balance

Full of grace and truth

Some time ago I was doing the children’s singing at a Vacation Bible School. I was asking the kids what song they wanted to sing next when one voice piped up:

“Jingle bells!” he cried.

I could see the smiles on the faces of several adults in the room, but before they could respond, his buddy responded, clear as a … as a bell:

“He means Jesus songs, Bozo!” Continue reading “Full of grace and truth”

christianlovedebate-1

Let all you do be done in love

As Paul concluded his letter to the Christians in Corinth, the one we call 1 Corinthians, he had a number of last minute concerns to mention to them as well as a number of people to comment on.

He began by talking about the special collection they were taking up to help in famine relief for the Christians in Judea. He was concerned that it would be ready on time. He hoped to visit them after he went through Macedonia and warned them that he might even spend the winter with them. Continue reading “Let all you do be done in love”

Follow Me

Six things Jesus shows us

“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me'” (Luke 5:27).

While in the construction industry some years back, I sometimes found myself in a pickle. I would come across something I had never seen or done before. A few times I actually went to the library and got out a book to try to understand what I needed to do (those were not pre-Google days, they were pre-internet days!). I usually struggled with the descriptions and diagrams in the book.

But when I had someone with me, actually showing me how, I was able to grasp the concept and duplicate it fairly easily. I would not be surprised if this was the very method by which Jesus learned his trade (Mark 6:3). Continue reading “Six things Jesus shows us”

god1

The two greatest commands

During the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, he was almost daily teaching people, usually in the temple. One day in particular seems to have been very busy as one group after another came to Jesus with questions they considered to be either difficult or with no answer, in an attempt to trap him in what he was saying.

First came the Pharisees and Herodians. These two groups were opposed to each other politically, with the Herodians supporting Rome and the Pharisees opposing Rome. Yet they put their differences aside to attack their common enemy: Jesus. They asked a question about paying taxes which Jesus skilfully answered, to their amazement (Mark 12:13-17). Continue reading “The two greatest commands”

Love

The new commandment

“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:24,25).

It’s interesting to note that “love” can be commanded. How can love be a command? Remember your first teenage crush? Did someone command you to fall for that 14-year-old girl? Of course not! You just had hormones! Continue reading “The new commandment”

HardNEasy

Whether through difficulty or ease

Some scriptures tend to be more popular than others. Often these verses are memorized and are characterized by offering us hope and relief. Among these popular texts, Paul’s letter from prison to the Philippians contains a number of texts that stand tall offering comfort and inspiration.

In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12,13).

Paul’s secret can be ours. A deep satisfying contentment can be ours. Real freedom from crushing situational distress exists. They need not rule our lives nor how we evaluate our lives. However, all of this comes at a price.  Continue reading “Whether through difficulty or ease”

Dont be afraid to love

The power of hate

“For we once ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3 NKJV).

Atrocities like those recently committed in Paris and Mali continue to outrage and astonish. We ask, “How can anyone treat other people like that?” I recently participated in a conversation in which the point was made that some cultures promote hatred as a virtue. In most nations in which Christianity has had influence children are taught to love and do good to others. But in many other settings they are taught to hate others, whether it be traditional enemies, strangers, or persons of different race or religion. Violent revenge is held up as a duty and an objective of which to be proud. Continue reading “The power of hate”

Love

Love is in the air … or maybe not?

Do you want to fight less and love more? Author and conflict resolution expert Laurie Puhn suggests the very first principle involves believing “Love Is Conditional,” even though “many of us are brought up to believe that romantic love should survive ‘no matter what.'” She explains how a belief in unconditional love is “one of the biggest saboteurs of relationship success.”

Well, she’s partly right. However, a solid scriptural viewpoint can acknowledge the value of her insight while pursuing a stronger and healthier approach to love. Continue reading “Love is in the air … or maybe not?”

loving

Being loving

I often tell young people, “You are not obliged to fall in love with anyone; you are obliged to be loving to everyone.”

The difference between being “in love” and being loving is that one of them is commanded. The term “falling in love” implies a loss of control. Emotions are powerful. The hormones heat up and the brain cells melt down. But being loving is about self-control. Continue reading “Being loving”