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Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2015
His and His (03/28/15)
If you've ever witnessed arguments concerning Christianity in general, it won't take long to see a pattern. The believer will often quote Scriptures and his or her belief. The unbeliever will quote something from a cable TV program he once saw, hurl insults at Christians, claiming that Christians are ignorant. ...
Comfort, Comfort (03/20/15)
Another pastor recently shared, "It is said that if a frog is placed in hot water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in lukewarm water that is gradually heated, it will never get out, but slowly die." Please don't try this at home, but consider this a lesson for all of us who have what we call "comfort zones." Lack of talent can be an indication of avoiding certain activities. ...
Tree Stumped (03/06/15)
When God presented the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20), He did not do what many of us think would have been obvious: preface the presentation reminding Moses that God is God, our Creator, and that He owns us. Want to do a check on your ancestry? Your full search, if it's honest, would end up at the same place and people as mine--those two who decided to "be like God, knowing good from evil", yes, the exact same Adam and Eve who ate from the forbidden Tree and thought they could hide from omniscient, omnipresent God--from behind a tree. ...
The Time for Giving Up (02/13/15)
February 18 is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the penitential season of Lent, which lasts forty days, minus the Sundays, that mirrors our Lord's forty days in the desert, when He was tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1-11) During Lent, some Christians may struggle against a particular sin or unhealthy habit, to better appreciate our Lord's suffering. ...
You are His (02/06/15)
When we think of the glory days of God's kingdom of Israel, we think of King David, who ruled circa 1000 B.C. David's son, Solomon, came after him, ruling until about 950 B.C. After him, the kingdom was divided, and over time, the two kingdoms "forgot" the Lord--they paid nominal tribute to God and saw Him as only one possibility for a source of truth. ...
No Huffing and Puffing (01/30/15)
No Huffing and Puffing It is said that times change. My high school senior classmates had options that included going to work at a factory making today's equivalent of $32 an hour--$67,000 a year--and that was the "starting" pay for a forty-hour work week! Today, seniors at that same high school do not have the latter option--that factory and others like it have closed...
Living in the Word (01/16/15)
His Call Many of us believers have personally experienced or witnessed a testimony from a person who had been enlightened by some Scripture passages they had never read. It's quite possibly their own "Bible" was a paraphrased (rewritten text) or a less-than-honest word-by-word translation which said little or nothing about particular sins. ...
Jesus Saves, thank God! (01/09/15)
Years ago, an old college buddy and I were camping in some woods on the edge of a beach in Wilmington, NC. After a five minute walk to have a look at the Atlantic Ocean, we met a couple of boys, maybe 12 or so years old. Looking out on the water at what looked like a small island, I pointed and exclaimed, "Look! There it is!" The boys began snickering, but after some defensive questioning and coaxing from my friend and me, we convinced the boys that we were all looking at the shoreline of Spain...
Fall and Rising (12/26/14)
Asheville, North Carolina is home to visual artist Grace Carol Bomer. She is a Christian whose work chronicles God's salvation of His beloved but desperate human creation. One of her works displays a man bowing down as in reverence and plea for deliverance. Entitled "We Bow Down I", the physical and the spiritual meet, with a funnel-shaped apparition coming from above to encounter the prostrate man who is surrounded by oppressive darkened earth tones...
Come, Lord Jesus (12/19/14)
In 2 Samuel 7, we read of David, proud of his new cedar palace and grateful for the Lord's shower of blessings upon him. David is so thankful that he decides to build a cedar house for God. After all, David surmises, how could he have a nice house while poor ol' God is practically homeless? The usually adept Samuel agrees, without consulting God but God retorts with something like "Do I, Almighty God, need a house built by human hands?"...
Who Are You? (12/12/14)
Two sets of parents were criticized some years ago for approving the wedding of their fourteen-year-old son and daughter. The critics scoffed at the idea that the two adolescents were mature enough for the responsibilities of marriage and could not know what love really is at that age. The children admitted that they were having sex, so the parents asked the critics, 'which was worse, getting married at fourteen or having sex outside of marriage?...
Prepared for You (12/05/14)
A Christian once set up a booth on a college campus to witness the gospel (good news) of Jesus the Christ with the students who might stop and talk with him. No loudspeakers, but a banner, some tracts, and a couple of folding chairs. A young woman stopped and told the Christian that his booth and presence were offending her. ...
