Whom Do We Thank?

Thanking people for their contributions to our lives is good, but thanking God, from whom all blessings flow, is indispensable. And that is the part that we neglect.

The word “thanks” is found 73 times in 71 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. In Hebrew, four words (two same stems) are used to describe it:[1]

  1. הֻיְּדוֹת (huyyᵊḏôṯ) – thanksgiving
  2. יֶדָא (yeḏā’) – thank, give thanks
  3. יָדָה (yāḏâ) – praise, give thanks, confess, thank, make confession, thanksgiving, cast, cast out, shoot, thankful
  4. תּוֹדָה (tôḏâ) – thanksgiving, praise, thanks, thank offerings, confession

The Greeks, on the other hand, used five words (two same stems):

  1. ἀνθομολογέομαι (anthomologeomai ) – give thanks
  2. εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteō) – give thanks, thank, be thankful
  3. εὐχαριστία (eucharistia) – thanksgiving, giving of thanks, thanks, thankfulness
  4. ὁμολογέω (homologeō) – confess, profess, promise, give thanks, confession is made, acknowledgeth
  5. χάρις (charis) – grace, favour, thanks, thank, thank, pleasure

In every instance of the use of one of those words, the context refers to giving thanks to the God, the Lord of all.

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Equation of Sin

Sin can be illustrated by an equation, and that can help us understand it and reduce it.

Our Sunday School class is studying the New Testament book of James, written to the Jewish Christians of the diaspora by James the brother of Jesus in the late 40s AD. James was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, and He provides powerful, practical advice for successfully living the Christian life. The first eight verses of chapter 1 discuss the Christian’s need for wisdom and God’s promise that He will provide it, so long as the believer asks in faith. Verses 9 to 11 mention the transitory nature of life, and the consequent even more transitory nature of riches.

James 1:12-18 takes a different track, discussing the nature of temptation and sin, and explaining that God cannot tempt or be tempted, but instead creates His people and provides every good thing for them. One could summarize these verses with the following equation:

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Where are you from?

Usually, the question “where are you from?” is not a “microaggression” but an honest effort to meet a new person. For either party to interpret it otherwise is foolish, selfish, and reduces the possibility of a relationship that could bless them both.

A stocky, white, middle-aged man stood behind the counter at the fencing school as I approached. “I am looking to take lessons. Do I sign up here?”

“Yes,” he said in a thick Russian accent.

I love to get to know people, the studio wasn’t very busy, and I knew nothing about “microaggressions,” so I asked, “Where are you from?”

“Minnesota,” he replied.

“No, where are you from originally?”

“Baltimore,” he answered.

“OK, where is your accent from?” I persisted, eager to learn about his big life adventure.

“Russia,” he said.

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The Supremacy of Scriptures

The Holy Bible is the supreme authority in Christianity, as it reflects the person and power of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Most Christians take it far too lightly, and suffer confusion and powerlessness in life as a result.

The founder of the Hindu religion is unknown, but he bequeathed a political and cultural system entrenched in thousands of lives and dozens of cities to the residents in the Indian subcontinent. Moses granted his heirs a religio-legal system and a powerful nation on the brink of conquering its Promised Land. On his death, the Buddha left behind an oral tradition of teachings as well as a network of thousands of monks and lay followers, and many monasteries in northeastern India. Muhammad left a religion, a political system, and an empire for Muslims. Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim religious and political leaders ended their earthly lives with books, songs, people, cities, armies, land, money, and everything else befitting a mighty character in history.

Jesus Christ left behind little, at least by conventional historical standards. He wrote no book and sired no offspring. He controlled no lands, no cities, and no armies. He developed no political structure and did not establish a religious order. The Rabbi from Galilee did not even leave a building in His name. What did Jesus pass on to history? 120 followers (Acts 1:15), a little money, and His words and actions as recorded by others. With such a slim posterity, why is He the central figure in human history and the faith that He taught, Christianity, the largest religion on earth?

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Beseeching God in Tribulation

In times of deepest trouble, how do we most effectively call on God?

In Psalm 44, the Sons of Korah beg God for help in dealing with their present trials. The singers are referring to a national trial, probably a defeat in battle during the time of Hezekiah or Josiah, but with existing evidence we cannot be certain. Since the singers make no mention of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and since there is no mention of religious persecution, this Psalm is probably set during or after the Babylonian exile.

The Days of Victory

Korah’s sons begin by looking back. Israel had glorious days under the watchful eyes of their loving God. Through His power, Moses delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, Joshua conquered the Promised Land, and David made them into a mighty nation. Verses 1-3 demonstrate that fathers taught their sons for generations about the awesome works of God on their behalf. The sons listened.

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Revitalizing a Local Church

How leaders and members can revitalize a local church.

Each year, Southern Baptists birth 1,000 local churches per year and bury 900 local churches. Membership numbers at churches within the Southern Baptist Convention lag the population growth in the US. In part, this is because formerly Baptist churches no longer wish to be associated with the name Southern Baptist, which has unfortunate connections to American slavery.  Many of these churches change their names and continue with solid Biblical teaching as before. Christ is still being proclaimed, and there seems little reason for concern.

In America, sadly, fewer people, Protestant or Catholic, are attending church at all. Secularists rejoice, believing that religion is inherently bad.[1] Some hope that religious beliefs of all varieties will wane as science advances, personal freedom increases, and economic conditions improve around the world.[2] This hope is not new…people like Voltaire held it centuries ago.

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True to Each Other

In this lonely, painful world, how can we have deep, meaningful relationships? How can we be true to each other?

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor shouts “et tu Brute?” when he sees his close friend, Marcus Junius Brutus, among his assassins.  Though most Americans are not plunging daggers into each other, relationships in the world, the United States, and even the Church are shriveling and dying. According to US Census Data in 2020, our population growth has slowed to its lowest point since the 1930s.[1]  Experts blame COVID and economic troubles, but this trend has been present for decades. Marriage is less common, and couples are having fewer children. People are having less sex, and even dating less. Research from the Barna Group indicates that Americans have fewer friends and higher levels of loneliness than in the past.[2] Elders are less lonely than Boomers, who are less lonely than Gen X, who are less lonely than millennials. The stereotypical image of a lonely widow in our culture may be less common than that of a lonely teenage girl.

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