“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name…So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:12-19 NIV)
Perhaps we feel that 2020 has been a year in which we have suffered. The world has had to deal with a global pandemic. It has affected all of us in some way. But this really isn’t what Peter was writing about. We haven’t suffered because we are Christians, although some have tried to characterise some of what we have had to go through in this way. The restrictions we have had to live with have not been because we follow Jesus but simply because we are people. Continue reading “Rejoicing in suffering”
“It’s complicated” pervades social media, television shows and perhaps our personal interactions. When this phrase infiltrates communication, often someone desires to avoid clarity. Some seem to use this expression to justify, dismiss or evade topics.
We can be left with the impression that if they were to spend the necessary time to wade through all of the complexity, we would end up agreeing with their decision or situation. And so, they spare us all of the sophisticated details by saying, “it’s complicated.”
Is it complicated? Or might it often be something else? Continue reading “It’s complicated or is it?”
Jesus never intended that his mission to the world be one of solitude. If he had been independent and worked by himself, what would have happened when he was executed? The intention was to always have others working with him. To that end we find him gathering a group of men to train after returning to Galilee from the time spent in the Judean wilderness after being tempted for forty days by the devil following his baptism. Continue reading ““Follow me””
All that is good comes from God. To each one he gives what is more than sufficient. In Christ, there are no shortages. God shares his fullness with all, and there is more than enough to go around.
Paul sums up in Romans 15.5 what God gives as endurance and comfort. He helps us go the distance and cheers us on to keep up our spirits. (Sounds like Philippians 2.13.) Continue reading “With one voice: Unity under the fullness of God”
“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, ESV).
When I had a more fitting location than my present one, I used to grow a decent-size garden. We tried to grow pretty much everything: tomatoes, beans, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, weeds.
We grew a lot of weeds.
These days, I only have space for a few tomato plants. Not nearly as rewarding, but much less work. Continue reading “Don’t Look Back”
It probably sounds too good to be true. Nevertheless, Jesus revealed through his teachings and his actions that he wants to help us obtain indestructible lives. Continue reading “Indestructible lives within our grasp”
“Disciple” signifies a follower, pupil or adherent to a teacher. In the Gospels it described those who followed John the Baptist as well as Jesus. Biblical authors also seem to have used this term to designate casual followers as well as those more fully committed (John 6:66; 8:31). The discipleship Jesus desires from us requires dying to ourselves (Mark 8:34-35). It also demands we abandon a sinful lifestyle, so that we might live for God (Romans 6:2,6,18,22).
While selfless living is commendable, it’s empty of eternal value and remains just a human-based spiritual activity, unless we are crucified with Christ. Paul knew that the life Jesus makes possible is not achieved by self-exertion. Continue reading “Dying to self & to sin: The moment of a disciple’s birth”
In the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus identified earth and heaven as being two places where people might choose to store their treasures, he contrasted two different lifestyles (Matthew 6:19-20). We either look to the things of earth for our security and significance or we look to heaven. If self is in charge, we will seek some source of earthly security. Continue reading “The disciple’s heart: its treasure, its focus, its master”
Discipleship involves more than claiming to be a Christian or attending worship services. It is a lifestyle from the heart. So, what did Jesus teach about living as a disciple? Continue reading “Discipleship: the way of the cross”
Following the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6:1-14, Jesus was at the zenith of his popularity. Great crowds followed him across the lake. Jesus, however, discerned a less than stellar reason for their ardor: “Truly, truly I say to … Continue reading Doing the right thing for the wrong reason