“Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.’ And David said, ‘What have I done now? Is there not a cause?'” (1 Samuel 17:28-29 NKJV).
A lot of Asian youth enjoy T-shirts, just as do Americans. One that caught my eye somewhere said, “I am not lazy – I am selectively motivated.” I suspect that most of us might wear that shirt honestly. When it comes to things we really care about we can be quite energetic. Other things, well maybe not so much. Continue reading Motives
“And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they murmured against the landowner” (Matthew 20:9-11 NKJV).
“Equal pay for equal work” has become a mantra of the feminist movement in America, but it is by no means new, nor is it limited to any particular nation or region. From my observation, there is no more common pastime worldwide than looking to see what the other person is being paid, unless it is complaining if my salary is not equal or greater. Continue reading Equality
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV).
I wonder if they have widened the road to Silinge since I was there last. It was newly built with places where even a small car could barely pass. In fact, on our way back down the mountain we got our compact SUV hung up between two boulders and worked for over an hour to get through. Now as I prepare to return, it would surely be nice if the road is better. However, whether it is or not, I plan to go back. Continue reading Tight places
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:28-32 NJKV).
How often have we heard someone say, “I know I should not do this, but I am going to do it anyway?” Or, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but …” The fact is that most of us have probably done those things ourselves. Few, if any, live and act as well as they know how. Continue reading I know better, but . . .
“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil ways; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry” (Jonah 3:10-4:1 NKJV).
Ask the modern reader of the Bible what he or she knows about the Old Testament book of Jonah, and the answer is likely to be, “Isn’t that the man that got swallowed by a whale?” Most casual students are familiar only with the story contained in chapter 1. While this miraculous event catches our attention, it is at the end of the book (especially chapter 4) that the most important lessons are revealed. Continue reading Is it right to be angry?
“Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Now, Son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations'” (Ezekiel 22:1-2 NKJB).
Cities (and states, countries and other geographic entities) often gain reputations for certain traits. These may reflect natural characteristics (as for example, “Rome, the city of seven hills”) but are often anthropomorphic; that is they are described in terms of human character or morality.
When one mentions the name of any of the world’s great cities today, there are certain images which almost immediately come to mind. Paris, Bangkok, New York, Los Vegas, Monte Carlo, New Orleans – the list is virtually endless. History pairs those locations with events and kinds of activities and they convey a distinct impression to those aware of that connection.
Travelers to such places may be forewarned of both attractions and dangers, using the reputation of his or her destination to prepare for either safety or adventure, depending upon the traveler’s own inclinations. Continue reading Bloody cities
“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest. . . . But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:18, 22 NKJV).
What is it about mountains that is so compelling to us? Any list of the greatest tourist attractions on earth will include the Alps, the Andes, and the Himalayas, not to mention Pike’s Peak, Clingman’s Dome, McKinley, Kilimanjaro and many others. Mountains figure prominently in human history (e.g., Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps), and in many of our personal histories.
My wife and I, for example, spent our honeymoon in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. More recently I have been often into and near the Himalayas of Nepal and northern India. It has been some of my greatest experiences to cross high passes in order to preach the gospel of Christ in remote villages. Mountain scenery is spectacular and hugely memorable. Those mountain adventures are very special. Continue reading Up on a mountain
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment'” (Matthew 22:37-38 NKJV).
Two radio personalities, both avowed Catholics, were discussing their attendance at mass. One asked the other, “Does your conscience bother you when you check your cell phone for messages during mass?” The response was, “I leave my phone in the car; I don’t take it in with me.” The first person did not accept that response and again asked if there was not some guilt at using the phone during worship. Again the reply was that the phone stays in the car. But this time there was an additional explanation, “That (mass) is my God time; I don’t want it interrupted.”
To the vast majority of confessing Christians today, religion is a distinct element of life, usually kept well separated from other elements. There is family, work, school, recreation, rest, personal time, and oh yes, a little “God time.” Not only is religion considered distinctive, it is isolated and not at all interconnected with other phases of existence. Continue reading God time
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers'” (Matthew 23:1-4 NKJV).
While on a trip to report to supporting churches, I was invited to attend a gathering hosted by the local Jewish Synagogue. The Rabbi explained that those present were mostly members of a society dedicated to promoting Judaism and self-awareness within their community. As a means of explaining their activities he stated, “We encourage people to engage Judaism a la carte, at whatever level of commitment and activity they choose.”
What a perfect description of the modern attitude towards religion, with particular relevance to Christianity. All of my life I have been encouraged to “join the church of my choice.” Today one may choose not only between denominations, but also between conservative, radical, moderate, or progressive (i.e. liberal) branches of any particular denomination. Continue reading Religion as you like it
“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ . . . But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 1:21; 2:10 NKJV).
Some of the greatest questions faced by humans are those related to suffering. Why does suffering come? Why do innocent people suffer? Why do some seem to suffer disproportionately? These have no easy answers and contemplation of them causes great anguish to many. Continue reading Why me, Lord?