We read the biblical passage straight through, without pause, as if the dialogue were a race, without feeling the dynamic between two strangers, a man and a woman, a Jew and a Samaritan, he on the road and she taking care of home responsibilities.
If the Hebrew word “Selah” means “pause,” and if John had the habit of inserting this word of Jewish poetry in a text of prose, I imagine he would have used it in this narrative about Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Especially, right before this phrase of hers. Continue reading “The life-changing pause”
It is said that a pessimist decries the fact that roses have thorns, while an optimist rejoices that thorn bushes yield beautiful roses.
We gardeners just take the thorns in stride. We invest in special gloves that aren’t punctured easily and wear long sleeves in hot weather. We ignore the strange looks we often get, as if folks wonder who pushed us into the tiger’s cage at the zoo. Continue reading “A thorny subject”
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NKJV).
For the past couple of months I have been in Bangladesh. It was spring here when we arrived, and is now officially summer. As elsewhere, spring is a time of moderate weather and, generally, some wind or breeze. Those breezes typically lessen as summer arrives. Continue reading “Give the winds a mighty voice”
“Be cleansed” (Luke 5:13).
Behold the impact of Jesus’ words:
- Jesus said, “Be still!” and the storm stopped immediately (Mark 4:39)
- Jesus said, “Be cleansed,” and the leper was cured instantly (Luke 5:13).
- Jesus said, “Come forth,” and Lazarus walked out promptly (John 11:43).
- Jesus said, “Come out” and demons fled fearfully (Luke 4:35-36).
- Jesus said, “Let there be” (Genesis 1:3,6,14) and the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, sprang into existence from nothing, unhesitatingly (Exodus 20:11; Psalm 146:6; John 1:3).
Continue reading “What happens when we ignore the Composer?”
In the fleshly realm, forgiveness represents everything humanity hates.
In a song about forgiving a cheating, lying wife, Lyle Lovett sings, “God does. But I don’t. God will, but I won’t. And that’s the difference between God and me.”
Forgiveness to some means surrender and endorsement. We won’t forgive until they’ve suffered sufficiently to appease our anger. But emotions are the cruelest creatures on earth and they can’t be trusted. Continue reading “Thoughts and questions about forgiveness”
“Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans?” (Luke 13:2, NASB).
Is there such a thing as one sin being greater than another?
Jesus was asked about some Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Josephus wrote about skirmishes between the Jews and the Romans – particularly around Jewish feasts – that resulted in heavy bloodshed (Pulpit Commentary). Perhaps such an event is here referenced. Continue reading ““Greater sinners…””
How will God handle it if I come back?
I suspect that many people never come back to the Lord and the church because they imagine they will receive a hostile reception. Sadly, in many cases they are right. Brethren (and sisters) can be hard on each other. Even well meaning brethren can be awkward and ungracious when it comes to accepting the returning wrong doer. And we tend to be hard on ourselves. We know we have sinned, and we sense our unworthiness.
Note, however, the reception promised by the prophet Joel: “Yet even now,” he cries, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12). Continue reading “Rend your hearts and not your garments”
Many folk love to discuss theology. Jesus, not so much. How many will be saved? Will they be few? That was apparently a popular discussion back in the day. So someone from the crowd asked Jesus to comment on it.
His reply? Let’s bring it home. First off, make sure you are saved. Makes no difference if there be many or few, if you’re not among them, now does it? That seems to be his approach in Luke 13.22-30. As it was a bit earlier in Luke 13.1-5. Unless you repent. Continue reading “Many or few to be saved? Worry about your salvation!”
“The fearful…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
There is a funny meme that utilizes President FDR’s inaugural address from 1933, and his use of the word “fear”: Continue reading “Fear itself”
From the time he had set eyes on his brothers, he wanted to know whether they had changed. He wanted to forgive his brothers. But forgiveness isn’t cheap.
His brothers hadn’t recognised him although he knew them in an instant. After all – all they saw was an Egyptian who was in charge who seemed rather harsh, not the Joseph they had sold into slavery sixteen years earlier. They were his brothers, but had they changed? Continue reading “A spirit of forgiveness”