This man receives sinners

“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”

Spiritual inertia

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 gaffes

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”

Paying the price

“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”

Names from the past

“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”

Dying to self & to sin: The moment of a disciple’s birth

“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”