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”
November is a big month for writers and authors. It’s the National (American) Novel-Writing Month, a yearly challenge for people anywhere to write a novel in a month’s time, with a challenge of so many words a day. Other people have been inspired by it to create challenges to write daily during November for nonfiction and academic writings.
I like April when the National, and now Global, Poetry Writing Month rolls around, but November is the big month for writing challenges.
Humans like challenges and deadlines. Many if not most people live by competing against others, against the clock, against the current. This probably qualifies as eustress, Hans Selye’s term for beneficial stress: Continue reading “You are reaching the goal. Right now.”
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18, ESV; compare Proverbs 11:31).
Traveling the mountain roads in Nepal has given me a new appreciation for the term “scraping by.” Frequently when two vehicles meet one must back up to a wider spot in order to allow the other to pass. Even in places where two can pass it is often by the narrowest of margins. I have frequently looked out my window and been unable to see any road beside our vehicle – and many times I found myself looking over a drop-off of hundreds or thousands of feet. Traffic can pass, but it is by no means easy. Continue reading “Difficult but not impossible”
It’s fascinating to watch a building go up on a construction site. Builders, architects, engineers, owners, suppliers, and workers participate in a highly coordinated process to make it happen. Sometimes, however, the process is interrupted, and the construction is slowed or stopped. The finished product is always a sight to behold.
Christ is that first and living stone in the spiritual temple of God. He is God’s firstborn, for he brings other living stones to build up this temple. Our work is to bring still more of these living stones into this temple. This is our priestly work. Continue reading “Holy, spiritual and acceptable sacrifices”
Some people make it almost a life’s goal to avoid or remove any type of discomfort in their lives. They live by a dangerous misconception that happiness depends upon the absence of suffering and pain. Jesus’ gave us the supreme example of humility and also the supreme example of suffering. Following him is the key to joy and meaning.
Originally, man was created to enjoy life with God without suffering or pain. (Perhaps the deep-seated aversion to them and attempts to avoid them rise from this truth.) The Garden of Eden was the perfect place for man’s fellowship (relationship) with God. He had all he wanted or needed. Nothing lacked. Everything abounded in supply and variety. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had no worries, no cares, no difficulties. This was God’s eternal design. Continue reading “Jesus the supreme example of suffering”
We are all broken. We all need a fresh start. Through Christ, God delivers.
The letter of 1 Peter, which some have termed a handbook for new Christians, reminds God’s people how God has enabled us to have a new life and what we can expect from this new beginning. Continue reading “The God of new beginnings: the hope of the new birth”
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV).
The Israelites were to be a “holy” people. They were God’s “treasured possession” out of all the people who lived on the earth. God had chosen them. God “set his love” on them.
But what does it mean to be holy? Continue reading “We are special”
Some people are surprised that the Old Testament is so much larger in size than the New. In my Portuguese Bible it takes up 764 pages out of a total of 994. That’s 76% of the whole Bible. Several explanations as to why may be adequate, but here is one thought, how the Lord was building up to, and preparing for, the time when Christ would come and fulfill his eternal plan.
In both Testaments, God created a people for himself. In the Old Testament, it was Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of Jacob’s sons became a tribe in Israel. In the New Testament, God’s people is the church, and they are variously described as the body of Christ, the family of faith, the temple of the Holy Spirit. No more is there a physical connection to define God’s holy ones. We are born into God’s family because we respond to his message and obey his commandments, John 3.3, 5. Continue reading “Christians are the spiritual Israel of God”
Rude statements. Inconsiderate demands. Aggressive behavior. It can get worse. Deliberate mistreatment.
Sometimes we are the recipient of them all. Justice would seem to justify a tit-for-tat retaliation. Yet, Jesus and his apostles denounced this natural instinct. They had a very good reason. The concise and crystal clear idea they described encapsulates a perspective, a worldview, capable of transforming our lifestyle and society. Continue reading “Because of whose you are”
Make it simple. Keep it practical. Peter delivers.
The letter of 1 Peter offers us a short handbook on how to live the Christian life within a hostile society. It may have other purposes as well, but it certainly provides us with a practical guide for traveling to heaven. Five practical commands show the way.
Continue reading “Handbook for the Christian journey”