Tag Archive: Religion


“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

In this passage, the Apostle John tells us that we can be confident in our faith. We can go to the God who created the universe, and ask him to help us. John makes an important note, though: We should ask according to God’s will. If we ask within his will, our prayer will be heard. So how do we know God’s will? Studying the word of God, and through prayer. Jesus, who was God and yet also a man, prayed that God’s will be done, but he also expressed his anguish and physical desire that he not have to endure the torment that was coming. So, prayer is aligning our will toward God’s will, and seeing what he desires come to fruition within our lives.

 

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“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
This past Sunday, one of the elders at my church preached on Micah 6:8, and referenced Zechariah 7:10. It was a very convicting sermon.
In both of these passages, we see that God is very concerned about what is commonly called “social justice” – that everyone in a society be treated fairly, justly, and equally. Much of the Old Testament prophets and much of Jesus’s sayings and the apostles’ writings in the New Testament strike home the importance of taking care of the disadvantaged in society. Zechariah gives one of the most complete lists – orphans, widows, the poor, and immigrants.

As a Christian, I am commanded to care for those who are disadvantaged, to bring them justice and relieve their suffering. So the thought for Thursday is, how can I do that? What can I do in my life, with my social position, talents, and experience, to help achieve justice?

“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27

Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which had conquered most of the Middle East. This included the Kingdom of Judah (Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians, whom the Babylonians supplanted). Daniel was a Hebrew, and thus a captive of the Empire. But he was an important political official, and the king relied on him to interpret dreams, since God gave Daniel prophetic power. The above passage is at the end of Daniel’s interpretation of a dream: Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of much of the known world, would be humiliated. But, if he follows Daniel’s advice, he might be spared.
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Proverbs 31:30-31: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

The other night, I came across an article talking about women in the alt-right movement. One of the things mentioned in the article was how much importance these women place on beauty. And that perspective is not right, and deeply saddens me.

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For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

What does your church look like? Not the building, but the people. Who comprises it? In the Old Testament, only those who were circumcised into Judaism and followed the Mosaic Law were part of God’s blessing and promises. While there were select times when mercy and blessing was granted to those outside of Israel, God’s chosen people were a particular ethnic group, confined within territorial boundaries. While anyone was welcome to join this people, they had to adopt Israelite customs in order to do so. Not anymore.

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Since April, I have had the privilege of working at Hancock Shaker Village. This is a museum that straddles the border of Hancock and Pittsfield in Massachusetts, and I’ve been visiting there for about as long as I’ve lived here in MA (since 2003). This historic site was once part of a Shaker community which lived in much of Hancock, Pittsfield, and Richmond from c.1780, when the first locals converted to the faith, to 1959, when the last two Shakers moved out. Here we see a picture that my brother took of the iconic Hancock Round Stone Barn back in 2009:

round-stone-barn-hancock

Credit: Karl Mick

But who are the Shakers? Why are they called that? Since answering these question proves a lengthy discussion, I will break it into two installments.

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