When we lead groups to Israel, we visit the archeological remains of the priests’ homes next to the Temple in Jerusalem. Those homes reek of Hellenism, with baths, frescos with images (a sin), and opulence. The high priests in the period when Jesus walked and taught seemed to have completely embraced the secular culture and practices of their times. Continue reading
“I encourage people to pursue a lifetime of growth not just because it will make them better, or open new doors. I encourage people to grow because growth increases hope.” ~ John Maxwell
“Pilate learned that Jesus was from Herod’s area of authority. So Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. At that time Herod was also in Jerusalem. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very pleased. He had wanted to see Jesus for a long time. He had heard much about him. He hoped to see Jesus perform a sign of some kind” (Luke 23: 27-28).
Who was this Herod? He is Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. Continue reading
“Those who hope in the Lord will have their strength renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
I became principal at East Christian School in 1984. The school was opening as the third K-8 campus in the system I was joining. I recall an evening meeting with the new school support group vividly. I thought I was attending a business meeting, but they had planned a celebrative event. Continue reading
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Give to God what belongs to God.”
The Romans were absolutely brutal invaders and occupiers. They were not the first foreign power to control the promised land. Israel was only a self-governed and powerful nation for about a century from 1000 – 900 BC under the reign of David, Solomon and Hezekiah. If God called Israel out of Egypt somewhere between 1500 and 1300 BC, Israel was a self-governed power for less than 10% of its history from the Exodus to Jesus. Continue reading
My heart is breaking this week. On September 26 my nephew Kevin was involved in a horrible car accident that took his life. A steel pole was being transported on a truck bed and extended well beyond the bed. It was early morning and dark. As the truck started a left turn, the pole swung into Kevin’s lane, penetrated his windshield, and struck him in the head.
While he was in middle school, Kevin became determined to become a pastor, a passion that persisted through high school. He attended Calvin College and obtained a teaching degree in secondary history and Bible. Upon graduation, he remained torn between teaching and seminary. Springtime passed and he remained undecided. Continue reading
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
It is election season in the US. Actually, it seems to have become a continuous loop of election cycles in the US. No sooner is one election completed than the next round of candidates announces their intentions and the next cycle begins.
I have become weary of the cycle that reminds me of the old movie Groundhog Day. I am also embarrassed and grieved by the manner in which some evangelicals enter into political discourse. I do not believe that Jesus would have been a Democrat. But I also do not believe that Jesus would be a Republican. To suggest either is to misunderstand and misapply his teachings and the stories of his life.
I vividly recall a dialogue I had with one of my graduate school professors at Purdue University. Our dialogue went on for some time. It was a course on the history of American education. My answer to a multiple choice question was marked incorrect. The question was this: “Which of these individuals would fully support the American public school system today?” The choices were: a. Martin Luther b. John Calvin c. Both d. Neither.
I chose neither. Dr. Georgeoff claimed the answer was both. We entered into the personal dialogue of disagreement.
I was very familiar with the Lutheran school system and its foundation. The schools were founded as parochial schools, established by the church, to integrally link the church and school. Even in the 1970s, public schools were committed to the separation of church and school. I do not believe that Luther would support such division. Faith and life could not be segmented in such a way.
I argued even more vehemently for Calvinist schools. In the late 70s I was a novice teacher in a Christian school that was founded, like most CSI schools, on the foundation of God’s Word, a reformed worldview, and the principle of the church-home-school partnership in glorifying God by nurturing his children. I was a graduate of Calvin College. The American public school was founded on a different set of principles, principles that I believed John Calvin would not have supported.
Dr. Georgeoff did not buy my arguments. Finally, I resorted to suggesting that it was impossible to know how two theologians, dead and buried long before the US was even created as a nation, would feel about a secular public school system. My test answer remained incorrect. Dr. Georgeoff and I agreed to disagree.
Jesus’ first century world and our 21st century world are completely different, too. In the first century, politics were different. Relationships were different. There were no such things as a constitution and a bill of rights. So to extrapolate as to whether Jesus would be a Democrat or Republican is at best speculation and at most a silly conversation.
It is also dangerous. It is dangerous because there is a tendency to use Jesus to make our own political, cultural, and societal points. Christians use Jesus to defend our own agendas. Cynical secularists scoff at the infighting among believers, sarcastically comment on the political rants, and mock the hypocrisy of those who claim to love God and neighbor.
Jesus lived in a political world that was very different from ours. And yet, governments affected his life and the lives of those who followed him as much as our lives are affected by our governments today. How did Jesus respond? What can we learn, and how can we apply it to our lives? How do those of us who are called to lead model for our students and guide them away from self-interest to being the disciples of Jesus that we are called to be?
In the next few weeks, let’s consider: “What did Jesus do?”
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services
“Sometimes God puts a Goliath in your life so that you find the David within you.” I am not sure who the author is of this quote. My wife is into cute social media sayings. She liked the thought. So do I (sort of).
I don’t believe that God puts evil in our lives. Yet evil exists, and God allows it to affect our lives. It is a mysterious truth and beyond my comprehension.
The story of David and Goliath is among my all-time favorite Bible stories from childhood. Boy defeats giant! Underdog defeats superhero. Tigers finally beat the Yankees in the 1960s (boyhood dream). Upstart Wolverines upset #1 Buckeyes in 1969 (way to go, Bo). The US Olympic hockey team upsets the mighty Russians in the 1980 miracle on ice and goes on to win the gold medal. Most people cheer for the underdog, as long as the superhero is not our team. Continue reading
“Start children off on the right path. And even when they are old, they will not turn away from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
I have a great deal of respect for much of Dave Ramsey’s teaching. To encourage families to avoid insurmountable debt is a good thing. Burdensome debt places strain on marriages and financial stress damages the individual’s health.
My appreciation for Ramsey ends when he goes too far. Continue reading
“Jesus was getting into the boat. The man who had been controlled by demons begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him. He said, ‘Go home to your own people. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you. Tell them how kind he has been to you.’ So the man went away. In the area known as the Ten Cities, he began to tell how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed” (Mark 5:18-20).
The scene on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee must have been replayed in the minds of the disciples many times. They had witnessed amazing scenes and miracles before, but the eastern side of the lake was a foreign place for them. It was the Decapolis: the land of the pagans. The Greek Hellenist influence was dominant. A Roman legion was headquartered there. It was the place to which the prodigal went to live the high life. The righteous of the day avoided it, just as the faithful today might avoid Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Continue reading