Savior of the Nations, Come (11/28/14)
The traditional Church year ended on Sunday, November 23, with end-time Scripture readings and their scenes of heaven or the new earth in the never-ending life. The Gospel reading for that day was from Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus tells of His return in glory to "separate the sheep from the goats". ...
The Advent of Hope (11/21/14)
Some of you may remember from high school reading the poetry of twentieth-century poet and writer Dorothy Parker. She admitted that much of her poems were autobiographical and she is perhaps remembered more for her observational quips, such as "If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you." She was no prude, for sure, but an alcoholic who often wrote of suicide, ending one of her poems with, "...so I'm thinking of throwing the battle/would you kindly direct me to hell?"...
The Victorious Lamb (11/14/14)
My phone has partially-eaten apple on the back of it. I don't know if the manufacturer was making a theological smarty-pants comment with that symbol or not. Whenever I look at the icon, it does remind me of my condition--a sinner because of The Fall of so long ago. I've been looking for a crucifix to stick below that bitten apple to also remind me of Christ's victory over all sin, and how He has saved us. But I did find a small sticker that will work just as well: a sheep...
Living in the Word (10/24/14)
Inappropriate Websites A young American woman wrote a one-sentence response to another person's blog on a Web site. It might have been YouTube; I've forgotten. She's probably college age or maybe a little older. Her moniker denoted a female, and I assumed she was around college age or maybe a bit older, because she expressed the kind of thinking I had around the time my undergraduate secular university "awarded" me that suitable-for-framing document that suggested I was educated. She wrote:...
For Better, for Worse (10/10/14)
For Better, for Worse Whenever someone questions us or our motives or intentions, we tend to be defensive, assuming that our hearts are in the right place. But Christians should be the first to understand why others do question the objectives of our behaviors. We know that we are sinful by nature...
God's Gardens (10/03/14)
A Christian brother recently shared a line from a poem by Dorothy Francis Guerney which reads, "The kiss of the sun is for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth; one is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth." You probably recall some house that was surrounded by beautiful roses, and other ornamentals, both perennials and annuals, such as pansies, daylilies, and daffodils. ...
Satisfaction Guaranteed (09/19/14)
Christian apologetics (defense of the faith) involves the forensic evidence for the reality of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. Through Him in the flesh, God revealed Himself to His creation as their Creator and Savior. One of the many questions that has never been satisfied by unbelievers is how could Christianity have grown so much, thrived for so long, if it were a hoax, as there have been many, many people who have declared themselves to be the One...
Forgiving and Forgetting (09/12/14)
In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35), a king wanted to settle accounts. One man owed the king ten thousand talents, with just one talent being the equivalent of twenty years of labor. The servant begged the king to give him more time, promising that he would repay, although the debt was too great for the servant and all his family to repay...
How to Love (09/05/14)
Years ago, I attended an urban church as a visitor, and after the service, a woman came up and welcomed me. After expressing appreciation for her warm welcome, she said something like, "You may have noticed that we do not dress up very 'fancy' around here. ...
Good Grief (08/29/14)
In his first complaint against God, seventh century B.C. prophet Jeremiah asked the Lord, "Why does the way of the wicked prosper?" (Jeremiah 12) Jeremiah struggles to understand how a righteous God can tolerate the wicked and even allow them to prosper. One observer remarked that Jeremiah was like most of us twenty-first A.D. believers who often do not see the big picture of God's grace as He works in the world to bring His justice and salvation to His beloved people...
Schooled (08/15/14)
In the town in which I live, it is back to school today for teens, kiddos, and their younger siblings, the kidlets (the latter term borrowed from a friend). Some of them may love to learn but they don't have a choice where they go, when they go, or what classes to take and rules to follow. No, their choices are limited to the level of scholastic effort put forth, clothes, and who will not be their friends...
The Foul and the Fair (08/08/14)
Last month, a group of children were packing up their crafts, Bible story art work, etc. to prepare to go home at the end of the last day of Vacation Bible School. Some kiddos were crying and others were lamenting that it had ended. The children could tell that they had been loved. ...
