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Showing posts from May 19, 2013

Unity in Diversity

Our society boasts of being diverse. We like to say that Americans come from all ethnicities, are diverse and yet unified in their desire to be Americans and obtain the opportunity this country offers. This used to be clearer than it is today. We seek after unity in diversity and yet fall short of it because of what is inside our hearts.
However, reading through letters to the churches in the New Testament we are struck with the possibility of this idea. Paul wrote to the Colossians just four chapters packed with powerful thoughts about Christ, new life, and a glimpse of this unity in diversity in his farewell statement.
He referred to ten people in Colossians 4:7-18: Tychicus and Onesimus, a minister and a slave who were traveling together from Rome to bring this letter to the Colossians in today's Turkey. Three men of Jewish descent: Aristarchus, a prisoner along with Paul; Mark, a relative of the famous man, Barnabas, and a young man who was previously unfaithful to the work; and…

Inequity

Producers of movies know what the viewers are looking for. They know that the average American wants to see the good guy triumph even though he may go through a lot of anguish to end there. Note particularly the saga of John McClane (played by Bruce Willis) who is a New York and Los Angeles police detective in the Die Hard series that has run for twenty-five years on the screen. Right in his desire and determined in his will, John McClane, often alone, fights the bad guys. He ends up bloodied and broken but victorious and we love him for it.
But what we see in movies does not always happen in real life. Ecclesiastes 8:14 expresses the troubling thought that occurs on earth, "righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve." We have seen good men get destroyed; men who have talent, skill, and wisdom ending up dead because of their rightness. We have also seen shady men, some being politicians, although morally corrupt, obtain po…

Purpose

The book of Ecclesiastes is a masterful work of the wisest man that ever lived. He is able to step back from the monotony of life and see it with perspective. Chapter three begins with fourteen statements about life which were the essence of the song Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds in the mid-sixties.
In referring to these statements in verse eleven, the writer says, "He hath made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Eccl. 3:11)
The conundrum of all that the writer says is two-fold: one, it is important for persons to be happy, do good and find satisfaction in their work; and two, to be curious about their future even though unable to fully understand the avenues God takes with it. This is the tension  felt with living today but wanting to know what tomorrow holds for us.
In spite of the sense of fatefulness this might bring about life there is another feeling that shoul…

Undertow

Solomon was a wise king and amassed to himself wealth, power and wisdom. The world came to his doorstep and he welcomed them in to see the wonder of his reign. In his early days, God came twice and spoke to him directly. He spoke the warning of associations but Solomon still experienced a slow creep away from God.
The writer of 1 Kings states that "the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel." (1 Kings 11:9) What was the reason for the Lord's anger? It is explained in the previous verses of this chapter. Solomon had gathered many wives and concubines into his kingdom.
They came from the surrounding countries which were putting up with Israel but still hated them and these women brought with them their own religious practices. Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh and Molech were four of the gods that got a foothold in Solomon's kingdom because of his marriages.
He built for them residences and also for their gods' places of worshi…

Self-Control

When your hear this word, what immediately comes to mind? Is it self-control of your words or thoughts, your studies or exercise, your prayers, your money, your emotions or food? Possibly one, maybe many?
Self-control involves the disciplining of your body, soul and spirit. It is holding the reins of your heart in your hand and as you would a horse turning it the right way to get to the right destination. Solomon said, "like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." (Proverbs 25:28)
All of the areas of our life need self-control, whether it is the physical, social-relational, emotional, mental, spiritual or financial area. We require self-control to live better and to interact better with the world around us.
Staying on course requires daily correction to that course. There are all kinds of things that seek to push us away from our objectives but self-control is how we bring ourselves back. What area of your life needs more self-control? How will you …

Poor Gifts

Proverbs has a multitude of terse statements and in the midst of each one is a diamond of wisdom. There is much said about the poor in its pages and this one verse may shock you. "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he [the Lord] will reward him [the giver] for what he has done." (Proverbs 19:17)
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 explains the benefit of giving to those who are needy. It also says that "there will always be poor people in the land" and we can add that no government program will ever eradicate them.
But it is not just the gift to the poor that is essential. It is also the heart attitude in the giving.The Good Samaritan was good because he had compassion on the broken traveler who had been abused by thieves. He had no money to obtain for himself the protection of the inn or the ointment of healing. All this was provided by the Good Samaritan and he also said to the inn keeper, "if there be anything else he needs, give it and I will pay it when I re…