We live in a world obsessed with a quest for dominion. Brutal crimes are perpetrated, schemes of deception are levied against the helpless and the strong take from the weak. Innocent lives are wiped out en masse with little recourse to justice in large part due to a quest for dominion.
Man was given dominion over all earthly life when he stood innocent in the Garden of Eden. His rule of care and direction was a characteristic of his God-given power. It was an element of his perfection.Church politics, once an aberration, is now considered the norm. Jockeying for influence, power and control in the church has resulted in the development of institutions of religion that are far from righteous.
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”Genesis 1:31
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
The Pharisees and religious rulers were standing in the way of salvation.
Matthew 23 is a scathing condemnation of the most revered men in Jewish society. The reverence, respect and fear of these men touched all areas of life. In essence the people were enslaved to the very ones appointed by God to show to the world the path of salvation. Jesus, in order to break the corrupt priesthood’s hold on the people, spoke plainly about the dangerous errors of their ways.The Pharisees and religious rulers were standing in the way of salvation.
Even before we examine the particulars of this discourse we are again reminded of the power of tradition and blind faith that often impedes our advancement in the things of God. We look back at the exchanges between Jesus and His avowed enemies and we wonder how could anyone be as callous and malicious as those leaders were? How could anyone deny the power of Jesus and discount the miracles He performed right before their eyes?
The answer is quite simple — a thirst for power. The quest to be in control, coupled with a desire to be extolled and praised is a dangerous combination. It has destroyed relationships, caused divisions within churches and led to wars of aggression. Continue reading
One of the men I admire most in my life is T. Marshall Kelly. I admired his rich baritone voice as he sang meaningful gospel songs. What a privilege it was for me to one day entertain him and his wife at my house for a Sabbath dinner.
One of the songs T. Marshall Kelly is known for is titled “It Takes Everything to Serve the Lord” (YouTube link here). The chorus to that song is as follows:
It takes your hands and your head,
And your heart, yes, your all,
It takes everything to serve the Lord.
It takes your time, and your means,
And your prayers lest you fall,
It takes everything to serve the Lord.
That simple song is but a paraphrase of the words of Jesus found in this week’s lesson on Peter and the Rock. Matthew 16 is packed with fascinating exchanges between Jesus and His disciples and Peter in particular. Continue reading
I wish I had understood the Sabbath much earlier in my Christian walk. I’ve been a Sabbath keeper for decades. I was born into a Sabbath-keeping family with many Sabbath-keeping relatives. I’ve calculated that I’ve willingly “kept” the Sabbath over two thousand times. Yet, for most of those past years I can honestly say that I missed the mark in my Sabbath observance.
I know all too well the verbal importance we place on the Sabbath. Many of us, including myself, have at times used the facts of the Sabbath as an evidence of theological superiority. It’s biblically indisputable that the Sabbath is still binding upon man. Those that claim that it was done away at the cross find themselves without a foundation with simple questions such as, “Were all of the other commandments done away with also?”This week as we talk about Resting in Christ, we have the opportunity to reexamine what the Sabbath is all about. It’s more than a day off work, and it’s more than a day in church. The Sabbath means much more.
Proving the validity of the Sabbath is easy. Understanding why we keep it seems a much harder task. Continue reading
Let me tell you about the flat tire I recently had. Flats happen and usually at the less than perfect time and place. Mine would prove to be no exception. It was just another unexpected twist in an already unusual day.
I left out driving to Columbus Ohio early Friday morning around 7 am. I was scheduled to speak at a church the next day so I had all day Friday to get there.
With my camera on the seat next to me, I was hoping to stop along the way and take a few pics of anything that caught my eye. It’s a pretty drive going up I-75 from Atlanta to Ohio.
Sure enough, as I got into the mountains of Tennessee the scenery was spectacular. It had rained earlier so the mist rising added to beauty. I saw an exit sign for a mountain overlook so I took it hoping to experience some special views. At the exit was the entrance for another park and I stopped there and took a few pics.
As I left there to head to the mountain overlook view, I noticed a small pond with a Heron perched on some logs. I quickly pulled over and spent a half hour or so taking bird pictures. This was turning out to be a great day of traveling.
I soon got back on the road to make my way to Ohio. I crossed over into Kentucky knowing that I only had 5 hours to go.
As I’m driving my phone rings and a friend of mine I do some training with was on the other end. She said “Curtis, where are you? I don’t see you anywhere and the airport is packed.”
What?! Airport?! I’m driving to Ohio!
As we talked I realized to my horror, and I mean horror, that I was supposed to be in Florida the next day to provide training for the Southeastern Conference! Continue reading