Rock of Ages

By Linda Tancs

I’m captivated by large boulders, especially those with a history. In New York City alone, the giant outcroppings framing many of the city’s most prominent open spaces arise from bedrock ranging in age from 1.1 billion to 190 million years old. Those are rocks of ages, but not the Rock.

The Lord is often referred to as our Rock, especially in the Psalms (see, e.g., Psalm 18:31; 28:1; 42:9; 62:7; 78:35; 92:15; 94:22 and 144:1). It’s a particularly apt metaphor, considering that rocks symbolize strength and stability. In biblical terms, a rock also presents a place of refuge, as David discovered on his many retreats from the threats of Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-7). And during the exodus, a rock represented a miraculous source of water for the Israelites (Deuteronomy 8:15). In summary, a rock symbolizes strength, protection and provision. Is it any wonder that it’s used so frequently in the Bible to refer to God, our true Rock of Ages?

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Life Outside the Box

By Linda Tancs

Sometimes life may feel like one giant closet organizer. There’s a box for hopes and dreams. A box where we shelve our concerns about money. A box for work. A box for relationships, past or present. You may even put God in a box, usually opened on Sunday for an hour or so.

Benjamin Franklin said, “A place for everything, everything in its place.” Well, that might work for closets, but living a box-like life is stifling—and unrealistic. Life is messy. It’s hard to compartmentalize feelings, actions or emotions. We’re not robots; we’re human beings created to be interdependent. Living inside the box fosters independence, isolation and self-sufficiency; living outside the box produces reliance and interdependence.

Interdependence is vital to Christian unity. The Scriptures remind us of its value in personal relationships (Genesis 2:24; 1 Timothy 5:8), teamwork (1 Peter 4:10) and character development (Philippians 2:3-4). Thinking outside the box is a business cliché. Living outside the box is a profundity.

Don’t Be a Fool

By Linda Tancs

April Fool’s Day aside, there’s no good reason to play the fool. From a biblical standpoint, it’s anything but funny. The Bible depicts fools as those who are controlled by their own mind, will and emotions; they’re confident only in themselves and resist instruction.

The Book of Proverbs, specifically, provides a host of information on the characteristics of a fool. For instance, fools only care about their own opinions (Proverbs 18:2) and eschew wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7). They lack discretion and often speak without considering the consequences (Proverbs 18:13; 29:20). They never seem to learn from their prior actions or mistakes (Proverbs 26:11). Worst of all, some don’t believe in God (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

We all fall short from time to time. Indeed, maybe some of the examples above sound embarrassingly familiar to you. Who hasn’t said, or done, a foolish thing? The key is to resist trusting in yourself too much. Don’t be governed by your own mind, will and emotions at the expense of everything else. Instead, trust in the wisdom of the Scriptures, which help develop prudence, discernment and discretion.

Are You An Influencer?

By Linda Tancs

Our world is full of influencers, a term we’re bombarded with constantly in the digital realm. What does it mean to have influence? A dictionary definition presents it as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

What kind of influence do you have at home or at work? Do you use it to raise others up or to tear them down? How do you behave on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

Scripture encourages us all to be influencers—to influence the world in a way that enhances our own character, development and behavior and those of others. Two principal means mentioned in the Bible by which to do this are by acting as salt and light. We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Salt preserves, purifies and flavors. Paul reminded the Colossians to season their conversation with salt (Colossians 4:6). Do you lace your conversations (online or otherwise) with salt? Edifying others through words and behavior also makes us all shine (Philippians 2:14-15).

God is the ultimate influencer. As you spread salt and light, you’ll be increasingly rendered in His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

In God’s Hands

By Linda Tancs

I love watching antiques shows and other programs that explore the value of things. A baseball is just a baseball unless Babe Ruth threw it. A dusty painting in the attic is worth at best a few dollars unless it turns out to be a da Vinci.

On a spiritual level, the value of things turns out quite differently when placed in God’s hands. Jesus was able to take a few loaves of bread and some fish on two occasions and feed thousands of people (Matthew 14:13-21 and 15:32-39; Mark 6:31-44 and 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14).  He also turned water into wine at a wedding ceremony, performing his first miracle (John 2:1-11). In each case, His divine ability to meet the needs of everyone around Him is illustrated.

