Friday, November 08, 2013


Thesis: No one can be happy and contented in his life's work unless he is doing it to serve someone else (and not himself).

No matter how much we chase after making ourselves happy, we can never have enough.  It is only in sacrificing and giving that true happiness comes.  That's part of what it is to be made in the image of God.  And it's true whether you're a Christian or an atheist or a follower of some other religion.  It is simply a fact of life, like gravity.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Your Neighbor

"Your neighbor is the man who needs you."

That's a quote from Elbert Green Hubbard, a man who differed from me philosophically and religiously on a gazillion things.

And yet, that quote fits beautifully with the Christian perspective of sacrifice for one's neighbor.  It's very much like what Jesus said to the lawyer when He told the parable of the good Samaritan.

When the whole society was familiar with the Bible and steeped in decency  -- even apart from Christ, there was a civil understanding of what is true and moral.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Babies Are Nice

Conversation recently among a group of [unchurched] 20-somethings:
"I don't think I'd ever want a family.  It would be fun to come home once a week and make dinner and spend time with my family.  But every day?!"
"Maybe it would be okay to have kids.  If they'd arrive at age 4 or 5, already ready for school, and able to feed themselves and dress themselves and use the toilet."
"Babies look like little aliens."

A few days later, Bible class was on the topic of marriage, and how the world views marriage, and society's changing definitions of marriage, and how the Church has pretty much taken-for-granted the joys and the normalness of married life and faithfulness, instead of extolling it. 

Some of the ideas "out there" about marriage, relationships, children, are so so unbiblical (and new-fangled) that it boggles my mind.  I don't even know how to begin addressing the complete mess of someone's life when they value self-indulgence, pride themselves in hanging onto grudges, and have no experience with the simple joys and stability that come with plain old everyday family life.  They know they're unhappy.  But the idea of living a life of sacrifice for others?  Not on the radar.

So I asked during Bible class.  "How do we respond?  How do we talk to people about these things when we're not even speaking the same language, when we're coming from vastly different perspectives?"

And Pastor said, "Just live your life.  Just be who you are as a wife and mother."


That's all?

But the more I think about it,
the more I hear conversations out there in the big wide world,
the more I realize that "just being who I am" IS pretty different.

His Exodus

Isn't it cool? 

In Luke's version of the Transfiguration (chapter 9), Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah about "His decease" -- literally His "exodus."  His way out or path out.   

And what's the story immediately before this one?  Jesus is talking about taking up the cross to follow Him.

Follow Him. 
The way out.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Abraham's Name-Change

I knew God changed Abram's name to Abraham.

I knew God instituted the sacrament of circumcision for His people.  (In the new testament, baptism corresponds to this -- the way sinners are brought into God's people and marked as His own.)

But it never crossed my mind until this week that those two things happened at the same time.  Little boys got their names at the time of their circumcision (Luke 2:21).  Today, in the baptism rite, children are named.  But looking at Genesis 17, even Abraham received his name at his circumcision ... old age notwithstanding. 

I think that's kind of cool.

Luke 14

It takes so much energy to tend to an illness or a wound.  When I burned my arm recently, it took longer to get dressed in the morning because I had to deal with bandages and wound care.  My mom gets frustrated with the time it takes to sort her medicines and tend to her dialysis and keep up with simple day-to-day care when her body doesn't instantaneously do what her brain tells her body to do.

So when we read in Luke 14 that Jesus healed the man with dropsy, it's lovely to see that He "let him go" or set him free.  The man finally had rest [sabbath] from his wearying illness. 

And when an illness has weighed you down, it seems an even lovelier prospect to have that rest, that freedom.

Also, that bit about where people sit at the dinner table when they've been invited to a party?  This is not a Miss Manners section of the Bible.  True, it's nice to be nice.  But what's more important here is that Jesus, being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself to death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2).  And then He was "invited up higher" where He would have glory.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Mercy Seat

... Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood ...  (Romans 3)

So, that "propitiation" is another word for "mercy seat."

In the Holy of Holies, behind the veil in the tabernacle and the temple, the ark of the covenant was covered by the mercy seat.  The place of the Lord's presence.  The place where He particularly was with His people to forgive.  Tucked away.  Nobody went there.  Except the high priest once a year.  With blood and with cleansing.

And now, in the fulness of time, God set forth the propitiation.  Not tucked away.  Right out there where the whole world can see.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15: a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son.

Did you ever wonder why the middle story is about a woman who lost something?  (Well, besides the obvious: women can get frantic looking for a precious item that was lost.)

Well, the story of the lost sheep shows us how Jesus goes to extreme lengths to bring back the one that was lost.  The story of the lost coin shows us the same thing.  Except the main character is a woman -- a wife -- a bride. 

Doesn't that show us how the Church (Jesus' bride) is like Him?  She too goes all-out to find what was lost.  And she rejoices when the lost one is found.

(When Pastor said this recently,
it made so much sense!)