Monthly Archives: July 2018
Someone once asked C. S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?” “Why not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who can take it.”
Most of us want to avoid suffering at all costs. We long for a comfortable, risk free, ease filled life. And yet Scripture teaches that there are benefits to suffering. One of which is that suffering teaches us to withstand temptation. Suffering also teaches us to live for Christ in the present because God will judge sin in the future. These principles are found in 1 Peter 4:1-6.
The noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers. So he chose three and asked them this question, “What are you doing?” The first replied, “I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day.” The second answered, “I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job.” The third said, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals.”
Change your mind about suffering (1). In 1 Peter 3:13-17, Peter explained that it is better to suffer to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong. In 3:18-22, he showed that Christ provided the ultimate example of one who suffered for being righteous. Now in 4:1, Peter says that we need to embrace suffering by following the example of Jesus. Like a soldier putting on his armor before a battle, so we are to change how we think about suffering. In the same way that Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:7-8), so suffering helps us break free from sin. A proper attitude towards suffering can act like armor protecting us from temptation.
Live for the will of God (2). Our culture tells us to live for ourselves. We even coined the word, “selfie,” to express the desire to be the star of our own show. In contrast, Peter says that God’s will should be the compass by which we navigate our lives.
Break completely from your old habits (3). Peter tells us that we have had more than enough time to live a lifestyle of sin. It’s time to break free and stop sinning.
A catalog of sin
|Unrestrained pleasure||Sexual sins||
Lust; evil desires
Habitual nature of sin
Carousing; drinking party that leads to sex
Idol worship; bringing the world into worship
Don’t be surprised when the world acts like the world (4). If you take a stand for Christ, you may get quizzical looks. Your old friends won’t understand why you don’t want to go bar hopping with them. They may even accuse you of being “too holy.”
No one will escape the final judgment (5). God will hold everyone accountable for their actions.
Because God will judge, the gospel must be preached (6). We need to be active in sharing the gospel with those who desperately need it. Those who believe the message will have a reason and a purpose for living.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 29, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
Book Review: Auschwitz Lullaby: A Novel, by Mario Escobar
Auschwitz Lullaby is a well written, moving, sobering piece of historical fiction. Penned by Spanish author, Mario Escobar, the book was originally published in Spanish in 2015 and only recently translated into English. The book tells the story of the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity.
While historical fiction, the book is based on the true story of Helene Hannemann. She was a German, married to a Roma gypsy, with five children. When the Nazis rounded by the Gypsies in May 1943, she chose to sacrifice everything and stay with her children. The family was taken into custody and transported to the prison camp at Auschwitz Berkenau. A nurse by training, Helene was forced into service in the camp hospital which was overseen by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele. Later, Dr. Mengele asked Helene to set up and run a nursery and kindergarten in the prison camp. Helene mustered all the courage she possessed to protect the children under her care. For well over a year, her efforts helped to provide a safe haven for the children of Auschwitz. In so doing, she shared human kindness, selflessness, and dignity in the midst of horrific conditions.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I can certainly identify with Darryl’s nightmare. Not only did our three children go to college out of state, they stayed there and/or moved even farther away, and then Carol and I moved as well. Now, our family is spread out around the world. Carol and I live in MA, Jonathan is in SoCal, Amanda & Phillip are in SoCal, and Caitlin & Andrew are in New Zealand. Family reunions take a bit more planning, work, and $$$.
The elders & wives of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, meet monthly for dinner and Bible study. Over the past year, we’ve been working our way through the Minor Prophets. I recently asked if we could meet for an extended study on a Saturday morning to work through the biblical passages on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. We would then put our conclusions into writing in a position paper on the topic.
To prepare for the study, I gave our team a study packet. (Click on the link to download a copy of the study guide.) It included:
Key Scripture passages on marriage, divorce, & remarriage (3 translations & 2 paraphrases)
- Genesis 2:23-25
- Deuteronomy 24:1-4
- Malachi 2:16
- Luke 16:18
- Mark 10:1-12
- Matthew 5:31-32
- Matthew 19:1-12
- 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
- 1 Corinthians 7:12-16
- 1 Corinthians 7:39 (Romans 7:2)
- Bible Knowledge Commentary (popular level, provides a good overview)
- New American Commentary (more detailed and sometimes technical)
Taking personalities, biases, and culture out of the equation …
- What does Scripture say?
- While the commentaries should help us, they should not be a substitute for the Scripture passages.
- Focus on the Scripture, not what your favorite author says.
I’ve written the first draft of the position paper, but we have not yet discussed it. In case you are curious, here are the bullet points of our conclusions.
- Marriage is God’s plan; a spiritual dynamic; lifelong and permanent; challenging and takes work.
- Divorce is not commanded or required. In fact, it breaks God’s heart. Rather than divorce, we should encourage couples to pursue reconciliation.
- Divorce is allowed under two circumstances–adultery; desertion by an unbelieving spouse.
- Where divorce is allowed, remarriage is allowed.
- If the divorce is not for biblical reasons, the individuals should either reconcile or remain single.
Maybe this is why I struggle to do a self-evaluation performance review. I never feel like I do enough. I always feel like there is more I could/should be doing. Being a driven, responsible, doer can be both a strength and a weakness; a blessing and a curse. That and spending several months on the disabled list last year certainly didn’t help.