“This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2, ESV).
What was intended as an insult was really a compliment: “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).
Notice the words in the text. The word receive means to wait actively or expectantly. It is reminiscent of the way a mother longs to finally see her newborn child. Jesus welcomed those who were not otherwise welcome. Continue reading “This man receives sinners”
The apostle Paul challenges how we often think and talk about our relationship with God. His parenthetical remark reverses our perspective.
“… now that you have come to know God
(or rather to be known by God) …” Galatians 4:9 Continue reading “God’s people then and now: God’s perspective”
The wicked queen in Snow White had a mirror that talked to her, telling her she was the most beautiful woman in the land. That must have been very nice. Most of us would as soon our mirrors not talk to us!
But the mirror had one quality common with all other mirrors.
It told the truth. Continue reading “Reality check”
It probably sounds too good to be true. Nevertheless, Jesus revealed through his teachings and his actions that he wants to help us obtain indestructible lives. Continue reading “Indestructible lives within our grasp”
The one talent man did not commit adultery, embezzle or murder. All he did was to bury his talent (Matthew 24:25).
It was the easy thing to do.
God’s call is not to rest, retire or retreat; it is to resist and to grow, to fight on, to overcome obstacles. Significantly the Christian life is compared to a long distance race (Hebrews 12:1-3), and spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-12). I don’t know of a Christian retirement plan. Oh, of course there’s our hope of heaven, but when do we retire from serving God in this life? I am fascinated by those who say, “The time of my teaching or serving is over.” Just about the time a saint has learned the hard lessons of life he decides to hang up his spiritual spurs? Continue reading “Spiritual inertia”
Gargoyles and other statuary can add a whimsical touch to the garden if you know how to place your garden art. I’m just learning how to use art in the flower beds, and I’m really drawn to “ugly” art such as gargoyles and trolls.
Historically, gargoyles were meant to ward off evil spirits. Their imposing, frightening visages graced many prominent buildings, including notable Catholic churches such as Notre Dame. The use of these strange, scary images for this mystical purpose was not without its critics, however. Continue reading “Gargoyles and gaffes”
Dozens of portraits depict Jesus with a crown of thorns crucified on a cross. In all of them, there is the look of pain and sorrow accompanied by such a long and painful death.
What we don’t see in any of these portraits is Jesus’ joy.
Yes, that’s right. Joy.
Humans always equate sorrow with pain and death. Have you ever thought death could bring joy? Continue reading “Joy at the cross”
“Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.’ So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:15-18 NKJV).
A preacher in one of the countries where we work targeted a community of lower income residents. Knowing they would be uncomfortable with someone they perceived as of higher social class, he purchased a lot and built a simple house among them. He realized that he and his family would be accepting a lower living standard than that to which they were accustomed, but they agreed that this would be a small price to pay for the opportunity to teach and convert those who were lost. Continue reading “Paying the price”
“Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah. The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth” (1 Chronicles 1:1–4 NIV).
Names. Genealogies. People who lived long ago.
These usually don’t mean much to us. In fact, we probably think these are the most boring parts of scripture and perhaps we even skip over them when we read them. The Reader’s Digest Condensed Bible left them out as being irrelevant. Continue reading “Names from the past”
“Disciple” signifies a follower, pupil or adherent to a teacher. In the Gospels it described those who followed John the Baptist as well as Jesus. Biblical authors also seem to have used this term to designate casual followers as well as those more fully committed (John 6:66; 8:31). The discipleship Jesus desires from us requires dying to ourselves (Mark 8:34-35). It also demands we abandon a sinful lifestyle, so that we might live for God (Romans 6:2,6,18,22).
While selfless living is commendable, it’s empty of eternal value and remains just a human-based spiritual activity, unless we are crucified with Christ. Paul knew that the life Jesus makes possible is not achieved by self-exertion. Continue reading “Dying to self & to sin: The moment of a disciple’s birth”