by Stan Smith
That's the conventional wisdom. "You have to be true to yourself." That's what they tell you. I mean, wasn't it Shakespeare who said, "To thine own self be true"? And who was wiser than Bill? I would suggest, however, that if you are going to take a biblical worldview, this might not be the best course of action. Consider what the Bible says about self. We all know that God created Man and "behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). "That," most people seem to think, "was that. People are, basically, pretty good." But that's only ( Click for more )
Everyone wants to have a purpose. Why am I here? Some strive for "higher purpose" and others just want a basic reason. No one, for the most part, cares at all what God's purpose is. As it turns out, God made everything that existsfor a purpose. Fortunately we don't have to guess. Unfortunately it may not be what you thought. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36) 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 ( Click for more )
This is a great passage of Scripture. Yes, it is specifically to Israel, but it is also to the redeemed. It is a comforting statement from a loving, sovereign God regarding His care for us in our tough times. In the floods ( Click for more )
I love the hymns. This (one of my all-time favorites) was originally a poem entitled "O Store Gud" written by a Swedish pastor after experiencing the might of God's nature in a thunderstorm ( Click for more )
If you've been in a church at all, you most likely know that "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). Ahhh, yes. A warm feeling, isn't it? Especially after all that "fire and brimstone" of yesteryear. "You see," they tell us, "we need to focus on God's kindness, not His wrath or judgment. Because, after all, that's what this verse tells us. And we want to follow what God's Word tells us." True, we do. So ... is that what it tells us? In fact, that's not at all what it's talking about. Check the verse itself: Do ( Click for more )
Adrian Peterson, a running back for the Minnesota Vikings, made the news recently when he was arrested for child abuse. Recognizing that there is more than one question involved here, Peterson has at least been the source of a whole new discussion on the topic of corporal punishment. To borrow from Shakespeare, "To spank or not to spank; that is the question." First, science has a very clear answer: spanking doesn't work. Of course, it is also possible to find studies that say the opposite. But studies also show that prayer doesn't work, so do I go with the studies or ( Click for more )
Perhaps one of the most ominous verses in the Bible is found in Proverbs. As [a man] thinks within himself, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).
We like to think that we're pretty good people, at least much of the time. We aren't stealing, murdering, committing adultery ... you know, doing a lot of bad things. Oh, sure, we may think about that stuff, but that's just in the privacy of our own minds. We never act on any of it. On the light side, there's the mental response you have to the guy who cut you off on the freeway that never gets expressed. On the heavier side is the secret time ( Click for more )
Have you ever gone over to the hardware store and bought what you believed to be the right components to do a job around the house, got the stuff home, only to find that you were missing something essential? I mean, seriously, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. "How many trips to home repair store does it take to repair your home?" You just wish, at times, that someone or something could give you a hand, a list, a set of instructions, something that would make sure you got everything you needed to accomplish the task at hand. I can't tell you how many voices ( Click for more )
Theology isn't a pleasant field of thought these days. It's too narrow, too impractical, too stuffy. Oh, sure some of those PhD types might go there, but for the everyday types, it has little use. Of course, that's the perception. It's not the truth. Theology is generically defined as the study of religion, but that's not quite accurate. From its roots, theology is most accurately the study of (logos) God (theos). To differentiate between the generic and the actual, they call it "Theology Proper", the analysis of the divine. And, as it turns out, every single human is ( Click for more )
I never really realized how good I had it growing up. We weren't rich by any means. Dad worked for the county. Government workers are typically not among the wealthy. But we had food, clothing, and shelter. We weren't hurting. I didn't really appreciate that. (Appreciate: to assign value.) One thing that struck me the other day was my father's penchant for vacations. He loved vacations. (Still does, in fact, well into his 80's ... and retired.) So we would go on camping trips. Tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles ... you get the idea. I remember us three kids stuffed in the back ( Click for more )
The Gospel -- the Good News -- begins with bad news because without bad news there is no good news. The bad news, then, is that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The bad news is the fallen condition of each and every one of us. As humans we are hostile to God, blinded by the god of this world, dead in sin, intent only on evil, and all the rest. The good news that Christ died to pay for our evil condition and the Holy Spirit will make us new is truly good news indeed. But it would ( Click for more )
"Choose to believe." That's what they tell us. We need to "choose to believe" in Christ. It is a matter of our will. Frankly, this baffles me. I have never had the freedom to choose what I believe. If I did, I could choose to believe in all sorts of cool things like unicorns and faeries. (I specifically chose that spelling to avoid any correlation to the slang use of its alternative spelling.) But ... I don't. How do we believe? If you look around, you'll find a host of "believers" -- ways in which people believe whatever they believe. There are the ( Click for more )
