The end of the year is often a time when people donate time and money to various charities and other non-profits. Some include giving as part of their Christmas celebration. Every year we receive several catalogs allowing us to donate livestock, school and medical supplies, and Bible study materials to poor families, giving them a leg up in becoming self-sustaining.
All this giving is a good thing. God tells us to give throughout the Bible, and we should do so. The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), and we should give with love and generosity. In return, we find joy in the mere act of making someone else’s life better. If you’ve ever watched your kids open their presents on Christmas morning, you realize the truth of Jesus’ statement, “It’s more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).
It was 3 a.m. and I was lying in bed trying to pray. A few days earlier, Pete had been in a horrific accident halfway around the world, and I couldn’t sleep, knowing he was in the hospital so far away. But as I once again attempted to formulate a prayer for his healing, God interrupted me with a voice so clear, I couldn’t have missed a single word: “Don’t pray for Pete’s healing. I’ve got that covered, and lots of other people are praying for that. Just thank me. Pete is my son, and with him I’m well pleased!”
Wow. As Pete had been attending a huge missions conference at the time of the accident, I knew that thousands of people around the world were praying for his recovery. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to be one of them. (How often does God tell you not to pray for something?) And I was more than grateful that I still had a husband!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It’s written on hand-held signs at sporting events, emblazoned on clothing, and plastered on billboards. And we all assume that we know what this verse means: If you “believe in Jesus,” you’ll be saved.
The pastor at the church I was visiting was adamant. “God only speaks through the Bible.” He went on to explain that while God spoke through dreams, prophets, angels, and a “still, small voice” in the Old Testament, now that we have the completed Bible, Scripture is the only way God still communicates with us.
A while later, I was reading through a new blog I had just discovered. For the most part, I loved what the writer had to say. But then I came across this troubling passage: Continue reading
I think we’d all agree—the world is not doing so well. Read the headlines, listen to the news, and we aren’t surprised to find that people lie and cheat and murder, innocent people suffer, and loving kindness is in very short supply. How did we get into this mess?
If you’re a Christian, you probably blame it all on Satan, who enticed Eve into eating that forbidden fruit. The story in Genesis 3 is very familiar; we’ve read it many times. And whether you take it literally or symbolically, the end result is the same. Mankind fell for the lie and the results are all around us.
It was Sunday morning, and we were at church listening to a guest speaker. I appreciate that our pastor brings in speakers from other churches; one person can’t possibly cover every topic with excellence. However, in this case, the speaker was preaching popular psychology rather than Biblical truth. And I was getting agitated.
I tried to pinpoint exactly what the speaker was saying that was bothering me. I finally realized—instead of being centered on loving Jesus, the sermon was all about loving ourselves. And while I’m sure some people put themselves down, the solution isn’t to focus more on ourselves, but rather to get our eyes off ourselves and onto the God who loves us unconditionally.
As I may have mentioned once or twice, part of my job includes editing books and articles. As a result, I edit everything. Even when I don’t want to be editing, I find it very difficult to turn off my editing brain. I’ve learned not to correct my friends, and usually I can manage to seal my lips even for Pete, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking, “No, that’s wrong. Why can’t people (spell correctly / use correct grammar / use the right words)!?!?!?! Unfortunately, that tendency even carries over into church. Yeah, I know.
There are a number of worship songs I struggle through merely because of the wording. The music is lovely. The meaning is Biblical. The song expresses my heart. But I get hung up on the grammar or the word choices.