Zechariah lived out a twofold identity as both priest and prophet. The grandson of the priest Iddo and the head priest of his family (Zechariah 1:1; Nehemiah 12:1,16), he was prophetically called to encourage the people of Judah with God’s words (Zechariah 1:13-17). In addition, he told them to repent (Zechariah 1:3-4), renew their efforts for God (Zechariah 8:12-13), and follow His ways (Zechariah 7:8-10).
Charles complained to his friend about some lower back pain. He was seeking a sympathetic ear, but his friend gave him an honest assessment. “Your back isn’t your problem,” he pointed out. “It’s your stomach. Your stomach is so big it’s pulling on your back.”
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.
When a supervolcano erupts—and thankfully that’s extremely rare—it leaves behind a massive basin known as a caldera. But they are so huge we tend to overlook them completely. As geophysicist Bob Smith described the 45-mile wide Yellowstone caldera, “The size is so immense that people don’t appreciate it.”
In December 2011, USA Today ran an article that analyzed a group of Americans called the “spiritually apathetic.” Their attitude could be summed up as: “So what?” The article presented the following sad statistics:
I was enjoying singing with others during the worship service. Then a woman sang a solo. I don’t recall the song. But I do remember thinking: boring lyrics! Predictable religious clichés! Ah, just give me good old, Christian easy-listening music. (I confess my inappropriate sarcasm and snarkiness.)
As a kid, I enjoyed helping my mom in the kitchen— especially when it came time for our holiday baking. One tool that fascinated me was the sifter. My mom stored it in a large plastic bag that kept it clean and caught any remnants of flour dust from previous projects. Turning the handle, I’d watch as the heavy clump of flour met with the metal pieces and screening to become a soft, light product.
A young man wavered between two worlds. Would he roll with the gangs in his neighborhood, or walk with Christ? Although his father struggled with addiction and his mother suffered from schizophrenia, his grandmother prayed for and encouraged him to follow Jesus. Christian hip-hop artist FLAME admits that there was a time in his life that he tried to fit into both worlds. But today he has a degree in biblical counseling and is attending seminary. And his top-selling albums contain street-savvy beats and inspiring Christian messages.
If you engage in any form of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.), you’ve surely read something that set your blood to boil. I’m not sure that we’ve figured out how to have meaningful conversation around divisive topics in the virtual world. Is it even possible?
Many years ago, sin-eating was practiced in parts of the UK and the US. A sin-eater was normally a poor, hungry person who was brought to the home of a dead person, where he was given some bread to eat and a drink to consume. After having his fill, he would then ritually pray over the deceased. This curious custom supposedly absolved the dead person—and sometimes a whole family—of sin. The sin-eater would then be shunned by the local community until he was needed again. Why was he shunned? He had “eaten” (taken on) the sins of the dead.
Many battles in life stem from false assumptions that are made due to lack of communication. For instance, we share a wall with our neighbors and—since moving in 6 months ago—they’ve been redecorating. The garden, the garage, the bathrooms, the bedrooms; nothing has escaped a hammer, an electric power tool, or a paintbrush.