During a conference, believers in Jesus discussed differing perspectives on the relationship between Scripture and science. Although we disagreed about important matters, it was obvious the participants on all sides loved Jesus. We didn’t let our differences disguise our bond as members of God’s family. In fact, our unity seemed even sweeter because it shone within our differences.
Elizabeth Stone wrote that having a child is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Indeed. My biggest fear is that my children might walk away from God.
My professor surprised our class one day when he said, “Jesus died for cows.” He didn’t mean we should evangelize cattle. But, he explained, since cows are part of the creation “subjected to God’s curse” (Romans 8:20) as a result of human sin, cows belong to the world that “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). That means cows are part of the “everything” God is bringing “under the authority of Christ,” having “reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20).
Shortly after he invented the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell reportedly said, “I do not think I am exaggerating the possibilities of this invention when I tell you that it is my firm belief that one day there will be a telephone in every major town in America.” One telephone in every town? If he only knew. Bell needed to dream bigger.
A professor, speaking during a symposium, shared that she flies a lot and is often bumped up to first class. While chatting with her seatmates, she sometimes hears variations of her life story—stories of people who’ve graduated from prestigious universities, taken the best internships, and landed top jobs. They’ve done everything the world told them to do, but many still feel empty inside.
Imagine receiving clothes you chose to never wear, cars you didn’t ever drive, or houses you never lived in. What would be the point? If we’re not going to use those things, we might as well not possess them.
Sometimes we can feel guilty about our prayer lives. No matter how much we pray, we’re sure it’s never enough. We think we should pray more, but the phone’s ringing or emails are piling up or our toddler just squeezed syrup in her hair. What can we do? Consider this: You just might be praying more than you think!
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas has observed that many believers in Jesus “think they have a relationship with God that they go to church to have expressed. . . . I think that’s to get it exactly backwards.” A local church isn’t merely a gathering of people who already have a relationship with Jesus. Meeting together is central to that relationship.
The idolatry of ancient Israel’s neighbors led the psalmist to write, “Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see” (Psalm 115:4-5). In essence, he was asking, “Why would a person feel the need to worship and bring a sacrifice to an idol? Who would devote their lives to a god they know is false—somehow hoping it would bless them?”
A well-known fashion retailer announced the opening of a new store that contains a spa, bar, hair salon, and stylists who guide shoppers in selecting personalised wardrobes that can be ordered online. The store has everything—except merchandise. The retailer has removed its racks of clothes “to keep shoppers from feeling overwhelmed by too much choice”.
My faith was once rattled by a telephone pole. I noticed its rough timber and shuddered, recalling that Jesus was nailed to a cross of wood. Suddenly I wondered, What if He wasn’t? How do I know the Bible is true? A wave of nausea washed over me until I snapped out of it, reminding myself of the many reasons I believe in Jesus.
I ran into a former professor at a conference. I had only taken one class with him nearly thirty years before, so I was stunned when he told me he prays for me and two others who live near me. He prays for his former students by region, because he loves us and wants us to flourish in our faith.
What’s the goal of forgiveness? When we’ve been wounded by another, why should we forgive? It’s often said that we forgive for ourselves, to break out of our prison of bitterness. It’s pointed out that not forgiving is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies, that our rage continues to give the offender power over us.
Families of kidnap victims often refuse to pay ransom without “proof of life”, evidence such as a phone call or video that shows their loved one is well. True believers in Jesus reveal a different kind of ‘proof of life’—evidence of lives transformed by their new life in Christ.
Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!