s messenger leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Judah’s sins were full, and their punishment was imminent. Jeremiah’s task was to speak God’s word to a nation who was dull of hearing and who would “fight against” him (Jeremiah 1:19). This task was a great burden to Jeremiah. He wished for deliverance, he tried to shut God’s words up within him and not speak (Jeremiah 20:8-9). But God was true to his promises to Jeremiah, he was with Jeremiah every step of the way (Jeremiah 1:19; 20:11). Continue reading “When there is no peace”
Peace is not produced by passivity. Harmony is not a settled state. Man tends toward discord. A close reading of Genesis 3 will reveal that sin caused disharmony between man and his Creator, disharmony between man and creation, and disharmony between man and man. We live in a world where sin is the settled state. Where sin is, there is disunity, discord, and disharmony. Peace must be something we work toward, something we pursue.
The blood of Christ has the power to heal the divide between God and man (Colossians 1:20). But man must be willing to pursue that peace (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Denying self and following after Christ are basic prerequisites to reconciliation with God. Peace with God through salvation does not simply come to us, we must come to God in faith. Once we have been unified with God, we must continue to live by faith to maintain that fellowship with the Divine (1 John 1:3-7). Continue reading “Pursuing peace”
Are you ordinary? In some ways we are all ordinary, aren’t we? We don’t wield super-human strength, or the ability to see through walls. We are not faster than a speeding bullet, nor are we stronger than a locomotive. And we can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. We are not world-famous artisans. Nor are we wise beyond all measure. And that is all quite fine. God can still use us to do great things.
Since the beginning, God has used the ordinary to accomplish extraordinary things. He created all things by a word (Genesis 1:1-3). With God, a word is powerful enough to bring entire galaxies into existence out of nothing. The Bible’s description of the creation of light is very simple, “And God said.” Does that not thrill you to know that our God only has to say the word to change the universe?
Continue reading “Are you ordinary?”
In 1960 the legend of Arthur of Camelot found its way to Broadway in Lerner and Loewe’s stage production, Camelot. The second act contains a curious song entitled, “What Do Simple Folk Do?”. Burdened by sin and wearied by life, Arthur and Guenevere wonder what commoners do to alleviate such pressure. Three times Queen Guenevere asks Arthur, “What do the simple folk do” to “escape when they’re blue” or “to pluck up the heart and get through.” “They must have a system or two,” she contends. Arthur answers with simple remedies, they “whistle,” they “sing,” and they “dance.”/1
To Arthur and Guenevere, the simple folk could have easily been another species. These are people “not noblessly obliged.” They must have some “ancient native custom” for they know something the “throne folk don’t know.” Continue reading “What do Christian folk do?”
Have you ever had your worldview rocked? Have you ever been confronted with truth so clear and obvious that you either had to lie to yourself or change your thinking? Those who heard Jesus were presented with that very choice, lie or change.
In the monumental discourse which covers Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus challenges the worldview of each person.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:3-5).
From beginning to end, Jesus challenges their worldview and corrects their misinterpretations of God’s law. He places side by side godliness and worldliness, with both implicit and explicit calls to choose.
Continue reading “Seeking first his reign and righteousness”
As we descended farther into the cave, the natural light grew dimmer until the only light that reached our eyes was artificial. It was then that the tour guide gathered us and had all light extinguished. As our eyes scoured our surroundings for light, a small match was produced. When the match head ignited, the whole room seemed filled with light. So it is that in the midst of great darkness, the smallest hint of light shines like the brightness of the sun.
Following the first sin in the garden, mankind’s relationship with God changed swiftly and drastically. The first murder was committed by Cain against his own brother (Genesis 4). It was not long before “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). Imagine a world where every thought is bent toward wickedness, and every deed is depraved.
This is the generation among whom Noah lived. A generation whose obscene conduct caused God to be grieved (Genesis 6:6). A generation whose darkness caused God to want to start all over. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), for Noah was a “righteous man” (Genesis 6:9).
Continue reading “A Light in the darkness”
We commonly consider conquerors to be those who wield swords, plot military strategy, and display powerful and aggressive personalities. Conquerors like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan used daring, might, and intelligence to forge large and imposing kingdoms.
But Christians, who are called to be meek, loving, and submissive to authority, are said by God to be conquerors. Consider this statement: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Not only are we conquerors, but we are “more than conquerors.” What is it that we conquer and how can we be conquerors?
Jesus promised his disciples that in the world they would have tribulation, but he had overcome the world (John 16:33). The promise of tribulation, persecution, and general hardship for followers of the Way was certain. But just as certain was the assurance of overcoming.
Continue reading “Conquering and reigning”
Has worship become stale? Do Sundays sometimes leave you wanting? The solution is not to jazz up the worship assembly but to reassess your attitude toward God. Perhaps you just want to get more out of worship. An adjustment in action may be warranted.
Worship is primarily about God. But in His wisdom, God made worship beneficial to us as well. We should all want to make worship mean more. But how?
Worship begins far from the meeting place. Every day helps to shape the next. Every decision informs the subsequent choice. Weekly worship of God is modeled after our daily devotion to him.
Continue reading “Bring a big bucket”
When burdens bear down, burden-bearers are needed. When opportunities arise, volunteers are requested. Yet many times when work calls, silence is the only answer.
When the LORD calls, the faithful answer.
When God called the great patriarch, he answered, “Here I am” (Genesis 22:1 ESV). In faith, Abraham obeyed the command of God, trusting in God to provide all that was needful, even the resurrection of his unique son (Hebrews 11:9). We are called to trust in God to provide all that is needful (Matthew 6:33). Continue reading “Here I am”