Showing posts with label Christian Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian Life. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Adverbial Faith

An old acquaintance obsessed with classical literature used to observe that her generation was “killing the adverb”. The vocabulary of her schoolmates had degenerated to the point that they no longer modified or qualified their verbs with the eloquence and succinctness possessed by the writers of previous generations.

She would not have found that in the New Testament, even in the most modern English translations. Far from being dead, the adverb is everywhere in the Christian life.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

The Lord is king forever and ever.”

The 2014 NCAA football championship final was an amazing game. The Florida State Seminoles and their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, high on a record-breaking season, were pitted against the upstart Auburn Tigers, recent defeaters of last year’s national champions. Florida State was touted as the prohibitive favorite — but as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Auburn stormed out onto the field and took the Seminoles off guard. Their crafty game plan, superior aggression at the line and some stellar execution by their offense rapidly staked them to an overwhelming 21-3 lead. Meanwhile, nothing the Seminoles tried seemed to work, and Auburn’s every touch of the ball was golden.

But as they say, the game weren’t over yet.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Wrong Word

Sometimes we’ve just plain got the wrong word in our Bibles.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know translators are highly skilled people. In almost every case when it was first translated it was the right word. It was clearly understood by its audience. It was the best English equivalent in its generation for a particular Greek or Hebrew expression.

But languages evolve. Meanings morph. Sometimes they even reverse themselves. Words that worked in one generation no longer transmit the intended message without causing confusion, eroding our ability to grasp what the writers of the word of God were trying to tell us. More than a few beloved expressions hang on well past their expiry dates.

My candidate of choice? The word “grace”.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Saving America

Personally, I don’t think America can be saved. As a Canadian, I think we’re toast too. I believe both those venerable entities are bound for history’s wood chipper. We are on borrowed time, enjoying the last dregs of the benefits conferred to us from previous generations. Our own generation’s lazy, haphazard defense of the blessings we have inherited has pretty much guaranteed they will not survive us.

That’s pretty negative. But don’t check out yet.

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.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Taking Canaan by Degrees

“The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.”

For the believer, victory often comes in increments.

That goes against our natural instinct about how things should be, doesn’t it? After all, occupying enemy territory in the Christian life is not just desirable, it is morally imperative.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Loving an Abstraction Abstractly

Christianity Today’s editor in chief Mark Galli recounts a personal crisis:

“It may have been as the result of hearing a sermon, or perhaps reading a book. But I distinctly remember thinking that my Christian life was sorely lacking in the love of God.”

Not only that, but as Galli frankly concedes, he wasn’t even really sure he wanted to know and love God more deeply. He certainly did not yearn for intimacy with God as he felt he should.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Anonymous Asks (41)

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

Tom: It’s Crossover Friday!

A couple of weeks ago my co-contributor Immanuel Can helped me answer a question for one of my weekly Anonymous Asks columns. I had another doozy handed to me this morning, and I think I’m going to share this one with him too. Here goes:

“Many Christians seem to live more in defeat than in constant victory. Shouldn’t the word of God, being born again, or both, be more spiritually powerful in order to make it easier to battle sin? Wouldn’t a bunch of victorious believers be a better testimony?”

I’ll let you take first crack at that, IC …

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Anonymous Asks (14)

“How do you stay on a spiritual high?”

Hmm. I think we might be asking the wrong question here.

Ezekiel was probably never closer to God than the day his wife died, but I suspect that day was in many ways the lowest point of his life. A “spiritual high” it was not.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Way That I Take

He knows the way that I take.”

I don’t. You don’t. Nobody else does.

In this world we see God’s specific purposes for us only dimly. Hopes rise only to fall again. Is this what God is doing? Maybe. Maybe. Uh, no … never mind … not that. Right, well, back to prayer …

“He knows the way that I take.”

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Wrong Word

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Confidence to Command

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [what you will eat, what you will drink, what you will put on] will be added to you.”

“If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

Joel Osteen notwithstanding, there is no scriptural correlation between earthly prosperity and living according to the will of God. None. Bet the house on it — if you can afford one.

Better, if you’re just starting out in the service of God, bet your next fifty years or so.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Taking 31 Kingdoms

When I read Romans 12, I get a bit overwhelmed. There’s a lot there, after all.

This should not surprise us. Paul’s “therefore” in verse 1 follows not only the wonderful doxology at the end of chapter 11, but really follows logically out of the entire argument presented beginning in chapter 1 with the words, “The wrath of God is revealed ...”

It’s as if in chapter 12 he now tackles the question “How should we then live?” Okay then.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Without Counsel Plans Fail

I’ve seen a professional counsellor exactly once in my life. He was bald with a trimmed, white beard, sitting behind the big, polished, expensive desk one would expect, in a quiet, dark room. No couch. My wooden chair was not completely uncomfortable but clearly calculated to be no more so than required.

He was mild mannered and pleasant, cajoled me into spilling my guts for half an hour and then pronounced that I was a “good person”.

That was pretty much it for me. I knew everything I needed to know about him right there — if not as a man, most definitely as a counsellor.

First, he’d known me for precisely 30 minutes, probably less at that point. Nobody, no matter how perceptive or experienced, can reasonably pronounce on another person’s goodness with such a limited information base.

Second, he knew me only from what I’d told him. I could have been the world’s biggest liar. I could’ve been entirely self-deceived, recounting things I believed to be true but that anyone who knew me outside of that office would have dismissed as nonsense in a heartbeat.

Third, after hearing everything I had to say, his first inclination was to attempt to reinforce my positive self-image to ensure I was not feeling bad about myself.

That was the kicker for me.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Insufficient Authority

This is not a subject I write about easily, but it’s one to which I believe many Christians can relate.

Giant, massive disclaimer: By what I’m about to say, I am not in any way judging or condemning the efforts of serious Christian parents or spouses I know or know about. Still less would I pass any judgement on the parenting and relationship efforts of Christians in circumstances I don’t fully understand.

I am constantly astounded at my own inability to accurately size up other people’s business. What regularly throws me for a loop are these little factoids that pop up in conversation that make you completely reverse your previous set-in-concrete assessment of someone you know, like “Did you know she has a brain tumor?” (No, really, I’m not making this up.)

But since I have very little idea who reads these thoughts other than immediate family members, believe me: I have no particular axe to grind and no particular family situations in mind.

I’m just thinking here.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over

The most recent version of this post is available here.