Burning in our hearts

The boisterous crowd fell silent. They had gathered in the summer of 1536 to witness an execution, a man burned at the stake. He was just a little over forty years old, an Oxford scholar, and a felon facing the death penalty.

So what had he done?

All eyes were on the victim. Flames snapped and crackled as the wood at his feet began to be consumed. Soon the man, too, would perish in its flames.

So what was his crime? Continue reading “Burning in our hearts”

He came for a reason

Why did Jesus come into the world? There are ten statements Jesus makes explaining why he was here. Five of them are in the gospel written by the apostle John.

Jesus said he had come in his father’s name (John 5:43). This means he came by his father’s authority. If a policeman knocks on someone’s door and shouts, “Open in the name of the law,” he means the door must open by the authority of the law.  Jesus talked a great deal about authority because it was important for people to know who was behind his teaching. Continue reading “He came for a reason”

It’s all about Jesus

There was much that those with Jesus did not understand – at least at the time. One of those was an amazing incident that took place on top of a mountain.

“Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!’ Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus” (Mark 9:2-8 CEB). Continue reading “It’s all about Jesus”

The sacrifice that costs nothing

And what, you might ask, is a sacrifice that costs nothing? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Don’t all sacrifices cost something?

David used a phrase something like the one in the title of this article. He wanted to offer a sacrifice just outside Jerusalem on the land of an Israelite named Araunah. To his credit, Araunah offered the king all the resources needed for a sacrifice. Here they are, he declared, the wood, the oxen, the fire. That’s when David used the phrase, “a sacrifice that cost me nothing.” Continue reading “The sacrifice that costs nothing”

Daily dose of sanity

Thank the good Lord for the beauty and love all around us, which comforts us in troubling times!

These past few weeks have been more than troubling. A man opens fire at a church, and another mows down scores of innocent concertgoers. The world grieves deeply, and our Holy Father grieves even more.

Then the name-calling and accusations start flying over whose fault it is, and who didn’t prevent the tragedies, and over what each other is supposedly thinking and feeling.

In society’s rush to make sense of the senseless, fingers are pointed. Those fingers are then wagged derisively at some who don’t agree with those who vehemently shout their “I told you so” rhetoric. Retaliatory insults are then lobbed in the opposite direction. Continue reading “Daily dose of sanity”

Be safe

“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:12-13 NKJV).

When I first began traveling in South Asia I was continuously shocked at the lack of guard rails and other protective structures in places of danger. One can go onto the roof of a 10 story hotel (or much higher) and there is no wall, rail, or barrier at the edge. Similarly, roads and paths have little or no barricades at dangerous curves and drop-offs. When I commented on how “unsafe” this is, my companion smiled and said, “You Americans are spoiled; we watch where we are walking and driving. Continue reading “Be safe”

Our influence

Do we realize the influence we have on those around us? Although we may think that no one pays attention to us, we influence more than we realize. Notice this parable of Jesus.

“The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29 CSV).

This is how it works in God’s kingdom. Seed is scattered. As the Parable of the Sower is in the same context (Mark 4:1-20), and it identified the seed as the word, the seed that is scattered would make sense to still be God’s word. We scatter seed by teaching people about Jesus. Continue reading “Our influence”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 7)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 7)

Three passages are critical to our understanding of the miracles about which our New Testament speaks. One of them is the passage above, with which this series of articles began, and around which it is based. The other two will be discussed below.

This being the final of a 7-part series, we will give a brief summary of the previous articles. We have thus far argued that: Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 7)”

Choose this day

One of the most tragic teachings in Christianity is that God sovereignly chooses who will be saved and who will be lost. It matters little how we live, this teaching declares, for in the end God will save only those whom he chooses. If the doctrine of Calvinism seems skewed and unjust, that’s because it is. There are a multitude of ways to counter it, but one of the best ways is to remind ourselves that God has made us free moral agents, people with the power to choose. We can choose to serve God, or choose not to; God has given us that ability.

Toward the end of his distinguished career, Moses called on his people to choose: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Continue reading “Choose this day”