Tag  |  righteousness

privileged

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.

suited up

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.

the big “i”

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.

because Christ suffered . . .

unnamed

—Copy and design submitted by Terry and Pat Lampel, US

first half, second half

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?

flood of justice

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)

peace in a ravaged world

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.”

reverent fear

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.

blameless

Pastor guilty of bilking money from elderly woman . . . Church elder convicted of accounting fraud . . . Pastor of megachurch accused of financial misappropriation.

flourish

image002

—copy and design submitted by Terry and Pat Lampel, US

oaks of righteousness

image002

—copy and design submitted by Terry and Pat Lampel, US

free to live the truth

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.”

war

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.”

undeserved grace

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.”

right with God

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.

Related Topics

> christian living

Is This Heaven?

In the fantasy-drama Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella heard a mysterious voice whispering from his cornfield: “If you build it, he will come.” In time, Ray realized the voice was calling him to build a baseball field among his rows of cornstalks. When he built the ball field, major-league baseball players from the past miraculously emerged from the remaining cornstalks to play ball.

Tongues Afire

Over the past month or so, my wife and I have had some hard conversations. Places of deep hurt have become visible again. As we’ve talked, amid much sadness, I’ve had to reckon with a lasting wound I left on her heart. Years ago, before we were married, Miska and I endured a significant conflict. In that turmoil, I spoke words to her that were foolish and immature, words that lodged into the most tender and vulnerable places of her heart. I didn’t speak in anger or malice, but rather with ignorance and stupidity. I’ve asked her forgiveness multiple times, and she has freely forgiven me. Still . . . the wound is there. My words can’t be taken back.

Sarcasm & Sincerity

Sarcasm can cause us to laugh. But it can also become a shield. Why open ourselves to rejection when we can make sure that no one ever knows the real us? Ironically, such insincerity actually leaves us more vulnerable.

> daily devotional

Generous Hearts

I opened a letter from our mortgage lender and, instead of a bill, found a check! Our escrow account had accrued a surplus, and the bank had sent us a check for the amount. The previous month had been overly busy, and I had been unable to take on any freelance work during those weeks. But we strived to remain faithful in our giving, and now God had provided. I was holding a check with a value that exceeded what we had lost due to my inability to work more hours.

Persecuted but Growing

There are few events of greater historical significance in the 20th century than China’s Cultural Revolution. The Communist Party instituted changes at every level of society to enforce its ideology. These included the persecution of the nation’s Christians, with many sent to labor camps. It’s estimated that the Cultural Revolution resulted in the death of 30 million Chinese people and forced the church underground. But decades later, it turns out that the efforts to wipe out Christianity had the opposite effect. Experts believe that there are more Christians worshiping in underground churches in China than there are total believers in the US!

Autumn Moments

Poets have long used the seasons as metaphors for our lives. Spring is seen as a time of new beginnings and potential; summer is a time of growth and success; autumn is the harvest season when we reap the fruits of our labors; and winter is a time of endings and rest.

> ethics

rotten fruit

There’s a “quick sale” area in my local supermarket where fruit is offered at a huge discount. If not sold quickly, the fully ripened edibles will become soft, flabby, and infected with fungus.

judgment of justice

An acquaintance of mine, who is highly intelligent and has a philosophical bent, also carries antipathy toward God and religion. He enjoys being provocative, recently quoting the second-century philosopher Epicurus who said: “There is no such thing as justice in the abstract; it is merely a compact between men.”

if My people

I was speaking with three friends about the lamentable condition of our country. They mentioned the continued practice of abortion, the rise of homosexual marriage, and the debt crisis. One friend cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, and said that our nation’s problems will only be solved when our country turns to God. I said that would be difficult to pull off, as our nation believes in the separation of church and state. We cannot compel Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists to worship Yahweh. Nor would we want to. Life goes badly—both for those inside and outside the church—whenever Christianity becomes the religion of the state.

> faith

Real Faith

I attended a boarding school in Nigeria where the older students ruled over all of us younger students. Once, I misplaced a bowl that belonged to a rather cranky older student. Having been given the ultimatum to find and return the bowl by the next morning, I crawled into bed with a heart full of dread. I whispered a prayer asking God for help before dropping into a troubled sleep. Imagine my awe the next day when the bowl mysteriously showed up in the student’s drawer!

If It’s Really You . . .

A non-Christian organization has established a hotline for people who are struggling with spiritual doubts. While the exact goal of this call-in center seems a bit fuzzy, its founder made an interesting observation: “Many people feel isolated or rejected when they begin to ask questions. . . . If churches suddenly started welcoming doubters [for food and fellowship], the hotline project wouldn’t be necessary.”

Lessons from the Young

On the way home from soccer practice last week, my 12-year-old son busily jotted his thoughts onto a notepad he had brought with him. When he finished, he handed it to me and said, “This is what I [created].”

> health

Real Rest

During the long, harsh Alaskan winter, Denali National Park rangers rely on teams of sled dogs to help them patrol the vast, snowy wilderness. Dogsled patrols can last up to 6 weeks, and the dogs are always raring to go.

sweet sleep

Recent research concluded that Americans are among the world’s worst when it comes to sleep deprivation. The published statistics reveal: The US (along with France and Taiwan) ranks among the top three most sleep-deprived nations in the world. Indians (54 percent), Americans (49 percent), and Singaporeans (43 percent) reported not getting enough rest due to being too worried or stressed out. Most sleep-deprived Americans (66 percent), however, can’t sleep because they’re anxious about finances and paying their bills.

Your Body

I like to write out my thoughts before I type them. But when I use an old pen that rolls roughly across the paper, my thoughts thump along in fits and starts. When I can’t squeeze the ink out, I can’t squeeze the words out, and I quickly toss the pen aside for a better one. A free-flowing pen opens my mind, and the words often come pouring out as fast as I can write them.

> relationships

Distance

Reasons? He has many. As he passes several churches during his drive to the park for his Sunday run, he enjoys his solitude. In fact, he reflects on how he can connect with God just as easily—if not more so—on his own. But deep layers of pain, a multitude of rehearsed excuses, and complicated explanations mask a simple reality: Church has not been a safe place for him.

Sarcasm & Sincerity

Sarcasm can cause us to laugh. But it can also become a shield. Why open ourselves to rejection when we can make sure that no one ever knows the real us? Ironically, such insincerity actually leaves us more vulnerable.

You’re Called

Martin Luther challenged the medieval idea that only priests, monks, and nuns possessed a divine call. He said that just as people are made right with God by salvation in Jesus, they’re also called to serve Him in whatever jobs they do. In this way “the entire world [will] be full of service to God, not only the churches but also the home, the kitchen, the cellar, the workshop, and the field of townsfolk and farmers.”