Who’s driving?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV).

A major U.S. bus line advertised for many years with the slogan, “Leave the driving to us.” I have found that to be a comforting motto when on Nepal’s mountain roads. The local drivers who deal regularly with the narrow, rough, twisting, precipitous roads through the Himalayas and their foothills are far more capable of dealing with dangers than I. I do my best to “cast my anxieties” on them and just let them handle it. I’m not always completely successful (I do worry sometimes about certain stretches) but for the most part I have been much more relaxed and able to enjoy the scenery since adopting that attitude. Continue reading “Who’s driving?”

What do Christian folk do?

In 1960 the legend of Arthur of Camelot found its way to Broadway in Lerner and Loewe’s stage production, Camelot. The second act contains a curious song entitled, “What Do Simple Folk Do?”. Burdened by sin and wearied by life, Arthur and Guenevere wonder what commoners do to alleviate such pressure. Three times Queen Guenevere asks Arthur, “What do the simple folk do” to “escape when they’re blue” or “to pluck up the heart and get through.” “They must have a system or two,” she contends. Arthur answers with simple remedies, they “whistle,” they “sing,” and they “dance.”/1

To Arthur and Guenevere, the simple folk could have easily been another species. These are people “not noblessly obliged.” They must have some “ancient native custom” for they know something the “throne folk don’t know.” Continue reading “What do Christian folk do?”

Seeking first his reign and righteousness

Have you ever had your worldview rocked? Have you ever been confronted with truth so clear and obvious that you either had to lie to yourself or change your thinking? Those who heard Jesus were presented with that very choice, lie or change.

In the monumental discourse which covers Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus challenges the worldview of each person.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:3-5).

From beginning to end, Jesus challenges their worldview and corrects their misinterpretations of God’s law. He places side by side godliness and worldliness, with both implicit and explicit calls to choose.

Continue reading “Seeking first his reign and righteousness”

Get right with God

Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the obedient: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” Luke 11.28. On the other side, he warned, “The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day” John 12.48. Disobedience to the gospel brings condemnation, 2 Thessalonians 1.8. Christians are described as “those who obey the words of this book” Revelation 22.9.

So after we find the right information, after we have resolved to be right in terms of what the truth is, we can proceed to the next step: getting right with God. We get right with God only because he makes us right with himself. It’s a divine task, not a human one. At the same time, there is a path we must follow, which God himself has established, in order for that change of status to occur. (This is a short series that starts here.) Continue reading “Get right with God”

A Light in the darkness

As we descended farther into the cave, the natural light grew dimmer until the only light that reached our eyes was artificial. It was then that the tour guide gathered us and had all light extinguished. As our eyes scoured our surroundings for light, a small match was produced. When the match head ignited, the whole room seemed filled with light. So it is that in the midst of great darkness, the smallest hint of light shines like the brightness of the sun.

Following the first sin in the garden, mankind’s relationship with God changed swiftly and drastically. The first murder was committed by Cain against his own brother (Genesis 4). It was not long before “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). Imagine a world where every thought is bent toward wickedness, and every deed is depraved.

This is the generation among whom Noah lived. A generation whose obscene conduct caused God to be grieved (Genesis 6:6). A generation whose darkness caused God to want to start all over. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), for Noah was a “righteous man” (Genesis 6:9).

Continue reading “A Light in the darkness”

Big rocks go on the bottom to make a good road

The big stuff

“But also, for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, . . .” (2 Peter 1:5 NKJV).

I have watched as a crew of workers built a road (or driveway) on private property in Bangladesh. First they dug out the soil to a pre-determined depth, then filled it with pieces of concrete broken into chunks the size of one’s doubled fists and larger. After those are packed and leveled there will be a layer of brick chips several inches thick, and ultimately a cement pavement.

The order of fill is of great importance as the varied materials in the base strengthen and support the smooth surface. If the smaller chips were put in first, on the bottom, they would eventually be pressed into the dirt and the road would become uneven and broken. The larger concrete chunks will stay at the correct level. Continue reading “The big stuff”

A strange sort of optimism

And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1 NKJV).

When one thinks of all of the wars, famines, atrocities, and other crimes perpetrated by humans upon each other over the centuries of history, it is almost an impossible task to determine which particular event was the most horrible.

On two different, but similar, occasions a prophecy is made in the Bible about trouble greater than ever experienced, before or since. One of these is in the book of Daniel, referring to a particular invasion of Judah almost 200 years before the birth of Christ. The other was spoken by Jesus himself, and is believed by many to refer to the Jewish rebellion against Rome which would occur in 70 A.D., when the city of Jerusalem was once again destroyed (Matthew 24:21). Continue reading “A strange sort of optimism”

Delving deeper into faith

What is faith? This probably sounds like a silly question – but only if we have given it no thought because we assume we fully understand it. Consider one small sampling of the evidence.

In the second and third centuries before Christ, Jewish scholars translated their Hebrew Bible into Greek. We call their work the Septuagint. Interesting questions might be: When they used the Greek word pistis (faith), what Hebrew words and ideas were they trying to convey? Was their understanding of faith broader, the same or narrower than ours? Take a look.

Continue reading “Delving deeper into faith”

Indeed, who is an Israelite?

Behold an Israelite indeed…” (John 1:47).

Jesus said this about Nathanael (aka, Bartholomew).

The word “indeed” implies a different understanding of the word Israelite than the one commonly held. What was the common understanding of the word Israelite in the days of Jesus?

Most Jews (since the days when Jacob’s name was changed to Israel) were known as, and identified themselves as Israelites. But this name always had more than mere tribal or geographical connotations to God. Continue reading “Indeed, who is an Israelite?”