It's NOT About The Nail


Judges: God Gives Grace Even As We Deteriorate From Bad to Worse

Tim Keller identifies six key themes/truths about God in his new book "Judges For You":

  1. God relentlessly offers his grace to people who do not deserve it, seek it, or even appreciate it after they've been saved by it.
  2. God wants lordship over every area of our lives, not just some.
  3. There is a tension between grace and law, between conditionality and unconditionality.
  4. There is a need for continual spiritual renewal in our lives here on earth, and a way to make that a reality.
  5. We need a true Savior, to which all human saviors point, through their flaws and strengths.
  6. God is in charge, no matter what it looks like.
Grace is a major theme if not the singular most important theme throughout the Bible, both OT and NT. Judges is no exception. The people and their sins get worse and worse throughout the book. The judges (saviors/deliverers) are less and less admirable with each new judge. Yet God gives grace and never gives up.


Touch NOT The Lord's Anointed

What does this mean? Usually, the popular understanding of this phrase is meant by church leaders and their supporters to caution anyone who dares to critique or criticize the preacher or church leader. Many preachers, evangelists and Bible teachers today teach that if anyone criticizes them, or finds fault with them in any way, or goes against their wishes, then that miserable sinner has "touched the Lord's anointed." They say, "If you criticize "servant(s) of God" who are "the Lord's anointed," you will face the wrath of Almighty God." It is meant as a threat to, "Shut up. Don't complain. Submit. Or else...." It is virtually saying that the Christian leader or clergy is "above the rest" and is untouchable by commoners, sinners and the laity, and implies that they are unaccountable and have a free pass.


Love God with All Your.... (Mark 12:30-31)

Do you love God? Do you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk 12:30-31)? What does this even mean?

This leaves no room whatsoever for loving God partially, or with loving God with only a part of ourselves. Jesus, quoting Dt 6:5 and Lev 19:18, emphatically emphasizes that loving God must be without any reservation, and that it must include loving those who are not a part of our family or inner circle. My wife will certainly be grieved and saddened greatly if I ever said or expressed to her that, "I love you sometimes, and I am faithful to you most of the time."

What does loving God with our entire being and our entire self mean?

Steps for Conflict Resolution in the Church (Mt 18:15-17)

The problem with the church is that it has people. That is why the church has conflicts and divisions. The need for biblical conflict resolution is always urgent and crucial. How might this happen? Jesus' recommended steps in Mt 18:15-17 is often cited. But Jesus did not give us these steps so that we can get rid of people who bother us, who sin against us or with whom we disagree! The purpose is not to get rid of but to gain!

The following principles/steps are suggested:


Einstein and Billy Graham

My brother sent me this interesting account. Billy Graham, now 94 years old, once shared a story about Albert Einstein.
As we know Einstein was one of the most brilliant men of recent times. In 2000, he was voted the Man of the Century by Time Magazine. With his unkempt hairdo and German accent, Einstein was instantly recognizable by everyone he met.

One day Einstein was traveling from Princeton by train. The conductor came to collect tickets. When he reached Einstein, Einstein was frantically patting his pockets and going through his papers looking for his ticket. The conductor recognized his famous passenger. Kindly he assured Mr. Einstein that he was sure that he had purchased a ticket and that it was not necessary for him to find it. Einstein however, continued to dig around, searching even more diligently for the absent ticket. The ticket was not in his luggage, pockets, or in his pile of papers.


What Great Men Say About Themselves

Those who think they are great Christians would likely emphasize their own strengths, which inadvertently disparages others: "I thank God that I am not like nominal Sun Christians. I actively teach the Bible, disciple others and give much money to my church" (Lk 18:11-12). Surprisingly, this is not what great Christians say, suggest or think about themselves.

On his 70th birthday, pioneer missionary William Carey (regarded as the father of modern missions) wrote these remarkable words to one of his sons:

Stunningly Amazing Birds of Paradise

Majestic, mesmerizing and magnificent. This 5 min video shows some remarkable birds that exist only in the forests of New Guinea: Birds of Paradise. I was awestruck by their beauty and their majesty, which was stunningly mesmerizing and captivating. If you aspire to be an ornithologist, here are the 39 species captured in 4 min: The 39 Species.

A verse came to mind: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Ps 19:1).


I Am Having A Bad Day (PAL)

I am having a bad day. [My friend Abraham Lincoln of Boston UBF gave the sermon at West Loop today with this title.] What do you do when you have a bad day? When Adam had a bad day he blamed his wife (Gen 3:12). When Cain had a bad day he committed fratricide (Gen 4:8). When Abram had a bad day, he complained about his childlessness (Gen 15:2-4). When the older son had a bad day, he angrily accused his gracious father for being unfair (Lk 15:29-30).

God (always) comes in grace. When they each had a bad day, God came to them in grace. God gave Adam a chance to come clean (Gen 3:9). God gently asked Cain why he was upset (Gen 4:6-7). God promised Abram a great reward (Gen 15:1). The father (who represents God) said tenderly to his son, "My son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours" (Lk 15:31). What a marvelous grace it is to be told by God, "Everything I have is yours!"


Promises Of Blessing Despite Much Sin

Last Sun I completed preaching on what Jesus said to the Seven Churches in Revelation chapter 2-3. Briefly:
  1. Ephesus was a loveless church. She was excellent in Bible study and Christian activities, but lacking in love (Rev 2:4). They spoke the truth very well, but their love was not evident (Eph 4:15).
  2. Smyrna was a suffering church. She received no rebuke from Jesus because they were willing to suffer for their faith unto death (Rev 2:10b). They supremely valued Jesus and did not consider it a loss to lose their own lives.

How Would You Assess Good Preaching?

How does one assess how well a preacher or Bible teacher did in preaching and teaching the Bible?

A friend came up with these excellent questions which I thought would give good feedback to the preacher, messenger and/or Bible teacher.

On a scale of 1-10, how well did the message/sermon/preacher/Bible teacher:
  1. Engage your mind and your intellect?
  2. Bring you into the presence of God?
  3. Change your life in any significant way?

Additional questions could include, how well did the preacher:

Do You Fight Fair? (Graham's Hierarchy)

When someone says/writes something you do not like or makes you upset, how do you respond? Look at Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement. At what level of the triangle do you resort to. Lower levels are reactive, impulsive, defensive and offensive. Higher levels are fair, well thought out and reasoned responses. Here is a detailed explanation of each level.

When arguing/disagreeing, do you say/write/think:
  • "You're so stupid"? (This is the lowest level: Name Calling.)
  • "You are unspiritual, proud, immature and jealous"? (Ad hominem [which means "Against the man"].)
  • "I don't like the critical way you write/speak"? (Responding to Tone.)
  • "I disagree"? (Contradiction.)


Are You A Multiplier Or A Diminisher?

Genius or genius maker? Bono describes best the difference between a Diminisher and a Multiplier: "It has been said that after meeting with the great British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladston, you left feeling he was the smartest person in the world; but after meeting with his rival Benjamin Disraeli, you left thinking your were the smartest person."

The former is a genius (a diminisher). The latter is a genius maker (a multiplier). Which person would you rather be? How can you tell what type of person you are? Are you a multiplier or a diminisher?

  • Create stress.