Among the many portraits of the church painted in Scripture, none is more calming and comforting than a flock of sheep under the watchful eye of a caring shepherd. The truth is, not all sheep stay in the flock…not all shepherds are caring and faithful…not all that’s lush and green is edible grass…and not all peaceful places are free of danger.
There are times when attending a growing church is exciting…and other times when it is irritating. At times like these, questions arise. Should a church get this large? Wasn’t the first-century church small and easy to manage? Is it OK to make more room for our growing family…or should we attend elsewhere? The answers to these types of questions may surprise you.
The terms wise and wisdom appear more than 30 times in the last six chapters of Ecclesiastes, and the concept is interwoven through most of the paragraphs…sometimes in a subtle manner, other times boldly. We’ll see these benefits personified in the life of “the wise man,” portrayed by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 8:1–9.
Too often, we end up saying “if only I had known then what I know now.” How deep the feelings of regret and anxiety in the hearts of parents who “blew it!” Since there’s no way to go back and relive our lives, we need to focus on the best way to respond to these painful memories. Otherwise, we will live under clouds of blame and shame and be paralyzed by fear.
Children eventually reach adulthood, with minds of their own. Can there still be mutual respect and meaningful relationships in the family? Can harmony continue between parents and their grown-up kids? Absolutely! The question is, how?
The last thing healthy parents want is to hurt and discourage those they love so much. Yet, standing firm is a necessary part of training, which means our love must sometimes be “tough,” and our actions must sometimes be strong. After all, we’re dealing with children who will one day have to discipline and restrain themselves.
Psalm 127 and 128 paint a mural of inspired images depicting four stages of family life: the foundation of the home (Psalm 127:1–2), the expansion of the home (127:3–5), the child-rearing years (128:1–3), and the later years (128:4–6). These verses can help us appreciate, as well as improve, our families.
Let’s remember that God has set the authorities in place. Rebellion against earthly authorities amounts to rebellion against God, which is the most serious revolt of all.
We’ve probably all been in situations—maybe on a plane or at a convention—when the topic of religion came up and we had to face the inevitable dialogue with a nonbeliever. We’ve usually ended up feeling awkward and uncomfortable, and we've walked away wondering, What could I have said or done not only to win a hearing but to keep a hearing? Acts 8 has some answers for the apprehensive evangelist.
The Nazis stripped Victor Frankl’s life down to almost nothing. Once a renowned psychiatrist, Frankl was reduced to being a slave labourer at the notorious death camp Auschwitz. He could have seethed with hate and self-pity but, instead, Frankl realized that the Nazis could never steal, shape, or dictate his attitude.