Everyone in the ancient world assumed that religion was regional. Each nation and tribe had its own deities. And while you were loyal to yours, you would probably accept the existence and power of the gods of others.
The one who was born in Bethlehem is the One. The only One. There is only one Creator; in his great love for mankind, he ordained only one rescue plan. His Son was incarnate and born as we all were, born to... Read More
Scripture says that we are saved by grace (Christ’s work) through faith, and here’s where the Spirit comes in. It is the Spirit’s great work to connect spiritually dead people with their living Savior by creating faith in their hearts. He also sustains our faith through his Word and the Holy Supper.
Let St. Paul explain: “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of... Read More
Did St. Patrick really use a shamrock (three-leafed clover) to teach the Irish Celts about the mystery of the Trinity? Who knows? The earliest historical evidence linking Patrick and the shamrock dates only from the 1600s, 12 centuries after the legendary missionary walked the Auld Sod bringing Christianity to the people.
But it’s a sweet way to visualize the Three-in-One. Jesus Christ, the Son, is one with Father and Spirit, and yet has his own distinct personhood and holy work.... Read More
The gospel message is based on mysteries and paradoxes that seem illogical and unbelievable to outsiders to the faith. Take the Trinity, for example. How can God be three and one at the same time? Is there one mind or three? one will or three? one power or three?
God tells you about himself not to explain enough so that you understand but rather so that you appreciate and worship him. He tells you of his essential unity, but he... Read More
Over the years I have met some Christians with a very broken spirit. “I’m of no use to God. I deserve to be fired from the team. I’ve got nothing. Basically I’m just killing time until I die.” I fear that unless something major happens to change their thinking, they will live out their lives as disappointed, frustrated, crabby individuals, depressed and hating themselves.
If only they had read 1 Peter. God’s Word assures us that each of us has... Read More
When we enter into some kind of personal interaction with other people, it’s generally because we expect to get something out of it—isn’t it so? If shopping and dating weren’t pleasurable, if we didn’t get a lot out of it, we wouldn’t do it.
Here’s the heart of a happy home (and it comes as a rude shock to many): neither marriage nor parenting works if you are not willing to become somebody else’s servant.
That’s hard. Oh, man, that’s... Read More
Christ’s first coming surprised everybody.
Zechariah was surprised. Mary and Joseph were surprised, first by the angelic announcements and surprised again at the terribly inconvenient time that Mary’s labor pains began. Third-shift shepherds were surprised by the sound and light show that they alone experienced. As they knelt at the manger and peered in at the little bundle on the straw, their worship of God would never be the same.
I guess you aren’t surprised at the birthday celebrations this... Read More
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how much extra baggage has been piled onto the stories of Christmas? Singers can put out a “Christmas” album and never once mention the baby in the manger. Somehow you can make a whole season out of mistletoe, Yule logs, Frosty, Rudolph, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Santa Claus can’t do a thing for you because he’s just part of the myth. The only way that the “holiday” will be a holy day for... Read More
Normally a ministry of a year and a half would be thought of as terribly short. But for St. Paul it was a huge investment of time and demonstrated a mission field that was unusually productive. Paul was a rapid traveler and planter; he left it to others to do the longer-term teaching and harvesting.
He had encountered severe hostility early on in Corinth, and he might have left early but for this amazing revelation given to him in a... Read More
Looking backward is a dangerous indulgence. It turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. It can turn your marriage salty and sour if you keep looking backward, wondering if you should perhaps have chosen a different spouse from former boyfriends or girlfriends.
Pride is deadly in all relationships, including marriage. When you start feeling that you’ve been cheated in life, that your spouse owes you, or that you could have done better, it’s time for a new “marriage garment”:... Read More