Shattered dreams … yet joy lives?

As young people we might have envisioned how our lives would unfold. We looked forward to achieving a college education followed by a successful career. Or maybe as adults we anticipated how the potential we saw within our children or grandchildren would blossom in marvelous ways as they reached adulthood. Still yet, there might have been the expectation for just a normal healthy life filled with a long marriage and children.

Then the unexpected occurred. The dream was ripped from our hands. Neither the specific details how this happened nor the details of our dreams matter. What is significant is that a hammer shattered our aspirations and hope for what would be. Perhaps disbelief turned into bitterness. Can joy ever thrive again? Continue reading “Shattered dreams … yet joy lives?”

For love’s sake

Love is the most powerful force known to man. Nothing is stronger. It should not surprise us then, that love is the key motivating factor in scripture.

The apostle Paul wrote to a friend and brother from whom he had received much joy and comfort (Philemon 1:7). This letter was written concerning a new brother in Christ, a slave named Onesimus, who had left the household of Philemon. Paul wanted Philemon to forgive Onesimus, and to receive him not as a bondservant but as a beloved brother (Philemon 1:15, 16). As an apostle, Paul had the power to command (Philemon 1:8). Yet, that is not the way Paul approached this situation.

Continue reading “For love’s sake”

Sign: Word Harder

Learning to do more

There is a quote from Jesus in his “Sermon on the Mount” that challenges me. It is within Matthew 5:46 and is, “what do you do more than others?”

Let’s get an idea of the context of this statement. In Matthew 5:20, Jesus warned his disciples and by implication all of us, that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. We must do more.

Jesus called us to abandon anger (Matthew 5:21f). He called us to abandon lust (Matthew 5:27ff). The Lord warned us to watch our tongue (Matthew 5:33ff). Then we are challenged to love the unlovable (Matthew 5:43-48). Continue reading “Learning to do more”

Difficult decisions

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” Hebrews 13:2 NKJV).

We are all aware of the importance of hospitality in the Christian life. There are many commands to practice love towards Christian brothers and sisters (Hebrews 13:1), neighbors (Luke 10:27), and even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Practicing love is not something to do only when it is easy or comes in “feel good” situations. John defines love as extending charitable help in times of need, whether or not it is easy or convenient to the giver (1 John 3:17-18). Continue reading “Difficult decisions”

God works good out of bad

It can be difficult for Christians living in the 21st century to realise the intensity of the hatred of Jews against Christians in the 1st century. As we read through the book of Acts we find that the Jews were the ones who persecuted Christians. When Paul was preaching it was the Jews who stirred up opposition against him, to the point of pursuing Paul from town to town.

Perhaps it is ironic that one of the first persecutors was Paul himself, known as Saul of Tarsus. The persecutor became a proclaimer of what he had persecuted, and was then persecuted himself! The Jews wanted Paul dead. They had stoned him once and made plans to eliminate him several times. Perhaps they hated Paul intensely because, in their minds, he had switched sides and because they could not answer his arguments about Jesus from their own scriptures. Continue reading “God works good out of bad”

Evolution’s random mutations and natural selection

If you have paid attention to the headlines during the last twenty years, you are probably aware of stem cells. A popular understanding of stem cells, at least, what I have understood, is that these early embryonic cells hold the potential to transform into every different type of cell an organism will possess.

However, as these cells divide and the embryo grows, stem cells begin to become specified as a particular type of cell. As this transformation occurs they lose the ability to become alternative cell types. Eventually, they fill a particular niche wonderfully, but have lost the ability to become a radically different type of cell.

Stem cells can serve as a metaphor illustrating a powerful idea regarding Darwin’s proposed mechanisms for evolution. Research reveals that random mutations and natural selection do transform species, however, at a surprising cost. Continue reading “Evolution’s random mutations and natural selection”

Jesus came within God’s timeline

A young man seemed surprised to learn recently that Jesus came to earth to die. He asked if God worked from a timeline, if he accomplished everything within a timeframe that he had set. Yes, God had an eternal purpose and plan and he fulfilled it “when the appropriate time had come” Galatians 4.4.

That plan was set before the creation of the world. (See Ephesians 1.4; 1 Peter 1.20.) So in the Old Testament we can see the Lord making promises and predictions of what — and who — would come. There are so many predictions that prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ is one of the great evidences for the inspiration of the Bible. Continue reading “Jesus came within God’s timeline”

Our duty to get up and take action

The columnists of Forthright have been invited to devote themselves during the month of June to the topic of duty. They are free to write about any topic. But we’ll highlight on the front page articles tagged with the word “duty.” A few articles of the past tagged this way are already at the top of the front page. Check them out.

The Old Testament speaks frequently of duties of the priest, Levites, and the king. The NLT has Shecaniah saying to Ezra the scribe, who was laid low by the sins of the people: Continue reading “Our duty to get up and take action”

The importance of God’s word

As Paul was completing his third trip of proclaiming Jesus he was “hurrying to arrive in Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16 NET). But he also wanted to see the elders of the congregation in Ephesus, with whom he had spent several years. Because the ship was docking in Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders to come to him. What follows is a very sad scene in Paul’s life.

Paul had a message to give them. This message was to encourage them to go on without his being around as well as a warning to them about being faithful to God. Continue reading “The importance of God’s word”

Purity is about you

By Johnny O. Trail — As the temperature rises the hem lines go up and the neck lines tend to plunge.  While this is sometimes seen as a problem that is reflective in women’s fashion, it can also be a problem among men.  In addition to the cut of the hems and the depth of the neck lines, the messages written on shirts and pants can be immoral in nature.

One of my earliest memories involved a trip to Nashville to visit an uncle who was dying of cancer in the Veteran’s Hospital.  Since we were from Manchester, it was really easy for us to become lost as we navigated the large and confusing town of Nashville.  Somehow or another, we ended up on lower Broad Street.  In that day, prostitution was a problem in that area.  There, on a street corner, were two women who were dressed rather strangely.  From the back seat of our Chevrolet Impala I asked my parents, “Why are those women dressed that way?” Continue reading “Purity is about you”