“Thanks, I Needed That!”

This morning Peter and I pulled up behind the resale shop downtown to unload some items. As we carried in the boxes, a man who had been working in the alley informed me, “Your front tire is low.”

I thanked him, and a few minutes later we had the inflater connected and the pressure back to normal.

That stranger did me a real favor. Otherwise, I might have ruined the tire.

Another example

If I ask others to proofread my writing, should I hope they won’t find any errors, even if there are some?

If there’s a mistake, I want to know it.

Other more objective eyes could see what mine had overlooked.

But what if it starts getting personal?

Would I be just as grateful to someone for pointing out a serious shortcoming in my life that needs correcting?

Even when correction is gently given (Galatians 6:1-2), why do we humans so often get defensive and feel resentful when we could really benefit from constructive criticism?

It is no time to lash back with, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

Is our pride showing?

What if the apostle Peter had taken offense when Jesus or Paul had to correct him?

Instead he grew.

David had the humility to admit, “I have sinned against the LORD” when the prophet Nathan rebuked him for his sins (2 Samuel 12:13).

Instead of resenting he repented.

On another occasion David wrote, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it . . .” (Psalm 145:5).

This old head needs a dose of oil occasionally.

How about yours?

young man thinking-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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God, Government, and the Bible

A vital principle of Bible study is to take everything it says into consideration on any particular subject. Often one passage serves to qualify another. Together, they give a more complete picture of God’s will in the matter.

For example, Christians are taught to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).

No exceptions?

But what if a specific law of the land is in conflict with God’s word?

The Bible is clear on this: God’s word always has the last word.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to obey King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to worship the idol he had set up, they were obeying God’s higher command to have no other gods before Him (Daniel 3).

When Daniel kept praying when it became illegal to do so, God was pleased with his courageous faithfulness (Daniel 6).

When the highest court in Israel, the Sanhedrin, ordered the apostles in no uncertain terms to stop preaching Christ, Peter spoke for all of them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

And so . . . .

While God has ordained government, He has not ordained any specific form of government for our day.

But whatever the form of government, God requires that it must not exceed the authority He has given it to maintain order in society.

God never gave rulers carte blanche authority to do as they please.

God detests bribery, corruption, oppression, injustice, or any other abuse of power that hurts the governed.

And so should we.

And another thing . . . .

In addition to the Christian’s responsibility to obey laws that do not violate God’s will and also to pay taxes, we have this from Paul:

“. . . I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior . . .” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Roots of Violence

Fulfilling Our Purpose

One day as I was taking my morning walk near the lake on campus I was witness to a fight. I stood and watched but made no attempt to break it up. Was I wrong?

The two contenders, by the way, were ducks. I don’t know much about bird behavior, but probably this little fracas was normal, perhaps even necessary. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a fight, although with all the wing-flapping and shoving, it certainly looked like one.

Such things in the natural world may be perfectly normal, but what about conflicts between those who have been made in the image of God?

Downward spiral

The world God destroyed in Noah’s day was “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:5, 11-13). Our own world is growing increasingly volatile.

Domestic violence, school fights, bombings, gang warfare, mass shootings—on and on it goes. These continue to rip and tear at…

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How Can We Help in Time of Loss?

A woman has a miscarriage. A middle-aged man is laid off at work. A family’s house burns. Parents lose a teenage son to suicide. A child is diagnosed with cancer. A surviving spouse must now go on without the other.

Responding to loss

A common response to the suffering of people we know is to do nothing—not because we don’t care, but because we just don’t know what to say or do.

When Job’s friends came after he suffered the triple loss of his children, wealth, and health, they may have meant well but succeeded only in adding to his grief by their ill-chosen words. “Sorry comforters” is what Job called them (Job 16:2).

How can we effectively show concern—especially when we haven’t experienced what others are suffering?

For starters, we can educate ourselves on what is and what is not helpful to say to someone in distress. Here’s an example of such a resource: https://www.healyourlife.com/10-best-things-to-say-to-someone-in-grief.

How best to help

In marked contrast to Job’s so-called friends, Jonathan was a great encouragement to David during a dark time in his life. Jonathan found his friend and wept with him (1 Samuel 20:31-42; 23:15-16).

Many years later David was again on the run. Barzillai along with others brought bedding and abundant food supplies for David and those with him—“for they said, ‘The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness’” (2 Samuel 17:27-29).

When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he so appreciated the loyal support of his friend Onesiphorus, who “often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me” (2 Timothy 1:16-17).

Many of us know what it’s like to be on the receiving end when friends show up with a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, a prayer, a gift of food—and who even run errands for us and help with household chores.

Knowing the comfort others have been to us in our own time of need, how then can we pass along the kindness the next time we learn of a loss?

With so many hurting people around us, we shouldn’t lack for an opportunity!

comforting-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Can We Get Along without the Church?

I heard it again last week: “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

Either this is true or false. Which?

Since what we know about being a Christian comes from the New Testament, isn’t that the best resource for learning whether the church is essential?

Check it out!

Although reading the entire New Testament would certainly answer this question, let’s focus on just one book: Acts.

In Acts we read of the church’s beginning in Jerusalem, its spread to other lands, how it was organized, how believers worshiped together, and how the church’s enemies so strongly opposed it.

Ironically, their efforts to stamp out the church served instead to spread and strengthen it (Acts 8:1-4; 11:19-21).

So what do we learn?

If we read Acts with an open mind and a sincere desire to know what we should do regarding the church, what will we find?

“And all those who believed were together . . . . And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44, 47).

In Acts we find Paul establishing congregations in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. He made sure they were equipped with capable leaders (14:23; 20:17, 28).

Paul urged the Ephesian elders to “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Question: If God values the church that much, how valuable should it be to us?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Thoughts from a Railroad Crossing

Fulfilling Our Purpose

train-at-crossing-tagged

Years ago I was waiting at a railroad crossing on Wellington Street in Greenville. How long the train was I couldn’t tell, but it would go east for a while, then west. Back and forth. Back and forth. Over and over. Over and over.

Finally three Kansas City Southern locomotives came into view. They were pushing the train, and it looked like my wait was about to end.

Nope. They stopped, then back and forth some more. I strongly suspect a switchman somewhere was making up a train. I could have turned around anytime I wanted but decided to stay awhile and observe. (It’s a good thing I did, because it provided the thoughts for this post!)

From where I sat all I could see were a few cars at a time. If I could have had a bird’s-eye view of the entire string of cars, it would be clearer…

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Applying Biblical Principles to Marriage

Mutual interaction

Have you seen husbands and wives take digs at each other in public? On the other hand, have you observed couples who treat each other with utmost courtesy, respect, and mutual affection?

Of course, how they treat each other when no one else is around counts for a whole lot too!

Marriage enhancers

A concept that would revolutionize many a marriage is this: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . . husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.

“He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church . . .” (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29).

Another marriage-enhancing principle is the Golden Rule: “. . . however you want people to treat you, so treat them . . .” (Matthew 7:12). Why shouldn’t this apply as well to marriage as anywhere else?

The Second Commandment says much the same thing: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). My wife is my closest neighbor. Shouldn’t I love her as myself?

Behavior that boomerangs

The paradox is that selfishness not only hurts one’s mate, but oneself as well. Why would a right-thinking husband want to hurt his wife—physically or emotionally? What could he possibly gain by that?

We must work at our marriages if our marriages are to work.

The more consistently we practice these principles, the happier our marriages will be. It just makes sense.

The same God who gave us marriage also teaches us how to treat one another.

Has what we’ve done so far not worked? Then how about giving His way a try?

happy couple-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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