When you think of the Bible’s Love Story, what comes to mind? Many people will respond, “Song of Solomon.” There’s nothing wrong with that choice, but I would like to suggest that there is an even better love story recorded in the book of Hosea. If this short book is not familiar to you, don’t feel bad if you have to peer into your Bible’s table of contents to find it. It follows the exciting story of Daniel.
Hosea was a prophet of God to the northern nation of Israel during the eighth century before Christ. About 200 years earlier, the nation had been divided into a northern portion, called Israel. The southern portion was called Judah. During those two hundred years, Israel had several kings, all of whom refused to follow God. As a result, the entire nation had walked away from God. Continue reading
Early in His ministry, Jesus attended a wedding. Jewish weddings in those days were very different than most weddings in our country today. The wedding usually lasted five to seven days. The bride and groom were paraded through the village, so the wedding was often a joyous village-wide event.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus performed His first miracle at this wedding? I assume He wanted to show that He celebrated marriage (since He instituted it). The wine had run out, which would have been a huge embarrassment to either the groom or his parents. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was the first to notice the potential fiasco. She asked Jesus to do something about it. At first Jesus hesitated, probably waiting for instructions from His heavenly Father. Continue reading
I enjoy watching videos of mountain goats running up and down sheer mountainsides. They make it look so easy, and they never give any indication of fear. It doesn’t matter whether they are standing on a precipice high above the ocean or on the side of a mountain hundreds of feet up, they walk around like it’s a leisurely stroll down the street. Even in these precarious positions, they can walk backwards or turn completely around without any problems.
The mountain goat is another animal that is a problem for evolution to explain. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like for the cliff-walkers before they possessed special hooves. Before evolution “happened to develop by chance,” these animals must have Continue reading
When anyone calls on Jesus to be their Savior, He immediately sends the Holy Spirit to live in them and be their constant companion. In addition, the Spirit equips each Christ-follower with “gifts” to be useful in His Body, the church. Reading through the lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, you may have asked, “What about me?” If you don’t have a speaking role or a leadership role in the church, you may wonder if you got passed by.
You’ll find encouragement in Exodus 35. God gave Moses instructions for building a special structure for worship, called the tabernacle. God also told Moses to get Bezalel to be the general contractor. Of Bezalel it says, “God filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” Construction of the tabernacle was a very spiritual project. But notice that all of Bezalel’s skills were very practical ones that he had worked at developing. Continue reading
One nice feature about international flights is having the opportunity to watch movies to occupy your time. The last time I flew to India on a mission trip I began watching the movie, Jack the Giant Killer. The movie was based upon the fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk, with giants living in the clouds. I enjoyed the movie, but I knew it was fiction.
However, the Bible makes several references to real giants that lived on earth. One was named Og. He had an iron bed over thirteen feet long and six feet wide (Deuteronomy 3:11). Now that’s a king-size bed! But the most well-known giant was Goliath, standing over 9 feet tall. He was a warrior in the Philistine army (1 Samuel 17:4), which was at war with the army of Israel. He boasted that if any Jewish soldier defeated him, the entire Philistine army would surrender. As you can imagine, no one among the Jewish army wanted to fight such a huge man. This guy would make NBA players look small. Plus, he had all his combat gear on. Continue reading
The privilege of personal choice is a gift to humans from Creator God. The natural world operates within boundaries that God designed. A rose cannot decide to produce apples; the moon cannot choose to be like a star. Humans have the benefit of choice, and it comes with consequence – positive or negative.
When the first humans were in the Garden of Eden, they made a poor choice by believing the lie of counterfeit god, Satan. Life on Planet Earth was changed in that all humans would struggle with the desire to choose less than best life opportunities. History reveals the constant effort of Satan luring people into hurtful choices while Creator God offers hope and power to make good ones. Choice followed by consequence is the story of human history that continues to be written today.
In most situations, it is not difficult to determine the consequence of our choice. If we made a poor one, we can understand the hurt that resulted. A good choice most likely will bring a desirable response. There is a troubling area between these two options that is often described with a question: “Why do good things happen to people who make poor choices and bad things come to people who make good ones?” Continue reading
Josh Harris of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” has quite publicly and unreservedly renounced his faith. “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” he writes on Instagram. “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” (Emphasis added.)
This naturally raises questions in the mind of every sincere Christian observer. Was he ever a true Christian? If he was, how could he so flatly repudiate his faith? And where does all this leave him with regard to his eternal destiny?
There will be those reading this who are firmly in the “once-saved, always-saved” camp, which believes it is impossible to forfeit one’s salvation. Someone may look like a genuine believer for a long time, but if he ever falls away, it will simply demonstrate he was never a Christian to begin with.
I grew up with this view, and believed it until I finished my training in the biblical languages at Dallas Theological Seminary, which paradoxically still stands firmly in the always-saved camp. I still have many friends, including pastors, who believe the always-saved view, and I have no interest in starting a quarrel with them or anyone else. I respect them, and my disagreement with them on this issue is not personal but biblical. Continue reading
“Laughter is better than complaining.” – paraphrasing a paraphrase of “Anger is better than laughter,” which in the King James Version is “Sorrow is better than laughter” (last week’s column) SOMETHING LOST IN THE TRANSLATION?
Not to repeat myself, but the English words anger and sorrow meant the same thing in pre-KJV times. The root word for anguish, angst, and angina was the root now used for “anger.” Rage wasn’t involved until the 1300s. Some say that “Sorrow is better than laughter” is one of their favorite scriptures.
While it’s true that sorrow and trials can do some good things for us sometimes, the God of the children of Israel is a comforting God, a laughing God (Psalm 2 and others).
Not to change the subject, but we now know why Bob Mueller didn’t want to testify. He asked nicely to be excused, but the geniuses – the “progressives” – insisted! We now know that “Mueller” is almost as old as I am. I’m so old that I’ve hit that age when you walk into a room and wonder why you’re there, even if it’s the bathroom. Maybe you stare inside the fridge and remember you were looking for the microwave. Continue reading
The Bible reveals in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” We are supposed to be different. What has changed? I still have the same job and family. I still sleep and eat. Sometimes we don’t feel like that much has changed. Chapter two in Ephesians is a wonderful passage that indicates what some of these changes are.
- Dead in transgressions
- Following the ways of the world
- Gratified desires of the sinful nature
- Object of wrath
- Alive with Christ
- Raised with Christ
- Seated with Christ
Whether boys are standing beside a small creek or on a bridge above a river, they will find something to toss into the water. It’s fun to watch things bump along as they float downstream. It’s also fun to be the one drifting. When we were much younger, Karen and I enjoyed floating down the Sandy River on inner tubes. It was so slow, that it would take all day to float the nine miles to our destination.
But drifting can also be dangerous. A boat without an anchor can drift into the rocks. A houseboat must be anchored to the pilings to prevent drift. The Bible says in Hebrews 2:1, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Why is the author of Hebrews giving this warning? Surely, he’s not talking about drifting down a river. What, then, is so dangerous? Continue reading