Posts

A Compassionate and Smart Investment

It could be both compassionate and smart to help starving children. According to UNICEF USA, in Yemen, a country in the southern Arabian Peninsula, “an estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation or disease since the war started there three years ago.” They say it is “the worst humanitarian crisis…since World War II.”
There are many things you and I could spend our money (and prayers) on. Why should we spend our money to save starving children--especially outside of the US? Why not invest in a new house, or a new car, or more presents for our own children or grandchildren? In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” I believe that when we physically feed hungry people, or when we spiritually feed people with the Word of Life…

Reading the Old Testament As Pointing to Jesus

For many churches during Advent (the four Sundays before Christmas) this season is a time of looking forward to Jesus’s coming, just as people in Old Testament times looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. One way of reading the Old Testament is with eyes that see it pointing over and over again to Jesus. Let me give you an example. Psalm 91:4 says about God: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”
In that verse God compares himself to a bird, and we are compared to the baby birds who find safety and protection underneath the wings of their mother. Specifically, part of the mother bird’s body, her wings, protect the babies from danger. The full force of a potential attack against them is absorbed by the mother’s own body. “That’s fine,” you say “but, unlike a bird, God doesn’t have a body we can go hide behind. God is a spirit who is invisible and immutable. Also, God is infinite and incapable of being harmed in any way like the wings of the…

How John Summarized a Miracle of Jesus

I get a number of daily devotionals by email, and last week one of them pointed out something fascinating from the Scriptures. Pastor Joseph Prince from Singapore (see note on Joseph Prince at end of this article) began by mentioning the description of the feeding of the 5000 by Jesus in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verses 5 through 13. (After that account, John’s gospel tells us about Jesus walking on water and coming to his disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee in a boat during a storm.)
After that exciting account, in John 6:23, ten verses after John finished telling us about the feeding of the five thousand, he mentions that miracle again, but in an odd way. John writes: “Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.”So the way John summarizes that event is not the way we probably would. He did not directly mention that 5000 people were fed, he did not mention that a little boy had five loaves and …

Essential Thanksgiving

The terrible fires in California made me think of fires in the autumn of 1864 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As part of his plan to win the Civil War, Union General Ulysses S. Grant commanded the destruction of the food and food-making potential in the Valley, a breadbasket of Virginia. General Phillip Sheridan commenced a twelve-day campaign called “the Burning.”Grant later wrote about his thoughts at the time, “if the war is to continue another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.”
As Linda Wheeler put it in the Washington Post in September of 2011: “Between …Sept. 26 and…Oct. 8, residents and soldiers reported seeing as many as 100 fires burning at one time, filling the sky with smoke. At night, the fires created a lurid red light along the horizon.Amanda Moore watched the inferno and later wrote, ‘I shall never forget ...all the Mills and barns ten miles up the creek were burning at once and the flames seemed to reach the skies it was awful to watch…

Receiving and Using Jesus’s Power and Authority

(Note, [there wasn’t room for this note in the local paper]: I feel so inadequate to write on this topic, because there are many distortions and misuses of scripture’s teachings about truths like the authority of believers and healing. But the temptation often is, when a teaching is distorted or misused, to avoid this teaching altogether, and that is wrong. Just because people sometimes counterfeit twenty-dollar bills I have not sworn off of them. In the same way we must teach what Jesus teaches us about authority and healing, even though these teachings are frequently distorted.)
I ended last week’s column this way: “When we become adopted children of God through faith in His Son…then I believe Jesus gives us as a community some of his own authority and power.” I continued, “Next week…I shall continue to discuss (from scripture) the kinds of authority which I believe Jesus has given to his people.” So this week, let’s dive again into the Bible in an unexpected place, Genesis 41:42. Th…

Praying on an Airplane

Praying on an Airplane
I wrote my column for this week while flying on an airplane last Friday. My wife’s father was an Air Force colonel, and partially for that reason I think, she has always been very comfortable flying. I used to be down-right terrified of flying, but I am more comfortable now-though not nearly so comfortable as my wife.
When I was really terrified of flying I remember I used to be fearful that maybe the pilot was incompetent (or even tipsy.) Later as my faith in the Lord gradually increased, I found I still prayed during flights (especially when there was turbulence) but I also came to believe that ultimately God was in charge of everything and not the pilot. (although I still pray for the pilot!)
Perhaps I am a not-altogether-typical American Christian though, since I also believe that God has given his adopted children, who are part of his royal priesthood (see 1 Peter 2:9), some of his own divine authority and power in this world. Because of that, I have been know…

Urgent Need for (Yours and My) Revival

Urgent Need for (Yours and My) Revival
Recently my wife and I were watching a PBS show we had recorded. It was about all the problems of an American town, Dayton Ohio.It was an informative and sad program. The narrator explained how Dayton was once a cutting-edge technology hub. It was an aeronautical center and a car manufacturing center. A major company, National Cash Register, had its headquarters there. But the auto plants closed, other industry moved away, and NCR moved to Texas. So the city’s population shrank, and high paying jobs disappeared. In one poor area of town where many people live, there is no longer even a food-store.
But the coup de grace has been the opioid epidemic, a horrible and tragic scourge for much of America. In Dayton, this drug epidemic is destroying individuals and families.An already-burdened city does not have the necessary funds to begin to dent the problem.People are not sure what to do, but they say they need a major infusion of dollars, many more tre…