There are many Biblical phrases that have become idioms in our culture. Phrases like “the blind leading the blind”, “go the extra mile”, or the “writings on the wall” all have their origin in the pages of the Bible. Another such idiom is “fight the good fight.” But the problem with idioms is that they are often divorced from their original meaning and purpose. I’ve heard this phrase about the good fight used in connection with any number of meaningful causes, sometimes even from both sides of the same conflict. So, let’s take a step back and look at what the Bible says about the “good fight.” In a way, we begin with the end. In 2nd Timothy Paul is saying farewell. He feels he will soon die. The early church fathers tell us Paul was beheaded at the direction of Nero in Rome. Paul wrote,
Imagine for a moment being stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean. No oar or sail, just a slave subject to the whims of wind and current. Assuming you had food, water, and shelter what is the one thing you'd want? I'd wish for a means of propulsion, preferably a well fueled outboard motor. It's in this comparison between a drifting raft and a motorboat that we find Peter's main point in our next Walk Through 2nd Peter. Peter wrote, "Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Chr...
The world is filled with lists. Collections of words to remind us what we need to pick up on our next shopping trip. Bullet points of an agenda or presentation. Bucket lists of things we want to do before we die. The Bible has its share of lists as well. The Beatitudes are a kind of list. So is Paul's description of the nine fruit of the Spirit. Lists help us break down the complex into easier to remember bite-sized chunks or remind us of the details contained in a whole. Our next step in our walk through 2nd Peter also presents a list. Peter's List Peter encouraged, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your...
There comes a time when we consider what will happen after we're gone. Two letters in the New Testament are written from this point of view; 2nd Timothy and 2nd Peter. Neither are wills or last testaments. But they do stress a kind of "if you don't remember anything else, remember this" kind of message. For the next twelve weeks, we're going to walk through 2nd Peter as he stirs up our "sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles." (2 Peter 3:1-2, NASB95) Before we begin our walk, I encourage you to read the whole letter in one sitting. Based on 2 Peter 3:1 it is apparent that Peter is writing to the same persecuted and struggling audience as 1st Peter. While...
The Letter from James almost didn’t make it into our Bibles. The primary issue was the conflict concerning the roles of faith and works (or good deeds). Consider these two verses. Paul wrote, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” (Romans 4:2, NASB95) James argued, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?” (James 2:21, NASB95) On the surface, they seem completely contradictory, but are they? The Conflict Before we can continue our study of James we must solve the dilemma of faith and works. The first thing we must understand is that James agrees with Paul. Faith is preeminently important for justification before God. Consider, “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for t
One day four men built a backyard deck. Two men came from the lofty halls of mechanical engineering, two were mechanics of different stripes. As it turned out the deck boards extended past the end of the deck and needed trimming to even up the edge. The engineers measured and discussed how to trim the boards without cutting into the floor joist beneath. They debated and argued over various methods of how to find the exact right place to mark the top of the deck for the power saw to follow. All progress stopped because of this one problem. The mechanics listened for a few moments to the engineer’s discussion. One of them grabbed the power saw and with the help of the other standing beneath to keep an eye on the position of the blade they rapidly trimmed the boards to the right size. True st
We don’t use the word zeal or zealous much anymore. Zeal is instead replaced with passion, enthusiasm, or determination. The word may be relegated to the dustbin but the drive, emotions, and persistence it describes are alive and well. Name the cause and there will be a zealot somewhere in the picture. But here we must be clear, zeal in itself is not a marker of rightness. Just like someone can be sincerely wrong, someone can be zealously misguided. That’s where faith comes in. Often overlooked when we read Paul’s Letter to the Romans is his exploration of Jewishness and Christ. For instance, in the latter part of chapter nine and the beginning of ten Paul describes how the zeal of the Jews caused them to miss Christ. “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righ
People swear by the strangest things. There is the pinky swear. Or “I swear on my mother’s grave” - regardless of whether she’s in it or not. “Scout’s honor,” can be heard occasionally even if the person was never a Boy or Girl Scout. Another old staple is, “I swear on a stack of Bibles.” Sometimes, we may simply hear someone say “I swear.” The point of all this swearing (we’re not talking about cussing or cursing - that’s a different thing altogether) is to add credibility to someone's testimony or promise. Sometimes we even punctuate our promises and requests when talking to God. Matthew records Jesus teaching, “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by
The pinnacle of extreme sports is the annual X-Games. The X-Games are somewhat styled after the Olympics but have an edgier and more dangerous feel. These are extreme sports that are not only judged on speed or precision but also on style. Its search for the edge has brought us amazing spectacles like a double end over end flip on a motorcycle. The kinds of things that make you wonder how in the world did they pull that off without breaking their neck. We borrow their stylized moniker of Xtreme for our next ABC of faith. Yep, I fudged it a bit. There just weren’t any “X” words that connected with faith. I think however that as we explore some examples of faith we’ll have the same sit-down, jaw-dropping, how in the world did they do that reaction. In the scriptures, there are two men
From Dale - Please welcome today's guest author Ellen Benefield to the pages of Lambchow for our next ABC of Faith. Lydia’s bright smile, beautiful tan, and dark curling hair bewitched most people into underestimating her age by a decade or more. Lydia had made good money at an insurance company before she felt a surprising call on her life. She quit her job and moved to Mazatlán, Mexico to become a full-time missionary. That’s where I met her and was inspired by her walk of faith. The missionary finance office required that Lydia spend long hours sorting through crumpled receipts and badgering other missionaries for long-forgotten spending reports. On her days off, instead of relaxing with a cool drink in the shade, she stomped through a long, sparsely populated peninsula. The a
Some of you may remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports. A Saturday afternoon TV staple hosted by Jim McKay that ran from 1961 until 1998. The show was a compilation of various sporting events from earlier in the week. To this day I can still hear Jim McKay’s opening promise of “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” as a ski jumper completely misses the ramp. I always felt bad for that guy having his failure replayed week after week. The Bible also talks about victory and defeat. Here is a link to the opening sequence from ABC's Wide World of Sports https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7frGJf77AA The apostle John wrote, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Now, to be honest I plucked that gem from its setting. The statement is true but to understand it a
Dale - This morning as I prepare Kerry's article for publication my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, family, friends, and community of the church shooting in Sutherland Springs Texas. By Kerry Rohman Last week as I was teaching at a local homeschool co-op I asked a group of kindergarteners what war we were learning about. One 5-year-old boy proudly and quickly replied: “the silver war”. I chuckled at his response and said “That’s right! The Civil War” (emphasizing “civil” to gently correct his mispronunciation). Okay, next question. “Who was the president during the CIVIL war?” “Oh!! I know!! I know!!”, they shouted. “Abraham Lincoln! Abraham Lincoln!!” What a smart class! They must have a good teacher! If I had to pick my favorite President of the United States eve