Show, don’t tell

“Show, don’t tell.” This basic principle rules the writing world. It makes life easier, also. To teach a man to fish, he must see you fishing. Personal-development guru Anthony Robbins wrote in his 1991 book, Awaken the Giant Within,

If you’re not sure how to get yourself out of pain and to feel pleasure as a replacement to your smoking, drinking, worrying, or other undesirable emotion or behavior, you can simply find the answers by modeling people who have turned things around for themselves. Find people who have made the lasting changes; I guarantee you’ll find that they had an alternative to replace the old behavior (p. 135).

The Bible both tells and shows. It communicates the message of truth and gives us visual lessons, both positive and negative, on how to be holy. Examples abound from beginning to end. All the great virtues shine in flesh-and-blood people throughout the pages of Scripture. Continue reading “Show, don’t tell”

The land of rest

“And Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died there, in the fortieth year after the people of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. And Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor” (Numbers 33:38-39 ESV).

The Israelites had been without a home for years. Forty years earlier, on the fifteenth day of the first month (Numbers 33:3), they had left Egypt after the ten plagues had culminated with the Passover. They had been “on the road” since that time, in essence “living out of suitcases.” They had no home of their own and were living in tents. They were now into the fortieth year since leaving Egypt. Continue reading “The land of rest”

Plodding or planing?

As I ended my day-long seminar last Saturday on the biblical model for the church, I felt my mind moving up into another level. The words came more easily, the phrases were more elegant, the ideas flowed almost flawlessly.

Such a shift into a higher plane of communication occurs rarely. Most times, my teaching plods along. Much mental effort is required to put the points across. Continue reading “Plodding or planing?”

No Matter What Happens

Humans tend to justify their lack of faith in Christ or their obedience to God by blaming unfavorable circumstances. Sometimes, people may blame God himself. The one-talent man blamed his master for being hard and inflexible. Adam blamed Eve, whom God gave to him, and Eve blamed the serpent.

The mind works expertly to find reasons why faith isn’t viable or why obedience is too hard, complicated, or impossible.

The apostle Paul heads off this tendency when writing to the Philippians. He knows, like most good missionaries, that his absence might provide an excuse for the converts to let up on efforts to serve God. Continue reading “No Matter What Happens”

Being an effective Christian

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV).

As Christians, we should all want to be effective, productive and fruitful. Sometimes it seems this type of life is difficult and possibly beyond our grasp. But Peter, in quite simple language, explains what this type of life is all about. Continue reading “Being an effective Christian”

Well supplied

When Christopher Columbus finally set off on his first voyage with the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, ample funding backed the voyage.  Although it had required the influence of the courtier Luis de Santángel, Spain’s king and queen finally agreed to sponsor the expedition. Columbus was well supplied for the journey.

Like Columbus, Christians are on an expedition. Our journey involves living for God. Peter informs us that God has provided us with “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). But how informed are we regarding how to draw upon the Lord’s resources?

Continue reading “Well supplied”

Back to the Future

Oct 21 2015. Back to the Future day. For those who are not aware, this was the day that Doc Brown took Marty McFly into the future to deal with the problems his children were having.

As we look back on the predictions the film made as to what life thirty years into the future would bring, we see that largely the predictions were missed: our cars do not fly, rain can’t be turned off and on, and we don’t rehydrate our pizzas.

A few predictions were correct: 3D films are back, film sequels are commonplace, and many of us use a Skype-type phone system. Continue reading “Back to the Future”

Why do the wicked prosper?

As Job’s friends continued to try to reason with him, they were reflecting their own world-view, a view that many people still have today. That view stated that if someone was wealthy, it was obviously because God was blessing them. If they were in poverty or if bad things happened to them, it was because God had withdrawn his blessings due to sin in their lives. Continue reading “Why do the wicked prosper?”

It’s your own fault

As we read through the dialogue in Job, we have the advantage of knowing what was in chapter 1. It was there that God declared that there was no one like Job: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8 NET). As we read through the dialogue between Job and his three friends, keep in mind that Job is innocent of doing anything that caused the calamities that he has had to endure. Continue reading “It’s your own fault”