Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the peculiar American religious sect called the Shakers, was terribly afraid of the corrupting power of sexuality. She kept the men and women in her communities largely separate. Dating and marriage were forbidden.
That fear of sex’s power to destabilize the brain may have been part of the church’s motivation for many centuries to hold forth life in a monastery as superior to and holier than marriage and family life.
In God’s view, there... Read More
When an accused person first appears in court, it is called an arraignment. It is there that the formal accusations are brought forth.
The Bible teaches repeatedly that every human being who ever lived stands arraigned before God the Judge. Without divine intervention, every case would turn out the same. The Judge, who is also the Maker of all, has pure and holy expectations of all. His law, his will, was made known to all. All have sinned against it.... Read More
A couple of the girls I asked out back in my college years said no. Why can I still remember those occasions so clearly? Why does that embarrassment and self-doubt persist after all these years? Rejection hurts.
I don’t even have to ask. You’ve been stung by rejection too, haven’t you? Were you the last chosen for a team on the playground? Have your kids rejected your belief and value system? Has a loved one or spouse walked out on... Read More
The forgiveness of your sins costs you nothing. It is free and full, God’s gift to you through faith in Jesus Christ. Grace is always free and complete, 100% God’s doing. But though free to you, it cost Jesus his life. As he received it back through his resurrection, he gives you yours back too.
And invites you to give it to him. We were designed to live with God, live for God. We can’t find fulfillment, happiness, or satisfaction... Read More
Quite a few world religions, including some Christian groups, have food rules and restrictions today. Judaism still resolutely mandates kosher diet for its adherents.
Acts chapter 10 has an amazing story about the lifting of kosher food restrictions. A Jewish fisherman and a Gentile military officer discovered that they were brothers and could eat together. “[Peter] fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It... Read More
Believing Israelites had important dietary restrictions, not because there was anything sinful or unhygienic about certain foods but as a form of self-denial. The kosher laws emphasized Israel’s distinctiveness. If you couldn’t eat in a Gentile’s home, you would be more likely to stick together with other Israelites and not lose your culture and belief system.
Leviticus itemized strict dietary laws for Israel: “These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves in the water and every... Read More
One of the girls in my sixth-grade class loved to see naughty boys get caught by the teacher. “Cheaters never prosper,” she would cackle.
Ah, if only she were right. Alas, my sad life experience is that cheaters seem to do very well. Everything’s a hustle. Everything’s for sale. Them that’s got shall get.
Do you ever feel as though you are wasting your time trying to get ahead through honesty and hard work? Do you ever fantasize about taking... Read More
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King is uniquely qualified to teach us about the futility of revenge and the ultimate triumph of love. He was unjustly imprisoned, his home was firebombed, and he was assassinated in the prime of life. He had various teachers and mentors in the area of nonviolent protest, but the greatest of them was Christ himself, who triumphed over evil by... Read More
Most of us struggle with inadequate vision—we forget we are immortal through Christ, forget our time on this earth is fleeting, and fall in love with things.
But the reverse is just as bad—to be so heaven-focused that we ignore the significance of our mission and work right now. Your baptism was also your commissioning into God’s workforce. He calls you royal priests, not just irrelevant placeholders. He calls you to work for him, not just kill time waiting for... Read More
If you talk to people who dislike church (a.k.a. “organized religion”), high on the list of most-hated features is what they see as institutional money hustling. While most ministries authentically seek to reach out to people’s souls, sometimes all that visitors see (or choose to see) is the church reaching out for their wallets.
The real reason why Christian ministries gather offerings of money from worshipers and members is not because God is broke and needs our contributions. “I have... Read More