Sources of authority

“And coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?'” (Matthew 13:54, ESV).

In the current great political divide which has enveloped our nation, it is unfortunately quite common for one side to reject a proposal simply because it was made by their opponents. Its intrinsic worth is rarely considered, but only, “If the other party is for it, we are against it.” Continue reading “Sources of authority”

Excess baggage

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV).

When I first began to travel internationally most major airlines were allowing up to two checked pieces of luggage, each of which could contain up to 70 pounds. Additionally, each passenger was allowed one carry-on bag and a personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or camera bag. Over-weight was often ignored. Continue reading “Excess baggage”

How do we know who to believe?

God’s prophets to Israel and Judah had a difficult task. Their message was not a popular one and many refused to believe them. There were also competing messages from some who called themselves God’s prophets. No wonder the people were confused!

As the nation of Judah headed towards eventual exile in Babylon, God had his prophet Jeremiah enact what was going to happen. Early in King Zedekiah’s reign God told Jeremiah to make a yoke, like oxen would use to pull plows and wagons (many would more likely use horses today). The yoke forced the animal to serve its owner by pulling. Continue reading “How do we know who to believe?”

A real man

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth” (Jeremiah 5:1 NKJV).

For much of my lifetime American culture has sought to define, or redefine, what it means to be a man. Not only what it means to be human, but more specifically what it means to be an adult male human. What are the defining characteristics of that particular form of life?

Several decades ago the ideal man was, to many, something like a TV western hero (Matt Dillon or Wyatt Earp for us old timers), the actors who portrayed them (John Wayne or Clint Eastwood for example) or possibly the “Marlboro Man” of the old tobacco commercials. Muscles, an inscrutable attitude, and lots of fortitude were basic ingredients. Continue reading “A real man”

What is it?

“So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat’ . . . And the house of Israel called its name Manna” (Exodus 16:15, 31 NKJV).

As one travels throughout the world there are many occasions when he or she may ask, “What is this?” It may be regarding a food, a drink, a piece of household furniture, a tool, or even a custom or behavior. There are many cultures in this world, each with its own history, traditions, and particular resources. It is not surprising that varying cultures have found different solutions to many of the same needs. One person’s familiar object may be completely strange to someone else. Continue reading “What is it?”

Stewards of God’s gifts

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1 ESV).

Everything belongs to God. If everything truly belongs to God then nothing truly belongs to us. While we may be in possession of many things, we are owners of none. Instead we are stewards.

A steward is “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another.” Continue reading “Stewards of God’s gifts”

When there is no peace

They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).

God desires peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He came to bring peace between man and God, between man and himself, and between man and his fellow man. We are to seek peace and pursue it. But how far should we pursue peace?

As forth-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of reminding God’s people of the covenant that they had made with God. As fore-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of warning the people of coming judgment due to their refusal to repent.

The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, was God’s messenger leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Judah’s sins were full, and their punishment was imminent. Jeremiah’s task was to speak God’s word to a nation who was dull of hearing and who would “fight against” him (Jeremiah 1:19). This task was a great burden to Jeremiah. He wished for deliverance, he tried to shut God’s words up within him and not speak (Jeremiah 20:8-9). But God was true to his promises to Jeremiah, he was with Jeremiah every step of the way (Jeremiah 1:19; 20:11). Continue reading “When there is no peace”