Welcome to my little garden where I intend to plant gospel seeds – blog by blog – through short, readable commentaries of select Bible texts with the hope that it will flourish and bear much spiritual fruit in the lives of my readers (that’s you!).
The name Seed Notes comes from a story Jesus told about a farmer who scatters his seeds far and wide, with wildly divergent results. “The seed,” Jesus says (Luke 8:11), “is the word of God.”
To many, the Bible seems like a dense forest of moral laws, genealogies, poetry, ancient history, prophecies, and personal letters to long-dead churches. But actually it’s the living word of God that tells one compelling story about Jesus.
I hope the Seed Notes sown here will serve as a useful guide for you, dear Bible explorer, to taste and see the sweetness and fullness of God’s spiritual blessings in the unique and amazing collection of books we call the Bible.
(You can find out a bit more about me and my background here.)
*Note: You may read the following posts as a supplement to your individual study or devotion, or use them as discussion points with your friends, whether Christian or non-Christian. Included are a few questions to facilitate your personal reflection or group discussions.
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 9
Big Idea: For mature Christians, the rights of the whole community trumps the personal rights of the individual. It is right for a gospel worker to be paid for their work. It is also right for the gospel worker to choose not to be paid, so that the gospel is not compromised.
What’s free is not always good. That’s what advertisers often want us to believe. Price is a measure of quality. The more we pay, the better it is. Want Adele to sing at your wedding? Or former president Clinton to speak at your conference? Show them the money!
Continue reading “Not Everything Cheap is Worthless”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 8
Big Idea: True Christian faith is not about following a strict set of dietary rules. How we love matters more to God than what we eat. Truly mature believers are willing to give up what they’re rightly entitled to, in order not to stumble other fellow believers.
You are what you eat. What’s true for health is also true for faith. Hindus don’t eat beef. Buddhists are vegetarians. Muslims don’t eat pork, nor drink alcohol. In many religions, food is a handy measure of piety. Not so for the Christian. Christians can eat whatever we fancy. Nothing we eat (or don’t eat) can bring us closer to God.
But not everything we eat is equally pleasing to God. Continue reading “What Not to Eat”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Big Idea: Our time on earth is limited. Don’t waste it by restlessly searching for the “perfect life.” Devote our present lives fully to God instead, mindful of the coming end.
“Two and a half years.” That’s what her London doctor said. Annabel had beaten breast cancer before, back in 2010. But this time, in June 2012, just months after she lost both her parents in a tragic car crash, Annabel was diagnosed with stage four bone cancer.
What would you do if that were you?
Continue reading “What To Do When Life is Short”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 7:8-24
Big Idea: There is no ideal condition for us to attain in order to better serve God. We can honour God just as we are now – whether single, married, divorced, or remarried.
At age 29, Siddhartha had everything one could possibly wish for. Born into a royal family, he had wealth, status, health, as well as a beautiful wife and son. But a nagging restlessness stirred within. Surely there was something more – better and greater – than what he had now. Seeking that spiritual kingdom, Siddhartha renounced his earthly one. He left absolutely everything behind. That’s what made Siddhartha into the Buddha.
Continue reading “Keep Calm and Carry On!”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 7:1-7
Big Idea: Sex within marriage is just as much a spiritual activity as prayer is. Christian spouses should not deprive one another of this ‘right’ lest Satan exploits it for his evil purposes.
“Sex is a good spiritual activity” sounds more like a mantra from a New Age guru than a Christian missionary. So believers probably expected Paul to affirm the Corinthian pro-abstinence, pro-celibacy slogan (7:1) – “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” Yet Paul’s surprising antidote to sexual immorality was not to have less sex, but to have more!
Continue reading “The Bible Says Have More Sex?”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 6:7-20
Big Idea: How we choose to live reveals what we believe to be true and good. Faith and lifestyle, spirit and body, are inseparable. Our physical bodies have eternal spiritual significance because Jesus – to whom we’re joined – rose bodily from the dead.
“When you’re a star, you can do anything,” said Donald Trump. This 10-year-old audio recording immediately went viral at the closing stages of the 2016 presidential campaign. In vulgar terms, Mr. Trump bragged about kissing, groping, and having sex with women.
When you are rich and famous, Mr. Trump implies, you’re not bound by normal rules that apply to everyone else. Continue reading ““When You’re a Star, You Can Do Anything””
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 6:1-6
Big Idea: Jesus’ reputation is worth more than what money can buy. The world urges us to demand what we’re due by any legal means necessary. The gospel tells us it is better to lose our money (and our rights) than to lose our Christian testimony.
What would you do if someone saved you from drowning? Thank them? Buy them a gift? Cook them a meal? Not Roy Ortiz. He sued them!
Continue reading “See You in Court!”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 5
Big Idea: Openly sinful acts must not be tolerated in Jesus’ church. The church as a whole must deal with it to restore both the wrongdoer, as well as the community’s collective testimony to an unbelieving world.
It was an open secret. A particular man was having sex with his stepmother. This same man was also a regular member in church. Yet no one said anything about his affair. Not even the church leaders.
Continue reading “When Bieber Came to Church”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 4
Big Idea: Even the highest of leaders in church are nothing more than the humblest of servants in God’s household. Consider them from the viewpoint of Golgotha, not Wall Street or Madison Avenue.
Vincent van Gogh. Stieg Larsson. Harry Truman. What do they have in common? Far more people appreciated them after they died than when alive.
Continue reading “Even the Batman Needs a Butler”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 3
Big Idea: To follow blindly any one church leader is a sign of immaturity. All true leaders work together to serve God’s purpose of making disciples of Jesus, for Jesus.
What would you do for your idol? One fan tattooed his body in 15 places with Miley Cyrus’ name or image. Another legally changed her name to Mrs. Kanye West. A third intentionally broke her leg so that she’d look like Jessie J. (The singer had accidentally broken her leg at the time).1 Fans also berate others – on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – when something bad is said about their idol.
Continue reading “Act like Fans = Think like Kids”