Our Good Hope (08/01/14)
After Jesus heard of Herod's killing of John the Baptist, our Lord withdrew "to a desolate place by Himself". We see that the crowds had followed Him and that the Lord had "great compassion" for them. Much of the crowd was following Him not as the Savior from sins, but for His power to heal and make right their messy and painful temporal (earthly) lives. ...
King of the Hill, Field, Sea... (07/25/14)
In another time and place where people were falling away from faith in Christ, the crowds who had followed Jesus believed less in Him as Savior because He failed to meet their expectations. Jesus gave them what they deserved because of their refusal to believe in Him as Savior: He spoke to them in difficult parables. ...
Morning for the Mourning (07/18/14)
A new friend shared a story of a mother who lost her son to cancer. The boy had suffered since birth, but from his earliest years to his death just before reaching adolescence, he is remembered for his ear-to-ear grin, always smiling, seemingly happy. ...
The Sweetest Sounds (07/11/14)
Years ago, a stand-up comic asked why anyone would be a Christian, and especially advertise by wearing a crucifix showing what the world really thought of Jesus. Assuming that the comedian was ignorant of Scripture, we Christians would be tempted to explain to him why Jesus came and the real meaning of Jesus' death and resurrection,. But was it merely ignorance on the part of the now-departed comic?...
Keys of the Kingdom (06/27/14)
It is likely that few of you who recall the moniker, "Key 73", which was billed to be the largest, most comprehensive, multi-denominational (ecumenical) evangelism effort in modern times. The name "Key 73" was used because the outreach effort idea was born on the Francis Scott Key Bridge between Virginia and Washington DC, and it was supposed to be launched in 1973, resulting in reviving apathetic church members and producing new converts. ...
The Best Visit (06/20/14)
One of the lies the devil tells to keep people away from God is to tell us that the plan of salvation begins after you clean up your life and make yourself presentable to God. No, as Paul tells us in Romans Chapter 6 and 7, it is the cross of Christ that makes believers clean. ...
Joy Amidst the Mess (06/06/14)
We Christians, through the wider Church, enter the Pentecost season when we boldly proclaim God's Word and commit to outreach and evangelism. To prepare, we'll take a broad overview of the Church of Jesus Christ, from where the Church has come, why it is the way it is, and where we Christians can go from here...
Pentecost in the Bootheel (05/30/14)
In many churches worldwide, Sunday, June 8, 2014 will be Pentecost Sunday, the first day of the Pentecost season. The "festival" season (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter) ends, and we enter what some call the "non-festival" season--Pentecost. Pentecost Sunday is grounded by Acts 2, the miraculous account of the disciples receiving the "Helper" whom Jesus had promised in the previous chapter's record of His ascension...
Risen with the Son (05/23/14)
"Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia." Sunday, May 25 will be the last day many churches will use this paschal greeting until April 5, 2015, the next Easter. Next Thursday, May 29, is Ascension Day, when we remember our Lord's ascension into heaven which occurred forty days after His resurrection. ...
Where Jesus Is (05/16/14)
We Christians need to be careful about judging other people's hearts. That doesn't mean that we can't call a sin a sin. The unbelievers always misuse Jesus' "judge not" directive to shut up us believers about sin. (Matthew 7:1) But Jesus warns His believers to discern those who are false teachers and to use discernment (judgment). (Matthew 7:15-16) But we Christians must be careful in judging the motives of others mostly because our intentions are not pure, either...
J'accuse, pardon my French (05/02/14)
A friend who was a French teacher in Houston would huff anytime she heard a person curse, and then self-excuse it with "Pardon my French." She would correct them, "That's not French! And since when does misapplication excuse error?" You may recall studying the Dreyfus Affair from your high school history class. ...
Reading Your Signs (04/25/14)
Many, and probably most of us Christians have a miracle story we love to share with anyone who would listen. Maybe God healed a beloved sick one, or God delivered from chemical addiction, revived a broken, but beloved relationship. Your heart races as you complete your story with "Praise the Lord!" Now, imagine a man telling you how he had been divinely saved from drowning and he completes his story with, "All glory to Allah!"...
He is Risen, In Deed! Alleluia! (04/18/14)
In the ancient Greek legend of "Damocles", the title's namesake character was a "yes-man," a flatterer, who fawned over the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius. Damocles told him no one else on earth was more blessed because Dionysius had such wealth, prestige, and power. ...
