As we turn the corner into chapter two of 1 Thessalonians, we find Paul recalling the way he and his team engaged in their ministry to these people. It was good. It had been bad. But they were bold.
The effect of his team’s work in Thessalonica was good. Paul wrote:
“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain.”
There was much fruit in the work that they had done. Many believed. Their faith was thriving despite their challenging circumstances. They came and bore fruit in Thessalonica. And the fruit was good. Continue reading The Good, The Bad, and The Bold
I have a number of heroic figures in my life. One of them is my dad. I think there are a number of folks that would put him on their hero list, but the biggest reasons I do are ones that most of you would never know.
There was a man I knew to be a contradiction that my dad had the dubious honor to pastor. He claimed to have a ministry on the weekends at the fishing docks of a popular lake. He was almost never actually in church. He was a stubborn, difficult…
Well, he reminded me a lot of the story of Balaam (Numbers 22). He was a prophet that had been solicited by an enemy of God’s people for the purpose of cursing the people of Israel. He just couldn’t do it because God wouldn’t let him. But there was an interesting exchange when he was going along to attempt to help this enemy. Balaam’s donkey was spooked by the presence of an angel – which Balaam could not see. After a couple of serious beatings, the donkey spoke to Balaam.
What the donkey said is not particularly important. Balaam listened because she spoke truth. There is a powerful point to this simple but marvelous account: when God has something to say to us, any old… donkey will do.
This man that reminded me of Balaam’s story was a lot like that donkey. He confronted my dad about the horrible shortcomings of his ministry and proclaimed that he would never set foot in that church again as long as my dad was the pastor. He was right. He never set foot again. But he did roll in once.
Continue reading Any Old… Donkey Will Do
It’s easy to get bogged down in the muck of the social conflict around us. This morning, I find myself reflecting upon the vast expanse of a three-letter word: all.
One element of the many debates storming and swirling around us is the over-application of this word. Generalizations about people of some lifestyle or another and hyper-application of stereotypes and prejudices are simply the norm on most every side of most every debate.
We are, it seems, bent on making blanket statements. But there is one that jumps out at me this morning. It is one absolutely perfect use of the word and its fullest, most complete understanding. It is the beautifully simple statement of John the Apostle who identified himself often as “the one whom Jesus loved.”
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
That word, “all,” is absolute. When we come to God and simply agree with Him about our failings – accepting that what He says is sin truly is sin – we are cleansed from ALL unrighteousness.
Continue reading The Wonder of the All