“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralysed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ ‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no-one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’” (John 5:1-3,5-7 NIV)
This incident gives us a glimpse into a day of Jesus’ life from which we can draw several lessons as his disciples today.
Notice, first if all, that Jesus was in the habit of attending the Jewish festivals. These, we know, were required of all Jewish men and this one would seem to be the Passover (I place this in AD 28). During these years he was teaching in Galilee, but these festivals took precedence over what he was normally doing. Continue reading “Are we concerned about people?”
Practical, precise and penetrating epitomize James’ letter to the early church. Among other things, this brief letter exposes how evil might even lurk in the hearts of God’s people. Yet James extended hope.
We have no difficulty envisioning the sad scenario he painted. That he needed to address it at all with those whom God had transformed into being a kind of first fruits of his creation (James 1:18) ought to alert us to be on guard. Continue reading “James on social discrimination”
“Two things you need to carry with you all your life: God is, and God loves you. No matter where you are or what you are doing, these two things will always remain true.” This was advice I gave my oldest two weeks ago in some precious one-on-one time. He repeated it back to me today without prompt, and told me he was trying to work to remember it.
I share this to remind us all that there are things that will never change. Over the history of the universe the one constant is God.
The great psalm of the law-giver speaks of God’s never changing nature: Continue reading “Never changing, forever changed”
Do we find God’s inclusive ways surprising? Perhaps God is more gracious than some of us might anticipate. Or maybe our surprise comes in learning that God’s inclusiveness does not conform to how our culture seeks to be accepting, but rather transcends it for the better. Continue reading “God’s inclusive ways”
“This garden used to have all different colors of irises, but they all turned purple.”
This complaint, or some like it, are made by people who have not kept a really close eye on their flowerbeds. It is a common belief that flowers can “turn” into a different color, but in the case of older, established flower beds, there is a better explanation. Continue reading “Be a good sport”
If the garden teaches us one thing – and one thing only – it is the principle that change is inevitable.
You might furnish the inside of your home with the highest quality furniture and decor, and keep the children off the couch in the formal living room, and then the grandchildren can come some day and recognize the room based on old photos from fifty years before. I’ve seen it happen. Continue reading “Subject to change without notice”
The incident of the woman caught in the act of adultery, found in our Bibles at the beginning of John 8, has been questioned by Bible scholars as to whether this was originally part of John’s gospel. It is not the scope of this article to evaluate the arguments for and against, but this writer does believe that this is a real incident in the life of Jesus. Continue reading “Go and sin no more”
Randomly grab part of a child’s hot air balloon mobile and you are likely to hold a collapsed tangled mess. However, if you pick up that same mobile using the center string securing the upper most support, the entire mobile falls into place displaying the proper relationship between its various components.
Each part of the mobile is important. Yet priority is built into a mobile’s proper functioning. The church can learn a lot from a child’s mobile. Continue reading “What a child’s mobile can teach the church”
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NKJV).
For the past couple of months I have been in Bangladesh. It was spring here when we arrived, and is now officially summer. As elsewhere, spring is a time of moderate weather and, generally, some wind or breeze. Those breezes typically lessen as summer arrives. Continue reading “Give the winds a mighty voice”
From the time he had set eyes on his brothers, he wanted to know whether they had changed. He wanted to forgive his brothers. But forgiveness isn’t cheap.
His brothers hadn’t recognised him although he knew them in an instant. After all – all they saw was an Egyptian who was in charge who seemed rather harsh, not the Joseph they had sold into slavery sixteen years earlier. They were his brothers, but had they changed? Continue reading “A spirit of forgiveness”