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Showing posts from July, 2022

The Birth of Ben Hur

    Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ  was the best selling book (besides the Bible) of the 19 th  Century, and is arguably one of the most influential books of all time. But the story behind the book is as good as the story itself.    Lew Wallace was many things: lawyer, inventor, author, journalist, and officer in the Union Army. He received appointments from two US Presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes made him Governor of the New Mexico Territory, and James Garfield made him Minister to the Ottoman Empire. He was many things, but a theologian was not one of them. If someone asked, he would have called himself a Christian, but he was nominal—Christian in name only.   On a train ride in 1876, Wallace found himself conversing with Robert Green Ingersoll, a man of great reputation for being an agnostic who loved to debate religion. When Ingersoll pressed Wallace to defend the Scriptures, Wallace was at a loss for words, something that he later admitted embarrassed him greatly.    According to hi

Critics

    When I was a kid I wanted to be a food critic. I like to eat, and I enjoy a wide variety of foods; plus, getting paid to eat sounded like quite the dream job. Food critics go into restaurants, order several courses, and then give an honest review that can make or break the dining  establishment.    Similarly, movie critics will watch a film and then write their opinions in the paper or online. There are professional critics, and then there are people who are just critical. Some people act as if their occupation is to be a Bible critic. They scoff at any reference to the Word of God, pointing out that it was really just written by men. They say the stories are not true; they claim that creation didn’t happen; they insist that much of the content was borrowed from pagan mythology; and their favorite line is that there are a bunch of contradictions in the Bible.    In a wonderful verse about how the Bible judges our own hearts, the writer of Hebrews gave us these words: “For the word

Good Grief

  “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” Many of us remember Lucy, the snarky character created by Charles Schultz for his Peanuts comic strip. Whether reading the comic in the “funny pages,” or watching the classic holiday cartoons, we commonly see Lucy roll her eyes in exasperation as she repeats her famous catchphrase (she is also fond of calling him a blockhead). Have you ever wondered what the phrase good grief means? More than just an alliterated anecdote, I believe there is such a thing as good grief. Or as Paul put it, there is a godly grief. In II Corinthians 7:10 he said, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” It is important to understand the context here. Earlier in this chapter the apostle mentioned a previous letter he sent to the Christians in Corinth, and after he sent the letter, he sat and worried about their reaction. Was he too harsh calling out their sin? Would they get angry and hate him? Or woul

Great Endurance

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to difficulties. In II Corinthians 6 he lists some of the struggles that he faced: “in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger (v.4b-5).” A few chapters later he elaborated: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure (11:24-27).”  This was all before he was bitten by a venomous snake! His critics accused him of living in secret sin; like the friends of Job, they reasoned that the Lord must be punishing Paul, but Paul (like J

Labor Shortage

  “Help Wanted” “Apply Today” “We’re Hiring!” We see these signs everywhere. If you are looking for a job, this is a great market. Unfortunately, the market does not feel great for those who are trying to fill these vacancies, and for the patrons who are feeling the effects of the labor shortage. The service industry in particular has been hit hard; your favorite fast food restaurant may or may not be open, depending on whether or not enough people show up to work that day. When they are open, service is slow at many places. It is taking an unusual amount of time to get things because the labor shortage has impacted the shipping industry. In May our church ordered a new appliance, and we were told it would arrive in June—of next year, thirteen months away! It is taking an unusual amount of time to get places because the labor shortage has impacted the airline industry. Flights are being cancelled at the last minute because pilots are in short supply. This labor shortage is frustrating,