True children

“Chickabiddy” is the name of a charming vine bearing purple flowers. Its proper name is “Asarina Scandens.” Collins English Dictionary gives the definition as “a term of endearment, especially for a child.”

All my plants are my “children” so to speak, but the Chickabiddy is especially dear because it is purple, well-behaved, and the vines are so slender that they don’t weigh down the trellis, and are so easy to clean up after they die. Continue reading “True children”

The humble king

The disciples argued just before Jesus left for Gethsemane on the evening of his betrayal, denial, and trial. The argument was an attempt to set rank. Jesus would show them what really mattered.

First, Jesus went to pray. He humbled himself before God asking the cup of suffering be taken away. Instead of the way some pray — raising a hand to God and demanding for help — Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Continue reading “The humble king”

Becoming fully pleasing to God

As we approach the beginning of another new year, thoughts often go to how we can improve our lives. What changes do we need to make in our life? How can we grow to be more like Jesus?

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, he was thinking about how they needed to grow. They were a people of faith, love and hope – and these were evident in their lives. But they still needed to grow. Notice his prayer for them. Continue reading “Becoming fully pleasing to God”

Neither hot nor cold

Revelation 3:14-16 is a rich passage for any preacher who fears his congregation is lacking in zeal or dedication to Christ. In these verses, Jesus condemns the church at Laodicea memorably as being “neither hot nor cold,” and warns that because they are “lukewarm” he will “spit” them out of his mouth. Any preacher worth his salt could nail down the points this powerful passage lays out. Continue reading “Neither hot nor cold”

May every soul say, ‘My Lord and my God’

In this world there is little peace for humankind and little hope for it in the future. Jesus offers an eternal peace, of the heart, free from the vicissitudes of life and politics. While Christians pray for governing authorities, they place no hope in them. Confidence, only in Christ. He came from God and returned to God. He knew why he came to earth and fulfilled that purpose. During his time on earth, he loved, and he loved to the end. He was sure of his place before the Father, having received from him all power to bring divine love to its proper conclusion. He exercised this power with wisdom and knowledge.

Jesus calls his people to imitate his example. While his love took turns that were specific to his role in the eternal plan, its serving nature, with no holds barred, must take firm hold in his people. God is not impressed with rituals, done repeatedly for points, in the human mind, or to satisfy some random demand of heaven, as man sees it. He does command some specific actions, and through those he does bring his life and Spirit, but God looks behind the acts to the motivations and yearnings of the heart. He wants to see those and the practice of love — genuine, sincere, honest, profound. Continue reading “May every soul say, ‘My Lord and my God’”

Characteristics of Christian ministry

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before his face into every city and place where he himself was about to go. Then he said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road’ ” (Luke 10:1-4).

The limited missions of the twelve apostles (Luke 9:1-6) and the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1-12) occurred before the death of Jesus, the establishment of the Church, and the giving of the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Those “missionaries” operated under different rules and procedures than did the Apostles and early Christians following Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:7-8). The limits placed upon the earlier groups no longer apply; therefore we often skip past the stories of their activities believing they have little or no relevance today. That is a mistake. Principles were established in them which continue to influence the way we approach mission and ministry today. Continue reading “Characteristics of Christian ministry”

A life of joy

One of the words we often hear as Christmas approaches is “joy.” We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” We wish each other “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when we greet them – even people we don’t know. Yet many people aren’t living lives of merriment, happiness, and joy.

What exactly is “joy”? The dictionary defines it as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” (Oxford Dictionary of English). The Greek word we find used in the writings of the apostles is “charas” and refers to gladness and often the people that are the cause of one being glad. Continue reading “A life of joy”

The Oracle at Delphi

In Acts 18:12 the book of Acts speaks of Paul being dragged before Gallio, whom Luke describes as “proconsul of Achaia.” Skeptics railed at this description, pointing out that there was no record of such a man governing the province at that time.

Of course, the reader should understand two things. First, we don’t know everything. There is a host of governors and leaders in ancient times about whom we have no record. As it turns out, we don’t know everything. Rather than saying “records of a proconsul named Gallio don’t exist,” it would be more honest to say, “We don’t yet have a record of Gallio outside the Bible.” Second, the purpose of doing archaeology is to try to fill in those gaps in knowledge. Otherwise, why do it? Continue reading “The Oracle at Delphi”