The First Mark: Love (Revelation 2:1-7)

As Christians, we know who we are: sinners who need to repent. But who should we be? According to John Stott, Jesus’ letters to the seven churches describe “seven marks of the ideal church”: love, suffering, truth, holiness, sincerity, mission, and wholeheartedness.[i] Let us take a closer look at each, beginning with love.   Love is perhaps the most indiscriminately used word in the English language. The statements “I love God,” “I love my children,” and “I love chalupas at Taco Bell” use the same words to describe radically different affections. After all, if you love God and chalupas in … Continue reading The First Mark: Love (Revelation 2:1-7)

Church—Why Bother? (Revelation 2-3)

Why bother joining a church filled with sinners who need to repent?   I regularly hear people say, in effect, “Jesus is just alright with me,” to quote the Doobie Brothers. Very few, on the other hand say the same thing about the church. As far as they are concerned, the church is corrupt. “Christ? Yes! Church? No!” They like their Jesus neat.   Now I understand this attitude quite well. In fact, I sympathize with it. Ever since the televangelist scandals of the late 1980s, I have been sensitive to the ways in which church leaders abuse their positions … Continue reading Church—Why Bother? (Revelation 2-3)

The Fleas Come with the Dog (Revelation 2-3)

Perhaps you are ready to concede that the modern church is a sinful one in need of correction. But surely the early church was different! Surely the churches of the apostolic age were exemplary congregations, their holiness refined by the fires of martyr-making persecution!   Well, no.   With the exception of Smyrna and Philadelphia, Jesus Christ finds something to correct at each of the churches of Roman Asia: Loveless orthodoxy at Ephesus (2:5), heretical teaching at Pergamum (2:14–15), sexual immorality at Thyatira (2:20–23), hypocrisy at Sardis (3:1), and spiritual apathy at Laodicea (3:15–17).   The pages of the New … Continue reading The Fleas Come with the Dog (Revelation 2-3)

The Marks of the Church

In Revelation 1, Jesus Christ appears in glory, standing in the midst of his churches. In Revelation 2–3, he writes letters to those same churches, filled with words of affirmation, correction, and promise.[i] Although originally addressed to churches in first-century Roman Asia, Jesus’ letters speak to issues faced by twenty-first-century American churches as well. Indeed, as John Stott points out, they identify “seven marks of an ideal church,”[ii] which make them perpetually relevant to each church in every age.   Letters from Jesus (Revelation 2-3)   Throughout Christian history, pastors have written letters of spiritual direction for entire congregations, as … Continue reading The Marks of the Church

In Praise of Women

The final touches on Proverb 31’s portrait of the noble woman are an indicative and an imperative.   Here’s the indicative:   Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (verse 30).   We live in a visual culture. Everyday, our eyes fall on countless advertisements that were designed to make us lust. I suppose you’ve never thought of advertising that way, but that’s its purpose, isn’t it? To stoke our desire to possess something or someone as the fulfillment of our desires.   If advertising were merely information, commercials … Continue reading In Praise of Women

A Woman’s Work Is Never Done

When my wife and I were first married, we both worked. I worked at the church, but my wife worked two jobs. Her primary job was at a Century City bankruptcy law firm. Her other job was at home. At the end of the workday, I would come home, kick off my shoes, turn on the TV, and veg out on the couch. She would come home from work after a 90-minute commute and cook and clean. Sociological studies indicate that our marriage was pretty typical for two-income homes.   A woman’s work, it turns out, is never done.   … Continue reading A Woman’s Work Is Never Done

Behind Every Good Man…

  Bill and Hilary Clinton were riding in the presidential limousine when the driver stopped to fill up with gas. Looking out the window, Bill noticed that the man pumping the gas was one of Hilary’s old boyfriends. He said: “Hilary, if I hadn’t married you, you’d be married to that gas station attendant.” To which Hilary replied: “Bill, if I hadn’t married you, that man would be the president of the United States.”   I don’t normally crack political jokes on The Daily Word, but that one always makes me laugh. And it serves a useful point vis-à-vis today’s … Continue reading Behind Every Good Man…

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

My wife and I recently went to the library to pick out a few books to read. While browsing the shelves, I came across a copy of Flannery O’Connor’s novel, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. I thought about the title of that book when I read Proverbs 31:10:   A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.   Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic poem. Each of its twenty-two verses begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet: aleph, bet, gimel, dalet, he, etc. The proverb writer is outlining the characteristics … Continue reading A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

The Real – But Limited – Value of Wealth

  All things being equal, I would rather be wealthy than poor. Wealth has real value. The Book of Proverbs notes some of its advantages.   For one thing, wealth brings a measure of security to life.   The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor (10:15).   The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall (18:11).   For another thing, wealth is a catalyst to friendship.   The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends (14:20).   … Continue reading The Real – But Limited – Value of Wealth