I joined the line inside the bank and waited to talk with the teller. Within minutes it was my turn, and the teller asked if I was a “privileged customer” of the bank. It dawned on me at that moment that I was in the wrong line. Soon I was standing at the back of a long line of regular customers. I simply lacked the credentials to get priority service.
During a visit to an art institute, I observed a German suit of armor made in 1521. None of the other defensive ensembles seemed as complete as this one. It featured vented metal to cover the face; a curved breastplate to deflect blows; metal that continued down the arms, hands, and covered each finger; leg shields that were seamlessly fitted to metal shoes. The craftsman had imagined every possible offensive strike and addressed each in his design.
I recently attended a meeting of leaders that could have become contentious and disastrous. It could have resulted in more fireworks than Chinese New Year! Thankfully, however, difficult issues were addressed with honesty and transparency. The big “I”—integrity—led individuals to speak words of truth, love, and forgiveness.
Ready for a Bible quiz? Which king: attained national influence at age 16; was a genius in military deployment and national security; invented new military weapons; had true vision for commercial and business development; and possessed the Midas touch in husbandry and agriculture?
God judges sin because he loathes what it does to us and to others. There is no other motive in God, nothing deeper than His love for us. He wants us to loathe sin, too—and be its executioner. If we won’t, he will!” —David Roper (Elijah: A Man Like Us)
Amid the horrific stories of shootings in schools, the news in August 2013 of Antoinette Tuff’s heroism was a beautiful exception. Antoinette, on staff at an elementary school, confronted 20-year-old Michael Hill when he entered the school building carrying weapons, including an assault rifle. “I just started talking to him,” Tuff said, “and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be okay.” Remarkably, Hill laid down his weapons and surrendered. Accounts of Tuff’s courage swept across the newswires, but she resisted acclaim. “I give it all to God. I’m not the hero. I was terrified.”
The ocean was churning. Massive waves were causing the huge vessel to list from side to side. As I stood and looked out a window, I was amazed at the power and fury of the storm. The beating of the raindrops on the metal deck matched the rapid beating of my heart as the ship was buffeted by fierce elements.
When my son Wyatt was 10, we drove past a well-known burger chain. “Dad,” Wyatt said, “I don’t like it that the commercials make the fast-food places look all joyful and happy. And then you go there and they’re sad and dirty.” Then he said, “And the bathrooms are nasty.”
Journalist Jeffrey Gettleman asserts, “There is a very simple reason why some of Africa’s bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. . . . The combatants don’t have much of an ideology; they don’t have clear goals. . . . I’ve witnessed up close—often way too close—how combat has morphed from soldier versus soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier versus civilian.”
Early in my walk with the Lord, a friend told me that as I came to understand more fully how undeserving I was of Jesus’ grace, I’d embrace it all the more. Many years later, I still think about her exhortation when—on occasion—I move from acknowledging my sins and desperate need of a Savior to wondering if perhaps I’m entitled to special treatment based on my “good works.”
Theologians are debating what the apostle Paul meant when he said that “we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law” (Romans 3:28). Traditional Protestants follow Martin Luther’s insight that sinners like us can’t do enough good works to satisfy a holy God. We become right with God by putting our faith in Jesus. When we trust Christ, God our Father performs what Luther called the “joyous exchange,” placing the guilt of our sin upon Jesus and counting His righteousness as our own.