Dear Corinth,

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:1-9).

This is how Paul begins his letter to the Corinthian church. He greets them, calling them sanctified in Jesus, and then thanks God for his brothers and sisters in the city of Corinth. This letter is coated in the love that Paul has for this church; yet, this church is not perfect. And though Paul loves them, he also addresses some serious issues that this church is struggling with, and corrects them. Continue reading

Build-A-Bear Religion

“The Most Fun You’ll Ever Make.” This is the slogan of Build-A-Bear Workshop, a popular brand found across malls, stadiums, and other locations throughout the United States. It’s an interactive experience that allows kids to create a fluffy friend.

The child must first choose from rows of plush for the right one just for them. Will their next friend be a bear? A dog? How about a unicorn? Or maybe even a Mickey or a Pikachu! Once they have made this critical decision, the child then gets to choose their friend’s voice, stuff them, and give them a heart and their first hug. They then get to dress their plush from a plethora of hats, jackets, bows, and boots, before naming them, and finally, taking their furry friend home. It’s a neat experience that allows a child to be involved in the creation of their new toy, and allows them to customize the toy just the way that they’d like it.

It’s fun getting to create, customize, and to make a product just the way you want it; however, are you guilty, of treating the Bible the same as a Build-A-Bear Workshop? Continue reading

The Modern-Day Prodigal Son

One Sunday after service, a minister decided to order the #1 on the Wendy’s menu, with a Frosty added of course, before taking a seat at a nearby table. It wasn’t long, before a group of men who were cussing and speaking profane things, with the stench of beer still on their breaths from the night before, joined the minister at his table. Turning a table of one into a table of many.

At another table close by, some folks who had listened to the minister’s sermon earlier that morning, began to grumble amongst themselves, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Of course, being at a table nearby, and the churchgoers not being the most quiet of gossipers, the minister heard their words.

He then calmly dipped another fry into his Frosty and munched on it, before speaking in a mild voice, yet loud enough for the other table to hear: Continue reading

“The Ten Commandments in Covenantal Context”

The theme for Harding University’s annual Lectureship this past October, was “Written in Stone: The Enduring Value of the Ten Commandments.” I had the privilege of getting to listen to one of my Harding professors, Dr. Kevin Youngblood. Hey gave a three-part series of the importance of looking at the Ten Commandments in covenantal context. He gave useful background on the Ten Sayings, made New Testament connections, highlighted the importance of each saying, and gave thoughtful observations (such as the disturbing similarities between the statues of Middle Eastern bulls, which may have influenced the image of the golden calf in Exodus 32, and the appearance of the Wall Street Bull.) Dr. Youngblood gave a lot of good and thought-provoking information, (which you can listen to on the Lectureship’s website, at: https://scholarworks.harding.edu/lectureship/). Here, is one of those thoughts:

 

 

Panda: Man Shall Not Live on Bamboo Alone

Xióngmāo 熊貓 (“bear cat”), or pandas in English, have been branded as one of the cutest animals in the world. Cute enough for American zoos to rent them from China for $1million a year (http://time.com/money/4198188/cute-panda-cost/).

Yet, though these black and white Care Bears look huggable and sell a lot of plush, don’t try to hug one. Pandas are still wild animals, and they can defend themselves if needed. (For proof, click here, but be warned, the images are gruesome.)

With that public announcement out of the way, did you know that pandas are no longer considered endangered? Instead, they are now classified as vulnerable, but extinction is still a very real threat for these bears, and they still have a long ways to go before this reality is no longer a danger. Continue reading

Samson: Identity Crisis

If I asked you right now who your favorite judge is from the Bible, who would you answer with? Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Samuel? Though some of you may answer with some of these names or others, I bet the majority of you would answer with Samson. But why?

Samson seems to be the most popular judge of the Bible, being the current star on stage for Branson’s Sight & Sound Theatre and having his own movie which came out earlier this year. Though Samson did some pretty awesome and miraculous deeds, such as slaying 1,000 Philistines with only a jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15), Samson really wasn’t a great role model, which is often overlooked or downplayed. Pureflix‘s portrayal of the judge in their recent film, Samson, is an example of this. The movie having Samson tricked to drink wine at his wedding by a Philistine, and being tricked by an innkeeper to enter her brothel, with the misconception that it’s a place of rest and prayer. The movie portrays Samson to be a much more spiritual man than who the Bible describes him to be, as the YouTuber Kevin points out in his review of the film on his channel, Say Goodnight Kevin. Yes, Samson was a judge of Israel and he was used by God, but that doesn’t mean that Samson was morally sound. Continue reading

The Lost Bible

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)

In Luke 15, Jesus gives three parables of three things which were lost but are then found: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and the prodigal son. This week, I experienced my own lost but found story, which like the woman who lost her coin, I feel in gratitude that I need to share it:

Monday night, I opened my backpack to discover that my Bible was missing! The one pocket which I always kept it in, was empty, with the exception of a couple of mechanical pencils. The Bible given to me by my youth minister when I was in high school. With a fast-beating heart, my racing mind concluded of only three places which it could be–accidentally left in a classroom within the McInteer (the Bible building on campus), or possibly the caf. For I clearly remembered using it during my two o’ clock class, though details of it after that were fuzzy.
Continue reading

Sounds like Greek to Me

img_7115Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
(En archē ēn ho lógos, kaì ho lógos ēn pròs tòn Theón, kaì Theòs ēn ho lógos.)

Understand?

No?? How come? I mean, did you not just read a verse from the Gospel?

How about this, does this help?

In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

No, you don’t have to be a Greek scholar to understand the Bible; however, I utilized this language to make a point. You can’t always just simply read the Bible and expect someone to get it. For the lingo of the Bible can be just as confusing as trying to understand another language. Kind of like being an uneducated Medieval peasant trying to make heads or tails of Latin during a Sunday service. I would probably be the peasant twiddling my thumbs while memorizing where every statue was located, quizzing myself each week until I could sketch every Jesus, Mary, and Gargoyle from memory. Haha, then I would probably get in trouble for doodling.  Continue reading