Our influence

Do we realize the influence we have on those around us? Although we may think that no one pays attention to us, we influence more than we realize. Notice this parable of Jesus.

“The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29 CSV).

This is how it works in God’s kingdom. Seed is scattered. As the Parable of the Sower is in the same context (Mark 4:1-20), and it identified the seed as the word, the seed that is scattered would make sense to still be God’s word. We scatter seed by teaching people about Jesus. Continue reading “Our influence”

He loved the unlovely

There is one group with whom Jesus talked more than anyone except his disciples: the Pharisees.

The Pharisees are mentioned 82 times in the gospels, and almost all of those are in connection with Jesus teaching them. Just in the book of Matthew, the Pharisees are referred to 27 times. In more than one chapter in that book, there are three or more uses of the word. Continue reading “He loved the unlovely”

Planting Seeds

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds devoured it. Other seed fell on rock, and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up with it and choked it. But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain” (Luke 8:5-8 NET).

Jesus frequently told stories as he was teaching the people, stories that are referred to as “parables.” These were taken from everyday life in rural Palestine of the first century. They were stories, but they were more than stories – they were told to teach a truth to people and in a way that they could be remembered. Continue reading “Planting Seeds”

Who gets the credit?

My wife and I went out to see the latest Marvel film yesterday evening. As always, we stayed until the very last credit because Marvel puts in little extras to give you a wee glimpse of what will happen in the next film (or another one to come soon).

But you have to wait until all the credits have gone. And they credit everyone for anything they have done that had to do with the film. I guess if I had a small bit to do with the film I’d probably want to see my name in the “end crawl” as well! I often wonder at some of the names or some of the positions (what is a “best boy” or “best boy grip” anyway?). Continue reading “Who gets the credit?”

Two sermons, two very different reactions

We will guard our hearts no matter what happens. We will rationalize or pretend whatever is necessary to bring our lives into some kind of equilibrium. It’s the human way.

While we hear with our ears, we interpret the data through our hearts and minds. That is the real battlefield in terms of the gospel.

We find an excellent example in Acts where two similar messages evoked diametrically opposed reactions. Continue reading “Two sermons, two very different reactions”

Dalton Mansel worked for God

Dalton Mansel, (1939-2015), came to ministry by accident but remained with purpose (Colossians 3:23).

Born into a hardscrabble existence, he acquired a work ethic that would burn brightly until his final moments. For 76 years he labored so that his final days were filled with the language of work, orders and management.

His body and spirit refused to remain at rest (Proverbs 13:4).

As he labored more than half a century in retail–forty of them in management–he served God and his family tirelessly (Exodus 4:2; 1 Timothy 5:8). Continue reading “Dalton Mansel worked for God”