March 16, 2010

Reaching Full Potential: Crime or Church?



      The headline read: Clinton alludes to human rights in arrival speech.

     Former President, Bill Clinton, visiting China, was giving a “gentle reminder of U. S. disapproval of China’s human rights abuses.”

     “…the commitment to providing all human beings the opportunity to develop their full potential is vital to the strength and success of the new China,” he stated, according to the USA Today’s report.

     Isn’t that commitment a key to the vitality of all governments, all countries, all organizations—and all churches?

     I have to ask: What is (more…)

A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 24



Monte Holland

This is the twenty-fourth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals called “Scriptural Lessons Leading to a Godly and Moral Life.” To start the study, click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Introduction or

To view yesterday’s A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 23

Today’s photographs feature Kirche auf dem Wallberg, a chapel on top of Wahlberg Mountain in Germany. To view click on:


Looking at Love of Neighbor

     Even though it doesn’t speak to the love of neighbor directly, the following verse gives helpful advice along those lines—

22Don’t try to get even. Trust the LORD, and he will help you. Proverbs 20:22 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

     Combined with Jesus’ statement of the Great Commandment, located in three places in the Gospels, Jesus offers additional valuable teaching about dealing with our neighbors:

39But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you.—

 43You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” 44But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. 45Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. Matthew 5:39, 43-45  Contemporary English Version (CEV)

     As we mature we learn how to get along with other people. At home we must contend with brothers and sisters, who, in many families, fight “like cats and dogs.” Parents often seem like the “enemy” with their “unreasonable” rules and high expectations of their children.

      When we are outside the home, we spend a lot of time at work, in school or various public places. Learning to love in a Godly, moral way is an ongoing process. The verses that we look at today seem quite appropriate to guide us both in the growing and in the later years in life.

      Especially in recent years, we hear about bullying in the schools. It happened to me when I was a child, but not to the same extent. I started my school years in a one-room country school, where children from certain families didn’t like the children of another family. The school was divided into two camps of people that wanted to fight each another. Even though I didn’t belong to one of those families, it was difficult to stay on the sidelines. Matthew 5:43 reminds us of the phrase, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” I think we bought into that, wholeheartedly.

     I don’t expect that it is much different today. We hate the bully, whether he beats up our friends or beats us up. How can we love a violent person? Who wants to go to school when you may be beaten up on the way, or when you expect something bad to happen to you there? We don’t like being afraid.

      Jesus tells us to take a different stance. We may not be able to beat the bully or change how he acts, but he cannot stop us from praying for him and generating love for him. Jesus reminded us of two things. First, every person is created in the image of God. Second, God provides for evil people as He does for good people. On the other hand, God is disappointed in any of us when we fail to do God’s will. The bully is surely in trouble on this count with God. But we shouldn’t get too cocky ourselves. If we fail to love our enemies and pray for them, we are just as disobedient to God, and just as displeasing to God.

     Bullies put a special burden in our lives in two ways: in their ability to hurt us, they make us afraid, and in their ability to tempt us to stray from the Godly, moral life.

Jesus’ words for us today: 44But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Matthew 5:44 (CEV)


Exercise 1: How can we possibly (more…)

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