As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

After We Own Everything

After We Own Everything — 

Accumulation is a major goal for most people. So, after we own everything imaginable what then? The universe is so vast that even a billionaire is nothing by comparison. After the castles, private islands, jets, yachts, farms, luxury cars and baubles what else is there? After we have accumulated everything imaginable we still die — what then? Why did Carnegie say that millionaires never smile? Could there be something more satisfying than things? In Matthew 16:26 Jesus asked, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" What good is it to slave away on a treadmill for status and things, and pay for it all with our lives? Is it really worth it to have great wealth and ignore what comes next? Is there something more, like life beyond this one?

Double Negative Bigotry

Double Negative Bigotry — 

We've probably all heard the grammatical rule against using double negatives, but did you know that it came from clergyman Robert Lowth who declared it a sin against the King's English? Chaucer and Shakespeare used many double negatives as a double emphasis. In Appalachia, an Elizabethan dialect is still widespread. It's common to hear people say things like "ain't never" or "don't need no" as a double emphasis. It is perfectly acceptable speech in its cultural context, with just as much right to its own grammatical rules as other varieties of English. Some linguists believe that rules coming from prejudice in favor of only the King's dialect need to be reformed. Some Christians love making rules, but we are justified by faith not law. The Old Testament contained over 600 laws "imposed until a time of reformation." (Hebrews 9:10 NASB)

The "Selfless" Evangelist

The "Selfless" Evangelist —

A televangelist said that she used to be selfish but stopped, but now makes millions of dollars. What a contradiction! An evangelist in charge of a Christian charity also makes big. It's his right to take what is offered to him by his followers and his board of directors. But please don't expect me to be impressed or believe that people like that are selfless. I am not impressed. There is only one person who does impress me. His name is Jesus, a man who some claim owned houses and rich clothing to justify their opulent lifestyles. Historically, we could argue that Jesus still had some of the gold left over given to him at his birth, but he did not live that lifestyle. He chose a ministry of sacrifice both in life and death. That's why I follow Jesus.

Self-Sacrificing CEO

Self-Sacrificing CEO —

The recession has brought a surge of self-sacrifice among CEO's including huge salary cuts. One announced, "we're suffering too." Imagine a 50% cut in a gigantic salary is -- oh yeah -- an enormous salary. I'm so impressed that I might shed a tear for the poor exec. Then again maybe not. Don't get me wrong. There are probably CEO's who have sacrificed more than that so that they could take care of their employees and their employees' families. But, we rarely hear of their names. They probably live more modestly, less selfishly and so don't make the front page of Fortune magazine. There is one administrator who does impress me. He claimed to be CEO of everything and gave up his life for us. Those who follow him are encouraged likewise to turn from their selfish ways (Mark 8:34).

Nurture and Take Care of Others

Nurture and Take Care of Others 

After his resurrection, Jesus invited some of his disciples to breakfast on the beach. Each one had failed him yet this was not a time for dwelling on the past. As Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus now asked three times if he loved him. Each time Peter answered, Jesus challenged him to put that love into action, by feeding and taking care of his sheep (John 21:15-17). Church leaders have the same challenge today. They can choose to feed and take care of themselves - some do - or they can feed and take care of the sheep. However, the challenge is not limited to church leadership. What about business and government? Many are guilty of selfishness and greed. However, there are wonderful people all over the world who desire to nurture and take care of others.

Precepts of Men

Precepts of Men —

As Easter approached, I forgot to request time off work. I felt guilty for a few minutes. Then I remembered how a gathering from a local church last year was doing the Stations of the Cross through town when one lady loudly scalded another group of people for working on Good Friday, saying they should be at church. I would have said something to that woman and perhaps it was best I wasn't there. Such behavior annoys me because Good Friday is not commanded in the Bible, it is a tradition of men (Mark 7:6-8), but good relationships with our neighbors are commanded. How often do Christians focus more on the teachings of mere men than those of the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ. Next year I plan to observe Good Friday, not by command, but because I want to.

The Eros-Phileo-Agape Myth

The Eros-Phileo-Agape Myth —— 

Lesser-educated preachers have perpetuated a myth that love in biblical Greek has three levels: eros (sensual), phileo (brotherly) and agape (supposedly godly love). An example is a wrong explanation of John 21:1-19 where the risen Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Jesus' question was quite simple, not with the contrived assumptions sometimes preached. Depending on the context, agape and phileo have similar meanings. Peter did not attempt to avoid the question, but replied quite plainly, "You know that I love you (like a brother)." Peter was not lessening Jesus' question to a lower level of love, as sometimes falsely claimed. Actually, Peter implied that he loved Jesus like a brother for whom he would die. "Greater love [agape] has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends [or brothers, philos]" (John 15:13)

On Q

On Q −

The necessity of two or three witnesses to something is an ancient legal precedent from Deuteronomy 17:6. The Bible contains four teaching biographies of the life and teachings of Jesus. A theory of literary forensics claims that Matthew, Mark and Luke used a common source document called Q, from the German word for source: Quelle. The theory teaches that John's Gospel came from a second source document. This is called the Two Source Hypothesis and is often used to discount the historical accuracy of Jesus Christ. It seems reasonable to suppose that perhaps there were two sets of original notes written about the events and that others who were there used them to compile their own accounts. We still have two or three witnesses regarding the life of Jesus and that legal requirement would stand in a court of law.

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Will the Pope Change

Will the Pope Change 

I respect the pope as a fellow Christian. However, he is also in serious error on the Catholic Church's child sex abuse scandal. Instead of listening to his critics, he labels their concerns as persecution. An apology is good, but the public believes that this issue goes to the heart of traditions that must change. In his defense, I do not believe that cover ups are always wrong. Proverbs 17:9 says that love covers sins. The media's lust for exposure hardly shows love. However, there is also a time for serious questions. Is tradition more important than the Bible? The Bible allows married church leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Will the pope not listen to Saint Paul's counsel on this matter? Allowing priests to marry will not prevent all sexual abuse, but it is a step in the right direction.

Hard-Hearted Follows of Jesus

Hard-Hearted Follows of Jesus --

Why did Mark write that Jesus' disciples were hard-hearted (Mark 6:52)? They had just witnessed the miracle of the fishes and loaves, but did not understand. When they faced danger at sea they still lacked faith and became quite panic stricken. Jesus comforted them with his presence and his words and then intervened. Many people are dismayed at today's followers of Jesus and perhaps rightly discern some hardheartedness. Only when we get our eyes off of weak people and begin to understand who Jesus is, can we understand God. Miracles are all around us, if we will only open our eyes. Often, Christians are not very different than their opponents -- failing to understand who Jesus is and exhibiting hardness of heart. Let's forget worrying about the weaknesses of people and focus on what God is doing through Jesus Christ.

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