Imagine how powerful it would be to place your cares in God’s hands. The returns are priceless.

The Principle of Adhesion

By Linda Tancs

In legal parlance, an adhesion contract is one that is so one-sided that one party benefits practically exclusively from it. In commercial relationships, it’s easy to view that as unfair to the party negatively impacted.

In the spiritual realm, though, we benefit greatly from a unilateral contract. It’s a new covenant of grace initiated by God through faith in Christ—a contract of adhesion with innumerable benefits:

  • the old passes away and we become like new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • worry and anxiety are unnecessary emotions (Matthew 6:31-34)
  • a life of faith ensues (Galatians 2:20)
  • eternal life is obtained (John 3:16)
  • the fruits of the Holy Spirit are qualities available to us, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

Now there’s a contract worth signing.

Busyness or Business?

By Linda Tancs

How often have you heard, or said, “I’m so busy.” What is busyness? Sometimes, it’s action for the sake of action (“busy work”), something to do to fill the void. Other times it’s something necessary and purposeful, like washing the dishes or preparing a meal. Business, on the other hand, often implies a purposeful activity, something with real consequence attached, like personal or professional growth, income or reputation.

The difference between busyness and business is found in Luke’s telling of Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). When Jesus visited their home, Martha was too busy attending to household tasks to enjoy Jesus’ company like Mary did. Martha even asked Jesus to chastise Mary for not helping with the hostess duties! Instead, He chastised Martha. Why? Because despite Martha’s seemingly hard work, Mary was the one who was truly productive. She got down to business, so to speak, in the Word of God. She took advantage of the opportunity for personal growth and understanding by learning at Jesus’ feet. She seized the day.

Sometimes the distinction between busyness and business comes down to a state of “being” (like Mary) or “doing” (like Martha). We all need to be doers in some respect, but don’t neglect being in relationship with Christ. When you’re lost in a maze of duties, lay down the distractions and put on His mind (Hebrews 12:2).

A popular poem called The Dash by Linda Ellis reminds us that all that separates birth and death is a dash (–). What does that dash represent for you? Busyness or business?

Go Forward in Faith

By Linda Tancs

What does it mean to go forward in faith? Faith is described in Hebrews as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We hang our hats, so to speak, on faith. It gives us the courage to move forward, in God’s will, with plans for a hopeful future.

Hebrews 11 is a treasure trove of examples of faith-filled living. We’re reminded of Noah, who built an ark in anticipation of a flood that no one could see coming. Abraham moved house at God’s command without knowing how it would work out in his new location. A barren Sarah became pregnant in the face of physiological impossibility. A stammering Moses became spokesperson for a nation. Daniel survived the lions’ den.

Trailblazers. All of them. They relied on God’s promise and prevailed. Imagine what you could do by releasing your faith in God and resolving to take the necessary steps to accomplish your goals. Whatever you feed grows; feed your faith.

Peace Be With You

By Linda Tancs

The Bible reminds us that in this world we’ll have trouble (John 16:33). In some translations, trouble is defined as tribulation. No matter how it’s phrased, it doesn’t sound very peaceful, does it?

Let’s face it. Peace in this life is entirely conditional and fleeting. You’ll have it “so long as”—so long as you get a promotion, take your medication, keep that job, raise good kids and so on. Jesus understood the strains of daily living. That’s why He encouraged his followers to take His yoke upon them (Matthew 11:29). Peace isn’t found in a thing or a condition. It’s found in a Person (Colossians 3:15; Galatians 5:22).

If you incorporate His peace into your daily life, then your concerns won’t necessarily disappear, but you’ll be better able to deal with them (Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:18).

 

A Voice of One

By Linda Tancs

John the Baptist identified himself as the voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness (John 1:23). Do you sometimes feel like a voice of one? Are you a non-conformist? John certainly was; he lived alone in the desert, adorned in camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:3-4).

John had the privilege—and grace—of not being seduced by majority rule or peer pressure. In our modern day it may sometimes seem easier to conform. We’re afraid to stand alone, worried about being set aside. Paul’s first-century dictate not to be conformed to this world may seem impossible, even dangerous, in today’s society (Romans 12:2). But the more we conform, the less able we are to discern and follow the righteous path, to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2). We run the risk of following the masses in doing evil (Exodus 23:2).

As a teenage motto reminded me years ago, stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.