In the weeks surrounding Christmas, we enjoy singing a wealth of hymns and carols that we usually reserve for the month of December. Even though we can sing many by heart, or perhaps because we can sing many by heart, words, and phrases rich in meaning can roll off of our tongues without touching our hearts. The lyrics to the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” specifically the words of the first verse, invite a little more thought than we usually give them.
The last few months have been disruptive to tens of thousands of Americans. Hurricanes in the Southern States and Puerto Rico plus destructive wildfires in Oregon and California have caused massive losses. Homes, businesses, and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. Even more significant is the tragic loss of life. The most recent tragedy is California’s rapidly moving wildfires that only gave minutes for people to flee- some didn’t make it out in time.
In Acts 15, the church leaders were having an assembly to discuss and dispose of a matter which was causing stress in the brotherhood. First Peter, then Paul had taken the Gospel to the Gentiles. In general, there was much rejoicing and acceptance that God was receiving both Jew and Gentile in the new kingdom.
I see that you have something called Decrees for to Keep. Are you adding something to the Bible, the final Word of God? We believe the Word of God is His final written revelation to mankind.
In working out the scriptural practice of the Word of God in everyday life, we as humans have much to benefit from spiritually by receiving group direction. As individuals with a fallen human nature, we can form many selfish ways to “live out the Bible.”
Many people are asking what the purpose of life is. Many cannot seem to find answers to it and commit suicide, etc. This happens among the old and young alike. A number of years ago, I became acquainted with an older man. He seemed to be a decent sort of gentleman, and he became one of my casual friends. He lived alone – his children had moved on to other parts of the country. And then one day I heard he had committed suicide! The family came and took care of his things as if they’d come home for a family reunion. “He was old enough to know his own mind,” they said.
Our discussion began when my seat mate commented that he had observed my wife across the aisle. In observing her modest attire, he had questions about our identity. This opened the door for me to feel free to ask him questions about his faith. He seemed happy to inform me that he was a devout Catholic.
After months of planning and anticipation, the day had finally arrived. We were planning to take a nine-day trip to Alberta, Canada, to visit family. The excitement was running high. Preparations had been made. Food and clothing were packed. As we gathered the last few items, I remembered a very important item: the envelope of passports and birth certificates. After retrieving them from the safe, I carefully counted to make sure they were all there. One short. I counted again, but mine was missing. I rummaged through the safe, assuming it had slipped out of place, but with no success.
It is shortly after midnight on Feb. 26, 1852, off the coast of Africa. The troopship HMS Birkenhead has struck a rock and has begun to settle into the ocean. On its decks, 124 women and children are rushed into lifeboats while 454 English soldiers stand at attention on the deck. There is not enough room for them on the lifeboats. Major Seton gives the word of command, “Stand still, and die like Englishmen.” We all admire the discipline of a good soldier.
Israel wanted a king. God told Samuel to anoint Saul to be king. 1 Samuel 9:2 tells us that he was tall and extremely handsome. He evidently had a heart of humility (1Sa 9:20,21; 10:21-23). But after two years as king, 1 Samuel 13 paints a different picture of Saul. Now Saul is taking credit for things that happened in his kingdom that he did not do. An observance of the fruit would indicate that he now had a proud heart. 1 Samuel 15:26-28 tells us that God then rejected Saul from being king and gave the kingdom to a neighbor that was better than he.
From Jewish chants in the early church, to praise choruses in our day, the sound of singing in Christian assemblies has changed significantly. The changes have seldom gone smoothly. In some ways, Anabaptist groups have been less vulnerable to worship fads. They have historically kept a strong hold on their worship traditions. But the switch from German to English in the late 19th century broke that continuity and left the Anabaptists scrambling to borrow worship materials from the nearest Protestant sources.