Tag Archives: Christian

Faith Like A Fake Truffle?

Thievery, knockoffs, and sabatoge…welcome to the treacherous world of truffles. It is, truly, a shady business.

Of course, truffles grow 3 feet under ground in forested areas, so it has always been “shady.” But something truly shady is going on – fake truffles! And they are causing a stir.

Truffles are big business. Italian truffles fetch around $3,000 per pound. Some White Truffles recently went for $120,000 at auction!

But the truffle industry is facing its biggest challenge ever – Chinese knockoffs. You see, Chinese truffles don’t really have a smell or taste so they aren’t worth much. But Chinese farmers have learned a trick to cash in on the truffle craze – mix their truffles in with expensive Italian ones!

First, they artificially color the truffles. Then, they place them in with the more pungent Italian truffles. That way, they take on the look, smell, and flavor of the expensive truffles.

On close examination, fakes are discovered. But often it is too late. Buyers pay big money only to be duped by the counterfeits.

I can’t help but think of a parable Jesus told about wheat and tares growing next to each other (Matthew 13:24-20). The workers wanted to pull up the tares, but they would have torn up wheat as well. Rather, the master said to wait until both were fully grown; then they could easily separate them.

Just by hanging out at church,  “Christians” might seem authentic. Read about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 for a good example. They may sound Christian, act Christian, and look Christian.

But a more thorough examination is coming. And counterfeit Christians can’t hide among true disciples on that day. You can’t “fake it till you make it” with God.

No Christian is more valuable than another. There are no lesser Christians who will squeak into heaven. There are no fake Christians who will sneak into heaven either.

Only those who are truly known by Christ will enter into the Kingdom. Each of us should examine ourselves and ask, “Is my faith authentic? Or am I just hiding among Christians, hoping to blend in?”

I’m Surprised You Are Still So Easily Surprised!

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).  

Surprise! That word has come to mean something fun, hasn’t it? Perhaps it is a surprise birthday party, or it could be a gift, or it might be some good news. But when Peter used the word xenizo, translated as “surprised” in 1 Peter 4:12, he had something completely different in mind. And we would do well to heed his warning.

You see, when Peter used the word translated as surprised, he was saying that Christians should not be shocked or astonished “by the strangeness and novelty of a thing.” In other words, he wanted Christians to expect persecution and difficulties in this world. He knew that when we are surprised in that way, we act like scared, insecure people without faith. But if we expect the fiery ordeal, we will (hopefully) react with the dignity of Christ.

Yet, as I see Christians interacting in the world, one thought repeatedly strikes me: “Why are you still so surprised at the fiery ordeal?” I’m surprised that you are still surprised.

Don’t get me wrong; I get it. It is frustrating to look out in the world and feel like everything is against your way of thinking. This is especially true when you were sold on the idea that this is a Christian nation. I understand.

But that is never an excuse for Christians to behave like scared, insecure people without faith. If the media shows a bias toward publicizing one shooting and downplaying another, don’t be surprised! If people are praising one football player’s “taking a knee” despite having condemned another for “taking a knee,” don’t be surprised! You see where I’m going with this?

“Surprise” leads to negative, hateful, vitriol that spews forth from the Christian, lashing out like a frightened, wounded animal. Rather, as Christians, we need to follow the advice my old science teacher used to give. When asked if there would be a test the next day, he would say, “pray for the best, but expect the worst.”

When we do that, we will be less overwhelmed. When a fiery ordeal happens, we are prepared. Then, we actually leave room for a true surprise – delight when things go better than expected! Jesus experienced this kind of astonishment when He saw faith among the Gentiles that exceeded the faith of Israel.

Caleb Engle, the usher who stopped the shooter at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, is a good example of what I mean. After being hit in the face with a gun, and after wrestling the gunman from further killing and shooting, he asked people to pray for the church, the first responders…and the gunman. Now that is a delightful surprise to hear…and (by the way) an example of what Jesus would do.

Of course, Caleb is a Christian so that shouldn’t be a surprise. Yet, it is always a delight when God’s people act accordingly. Let’s try to be that kind of surprise for the world this week and leave the scared, wounded animal talk behind.

His Dignity Is The Real Deal

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

It’s about dignity. Simple, human, dignity. And yet, actual dignity is often hampered by human involvement. Consider recent examples:

Most people know that all races should be treated with dignity. Yet, as recently seen at Fenway Park, we have a long way to go before dignity prevails. The Boston Red Sox and the Mayor are still apologizing to Orioles’ Adam Jones for racist taunts and items thrown at him during Monday’s game.

Most people know that both men and women should be treated with dignity. But, we still have a long way to go before men and women receive equal dignity. Recent news, even from a progressive company such as Facebook, shows that coding by women gets rejected much more often than that of men for the same quality of work.

Most people know that rich and poor should be treated with dignity. But recent news from United Airlines has proven that many people still determine how to treat others based on finances. When a passenger was violently ejected from a flight, it wasn’t just his forcible removal that made headlines. The more sinister revelation was the math that proved that less dignity is regularly given to customers who are worth the least to the company.

None of this is surprising. We live in a sinful world where people, even those with good intentions, will fall short of the glory of God. But does the Christian have a solution?

Yes, Jesus is the answer!

In Christ, all have dignity. It doesn’t mean that we get it right all the time…because we’re human. But there is a goal. There is an ideal.

We strive to be like Jesus. He died for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic background. All have equal opportunity to receive eternal life in Him. And if change will ever come in this world, it will be through our efforts to conform to His likeness.

IXTHUS Is More Than A Fish

I had the privilege of speaking to my daughters’ co-op this week. They have been studying the Greek and Roman era, and the teachers asked me to come speak on the Early Church experience in that era. As always, I find that speaking with the kids helps remind me of what is most important… more than anything I teach them, I’m sure!

We closed the lesson by making an IXTHUS, or fish, in plaster. Now, as far as many today know, the fish is just an emblem on the back of a car. If you know a little more about it, you know it is a sign of Christianity. And if you know a little more, you know that early Christians used the Greek word for fish (IXTHUS) as an acronym for the words “Jesus, Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”

Of course, an old joke comes to mind. A police officer stops a driver and wants to see his license and registration. The driver shows it to him, and the officer is about to let him go. Before going, the driver asks what that was all about. The officer replies, “I saw you screaming at that other driver and honking your horn, but I saw the fish emblem on the car, so I assumed the car was stolen.”

Two thoughts come to mind: 1) Christianity is more than simply placing a symbol on our cars, and 2) There is a radical difference in how the fish symbol is used today vs. the early church. You see, the fish symbol wasn’t boldly placed in the open…rather, it was a private sign to believers to know where to safely meet to worship.

Many Christians today are serious about their faith. They have changed their lives, radically, in order to serve Christ. They are doing what they can to live in the faith. I don’t want to downplay that at all.

But, if you are like me, you can’t help but be impressed, and a little overwhelmed, with the faith of those in the early church. At best, they had trouble working and feeding their families because they wouldn’t sacrifice to the Greek & Roman gods. At worst, they were burned, beaten, crucified, and fed to lions.

So when I teach Christianity in the early church, and I teach the fish symbol, it gives me pause. Do I have any understanding, in the freedom of America, of what it means to worship as the early church did? And, without persecution, have we lapsed in our awe and reverence? And, would we be faithful if challenged at that level in our faith?

As the disciples cried out in Luke 17:5, “increase our faith,” Lord!