In 2004, a car accident critically injured 6-year-old Alex Malarkey. After two months he emerged from a coma, permanently paralyzed but with stories of out-of-body experiences and several trips to heaven. A few years later, in 2010, a major evangelical publisher released his story, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven: A True Story, listing Alex and his father as co-authors. The book rose quickly to the bestseller list and sold over a million copies.
There is an account of a marathon swimmer that swam across part of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Even though she swam inside a cage to ward off large fish, the crew on the accompanying boat were constantly on the lookout for the stingray fish which can give a fatal poisonous sting. This illustration gives a number of parallels to the title taken from 1Corinthians 15:56, which mentions “the sting of death is sin.” It is very true that sin does sting death to each spiritual life it is allowed to penetrate. No one has the immunity to fight off the deadly effects of sin.
In our society Christmas is a time of joy, sharing, and family togetherness. It is also a time of overspending, overeating, and frivolity that cater to our sensual cultural appetite.
The reason for the season is Jesus Christ’s appearance in the flesh, the Incarnation. He was and is the eternal Son of God, who was willing to take on a body prepared of God. This body made possible the remission of sins through the demands of His eternal law. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” A body that housed perfect sinlessness was crucial to the plan of redemption.
“Oh, for some good church life!”
I suppose the restlessness we see in church members today as they seek better church life elsewhere is not a new thing. The grass on the other side of the fence has always been appealing. Restlessness because we want better church life has some good aspects to it. Vision and purpose in church life are good. But church hopping that is born out of that quest to find the ideal church—is that restlessness good?
We hear a great deal about the sin of David, but seldom does anyone mention the sin of Bathsheba. And it is true enough that David’s sin was very great, and Bathsheba’s very small. David’s sin was deliberate and presumptuous, Bathsheba’s only a sin of ignorance. David committed deliberate adultery and murder, Bathsheba only carelessly and undesignedly exposed herself before David’s eyes. We have no doubt that David’s sin was great and Bathsheba’s was small.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Ge 1:27)
One of the predominate drives that motivates the actions of mankind is the tension of male/female attraction. From youth, we begin to understand there is a longing deep within our core being that proposes to be fulfilled only through significant interchange with a mate, someone with whom we can have social and physical intimacy. For the woman it wears the face of romantic daydreams. For the man it’s presentation is in the form of fantasies and sexual appetite.