By Johnny O. Trail — At the close of World War II, there was some concern that Japan would not surrender. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had already been devastated by atomic bombs, and America continued to bomb various regions of Japan as the USA prepared a third nuclear bomb. To further encourage the Japanese to surrender, Americans dropped pamphlets from airplanes.
When the Japanese emperor, Hirohito, came on broadcast radio to announce the surrender, it was the first time that many of his subjects had ever heard his voice. Many of Hirohito’s followers believed he was a “demi-god.”/1 Some who heard him surrender to the Americans were hearing the voice of their “god” for the very first time.
For a moment, one might consider what it means to truly hear the voice of God. Continue reading “The voice of God”
A supporting congregation had a teacher-appreciation dinner Aug. 18 after the Sunday evening service. We were invited to attend. It wasn’t my moment, but I thought of all the teachers of Bible school, the teachers of evangelistic studies, those who teach to encourage brethren, and all those who have been given the gift of teaching. What would I like to say to them if given the chance? Three things came immediately to mind. Continue reading “How to be an effective teacher of the Bible”
Driving one Sunday morning up US Highway 45 in Tennessee, on our way to report on our work to a congregation outside of the town of Dyersburg, we passed a denominational church building with a sign posted near the right-of-way. It was simple, with three words, one on top of the other: Scripture, Tradition, Reason.
In truth, in order to reflect that group’s positions, the order ought to be reversed: reason, tradition, scripture. The denomination could not exist were it not for human reasoning and religious tradition, because its name and its teachings do not appear in Scripture in any form.
Division among people who call themselves Christians is a serious problem. Religious leaders not only justify it, but promote it. They glory in human names and creeds. They impose their doctrines and, like the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, make their followers “twice as much a child of hell as” themselves, Matthew 23.15. Continue reading “‘A universal proverb among Christians’”
It might seem a strange thing to consider the subject of power in the letter of James, since the principal word for it (Greek, dunamis) does not appear in the document at all. But there are other signs of James’s interest.
This servant of the Lord is not interested in power in any pure, static form, but in the effective working of God in a saint’s life. Continue reading “Power in the epistle of James”
“Master Gardener” — now there’s an oxymoron, if we are being honest. While there is a level of knowledge and expertise that one gains by attending classes and working with plants and landscapes, one never really gains mastery over those plants in general. They’ll just do as they want more often than we care to admit.
In fact, the speaker at the last local Master Gardener event bemoaned the demise of a very expensive Monkey Puzzle tree at the display gardens in Jackson, Tennessee. Apparently, the more pricey the plant, the less likely it will do what you want it to do. Continue reading “Credentials”
The end of winter is the time when many gardeners turn to their books. We may have been perusing seed catalogs for the last few months, and even ordered a few new varieties of tomatoes or beans to try.
When the robins appear and the ground starts thawing, we turn our attention to the gardening books. We search for the best way to plant that new Santa Rosa Plum that came in the mail; bare rooted, bare twigged, and sad looking. Continue reading “And the books were opened”
By Johnny O. Trail — There was once a man who decided that he wanted to lose weight. To that end, he weighed himself on his bathroom scale and determined that he weighed 250 pounds. For the entire next week, he exercised and tried to cut back on what he ate. At the end of the week, he got on the scale and determined that he weighed 260 pounds. He was so angry at what the bathroom scale told him that he took the scale into the garage, got a sledge hammer and beat it to smithereens.
The next day he determined that there had to be something wrong with the scale. So he drives to Wal-Mart and purchases a brand new one. He returned home, made sure that it was properly calibrated, and stepped on to ascertain his weight. The scale revealed that he weighed 262 pounds. It was not what he expected, but he accepted that as a good starting point for his newly renewed attempt at weight loss. For the next week he exercised and watched his food intake (to some extent). Continue reading “What is truth?”
Probably not a few Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert wondered how it was they got there. Maybe even Moses was asking how he had got himself into the long trek to nowhere. None of them could have been a happy camper. The majority were circling the desert until they died off. The generation under 20 years of age had to pass the best years of their lives in a waiting game.
How did the chosen people of Israel come to a full stop? More importantly, what did the 40-year-pause mean for the plan of God? And how might the young generation remember they were God’s special people in the midst of the nations? Perhaps to that end Moses writes. Continue reading “How did we get here? Start from the beginning.”
In a world that considers everything relative except relativity, Christians need to feel sure of their faith and to find certainty in the truth of the gospel. God is a competent and willing revealer of his eternal plan.
The Bible presents us with proven facts, a coherent history, and verifiable written prophecies of the Lord. There need be no embarrassment about possessing truth. Continue reading “Jesus Christ gives certainty”
Any reader of this column will know by now that I just love the daylilies with the dark “eye zones,” or centers.
“Moonlit Masquerade,” “Raspberry Candy,” and “Carpetbagger” are some of my favorites, with their dark eye zone giving the blooms a stark contrast. They have a certain appeal, and they also remind us of a basic Bible truth about our spiritual sight. Continue reading “When the eye is bad”