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”

A Sinner, the Savior, and Simon

When Jesus was invited to a meal, the whole neighborhood might come. The common people wanted to see and hear Jesus, a rabbi who was often in conflict with the Pharisees. When Jesus was invited to dine with a Pharisee, it was one part evening entertainment and one part religious instruction.

When Jesus came to dine at Simon’s house (Luke 7:36-50), word spread. A woman who is identified as “a sinner” comes to see Jesus. But she is not content with standing on the periphery, or peering in to get a fleeting glimpse. She moves through the crowd to the feet of the Savior. Weeping, she wipes the tears off his feet with her hair, kisses his feet, and pours over them expensive ointment.

The reaction by Simon was one of disgust and rejection. He rejects Jesus as a prophet because he certainly doesn’t know who is touching him for she is a sinner (Luke 7:39). Continue reading “A Sinner, the Savior, and Simon”

The Ruler of this world

When man sinned in the garden, Satan won a significant victory. Sin entered the world. Man was separated from his God. The world, fashioned by the Creator, was spoiled. The struggle for men’s hearts became apparent.

Yes, Satan won a victory, but it would not be lasting. The God who declares the end from the beginning showed us the ending, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

God would be victorious over sin, over sin’s effects, and over sin’s greatest proponent. But that victory would not always be evident. At times, in the struggle with sin, Satan would appear to have the upper hand. Continue reading “The Ruler of this world”

Passing judgment

One of the problems Paul addressed in his letter to the Christians in Rome was the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Some scholars have suggested that this could have been a problem amongst the Christians at Rome. In the first three chapter Paul shows that not only were Gentiles guilty of sin, but the Jews were as well. In fact, all sin and fall short of God’s standard. Although the second chapter deals with the Jews also being guilty of sin, there are practical lessons for Christians as we seek to live for Jesus.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4 NIV)

Continue reading “Passing judgment”

Rebuilt lives

On our last road trip we saw four accidents complete with emergency vehicles, highway patrolmen, and rubberneckers. In at least two of those incidents it appeared to this rubbernecker that the vehicles involved were likely to be totaled. They soon would be branded with a salvaged title.

These salvaged vehicles can occasionally be repaired. In the hands of a capable mechanic and body shop these cars can be salvaged. After a thorough inspection, these vehicles can receive a rebuilt title. They can be driven and sold, yet with a perpetual branded title. A vehicle that was ruined is given a new life. Continue reading “Rebuilt lives”

Ramifications of our actions on future generations

By Johnny O. Trail — People tend to show off what they have.  When I took General Business in high school, we talked about a concept called “conspicuous consumption.”  Conspicuous consumption is defined as “expenditure on or consumption of luxuries on a lavish scale in an attempt to enhance one’s prestige.” (Bing online dictionary). The idea is that a person purchases or possesses certain items to show off their wealth.

Maybe the Judahite king, Hezekiah, wanted to show off this wealth when he entertained certain emissaries from Babylon. Isaiah 39:2 says, Continue reading “Ramifications of our actions on future generations”

Critical situations

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5, NASB).

As these words are written the world continues to battle the pandemic of Covid-19, a newly discovered Corona virus which, first detected probably in December, 2019, spread throughout more than 150 nations in a span of three to four months. A few countries have seen the peak of new cases pass, with fewer reported and death rates dwindling. But for most of the world the virus continues to rage. More than two million have been confirmed with Covid 19 in the U.S. alone and the number is still climbing. Equally alarming is the effect this pandemic is having upon the global economy. To say this is a critical time is perhaps an understatement. Continue reading “Critical situations”

The sin of laziness

During our first months in Brazil, aeons ago, two of our Portuguese teachers discussed, rather heatedly, whether or not Brazilians were by nature lazy. One believed it zealously, while the other noted how much time Brazilians spent getting to and from work, as well as how long their work week was.

Years later, a Brazilian brother shared his dream of retirement: living on the beach and spending his days in a hammock. That sounds pretty lazy to me. But then it’s retirement, right? I doubt, however, that many people would buy into his dream. Continue reading “The sin of laziness”

Humility now, exaltation later

Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:5, 6 ESV).

Pride and selfishness are the besetting sins of mankind. Always lurking nearby, ready with an enticing word that plays to our vanity and to our self-importance. Many have fallen victim to the siren song of self. Few find the strength to resist.

The answer to these sins is pure love exhibited in humility. Augustine is reported to have said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Continue reading “Humility now, exaltation later”