The only part of his prayer I still remember was his request, “Lord, please make me willing to be willing.”
I’ve long forgotten what he was praying about. Evidently it was something he knew he should do. It was the “right thing.” The knowing wasn’t helping his doing. But he didn’t ask God to make him do it, he didn’t even ask God to make him willing to do it. He simply asked God to make him willing to be willing to do it. Continue reading
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells a parable to help us understand the kingdom of heaven. A modern translation removes the cultural difficulties of the amounts owed.
“One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him fifty million silver coins. But he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt. The official got down on his knees and began begging, ‘Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!’ The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money. Continue reading
William Law (1686–1761) ministered in the Church of England until removed from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the first Hanoverian monarch, George I. Law served as a simple priest (curate) and when that became impossible without the oath, he went on to teach privately and to write extensively.
His most well know book is A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728). Together with his previous book, A Practical Treatise Upon Christian Perfection (1726), Law would influence individuals as deep and wide as Enlightenment thinkers Dr. Samuel Johnson and the historian Edward Gibbon, and clergymen the likes of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield.
His writings also influenced C. S. Lewis. Continue reading
Controversy swirls around the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Scholars question the author, or authors, as well as the date and central theme of the book. Further complicating matters is that the book is deeper than it is wide, and with sixty-six chapters that’s saying a lot.
Historically, Christians have understood the “Suffering Servant” described in chapter 53 as speaking of Jesus Christ some seven hundred years before his incarnation. Some of the most majestic and familiar verses in the entire Bible are found in this chapter including, Continue reading
Adam Johnson has an impressive resume. Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary; M.A., Talbot Theological Seminary; B.A., Biola University. Dr. Johnson serves as the Assistant Professor of Theology at the Torrey Honors Institute.
He has an equally impressive un-resume. Continue reading
He was someone I respected and was staying with us for a few days as a guest speaker at our church. One evening as we sat in the living room watching a ball game, a commercial came on the air. I no longer recall what they were advertising, but they compared their product to their leading competitor. When it was over he said “That commercial was so good it was hard to tell if they were selling Brand A or Brand B.”
I laughed and said “You know, you’re right. For a moment there I almost thought they were selling Brand B.” He laughed and said “They were.” Whoops. Yes, they were good! Continue reading
We use to work out in a gym during the same lunch hour. After a few weeks she asked me what I did for a living. Knowing she would never guess, I said “Why don’t you guess.”
The guessing game went on for weeks. Was I in construction? A teacher? Did I run my own business? And one I hear a lot, was I retired?
After saying she could not think of any more vocations, she asked me what I did. I told her I pastored a church. She was shocked. After all, according to her “You do not look like a pastor.” I took that as a compliment. Continue reading
One cannot be conscious of God 24/7. Too many other things demand our attention. We need to pay attention when people talk to us and when we speak to them, and of course when we are driving. And then there is the need to sleep. To just sit and do nothing but think about God will result in a lifespan of maybe seven days.
But to be thinking about God on-and-off-continually is a different matter. It’s not easy, but it is doable.
Recently I had a couple of events take place that most folks would not think were out of the ordinary. I did not speak to anyone about them, but even if I did, no one would raise an eyebrow. They were trivial matters, but I felt I needed to see some things happen, so I prayed. And when they happened I paused and prayed again. Continue reading
The man came in wearing a heavy jacket and stomping his snow-covered boots. He shook a little in the heat of the room and unzipped his coat. But what you noticed was his smile. It was freezing out and the ground was snow-covered and crusty and this guy was enjoying it.
He said something positive about the weather and was met with looks of incredulity. My sense was that if it was put to a vote, summer would be back and this guy would be shipped off to Outer Mongolia.
But then it dawned on me that if we took another vote, one on who was the most contented person in that room, that guy would win hands down and everyone else would be sent to sit in the corner. Continue reading
I recall reading about someone trying to explain sin. No small task. Among his various illustrations and analogies was his saying that trying to separate sin from a sinner was similar to trying to separate a dance from a dancer.
I don’t know why, but that picture stayed in my mind. There is no sin in the abstract. There has to be someone disobeying the will of God, overtly or covertly, for there to be sin.
Further complicating things is how similar sin is from that which is not sin. Without even noticing it, eating can become gluttony; admiring can become lusting; caution becomes fear; praying becomes complaining, and concern can become worry. The lines are razor thin and invisible. Continue reading