Many or few to be saved? Worry about your salvation!

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!”

A spirit of forgiveness

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”

Dirty and dirtier

One seasonal task that my daughter and I enjoy doing near the end of summer is making our trademark herb vinegars.

There are important things to consider when working with fresh herbs. You don’t want to bruise the leaves while putting them into the jars. We always try for the best, most artistic composition of the herbs as we carefully place them down through the narrow bottle neck into the glass bottles. Continue reading “Dirty and dirtier”

The God who heals

Have you ever been hurt, so badly hurt you felt something had died inside of you? If you have, did you feel like you had spiritually and emotionally flat-lined? How do your recover?

It’s impossible to live for any amount of time and not be hurt. We all have wounds, because life isn’t fair. We suffer persecution. Simply living the Christian life is an affront to many people in society. It stirs up resentment among friends and neighbors. It certainly stirs up Satan, who will act. This is the crab in the bucket principle – they don’t want to change, they simply want to pull you back into the bucket with them. Continue reading “The God who heals”

A second chance

It is time in middle Tennessee for what we call the “second crop” of vegetables to be planted. I am about to plant my cucumbers for pickling. No, not the second crop, like some are doing. This will be the first round.

It is great to have a long growing season, as the vegetable garden didn’t get planted as early as usual. The extended season is giving me a second chance at having fresh tomatoes to freeze or can, and plenty of zucchini to steam, grill, bake into bread, and finally to foist on my neighbors. Continue reading “A second chance”

When someone comes forward

I think there are times when someone comes forward after a sermon that we think: “Oh he must be a sinner, he must have done something bad.”

Let me remind you that there are sinners who go forward … and there are sinners (that would be the rest of us) who do not.

In reality, who responds to the Gospel call? The spiritually sensitive, the soft- hearted, the ones who deeply desire to serve God better. Who does not come forward? Often the proud, the ones who fail to look in their own hearts, the ones who think they never make mistakes. Continue reading “When someone comes forward”

Learning is change

We were exploring the implications of Romans 15:4 and I asked the question, “What is learning?” One of the young women in my Bible class gave this answer: “Learning is change.” It was simply profound.

Several years ago I was listening to an online lecture while doing some painting. The speaker (Jody Apple) gave the most profound summary of the purpose of the Bible I have heard to this day:

“Here’s where you are; here’s where you need to be. Change.” Continue reading “Learning is change”

Abide in the vine

My wife loves to grow things. Whether it is flowers, trees, vegetables or whatever, she loves to plant, water and watch things grow.

But, there is one thing all plants have in common. They must be attached to a root system. If the bloom, fruit or plant is cut from its stem or vine, it will die. I learned this one summer when I mowed over some of my wife’s flowers. Needless to say, she was unhappy. Continue reading “Abide in the vine”

Starting over again

Can you imagine what Onesimus must have been feeling as he travelled from Rome back to Colossae carrying Paul’s two letters with him? He was a slave, but, more than that, he was a runaway slave. His master had every right to be angry with him. But while being away he had run into an old family friend who was now a prisoner under house arrest, a preacher named Paul. Paul taught him about Jesus and he had become a Christian. And Paul insisted that he return to his master – it was the right thing to do.

What awaited his return to his master? How would his master react? Did it matter that he was now a Christian? This is what the letter of Philemon is about – a man who had really messed up his life but became a Christian. Could he be given a second chance? Continue reading “Starting over again”