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…”
Tonight begins Passover, probably the most significant Jewish feast in the Bible. It’s immediately followed by the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread. Most Christians don’t celebrate these feasts, as they’re considered Jewish holidays, not Christian ones. And that’s fine. While God told Moses,
This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:14),
Paul’s letter to the Colossians states,
Don’t let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Don’t let them say that you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival. These things are only a shadow of what was to come. But Christ is real! (Colossians 2:16-17)
So no, we don’t have to celebrate Passover. Yet, God’s purpose in instituting it has never changed. How is it a “shadow of what was to come”? Perhaps we need to take a closer look. We can learn a lot from a shadow.
Blue skies, bright sunshine, and white water. It’s the perfect combination. One of the joys of living in Colorado is easy access to the white water rafting trips that are offered on the Arkansas River. For an appropriate fee, you are equipped with everything you need for an exciting ride down the rapids—life vest, appropriate outerwear, raft, paddle, and most importantly, an experienced guide.
Be all you can be! The Army isn’t the only one who urges us to reach our full potential; the church has picked up on it as well. As a friend of ours is recently told us, “My passion is helping people reach their potential, all God created them to be!”
Christmas reminds me of a sticky ball rolling down a hill, accumulating bits and pieces from everything it passes, until it’s one big adhesive mess and it’s hard to tell what the original ball looked like. We’ve gone from a simple explanation of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth to the huge holiday extravaganza we now experience. This is one holiday that needs to go on a diet.
Some of the traditions we associate with Christmas make sense—at least I can see the connection. Giving gifts is a reflection of the magi’s offering of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Advent calendars and wreaths help us focus on God’s purpose in sending His Son. Decorating with lights reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the world. And of course, there are Christmas carols (which may or may not be relevant or accurate).
“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.
I’ve been highly distracted for the past two weeks. Our daughters and granddaughters have been visiting, and I’ve been playing games, taking photos, cooking meals, and hugging—lots of hugging. What I haven’t been doing is writing blog posts. In fact, I totally missed last Friday, in spite of my best intentions. Instead of writing, taking time away from family that we don’t get to see nearly as often as we’d like, I thought I would cheat a bit.
The following is one of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog. Yes, it’s listed in the archives, but if you’re like me, you rarely—if ever—hunt back through the old posts for something to read. I think my point is just as important today as it was when I wrote it almost ten years ago. I hope you agree.
Have you ever been afraid to try something because you might fail?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fought this battle. As far back as I can remember, I’ve hesitated to attempt something that I’m not confident about. Let me give you an example.
I was a senior in high school. My grades were excellent and I had applied to a “selective” university that I really wanted to attend. I’d completed all the college track classes I needed—English, math, science, etc., but I still lacked a “fine or practical art.” I really wanted to take photography. I had been given my first SLR camera for Christmas and I wanted to take magnificent photos. However, academically, this was new territory. I knew I could do classwork, and I have a knack for taking exams, but photography was creative. Could I do that too? What if I couldn’t?
We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments—honor your father and mother, don’t worship idols, don’t steal, keep the Sabbath, etc. God gave us the ten commandments, and we would be smart to obey them. But what about the commandments Jesus gave us? We’re familiar with His teachings, but were there things He commanded us to do, or not do?
Passover begins this evening. It seems especially significant that this year, Passover begins on Good Friday. After all, they both celebrate the same thing.
The very idea that Passover is still celebrated now, in 2018, amazes me. Over thousands of years (with minor exceptions, such as during the years leading up to King Josiah), the Jews have celebrated the Passover. Whether in Israel and Judea, or even when spread to the corners of the earth, they’ve faithfully reenacted God’s sacrifice and salvation year after year after year.