Benefits from being born again

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NASB).

Occasionally news will come from South Asia of the birth of a child to one of the Christian couples (often a preacher and his wife) there. Almost always that will be accompanied by a request for me (or Brenda and me) to name the new baby. That is always an honor, as well as a means of keeping me humble. To provide a new child with the name by which he or she will be known for the rest of their life is a significant responsibility.

Several years ago I got a similar request but in a different context. An older man who had been a Hindu for all of his life was baptized into Christ. He asked me during a devotional in his home that night to give him a name suitable for a Christian. He stated that up until that day he had prayed to idols every night in his house, but on this night he was praying (and we with him) to the true, living God. He no longer wanted to be known by his Hindu name. He was beginning a new life of faith and wanted to be known for that instead. Continue reading “Benefits from being born again”

Mansions

“In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3, NKJV).

Several years ago a younger visitor commented about his modest aspirations for a house. “I don’t want anything fancy, just a simple place kind of like your house.” Though I would agree that my house is not fancy, it represents many years of saving and working and is likely the largest and last house I will own. I was a little shocked at this example of the next generation’s definition of “starter home.” Of course, that particular individual may not be a true representative of his generation. Continue reading “Mansions”

Believing what one reads

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?’ But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:8-9, ESV).

How often have we heard or said, “You cannot believe everything you read?” Human writers make mistakes. They also are always influenced by their own preconceptions, experience, education, and abilities, to say nothing of pressure from outside to conform to the demands of others. Sometimes, sadly, they just plain lie.

Even when it comes to sacred Scripture, which is from God and therefore is true (2 Timothy 3:16-17), we today are dependent upon other humans to preserve, translate, and explain it to us (as in Nehemiah 8:5-8). God’s word is absolutely dependable. Human teachers, not so much so. Continue reading “Believing what one reads”

7 truths about God in Ezekiel 33

The Old Testament is a rich mine of truths about God and his ways. The prophets reveal the divine heart and intentions. Get a taste of truths about God from this little slice of Ezekiel 33.

No. 1. God is a revealer. “The word of the Lord came to me” (Ezekiel 33:1, ESV). He tells man what he is doing and what he expects. God does nothing without letting us know his intentions and actions (Amos 3:7; Ephesians 3:5). Things he reveals are for us all, that we might obey his commands and thereby find joy and peace (Deuteronomy 29:29). God’s revelation to us, now contained in the Bible, is for our salvation. “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations” (Psalm 98:2). Continue reading “7 truths about God in Ezekiel 33”

Own your relationship to God

On the prayer website of a popular religious minister of old, the author titles one of his pages with the idea of owning our relationship to God./1

This is a happy phrase. It encourages us to assume responsibility for our relationship with God. I personally have to pursue it and nourish it. I must recognize that no other pursuit is as noble or worthy as knowing God. Fellowship with my Creator must be the great project of life. This means that no one else can assume responsibility for it. Nor can I blame anyone for failures in it. Continue reading “Own your relationship to God”

Obedience

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

Religious leaders will do verbal back flips in order to avoid saying that we need to obey God’s commands. Commentators will write four paragraphs to show that the Holy Spirit really didn’t mean what he plainly said in one simple sentence. People will declare, “Oh surely God wouldn’t condemn us if we didn’t obey that commandment!”

The fact is that the Lord demands that we obey his commands. Continue reading “Obedience”

Better to have never been born

Job expressed the desire to have never been born, so great was his suffering. In his moral confusion, Solomon considered better than both the living and the dead “the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth” Ecclesiastes 4.3.

The Lord Jesus used this idea, of better to have never been born, for the one who betrayed him. Continue reading “Better to have never been born”

Two wrongs do not make a right

This is a scenario every preacher and elder knows: A family has been missing from worship. When a church leader notes this, he goes to their home to determine if there is anything he can do.

During the visit the family throws a number of accusations at the church. This church “doesn’t feed me,” this church “doesn’t have a good youth program,” someone in the church “said something insensitive,” and, my personal favorite, “there are hypocrites in the church.” Continue reading “Two wrongs do not make a right”

Will we learn from our failings?

Spiritual awareness is indispensable as we try to maneuver through this challenging life. Even as Christians, we know we’ll fail at times and the Lord is ready to forgive (1 John 1:7).

We exhibit righteousness so as to minimize the sin in our lives (Romans 12:1-2). The Lord is forgiving and patient but he has limits (Ephesians 5:1-14). He knows the spiritual direction we are traveling and we must remain in the light. Continue reading “Will we learn from our failings?”

It’s the church’s responsibility to meet my needs

How many times have I have heard someone say: “I left that church because they weren’t meeting my needs.”

The thing I’m struggling with is the vision of a church as a place where our needs ought to be met, as if we were entering a shop, then storming out because the service did not meet our expectations. All of which begs the question: Is the purpose of a church to meet my needs? Is that why we join a church – in order to be served? Continue reading “It’s the church’s responsibility to meet my needs”