You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:8)

I’m not sure that we understand just how much of a radical religious revolutionary Jesus was. He constantly challenged the motto of the religious legalists both then and now, who hold tightly to the “We’ve never done it that way before.” theology often so prevalent in religious circles.

Christ also assaulted the sacred cow of the teaching of the elders. These elders were well-known theologians, who since the fifth century before the birth of Jesus, had played a powerful role in shaping…

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

A few years ago, we were considering adding a man to the Leadership Team of our church in Seoul. He had served as a leader in previous churches, and he appeared to be an excellent choice. He and his wife attended regularly, gave graciously to the mission of our church, and were well-respected by our members.

But during the process of considering this man, another trusted church leader asked to meet with me privately. The two men worked together in the same office, and it turned out that our potential new leader led a very different life outside of church…

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

Workmanship. This word in Ephesians 2:10 is the Greek word, “poiema.” Our English word, poem, comes from it. It’s a word that speaks of artistic creation, and it can be found in only one other place in the New Testament. In Romans 1:20, it is used to describe how God, the Divine Artist, can be clearly seen through the beauty of His creation.

In the Ephesians passage, this word, “poiema” describes you and me; we…

I’m not an artist but I am grateful for those whom God has gifted to create something out of nothing. A blank canvas becomes a rushing waterfall surrounded by tropical trees and wildlife. A lifeless rock is chiseled into an elegant and beautiful woman. It is a fascinating process to see a piece of artwork created, and I will never cease to wonder and rejoice at the mysterious creative power of the artist.

Of those artists from years gone by, one of my favorites is Michelangelo. …

Scripture teaches that the Christian life is an inside-out life. Philippians 2:13 tells us that God is at work within us, working with our will, prompting us to live lives pleasing to Him. The prophet, Jeremiah, distinguished between the Old Covenant, written on the stone tablets carved out of Mount Sinai, and the New Covenant, written on the hearts of believers.

I want you to think with me about what this means — as followers of Jesus, our focus should not be on doing but being.

It is so much easier to live by a list, following the rules, checking…

Monstrous, inhuman aliens invade earth bringing with them destruction and death. H.G. Well’s novel, The War of the Worlds, published in 1898, was broadcast forty years later from a radio studio in New York City.

Orson Wells, who, by the way, was not related to H.G. Wells, played a fictional announcer describing the invasion of earth by Martians. It was, if you will, fake news. But many believed this alien invasion of earth to be true. Phone circuits in newsrooms and police stations lit up with thousands of calls. National guardsmen inquired as to where they should report for duty…

I seize that for which Christ Jesus has seized me, forgetting what lies behind, I press on. — The Apostle Paul

The Nike check mark reminds us to “Just Do It.” I have a version of Nike’s slogan on one of my gym shirts — “Just Do(n’t) (Qu)It. Works for me.

The Christian life is often pictured as a race in the New Testament, and we are encouraged to finish the race we started. Late in his life, after accomplishing more than most of us could ever imagine as followers of Jesus, the apostle Paul gives us some good advice on how to finish our race of faith.

His words are found in the letter to the believers in Philippi. You…

The contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day could not have been greater. From the disciples they chose to teach, to their interactions — or lack of interactions — with known sinners, women, lepers, and other outcasts and misfits. Even their teaching styles differed. The crowds were amazed at the teaching of Jesus. “He teaches with authority,” they said. The religious leaders, on the other hand, quoted the writings of other scholars, basing their authority on secondary sources.

But the most significant difference between Jesus and the religious leaders was in how they related to God. Jesus…

My associate pastor in Seoul was hit by a bus. It’s not as bad as it sounds. He was on his moped, making a right turn at a green light when the bus ran the light. He slammed on the brakes of his moped, and slid underneath the bus, breaking his left arm at the top, near the shoulder.

Now, if you know anything about Koreans, you know they don’t use pain killers like we do in the United States. …

There is no such thing as a thorn-free life. As I pointed out yesterday, even if your life is a bed of roses now, there are thorns coming your way.

In his letter to the followers of Jesus in the Greek city of Corinth, Paul gives the reason for his thorn: Paul says God gave him the thorn to keep him humble. It is important to understand that Paul is not saying God pulled out his divine bow, took aim, and drilled him with a thorn.

In my previous post, I explained this using an example from my own life

Dan Armistead

Dan is the former pastor of Seoul International Baptist Church and Adjunct Professor at Torch Trinity Graduate University in Seoul, Korea.

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