Mirror, Mirror on the Cross (04/11/14)
If you had seen Israel's first king, Saul, you would have likely said, "Now, that's a king!" In 1 Samuel 9:2-3, he is described as most handsome, taller than anyone. But Saul had a problem with pride. He became so conceited that he thought that he deserved to be king. And just like most people, Saul had a jealousy problem, specifically with also-handsome David, and Saul chased the once shepherd boy, now hero and rival, all over the kingdom...
What are you looking at? (04/04/14)
Recently, I heard a woman publicly lamenting that this nation is going to the dogs. Yes, today we're asking our uniformed young men and women to offer their very lives to make the world safe for sodomy and abortion. But even sadder to hear from her was, "We can't even speak out against it!" Of course, that's not true, especially for Christians. ...
The Eyes Have It (03/28/14)
In what many say is one of the "hardest" teachings of Jesus, He was asked if sin caused a certain man to be born blind. Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." So, was the man blind so he could be a prop for Jesus to display His power? (John 9:1-41) For many, the possibility that Jesus would use someone for His own benefit is nothing short of scandalous. So, God created us for His glory and pleasure?...
Welcome to Your Intervention (03/21/14)
We Christians know or have known people who are angry at God for the loss of a loved one. When a parent loses a child, or vice versa, a husband loses his wife, even believers may be angry at God for a while. It's usually not the same experience as the person who is angry at God because He has not fixed the consequences of sin in this life: sickness, unemployment, divorce, abuse, drug addiction, etc. ...
Lenten Lessons (03/14/14)
Teachers would love to tell parents to stop making excuses for their children doing poorly in certain subjects. "Well, I was lousy in math when I was his age, so the kid gets it from me", as if that excuses the child from working hard in that particular discipline. ...
The Joy and Laughter of Lent (03/07/14)
March 5 was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, which is the forty days before Easter, minus the Sundays. Lent is a time of reflection of our Lord's forty days of temptation in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11) Some believers have fasting days, others give up pleasures, while others battle a particular sin which particularly grieves them...
Not Safe But Saved (02/28/14)
One theologian recently reminded his readers that most false religions follow the same pattern: Someone has allegedly seen his god in some sort of supernatural way. The man immediately sets up an altar, calls the place "holy", and in the years to follow, people bring sacrifices to this altar in hopes their sacrifices would prompt their god to grant them favors or appear or speak to them...
On the Make and the Move (02/07/14)
Years ago, a pastor was criticized for taking his catechumen (students of the faith) to a cemetery as part of the day's lesson. I'm not sure what offended his critics, but it may have been the catechumen's most memorable of many lessons, past and future. ...
Forever Free (01/31/14)
It's doubtful that Jesus was really born on December 25, but since the universal Church recognizes that date, February 2 is the festival of The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus. Forty days after a woman gave birth to a boy, she was to come to the temple and offer a sacrifice of a lamb and a turtledove or a pigeon (or two turtledoves or pigeons). ...
The Dickinson You Say (01/24/14)
The middle or high school teacher might admit to granting a smile and a compliment to the sweet student who wants an honest evaluation of her poem which she says is "personal" (subjective), i.e., can only be fully appreciated by its author. Being nice prevents hurting the student's feelings. Besides, the teacher may receive solace from none other than Emily Dickinson herself: "Tell the truth, but tell it at a slant--"...
The Best New Year's Resolution (01/03/14)
An older graduate student was recently asked why he believed in evolution. His response was, "Because I'm thinking person and I think on my own...I reject any man-made religion." When asked to provide some observable proof for Darwinism, he thought for quite some time, but could not give an answer. ...
Silent and Holy Nights (12/20/13)
Recently, the host of a nightly cable talk show slammed a church body for "having to be led, kicking and screaming...into the "real world", away from "archaic" (out of date) thinking. The Christian guest on the show responded with something like "that kind of ignorance can get you a show on CNN, but won't help you understand the basics about religion in general and anything about Christians at all." Many unbelievers erroneously judge themselves as capable of making purely objective, unbiased observations and conclusions. ...
