by Stan Smith
I read the book of Jude the other day. It is only one chapter and it is a very interesting read. The book focuses on a select group of people. Jude tells his readers, "I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). That's the focus -- "contend for the faith" -- because of this select group of people. Jude's first description is ... well ... unnerving. Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace ( Click for more )
Look, you gotta cut me some slack. I mean, I was only a junior high kid. It sounded good when I said it. I don't remember how the conversation came about, but I remember talking to my 8th-grade teacher, Mrs. Proud, at the Christian school I attended about my older sister who had been her student before. We were talking about the decline in morals in society. I told her not to worry about my sister. "When the rest of the world is going nude, she'll be wearing a bikini," I assured her, as if it was a good thing. Remember the story of the two guys camping out on the ( Click for more )
I heard a caller make this blithe statement on a radio show to which I was listening on the way home the other day. The show was not a Christian show on Christian radio. The host was talking about who to vote for in the presidential race -- specifically about Romney and his religious views. The host had stated that he would prefer someone with religious views than an atheist because atheists had no moral basis and he wanted someone with a basis for morality. It was particularly interesting because the host admitted he was "not particularly religious" himself. Still, ( Click for more )
Most of us have never asked ourselves this question: "Why would/should God forgive us?" I know I haven't. I suppose we haven't asked because we already know the answer -- He loves us. I guess the answer is accurate, but I'm afraid that it's quite incomplete and, in fact, largely misleading. The sense of that answer is, "Why wouldn't He forgive us? He loves us!" The natural conclusion in that sense is "We are lovable." And that would be the wrong conclusion. The Bible offers a radically different reason for God offering salvation to anyone. In fact, ( Click for more )
Here are two well-known pieces of Scripture.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6). Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life -- is not from the Father but is from the world. And ( Click for more )
Have you ever noticed how little "other" plays into our thinking over "self"? It seems as if all of life is aimed at "self" rather than anyone else. Take sex, for instance. Today we've pretty much dismissed the notion that there is anything wrong with, say, masturbation because no one but "self" is involved and it simply provides personal pleasure. Beyond explicitly personal pleasure, we tend to think of all of sex in terms of personal pleasure. Maybe it's "I'm not in the mood" (self) or maybe it's "You're not satisfying ( Click for more )
Most translations seem to group these verses together as a single, long, run-on sentence with semi-colons for separating the phrases:
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
In that sense, it's difficult for me to decide to what Paul is referring when he says, "For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." What is? Is it God's will for you that you rejoice always? That you pray without ceasing? That you give thanks in everything? Oh, that answer ( Click for more )
David wrote, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1). He wasn't alone in this. Paul said, "... That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made ..." (Romans 1:19-20). Now, I know that our younger generation is often bored with church and even the older generation can, at times, ( Click for more )
Empire wrote a piece for a Father's Day issue about 10 Movie Father Figures Better Than Real Dads. All were not fathers. There was Obi-Wan to Luke Skywalker, Alfred the butler to Bruce Wayne, Uncle Ben to Peter Parker, and more. Because, as we all know, real fathers just aren't that good. Last year the Atlantic ran an article titled Why Do So Many Father-Daughter Movies = Feisty Kid + Bumbling Dad? Hugo Schwyzer points out that Disney's movies have a string of failed fathers from the over-protective Neptune in The Little Mermaid to the mindless dad in Cinderella all the way to ( Click for more )
I'm convinced that a prime problem in our society today is men. Yeah, yeah, I know ... I'm sounding like a man-hating feminist. Don't worry. That's not where I'm going. Let's consider the job description from Scripture. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their ( Click for more )
What's more important? Is it more important to be happy or to be holy? Take, for instance, marriage. I'd be willing to bet (if I were a betting man) that you didn't choose your spouse based on his or her ability to lead you to holiness, did you? I'm relatively certain that you chose a spouse who you believed would make you happy. If you were really a good person, you also believed you could make your spouse happy. (Consider, for a moment, the utter irrationality of the proposition. No one has the capacity to make someone else feel ... anything. Just a thought.) It wasn't holiness ( Click for more )
The song asked, "What's it all about, Alfie?" It's a question a lot of people ask. What is the purpose ... of life, the universe, and everything? I can tell you without possibility of error that I know the answer. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36). He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created through ( Click for more )
Daniel is not one of the most read books of the Bible, I know. But you likely know some of the stories. "Daniel in the lion's den" (Daniel 6) is an ever-popular story for the kids. Most of us know the one where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the king and were saved from the fire (Daniel 3). Perhaps lesser known is the story of Daniel and the "creative alternative", where Daniel and his friends decided not to defile themselves with Babylonian food and offered to go vegetarian instead (Daniel 1). And, of course, the book is riddled with ( Click for more )
Twila Paris performed the song, This Thorn. The first verse goes like this: Thank you for this torn embedded in my flesh. I can feel the mystery; my spirit is made fresh. You are sovereign still and forever wise. I can see the miracle opening my eyes To a proud heart so quick to judge; Laying down crosses and carrying grudges. The veil has been torn And I thank you for this thorn.
