Not so simple

The humble zinnia is still brightening up the garden as it weathers the late season temperature changes. It is only an annual, a flower that completely dies at the end of the growing season and won’t re-grow again from the roots.

Still, there is no need to plant them every year, in spite of their transient nature. The birds, while collecting the prized seeds after the blooms are spent, inadvertently scatter some seeds in their feeding frenzy.

The blooms themselves, in spite of the often vivid coloring, would appear to be the very essence of simplicity due to their plain form. At first glance, they appear to have the classic “petals around a yellow middle” type of shape that we all drew in kindergarten. Continue reading “Not so simple”

Consistency

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

The first few years I traveled to South Asia I was able to obtain a visa on arrival at each of the countries I visited. I usually preferred to obtain my visa in advance while still in the U.S., but it was good to know there was an alternative in case of emergency.

One year another American was traveling with me, and due to time constraints he chose to wait to get his visa when we arrived. However, when we got to Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, where we were to begin international travel, we were told that the host country had changed its policy abruptly and we would have to wait over the weekend, go to San Francisco, get a visa, then come back to LA to travel. That was a major upheaval to our plans and completely unacceptable. Thankfully, we were able to find another way that was not so time intensive and our trip was not severely affected. Continue reading “Consistency”

Unity in the Lord’s Supper

Sometimes we get the idea that God’s people should never have problems, that they should always get along, and that there will always be harmony. Anyone who thinks this cannot have read Paul’s letters to God’s people at Corinth. It is hard to imagine a group of Christians who could have so many problems including not getting along!

But they were still God’s people! In the opening verses, Paul referred to them as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2 NET). Just because they had problems did not negate who they were in Christ. Continue reading “Unity in the Lord’s Supper”

Zero hour

The Germans refer to it as Stunde Null, or “Zero Hour.” It was the moment when Germany had lost World War II, her cities bombed to rubble, the NAZI apparatus destroyed. It was as if the prone body of a nation died, flat lined for a moment. Then, after a terrifying moment when everyone watched, breath bated, a pulse began again.

It’s interesting to note the change in Germany in 1945: Continue reading “Zero hour”

Always faithful

The motto of the U.S. Marines is “Semper Fidelis.” It means “Always Faithful.”

Our son, in the Marine Corps for six years, knew what this meant. He told us a Marine is always a Marine, and a Marine is always ready to serve.

Jesus knew the kind of servants he needed. The Lord wanted servants who were ready to do his work. He told his disciples, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning: and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, that when he will return from the wedding and knocks they may open to him immediately” (Luke 12:35-36a NKJV). Continue reading “Always faithful”

Deserving

“Then the king sent and called for Shemei, and said to him, ‘Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there anywhere. For it shall be, on the day you go out and cross the Brook Kidron, know for certain you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head.’ And Shemei said to the king, ‘The saying is good. As my lord the king has said, so your servant will do’ ” (1 Kings 2:36-38 NKJV).

There are few ideas which are more frequently abused in modern society than that of entitlement. Commercials bombard us with luxury and leisure, persuading us that we all deserve such. Leaders of third world countries speak before global venues, demanding that those in better circumstances provide the help that is owed by them to the poor of the world. Millions of the poor everywhere expect governments to provide for every need (and for many things they simply desire). “We deserve it” has become the universal creed, without regard for any responsibility on the part of the one making the demand. Continue reading “Deserving”

The encouragement of the scriptures

“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope” (Romans 15:4 NET).

As we live as Christians we sometimes become discouraged. When we are “down” it can seem difficult to continue going on. But there is something we can “take” for that! Often when we are physically sick we are told to take a pill, to take medication which will help to pick us up again. The solution for when we are spiritually discouraged is God’s word. Continue reading “The encouragement of the scriptures”

Indestructible lives

It probably sounds too good to be true. Yet, through his actions and teachings, Jesus revealed he wants to help us build indestructible lives. What Jesus is offering should not be confused with that message of prosperity some pander in his name.

What Jesus promises leaves no room for such self-centered motives. Yet, he hopes all of us will embrace his offer to live lives capable of weathering not only the trials on earth but also possessing eternal life with God. Continue reading “Indestructible lives”

Taking it for granted

One of my favorite lines in hymns comes from the great Scandinavian anthem “How Great Thou Art.”

“And when I think, that God his son not sparing
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,” (Karl Boberg).

I “get” the attraction of the first two verses. Many of us live in urban areas and feel harried and harassed. We long for the times we can gaze at the stars on a clear night, or on a mountainside, the breeze blowing gently and the birds “singing sweetly in the trees.” Continue reading “Taking it for granted”

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’”