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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

February 16, 2018

I recently came across an article published by Readers Digest that I had tucked away for future use – and promptly forgot – that reinforces the idea that people of every age and type face similar issues, struggles and temptations throughout their lives. Very often, we believe our present circumstances are unique to us, looking fondly on a past time that we imagine was simpler and less troubled; envying those so lucky as to have lived “back in the good old days.” All the while, many of our predecessors did likewise, coveting a supposedly slower-paced,…  ( Click for more )

February 9, 2018

Have you ever wondered how some holidays got their start? All of them intend to be a reminder of something or someone, commemorating the day a significant event occurred or the person who did it. Some are obvious; Christmas, Easter and the 4th of July. Some, however, we view in a light not at first anticipated; one of those being Valentine’s Day.

Originally this celebration commemorated the martyrdom of one, possibly two priests; named Valentine or Valentinian – a common Latin name. One was a priest and physician; the other, the bishop of Terni;…  ( Click for more )

February 2, 2018

Sometimes, especially in a crisis, we don’t know what to say or do. At other times, when we’ve tried all we know and things still aren’t going the way we expected, we’re at a loss to even know what to think! That’s when we need to learn to be quiet. To remember what we’ve been taught about God’s character, to reflect on Jesus’ example and teaching; to do what we know to do and then – for the moment – leave the rest totally up to God. Let his Spirit speak for and to you. There’s no need to panic and…  ( Click for more )

January 26, 2018

Paul taught Timothy, a young protégé of his in ministry that, “…requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving (should) be made for everyone…” 1 Timothy 2:1; which became the essence of the early church’s practice of powerful, effective prayer. Prayer being our means of communication with God, encouraging a time of meditation on His goodness, including reflection on His word and will. As such, we focus on Him, committing ourselves to His will – not through selective moments of obedience but a continuous lifestyle;…  ( Click for more )

I have no desire or intent to become a social/political commentator, giving my opinion on every social ill, political subversion, entertainment excess or religious stumble. However, whenever one of these issues are directly dealt with scripturally and specifically impact Christians, I will. Our Bible dealing broadly with most aspects of life, directly or by inference covering nearly everything we are confronted with.

One issue I’ve struggled with responding to is what Christina Hoff Sommers labels as the Great Sex Panic of 2017. And while I agree that the…  ( Click for more )

January 5, 2018

John Meacham is politically and religiously a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. He is also highly intelligent and very well-spoken. I’ve seen him interviewed on television and read a commentary he wrote on an article featured in Newsweek Magazine when it was still in publication; I’ve also read one of his published works titled, “American Gospel.” 1 In the one he was belligerent and condescending; in the other, he did indeed question the impact faith had on our founding fathers attempt at establishing a country based on democratic ideals, but raised a number…  ( Click for more )

December 29, 2017

At this time of year, when so many people are re-evaluating their lives and their motivation for living – for our purposes here – trying to determine who we are going to follow or serve in the new year, a rather unique song comes to mind; “Gotta Serve Somebody” by Bob Dylan.

If that seems a bit over-stated, it won’t when you reflect back on some of the habits we routinely try to break free from and the new commitments we attempt to establish in their place; many of them being down-right addictive, others merely ingrained in our…  ( Click for more )

December 22, 2017

With the pressure to be joyous and generous during this time of year comes the temptation – or for some, the compulsion – to overspend. But there’s something to be said for the concept of buying less and having more.

In one particular incident, Jesus deals specifically with this concept. Matthew relating the story of a young man who approached Jesus asking, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? …obey the commandments. ….I have… What still do I lack?” Jesus’ answer being, “ If you…  ( Click for more )

So said Lord Melbourne, William Wilberforce’s chief opponent in the drive to abolish slavery throughout the British realm. A sentiment echoed throughout history – up to and including the present – by those who believe religion to be strictly a private affair, having no real import or impact on what we do or say on a daily basis. Certainly irrelevant to politics and the personal ethics of those involved in running “the real world.” Scripture’s response to such nonsense aptly expressed in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems…  ( Click for more )

December 8, 2017

The opening statement of an Associated Press editorial titled, “Institution Under Siege,” refers to a cultural debate intrinsically tied to our religious base as a nation. Leading with the statement, “The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed state bans on homosexual sex was the latest loud volley in an ongoing culture war over the shape and nature of personal relationships.” The Justices having ruled a couple of years ago that a Texas sodomy law, used to arrest, fine and jail two Houston men caught in the “act” violated their right…  ( Click for more )

So begins Charles Dickens’ novel, The Tale of Two Cities; describing the social, political and moral atmosphere of society in England and France during the mid-1800’s. It was a time not unlike our own, dealing with issues that at times seemed insurmountable but by their very nature created opportunities for success as well, forcing people to rethink their expectations; actually exciting some who saw past the difficulties to the possibilities of impacting their own particular society and the world as a whole.

Appreciating the past while remaining relevant…  ( Click for more )

Children seemed to readily accept and be drawn to Jesus. (Matthew 21:14-16) In return, Jesus often used child-like faith and trust to encourage, teach and even scold his adult listeners. In responding to the question – ‘Who is greatest?’, “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (As the child probably came forward a bit shyly yet happily accepting the Lord’s attention.) “Therefore,…  ( Click for more )

November 17, 2017

Author Rodney Stark boldly concludes his book, The Rise of Christianity, by asserting “…Christianity brought a new conception of humanity to a world saturated with capricious cruelty and the vicarious love of death.”1 (As in the “spectacle” of the gladiatorial games, the “sacrifice” of people and animals in the ring and elsewhere, the cavalier approach to the needs of the war-weary, poverty-stricken people throughout the Roman Empire who were sick, starving and often enslaved.

