In Colossians 3:8 Paul identified blasphemy as one of the sinful behaviors that Christians are to “put off.” It is identified in a list that included anger, wrath, malice, and filthy language. These latter behaviors are familiar to us, but blasphemy is a behavior that is somewhat foreign to our twenty-first century culture since the term is rarely used. So, what is blasphemy and how might we commit it?
Detours are frustrating. Detours are stressful. Detours are burdensome. When you are traveling in unfamiliar or unfrequented territory and you come across a detour it feels like a tremendous setback. It interrupts your direction, it interrupts your schedule, and, if you’re like me, it interrupts your blood pressure. But detours are often necessary. For example, detours are utilized when dangerous conditions are present. You may be forced to detour because a bridge is washed away or debris is obstructing the roadway. Detours are utilized when improvements are underway. You may be forced to detour because construction crews are working to repair or build better transportation systems. Detours may interfere with your life but they typically exist for a reason.
What is hope? The way the world tends to use the word “hope,” it comes across as if it is just a “wish” or a “desire,” something you want but lack certainty of whether or not it will come to fruition.
For example, a student might say, “I hope that I pass my Calculus class.” What that student is really saying is that he wants to receive a passing grade, but he is not certain that he did well enough to achieve a passing grade. Or, a child, like Micah, might say, “I hope that I get a Minnie Mouse car for Christmas.” What that child is really saying is that she wants to receive a $300 miniature, drivable car as a gift at Christmas, but she is not certain that Santa will fulfill her request.
All such hope-oriented statements demonstrate a fear that the final outcome may not match the desired outcome. As a result, such statements reveal that the world’s definition of hope lacks certainty and security.
On July 4, 1776 the thirteen American colonies formally announced their independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain when the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. That was the last day that the United States of America was under the rule of a king. As a result, the concept of a “kingdom” is lost on our society because most of us do not know what is like to serve a king or live under a monarchial reign.
There are wonderful blessings that come from living under a democratic government but one of the unfortunate consequences is a diminished appreciation for the concept of a kingdom. And the only reason this is worth noting is because kingdom terminology permeated the teaching of Jesus. No fewer than twelve of His parables were used to describe the “kingdom.” No fewer than 87 verses among the four Gospels quote Him as using the term “kingdom.” In fact, when Jesus began His preaching ministry, He proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17; cf. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:15 Luke 4:43; 8:1), and then He commissioned His disciples to proclaim this same message (Luke 9:2, 60).
When you see a bulldozer or a jackhammer in action, do you ever think about where their power really comes from? What good would those pieces of equipment be if they didn’t have a power source? Would they be able to do any of the things that they do without power? Does the source of their power get enough credit for what it does, or have we elevated the equipment to a status that it might not deserve?
We often refer to those who are invested in something as having “skin in the game.” This phrase means that these people have put themselves in a risky position, either monetarily or otherwise, and that they now have something to gain/lose. They are not simply spectators, observers, or even “fans;” they have a vested interest, and they will be affected by the outcome, one way or the other.
As you may know, Brooke and I have three daughters, and the oldest two (Ava and Greta) attend the Sonflower Preschool here at the church building. They absolutely love it! They love their teachers, their friends, the playground, and all of the special things that they get to do at the school. One of their favorite things is when we allow them to buy/bring a Lunchable to school for their lunch.
In Genesis 34, we read the account of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. As far as we know, in a family of twelve sons, Dinah was Jacob’s only daughter. One day, she went out to spend some time with the other women of the land and a man named Shechem, “the prince of the land” took her and seemingly forced himself upon her, sexually. (vs. 2)
Our first impression of Shechem is that he is a man who takes what he wants. He has the power and control to do what he pleases. He doesn’t have to take “no” for an answer. The rules don’t apply to him.
The dictionary defines “resolved” as: “firm in purpose or intent; determined.”
We regularly sing a song during our worship to God in which we say the words, “I am resolved…”
Do we mean it?
We sing the following words:
I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delight
Things that are higher, things that are nobler
These have allured my sight
Do we mean this? Is this really our intention? Are we determined to shake the increasingly hypnotic charms of the world that we live in, or are we just going through some religious motions? Is it truly our intent to focus our mind on higher, nobler things that have caught our attention, or do we reserve those things for Sundays only?
As a youngster, I enjoyed watching reruns of a TV show called “The Beverly Hillbillies.” My favorite character was Jethro Bodine, who was constantly exhibiting a less-than-brilliant approach towards life.
He was notorious for misunderstanding things and for getting himself into trouble due to his lower-than-normal IQ.
Concerning Jethro, Jed Clampett (Jethro’s uncle) said, “If brains was lard, Jethro couldn’t grease a pan.”
In short, if Jethro Bodine was giving out advice, you might want to think twice before you take it.