My brothers, count it as pure joy when you are involved in various trials. Realize that when your faith is tested this makes for endurance- James 1:2-3 Adversities in life come from many origins. They are not always the dramatic events retold in the Bible. We may never have to confront an emperor, like Moses, pull down a temple, like Samson, fight a giant, like David, or go to Cross, like the Messiah. The adversities which we face might be more mundane, but still take their toll on our well-being. We may have to face corrupt contractors, financial problems, tragedy, or even waiting on hold for over an hour waiting to talk to “Customer Service (?)” at the utilities company. James understood that the life of a Christian in the Greco-Roman period would be filled with many types of obstacles and challenges; from lively debates in the square to floggings to, possible, execution. Therefore, he uses a powerful term, “poikilos”, to connote the various trials, torments, and temptations that the new ChristiansContinue reading »

If you remain idle in the time of adversity, your strength will depart from you- Proverbs 24:10 The wisdom with which Solomon used to write this Proverb resonates until today. Many translations and versions of the Bible have different renderings of the key term, “raphah”, which usually takes the connotation of inactivity, indifference, or- as I suggest- idleness. The Proverb uses this admonition to instruct the reader that adversity, to everyone, will be present. Our verse begins a stanza that teaches us that it is wrong to stand by and let someone suffer unjustly. Within the overall context of the Proverb, this verse speaks to our responsibilities toward our neighbors. Our neighbors are not just those who love and are connected to us; we are to help all victims! It is a powerful exhortation and is echoed often by the teachings of Jesus when he spoke often of our responsibilities to our neighbors, and even our enemies. Jesus, echoing passages such as this, calls us to an active faith and, subsequent, actions. OurContinue reading »

And God said. . . – Genesis 1 The Creation account is, perhaps, the greatest example of the power of the spoken word. God brought the world to order by his command. He needed no actual physical work or combat or consort, as other religions taught of their gods. The God of the Bible stood, and stands, apart from other deities. The Hebrew word for “word”, dabar, and its related concept “to speak” was seen as a representative of the speaker. The spoken word had a distinct existence and a dynamic quality. The reality and power of the spoken word derives from the speaker. To speak is revelatory act. Therefore, the goodness of majesty of Creation reflect the qualities of God. In modern times, writing has replaced the spoken word as the means of revelation and disclosure. This is because paper is commonplace, unlike in antiquity when it was an expensive commodity. Years ago writing helped us remember; now writing and technology allow us to forget. Words are casually deniedContinue reading »

Many people, men in particular, are always seeking to increase their stature, finances, careers; in a word, Power. Yet, they limit themselves to our physical world for avenues of increased power. It is easy to forget the simple, yet enduring, message of the Gospel. In Mark 6:1-6, we see Jesus returning to His home town, Nazareth. They listened to Him teach, but did not see the Son of God or the Messiah. They only saw the little boy who grew up in their midst and, therefore, did not give His words any authority. Mark is explicit in saying that, other than a few trifling healings, Jesus could not work any miracles because of their lack of faith. Matthew softens this a bit by saying that Jesus would not perform miracles (Matthew 13:56-58). Miracles are glimpses of the Kingdom and Power of God. This short story does not suggest that the power of Christ is dependent on our acceptance or approval. It is saying that through OUR FAITH we can access the infinite powerContinue reading »

A Christian man, who was running an orphanage in Korea, was arrested and sentenced to death on charges of rebellion against the government. He was to be shot. However, when the communist leader heard about the orphanage he had second thoughts. Killing the man would mean many Korean children would be abandoned again, and so he decided to kill the 19-year-old son of the Christian instead. That should teach him a lesson. So it happened that the son was shot in front of the weeping father. Many years later, the fortunes of war had changed and the man who had ordered the killing had now been arrested himself and was charged with war crimes. What was going to be his penalty? He was to be shot. When the Christian heard about it he pleaded for the life of the man, saying: “Killing him will not solve anything. Give this man to me so I may teach him and he can help me in the work of caring for abandoned children.”Continue reading »