The Days the earth shook

Earthquakes are natural occurrences all over the globe. Every continent shakes to one extent or another. These are normal natural events. Amos dates his prophetic ministry to “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1), an apparently large and naturally occurring quake.

However, scripture records for us a number earthquakes that are miraculous and have theological significance. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Exodus 9:7), and he uses it for his glory and our instruction. Continue reading “The Days the earth shook”

In praise of the builder

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him who appointed him, as Moses also was faithful in all his house. For this one has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house” (Hebrews 3:1-3, NKJV).

In a city near my home there is a house, designed almost 100 years ago by an architect of national prominence. Though it contains many impressive features, almost no one speaks much of them. Rather, the house is known almost exclusively because of its designer. Continue reading “In praise of the builder”

The church at the center of God’s salvation

Last week, I wrote, “The church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.” What do I mean by that? What is the relationship of the church to salvation?

The saved are added to the church

Nobody joins the church of God. You can join a denomination, but you can’t join the body of Christ (which says a lot about what a denomination is and is not). This is the work of God, just as it is his work to cleanse from sin when we are immersed in water. That first moment of the gospel makes clear what the process is: Continue reading “The church at the center of God’s salvation”

Three reasons to watch and warn

The church is precious. Oh, I’m not talking about human divisions and denominations, but the one, true church of God established by Jesus Christ. Even the denominationalists diminish the importance of their divisions, separating them (and properly so) from the process of salvation, and then schizophrenically talk them up and exalt them. But the church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.

What the apostle Paul had to say to the Ephesian elders applies generally to all Christians, as far as watching against false teachers, because of the price paid for the church: Continue reading “Three reasons to watch and warn”

The household of God

Communication is wonderful as well as a bit tricky. Our understanding of what others communicate is partially shaped by our experiences and prior knowledge.

So, when Paul described the church as being the household of God what do we understand? Perhaps what comes to our minds revolves around our relationship with other Christians as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are all in this together.

Does anything else come to mind? Would someone in the first century comprehend additional nuances? Probably yes. Continue reading “The household of God”

The consequences of indecision

There is a new colony of bees in the Berglund backyard. We have dubbed it the “Republic,” referencing Ben Franklin’s warning, “If you can keep it.” 

Yes, we are keeping bees, or at least making the attempt. The honey has been minimal so far, but one our goals has been to help save the declining honeybee population. 

So when the call came in on the morning of the Fourth of July that there was a swarm of bees a few miles north of us, we moved quickly to rescue them.  Continue reading “The consequences of indecision”

How do I choose a church?

By Johnny O. Trail — One radio station in Nashville does nothing but talk radio.  As an avid listener to talk radio, I am always interested in the questions and comments of those who call in to the radio station.  On one show in particular, the host deals with e-mails that are sent in by listeners.  Last week, one e-mail in particular caught my attention.  The lady who sent the e-mail asked the host, “How do I choose a church?”

The host then gave her some suggestions for finding a church to suit her needs.  He proceeded to tell her to look at churches as communities and that she simply needed to find one that had people who most met her needs for friendship. Continue reading “How do I choose a church?”

Critical times

“So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12:5 NASB).

Nothing focuses our attention more surely than emergencies. Whether they are global, national, local or merely personal, when we are confronted with great need or danger, we tend to give our complete efforts and energies towards meeting and overcoming whatever the challenge is that we face. Counselors term this approach “Crisis resolution.”

Crisis itself may be a little tricky to define and identify. Several years ago I was given this definition of the term. A speaker said, “You are diagnosed with serious illness; that is not a crisis. You go into depression because of the diagnosis – now that is a true crisis.” In other words, crisis says more about one’s reaction to a situation than it does about the situation. Continue reading “Critical times”