Jesus wept

In John 11:35 we find the shortest verse in our English translations: “Jesus wept.” Although a short verse, these two words tell us about who Jesus was and the love he has for people.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus received word that his friend Lazarus was very ill. “So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, look, the one you love is sick.’ When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ (Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.) So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he remained in the place where he was for two more days” (John 11:3-6 NET). Continue reading “Jesus wept”

I have one more river to cross

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

What does Christianity have to say about death? Does the Bible have anything to say that will help us in this, the most characteristic human factor of all, our mortality.

Generation after generation has had to deal with the implications of death’s certainty. In Greek mythology the dead crossed the River Styx, a dreary, poisonous river that ran between the living and Hades. Whoever crossed had to pay Charon, a boatman who ferried people across.

It was, we must emphasize, a one-way ticket! Continue reading “I have one more river to cross”

It will be alright

Have you ever known anyone who became so anxious with reading a story that he or she would skip to the last chapter to see how it ended? Years ago I remember someone telling me this was her strategy for reading books. For many of us this would ruin the story. However for her, knowing how the narrative tensions would be resolved enabled her to relax enough to read through the story.

I’m not convinced this is a great strategy for reading books. Nevertheless, it is a helpful way to live life. Continue reading “It will be alright”

Is hope lost?

“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!”‘” (Ezekiel 37:11 NKJV).

To those who take the great commission seriously, prospects for ultimate success may seem more remote and improbable than ever. The mushrooming world population overwhelms whatever progress we seem to be making. Political changes continue to close doors to foreign missionaries. Our missionary forces are aging rapidly with recruitment of new, younger, workers more difficult than ever. Continue reading “Is hope lost?”

The Christian who dies

“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”  (Philippians 1:21-23).

What does Christianity have to say about death? Does the Bible have anything to say that will help us in this, the most characteristic human factor of all, our mortality? Continue reading “The Christian who dies”

Jesus is there; don’t be afraid

The pages of the gospels are filled with examples of Jesus’ kindness. The pages of our newspapers betray that, as a people, we are not very kind at all.

In Mark chapter five, when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, he said something very kind to him. He said, “Do not be afraid any longer” (Mark 5:36 NASB). Those words echo across the centuries to us, bringing Jesus’ kindness to us still. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. Oh, that we would replace the fear in our hearts with his words! Continue reading “Jesus is there; don’t be afraid”

What are we waiting for?

“And I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him” (Isa 8:17 NASB).

As we have driven through the streets of Kathmandu on this trip we have often passed extremely long lines of cars and motorcycles waiting their turn at the gas pumps (or as they say here, the petrol pumps). Disgruntled minority parties are staging sit-ins at the border crossing points with India and trucks of petroleum products, food, and other necessities are being held back from entering the country. Continue reading “What are we waiting for?”

The deceitful snapshot

A moment frozen in time. An expression of exuberance and excitement captured within pixels. From slick magazines to rectangles rendered in millions of colors upon a computer screen, snapshots exist in many forms and we know all about them.

However, there is much more to the snapshot than meets the eye. By its very nature, it must distort, not reflect, reality. Look deeper.

Continue reading “The deceitful snapshot”

Out of the depths!

“Out of the depths I call you, O Lord!” (Psalm 130:1)

Do you remember when the unfortunate Nebuchadnezzar was struck with madness, becoming like a beast of the field? The king recalls at the end of his ordeal: “At the end of the days I … lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me” (Daniel 4:34). It has been said that of all the creatures on earth, only humans can look up. Even in the depths of despair or sin, we can if we choose, look up to heaven. Continue reading “Out of the depths!”