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”

Hate and love

Hatred stirreth up strifes; But love covereth all transgressions (Proverbs 10:12, ASV).

By Ron Thomas — I have come to understand we live in a society that hardly knows the meaning of the word racism, just like they hardly know the meaning of the word hate. Without giving attention to the first word, let us give attention to the second.

The word hate has broad application in Scripture; it can be associated with intense dislike, coupled with animosity to something not so intense. Continue reading “Hate and love”

Follow the example of love

Jesus never forced anyone to accept him or his teaching. In Matthew chapter 8, when Jesus healed two possessed men in the Gadarenes and people asked him to leave, he left.

After crossing the Sea of Galilee and arriving in Capernaum, Jesus saw a paralyzed man. The paralysis was so severe  the man was carried. The scripture tells us Jesus saw their faith, and the Master said the man’s sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). The scribes watching this accused Jesus of blasphemy.

There is a contrast here that we should understand. Continue reading “Follow the example of love”

Keep his commandments

Commandment-keeping gets a bad reputation in the religious world.

There are those whose theology forces them to promote belief without obedience to Christ’s commands. There is a fly in this ointment. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

F.F. Bruce wrote, “Hitherto, Jesus has spoken of his love for his disciples and of their obligation to love one another; now for the first time in this Gospel he speaks of their love for him.”/1 Continue reading “Keep his commandments”

That neighbor?

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV).

A group of us were driving out of the city of Khulna when a large truck met us, driving the wrong way on our side of the divided highway. This is a frequent occurrence in Bangladesh where traffic laws are seldom enforced and many drivers are poorly trained. As we carefully steered around the truck I asked the other passengers in our van, “When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, did he know there would be truck drivers?”

Similar thoughts occur frequently as we are confronted with hostility, rudeness, and dishonesty in our interactions with others. There are many people in this world who are pretty much unlovable, at least in our opinions. Must we really open up to all of them and show compassion, mercy, and kindness? Does their bad behavior not excuse us from such obligations? Continue reading “That neighbor?”

Wonderful differences

After God completed his creation having made humanity both male and female, God saw it was very good. The differences between men and women range from our psychological make up down to our physiology.

When comedians highlight the stark contrasts in how we think, perceive and interact with our world, audiences break forth in hearty laughter. Why? Because they recognize the truth in these stereotypes. We are different.

Expressions like, “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them,” give voice to spousal tension and frustrations. Yet, God saw all these differences as being very good! In fact, it is because of these differences that marriage can be a tool promoting spiritual development.    Continue reading “Wonderful differences”

With all your mind

What is the most important commandment of God in the Bible?

The lawyers of Jesus day, men trained in the text of the Old Testament, sent one of their own to ask the Lord that very question. Opinions differed. Some thought sacrifice was the most important of God’s commandments. Others thought there were so many commandments it was impossible to determine which was most important.

Jesus said, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). Continue reading “With all your mind”