28 February 2021
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 4:8-10 nkjv
Prepping for a new teaching season!
My next-door neighbor, despite being Virginia born and bred, is a lifelong New York Yankees baseball fan. This morning he and his family left for Florida so that he can fulfill a long-held dream of watching the Yankees during their Spring-training camp. (Of course, there’s also the small matter of visiting a Florida-based great-grandchild — their first!)
My neighbor’s neighbors (that would be Denise and me) are in “spring training,” too, but it’s not nearly so glamorous as swinging bats, snagging line drives, and signing autographs for fans. Yes, assuming we can [continue reading…]
Copyright © 2021
A Trip Down Memory Lane
When you found that Old Testament quotation
in the New Testament this morning,
did you pull the “mnemonic trigger”?
If not, you probably missed a blessing!
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that mnemonic isn’t an adjective that rolls off the tongue or that comes up in casual conversation. Neither is its related noun, mnemonics, which means a technique of improving memory. But I think I can promise that if we can understand these unfamiliar words, the concept of a “mnemonic trigger” will become a useful and powerful tool in our Scripture reading and Bible study.
It might help us fix these two unusual words in memory if we take a quick trip down Memory Lane to visit the name which gave birth to both words. The ancient [continue reading…]
30 January 2021
If “speed kills,” then VW bug owners should live a long time!
Denise and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday, and I am reminded that when we got married we owned a high-mileage black 1965 VW “bug” as our first car. Though loved by economy-minded VW owners, that model more than deserved its nickname of “gutless wonder.” Did you ever get stuck on an uphill freeway on-ramp behind a “bug” that was reciting “I think I can, I think I can” as it strained up the incline? If you did, you probably got close enough to read the bumper sticker that only a VW bug owner could fully appreciate:
I’M [continue reading…]
Copyright © 2020, 2021
Several times a year I drive down a long stretch of highway in my home state of Virginia. While traveling westward on this road, I pass a church which hardly ever changes the message on its marquee. It nearly always proclaims that congregation’s motto:
Training for Reigning
Even though that probably doesn’t leave much to the imagination as to the typical content of their preaching and teaching (I’m guessing topics like prosperity, positive confession, and “living like a king’s kid”), it always makes me wonder if they teach anything about God’s minimum [continue reading…]
19 December 2020
On December 25th we celebrate missions. Missions!? You probably thought I’d say, “Christmas” or “Jesus’ birth” or even “the Incarnation.” All of those are valid answers, of course. But have you ever thought about all of those as very important sub-topics under the topic of missions, specifically the Great Commission?
The One who said, “Go” was sent.
The Great Commission? Isn’t that the mandate Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20? That’s when they became full-fledged apostles, right? “Apostle” — apóstolos in Greek — is just the noun form of the Greek verb apostéllō, to send someone out, to send a message. So the word apostle means nothing more — and nothing less! — than [continue reading…]
3 September 2020
Was Gravity “Extra Heavy”?
I know for certain, because I performed a “random gravity check!”
I appeal to your imagination: Tell yourself, “This is the August newsletter, and it’s late because of gravity.” Yes, really! I had a bad fall four weeks ago, and the incident reminded me of a story Denise tells about her childhood friend, who, after a bad day of repeatedly dropping things, exclaimed, “Gravity is extra heavy today!” That’s my alibi.
Was anything broken in my fall? Well, yes — my pride, and over three weeks’ worth of meaningful productivity. Besides about eight hours in the emergency room, it has taken me considerable time to get back to normal in terms of daily routine, early-morning writing, our publishing schedule, and so forth. So my quick personal report is: “I fell down, got up, got patched up, and now I’m finally better.” (Oh, and the doctor tells me that there’s no miracle cure for [continue reading…]
Copyright © 2019
Here's a fresh view of Luke 2…
Ah, Christmas! What for others is a time of joy is for me a time to remember and mourn my felonious and heretical past life. The felony? Kidnapping. The heresy? Thinking that I could save God’s Son, Jesus. But like Saul of Tarsus, “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in…” well, not “unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13), but because I was an innocent five-year old. I guess I need to explain.
Coinciding with my short career in crime, [continue reading…]
Copyright © 2019
An excerpt from the forthcoming book
The John the Baptist Experience
In prophecy, when do deer walk
and when do they leap?
When the imprisoned John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus, he had one question in mind: “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3 nasb)
Jesus didn’t answer them directly at first. He believed in “show and tell,” and Luke tells us what John’s two disciples saw with their own eyes:
At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
With the long day’s ministry over, the Lord approached John’s two representatives.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, [continue reading…]
Copyright © 1994, 2019
A Look at Roman Law in Acts
“Moving in a Roman World”
“The student of the New Testament is constantly made aware that he is moving in a Roman world,” and awareness of the Roman environment is the first step toward understanding its significance and influence on the second volume of Luke’s magnum opus and on the life of Paul. By providing the serious Bible student a primer of [continue reading…]
Copyright © 2018
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King!
Your dieting resolve may be challenged as I enumerate the following list: pumpkin pie, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, roasted turkey and stuffing, eggnog, hot apple cider with cinnamon. Those are all holiday edibles, but I mention them not so much for their waistline-destroying properties as for their aromas. I can quickly add to the list of Christmas aromas from non-edible sources: the fragrance of a fresh pine tree, wreaths of pine branches, and seasoned oak burning in the fireplace. I would even add the tantalizing scent of “chestnuts roasting on a open fire,” but then we’d probably be back to derailing ongoing diets.
Those of you outside North America no doubt have your own aromatic reminiscences of Christmas. In any case, if you’re like me, you have a sort of mental database of aromas, of scents, of fragrances that you associate with Christmas. In fact, if one of those aromas registers on your nostrils, it may trigger events from your childhood, or certain Christmases that were special, or maybe certain Christmases that were difficult. I can’t think of another holiday that has such fragrant associations.
Decades ago, over the Christmas holiday I was on a short-term missions trip to India. On Christmas morning I arose before dawn to [continue reading…]
Copyright © 2018
The Importance of Context
What is “the acceptable year of the Lord
Every time there is a “first” in the Scriptures, it is good to take note of it, because often the Holy Spirit is laying down a special foundation, or principle, or doctrine. I believe this is true in the case of Jesus’ first recorded sermon, which is found in Luke chapter 4.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed,
19to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Part of what I teach leaders when I come to Latin America is the importance of context when they are reading and studying and teaching and preaching God’s word. The two most important points are these:
- Every time we come to the Scriptures, as we are reading we must ask ourselves, “What is the context of this verse, this passage, this chapter, this book? What is the context within the text, and what are the historical, cultural, and original language contexts? What do I need to know to fully understand the passage like the first readers did?
- The greatest context is that of the entire Bible, which is why I encourage all Christian leaders – indeed, all Christians – to read through the Bible cover to cover at least once every year.
Let’s think about the context of Jesus’ message in Luke 4. In the previous chapter, Luke 3, Jesus was water-baptized by John; immediately the Spirit of the Lord [continue reading…]