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'Winging It

    by Stan Smith

In Philippians we read, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Philippians 2:2) "Of the same mind." What does that mean? It is a common biblical theme. Jesus said, "... I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17:23) In Ephesians we see the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3) and the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13). So, what is this? Some would argue that…  ( Click for more )

What do you look for in a spouse? Is he right for me? Is she good looking? Is he successful? Is she funny? Will he support me? Will she support me? Men and women may have some differences in what they're looking for, and individuals may vary even more widely, but there is, I think, at the bottom a common core. "Will this person help me toward self-fulfillment?" What do you want in a marriage? It probably looks fairly similar. Does he love me like he should? Does she give me what I need? Again, this stuff may vary, so perhaps the best place to look for an answer is in…  ( Click for more )

May 8, 2024

I'm sure you've heard it; might have even said it. "I love you to death!" An endearing phrase, I'm pretty sure. But can you take it literally? God did. Think about it. Paul said, "We preach Christ crucified." (1 Corinthians 1:23) What a story! He even recognizes the problem. "To Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness." And that's the Christ we preach--crucified. But it's huge. I suspect we suffer from a little nearsightedness and often don't see just how vast God is and, in consequence, how vast our sin is. We stand guilty of Cosmic…  ( Click for more )

May 1, 2024

Perhaps one of the most hotly contested Scriptures today is in Paul's second letter to Timothy. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

It is a claim to divine inspiration ("No, it's not," the skeptic--Christian or not--will tell you) of Scripture ("No, it's not," said skeptic will repeat), placing the Bible in the category of "God's Word" ("No, it doesn't," our…  ( Click for more )

I have always encouraged Christians (because, let's face it, it wouldn't be remotely reasonable to expect if of unbelievers) to allow the truth of God's Word to shape their understanding of reality rather than the reverse--allowing their sense of what's real to shape biblical truth. Now, sure, the left-leaning types (Ecclesiastes 10:2) will complain "That stuff is just your opinion!", but I'm not talking to them. I'm talking to you Bible-believing Christians. Even you--we--tend to apply our experience and (misguided) thinking onto Scripture rather than vice versa. Brothers,…  ( Click for more )

April 17, 2024

I need to preface this by saying that I didn't plan this. I'm reading Ephesians. It just came up. I'm sorry. It's an evil word. "Submit." No one in American culture wants to hear it. We submit to no one. You know, "Don't tread on me." So ingrained is this independent spirit that when the Bible calls up the word, Christians choke on it. 21... submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its…  ( Click for more )

April 10, 2024
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions,…  ( Click for more )
April 3, 2024

Have you ever seen the movie, Liar Liar? Jim Carrey plays a lawyer without apparent scruples who finds himself the victim of his son's birthday wish that he couldn't lie for 24 hours. What follows is funny and, behind it, thought provoking. Have you ever considered what your life would be like if you could not lie? I don't mean what many might mean. There are those (no small number, I think) that believe that "not lying" means "always saying everything". If you withhold information that no one requested, that's a lie. If you don't tell your spouse about a childhood…  ( Click for more )

March 27, 2024
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)

Have you ever wondered what it means when it says that Jesus "was the Word"? In what sense is He "the Word"? Some will tell you that the Bible isn't the "Word of God"; Jesus is. Others say that it's just that He spoke what God said to speak. Most won't argue that He couldn't be both "the Word of God" and "God" because, well, it specifies that He was both, but more than a few try to conflate "Jesus"…  ( Click for more )

March 20, 2024

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. I have to write something about love, don't I?

Last year Psychology Today published an article entitled 7 Reasons Most People Are Afraid of Love. (Interesting ... is it true that "most people are afraid to love", or are they intending to say "For those who are afraid to love, here are the 7 common reasons"?) Of course, everyone knows that "love hurts". I mean, didn't Nazareth tell us so? (The band, not the place.) How many songs have been written about how tough it is to love and lose? And we have to be constantly…  ( Click for more )

March 13, 2024

Remember when Jesus visited Mary and Martha that one time (Luke 10:38-42)? It's a well-known story. Martha set about preparing for Him, and Mary sat down at His feet. Martha complained. "Tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

"One thing is necessary." What a statement! In a world where we have so many "necessary things", Jesus…  ( Click for more )

March 6, 2024

I remember the story of the father who desperately urged his sons to avoid at all costs sexual sin, especially the pervasive problem of pornography. One day one of his sons said, "Dad, can I talk to you?" They went for a walk and his son said, "Dad, the other day I saw on the computer as I came into the room what looked like skin. You turned it off very quickly, but I'm pretty sure of what I saw. So why do you tell me to avoid it?" His father, very sad, said, "Do you think I urge you to avoid it because I don't know how desperate a problem it is?" …  ( Click for more )

February 28, 2024

Sexual sin is a big one, isn't it? I mean, the Bible makes much ado of it. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4) Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18) But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2) For this is the will of God, your sanctification:…  ( Click for more )