How did they accomplish that? Again, Mr. Stark…  ( Click for more )

November 10, 2017

To proclaim the substitutionary death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the purpose and function of the church. And there is no more simple yet graphic way to do so than participating in the memorial service of communion; which had, has and always should have a central place and primary focus in our churches. With this routine practice can come a sense of complacency and even disrespect, which was one reason Paul directed his letter to the Corinthians. (See 1 Corinthians 11:17-34) But this can be and often is true of anything of importance. That…  ( Click for more )

November 3, 2017

Many social issues divide our culture and churches today, my intent here is not to address each one. Suffice it to say that our Bible deals in a straight-forward manner with most of them and must be adhered to. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, wouldn’t at first glance seem to be a divisive issue – but it is – it’s importance, meaning and place in worship routinely questioned and debated. At its inception, it was closely associated with the Passover Feast of Judaism, which memorialized Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and the Death Angel’s…  ( Click for more )

Doesn’t that seem a bit odd? To proclaim the death of an individual and the apparent defeat of their cause, as a victory? That’s part of the uniqueness of Christ’s gospel; winning by losing, living through dying. (Matthew 10:39) His power revealed in death’s defeat at his resurrection. (And his promise to return to retrieve the rest of us – thus the “…till He comes.”; from the latter part of 1 Corinthians 11:26) His love shown at all points during his life and ministry, reaching a pinnacle in his voluntary substitutionary…  ( Click for more )

October 20, 2017

Have you ever received contradictory advice? Grow up – but not too fast. You need to take on more responsibility – but not too much. You need to act like an adult – yet have fun as a kid. Part of the problem is in your perception, part of it is in others’ expectations; while some of the problem is in understanding the issue. Sometimes we confuse the concepts of privilege and responsibility, demanding the one while ignoring the other. You do need to grow up, but not so fast that you miss out on the fun of being young. You do need to take on responsibility,…  ( Click for more )

Jennifer Braceras recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal that every college-age woman would benefit from reading. In it she suggests some common-sense ideas on how to protect oneself from harm; like not getting drunk and going home with men you don’t really know, making sure you travel – especially on foot – with a group of friends who will look out for each other and finally, rejecting the casual hook-up culture so prevalent on many campuses today. As a result, she’s being criticized by some as a rape apologist and victim blamer. …  ( Click for more )

October 6, 2017

Last week we tried to identify the merits of a “Christian” church. In continuing that study, I hope to encourage you in your search for one – as well as suggest active involvement in a community of believers that will aid you in your college and after-college experience like little else can.

The disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians ages ago at Antioch (Acts 11:26), to designate them as something different from Judaism. They were followers of the Way (John 14:6,7 & Acts 24:14), considered “little Christs” –…  ( Click for more )

September 29, 2017

This article arises out of a concern of mine over church attendance and preference among our newly “liberated” youth. Although this may appear to be directed at those students attending school away from home, at times some of our “home-bound” students seem to find it difficult to maintain their Sunday School and Worship service attendance as well. So my attempt will be to define what a “Christian” church is and whether that really matters when looking for a church to be involved in. The place to start defining a “Christian”…  ( Click for more )

I don’t read news magazines on a weekly basis, but do try to watch for stories that pertain to Christian thought and practice. A Newsweek cover story some time back certainly did that, claiming to have ‘The Religious Case For Gay Marriage’ within its pages. Beyond that, John Meacham, Newsweek’s editor, felt the story important enough to introduce it with elaboration of his own in his Editor’s Desk Commentary.

Two of his comments in particular grabbed my attention. One was his assertion that there is a decided generational difference…  ( Click for more )

September 15, 2017

Have you ever noticed the sometimes inconsistent and even contradictory reporting from the news media? In the not-too-distant past the big news was that people weren’t saving enough, harming themselves and the economy. But then, within days, the experts were bemoaning the fact that people weren’t spending enough, causing harm to the economy and thus themselves.

Over the past several weeks, two more seemingly contradictory statements have been extensively reported on. The one being the fact that corporations are making more money than they have…  ( Click for more )

This belief is at the heart of our brotherhood’s refusal to create another denomination, choosing instead to join together in a loose confederacy of believers who none-the-less share a common faith and cooperate with one another in advancing the Gospel. Having no centralized authority to dictate our behavior or monitor our doctrine gives us a freedom to worship that many don’t have but a responsibility to police our own actions that many ignore; as obeying God’s word requires that we know what it says and understand the context in which it was spoken. …  ( Click for more )

One aspect of Jesus’ ministry that allowed him to touch so many lives was that he didn’t just teach people the principles of right and wrong but explained his theology with easily understood “application stories.” These were in turn based on the realities of his listeners’ lives; their culture, relationships and occupations, as well as their hopes and fears. Israel was largely an agrarian society. (Although they did have a number of large cities.) Farming, therefore, became a prime means of exploring many of the deep truths of Jesus’…  ( Click for more )

So says Jesus, explaining to his disciples – at least in part – his function for them and their responsibility in return. He then went on to add, “All who came before me were thieves and robbers,…”; indicating here and elsewhere throughout scripture that anyone teaching something contradictory to his words were to be considered false prophets – thieves and robbers – and shunned. (Matthew 7:15 & 24:11) Warning too that anyone attempting to enter the “sheep pen” by any other means, trying to circumvent the true…  ( Click for more )

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