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”

Spiritual vegetarians

When a baby is born, they are fed milk or formula until they are able to handle solid food. As we grow, we have a greater say over our diet.

Some choose to become meat eaters while others become vegetarians. Neither is inherently right or wrong since you can find a host of experts and advocates on both sides.

Spiritually, though, we can be more certain. In the Bible, God uses diet to refer to spiritual maturity. New Christians can’t handle the advanced teaching that may be a normal meal for a mature Christian. Continue reading “Spiritual vegetarians”

What type of fishermen are we?

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then he said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men'” (Matthew 4:18-19 NKJV).

I have always been at least peripherally aware that there were commercial fishermen somewhere. However in the part of the world in which I live a fisherman is generally a person with rod and line seeking to catch one fish at a time. Though he intends to eat his catch, he usually views fishing as a form of entertainment or hobby. That is called sport fishing. Many sport fishermen do not even keep the fish they land but release them to provide entertainment for someone else.

In less developed parts of the world, sport has little or nothing to do with fishing. It is all about the catch, and eating or selling it. Though, for example, many in Bangladesh fish with hook and line, the preferred and most common method is to use nets. These vary from small nets thrown by hand, to large nets set in rivers, lakes, or the sea. Continue reading “What type of fishermen are we?”

Writing should be seen as a ministry

The Great Commission calls upon Christians to take the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). We must be wise to find the most efficient and successful method to deliver the Word.

When God delivered the Law of Moses, he did so in print (Exodus 31:18). Likewise, God assembled the Bible to preserve Scripture for all generations (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus is even called the Word, which can be both spoken and written (John 1:1). Continue reading “Writing should be seen as a ministry”

Woe to those who lock the door!

Jesus was finished with the Pharisees and Sadducees.

It wasn’t that he shunned them, but they decided to stop talking to him (Matthew 22:46).

The lesson of Jesus to the crowds in Matthew 23 was to beware of these religious “leaders,” since they had no desire to become any more than what they were: they were hypocrites.

A hypocrite is a person who is an actor. The word itself comes from the drama of the Greeks and refers to the false face the actors wore while performing their roles. The Pharisees wore a false face of holiness. Underneath the mask, however, the Pharisees were quite unholy.

The first woe Jesus pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13 NASB). Continue reading “Woe to those who lock the door!”

Are they still hungry?

How often do we make rash statements? Statements, that if we had taken just a moment to think through, we would never have made, yet statements that lock us into a particular course of action. This is what we find in Acts 23.

The apostle Paul had been taken prisoner on a trumped up charge (see Acts 21:28). All the Roman commanding officer knew was that because of Paul the Jews had come close to rioting during the time of Pentecost (see Acts 20:16). When Paul spoke to him in Greek he figured out that he wasn’t the Egyptian outlaw with 4000 assassins following him. Paul offered to speak to the people and the officer gave him permission, hoping, it would seem, to gain some insight into why the people were trying to kill this man. Continue reading “Are they still hungry?”