Showing posts with label Ephesians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ephesians. Show all posts

Thursday, September 15, 2022

(Re)Making Music

I’ve heard it said that the quickest way to split a congregation is to change the hymnbook or repaint the walls.

Well, I have no feel for interior decorating, so that second one’s not going to be a problem for me. But like most people, I have more definite tastes when it comes to music. Some of the songs that my local church sings, I love; others, I confess, make me cringe.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Loving and Respecting

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Phil and Katie are a Christian couple in their fourth decade of married life. They have three grown children. Both are close to normal retirement age. As a director of a small company, Katie makes slightly more than Phil does in his role as middle manager for a larger one. She is also brimming with confidence that comes from long-term day-to-day success on the job.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

How Do You Love the Gospel?

I hear a lot of people talk about their love for the gospel. But then I also hear a lot of talk about how people “love” ice cream, their cars, their mates, their pets, and the NFL.

I’m pretty sure there’s a difference in each case.

There are different ways to love. Some of them are a million miles from the others. So what are people talking about when they say they really love the gospel?

I’m going to give you three different ways. There are probably more, but I’ve seen these three a lot.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Remember pet rocks? Five million of those useless things were sold in 1975-76. They were marketed to people with a droll sense of humor and no time or energy to devote to a real pet. Like any fad they quickly disappeared, but for a brief period of time the pet rock craze made the people who came up with the idea some serious money.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Curing Instability

“… a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

“Among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women …”

“… that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

Weakness of will. Instability. Confusion. None of these qualities have been traditionally considered admirable in Christian circles, and with good reason. Indecisive people make poor signposts. Our role models rarely include those who fail to exhibit self-control. Erratic individuals are not likely to have your back in times of crisis.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

A Unique Learning Experience

“That is not the way you learned Christ.”

Learning Christ is not like learning Marxism or Islam or Buddhism or Taoism. It’s not even like learning Christianity.

All religious and political movements have recognized founders whose words are studied, analyzed, memorized and followed dutifully, but their adherents are not “learning” Karl Marx or Muhammad ibn Abdullah or Siddhartha Gautama or Laozi; rather, they are learning propositions and theories these men set forth about life, the universe and the proper ordering of society.

Some religious and political leaders succeed, at least to a limited extent, in living out their own ideals. Others don’t do so well at that. Either way, it is pretty hard for us to learn them, even if we are determined to try.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Marching as to War

“... making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel ... that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

This is not the only time Paul asks for prayer specifically for himself and for the work he was engaged in. Colossians 4 contains a similar request, as do both Paul’s first and second letters to Thessalonica. We may take it this was an apostolic custom. The writer to the Hebrews does the same.

I wonder why.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Under the Microscope

“... so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

It matters what the church is and how it conducts the business of God. It matters because the multifarious wisdom of God is revealed both in what we are and in what we do. We may choose to obscure that wisdom, or we may choose to hold it up in the light to be seen and marveled at throughout the universe.

In short, what we are and what we do matter because we are being watched. God’s ways are under the microscope.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

How Do You Love the Gospel?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Anonymous Asks (6)

“How do you reconcile Ephesians 2:8-9 with James 2:24?”

Well, let’s take a crack at that. First, the apostle Paul in Ephesians:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Then James:

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

I’m going to assume the bone of contention here is the two phrases “saved through FAITH” (i.e., not as a result of works) and “justified by WORKS”. These statements appear to be contradictory.

But are they?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What’s Our Excuse?

We’re getting away from it now, in the kangaroo courts of Human Rights Tribunals and college campus inquisitions, but due process used to be a thing.

Built into the Law of Moses were several important procedural provisions designed to ensure that justice was done, including the oft-quoted “On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.” First century Jews applied this principle across the board. It was the essence of fairness.

Yet we have it on the authority of several gospel writers that in the case of the Lord Jesus, the rulebook went out the window, as it did at Stephen’s trial and in Jewish attempts to get their hands on the apostle Paul.

