The ancestry of Jesus

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1 NIV).

Genealogies. Most do not find these the most exciting part of scripture to read. When the Reader’s Digest, known for publishing condensed versions of books, brought out their Condensed Version of the Bible, guess what they left out? One of the obvious was the genealogies – after all, who wants to read these? Yet these serve a purpose, both in life and in scripture. Continue reading “The ancestry of Jesus”

The promises and their impact

Decades have passed since I made some promises to a young lady in two different languages. Those promises announced my marital commitment and intended faithfulness to my young bride. At that time, I slipped a tangible symbol of my vows upon her finger to remind her of what I had promised.

God has also made some promises and provided us with a tangible reminder of them. However, he has offered the greatest promises ever – promises offering hope, identity, peace and holiness. Furthermore, unlike us, God is always faithful to his promises. We can know and rest assured God will deliver. Continue reading “The promises and their impact”

Cleaning up our acts

Mold, crown rot, and tangles of Bermuda grass was the unwelcome sight I beheld as I got back from a long trip and opened the eight bags of irises dug by a friend’s neighbor. She didn’t want them anymore, but neither did my friend.

It was not the best timing. We were leaving town within hours, but of course I couldn’t bear to let them go in the trash. I suspected that the lack of proper preparation and handling would doom many of the roots to that fate, anyway. My fears were confirmed upon our return. It was a mess! Continue reading “Cleaning up our acts”

She has done what she could

What is it about gardening that causes the fun to often descend into a guilt trip? The dreams that seemed so tangible in February and March taunt us as unfinished projects in June and July.

Maybe the same is true with any other activity, but dust bunnies don’t grow and multiply as readily as ragweeds do in the garden. Nor, for that matter, like the real bunnies that nibble the blueberries and tomatoes. Continue reading “She has done what she could”

Does sin really exist?

“Man, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).

Most of us can identify with Charlie Brown. We set some goal: “This time, I’m going to kick that football!” then somebody pulls the ball away at the last second, and we fall flat on our back. But there was one man in the Bible who set his sights high, and got even more than he asked for. That was because his goal was to encounter Jesus. Continue reading “Does sin really exist?”

Thoughts and questions about forgiveness

In the fleshly realm, forgiveness represents everything humanity hates.

In a song about forgiving a cheating, lying wife, Lyle Lovett sings, “God does. But I don’t. God will, but I won’t. And that’s the difference between God and me.”

Forgiveness to some means surrender and endorsement. We won’t forgive until they’ve suffered sufficiently to appease our anger. But emotions are the cruelest creatures on earth and they can’t be trusted. Continue reading “Thoughts and questions about forgiveness”

He’s got you covered!

Here it is, the middle of April, and my poor little tomato is at risk again. I’m not a gambler by nature, really. I like to play it safe. But the stakes are high when we are talking beefsteaks. Well, beefsteak tomatoes, that is.

A month ago in mid-March it was so mild that my mind went back to the year we had a tomato ripen in April. It would have tasted better the first or second day of May, but we couldn’t resist the feeling of being able to say, “We ate our first tomato in April.”

Do you see what I did there? Maybe another column will deal with boasting, but for today it will be ignored. Continue reading “He’s got you covered!”

Rend your hearts and not your garments

How will God handle it if I come back?

I suspect that many people never come back to the Lord and the church because they imagine they will receive a hostile reception. Sadly, in many cases they are right.  Brethren (and sisters) can be hard on each other. Even well meaning brethren can be awkward and ungracious when it comes to accepting the returning wrong doer. And we tend to be hard on ourselves. We know we have sinned, and we sense our unworthiness.

Note, however, the reception promised by the prophet Joel: “Yet even now,” he cries, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12). Continue reading “Rend your hearts and not your garments”