Thursday, November 26, 2020

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Eating and drinking to the glory of God?

What a strange idea. I get the “eating” part, and I get the idea of “glorifying God”. But what does our action of eating have to do with God’s glory?

That’s going to take some explaining.

A Meal and Love

I have a friend who has the gift of hospitality. Watching him for many years has totally convinced me of the incredible power of that gift. More than anyone I’ve ever met, he has a knack for making his home a place where people feel welcomed, warmed, loved and fed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Flyover Country: Ruth

David Jeremiah writes, “Perhaps the greatest romance in all of scripture is found in the book of Ruth.” Ray Stedman calls Ruth “a beautiful story of a romance”. Bible.com’s reading plan for Ruth actually refers to the book as an “OG chick-flick”.

Okay, that last one is a little hard to stomach. If you had never read the book of Ruth and heard only those sorts of comments about it, you might be forgiven for expecting the book to be a little on the trivial side, or for not reading it at all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

On the Construction Site

Raising children is hard. Doing it right is harder.

Psalm 127 was written by Solomon, and contains several oft-quoted lines about parents and children. To the extent we know much about any of Solomon’s own children, it appears they had limited success in this world. Solomon’s son Rehoboam started his reign with twelve tribes calling him king and ended it with 2-1/2 ... not exactly what we would call an outstanding job performance.

That doesn’t mean Rehoboam’s father knew nothing useful about governance, but whatever Solomon did know, he passed on to his son imperfectly, as is so often the case.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Anonymous Asks (120)

“Does your past play a role when you become a Christian?”

This is another one of those questions whose meaning is a little hard to nail down, but the answer is the same either way we read it: No.

A good past, even a past chock full of good works and moral excellence — if any of us could truly claim one — cannot qualify us for a relationship with God. Likewise, even a past rife with the most wretched sin and excess cannot disqualify us from getting right with God and seeking to live a life that pleases him. There is nothing impressive in our past that we can bring to God for his pleasure: “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” But there is also nothing in our past which will drive us from God’s presence forever if we truly repent: “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people.”

What matters is whether your past is really your present. Let me explain that a bit.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Dried-Up Brook

“After a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.”

There is a video out there circulating in which a Joe Biden supporter (lawn sign and all) has an unexpected and unpleasant interaction with some of those “mostly peaceful” protesters we are always hearing about. Let’s just say it doesn’t go well for him. He is absolutely flabbergasted to discover that the color of his skin and his gender are of more significance to an angry mob than his professed political affiliation. They do not want his support, and they are quite happy to tear up his property and threaten his person as enthusiastically as they would any Republican’s.

Secularists and leftists make such errors in judgment because they do not know who they are, and do not understand the times in which they are living. Christians should not make the same mistake.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Mining the Minors: Jonah (9)

The book of Jonah provokes a whole spectrum of reactions. I find it just a little amusing to dig through blog posts and online commentaries only to discover that on one side we have Christians who want to take all the miracles out of Jonah so that it reads more plausibly, while on the other we have Christians who want to introduce new miracles into the book from between the lines of its text.

Variety may be the spice of life, but it can also be confusing to new readers of scripture.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 2]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Continuing a discussion arising out of Immanuel Can’s recent and well-received post “Who’s Minding the Store?

Elders have the job of feeding the flock. IC’s post suggested that not only the Holy Spirit’s leading but a certain amount of human organization, ingenuity and especially careful observation are necessary in effectively carrying out that task. I pointed out some of the things that make that tougher than it looks, and we considered three of them last week. And here we are.

Tom: Since you mention individual gifts, IC, I pointed out in our discussion last Friday that our gifts tend to predispose us to see the world a certain way.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Leadership: It’s a Dog’s Life

It seems everybody today is complaining about the lack of leadership in the local church. Those appointed to lead are not leading at all, or they’re leading too much. Either the whole church is failing to stand for anything, or else arbitrary and inflexible leadership is killing off the life of the church by strangling it with tradition, routine and rules. No one likes how things are running, but no one is terribly sure what a better style of leadership would look like.

Oh, there’s no end of advice out there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Produce Department

Among the most oft-repeated principles of scripture ever enunciated by our Lord is this: that we are what we do. It is our ongoing patterns of behavior that most accurately reveal the condition of our hearts and our relationship to God.

That is not to say that our words and thoughts are inconsequential; both will be subject to God’s judgment. But words can be poorly expressed and easily misunderstood, while thoughts are often fragmentary, incoherent, transitory and quite invisible to the world. Patterns of behavior serve as much more accurate indicators of the condition of our hearts than either of these.

We might say that genuine followers of Christ are regularly found in the “produce department”. They are characterized by spiritual fruit rather than just fine words.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

That Day and Hour

The return of the Son of Man to earth has been promised, prophesied, anticipated and longed-for — and equally disbelieved, sneered at, feared and ignored — for almost 20 centuries now. And when he comes again it will be at an hour nobody will expect. Though there are many facts concerning his return detailed in Bible prophecy, he will catch the world totally by surprise.

The exaltation of the Lord Jesus to his earthly throne — a throne that belongs to him both by right of birth and because he has fully and perfectly earned it — will mark the end of our current world order. This is no small event, and we could hardly expect to be let in on its specific timing.

But what is more than a little surprising is that the One who is coming also disclaims any knowledge of the time of his own arrival on earth … and further, seems entirely unconcerned about the dilemma this fact poses for any number of theologians.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Anonymous Asks (119)

“What is hell like?”

There are two different words used in the Greek New Testament to describe the destination of those who refuse to take the opportunity currently available to all to enter into a saving relationship with God on the basis of the sacrifice of his Son. These are hadēs and gehenna. Older translations use the word “hell” for both, while some modern translations distinguish the two. Either way, the book of Revelation teaches that these are not precisely the same place: a time is coming when “death and Hades” will be thrown into the “lake of fire”, which seems to be the same place Jesus was speaking about in the gospels when he used the word gehenna.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Times and Places

Regular readers of the gospels cannot help but notice that Jesus often repeats himself.

When we think about it, this makes perfect sense. The things he said to crowds in Jerusalem were not heard by his audiences in Galilee, and vice versa. A certain amount of repetition, especially of the Lord’s most important teachings, is to be expected.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Mining the Minors: Jonah (8)

The choice between my way and God’s way is always before us, isn’t it?

And yet, for many reasons, God’s way may hold little appeal. It didn’t appeal to Cain, so he slew his own brother rather than take it. God’s way surely didn’t appeal to Abraham when instructed to offer his own son as a sacrifice at Moriah — how could it possibly? And yet Abraham’s faith enabled him to see past the strange command he had received to the character of the God who gave it, and to trust him to remain who Abraham had always known him to be.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 1]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In his recent post “Who’s Minding the Store?” Immanuel Can considered the responsibility of elders in deciding what should be taught in the local church they care for. His point was that elders need to really know their congregations in order to provide them with the spiritual food they need. Somebody needs to “mind the store”, so to speak.

Tom: I wanted to get into this a bit further with you, IC, and it seems to me this is a better place to do it than a back-and-forth in the comments to the original post.