“Get ready for bed.” “I don’t want to.”
“Eat your vegetables.” “I don’t want to.”
“Brush your teeth.” “I don’t want to.”
“Come in from play and wash your hands.” “I don’t want to.”
“Put that candy back.” “I don’t want to.”
“Get dressed for church.” “I don’t want to.”
Every parent has been frustrated by these obstinate interactions with their children. Wouldn’t it be nice, we think, if we could rewire their little brains and change their “want-to.” When a person repents of their sin and invites Christ to come into their life, that’s what God does. The Holy Spirit enters the person’s life, bringing with Him a new set of “want to’s.”
This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he quoted Jeremiah in order to explain the New Covenant that the Lord Jesus instituted. “‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time,’ says the Lord. ‘I will put My laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’” (Hebrews 10:16) Instead of limiting God’s instructions to ink on a page, He’d write them deep inside our hearts, always to be with us and to change the way we respond to life’s situations. Continue reading
Kevin Kinard had been making his annual visit to Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park for over twenty years, when he discovered a 9.07 carat diamond. This past Labor Day, Kevin picked up a crystal, thinking it might be glass. To his amazement, it turned out to be the site’s second-largest diamond found in its 48-year history. To the untrained eye, the marble-sized crystal looked like an invaluable rock. But to a gemologist, the beauty and value of the diamond encased below the plain surface could not be hidden.
Jim Schlatter, a friend of mine, recently shared a devotional thought at an Apple of His Eye Charity board meeting. He referenced one of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
Most interpretations I’ve heard of this parable indicate that it has to do with our discovery of Jesus. Once we learn that He is the means to forgiveness and a love-relationship with God, we understand that He is the greatest treasure on earth. This interpretation is true, Jesus is of inestimable worth. “But we have this treasure [Jesus] in jars of clay [our frail bodies] to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Continue reading
Since many of us spend so much time and energy in our work, it’s good to reflect on vocations (and avocations, that is, voluntary work)—since we recently celebrated Labor Day. This pandemic has caused many to not be able to work. One friend told me, “Being told to stop working by the government has a corrosive effect, and a large-scale evaluation of work is occurring, with many adopting false narratives about work.”
It is a given that not everyone enjoys their work.
Author Hugh Whelchel says that many would quit their jobs if they received a large fortune, enabling them to not have to work. He cites a Gallup poll, which “found that 77 percent of Americans hate their jobs.” Because of these sentiments, Whelchel is dedicated to helping Christians find and pursue their calling, and he is the executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, in the greater D.C. area.
What about overly repetitive jobs? Charlie Chaplin explored the pitfalls of over-industrialization in his 1936 classic film, “Modern Times.”
Chaplin said the germ of the idea for the film came when he read about the repeated phenomenon of young men leaving the farm and going off to work in the Detroit automobile assembly lines for good pay—only to suffer a nervous breakdown after a couple of years. In the movie, Chaplin (as his classic persona, “The Tramp”) works in a factory with its fast-paced assembly line. Eventually, he snaps and wreaks comic havoc in the factory. Continue reading
Maybe there’s a reason we are told not to talk about politics or religion. It seems that those two topics can result in more heat than light. The church is not immune to division and finger-pointing, especially when it comes to views on political issues. The Apostle Paul addressed a church that was polarizing over two issues; it can give us guidance on how to approach such topics.
ONE. People were judging each other’s spirituality by what foods they chose to eat. As people left the grocery store, these self-appointed food inspectors would glance into the people’s bags to determine if they were vegetarians or meat eaters. Then they’d be given a label to wear that told all bystanders if they were in the “strong faith” group or the “weak faith” one.
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1–4)
Notice that Paul put it in perspective. We are not to judge one another over “disputable matters.” The other person isn’t my servant; they don’t answer to me. They serve the Lord. People with a different view than mine don’t answer to me. We’d say that was so dumb, to fight over foods. We can think of far more serious issues to divide over, like the color of the carpet or the music in our worship services. One church split over the decision of where to place the coat rack. Important stuff! Continue reading
Our last study brought us to Romans 4:12. Today, we step back and consider the Greek word “logizomai” (G3049) in the fourth chapter of Romans and what it teaches. It occurs 41 times in the New Testament (NT). The King James (KJV) translates it with 13 different English words: 9 times as “think,” 8 “impute,” 6 “reckon,” 5 “count,” 4 “account,” twice as “suppose,” and once each as “reason,” “number,” “despise,” “conclude,” “esteem,” “think on” and “lay to (one’s) charge.” The Greek Lexicon defines it: “to occupy one’s self with reckonings or calculations. To reckon or count; to reckon anything to a person, to put it to his account, either in his favor or what he must be answerable for.” It’s found 19 times in Romans, which is the most frequent of any NT book and it stands out in the fourth chapter where it occurs 11 times, by far the most frequent of any chapter. In the 4th chapter it is translated “counted,” “reckoned,” “imputeth,” “impute” and “imputed,” which is significant and behooves us to carefully consider what the Holy Spirit is teaching with it.
