Honor to whom honor is due

It was with happy thoughts of a yellow climbing rose that I planted something on the west side of the old white trellis. The lady who traded plants with me wasn’t sure it was really the old-fashioned “Jude the Obscure,” because her tag had only been labeled “Rose by the trellis.” She has four trellises! She gave me the names of all the possibilities, and most of them were climbers.

The weeks plodded by as I anxiously awaited the blossom that would reveal the variety of my new acquisition. Being behind a three-foot wall, the first bloom came and went, unheralded and unseen! Imagine my disappointment when I saw the spent rose hip instead of a bloom. More weeks dragged by. At last, Jude opened in all his fragrant wonder! Continue reading “Honor to whom honor is due”

Don’t mess with My people

It is a warning as hot as the Mohave Desert, as serious as a serpent. God warns us not to destroy his people.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).

Notice two things: First, the personal pronouns are plural. When he says “you are God‘s temple,” he means, “you all are God’s temple.” Second, note that important word, “for.” The reason the consequences of division are so dire is because of the identity of what they are dividing. They divide nothing less than God’s temple! Continue reading “Don’t mess with My people”

Zeal and knowledge

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:1, 2).

A shepherd once strode into the palace of the most powerful man on earth and made a stunning demand: “Thus says the LORD the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go.'” Do you remember Pharaoh’s dubious response?

“Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice and let Israel go,” he wondered derisively, “I do not know the LORD, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” Continue reading “Zeal and knowledge”

When an elder dies

“When an elder dies, a library is lost” (African Proverb)

Have you ever said something like this: “I wish we had recorded grandpa when he talked about the old days. Now all those stories are lost!” The Africans revere an aged person; our society worships youth. I wonder which perspective is the wisest? Continue reading “When an elder dies”

Whose garden is it, anyway?

Why do we dig in the dirt and lovingly plant gardens? For ourselves?

The reason we take care of our plants in the garden is for our own use and pleasure. However, we must understand and respect the needs of the plant, or our efforts may well be in vain.

God demands respect. He wants us to worship him and is clear in scripture how that is to happen. (Spoiler alert here: it’s all about God, not about us.) Continue reading “Whose garden is it, anyway?”

Should we show others respect?

Is it even necessary these days to show respect to others?

I was speaking about respect recently when it dawned on me that my hearers had little idea of what the term meant nor were they convinced that certain people deserved it at all. A broad shouldered young man explained to me that he didn’t have to respect his aged grandmother because he was stronger than her. Please tell me that we are not in an era where might makes right. “I respect someone because he is bigger, or has more guns.” Another person suggested that he would give respect only to those who respected him.

Of course a teacher who belittles or humiliates his students is not being respectful. But can we say that a teacher exhibits a different kind of respect to his students than a student to his teacher? They occupy different locations in the education system. Likewise a policeman and civilian or judge and defendant should be respectful to each other, though you might have noticed that the judge does not address the defendant as “Your Honor.” Continue reading “Should we show others respect?”

Will we respect the Presidency?

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

A sister in Christ was vocal about her political beliefs. She filled her time with political television and radio. It was the center of her being.

One Sunday in Bible Class, we came to Peter’s command to “Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). She scoffed and with a disgusted look said she refused to honor the President. We then looked at Paul’s insistence that we pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Yet, she remained obstinate.

Only hate can cause us to look God in the eyes and defy him because of the way we feel about a human being. We can lose our souls because of this attitude. We cannot be in Christ if we have hate in our hearts (1 John 1:5; 2:9).

Jonah hated the people of Nineveh and refused to take the Word to them (Jonah 1:1-3). God got his attention before he begrudgingly complied (Jonah 3).

Hate fills our eyes with blood and we are unable to see the good in those we disdain. We assign evil motives to them no matter what they do.

Hate breeds suspicion and superiority. They are trapped in our web of delusion and we become a prison warden holding them in a maximum security super-cell.

As Christians, we must examine ourselves to determine our strengths and weaknesses. Sports, religion and politics are areas that can magnify character flaws. We must keep our heads and remember we are Christians before we are anything.

Christians can become filled with hatred and hostility as they use the Bible as a weapon of destruction. Instead of leading people to heaven, they want to send more people to hell.

Satan will take our weaknesses and manifest them. If politics or sports makes Satan’s job easier, then we must abandon sports and politics (Exodus 20:3-5; Matthew 5:29-30). Whatever we place in front of God, no matter how harmless or altruistic it may appear, has to be banished.

Nero was in power when Peter said to honor the king. He would eventually execute Peter and Paul. He blamed Christian for the burning of Rome and had some of his family executed to protect his power. Two leaders before Nero was Caligula, who was criminally insane.

Josef Stalin killed 40 million people. Hitler killed nine million in the Holocaust and millions more in World War II. Pol Pot killed one-third of Cambodia’s population and Idi Amin Dada killed more than half a million Ugandans.

We have never had a President who was in the league of these maniacs. The person in power is immaterial because God ordained the office, not the man.

In Romans 13, Paul outlines very clearly the responsibility we have as citizens. In 13:1, “every soul” is emphatic in Greek and refers to “every living being.” No one is immune.

The “authority of government is “ordained” of God and we must respect it. If we disobey the government we disobey God. When our government aligns itself against God’s, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, NKJV; cf. Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 9:17).

If these leaders conduct themselves contrary to God’s will, then we must continue to pray for them and to be more active in spreading the Truth of God’s Word. While it is unlikely that any of our Presidents will be Christians that does not change God’s directive to obey and honor our President.

We must be Christians first in everything. Whatever we do that endangers that goal must be banished from our lives because Christ must always have the glory (Ephesians 3:20-21).