The Advent Tree of Life (12/13/13)
When some people brought a paralytic man to Jesus for healing, Jesus saw their faith and said to the man, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." Further reading from this passage (Matthew 9:1-6), shows that Jesus is also trying to teach the blasphemy-accusing scribes a lesson. Jesus asked, "For which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? So that you know that the Son of Man has authority..." The paralytic man walks as Jesus commands...
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (11/29/13)
In an episode of the 1970s sitcom, Mary Tyler Moore Show, the main characters were Mary and her friend named Rhoda, who was also unmarried. One day, Rhoda made the comment that she hated getting letters from her mother. "Why?" asked friend Mary. Rhoda said that her mother always cursed her in her letters. ...
Life from the Mountaintops (10/18/13)
There is so much uncertainty living in this present place and age. There are so many people whose lives are in crisis or transition. And the reason many Christians simply do not know what to do or which way to turn is because they do not know what they believe...
All Cleaned Up (09/06/13)
Married and single people often see each other in a different light. Those who are married may see us single people as odd, perhaps difficult to get along with, and assume that we're lonely. Those in the single status sometimes view marriage as stifling, and those who cannot live alone as weak. ...
The Art of Life (08/30/13)
We Christians observe often these days how unbelievers offer support for their attempts to debunk Christianity by quoting early American atheists, like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson (who some dub a deist). They end their arguments by resting their case on these men's opinions, as if these particular men of this particular era carry special authority or may even have the last word. ...
Whistling and Thistling (08/23/13)
A great theologian once bemoaned how difficult it is to serve our Lord and commented on a passage from the book of Micah, chapter 6, v. 8: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Isn't that what being a child of God is all about--walking humbly before the Lord?...
The Storm Cloud of Jesus Christ (08/16/13)
It must be annoying to parents to listen to us non-parents and our idyllic view of having children. Despite being told of the tears to which children can bring parents, those of us who have never had children often see only joy, with the only possible sadness being watching them grow up and leave the nest, bad news for those who love them...
Shooting and Filling in Blanks (08/09/13)
Shooting and Filling in Blanks If you're a reader of the writings of early twentieth-century British Reformed teacher Oswald Chambers, you may have struggled with his March 15 devotional writing (from "My Utmost for His Highest"--I've mentioned this before). ...
Hide and Seek, Christian Style (08/02/13)
If you're a believer, you know how important it is to read God's Word on a regular basis. The false god of the world, the devil, has one plan for all--to separate us from God. He has the whole world at his disposal, for now. It's more than a human can bear on his or her own, as we are sinful by nature since Adam and Eve's original sin against God. Right after they sinned, they hid from God, the result of using their own judgment which the serpent had promised them...
Just who are you, Lord? (07/26/13)
Some time ago, I mentioned that we believers know or will come across some Bible passages that make us squirm or present what appears to be something contrary to our understanding of God and Who He is. I'm not talking about the passages about sin, death, and hell, as those passages do prick our consciences, but we believers do understand and accept them as God's righteous nature. ...
Laying It All Out (07/19/13)
Years ago, in my know-it-all, but Biblically ignorant past, I was asked a question about the Book of Hezekiah. I said that I did not know the answer, but I would go look it up. The questioner giggled and my face turned red as he informed me that there was no "Book of Hezekiah". ...
Who is that Masked Man? (07/12/13)
Some time ago, a friend of mine got out of a scrape and joyfully declared, "God is good!" I asked him that if the situation had not turned out to his liking, would that mean that God is not good. Of course, I have the exact same response. Every human being is masked in heart and mind. ...
Forgive and Forget-Him-Not (07/05/13)
We Christians accept forgiveness of our sins from our Lord. That is a faith foundation. But forgiveness is not something we can keep as a possession of our own, but must share it with others. And I do mean "must" because forgiving others is not an option for the Christian. But forgiving others is probably the most difficult task with which believers struggle, for various reasons...
Smiting and Smitten with Jesus (06/28/13)
When you have a moment to yourself this weekend or perhaps next week, sit down with paper and pencil and write down the names of your enemies--and I mean your real enemies, the kind you'd like God to "smite", as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 3, verse 7, according to the King James Version. If you're a Christian, I'm guessing your enemy list is or will be blank, too...