Following, the English words translated from the Greek “logizomai” are highlighted in each verse in Romans chapter 4: Continue reading
“We’ve never seen such devastation.” “We just got out with our clothes on our backs.” “We’ve been able to go back to our home. All that’s left are ashes.”
You’ve probably heard these and other expressions of grief and shock. With 10% of Oregon’s population in evacuation zones, it’s likely that you know someone personally who has lost their home and livelihood or is in danger of such. We’ve gotten used to hearing of wildfires in California, but never expected this kind of destruction and loss to reach Oregon and Washington.
Christ-followers have ministered amidst tragedy many times before, whether it be floods or earthquakes. But I don’t know if the extent and magnitude of these fires has been faced before. Christians are showing compassion, as they open their churches to be places of respite.
The Bible wisely says, “Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.” (Proverbs 25:20) So, this situation calls for compassion. Yet, we must communicate with them that Christ offers them something that can’t be touched by storms. Continue reading
Some people love to fight. I never was one of them. I enjoyed wrestling and sparring during Karate class, but I never felt like I could really get hurt. Today, my biggest fight is against gravity just trying to get up from the couch. Sometimes gravity pulls me back, but usually I win.
There is a verse in the Old Testament that is remarkable (there are many, in fact). After the Hebrews were led out of Egypt, they approached the southern border of present-day, Israel. Intending to invade the land, they sent twelve men ahead of them to scout the land and report back about the battles they would face. If you are familiar with the Old Testament, you know that when the scouts returned, “they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.’” (Numbers 13:32)
Even though God told them to move forward, the Hebrews were too fearful to do so. Only two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb, had a positive attitude to trust God for victory. The nay-sayers won out, and as a result the band of Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years. Everyone who had been twenty years or older died during those forty years. Only Joshua and Caleb were still alive of that generation. Joshua took over the leadership of the Hebrews after Moses died. But whatever happened to Caleb? Continue reading
“Do not be afraid little flock, it is the father‘s good pleasure to give you the kingdom “
Today Jesus wants to tell those of us who believe in him to not be afraid.
The devil is the master of fear and he uses many people and entities to do his work of spreading fear. But God says repeatedly in his word “Do not fear”.
I have heard there is a derivative of that message 365 times in the Scriptures. I haven’t counted them but I would be happy for anyone to fact check it for the simple fact that reading God‘s word will be good for you. And if I am wrong about the number at least you will have done a lot of good reading.
At any rate, God thinks it is important that we should not fear but rather have faith in him.
Today we come to fear so many things. We fear sickness and death. We fear bad changes in our society. We worry if we will run out of money or if we will have a job or clothes or a home or if we will find friendship or compassion.
Politically half of us in the USA are terrified that Trump will not be reelected president while the other half are terrified that he will be reelected. Continue reading
We were very saddened to learn that Pastor Bill Ehmann passed away on August 19th after a long illness. Bill was a good friend, counselor, and pastor to my husband Frank and me when we resided in Fairview Village, several years ago.
Bill was also associated with the Northwest Connection, contributing Scripture-based articles, faithfully, each month. His messages were always so gentle and loving; always touching upon the day-to-day issues we all experience as we “do life.” “Doing life” was one of Bill’s favorite expressions and his heart-felt messages were always “spot on.”
Bill and his loving wife Carol were neighbors of ours, when we lived in Fairview Village. Their door was always open. If anyone needed help, Bill and Carol were always there. And, if admonishing was called for, Bill would admonish firmly, honestly, and most-of-all, gently and lovingly.
Bill was born in Colorado and his sermons often referred to his boyhood “on the farm.” He met Carol, the love of his life, when they were students at Biola University, Bill continued his studies and graduated from Talbot Theological Seminary. Bill is survived by his wife Carol, their two sons, David and Allen, and two grandchildren.
Pastor Bill was 78 years old when he died. He served a total of 35 years at Wood Village Baptist Church, 26 of them as Senior Pastor.
Do you remember the popular television program, “Cheers”? The theme song was, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.” Regulars entered the bar, not to drown their sorrows in drink, but to enjoy some camaraderie with some friends who didn’t try to “fix” all their defects and problems, or shower them with condemnation.
Nick Stumbo shares in his book, Safe, the following experience of Philip Yancey. “A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. ‘Church!’ she cried, ‘Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.’”
Sadly, that is a common impression of the church. Many people have the perception that Christians expect them to “clean up their lives” before coming to church. Reminds me of this story: Two young women finally had accepted a friend’s invitation to his church. Towards the end of the sermon, one of the gals was considering giving her life to Christ, but she wanted to talk to her female companion first. They left the auditorium, went outside, and feeling nervous, they lit up cigarettes. A deacon of the church followed them outside and berated them for smoking on “God’s property.” They left in a hurry and never came back. Continue reading