I was talking to a friend a short time ago and he was telling me about a difficult time he was going through. It was a genuine difficult time. It was indeed an unfair situation and most of ( Click for more )
The dictionary says that tolerance is "the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own". Of course, society includes the sense that "willingness to accept" means "embrace". I mean, if a Christian believes, as an example, that homosexual behavior is sin, simply allowing it to continue would not be classified as "tolerance". No, in order to be classified as "tolerant", you must celebrate it with those who celebrate it. Interestingly, those who celebrate it are not obligated in any form to ( Click for more )
How do we determine what "moral" and "immoral", "good" and "bad" are? A congressman who stood against "gay marriage" changed his mind midstream when his son announced that he was gay. Prior to this event, it was bad. Now it's good. In this case, "good" and "bad" are determined by "what's going on at my house". A coworker told her daughters, "If you ever get a boyfriend and decide to live with him before marrying him, I will be disappointed." "Really, Mom?" She told me, "I ( Click for more )
Look around. Marriages are in trouble. Indeed, marriage itself is in trouble. Church attendance is declining. Genuine Christians are harder to find. Gross immorality is becoming mainstream. We have bands of young men who think it's fun to randomly knock people down on the streets, crazy youth who decide to shoot up a school, vicious parents who abuse and kill their own children. We have a government that fails to protect its people and provides greater misery instead in the name of compassion. The only genuine source of any moral code is ridiculed in the streets and barred ( Click for more )
What is Christmas really all about? It's about white. You know, "white Christmas", like the one I'm dreaming about. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7).
Yeah, white ... like snow. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without trees. Trees symbolize Christmas. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).
The tree is an important component of Christmas. It's not possible to ( Click for more )
Christmas. The term conjures up all sorts of things. Sparkling trees, shiny packages, singing, happiness -- all seem to be components of Christmas. In fact, Christmas has few indispensable elements. First, there is the whole "Virgin Birth" thing. It's the start of the story, after all. Then there are angels who sing to shepherds (okay, the text doesn't actually say they sang) and tell them about the Savior. You have some wise men, some "kings", some magi who follow a star to find the King. These are all basic components of the story of Christmas without ( Click for more )
There's something I've never been able to quite figure out. At this time of year you will find a whole host of movies, stories, and people who argue for the existence of Santa Claus. It's as if some folks believe that prior to the Santa Claus myth, "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" didn't exist. Now, to be fair, I suppose I can imagine why those who have no real belief in God or faith in Christ would need this tool. What I don't understand is the number of Christian parents that perpetuate this story to their children as if it is real. Perhaps the fact that ( Click for more )
That's what Paul wrote. And we like that. It's good stuff. In fact, it's as if Paul has lost all hope of expressing what he was trying to get across. "Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been ( Click for more )
Behind the holiday is the famous "first Thanksgiving" put on by the Pilgrims in 1621. The Plymouth colonists and the local Indians shared a meal together. It wasn't until 1863 that the holiday became official. President Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Nationally, it made sense back then, but it's somewhat hard to believe today. I mean, religion in the public square is frowned upon. How in the world we get away with having a "national day of Thanksgiving" (let alone the day that follows) is hard to say. ( Click for more )
One of the wonderful promises that we have from God is that He forgives and forgets sin. "I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins" (Isaiah 43:25). How wonderful! So while I am pretty good at remembering my own sin, God inflicts Himself with some divine form of Alzheimer's, with some sort of supernatural selective recall where not only does He not remember my sin, but He also doesn't pay attention when I remember my sin. "Dear God," I might pray, "I still feel so bad for that particular sin. Please, ( Click for more )
The numbers of folk even among Christians -- even among "evangelical" Christians -- who claim that the Bible is the Word of God, a God-breathed, inerrant, infallible text handed down to us through the centuries and protected by God for our use today is dwindling. There are a variety of views, of course, but that particular one is passing away. What other options are there? The Bible is not applicable for today. You seem to think that this book can still be applied to the life and times of the 21st century. You think that because some 1century guy wrote against, ( Click for more )
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