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”

You are reaching the goal. Right now.

November is a big month for writers and authors. It’s the National (American) Novel-Writing Month, a yearly challenge for people anywhere to write a novel in a month’s time, with a challenge of so many words a day. Other people have been inspired by it to create challenges to write daily during November for nonfiction and academic writings.

I like April when the National, and now Global, Poetry Writing Month rolls around, but November is the big month for writing challenges.

Humans like challenges and deadlines. Many if not most people live by competing against others, against the clock, against the current. This probably qualifies as eustress, Hans Selye’s term for beneficial stress: Continue reading “You are reaching the goal. Right now.”

From heaven or from men

The Tuesday before his crucifixion Jesus made his way into the temple. He was approached by Jewish leaders who questioned his authority, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).

It was a good question, though obviously not born out of sincerity. The need for authority in religious practice often is regrettably ignored, forgotten, or abused. Continue reading “From heaven or from men”

Difficult but not impossible

“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18, ESV; compare Proverbs 11:31).

Traveling the mountain roads in Nepal has given me a new appreciation for the term “scraping by.” Frequently when two vehicles meet one must back up to a wider spot in order to allow the other to pass. Even in places where two can pass it is often by the narrowest of margins. I have frequently looked out my window and been unable to see any road beside our vehicle – and many times I found myself looking over a drop-off of hundreds or thousands of feet. Traffic can pass, but it is by no means easy. Continue reading “Difficult but not impossible”

The church at the center of God’s salvation

Last week, I wrote, “The church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.” What do I mean by that? What is the relationship of the church to salvation?

The saved are added to the church

Nobody joins the church of God. You can join a denomination, but you can’t join the body of Christ (which says a lot about what a denomination is and is not). This is the work of God, just as it is his work to cleanse from sin when we are immersed in water. That first moment of the gospel makes clear what the process is: Continue reading “The church at the center of God’s salvation”

Through the door

I recently heard a travel writer encourage people who were considering traveling abroad to just go through the door. Doors are opportunities or obstacles. Often our perspective determines reality. If we view doors as obstacles, that is what they are. To this travel writer, one needed to see the doors as opportunities for adventure, growth, and perspective.

Scripture speaks often of doors, both literal and figurative. Continue reading “Through the door”

Last words as saving words

Have you ever noticed how so many of the letters in the New Testament end in similar ways? The writers sign off with concern for the spiritual welfare and salvation of others. And more — they urge their readers to act and speak so that others be saved.

James ends his practical letter with a practical, soul-winning exhortation, James 5.19-20.

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

So does Jude, in some verses hard to sort through, but the general idea is clear, vv. 22-23. Continue reading “Last words as saving words”

Something dependable

Our world is inundated with competing voices, conflicting perspectives and constant strife. From political posturing and divergent medical opinions to contrasting economic theories and social viewpoints, we are surrounded by what seems like chaos.

Ever long for a quiet moment to reflect upon something you can trust? In 1 Timothy Paul served up three wonderful nuggets. The first and third offer a profound impact for all of our lives, if we will embrace them. Continue reading “Something dependable”

Christ’s love from all sides

There are many things that can “fill us up.” Fried chicken can fill one up. Marital love can fill one up. Our vocation in life can often come pretty close to filling us up in several ways.

The apostle Paul had a wish for the members of the church at Ephesus. He wrote, “That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19b). One might achieve that by learning the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ, which, he said, surpasses knowledge. Continue reading “Christ’s love from all sides”