Ideas matter

Healthy churches are no accident. Paul knew this. In his letter to the Ephesian church the apostle guided them toward growing up into Christ. What he prescribed would produce a church being built up in love.

Later in his pastoral letter of 1 Timothy, Paul counseled Timothy to take strong action in order that the church might be a thriving community of love. In both cases, Paul’s prescription for spiritual health involved ideas. Ideas matter. Continue reading “Ideas matter”

To God be the glory

“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27 NKJV).

Paul’s letter to Roman Christians is widely recognized as the most complete explanation of the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ found in any single New Testament document. It begins with an assertion that there is one true God who is manifest through his creation (Romans 1:19-21). It ends with a beautiful doxology (an attribution of honor or glory to God) to “God, alone wise.” Continue reading “To God be the glory”

The mind and imago Dei

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26, 27 ESV).

After speaking into existence all that we see and all that we cannot, the Ultimate Being spoke into existence his ultimate creation. But we were not just to be the last in a line of similar living things. God elevated humanity by making us in his image.

As priests under the Law of Moses were to bridge the gap between man and God (Hebrews 5:1, 2), humans bridge the gap between the rest of creation and the Creator. We are caretakers of the world, not just inhabitants (Genesis 1:28). We were elevated in value, not of our own virtue but of the volition of the Divine. Continue reading “The mind and imago Dei”

God’s love and compassion

Hosea was the only writing prophet from the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim). He was not the only prophet who wrote to the north but the rest were from Judah. Hosea prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah and Jeroboam (II) of Ephraim. Jeroboam was the last king of the house of Jehu.

The reign of Jeroboam was a period of stability for the northern kingdom. His death lead to a period of instability and turmoil, ultimately ending with the fall of Ephraim to Assyria. After Jeroboam died there were six different kings during the next 25 years. Continue reading “God’s love and compassion”

Discipline in the midst of disaster

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7, 8 NASB).

While teaching preaching students, Edwin Jones would say, “Your life is always full, choose carefully how you fill it.” We fill every moment with something. We may be productive or fruitless, contemplative or ignorant, but our time is never empty.

An interesting consequence of social distancing is that the amount of “free time” many people have has risen considerably. What do we do with that time we have? We will fill each available minute. With what will we fill it? Continue reading “Discipline in the midst of disaster”

Nomenclature Matters

“Look at that gorgeous Geranium!” I exclaimed this morning, as my beloved Yard Boy and I walked through the garden.

“It’s a daffodil, sweetheart. Why are you calling a geranium?” he asked. Good question. He knows I am a stickler about calling plants by their correct names. I’ll even use the Latin name for it if I know it, so there won’t be any confusion.

“Because that’s the name of this particular cultivar — Geranium,” I answered. “It’s a silly name, but I didn’t name it. It’s really an old heirloom variety, but that really is the actual name.” Continue reading “Nomenclature Matters”

Let your light shine

Life is different here today than it was one week ago. I suspect that it is for you as well. Tomorrow, life will be different than today. Trying to imagine what life will be like in a month seems a fool’s errand.

When life moves so swiftly it is easy to become insecure. As the unknown advances, darkness fills people’s hearts. Jesus told his disciples to let their light shine before men. What does that mean during a time like this? How can we shine the light of Jesus into this world of dread? Continue reading “Let your light shine”

Labor of love

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If working in God’s Kingdom motivated by love seems vague or mysterious to you, let’s bring it down to earth a bit and put it in human terms.

So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great, Genesis 29.20.

Set aside for the moment that Jacob “acquired” Laban’s daughter and that he had to work seven years to do it. Focus on the next statement. Seven years seemed like only a few days to him. Time was telescoped to almost nothing “because his love for her was so great.” Continue reading “Labor of love”

Solomon’s love song

When we think of Solomon there are probably two things that come quickly to mind. We think of his wisdom, which he asked God for, and we think of his wealth. We might also remember that he built the first temple for the glory and worship of God.

What often does not come to mind was that he was a prolific writer and in particular, a writer of Hebrew poetry. We have recorded that “He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He produced manuals on botany, describing every kind of plant, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on walls. He also produced manuals on biology, describing animals, birds, insects, and fish” (1 Kings 4:32-33 NET). Sadly, we don’t have most of these writings preserved. Continue reading “Solomon’s love song”

The beauty of Christ

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV).

Beauty is attractive. There was “not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than [Saul]” (1 Samuel 9:2). It was likely that Saul’s looks and height made him appealing to the people as king. But his character failings were why he was rejected as king.

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah is the clearest description we have of the physical appearance of Jesus. This prophecy informs us that Jesus had “no beauty that we should desire him.” God did not want people drawn to Jesus for superficial reasons like with Saul. Continue reading “The beauty of Christ”