Humans like the concrete realities. A stone or metal idol is better than an invisible God. The more impressive the religious sanctuary, the better people are supposedly reminded of the greatness of God. Signs of stability and success are house, vehicle, boat, the biggest widescreen available, the best and latest cellphone. People want things they can see and touch.
This human desire enters the church of God. Even things that may not be wrong of themselves can be wrong if they appeal to sight, rather than faith, 2 Corinthians 5.7. It is a real problem and one that ought to be exposed and discussed among us. Denominations have given in to it almost whole-hog. For a long time, what they do winds up having an influence among us. (And that’s a whole ‘nother discussion worthy of having.) Continue reading “A spiritual house”
Have you ever heard of Jesus Christ? Some might call that a foolish question. It would be difficult if not impossible to have lived in the world for the last 2,000 years and not know that name.
Here’s another question: how well do you know Jesus Christ? Some people would immediately dismiss the question as absurd. Many insist they do. As to how well they know him is another question. Continue reading “Do you know Jesus?”
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching” (2 Timothy 4:14-15, NASB).
Most modern readers of the New Testament are interested in heroic characters, or in the study of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church – in short we focus on positive things which lift us up. Yet we recognize that the Biblical writers also tell of less wholesome things and people, those whom we might call “villains.” Continue reading “Villains”
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name…So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:12-19 NIV)
Perhaps we feel that 2020 has been a year in which we have suffered. The world has had to deal with a global pandemic. It has affected all of us in some way. But this really isn’t what Peter was writing about. We haven’t suffered because we are Christians, although some have tried to characterise some of what we have had to go through in this way. The restrictions we have had to live with have not been because we follow Jesus but simply because we are people. Continue reading “Rejoicing in suffering”
“It’s complicated” pervades social media, television shows and perhaps our personal interactions. When this phrase infiltrates communication, often someone desires to avoid clarity. Some seem to use this expression to justify, dismiss or evade topics.
We can be left with the impression that if they were to spend the necessary time to wade through all of the complexity, we would end up agreeing with their decision or situation. And so, they spare us all of the sophisticated details by saying, “it’s complicated.”
Is it complicated? Or might it often be something else? Continue reading “It’s complicated or is it?”
Moments of great consequence summon the best out of us. It is at this moment that some might claim, “I was born for this.”
Never had a moment been as consequential, nor the need as great, as when God’s plan to save man approached its consummation.
Never had a person entered the world with more expectation, nor greater burden than when God clothed himself in flesh.
Never had one so perfect for the task met it with such perfection. Truly Jesus was born for this. Continue reading “Born for this”
The internet is full of memes about how bad the year 2020 has been. It has indeed had its difficulties. Some have died because of a virus that people cannot even agree on the name; others have suffered horribly, including some of our own writers.
In spite of the hardship that the sufferings this year have brought to many, the Lord continues to work among his people and to fulfill his promise to work all things together for good for those who love him, Romans 8.28.
It would be an easy thing to cite a list of concrete events and happenings how the Lord has brought blessing to his people. We’ll leave the comments section open for that, if someone has a contribution he would like to make. Continue reading “Lessons worthy of a virus”
Ah, winter! The perfect time to curl up and watch some gardening shows, and dream of better gardens to come. While watching one of my favorites, I learned something new this week. Oh, I’m not good with horticultural terminology….yet. I may be vaguely familiar with the terms “Ovate,” “Palmate,” or “Lanceolate.”
In this particular episode of “Gardener’s World,” Carol explained that the “Palmate” type of leaf has lobes similar to the fingers of a hand, or “palm.” It was a light bulb moment. Of course!
Not all palmate leaves have five lobes, though. But I’ll never look at a lobed leaf without thinking of a hand. Continue reading “The shape of the hand”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 NASB).
From a human, earthly perspective, when one stands outside the window of a hospital nursery admiring the newly born babies within, the highest hope for any one of those new lives which is experienced is that he or she will have a long and happy life. All in that position are fully aware that every brand new baby comes with the reality of ultimate death. All hope and expectation are tempered with that knowledge. No matter how many years may be granted, nor what wealth, honor, fame or other accomplishments may be gained, physical life is limited in duration and will always end in death. Continue reading “Born to hope”
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)
Although this isn’t the last instruction by Jesus to his disciples – after all, they are in Galilee not Judea where he ascended – this is a very apt ending to Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life. As we read the various narratives of Jesus’ time on the earth they all centre around him teaching people with many of them becoming his disciples. Now it was time to pass this on to those who would continue this mission. Continue reading “Good news for the world”