When people are asked what would make them happy, many think of things that involve possessions, wealth, fame, or power. To some, these things bring a fleeting sort of happiness. But pursuit of these things always becomes just that: a pursuit, an on-going chase. A little makes you want more. Then more. And more. This is not happiness.
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells his disciples the simple formula for being happy. Let’s take a look at verses 5 through 10. Jesus begins each verse with “Blessed are” (actually the “are”s were added later by translators, originally Jesus said, “Blessed, the meek”, “Blessed, the merciful”) and so on. The word translated as “blessed” is the Greek word, makarios, which means “supremely blesst, fortunate, well-off”. It is closely related to another form, “makarizo” which indicates large in size or length. He is not talking about being a little blessed, but being hugely, supremely blessed! Continue reading “How to Be Happy: According to Jesus”
About two weeks ago I engaged in a discussion about evidence that Jesus lived with a fellow through social media. Because it was on social media I was able to record our back and forth verbatim. It was a good discussion: he made some good points and it never degraded into mean-spirited argument (as so many do).
This topic branched off from a discussion with others about how silly religion in general is with all its rules and clouded, conflicting information. Here is our discussion: he is Bruce, I am Doug.
Bruce: So how do you know which parts of the bible, if any, to believe? Perhaps all of it is a creation of men. After all, there is not one single contemporary account that Jesus ever existed, not one. Continue reading “Is There Any Evidence That Jesus Lived?”
There is a tendency to get caught up with the complexities of church responsibilities: Bible-reading programs, cataloging spiritual gifts, and reading books that offer seven easy steps to this or ten quick steps to achieving that. However, paying too much attention to even good things prevents us from focusing on what really matters: Jesus Christ. We forget to keep it simple.
In 1 John, John says: Let me keep it simple for you; walk with Jesus. Cling to your faith. Stay in the light. When you sin, confess it and move on. Show your love for Jesus by loving your brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is not a modern phenomenon. It was the same when the Apostle John walked the earth. It is why he wrote this book. I have previously written about 1 John as the Quick Start Card for the Bible; the best place for new Christians to start reading the Bible, or for established Christians who have finally decided to start learning their Bible. 1 John 1:4 – 2:2 says: Don’t let go of the joy! Continue reading “John Says, “Keep It Simple””
Mankind has always been, at least in part, an imaginary people. Modern man: more so. The proliferation of social media makes this easy.
To the degree that each of us manages an image, we are imaginary people. If you have a gazillion “friends” or “followers” on social media but those people follow because of a persona you made up and maintain; you are (mostly) an imaginary person. If no one knows what you are really like, then they don’t like you, they like a persona you created.
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make it easy for us to build up a particular image. We can forward or re-post funny, encouraging, upbeat things even if we are not funny, encouraging, or up-beat people. On social media we can be what others expect us to be or what we wish we were. But when we put on that mask, we become imaginary people, for we are not representing who we really are inside. Continue reading “About Imaginary People”
It seems our nation is becoming more and more divided as large groups of people focus on and become vocal about their own personal desires. Divisions are forming as social groups form up on one side or the other of many issues. A large part of this divisiveness involves media and pundits attacking our leaders. At city, county, state, and national levels, leadership is under attack.
We as Christians need to refrain from bad-mouthing our leaders. The Bible calls this murmuring, and condemns it. The word translated as murmur is also used as “complain” or “grumble” and refers to the grousing of people to one another rather than addressing the issue directly. Continue reading “Praying For Our Leaders”
The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica was primarily to assure them that believers who died before Jesus returned would be taken up, and to answer some questions. This was needed because when the Jewish leaders learned that Paul was teaching in this city, they incited the gentile population, persecuted the church, and drove Paul and his traveling companions out before they could teach the Thessalonians much about living as a believer.
They left behind a fledgling church. It was not uncommon for Paul to spend 2 or 3 years teaching a newly planted church how to live as followers of The Way (Christians) but he didn’t get that chance this time. Before fleeing, Paul appointed the men with the strongest faith to be leaders over the new congregation and promised to return as soon as was possible.
Outsiders were attempting to infiltrate the young church and turn them from the Gospel, so Paul wrote to them to answer the allegations being made and to encourage the church to stand strong in faith: to test new teaching against the scripture, to trust their leaders.
In chapter 5:14-15 Paul says, Continue reading “Instruction for the Persecuted Church”
Ministry is an often misunderstood word. To some it is synonymous with “preaching”, and is little else. While sharing the good news of the Gospel with those in need of it is part of a life of ministry, it goes beyond that. The Biblical meaning of “ministry” is “service”.
In most cases the New Testament word translated as “ministry” is “diakonia” (Strongs 1248), which refers to “domestic duties” not religious teaching or ceremony which is the word “leitourgia” (3009). The exact meaning depends on the context of its use but in general it means the rendering of aid to another, the way a waiter/waitress serves a customer, an aid serves an officer or administrator, or a soldier serves his or her country. Continue reading “What Manner of Ministry?”
This week we’re looking at the passage found in Colossians 3:1-17 which deals with Christians living a carnal life:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Continue reading “Carnality in Christ”
In Philippians 2 the apostle Paul writes to the group of believers at Philippi and encourages them to remain unified in the gospel, saying:
2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. . . .
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life,
Continue reading “Unity Through Humility”
We all experience regret over things we’ve said and done – or didn’t say or do when we should have. The Bible says that if we repent of our wrong-doings, God is swift to forgive us. People may not be so swift to forgive, so it is best to avoid doing things that cause anguish in the first place.
Regret vs. Repentance
Regret is a feeling of sorrow over something we’ve done. Our regret may be over the knowledge that we have inadvertently hurt someone, or it may be over the fact that we got caught doing something we thought we’d get away with. Either way regret is sorrow, but not necessarily knowing that we were wrong in doing something. In fact we may feel regret now, but if the opportunity arises again, we may well do it again because we still feel we had the “right” to do whatever we did … we’ll just be more careful not to get caught. Continue reading “Avoiding Regret and Repentance”