So Jesus ... said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Luke 17:17. The word has spread that Jesus is in town. Among all the exicted people hoping to see or receive a miracle, 10 lepers await afar off, determined to intercept Him to ask Him to heal them.
Presumption and assumption are somewhat related. They both carry the idea of taking things for granted. Most of us are masters at presuming and assuming things. Perhaps with all the changes taking place in our country — especially the spiritual decline — God is teaching us not to presume or assume anything. As our liberties continue to be stripped from us, and darkness, immorality and corruption abound, perhaps we will appreciate what we still have (and had in the past), will stand up and fight for the right.
Nearly all major religious traditions call on believers to understand and support people who lack the necessities of life. In Luke, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.” In Judaism, tzedakah — Hebrew for justice — is one of the three acts that gain Jews forgiveness for their sins. In Islam, sadaqa — Arabic for charity — is an obligation of every Muslim, with a directive that if a person cannot give because he has no money he must work to support himself and then give charity.
I don’t know when “dysfunctional” became an adjective routinely attached to the noun “family,” but in my years of pastoral counseling the common denominator has been a complaint that “my family is so dysfunctional.” It’s led me to wonder what a functional family might be, and does anybody actually live in one? Before we get into that, it’s important to note that there are families, and family-like groups, that are habitually self-destructive, imposing serious physical and emotional damage on one another. They are not the subject of this article.
I believe in zombies. A zombie is physically identical to a normal human being, but lacks consciousness. Zombies look like us, but “all is dark inside.” Doctors of philosophy have been writing papers about zombies and consciousness since 1974. The figure of the zombie, however, appeared as early as the 1929 novel “The Magic Island” by William Seabrook. In 1932, Victor Halperin directed “White Zombie,” a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. But zombies have been with us for thousands of years. They walk among us today.
A small booklet entitled “My Heart, Christ’s Home” proclaims in vivid fashion how the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in the hearts of those who place their faith in Him. The Bible says, “Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.” Because He lives in our hearts, He has access to our motives and intentions. He is aware of the contents stored in our thoughts and desires. He is our Lord and has authority over what is kept in his home and what is to be expelled.
Have you ever made a mistake and wished you could go back and make it right? Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have, or didn’t say something when you should have. That sickening feeling of regret. I remember seeing a girl standing alone the first day of junior high. She wore different clothes, thick glasses and had a painfully thin frame. She was an easy target for kids dealing with their own identity issues by being bullies.
I salute the many good Samaritans in our community.
When I was wondering what the characteristics of a person of faith are, the first attribute which came to mind was a lack of fear. Throughout the Bible, whenever there is a divine-human encounter, the angel’s first words are: “Fear not.” So living life courageously seems essential. Then I remembered that courage derives from the French word for “heart.” So in order to live without fear requires a heart in the right place, so to speak. The words on the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis came to mind, “Sans peur, sans espoir, je suis libre.” Without fear, without hope, I am free. That’s puzzling. What does he mean “without hope”? Hope seems to be another essential. Maybe misguided or unrealistic hope is not a good thing.
Hospitals are one of the blessings that adorn our society and make us wealthy. Not wealthy in money, because they take a lot of money just to keep the doors open. I mean wealthy in opportunity to be helped and rescued. Not everyone in the world can receive medical care. Have you ever been very far from a hospital? Once I traveled in a large country in Asia. Although there were tens of thousands of people, it was a five-hour drive by Jeep to get to the nearest hospital. There was no ambulance service for the sick. In other words, sick people either got well on their own, or died. Ask yourself, “Where do hospitals come from?” Why did some countries start to build hospitals and not others? The historic answer is that hospitals were the gift of Christianity to the world.
What difference does it make, to know who God is? We can give God many names to satisfy what we think about Him, but that doesn’t add to our knowledge of Him. There once was a man named Moses who asked this question: Who is God? God had chosen Moses to lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses asked, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
A cellphone rang during the funeral message. It surprised the minister that at so solemn an occasion the man actually answered his phone and continued talking.
Before God and Kings, a Psalm of David “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
Christians grieve, but, oddly, we enter our grieving with joy. Grief has its own peculiar beauty and value. Absalom’s brother, Amnon, committed a terrible crime. King David, the father of both, forgave the sin, and, out of his love for him, he did not punish Amnon. Absalom, however, sought revenge on his brother. Two years later, he had Amnon killed and he himself fled the country. King David wept and tore his clothes because of the death of Amnon, but he loved Absalom too, and the Bible tells us, “The heart of the king went out, yearning for Absalom.” He yearned for Absalom, despite his sin, because David loved his son.
Summer is a time of family reunions, which we look forward to for weeks and months. Parks and campgrounds are filled to capacity. What a joy to reunite with those we have not seen for a long time or those we have never met. Babies come into the world totally dependent on their parents for their every need. Quickly (or so it seems in hindsight) they learn, grow, and mature. A toddler’s view of life is properly centered in the family where parents teach, love and provide. Their world expands as they turn 5 and enter school. They are so happy, after a busy school day, to return home into the loving embrace of their mother and father. Their family becomes their place of security.
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