Grasping Jesus (06/21/13)
One of many Christians' favorite Scripture passages is Paul's description of the life of the believer in Galatians 4:1-7. In verse 6, God is address as "Abba, Father" which offers a comforting image of God in the context of an earthly father--providing for our needs and protecting us. ...
Father Worthy (06/14/13)
At the risk of annoying you parents out there, this non-parent is going to say what I'd do if I was a parent. I really believe that being a parent is the toughest calling there is because I've heard many good parents say that. I also recall what a challenge I was as a child...
June Harvest (05/31/13)
Ever been to church and sung a hymn or recited a psalm and felt that you're just going through the motions, that whatever is going on in the church is not relevant to you and your life? Most of us have felt that way. In my own youth, I wondered what the heck a "sheave" was and why would anyone be deliriously rejoicing about bringing them in? Read Psalm 96 and see if it has the same effect on you. ...
The peelings of paint and wedding bells (05/24/13)
Ah, tis the time for weddings, as it's almost June. There are few occasions I enjoy more than a wedding, either as their pastor or as a guest, and it's not (only) because I love white cake. I love weddings because they are happy events, where everyone is happy. Yes, we do know that the mundane of life, such as house repairs and hard-to-love new relatives will present challenges, but weddings are joyous events, most assuredly when they are done for the glory of God...
Pentecostal Joy (05/17/13)
Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus why He was revealing Himself only to His disciples and not the whole world. Jesus kept right on teaching: "...if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him." Then, Jesus promises a peace that the world cannot give. ...
New Sights of Spring (05/10/13)
Spring is in full bloom now, literally. The bootheel of southeast Missouri is filled these mid-May days with purple and yellow irises; soon the lilies and daylilies will be dazzling our eyes. While gazing at the delicate, sword-shaped, and curved-edged petals of the Oriental lily we Christians might see why Harriet Beecher Stowe is quoted to have said, "Flowers are the sweetest thing God ever made." But we also know that this earth has been corrupted with sin. ...
Plain Living (04/26/13)
Before His death and resurrection, Jesus was almost always dogged by some Jewish religious people of the Abrahamic covenant who questioned Him about everything--mostly about who He was. At the time of the Feast of Dedication, while walking in the temple of Jerusalem, some of them asked Jesus directly, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." (John 10:24)...
Our Perfect Resurrected Life (04/12/13)
Every year, during Passover week (which is also Holy Week for Christians because it was Passover week when the Lord was crucified), ABC television network rebroadcasts the 1956 (and best, in my opinion) version of the movie, "The Ten Commandments". It is not 100% Biblical, but has a lot of fill-in for the parts of Moses' life that are not in the Bible. ...
The Revolutions of Jesus Christ (04/05/13)
Easter is here. It is a season which is forty days long because that's how long our Lord walked the earth following His resurrection from the dead. Easter ends with Ascension Day, commemorating His ascension into the clouds. It's always on a Thursday (this year May 9). It's a good time to reflect on how revolutionary our Lord's defeat of the devil, the world, and the flesh, including yours and mine...
His, Yours, and Mine (03/29/13)
If you've ever been in the House of Representatives chamber of the U. S. Capitol, you saw that the front rostrum is framed by a pair of fasces--a symbol containing tied bundles of wooden rods with an axe head protruding. It is supposed to represent authority and power amid unity of a people. Its history can be traced back to the Etruscans of the western Italian peninsula circa 500 BC. It was used in the Roman Republic and Empire as well as the Italian Fascists of the 1930s AD...
Crushes on Jesus (03/22/13)
The book of Amos is filled with dire judgments from God to His chosen nation, Israel. God had had enough of their rebellion. Amaziah, the chief priest (and lackey to King Jeroboam ben Joash) had declared the temple at Bethel to be "the king's temple" and the "temple of the kingdom". Amaziah is playing gatekeeper at the temple, told prophet Amos to get lost--God's Word had no place there. (Amos 7)...
Old songs, new songs (03/15/13)
Notice more birds singing these mornings? We like to think that they're serenading us, but I asked a woman who knows a lot about birds why they sing. She said that it is basically for two reasons--territorial claims and finding a mate. The singing is about survival, not generous, joyous regaling...
Picture of Perfection (03/10/13)
In the early 1960s, there was a short-lived television show called, "Window on Main Street". The main character was a writer who had an office at the town's newspaper that overlooked the main thoroughfare through town. The writer even had a balcony out on which he could step and observe the goings-on in town, which provided stories for his weekly column in the paper. ...
