Jesus told the rich young ruler, “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
Jesus said to Martha, “Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
For the young ruler, the one thing was what he would gain by losing his possessions. For Martha, her sister had found the one thing and she was left holding the oven mitt.
But I think, at the root, these two very different people lacked the same one thing. Continue reading
One aspect of a bigger thought process I’m in right now.
There are some things in the Bible that just aren’t clear. When Paul talked about mystery (e.g. Ephesians 6:19), he wasn’t joking! If you read your Bible honestly and extensively, you’ll see why there are controversies among modern believers. Just to name some of the big ones,
- Timing of the rapture
- Role of women in church leadership
- Baptism’s relationship to faith
- election/free will
There’s a part of me that says, “If the brightest minds haven’t resolved these issues in the 1500-ish years since the Bible was codified, I’m not going to figure them out.” But there’s another part of me that says, “I need to know the right answer, and I need to know it now!!!!!” I’m still trying to find a balance because I believe God enjoys our inquiry and wants us to pursue knowledge of Him (Romans 11:33—my favorite, Hebrews 11:6), but He also expects us to practice our faith, which often means we trust without evidence (Hebrews 11:1). Continue reading
For our on-going series seeking the Beatitudes in the Old Testament, welcome a special guest for this month: Leigh Powers. You'll be blessed by Leigh's reflections on an Old Testament prophet you probably don't know! Read more about Leigh at the end of the post.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. –Matthew 5:6
Huldah lived through some of the
darkest days of Judah’s history,
but she never stopped hungering
and thirsting for righteousness.
Scripture remembers Josiah as one of Israel’s greatest kings, but at the center of Josiah’s story is a woman who we sometimes forget: the prophet Huldah. Huldah lived through some of the darkest days of Judah’s history, but she never stopped hungering and thirsting for righteousness. She remained resolutely committed to God and God’s Word, and the Lord saw that her hunger for righteousness was satisfied. Continue reading
I started Amos last week in my personal Bible study time. I could spend the rest of my days in the Gospels, but we need the whole of Scripture. Every portion—every verse—has a purpose. So about once a year, my husband and I venture back into the Old Testament. I studied Amos for a Hebrew exegesis class in seminary, but I have never walked through it in my personal quiet time.
The first couple of chapters were interesting, from a historical and geographical perspective, but I had some trouble with application. My Bible study time felt dry. What do you do when your Bible study time feels dry? Continue reading
In recognition of Mother’s Day this Sunday (12 May 2019), I offer three portraits of biblical mothers who overcame their less-than-ideal circumstances and produced amazing kids (one way or another).
Naomi owned the mother-in-law role
When Naomi’s husband and both her sons died, she remained in Edom with no family and no way to take care of herself. It’s not a surprise she decided to return to her own people. What does surprise is the commitment Ruth, her daughter-in-law, made to Naomi. (For more on Ruth’s side of the story, see my recent post, Blessed Are: The Meek.) At first, Naomi was like, “whatever,” about Ruth’s refusal to leave her. She was still full of grief and even told people to call her Bitter.
Naomi rose from her grief and
directed Ruth toward a happy future.
But Naomi rose from her grief and directed Ruth toward a happy future. She advised Ruth on local customs and on finding another husband. Boaz turned out to be a wonderful husband for Ruth, and Naomi got to hold her grandson on her lap.
Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” –Ruth 4:16-17a
Ruth may have gained another mother-in-law when she married Boaz, but something tells me Naomi remained an important and influential part of her life.
Hannah owned the longed-for-and-lost role
Hannah desperately longed for a child—just one child! Finally (to make a long story short), after pleading to God for years, God blessed her with a son after Hannah promised to give Him back to the service of God. Hannah kept Samuel until he was weaned (probably about three years), then she left him at the temple with the old priest, Eli.
Hannah released Samuel, but
she didn’t disregarded him.
God blessed Hannah with five other children after Samuel (1 Samuel 2:21), but she never stopped being Samuel’s mother. Just because she released him doesn’t mean she disregarded him. Every year, she faithfully brought him a new cloak (1 Samuel 2:19).
Eunice owned the cross-cultural marriage role
We know so little about Timothy’s mother, Eunice. What’s the story behind her marriage to a non-Jewish guy (Acts 16:1)? And how did her mother, Lois, feel about it? Paul said to Timothy,
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. –2 Timothy 1:5
Eunice raised Timothy
to love God.
It seems Timothy’s father wasn’t one of those “God-fearing Greeks” like the ones who joined Paul and Silas in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4), and yet Eunice raised Timothy to fear God, love others, and follow the Law. Sometime after Jesus came to earth and changed everything, both Eunice and Lois shifted their devotion, becoming Christ-followers.
Eunice navigated her cross-cultural marriage while consistently instilling her faith into her son. She didn’t let her circumstances excuse her from diligence in faith matters.
Naomi’s grandson, Obed, was the grandfather of King David and in the lineage of Jesus (Ruth 4:17).
Eunice’s son helped the Gospel spread around the world and was the recipient of two letters that influence Christian thinking even today (1 and 2 Timothy).
These women had unconventional mothering rolls, but they were exactly where God wanted them to be, doing what He wanted them to do. This Mother’s Day…okay, every day…let’s celebrate the mothers around us who may not look or act like your “typical” mom, if there is such a thing.
Have you known the blessing of an unconventional mom in your life? Maybe you are the unconventional mom. Know another biblical example of an unconventional mothering role? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!
Jesus had told them to go to Galilee. Just after He rose from the tomb, Jesus instructed the faithful women, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10). It took them awhile to get there. Even a week later, they were still meeting in the house where He had first appeared (John 20:26).
Eventually, the disciples trekked to Galilee, just as Jesus had told them to do. But Jesus didn’t tell them what to do when they got there.