Somewhere around 1980, a musician by the name of Peter Jones was in his parents’ attic when he came across a bundle of very old letters. They were written to his great-great-grandfather, John Hunt, who had emigrated from County Mayo in Ireland in the 1850s, by his father, Bryan Hunt.
There are lots of stories in the Bible where someone’s name gets changed.
Abram becomes Abraham when God fulfills his promise to make Abraham the father of nations.
Jacob becomes Israel—“one who struggles with God”—after spending a night wrestling with his conscience, an angel, the spirit of the stream he’s camping beside, or God himself.
We have been dramatically reminded that even those Gothic cathedrals, built nearly a millennium ago and standing mostly intact ever since, are not permanent. The mortar that holds the stones together will eventually crumble and the walls will fall. We hope it isn’t in our lifetime, but the reality is that nothing built by humans is eternal. Nothing is permanent.
When Jesus told parables, he told them using images that were familiar to the people he was speaking to.
He told stories about shepherds and sheep, about planting and harvesting, about working and getting paid, about bread-baking—he told stories that started with something his hearers would recognize.
I have to say I have a problem with the whole idea of church discipline. Maybe it’s just because I am immersed in a culture that values individualism and independence, and doesn’t have much use for restrictions on our personal freedoms. But I’ve also seen and heard of church discipline being misused.
Maybe you’ve seen this: one of the latest diet trends is to teach people, “Eat This, Not That.” There’s a whole series of books, and even a magazine, with that title. When I was trying to figure out how to nurse my insides back to health after that nasty bug I got just before Christmas, I found websites with the same title, explaining how a person with touchy guts could keep them calm. It seems simple, a few quick swaps and you’ll be on your way to health.