The ultimate visual aid

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15 NKJV).

Any teacher – or for that matter any student – can attest to the importance of visual aids. Whether or not it is true that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” it is certainly true that the more one can use multiple senses in acquiring knowledge, the more complete that knowledge is likely to be.

Most travelers are familiar with the frustration which results from trying to share one’s experience in strange places with those at home who just don’t get it. No matter how much we try we soon realize that our report gets filtered through their experience and expectations and they just don’t understand. Third world poverty for example translates as “just beans for dinner with no dessert” rather than three days of starvation. Yes, we know there are starving people over there, but we just can’t quite empathize with their suffering. We don’t feel it. Those who have “been there and done that,” however, know it on a much deeper level. Continue reading “The ultimate visual aid”

The importance of faith

Faith is a vital ingredient in everything we do. Sometimes we don’t realize all the everyday items in which we place our faith. We have faith that when we press an “on” button that something will happen – why else would we press it if we didn’t have faith that it would do what it is designed to do?

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews described faith this way: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NET). That is a good description of faith – we are convinced of something we don’t see, we are sure that what we expect is true and will happen. Continue reading “The importance of faith”

Eyes that do not see

“Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull, Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14-15 NKJV).

I admit that my eyes are not as sharp as they may have once been, nor my ears as sensitive. Yet I am still amazed at the ability of the people of South Asia to see tiny details at surprising distances. When going through the jungles of the national parks, our local guides will see deer and other animals bedded down in thickets that I can barely detect even when they are pointed out to me. Here on our campus birds that are well within the canopy of leaves are identified long before I can catch even a flicker of motion. Continue reading “Eyes that do not see”

A faith that amazed Jesus

“When he had concluded saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. A centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, requesting him to come and save the life of his servant. When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy for you to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue’” (Luke 7:1-5 CSB).

This centurion seems to have been an exceptional Roman. Stationed in Galilee, he became involved in the local life, even to the point of building a synagogue for the Jews of that town. Perhaps he was attracted to the God they worshipped and their way of life. If you visit Capernaum today you will see extensive excavations of the first century town and an impressive synagogue that would have dominated the town even in Jesus’ day. The current synagogue dates from the 4th century but it is built on the foundation of the first century synagogue, so you get an idea of the size of the one built by this Roman centurion. Continue reading “A faith that amazed Jesus”

The God who calls

Who is this God who invites us to profoundly reorder our lives to their very core? After all, the call to discipleship is the invitation to radically align our allegiances, beliefs, values and behaviors according to God’s character and word.

By revisiting the stories of Moses and the Israelites, we can learn something about this God who desires to transform us.  Continue reading “The God who calls”

Seeing as clearly as a blind man

There was a man in Jerusalem who was born blind. One Sabbath Jesus stopped as he was passing by. While his followers argued over why the man was blind, Jesus made mud from his own saliva and the dust on the ground, put it on the blind man’s eyelids, and told him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7 NET). The blind man made his way there, washed the mud off his eyes, and came back seeing. He had been healed!

His neighbors could tell there was something different about him. Some weren’t sure if it was really him, but the man kept insisting that it really was. That led to the obvious question: “How then were you made to see?” (John 9:10). The man then told his neighbors what had happened. They wanted to meet Jesus for themselves, but the formerly blind man did not know where he had gone (after all, he had been blind and had gone to wash off the mud). Continue reading “Seeing as clearly as a blind man”

Faith, hope, love

The most powerful trio in the world

This three-stranded cord will not be broken, Ecclesiastes 4.12. No earthly powers can prevail against them. With them the word of the Lord will continue to grow and prevail, Acts 19.20. Whoever possesses them will be counted blessed and will stand against all foes and discouragements.

We who belong to the light put them on as we learn to look for the Lord’s coming, 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11. They guarantee victory. Continue reading “The most powerful trio in the world”

Think important things

People learn to prioritize at a very early age.

Parents usually give their youngsters tasks around the house called, “chores.” Those little jobs help teach responsibility. Children are also expected to complete their homework each day. Both are important things for kids to remember.

In college, students learn to make reading and studying priorities for successful college life. When the students become adults, there are work and social priorities.

What is the most important priority of all? The Bible teaches the most important things are spiritual things. Continue reading “Think important things”

Rules

The world has never had any rules. The world doesn’t even really like guidelines. How can something like, “Live for today,” qualify for a rule or a guideline?

William Barclay wrote, “One of the characteristics of the world in which we live is the lowering of standards.”[1] Many in the world have no standard at all. The disciple of Christ must live according to the standards of Christ. The only other option is to live in profligacy. Continue reading “Rules”