It was “Mission Sunday” at our church. Our pastor preached on Jonah’s call to Nineveh, and linked that story to Jesus’ last words, when He commanded us to go to the nations:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 18:18-20)
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
Last December, I turned 65. I have a Medicare card. I can take money out of an IRA without penalty. I get senior discounts. I’m officially “old.” I’m torn between aging gracefully and fighting it with great vigor, but no matter how I look at it, I’m 65.
But wait! If a Norwegian bioethicist has his way, I could legally change my age to 50! After all, I don’t feel 65. I still work part time, I go to the Y, and I have plans—lots of plans. So why not? Joona Räsänen, at the University of Oslo, has published a paper titled “Moral Case for Legal Age Change.” The underlying logic says that since there may be a difference between one’s chronological age and their biological and/or emotional age, we should be allowed to choose our age. Anything else is ageism.
It started so innocently. I slid open the freezer bin and pulled out the frozen bell pepper I’d been slicing for my veggie eggs every morning. (I’ve found that peppers freeze very well, as long as you’re going to cook them—they tend to be a little mushy upon defrosting.) Normally, I have to run some hot water over the pepper before I can get my knife through it, but this time, I had no problem. Yes, it was frozen, but not as rock hard as I expected.
Hmmm, I thought. Maybe the freezer is going through its defrosting cycle. No worries.
Come early afternoon. I decided to finish off my lunch with a tiny scoop of ice cream. The carton seemed a bit… squishy. And when I dug in my spoon, I realized that the remaining rocky road was soup. Then I noticed the growing puddle on the kitchen floor. The ice cubes were melting. Oh no.
As you made your New Year’s resolutions, perhaps you committed to read through the entire Bible this year. You’ll start in Genesis and finish in Revelation, and you are determined to plow straight through. No skipping the boring parts.
Yes, we start with great intentions. We zoom through Genesis and Exodus, although the detailed descriptions of the tabernacle slow us down a bit. So do all those laws. But it’s when we get to the genealogies that we really get stuck. We stoically plug along until we compromise and skim over all those names, but why not? What could we possibly learn from reading lists of people, most of whom we know nothing about? Lists are boring!
But wait. This is the book that God wrote! How can there be boring parts? As I once again found myself plodding through the begats, I thought—maybe I’m missing something.
Yes indeed I was.
Our missions pastor recently showed this video in our “Outreach” adult Sunday School class. I was astounded.
I have known for years that Biblical names have meanings. For example, Abram means “exalted father” while Abraham means “father of nations”—a fitting sobriquet for a man who literally fathered nations through his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. But did you realize that the meanings of the names listed in the “boring” genealogies actually tell a story? Watch and learn, and be amazed:
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found at the very end of Matthew. It’s part of the Great Commission. We usually focus on the “doing” part of this paragraph, where Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
But there’s more to this passage. In fact, we can’t obey this command unless we also include both the verse immediately before it and the verse that follows. What comes first? Jesus announces that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…”
Where there is no vision, the people perish….
What are your plans for the coming year? Do you have any? It may be something as concrete as already-purchased plane tickets, or as ephemeral as “find a better job,” “exercise more,” or the eternally optimistic “lose weight.” Still, it’s good to have goals. We’ve all heard the old adage, “If you aim at nothing, you’re bound to hit it.”
December in Colorado—and life in general—has kept me inside far too much lately. I’m desperate to get outside and find some nature to wallow in. It’s not just that the daylight, limited as it is at this time of year, helps ward off depression. It’s that, in spite of all my Christmas preparations and Bible reading, God seems distant—and I know just where to find Him.
We all know the story. Galileo, the Italian astronomer, insisted that the planets revolved around the sun. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, insisted that the earth was in the center, and all else revolved around us. Galileo was smart, the church was ignorant (to put it nicely), and he was brought before the Inquisition. They convicted him of heresy and forced him to recant. But now we know better—even the Catholics have agreed that Galileo was correct. The conclusion? This all provides yet one more example that scientists are smarter than Christians.
Except… that story is just that—a story. It isn’t exactly true, and leaves out a lot of very important facts.
I don’t have to pray about that!
Have you ever heard someone explain that they didn’t need to ask God about a particular situation? Perhaps you’ve been that person—so confident that you already know God’s will that you don’t need to confirm it? There seems to be an agreement in the church that some things are so obvious, we don’t need to check in with God about them.
I suppose you could make a case for instances where God’s will is clearly stated in the Bible. We probably don’t need to ask Him whether or not we should murder that annoying neighbor, for example. Nor do we need to pray about if we should cheat on our spouse.
“God can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving.”
“God can’t steer a parked car”
You are likely familiar with one or both of these phrases—they’re two of those Christian truisms that we hear repeated over and over—while no one thinks to ask whether or not they are actually true. The idea is that we should ask God what to do in any given situation, then start doing something while we wait for His answer. After all, God can’t….