All posts by jtannian

What People Miss about the Rich Young Ruler

There are  three key things in the story of the Rich Young Ruler that people miss.  The story is about an eager young man who fails to value Jesus more than his wealth. In the end he goes away sad.

The three points

First, how did this man approach Jesus?  Did he approach him as a flawed man needing a savior? Or did he approach him in a manner saying, I am OK tell me so? Who needs a savior, if they don’t need to be saved?   This man wanted a pat on the back. He didn’t want a change in his heart. Jesus wanted this man’s heart changed. Hence, he challenged him in a hard way based on the fact that he presented himself as someone who had ‘arrived’. Continue reading What People Miss about the Rich Young Ruler

Why is Envy Green?

Norasit's Gallery (NorGal)

I suspect there would be many green Americans, if envy could actually turn you green. Marketing leverages this emotion in order to generate sales. Although we might deny such marketing tricks work on us, it’s evidently working on someone, otherwise sales and marketing agencies would not employ this strategy.

An individual can become sick with envy. Some believe the color green became associated with envy because infections can actually turn green. Infection can be deadly if left untreated.  The same is true with envy.

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Saul and Jonathan

Saul and Jonathan were a father – son team whose lives both ended sadly and abruptly on the same day. It appears that Jonathan trusted his father; because of this, some speculate that Saul was a good one. The odd thing about this though, is that we discover his trust was misplaced.

Maybe he was a good dad at one point but I’m fairly certain he didn’t remain that way. As Saul traveled down the road away from God often out of expediency and self-absorption, his fatherhood suffered.

Continue reading Saul and Jonathan

Losing Heart

Love Tree

‘Don’t lose heart’ Has anyone ever encouraged you with those words? You might have heard it when you were in the middle of a meaningful project and facing difficulties. On the road of life there are ventures that require long commitments and we are bound to have struggles..

In those struggles, our heart often suffer blows or hurts. When wounded we can retreat or attack. In either case, scars are left behind. After several blows, we may lose heart. Once we lose heart, typically we slowly or not so slowly abandon the project or endeavor that was originally meaningful to us.

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True Treasure

pot of golden coins collected with help of metal detector

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44 NIV

Some thought he overpaid for the field. Some thought him crazy. He cared not. The joy he felt was real. Why such joy?  He knew the value of the treasure – though others may not recognize it – he did. Some said what a sacrifice. The man in joy saw not the sacrifice but the value of the treasure. He rejoiced and in his jubilance shared it with others – all he could.

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The Unjust Steward

A perspective from the pew

Many people have a problem understanding Luke 16:1-15, because Jesus appears to praise bad behavior. This parable, like many, deals with the subject of money. A rich man and the rich man’s manager are the primary characters. The dishonest manager or steward is accused of misusing his boss’s possessions. He hatches a scheme to forgive a great portion of his client’s debt that’s owed to his boss. He does this out of pure self-interest, hoping to establish friendships with his debtors. This way, when things go bad, he will have relationships to help cover him. When his boss discovers the scheme, he praises him for his shrewdness.

Jesus doesn’t fully explain the meaning of the parable, so we are left feeling confused like his disciples, who often came to him afterwards wanting an explanation. Fortunately, most commentators agree that the key to understanding this parable is in verses 8 and 9.

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Justice meets Mercy

When justice meets mercy who wins? In this world it depends. In the United States, Presidents and Governors can issue a pardon and release a guilty prisoner. This is an exception though. In most governments, for justice to be just it should be blind. In theory this is good but it often limits society’s ability to exercise mercy.

In God’s kingdom we are told that mercy triumphs…

Continue reading Justice meets Mercy