There are many churches today touting their "Third Way", their non-judgmental, tolerant way of embracing sinners "like Jesus did". By this they mean they don't mention the sin problems these people have. "It's not our place," they might say, but more and more often they're suggesting, "It may not even be sin." So when pollsters look at, say, divorce rates or "shacking up" -- sorry, "cohabitation" -- and find that the numbers among "Christians" and the secular aren't too different, we don't need to look very far ( Click for more )
I can't tell you how many times I've heard people asking, begging, pleading, "How can I know the will of God for my life?" In truth, any genuine disciple of Christ would want that, but I just think it's not as hard as we try to make it. I always want to ask, "Did you ask Him?" Because it seems to me that His Word is full of "the will of God for my life." Take this passage, for instance: 1Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you ( Click for more )
When God found Adam and Eve hiding in the garden because they were naked and heard their confession of guilt, He asked, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" Adam answered "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Eve wasn't much different. "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (Genesis 3:11-13). It is the ever-present excuse. Someone else is to blame. We are steeped in it. It's somebody else. My wife, my husband, my boss, my children, my friends, ( Click for more )
We read in Scripture, "Confess your sins one to another" (James 5:16) and "Bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2) and the like. Good stuff, too. I mean, if we were open about admitting our sin and rightly expected that this openness would result in someone to help share the burden, it might make a big difference. Might. Because we don't typically confess our sins to one another and we don't typically expect anyone to help share the burdens of those sins, unconfessed or otherwise. Oh, no, these things are taboo. Christians can be schizophrenic. We readily ( Click for more )
Wiles ... schemes. Just what are the schemes of the devil? In Scripture, we first meet Satan in the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent. He was "more crafty than any beast of the field" (Genesis 3:1). We can see his primary schemes in his exchange with Eve. "Did God say ...?" (Genesis 3:1). Step One: Question God. Oh, not likely an overt questioning. Not an outright denial. Today's version is more like "Is that what God said, or ( Click for more )
In a day when many voices are begging us to "just get along", these words from Paul's letter to Titus seem somewhat jarring. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you (Titus 2:15).
So, what is it that Paul is so ardent about? He tells Titus to "declare", "exhort", and "rebuke". Not "get along" terms. These are fighting terms. He follows it with "Let no one disregard you" -- a fight with anyone who would disregard you. What is so important to Paul that he calls for rebukes, exhortations, ( Click for more )
You remember the story of Job, right? He was a "blameless and upright" man (Job 1;1). Now that's some statement coming by the inspiration of God. This genuine "good guy" is faced with a couple of stunning tragedies where Satan tries to prove to God that Job is not faithful enough to stick with God under trial. He loses his children, his property, and his health. Still he says, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job 13:15). Eventually, though, Job succumbs to the faulty assaults from "friends" who assure him that God only does this kind ( Click for more )
In their great wisdom, the Rolling Stones sang, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find you get what you need." Now, of course, Mick Jagger wasn't actually offering the wisdom of the ages there, but if you twist it just enough, you might find that it's in there. When we face hard times, one of the very popular verses believers might try to hand us is "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Really good ( Click for more )
It is quite clear from Scripture that Jesus gave His disciples a universal command. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).
It wasn't just for the Apostles. It was "to the end of the age". That's us. We call it "the Great Commission". We are to "Go into all the world ( Click for more )
So, here I am, reading through Revelation again. Frankly, I'm not a big fan of the book not because of anything wrong with it, but simply because it is so full of imagery and symbolism that it's hard to actually say what it really means. Well, that's fine. Given the future nature of it and the 1century authorship of it, it's likely what you'd expect. And it is the only book in the Bible that actually promises a blessing for reading the book (Revelation 3:1), so I do it. So I come across the end part. You know, when the seals and the trumpets and the bowls of wrath and all are done ( Click for more )
A "word of the day" entry: "anthropocentric". We can find a dictionary definition, but let's see if we can figure it out from its roots. "Anthropos" is the Greek word for "man" -- primarily "man" as a group, not a gender. You know ... humans. Then there is the "centric" part. I think most of us can figure that out. So, simply put, "anthropocentric" means "centered on humans". On one hand, it is fundamental to humans to be anthropocentric. ( Click for more )
"Why can't you be more loving?" they will ask (demand). "Why can't you be more like Jesus was? He embraced everyone!" That's what they'll tell you. Funny thing. Although it appears to be a truism, I can't seem to find it in my Bible. Remember when they came to Him to ask Him about a nasty incident Pilate perpetrated on some of their people? There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the ( Click for more )
The king is dead; long live the king. Many of us can remember the day when "John 3:16" was prominently displayed at every televised football game, it seemed. This dear verse was, in its day, the most oft quoted verse anywhere. We (Christians) knew it. Even non-Christians knew it. It was the king of verses from the Bible. Of course, that day has ended. There is a new king of verses. It seems that a new verse has taken the lead in the most-often-quoted category. That would be Matthew 7:1. Oh, sure, you all know that one. Everyone ... together now ... Judge not, that ye ( Click for more )
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