Friday, 1/15/21 – Friday Tough Question: What are “the ends of the earth?”

What are “the ends of the earth?”

The son of a controversial political figure said recently in support of his near term end father, “You have a man who would get followed to the ends of the earth… his opportunities are endless.” As I read that statement the idea of the many following the one “to the ends of the earth” stuck out to me. I kept reading, but the thought lingered. Just what were “the ends of the earth” anyway? – and why would anyone want to get there?

Turns out the phrase actually derives from the Bible! Speaking of the coming great King of Zion Zechariah proclaims,

He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River [i.e., the Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.” (Zech. 9:10).

William Caxton, the first to utilize a printing press in England, appears also to be the earliest to use the phrase since the prophet. In his 1483 translation of J. de Voragine’s Golden Legende he writes, in the vernacular of his day, “And all the endes of the erthe shal worshipe the Nacions shal come to the fro ferre and bryngyng yeftes shal worshype in the our lord.” But it was not until the 19th century that the phrase became more widely used.

The phrase means “to extend to the furthest reach of man’s dominion, as opposed to the heavens.” In current usage it means “To follow one anywhere, including the most remote or inaccessible places.”

Well, I have no desire to follow any man there. I have a nobler goal in mind, a higher call… and so do you, if you are a believer and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ… if you have repented, turned, committed your very soul into His keeping and seek daily to deepen your walk with Him.

Some years after Caxton (c1521) Martin Luther penned the words to an enduring hymn, the closing lines of which declare

…Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.” (A Mighty Fortress, Martin Luther, c.1521).

His kingdom, God’s kingdom, extends far, far beyond “the ends of the earth.” His kingdom is forever! — I, for one, will follow Him.

Press on…

Friday, 1/8/21 – Friday Tough Question: Should A Christian Practice Yoga?

Should A Christian Practice Yoga?

What is especially intriguing about this question and others like it is that it can be taken in one of two ways. It can mean “Will Yoga enhance my connection with God? Hence, Is it something I should (i.e. ought to) do?” Or, it can mean “Is Yoga permissible? Is it something I can get away with doing and still call myself a Christian?”

As always, our Lord is primarily concerned with the believers heart. So it is important that before considering the surface question one examines the underlying motives of one’s heart. Is it seeking tools which might enhance one’s spiritual growth… Or is it testing how far one might stroll from the flock yet still be fed and protected by the Shepherd?

Twice in his letter to the Corinthians Paul addresses ‘disputable’ activities. He writes,

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12).

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.” (1 Cor. 10:23).

Though you may, or though you may think you may, have the right, the freedom, the permission to do a thing, Paul says, is not the only consideration. One must also ask what effect might the activity might have over time. Will it pull them in deeper, tempt them to deeper levels, subtly lead them to a more blatant backsliding? And what testimony does it make to other believers… believers who may be unaware of the boundaries you have set regarding it?

The danger of yoga is in its metaphysical roots. The name ‘Yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. It seeks a harmony of mind and body to the point of self-enlightenment and union with a ‘Universal Consciousness.’ In short, yoga is a Hindu philosophy of personal salvation. It is in fact “another gospel” the messengers of which Paul strongly condemned saying “let them be under God’s curse!” (see Gal. 1:6-9).

“But,” you say, “I just want to do the exercise part. What’s wrong with that?” Well, that may or may not be a boundary you will keep, or that others, following your example, may set. So, if I were to advise you then clearly the safest advice would be to avoid it. Get a good book of neutral stretching exercises and leave it at that. Examine your heart, and remember the wisdom of scripture that

 “…physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8).

 Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 1/1/21 – What will 2021 Bring?: Five Truths for a New Year

Five Truths for a New Year

Many are wondering “What lay ahead in 2021?” Will things be any better, or worse than they were in 2020? Well, I’m no prophet, but I can point you to some eternal truths from the Word of God. As we begin this new year, I have given this blog entry fully to that Word. Here are five truths for 2021.

1. Whatever 2021 brings, 2021 is the time for what 2021 brings.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl. 3:1).
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27).

2. When God decides to do a new thing nothing that went before can hinder it.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isa. 43:18-19).
You can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job. 42:2).

3. A lifetime is very short so you should invest each day wisely.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12).
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:16).

4. God has a plan for you! It is a good plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11).

5. He will help you stick to His plan in 2021 and through all your life…

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Prov. 16:9).
For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Ps. 48:14).
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18).

Press on — through 2021 and beyond… 😊

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 12/25/20 – Friday Tough Question: “To Whom shall we go?”

“To Whom shall we go?”

Franklin Graham recently reported: “In some countries, more people are dying by suicide than from COVID-19.” In one month, for example, Japan saw more deaths from suicide than they had experienced in total due to Covid-19! And now, just as it seems we have created vaccines, a new variant of the virus is emerging along with new fears and uncertainties.

All around our planet this Christmas Day is like none other. According to Worldometer, as of December 23, 2020, 11:43 GMT, 1,726,543 people have died from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Click on the above link for the latest figures.) How many millions more are grieving the loss of a close family member or friend as they stare at a vacant dinner table chair this Christmas day? Never before have so many felt so helpless.

