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People say that black is beautiful, and I believe it. I think the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen on a human being was that of a young Ethiopian woman. She had been imprisoned eleven times for her participation in evangelistic and church activities, and every time she got out, she just went right on proclaiming Christ. When she would tell how the young people were marched off to jail, with their hands uplifted, singing and praising God, her face would shine. I saw there a beauty I have never seen anywhere else. The Bible says very clearly that black is beautiful (Song of Solomon 1:5). But as I studied the black persons mentioned in Scripture more carefully, I found another message—the Bible implies that black is blessed. Not that being black automatically makes you blessed, but these people had an unusual way of reaching out to God—finding Him as their own, embracing Him and His ways, committing themselves to the truth of the Gospel. And God blessed them. Read more
. . . The twelfth verse (italicized above) contains a rare Greek verb, found only here in the entire Bible. This word, authentein, is ordinarily translated “to bear rule” or “to usurp authority”; yet a study of other Greek literary sources reveals that it did not ordinarily have this meaning until the third or fourth century, well after the time of the New Testament. Essentially the word means “to thrust oneself.” Its earliest meanings are noteworthy, since they might provide a quite different understanding of a difficult text.  Read more
Although we may idealize the early church, most of us would not have enjoyed a visit to a worship service at Corinth. The impression which one was most likely to receive was that of chaos and delirious insanity: So if the whole congregation is assembled and all are using the "strange tongues" of ecstasy, and some uninstructed persons or unbelievers should enter, will they not think you are mad? (I Cor. 14:23, NEB). Read more
Often when I've heard James 2 addressed in a sermon or in a Bible study, the message was a simple admonishment to “not show favoritism” or perhaps “don't discriminate based on how well someone is dressed.” These lessons have their place in our image-conscious and outwardly-focused society. Read more
In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul calls the men and women who were praying and prophesying in the assembly at Corinth to respect culturally relevant gender markers like head coverings, hair lengths, and hairstyles as a way of honoring God and each other. In doing so, he uses the metaphor of “head” and emphasizes interdependence between men and women. He shapes this passage in such a way that the key points are set in parallel groups with the strongest emphasis appearing at the center.  Read more
As I grow older, I relate to the Bible as I do my long term friends. Some friends I can remember in their teens, then twenties, and thirties. I remember the struggles we have faced over the years, the victories we have celebrated together, and how our values have grown and changed over time.  Read more
Acts 16:6-25 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.  Read more
A: Paul’s childbearing comment, infamously found in 1 Timothy 2:15, has long confounded interpreters. First, I will share my own view of this perplexing verse, but humility and honesty require me to give others’ opinions as well, for the most certain thing that can be said is that interpreters disagree on its meaning. Though Paul knew what he meant when he said, “she will be saved through childbearing,” his meaning has long eluded his readers. Read more
At the heart and soul of our lives as followers of Christ is this: We are trying to walk the talk. In the Scriptures and in the healing witness of Jesus, we have encountered the powerful, life-changing invitation to an alternative way of living. We have been given a vision of the realm of God, and invited to live out that vision in the particular soil of our lives.  Read more
The Bible does not allow gender to be a criterion for eligibility for any office or function in the church. Although in the Semitic/Hebrew culture the subordination of women to men was probably universal, and although there were no early explicit divine prohibitions against female subordination, the climax of special divine revelation in the New Testament repudiates such subordination and teaches the full equality of women and men. This equality is wrongly compromised when gender is made a criterion for church office. In support of the foregoing, the following theses are offered: Read more

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