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”

A love that is fickle and a love that endures

Engaged couples often describe their fiancé as being their best friend. They can also feel deeply attracted to their fiancé as they experience the feeling that this will last forever. Is this enough?

The data, however, does not lie. We hear, “I fell out of love,” far too often. The love they thought would fill a lifetime evaporated.

Fortunately, there is another kind of love that does endure. When we understand how these types of love differ, we possess the ability to change the odds in our favor. Continue reading “A love that is fickle and a love that endures”

Honoring those who are worthy of honor

“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7 ESV).

The custom of honoring guests and dignitaries by putting a scarf or garland around their neck is strong in Nepal and much of Asia. In the churches, visiting missionaries, as well as Nepali preachers and leaders, and local civic leaders are almost always welcomed by the ceremony of “garlanding.” It is a means of demonstrating respect and showing that they are held in honor. The traditional scarves and flowers are of little intrinsic value, but the act of being shown respect is priceless. Continue reading “Honoring those who are worthy of honor”

How to be a Christian in a topsy-turvy world

1. Stick with the Word

Some saints want to show themselves to be intelligent by dabbling in the philosophies of the world, the theologies of the denominations, or the politics of the nations. But the world has more than enough of these. Our message has to distinguish itself clearly from all these. We preach an almighty God whose love encompasses all of history and who glory has revealed itself in terms we can grasp. From creation we move quickly to the Book of Life, whose final author knows us better than we know ourselves. The Bible is the best argument for God’s existence. His power lives in it and from it people can be convicted of the truth.

How do we stick with the Word? Continue reading “How to be a Christian in a topsy-turvy world”

What do Christian folk do?

In 1960 the legend of Arthur of Camelot found its way to Broadway in Lerner and Loewe’s stage production, Camelot. The second act contains a curious song entitled, “What Do Simple Folk Do?”. Burdened by sin and wearied by life, Arthur and Guenevere wonder what commoners do to alleviate such pressure. Three times Queen Guenevere asks Arthur, “What do the simple folk do” to “escape when they’re blue” or “to pluck up the heart and get through.” “They must have a system or two,” she contends. Arthur answers with simple remedies, they “whistle,” they “sing,” and they “dance.”/1

To Arthur and Guenevere, the simple folk could have easily been another species. These are people “not noblessly obliged.” They must have some “ancient native custom” for they know something the “throne folk don’t know.” Continue reading “What do Christian folk do?”

Love and knowledge

Sometimes living as a Christian can seem confusing. Unlike the Law of Moses given to Israel, there isn’t a list of “do’s and don’ts” detailing how we should live. Instead we find principles we can use and examples we can see that help us determine how we should live.

One of the big ‘issues’ that the Christians in the first century had to face was in eating. Although this might seem strange to us, we need to realise the problem was not necessarily in the food itself, but in people’s perception of who we were, based on what we were eating. In particular this had to do with food that had been sacrificed to idols. Continue reading “Love and knowledge”