Science, that old standby, is scrambling, hospitals and other emergency care facilities are floundering. Economies and family budgets are collapsing, and mental health worldwide is deteriorating. To Whom can we turn? To Whom shall we go?

This question was asked some 2000 years ago by a simple Galilean fisherman. But Peter was not asking out of despair; Peter was asking rhetorically. He knew the answer, and spoke it next: “Lord, to Whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69).

On another occasion recorded by Matthew Peter makes a similar profession, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16). Jesus commended Peter for this insight, wisdom received, He said, from the Holy Spirit of God.

Shortly after the birth of Christ wise men followed the Christmas star to Jesus. Wise men still go to Him  today. “To Whom shall we go” this Christmas… this era of chaos?

To Whom will you go?

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 12/18/20 – Friday Tough Question: Why am I here?

Why am I here?

There’s a TV commercial for one of those little disc-shaped robot vacuum cleaners where a man is scratching his dog. A small scattering of dog hair falls to the floor and as the couple head out for the evening a voice command summons their robot vacuum to tidy up the scene.

We don’t have a dog, but as some of you know we do have a kitty. Like the dog in the advert our “Molly” has also been shedding a good bit lately. I sometimes think how nice it would be to just say a word and have a robot come chasing down the feline fluff. But the luxury comes a bit too steep for our snack bracket. There is of course a cheaper way to be done with the problem: We could simply dispose of the cat!

But of course we don’t want to do that. And why? Well, because in spite of the expense of her cat food, kitty litter, litter deodorizer, treats and toys, and aside from her puking, clawing, deposits of fur, her moodiness and demands to be either fed, combed, scratched or otherwise pampered, “Molly” does offer a sort of companionship. “Molly” thinks for herself, surprises us with her creativity, and sometimes cuddles up and purrs in such an endearing way that she makes us feel loved.

In short, companionship is why “Molly” is part of our family, and not a robot. Companionship of a free-thinking entity… living… unpredictable… real. These are all things that a robot vacuum cannot offer. It is why we wanted to adopt our “Molly,” and it’s why our Lord wants to adopt you!

Why are you here? To be in relationship with the One who made you, loves you, sacrificed for you and wants you as His own, forever!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 12/11/20 – Friday Tough Question: Where is Peace?

Where is Peace?

By 1863, it had been several years since Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had written any poetry. They had been difficult years. After losing his wife in a tragic fire he fell into a dark depression. Next, his eldest son, Charley, snuck off to join the Union Army and within a year was injured and sent to a hospital in Virginia.

For three troublesome days Henry searched the incoming wounded until at last he found his son — alive, but barely breathing. Christmas Day found Charley still with fever and an uncertain prognosis. Torn and broken by war and loss Longfellow at last picked up quill and wrote… .

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This world is a world of many miseries, but the Christian’s hope is in that homeland yet to appear, that eternal city from which all crying and mourning flee away. “In this world you will have trouble,” said the Saviour. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Charley did recover, and happier days returned to the Longfellows. But the words penned during that trying Christmas of war and uncertainty continue today as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” a hymn of hope… of peace in Christ… and of blessing to all who turn to Him.

Press on…

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NOTE: Today’s blog marks the 600th blog of ‘Thank you’ to the many who have faithfully followed them all this time. It is my prayer that the Lord has and will continue to speak to you through them. Want to read some past blogs? CLICK HERE for a chronological listing of them all. (Or go thebrokenrunner Home page, open the Menu and click on “LINKS

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 12/4/20 – Friday Question: How can I cope with Covid-19 isolation?

How can I cope with Covid-19 isolation?

Nine months into this thing now and winter is fast approaching—for many the most isolating season of all. Forecasters of a second wave were correct, and many now fear unbridled Christmas and New Year celebrations will create overwhelming numbers of “super spreader” events triggering a massive spread of the virus. The only safety is further self-isolation.

But are we still up for it? A degree of solitude can be uplifting… an adventure in self-exploration… an opportunity for spiritual growth. But It will never do as a lifestyle. Our Creator agrees. After creating the prototype of homo-sapiens He stood back, looked deeply and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18).

Christians especially need this fellowship with other believers. Already we are a people become foreigners in this world, “strangers and pilgrims,” (1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13), “exiles” say some translations. Covid-19 has made many believers become like St. John on Patmos: exiles in isolation.

Bonhoeffer sees value in community but also in solitude. He writes,

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”*

Within this Christian community Bonhoeffer holds that each believer has a duty to his brother:

“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them….” / “We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them… So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to ‘offer’ something when they are together with other people… They forget that listening can be a greater service”*

Scripture teaches likewise: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2). “Love your neighbor as yourself,” commanded Christ. Loving God and loving others fulfills all the Law and the teaching of the Prophets (see Matt. 22:37-40).

Do this and you will be surprised how your own coping during Covid is strengthened.

It is a great paradox of the Christian life that by giving we receive.

Press on…

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/27/20 – Friday Question: “Why did Adam and Eve skip childhood?”

“Why did Adam and Eve skip childhood?”

