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”

Someone who will take our side

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Job?

One minute he had been one of the wealthiest men of his area and the next he had lost everything. Then his friends showed up (at least they were friends enough to show up) to try to offer some comfort. Initially it seems they did not know what to say – after all, what do you say to someone who has lost everything he owned, his family and even his health. They sat with him for a week without saying anything (Job 2:13). Continue reading “Someone who will take our side”

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”

Baptism: only the beginning

In their recent book, Down to the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as God’s Transforming Work, John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor observe that in baptism it is God who transforms us, not we ourselves. However, they also claim that God has many ways to express his gift of grace, and we ought not to “limit” (in their words) the ways God offers it. Thus their ultimate conclusion is that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Continue reading “Baptism: only the beginning”

A second chance

It is time in middle Tennessee for what we call the “second crop” of vegetables to be planted. I am about to plant my cucumbers for pickling. No, not the second crop, like some are doing. This will be the first round.

It is great to have a long growing season, as the vegetable garden didn’t get planted as early as usual. The extended season is giving me a second chance at having fresh tomatoes to freeze or can, and plenty of zucchini to steam, grill, bake into bread, and finally to foist on my neighbors. Continue reading “A second chance”

Forgiveness

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Corrie ten Boom describes the time she and her sister were digging trenches, watched by NAZI guards. Her sister Betsie, a petite woman, and frail from months of mistreatment in the Concentration Camp, could only shovel small spadesful of earth. One guard grabbed the small pile of earth she had just dug, and held it aloft, calling attention to it and laughing with his fellows. Corrie had had enough. She grabbed her shovel and began to charge the offending guard. The only thing that stopped her was the voice of her sister: “Don’t look at him, Corrie,” she said. “Look at Jesus only.”

But the story does not end there. Continue reading “Forgiveness”