A few weeks ago we began talking about Jesus speaking the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. This was one of the few parables he actually interpreted for his followers, and in that interpretation he revealed it was a prophecy about the difficult future of Christianity. He spoke of false Christians and an entire age when the true and false would grow together – outwardly indistinguishable from one another - until the "harvest" time. We traced some of the corrupting influences through the long history of the church and began to see how the gospel was treated (and mistreated) along the way. Jesus, after speaking the Wheat and the Tares Parable, spoke two other parables. We believe they further described the corrupted condition of Christianity. So, what do these other parables tell us? Are we in danger of being deceived? Is the gospel even intact here and now in our present world?
Faith is a part of life. Faith is not reserved for those of us who claim religion. On the contrary, faith is an integral part of human life, no matter what perspective you come from. We have faith in the people in our lives that they will be there for us. To varying degrees, we have faith in our doctor’s ability to take care of us, our employer’s responsibility to be fair to us and our co-workers sensibility to do their fair share with us. We have faith in the internet as a window to the world, and we have faith in the antivirus software we use to protect that window. So, how does the faith we find everywhere in life compare to religious faith? Is one kind of faith reasonable while the other is sensational or are they the same?
Everyone loves a hero. Everyone loves to watch “that guy” as he (or she) defies the odds, stands up against darkness, evil or injustice and fights – sometimes he fights alone and sometimes his fight inspires others to stand and fight with him. We admire the guts, the vision and the strength of such people, for they in their heroic actions represent what we would like to be. So, what makes someone a hero? Is it one heroic action or is it a life lived in a heroic way? Do people become heroes because of their strength or in spite of their weakness? Are heroes made or are they born? How can you and I become more heroic in our everyday lives?
…But do you trust me? Such a question pierces right down to the heart of any matter, for true trust is sacred. Any relationship - be it family, friends, business or otherwise - will thrive when trust is intact. With trust, growth, change and the conquering of obstacles are all not only possible but probable. With trust there is security. When trust is broken – and it can be broken in an instant with a single word or action – any relationship is headed for shipwreck upon the rocks of disappointment and despair. Rebuilding after such a shipwreck is a long and difficult process. So, how can we learn to trust the right things in a deep and secure fashion?
Promises, promises! Did you ever stop to think about how much of our lives revolve around promises? There are promises at every level of life – those made by a child to secure a privilege, those made when you agree to the conditions of your job, those made between a man and a woman at marriage, those made in political campaigns. Then there are the private promises we make to ourselves and to God. We judge character by the keeping of promises. A promise keeper is a trustworthy person. Then there are the promises God makes to us. It seems like there are a lot of them, but to many people it seems God has not kept them. So, is God a trustworthy promise keeper?
Life can be likened to a house. Some houses are spacious and elegant – people tend to notice them when they go by. Some houses are smaller, functional and more basic – people tend to look past them when they go by. When you think about it, whether the house is elegant or basic, the most important part of it is its foundation. What that foundation is made of and built upon has a direct bearing on how long that house is able to endure. So, what about YOUR life – what is your foundation made of and what is it built on? Is your Christian life able to weather any storm?
Christians are familiar with the scriptures that tell us to be "faithful unto death." But what does this really mean? Find out here!
Life has become quick and easy – think about it - we have instant coffee, instant oatmeal, Instagram, Instant Messenger, fast food, Jiffy or Quick Lube and "while-you-wait" service. We can instantly see our photos, instantly send and receive our mail, instantly buy or sell online and instantly see 75 different versions of what is happening in the world. We think that in many ways, we have forgotten what it is like to work for something – to toil, engage and fight through adversity for the sake of something that is not instant. We are talking about ENDURANCE! We have forgotten the absolute and almost miraculous sustaining power of ENDURANCE! What is endurance? How can we get some? Hurry up and listen! :)
There are many accounts in the Bible that really run along the edge of reality for many of us here today. Think about it – Balaam’s donkey talks, the sun stands still for Joshua in a battle, Jesus rises from the dead and goes to heaven… These are fantastic and unbelievable to many. And then there is the story of Noah. Here is a man around 500 years old who builds a boat to save his family and the animals from a devastating flood! Now THAT is amazing! So, what is there about this story of Noah that rings true for us today? Is his experience a warning for us here and now?
Faith. It is the basis of all religion, for it is faith in something larger than oneself that draws people to a common belief. Faith. It is a necessity in any functional society, for it creates the environment for citizens to rely upon their leadership. Faith. It is a key in any deep and enduring relationship, for it provides the fertile soil that feeds a lifetime of growing together. Faith. It is critical in the bringing together of two at-odds parties, for it provides a bridge that both parties may equally travel upon. Faith. It is a staple of our lives – so how do we make it firm, unshakable and permanent?