In first century Judea, the kangaroos were out in force.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (8)

It’s That Man Again was the most successful British radio comedy of the WWII era. One of its more famous sketches featured a pair of handymen named Claude and Cecil who were so excessively deferential they never managed to get anything done. Cecil would say, “After you, Claude,” and Claude would reply, “After you, Cecil,” and that would pretty much be the end of that.

The writer of the Daily Reflection at The High Calling is having his own “Claude and Cecil” moment.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (6)

Postmillennialist Doug Wilson on God’s purposes:

“Future catholicity is set before us in the New Testament (Eph. 4:12-13), and anyone who kicks at that is kicking against God’s revealed purposes for the history of the church. Peter [Leithart] and I agree on the eventual reunion of all believers. It is just that Peter thinks it should have happened by now, and my best guess is that we are looking at another couple thousand years, right on schedule.”

Future catholicity. The eventual reunion of all believers.

Really? Is THAT what the apostle had in mind?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How Do You Love the Gospel?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spirits and Spirits

The original Greek New Testament consists entirely of capital letters. It has no spaces, no punctuation, no accents or diacritical marks.

Before this morning I knew most of that, though not the bit about the capitals. There was, apparently, no functional equivalent in ancient Greek to our lower case letters, which leaves us at the mercy of translators when we try to make distinctions between concepts like “Spirit” (as in “Holy Spirit” on the many occasions when the word “Holy” is not supplied) and “spirit” (the human spirit, or possibly a spirit of another sort entirely).

I’m indebted to Tertius for many of the following thoughts …

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Unpacking Conspiracy Theories

The internet has given us unprecedented access to English language commentary from all over the world and has preserved it for us conveniently accessible for an indefinite period. Why not take advantage?

Back in October, the Hungarian Spectrum attempted to unpack the refugee crisis in Europe:

“Hungarian public officials quite openly expressed their doubts that such an unexpected migration of so many people could happen without some central direction.”

There are plausible conspiracy theories. Then there are those that are moonbat crazy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Inbox: Who’s Getting Married?

The “Bride of Christ” is not a term found in the Bible.

There, I said it.

Someone is bound to take umbrage, because it’s an expression very commonly heard in Christendom. Even the very useful assumes its validity in asking the question “What does it mean that the church is the bride of Christ?” and in going on to note that “In the New Testament, Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride”.

Is that quite right? Let’s have a look.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How Do You Love the Gospel?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

“In case I don’t make it back …”

Heading out to the airport last Saturday, a friend stopped by my desk, put her arms around me and said, “I’d better give you a hug in case I don’t make it back.”

She said it lightly but not frivolously. We’ve both watched a number of people slip into eternity in the last 12 months: her health-conscious forty-something dentist from a sudden stroke; a small businessman I used to say hello to every week unexpectedly diagnosed with a brain tumor; a friend’s mother whose passing was medically predictable but still jarred family and friends; and a fellow employee with some kind of wasting disease that remained undiagnosed until it was too late. There are probably more; those are just the recent ones.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

(Re)Making Music

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Screaming Kids and the Harvest of Righteousness

I’m fairly emotionally robust, a product probably of both nature and nurture. I’d like to think I’m not completely insensitive, but it takes a fair bit to hurt my feelings, let alone do any kind of serious damage. I can’t imagine what someone would have to do to me to cause permanent harm to my worldview, self-image or confidence. (My family may, of course, wish to offer their own take on any spirit of self-congratulation that sneaks into such a self-assessment.)

But that’s not true of everyone. It wasn’t even always true of me. In Grade 5 when I first encountered bullies (or more accurately, they first encountered me), I was insecure, terrified and conflict-avoidant. Mostly I was perpetually astonished at the intensity of their venom, which as far as I could tell was directed my way for no reason at all. I walked miles out of my way to get home from school without being pummeled silly.

Nowadays, at least in Canada, bullying in school is frowned upon and a token effort, at bare minimum, is made to manage it. When I was a teen, there was not much you could do except fight back (if you were able) or run for the hills. Taking your sad tale to a teacher or principal didn't accomplish anything positive, something I learned rather quickly.

But even being bullied is merely a manageable annoyance if you have a good home and a loving family to retreat to.

The really emotionally destructive stuff happens at home. No stranger or acquaintance can hurt you like a loved one can.