Entwined in the vine

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NASB).

It is not often that I write about a plant simply because the name is intriguing, but this will be one of those rare times.

A world class daylily hybridizer, Karol Emmerich of Springwood Gardens, has taken the opportunity to name her new introductions with phrases inspired by the Bible; and I was blessed to have seen and purchased one of these this year.  Continue reading “Entwined in the vine”

When hating yourself is in your best interest

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26, NIV).

 

“Literally, self-hatred refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group to which one belongs.” —wikipedia.org

How to hate one’s own life? Some have learned to hate themselves because they have been ridiculed, derided, or devalued by people around them. They find many reasons to hate themselves and consider themselves worthless, but Jesus isn’t talking about one’s self-worth. Continue reading “When hating yourself is in your best interest”

Do you love me?

Have you ever made a promise to someone and didn’t keep it? Remember how you felt the next time you saw that person?

Peter and his friends had been fishing all night and caught nothing (John 21:3). The next day, Jesus was standing on the beach. The disciples didn’t know who he was but they heard a voice saying, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch,” (John 21:6). When the net came up with so many large fish and it only came to the surface with much effort, John said, “It is the Lord.” Continue reading “Do you love me?”

What we need

A person cannot grow in faith and works while distancing himself from the family of God. Christians need each other, 1 Corinthians 12. We belong to one another, Romans 12.5.

Neither can one be saved while neglecting the word of salvation, Ephesians 1.13; James 1.21. God’s power is in the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, Romans 1.16; 1 Thessalonians 1.5. Without the word there is no hope, Psalm 119.74, 81, 114, 147; Romans 15.4.

Whoever has no time for prayer has no time for God. To receive, we must ask, Matthew 7.7-12. “You do not have because you do not ask” James 4.2. Continue reading “What we need”

Love is not free

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15).

One of the silliest lines in an old movie (“Love Story”) is the one where a character declares, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Two thoughts come to mind here; the first is that, assuming we’re human, we will make mistakes, and thus need to say, “I’m sorry.” The second is, woe betide the relationship where one partner actually thinks he never errs and so never has to say, “I’m sorry.” Continue reading “Love is not free”

Of weddings and baptism

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal (the NIV says ‘pledge’) to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21 ESV).

I often say to a couple who wants to get married that I am far more concerned with their marriage than I am with their wedding. It’s funny how people put so much emphasis on one day, and so little on what follows. They need to be prepared for life together, too! Continue reading “Of weddings and baptism”

Where have all the young people gone?

Church leaders and parents fret that they are losing their young people. The numbers are alarming. Why are they leaving? Who do we blame? Parents? Elders? The Youth Minister? The congregation’s worship style?

I’ve noticed that some are not beyond a little blackmail: “If you don’t remake church in our image, we’re out of here.” There are some things our young people should legitimately expect. They should expect us to be genuine, to demonstrate a changing in our lives because of Christ, to care for the poor, to act as if worship is not a drudgery to endure.

Ken Ham, in his book Already Gone has another suggestion. Continue reading “Where have all the young people gone?”

Counting the Cost

Now after John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!” As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:14-20 NET)

Have you ever wondered why men would give up everything to follow someone or to do something else with their lives? Have you ever wondered why Peter, Andrew, James and John just left their fishing business to follow after Jesus, a man they didn’t even know? Continue reading “Counting the Cost”