Hope outside

Years ago Crabb and Allender identified four questions hurting people ask: What’s wrong? Who can help? What will the helper do? What can I hope for?

I also appreciate their observation that not all therapies are created equal. Those offering help as well as the tools they use are built upon assumptions and beliefs. Counseling therapy, even a socratic approach, is not neutral.

Here’s a question of my own. When people seek help, from where do they think hope arises? Continue reading “Hope outside”

End the practice of sin

One of my preaching mentors was Jack Reed who preached in Manchester, Tennessee for several years. He and his wife, Sue, had a nice bit of banter before arriving at a worship service or a revival. She would say, “What will you preach on?” He would answer, “Sin.” She would ask, “For it, or against it?” He’d always answer, “Against it!” Continue reading “End the practice of sin”

Before birth

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Birth is a beginning, but not the ultimate beginning. It is true for all of us that life begins before birth.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of God’s Sovereignty in his life prior to his physical birth: “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name” (Isaiah 49:1). Continue reading “Before birth”

Never alone

The artists’ conceptions of God are interesting. The Almighty usually appears as a very old, very kind man. To them he is human. That concept, however, does not fit the facts. 

Jesus said that God is spirit (John 4:24). The artists may say, “But the Bible says God has eyes and ears.” Yes. The Bible does indeed refer to God’s eyes and ears. God does see and hear but not like human beings. King David spoke of God hearing him (Psalm 40:1-2). And, yes, God does hear us. Continue reading “Never alone”

God’s dwelling place

I want to go to heaven, how about you?

Each day here only further reinforces my desire. But why? What is the motivation? Why is heaven so wonderful?

We find glimpses of heaven throughout scripture: the garden in Eden, the tabernacle/temple, and the church. What do these seemingly disparate places have in common? The common theme running through these places is God’s presence. Continue reading “God’s dwelling place”

Convinced of God’s power and love

The weather here in northern Alabama this past week or so has reminded me of that old saying, “Be careful what you pray for; you just might get it.” After an unusually wet spring and early summer, we had been in a dry spell for three or four weeks and were beginning to hurt for rain.

Then tropical storm Marko and hurricane Laura showed up bringing deluges over a wide area, including us. Now we continue to have fronts coming through with frequent local showers. For all of these we are very grateful.

When James wrote to encourage Christians to pray he cited Elijah as an example of the power of prayer: Continue reading “Convinced of God’s power and love”

The choice is yours

There is a direct quote by the Lord Jesus that many people have misunderstood. Many know it, but some misapply it. Jesus said,

“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Some believe that God sent his only son to those individuals chosen explicitly by him. They say God knew each individual and selected them so they could not possibly have resisted. They say others not called will never live eternally even if that was what they wanted. Continue reading “The choice is yours”

Behold, I stand at the door and knock

Of the churches Jesus mentioned in Revelation chapters two and three, his most pointed remarks concerned the lukewarm members at Laodicea.

Laodicea, in Greek literature known as Laodikeia, was a city of Romans, Phrygians, and Syrians. It was known as a producer of a powder used to treat diseases of the eyes, probably why the Lord Jesus advised them to “buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see” (Revelation 3:18). Their materialism had blinded them to what was truly important: the service of God. Continue reading “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”

How to think about God when life is rough

Life gets rough. How people respond is well known. “Why did God do this to me?” “How can God be good if he allows this to continue?” Adversity can foster many temptations. What role does God play in all of this?

James’ letter takes us straight to our questions about God. He does not answer every question we might pose. Rather he counsels us how to think about God when we are in the thick of it. Continue reading “How to think about God when life is rough”