The glory of the church

In his book Family of God: A Study of the New Testament Church, Batsell Barrett Baxter’s first chapter is entitled, “The Glory of the Church.” It’s a fine title and a marvelous way to begin the subject. Brother Baxter gave eight reasons why the church is glorious: its origin, its foundation, its beginning, its relationship, its universality, its simplicity, and its destiny. It’s worth reading and appreciating.

His chapter needs no rewriting or revision. So allow me to take another tack that complements the points above. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, and the first of many problems he tackled was that of divisiveness. In the longest section of the letter (chapters 1-4), he wrote, Continue reading “The glory of the church”

Do we want to be wise?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding” (Psalm 111:10 ESV).

Wisdom. What so many people desire, yet do they understand how to get wisdom? In fact, what is wisdom?

Many confuse wisdom with knowledge. Knowledge is the gaining of facts and information. Just because we know some things does not mean that we have wisdom. We can have knowledge without wisdom. Continue reading “Do we want to be wise?”

Traditions

Tevye, the whimsical patriarch in the movie Fiddler on the Roof explains the definition of a tradition perfectly. Speaking of Jewish tradition in Tsarist Russia, he declares: “You may ask, how did his tradition get started?” Then he pauses before answering his own question: “I tell you why: I don’t know.”

Young people (I was young once, too) like to ask the question, “But why do we have to do it this way?” Those of us who are older have to do better than to simply say, “Tradition!” Continue reading “Traditions”

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda – The game our hearts play

Eleven new daylilies. That’s what came home with me when I went to a friend’s garden to pick up one or two, maybe three.

In the hurry to put them into the ground in my own garden, quick decisions had to be made before the plants became stressed for lack of water and nourishment.

The prettiest one of them ended up between the garage and a large stand of rather tall cannas and a crape myrtle.

Why would I put them there? Continue reading “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda – The game our hearts play”

Rest for your souls

Weekends, holidays, vacation time — we want rest! Today we have more time off than people of any age. But some still think that the time they have for rest is little for so much work and responsibility.

Our problem is that the rest we need is for the soul.

In the greater context of chapters 11-12 of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus condemns the Jews for not accepting God’s emissaries (John the Immerser and himself) and for creating and imposing upon others their religious rules. To those willing to accept it, Jesus offers rest for the soul, with these conditions: Continue reading “Rest for your souls”

Wisdom is justified in her children

My father once wrote, “Just as children can learn goodness by the lives of their godly parents, so faithful Christians can evidence in themselves the valuable wisdom of God.”

Those words were written in the margin of a commentary on the book of Matthew by H. Leo Boles in the 1950s. Boles, of Matthew 11:19 wrote, “The works of wisdom are the best evidence of wisdom.”[1]

Boles was addressing one of my favorite sayings of Jesus, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Matthew 11:19 NASB). Continue reading “Wisdom is justified in her children”

Listening

If you are not a charming conversationalist you might still be a big hit as a charming listener. You can win more friends with your ears than you mouth. Did you notice that you can earn an entire degree in communication, yet not take a single class on listening? Apparently “Listening 101” is not considered a part of communication at a university, yet 50% of any communication transaction involves the part where someone listens.

Have you ever taken the time to think about what qualities make one a good, or a poor listener? A nod of the head, eye contact, a word of encouragement (“Go on, I’m listening”) would certainly help. In Jesus’ parable of the soils (Matthew 13:1-23), the verb to hear is used 15 times, and such figurative terms for hearing as “see,” and “perceive” are used 16 times. Continue reading “Listening”

Criticism without all the facts

An undeniable certainty is that humans will complain.

When we get angry we whine, gripe and rant to anyone who will listen. Our fingers run to social media to trumpet the injustice to the world. It’s a disease as old as time (Genesis 3:9-13).

Victimhood is the easiest garment to wear because it feels so warm and comfortable. It molds to our shape and empowers us to boldness. It assails and flays anyone who wrongs us in any conceivable way. Continue reading “Criticism without all the facts”

Goals, thoughts, behavior, self-control: Some notes on the book of Proverbs

This month I’m sending, by email, a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs to some friends who’ve requested it. It’s yet another effort to encourage Bible reading and study. I also post some links and notes of mine on each chapter, for whoever wants to delve further. Following is a translation from the Portuguese of some of those notes, a few of them expanded for this article, along with a couple new ones. Continue reading “Goals, thoughts, behavior, self-control: Some notes on the book of Proverbs”