As we approach the Advent season, we are happy to introduce a special blog series on the hope we find in, through and given by Christ. Each week’s installment will look at hope from a different perspective with special emphasis on corresponding passages of Scripture.
God can hardly wait to fix the problems in your life. God can hardly wait to fix your sore throat. God can hardly wait to fix your cancer. God can hardly wait to fix your achy back. God can hardly wait to fix your relationship with your child and bring them back to you. God can hardly wait to fix your relationship with your parents, even if they are dead.
No matter what "doing our best" means to us, we all know from experience that our best isn't good enough. It's never good enough, because no matter how much we love, or argue, or worry, or laugh, and as much as we treat each other as if we are permanent, death comes for us all.
When we think of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone, the book of James isn’t the first to come to mind. James is no Galatians or Romans when it comes to that. But James does have something to teach us. James holds up a mirror, and we do well not to look away.
I woke up a few days ago with the gnawing feeling that I was forgetting something. It was an important date, I knew, but why? I checked multiple calendars, thinking that maybe I had forgotten a friend’s birthday. I checked my appointments schedule—perhaps it was a doctor’s visit I had overlooked.
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
The Reformation was not always as cut and dry as we would like it to be. We break doctrines into short little phrases and focus on a handful of important dates upon which orthodox teaching was recovered and clearly expressed. However, the Biblical teaching that Luther, Melanchthon, and many others taught and preached was challenged at every turn.
Perhaps no letter in the New Testament is clearer on Law and Gospel than Galatians. Paul is determined to knock any pretension and work-righteousness out of his beloved Galatians, recently disturbed by new preachers who pointed them back to the Old Testament Laws and ceremonies that Christ had put behind them.
“Mama cut out pictures of houses for years from 'Better Homes and Garden' magazines.” I glanced at the radio display and turned the volume up to catch the lyrics. “Plans were drawn and concrete poured, and nail by nail and board by board Daddy gave life to Mama's dream
The Christian church year is rife with days set aside to commemorate the saints, but All Saints Day, celebrated on the first of November, heaps them together. On this day, the church remembers all the saints who have gone before us.
As creatures enshrouded in the concept of time, we tend to like the idea of clearly delineated dates. We mark our years and our lives through important events that happen to us or have happened to our forebearers throughout history.
Recovery, escape, and consolation. These are the essential elements of a good fairy story, writes J.R.R. Tolkien. As air, water, and food are to humanity, so are recovery, escape, and consolation to the fairy tale.
Most of us know the satisfaction of crossing something off the to-do list. We look back on a neatly mown lawn, freshly folded laundry, finally filed paperwork, or some other completed task and contentedly sigh. It’s done. We’ve done it. Now we can rest or move on to the next thing.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42). To get a good visual image of what millstones can do, watch the film, Amistad.
Recently, Francis Chan made headlines for stepping down from leading his very large church. To explain his decision he wrote a book, A Letter to the Churches, where he makes some very good critiques of American Christianity. Perhaps a driving critique can be summed up with his comment to an interviewer, "Too often we add in our own voices, thinking that if we just offer just the right services or package the gospel in just the right way so no one gets offended, we can convince people to stay. By catering our worship to the worshipers and not to the Object of our worship, I fear we have created human-centered churches.”
When we walk into a church, what do we think? Do we think we deserve to be here? Do we deserve what's about to come at us? Do we comprehend what the Church is all about? Or are we humbled by the reality that we don't deserve to be here?