Have I done enough? Grace and obedience

Recently I heard another horror story regarding someone nearing death. The preacher recounted how a dying Christian had raised the unsettling question, “Have I done enough?”

Christians do not need to face death fearing whether they have done enough. They should, however, understand why obedience is important. A healthy perspective will delve into the biblical undergirding of both.

Continue reading “Have I done enough? Grace and obedience”

Summiting Romans

In May 1921 the first western expedition to Everest was undertaken. The goal of the reconnaissance expedition was to ascertain possible routes for summiting the world’s highest peak. While they did not reach the pinnacle of Earth’s crust, they set the stage for Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent in 1953. Since then less than 6,000 people have looked down from the peak at 8,848 meters.

I have long been fascinated by high-altitude climbing. There is perhaps no more appealing prize to the masses than Everest. But as thrilling as a trip to the top of the world may be, there are loftier peaks to reach. Continue reading “Summiting Romans”

Just a hand

Last week I drove past a man walking on the sidewalk carrying sacks from a purchase he’d evidently just made. He had no hands. His arms were stumps, but he was able to carry his sacks. He was managing.

Jesus entered a synagogue to teach. A man with a withered hand was there. It was widely known that he would heal people on the sabbath. Continue reading “Just a hand”

‘I want you’

When writers make plays on words, they often emphasize great truths. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation in defense of his apostleship. He made clear he was only interested in the spiritual welfare: “I seek not yours, but you” 2 Corinthians 12.14. By that he meant he did not want their money or possessions. Many translations use these terms. None, however, expand on Paul’s compressed phrase, “I want you.” One commentator expressed it well: “Paul wants his readers to know that it is the gift of their lives to Christ, not of their money to himself, that he covets” (Furnish 564).

How can we today make clear this sentiment of Paul’s? We don’t want people’s money, but we want people themselves, that is, we want to win people for Christ. We have no ulterior motives. We seek the good of others, offering them eternal life, just as it was offered to us. Continue reading “‘I want you’”

Attitude adjustment

As Jesus neared the end of his earthly life, it was time to give the people who loved him and hated him an opportunity for an attitude adjustment.

Lazarus, Jesus’ dear friend, had been sick and had died. The Lord had been away from Judea. Now, he returned to the home of his friends and where his enemies plotted his death. Continue reading “Attitude adjustment”

Born for this

Moments of great consequence summon the best out of us. It is at this moment that some might claim, “I was born for this.”

Never had a moment been as consequential, nor the need as great, as when God’s plan to save man approached its consummation.

Never had a person entered the world with more expectation, nor greater burden than when God clothed himself in flesh.

Never had one so perfect for the task met it with such perfection. Truly Jesus was born for this. Continue reading “Born for this”

Birth is a beginning

I was privileged to be present for the birth of all three of my boys. Each experience was wonderfully unique. The first is the most memorable. As second-year preaching school students we lived in a small two bedroom apartment. Our midwife was over an hour away. She didn’t make it. Armed with a three-page emergency list entitled “What To Do If Your Midwife Is Not Present,” we welcomed our little boy into our arms. I’d never held a newborn before, not like that. It was life-changing.

The anticipation is realized happiness. The anxiousness is replaced with relief. The pain melts into pride. This is our boy. Continue reading “Birth is a beginning”

The Savior of the world

Since earliest times people and nations have looked to earthly figures and political powers to save them. The people of Israel hoped Egypt would protect them from Assyria. Brazilians have long talked about a salvador da pátria (savior of the nation) to rescue them from their problems. It is a human trait to wish for, await, or appeal to someone to save.

Inevitably, however, humans disappoint. The prophet Isaiah wrote about Pharoah: Continue reading “The Savior of the world”

Fire from heaven

They were disciples, apostles, and brothers. Along with Simon, whom Jesus called “Peter” (meaning “a stone”), they were part of Jesus’ inner circle. Like Simon, they had been given a sobriquet. The Lord called them “Boanerges.” They were the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17).

Perhaps they were powerful preachers. Perhaps they had powerful personalities. We simply don’t know the full reason for the moniker.

James was the first apostle to die (Acts 12:2), John was the last. While Jesus walked the earth, no one was closer to him than the “Stone” and the “Sons of Thunder.” Continue reading “Fire from heaven”