The Light of Lights (03/01/13)
A pastor shared a story about two hunters who suddenly came upon a bear. They were so startled, that they dropped their guns and ran for cover--one up a tall tree and the other in a cave. Suddenly, the second hunter came darting out of the cave and almost straight into the bear, then quickly doing an about-face, he ran back into the cave. ...
Lenten Bank and Trust (02/22/13)
Thirty or so years ago, a popular, oft-repeated phrase among the Reformed was, "If Christianity was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Some Christians are too quick to roll their eyes at such a question, probably muttering something like, "works righteousness--bah humbug!" But salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ is neither an abstract principal, nor is it a call to turn the faith into a self-satisfying excuse for ignoring the needs of others or dismissing God's strict standards of holiness. ...
Elementary Lenten 101 (02/15/13)
Lent is here, so it's a good time for an elementary review of life in general. You and I need this more than once a year although the Christian is reminded daily by standards of goodness of our Lord and how it contrasts with the way we and the rest of the world are. ...
Listen, God is calling... (02/08/13)
A very popular phrase today says "God has plans for you". Sometimes, we erroneously go by emotions, telling ourselves that we "feel that God is speaking to me". But God isn't the only one who "speaks" to us. Is it God who tells us men to give that young female a second longing look and fills our minds with improper thoughts? Or is it God who tells some women that they are justified in hating other women of whom they are jealous?...
Growing up in the Boonies (02/01/13)
I've heard adults lament that after they had grown up and moved out the house, their mothers had cleaned up their rooms and tossed their toy boxes, contents and all. It was like a period placed at the end of a sentence: childhood was over. Perhaps we adults miss the "simpler times" mainly because we didn't have to pay the bills and someone who loved us dearly worried if we merely sneezed. ...
Genuine Yada, Yada, Yada (01/25/13)
The traditional Church Year begins in December with Advent, the four weeks of preparation for the celebration first coming of our Lord. After the twelve days of Christmas (or mass--worship of Christ), January 6 begins the Epiphany (revelation) of our Lord which focuses on the visit and subsequent worship of the Lord by the Magi and the Baptism of our Lord...
Tongue Bitten Faith (01/18/13)
The following has probably happened to you, or you've witnessed it: you pass a car, muttering to yourself something not pleasing to God about the other driver, but the next thing you know, the other driver is sitting in his car right beside you at the next red light. It happens to me too often as I pull into Kennett from highway 25 South and never (!) miss that north red light...
The Calls of Winter (01/11/13)
The holidays are over now, but winter so far hasn't afforded many of us the peace that we imagined. Happenings in life interrupt our plans for meditation, reading, and quiet evenings at home. Solomon's Ecclesiastes lists of "a time for" reads easily this time of year (chapter 3, verses 1-8) but our tendency for spiritual narcissism prompts us to put ourselves into every picture of the reign of God in this fallen world. ...
The Path to the Epiphany (01/04/13)
There was a recent news article about a neurosurgeon who had always discounted his patient's "near death" experiences as their mind's creations while gasping for life. But his own "near death" experience that has convinced him that there is a life after death. When asked if he had become a Christian, he denounced the idea that there was any one particular path to the truth. He implied that all paths will lead to heaven...
Ringing in the New Era (12/28/12)
Got plans for ringing in the New Year? Got the hotel reservation, the tux back from the cleaners, and your tickets ready for your trip to Memphis or St. Louis? Or maybe your New Year's Eve will be like last year--at home and in bed by 10:30 because you've seen years come and go and you find all that holiday's hoopla a bunch of hooey...
Known Associates (12/21/12)
We often think of the prophets of the Old Covenant (or "Testament", another word for "covenant") as ancients. It may startle the reader when the prophet Micah refers to the "ancient" times long before him, as we picture his days of old. But of course, his generation was the latest of generations in their days. Micah lived during the time of Isaiah, and we have evidence that they knew each other quite well. In fact, Micah quotes his contemporary in 4:1-3 (from Isaiah 2:2-4)...
