Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Month: July 2023

About a Minute

A famous guest at a banquet was asked at the last moment to give an impromptu speech for the occasion. As he rose to speak, he asked how much time he had. Someone from the audience yelled “About a minute!”

The speaker asked, “Only a minute?”

He then said, “We normally think of a minute as a short amount of time. Not as short as a second, but still short. In fact, most of us rarely think about what we can do in one minute’s time. In reality, you can do a lot more than you think. It only takes a minute…

  • “To offer a prayer of thanks to God.
  • “To offer a prayer of intercession for someone who’s hurting or struggling.
  • “To send a text message to someone you missed seeing at church.
  • “To email someone you’ve been thinking about.
  • “To write a card to someone who’s sick or grieving.
  • “To say ‘Thank You’ to someone who blessed you in an unexpected way.
  • “To say ‘Well Done’ to an employee or student or child.
  • “To say ‘I appreciate your work’ to a boss or teacher or pastor or minister.
  • “To pick up and put up something that’s been laying there for a week.
  • “To wipe a spot in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • “To read a short passage of Scripture and give yourself a boost.
  • “To call a friend or church member you haven’t seen in a while.
  • “To make a ‘To Do’ list for tomorrow.
  • “To hug someone who needs a hug.”

And you thought a minute wasn’t much time! 

As the apostle Paul said, “Make the most of your time” (Ephesians 5.16). May God help make the most of our minutes!

The Will of the Lord

Do you understand the will of God?

Phrases like “the will of God” or “the will of the Lord” occur about 30 times in the Bible, most often in the New Testament. “The will of God” means God’s desire or wish, what God wants. Specifically in relation to us, God’s will refers to what he desires or wishes from his people.

Regarding this notion of God’s will, the apostle Paul said, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5.17).

These words from the apostle Paul are a simple reminder of three things: (1) God has a will, a desire, a plan for all of us. (2) We have the intellectual and moral capacity to ascertain what that will is. And (3) we can do something about it.

God’s will is plainly expressed in Scripture. Although some portions of the Bible aren’t easy to understand, an average reader is capable of discerning what God wants. Mark Twain supposedly said, “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I have always noticed that the passagse of Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand.” 

I think Mark Twain was right. The problem with either Scripture or the will of God isn’t their inscrutability. The problem is simply man’s desire (or lack of desire) to pay attention and apply it to his life. 

C. S. Lewis once observed, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’”

May God help us belong to the first category.

Free Indeed

Yesterday was Independence Day here in the United States. On the Fourth of July each year, we celebrate our country’s decision in 1776 to separate itself from British rule and become a sovereign nation. 

For all our country’s problems – and we have many – I can’t think of any other place I’d rather live. Much of my viewpoint stems from the many freedoms granted to us in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. I’m thankful for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the freedom to assemble, and so many other kinds of freedom. I honestly can’t imagine living elsewhere.

With one exception. 

There’s one freedom that can’t be given to me by any government or human entity. It’s a freedom that has nothing to do with my earthly residence. It’s freedom in Christ.

In John chapter eight, Jesus and his critics argue about the issue of paternity, his and theirs. Jesus claims that God is his Father, they claim that Abraham is their father. Jesus says their spiritual father is Satan and they accuse him of blasphemy. But within this lengthy conversation, Jesus makes three assertions about freedom that are noteworthy.

  • “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’” (John 8.31-32).
  • “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin’” (John 8.34).
  • “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8.36).

There are many forms of enslavement, and none of them are good. But Jesus is talking about the dangers of enslavement to sin. To commit sin is to become the slave of sin. We become a slave to the guilt, shame, and habit of sin.

But Jesus says that to follow him and feed on his lifegiving word is what gives us freedom. To be a disciple of Jesus brings freedom from the guilt of sin, its shame, and its power. We don’t have to live with uncertainty, guilt, fear, and shame.’’

Finally, Jesus asserts that only he, as the Son of God, can grant us the truest freedom of all. In Jesus’ day, children and slaves often grew up together. Slave children, however, weren’t treated as family. Jesus said that as the Son, he could grant freedom and they could become children of their heavenly Father. 

As Americans, we have a lot of freedom. As children of God, we have even greater freedom. May God help us to live like free men and women!