December 15, 2017

Calling Attention

Many of us were raised with our mothers telling us not to air our dirty laundry in public – meaning it is better to handle issues behind closed doors. However, John shows us there is a place for exposure…even in the church. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (3 John 9-10 NIV). While there is something to be said about doing things privately, a case can be made for bringing things out into the open. I especially appreciate John’s willingness to expose people and attitudes that are destructive to the Kingdom of God.

December 14, 2017

Raising the Living

Paul was speaking specifically to Agrippa, but others would have been included in his remarks when he said, “Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead” (Acts 26:8 NIV)? While raising the dead might be hard to comprehend, we know that with God nothing is impossible. However, it occurs to me that it might be easier for God to raise the dead than to bring life to the living who are dead in their sins.

December 13, 2017

Stump the Preacher

During my youth my church would occasionally have a Sunday night event called, “Stump the Preacher.” Most people would ask questions that came up during their Bible study. However, we teenagers would often don our Pharisee hat and, similar to the Jews who tried to trap Jesus with a question he couldn’t answer, we’d try to trap the preacher. As a kid I loved those iron-sharpening-iron sessions and my preacher had such a grasp on the Word of God that he never failed to have an answer. Today’s pastors and ministers might likewise be able to answer any and all impromptu Bible questions from their membership, but I can’t think that many would allow themselves to be put in such a precarious position.

December 12, 2017

Authorities Determine Your Rights

During a local public meeting a pro-immigration activist said, “It’s important to recognize the right of all individuals to migrate…This is a critical moment when many immigrants are facing threats from the current administration.” In the days surrounding the birth of Jesus, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world and everyone went to their own town to register. I’m trying to imagine the activists of that day telling the Roman Empire that all individuals have a right to migrate. “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:4-7 NIV).

December 11, 2017

Jesus in a Rocking Chair

We recently inherited two rocking chairs. One is a big sturdy oak chair with a deep seat, wide arms and well worn. The chair, which belonged to Bill’s grandma, rocked children and grandchildren many a mile. The other chair, which belonged to his step-grandmother, is knitting chair about a third the size, low to the ground, has no arms and appears to be in pristine condition with little, or no use. This little one seater chair could hardly accommodate a plump grandma, much less a grandma and grandchild. Of course there is no Bible account of Jesus in a rocking chair, but if there were I know which chair we would find the Lord sitting in. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt 19:14 NIV).

December 08, 2017

Scorched Earth Policy

In order to keep the wildfires from jumping lines and roads the firefighters in California are setting backfires. President Trump sets a lot of verbal backfires in an attempt to contain his adversaries, but his method often resembles a scorched earth policy. We believers possess the same flame throwing weapon as the President. James said, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-8 NIV).

December 07, 2017

Exposed

During my second visit to a church the pastor mentioned the article I’d written about my first visit. He told me that someone in his congregation had later asked him if he was mad about what I’d written. I understand. I too hate it when someone takes a picture of me that exposes how I’m actually seen by others…warts and all. However, I can’t very well go to the photographer and ask him why he didn’t airbrush away the imperfections, photo shop the roll around my middle, or brighten the color of my hair. The Lord told John to write to the seven churches in Revelation and according to the footnote in my NIV Bible it appears that the church letters, along with the entire book of Revelation, was sent to each church. I have to wonder if some of the people in the seven congregations weren't a little bit tweaked about what John had written.