There is some comfort in knowing that our Creator expects us to fail. It's part of the lengthy training process He has overseen for millennia to prepare a redeemed people for His eternal purposes.
Exodus 4:22; Leviticus 25:1-27:34; John 10:29; Galatians 3;26-29; 1 Peter 2:9
Woodrow Wilson Bridge, looking northwest over the Potomac River toward Alexandria, Virginia. Traffic flows freely in this photo taken in December 2008, but several months earlier, the final stages of construction on the new bridge severely constricted traffic in both direction. (Virginia Department of Transportation, December 14, 2008, via Flickr,com).
Music: "One More River to Cross," The Hinsons, The Lighthouse, Calvary Records 1971.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Maybe it's because they are far better able to handle adversity than those whose connection to the Creator is tenuous. Maybe the righteous suffer not only because they can endure the trials, but because their Redeemer wants to refine them for something eternal.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 25:14-30; Hebrews 12:4-11
Football: a Southern rite of passage. This photo by David Clow is from the game between Kent Island and North Carolina high schools in Stevensville, Maryland, on November 14, 2009. (Photo via Flickr.com).
Music: "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow," Carter Stanley, performed by The Soggy Bottom Boys, O Brother Where Art Thou, Sony BMG, 2000.
Our finite human nature often has difficulty appreciating the past and the future while simultaneously living in the present. Old and new tend to clash, with one or the other taking primacy of place. Which we choose depends on our age and point of view. But we serve an Eternal God Who exists outside of time. Is there some way, as His disciples, that we can reconcile old and new in our daily lives?
Isaiah 65:17-19; Matthew 13:52; Luke 5:36-39; Revelation 21:1-4
The Illinois Central's City of New Orleans at Kankakee, Illinois, August 1964. Photo by Lawrence and David Barera, via Flickr.com.
Music: "The City of New Orleans,” Steve Goodman, performed by Arlo Guthrie, Hobo’s Lullaby, Reprise Records, 1972. The full song can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF1lqEQFVUo.
We want the Lord to move and make things right, but often we ourselves are the reason He is holding back. Maybe instead of hoping He will fix the old things, we should ask how we can help Him usher in something new and better.
Leviticus 12:1-15:33; Numbers 12:1-15; 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; Isaiah 6:1-13; Luke 7:18-23; 2 Timothy 3:1-17
"Uzziah Smitten with Leprosy - 2 Chronicles 26:9." London, Cassell & Company Ltd, c.1860 (via Blue Letter Bible).
Music: "I See The Lord," Paul Baloche, performed by Promise Keepers, Turn the Tide 2001, Maranatha, 2002.
It's easy to be optimistic in the good times, or even in the moderately bad times, but what about when the world as we know it is coming to an end?
Judges 7:19-22, 8:10; Job 1:21, 13:14-16; John 6:66-69
King Leonidas of Sparta, hero of the Battle of Thermopylae. (Photo by Dan McLean, June 4, 2005, www.flickr.com.)
Music: "Ben Hur," Marc Reift, Philharmonic Wind Orchestra & Marc Reift Orchestra, 87 Greatest Hits for Concert Band, Marcophone, 2014.
Sometimes life can get so hard that we're ready for our Creator to take us home. But what do we really mean by that? And what does He hear when we cry out that way?
Psalm 1:1-6; Jeremiah 17: 5-10; Luke 13:6-9; Galatians 5:16-23; James 3:13-18
A U.S. Coast Guard Cadet glances down while climbing a mast of the CGC Eagle during the ship's 2019 summer cruise. (USCG photo posted August 13, 2019, United States Coast Guard Barque EAGLE Official Facebook page.)
Music: "Sloop John B," The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys, Capitol Records, 1993. The full song can be heard at https://americansongwriter.com/beach-boys-sloop-john-b-behind-the-song/.
We all want to experience love, but do we really know what it is? And if we don't know what it is, how can we give it - or receive it?
1 Samuel 13:14; 2 Kings 23:25; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 12:29-31; John 15:12-14; Acts 13:22; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; 1 John 4:8
Two literary illustrations of love in action. Left: Sydney Carton going to execution in the place of Charles Darnay, in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (engraving by Frederick Barnard, c.1895, via JSS Virtual Gallery). Right: Humphrey Bogart (l) as Rick Blaine, with Ingrid Bergman (c) as Ilsa Lund and Paul Heinried (r) as Viktor Laszlo in Casablanca (Movie poster imaged by Heritage Auctions).
Music: "I Want to Know What Love Is," Foreigner, The Soundtrack of Summer, Trigger Productions, 2014. The music video is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/raNGeq3_DtM.
The Parable of the Sower seems easy enough to understand until we actually have to live it out. Oddly enough, most people probably have no idea they are living out that parable on a daily basis - not only in their individual lives, but in their families, congregations, ministries, and communities.
1 Samuel 13:14, 24:1-7; Matthew 13:1-23; Galatians 6:1-10; James 5:7-11
Dress On The Colors, US Army Center of Military History.
Music: “We Are Coming Father Abram," Gettysburg College Singers, Songs of the Civil War, Vintage Music, 2013.
It's easy to pray for those in authority when they are good to us, but how do we pray for those we don't like, or who do us harm? Or is there any obligation to pray for them at all?
Psalm 137:1-9; Jeremiah 29:4-14; Matthew 5:43-47
By the Waters of Babel, James Tissot, The Jewish Museum, Brooklyn.
Music: “Rivers of Babylon,” Boney M, Nightflight to Venus, Sony Music, 1978/2007.
Choosing life rather than death sounds simple enough. Who would have a problem making such an obvious choice? But is it really that simple when the choice we make concerns the intrinsic value of another human being - especially when that person is someone whose value may be questionable in our eyes?
Proverbs 14:28; John 8:42-44; James 1:26-2:13
Dawn at the Alamo (1905), Henry McArdle, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Music: “Yellow Rose of Texas,” Mantovani and His Orchestra, Mantovani Magic, Columbia River Entertainment, 2000.