This question came to my attention from an inquisitive nine-year-old. It’s an adorable question, but it is rather odd, isn’t it, that the very first parents – the prototype of all parents to come – had no knowledge or experience of childhood themselves?

Did Eve have any idea what the Lord God was talking about when in part penalty of her transgression He announced “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.” (Gen. 3:16)? I wonder. And what a surprise it must have been when the first ever human child, Cain, was born! It must have been with gasp of amazement that Eve exclaimed “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man!” (Gen. 4:1). Surprise, surprise!

But parenting has always been an untrained profession. Some exasperated parents even accuse the omniscient God of not understanding. “God never had children,” they whine. But then again, God has us, and according to the Population Reference Bureau about 107 billion of us to date with seven billion of us alive today. If you know any of them, you’ll know He has His Hands full!

So perhaps the Almighty wanted our first parents, all parents, to struggle through the uncertainties of little free-willed critters running amok just as He struggles… endangering themselves in their disobedience yet greatly loved and longed for by the One Who gave them life.

Being a parent should train us in the patience and persistence of God. It should also motivate us to be better children of our heavenly Father ourselves, for we learn by parenting some wee bit of the frustrations we cause Him.

“Therefore… As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…” (1 Pet. 1:13-15).

Why did Adam and Eve skip childhood? Perhaps the best answer one might give a nine-year-old is this: to help them become good children themselves, good children of God.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/20/20 – Friday Question: “What’s with our Puking Pussycat?”

What’s with our Puking Pussycat?

It’s a thing our “Molly” does from time to time… it’s a sure thing too. Anytime we catch her munching on one of her favorites among our houseplants we know in just a few minutes there will be an eruption. And, like ‘Old Faithful,’ she never lets us down.

I used to think this was for some sort of mysterious canine health thing, that our cat knew a good puke was necessary from time to time, but as I investigated I found the real attraction for the cat is the plants, and that what happens afterwards is merely a consequence, not a goal of the activity.

So why do cats continually crunch away at this stuff if all it does is make them sick? Surely by now our “Molly” has learned the connection: eat plant = get sick. There are several theories…

An attempt to eliminate hairballs — though our “Molly’s” deposits contain none.
Curiosity – that old bane of her breed they say ultimately “kills the cat.”
Boredom – especially for a house cat who finds itself in permanent lockdown!
Seeking a different texture sensation – a little sampling ‘à la carte’ instead of the usual ‘table d’hôte.’

If these theories are correct our “Molly” simply has a addiction and suffers for it.

But “Molly” is not unlike many in this world who though ‘full of themselves’ remain unsatisfied, are pulled by curiosity or boredom to investigate what in the end is only harmful — sensation seekers because all they have had keep fading away. Nothing satisfies as they hope. Like an alcoholic’s hangover, the next day brings only more emptiness and pain. Yet one says, “I will seek it yet again.” (Prov. 23:35).

But Jesus takes us one step further. Jesus satisfies our hunger completely… for ever. He said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35). The psalmist David expressed in verse, “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10).

One sure way to deflect our “Molly” away from the houseplants is to rattle her treat bag. Ears perk up, head turns, and in seconds she is at our feet awaiting those delicious chicken and catnip nuggets.

Christ’s offer is a much better offer, readily available. Come to Him… admit you need Him, feed on Him… be nourished and satisfied… while His cupboard door is open.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/13/20 – Friday Question: “What power do I have to influence this world?”

What power do I have to influence this world?

I know what you mean. More and more with each passing year… or month… or week it seems, some giant company has absorbed yet another company. Viable competitors in the world’s marketplaces decrease further and further as the big name operations bloat with ever growing monopolization of economy, government, healthcare, or surveillance.

In comparison, you, the little guy, seem powerless, fallen already through some crevice, deep down into the machinery of a nameless world system. You wonder what possible influence you can have amid this seeming freefall? You ask, “What power do I have to influence this world?”

For the Christian there are two possible answers. Each is both concise and absolute: 1. None. 2. Infinite.

Of our own selves we are weak. Not many of us would claim to be wise; few are influential or born to nobility. Some of us may even be victims of prejudice, even despised. How can we possibly influence this world?

Last Saturday, when it became clear that the Democratic party had won the U.S. election, President Elect Joe Biden addressed the nation. Among his statements he said, “We will lead America not by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” I rather liked that, for it reminded me of the strategy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before leaving this earth Jesus said to His faithful, “You are the salt of the earth…” (Matt. 5:13). Like tiny grains believers are scattered throughout the planet, throughout the world and its ever-growing, ever-grabbing world system. Influencers empowered by the Infinite! In fact, by virtue of our awareness of our own powerlessness we become the Almighty Father’s first pick in turning our world upside-down for Christ! Hear Paul’s words to the Corinthians…

“Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. ” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).

Your example, your Christ-empowered godly living, your words of praise and testimony to the Lord in your experience, your heart at peace amid social storm, your devotion to worship, fellowship, service, love, scripture and prayer are all influencers… not examples of any personal power, for you have none, but powerful examples of the Infinite Power of Christ.

Take heart believer… and

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.