Why aspiring for perfection matters

In many ways, ambition can be spiritually crippling because it leads us to destroy whoever gets in our way. Yet, the spiritual principle of aspiring for that which is better is certainly admirable.

Anyone who endeavors to succeed in any field can do so by studying the best. We should always strive to move upward, never being satisfied. Continue reading “Why aspiring for perfection matters”

The love & hate idiom

Many a student has felt confused, while many a teacher might prefer explaining a different text. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

The explanation provided is often headed in the right direction. However, failure to explain the ancient idiom lying behind Jesus’ words robs the listeners of an “Ah Ha!” moment that can also unlock a number of other texts as well. Continue reading “The love & hate idiom”

The opportunities of life and time, and why we don’t pursue them

If God has still allowed me time on this earth, it is because he still has something for me to do. I do not presume to know all his thoughts, but that seems to be a safe statement to make. Others younger and more talented than I have entered eternity. There have been moments when I came close to the exit: car accident, surgery, my own foolishness, perhaps. (You may have your own moments to tell about.) But the Lord rescued me from them all (to borrow Paul’s language, if not his experience, in 2 Tim 3.11). Continue reading “The opportunities of life and time, and why we don’t pursue them”

Being a disciple

What does it mean to be a disciple?

Many people think following Jesus means simply accepting him into their hearts. A disciple, however, is a follower and a learner of Jesus, not simply one who accepts him.

Being a disciple of Christ means more than just agreeing with the evidence that Jesus is the son of God. It means doing what Jesus says. In John 8:31, the Lord said, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine” (John 8:31 NASB). The statement he makes is conditional. He says “IF you continue in my word…” We must learn to live and conduct ourselves the way Jesus commands. A true disciple is not just one who agrees with the Master and then says, “I’ll just do part of what he says.” A true disciple is one who surrenders his will to be Master and does what he says. Continue reading “Being a disciple”

Never worthy, yet worthiness expected

“If we are saved by grace, how can Paul write about Christians being worthy? This sounds like works salvation.” A sincere elderly lady raised this line of reasoning as we studied 2 Thessalonians.

Scripture affirms no one is worthy. And yet, at other places explicit statements expect Christians to be worthy. How can this be?

Continue reading “Never worthy, yet worthiness expected”

Six things Jesus shows us

“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me'” (Luke 5:27).

While in the construction industry some years back, I sometimes found myself in a pickle. I would come across something I had never seen or done before. A few times I actually went to the library and got out a book to try to understand what I needed to do (those were not pre-Google days, they were pre-internet days!). I usually struggled with the descriptions and diagrams in the book.

But when I had someone with me, actually showing me how, I was able to grasp the concept and duplicate it fairly easily. I would not be surprised if this was the very method by which Jesus learned his trade (Mark 6:3). Continue reading “Six things Jesus shows us”

Sinking boats and broken nets: 4 things you should know about faith

“Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught” (Luke 5:4)

A preacher placed a small, empty cardboard box on the floor. He said, “I believe with all my heart this box will hold my weight.” Then he raised his leg and began to stand upon the box – which immediately began to collapse. He said, “You see, it doesn’t matter what I believe, if my faith is misplaced. People place a great deal of faith in all kinds of things, but that doesn’t mean those things have any substance. The only thing that matters is the strength of the object in which I place my faith.” Continue reading “Sinking boats and broken nets: 4 things you should know about faith”

What precedes Christian unity

People have proposed many different paths toward acquiring unity among believers. If we will pay close attention to Jesus’ teachings as well as to his apostles’ instructions, we will discover an oft overlooked powerful contributor.

Before people spill a drop of ink or type a single letter revealing our strategies for uniting Christians, we would do well to listen to the Messiah. Jesus prepared people to follow him by describing an essential attitude preceding kingdom service. Continue reading “What precedes Christian unity”