February 21, 2024

The debate between Bible-believing Christians and homosexuals hinges on the claim that "We're born this way." The notion is "God made us this way, so it's good. Who are you to question it?" And the typical response of the Bible-believing Christian, "No, you're not born that way; it's a choice." So, who's right? This gets a little difficult because, as it turns out, both are right and both are wrong. Modern psychology tells us that they're not actually born that way, but they're certainly born with the propensity. Science has failed in its attempts…  ( Click for more )

February 14, 2024

We all know that our world has decided to modify, over the past 50 years or so, the definition of marriage. This gradual redefinition has left it essentially undefined. Oh, yes, we might agree that it's some socially recognized legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations, but it's all very vague. It is no longer, for instance, an actualunion as it had been considered for so long because dissolving a union is no small issue but we're quite happy with "no fault divorce". And "monogamy" was all well and good for awhile, but we've headed…  ( Click for more )

February 7, 2024

The year is ending. A new one is coming. It's often a time for reflection, for evaluation, for resolutions. When Jeremiah reflected, it wasn't a happy consideration. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah, warning them that the same thing that happened to their northern sister, Israel, would happen to them if they didn't repent. It was a sad task because Jeremiah, like Isaiah, knew that it was a task that would not provide positive results. He knew that they wouldn't repent and he knew that they would be exiled. And they were. It's a difficult situation sometimes. We wonder, "Why…  ( Click for more )

You know, just about every popular singer on the planet, past or present, has done some sort of Christmas album. I mean, it's almost unavoidable. Where else are you going to hear Snoop Dogg sing "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" or the heavy metal version of "O Christmas Tree"? (I didn't make those up. They're out there.) But it is almost an indispensable part of the season these days to hear folks like Frank Sinatra (suspected of mob ties) and Barbra Streisand (a Jew) singing lyrics like "He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations…  ( Click for more )

January 24, 2024

You've heard of that which is "inimitable". That is, it can't be imitated. It is typically intended as a compliment, a recognition of that which is truly unique. "There's no one like her." That's the idea. Now, in the history of humans, if there was ever anyone that fell in the "truly unique" category--the "inimitable"--I would think it would be Jesus Christ. I mean, who could possibly be like Him? He is the God-Man, God Incarnate, the perfect Son of God. We even write His personal pronouns with capital letters because He is not like us. Jesus…  ( Click for more )

January 17, 2024

A couple of years ago I wrote about Unconditional Forgiveness in which I took the position that such a thing is a falsehood. Basically, we are commanded to forgive "as your Father in heaven", and He doesn't forgive until we repent. Of course, this leaves you with a dilemma. "Well, then," one might ask, "does that mean I get to continue to hate the person who doesn't repent?" And the clear answer there is "No!". Indeed, "continue to hate" shouldn't have been a starting point. You never should have started to hate. So the idea there…  ( Click for more )

January 10, 2024

"Some men are born in the wrong century. I think I was born on the wrong continent." So says Elliot Marston in the movie Quigley Down Under. The idea isn't unique. Many people feel like they're in the wrong place or wrong time. They would be more comfortable, they think in an earlier date in history or another geographic location (or both) or maybe in a future time. Somewhere, somewhen, someone else. If you believe in a Sovereign God, the question isn't merely moot, it's counterproductive. You see, if God is Sovereign,you are where and when you are supposed to be. Imagine…  ( Click for more )

January 3, 2024

In one of Asaph's psalms, he quotes God as commanding, "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving" (Psalm 50:14). Paul told the Ephesian Christians to be "always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (Ephesians 5:20). According to the command to the Christians in Thessalonica, we are to give thanksin everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). More surprising than that (because, seriously, everything?) is the reason given: "for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." In three places we are told to give…  ( Click for more )

December 27, 2023

I never noticed this before. In Paul's second epistle to the church at Corinth he writes in the 8th chapter encouraging them to continue their work of putting together a care package for the saints in Jerusalem. The way he does this is to give them a positive example. So he tells this relatively rich church about what was happening in the poor church he was visiting in Macedonia. Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed…  ( Click for more )

December 20, 2023

Solomon wrote, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6). I wonder if that's true for husbands, too. Because, wives, you are indeed training your husband. To what? In the Bible God makes some really difficult commands for husbands. Husbands are commanded to love their wives in all circumstances (Ephesians 5:25). Husbands are supposed to cleanse her by the washing of the water of the word (Ephesians 5:26). Husbands are required to be ready to answer any question she might have (1 Corinthians 14:35).…  ( Click for more )

December 13, 2023

In the 8th chapter of Acts we read this encouraging word: "Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ." (Acts 8:5). Oh, good for you, Philip! You go! Great job! Whatever you do, don't look backward from that passage. You see, the farther back you step, the worse it gets. First, we find out why Philip went down to the city of Samaria in the ominous previous verse. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. (Acts 8:4)

"Wait ... that's good, right? They went everywhere preaching the word. That's…  ( Click for more )

December 6, 2023
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

You know that, right? It is the starting place for all good doctrine, all orthodoxy, for Christianity itself (Romans 10:17). But have you ever given any thought to how it works to make you "equipped for every good work"? The text is interesting, and our modern ears might miss the completeness it offers. In fact, the constant debate over whether or not…  ( Click for more )

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