Keeping Advent (12/07/12)
You may have seen old TV shows and movies in which the characters put up and decorated the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. For many of us, that practiced seemed odd, having the tree up for only a day or two and then taking it down. Of course, that's because we have been conditioned to literally buy into the secularist version of Christmas: tinsel, spending money, sappy songs of fireplace-roasted chestnuts, and sleigh rides on snow-covered woodlands on bright, moon-lit nights...
The Advent Driven Life (11/30/12)
You and your spouse may have a December tradition of driving around residential neighborhoods at night to look at the Christmas lights. You don't need a spouse to do that, though. It's relaxing just to get in the car and drive around looking at fellow citizen's efforts to bring beauty and joy to their part of God's creation. To those of you who have gone to great efforts and expense to decorate your house, we Christians thank you, or we should...
Those Longing Looks (11/23/12)
Earlier this month, we changed our clocks, and next week, we'll change our calendars--the traditional church calendars, that is. The non-festival part of the church year, Pentecost comes to a close and we focus on Christ's return. The new church year begins December 2 this year, the first Sunday of Advent, the season of anticipation of the birth of God Incarnate to save us from our carnal selves...
Singing a new song (11/16/12)
If you've ever successfully been through a drug abuse program or known someone who has, you have experienced or witnessed what is probably the closest thing to heavenly joy in this life. One man likened his recovery from alcohol abuse to emerging from a dark cave in which he had spent decades. He especially loved Psalm 142. He said that David was singing "his song"...
Hear ye, hear ye... (11/09/12)
Chapter 19 of the Gospel of Matthew records the encounter Jesus has with the rich man. In the last verse of that chapter Jesus said, "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." Next He tells the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. ...
Crowd Scenes (11/02/12)
The traditional church year calendar is on its last page now. From All Saints Day (November 1) until Advent, the church focuses on Christ's return. Advent, the four weeks before Christmas,--starting December 2 this year--begins the new church year. It makes sense. What began in Bethlehem will be completed with Christ's return, the fulfillment...
Blitzes and Ditzes (10/26/12)
A celebrity who has a reputation for being an airhead once explained, "Ditzy is having the courage to ask. Ditzy is not editing yourself." Of course, she's right. Most would rather fake understanding than risk looking dumb by asking questions. We do edit ourselves for the sake of reflecting our desired self-image to others. Of course, it is bogus because first, God sees us as we are and He is the ultimate judge and second, everyone else is not nearly as dumb as we think they are...
The Dukes and Dutchesses (10/19/12)
You may have school-aged children or drive by a school at the beginning or end of the school day and reminisce about your own days at that age. Most of us would not want to go back to that age--way too much insecurity masked by the bravado. If you're a man, you may remember the flying fists, and you ladies may recollect the "cattiness" of fellow females, as one young lady recalled her school days...
There, there... (10/05/12)
If you're a Christian and wringing your hands over the national descent into moral decadency, re-read this week's article title and consider yourself consoled. It may not seem very consoling, but Christians should not be wringing their hands. What we are witnessing is a collision of contradictory truth claims that have laid side by side but are anything but parallel or equally true. ...
States of Humiliation (09/21/12)
Some years ago, I met a man who was writing a book on humility. I immediately quipped, "I'm proud of my humility!" The writer laughed, but it occurred to me that instead of asking him some questions and learning from him, I put myself on stage and he was my audience--not exactly humble of me, was it?...
Out of the Mouths of Babes (09/14/12)
We've all heard that "talk is cheap" and "sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you". We learn by around age five that those sayings just aren't true. Words can wound. Psychologists tell us that we're already wounded by that young age, and it's more likely that the damage was done by words, sometimes by parents or siblings, and sometimes by peers and friends. It hurts the five year old to learn that other do not love her as much as she loves herself...
Family Secrets (09/07/12)
We Christians know that God desires that all come to faith in Him. (1 Timothy 2:4) But right after He told them the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3b-9), His disciples ask Him why He talks to the crowds in parables. Jesus told them that He shares things with His disciples that He doesn't with others. ...
Dancing in a Doll House (08/31/12)
You may remember from your high school days reading the play "A Doll's House", written in 1879 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. If you don't remember it, here's a brief summary. From a then-contemporary setting, the character Nora lives a rather superficial life as a plaything or object of amusement and pleasure for her husband, Torvald. ...
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