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  • J. Randal Matheny 6:01 am on 2017-02-22 Permalink | Reply
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    Learning to trust God 

    Trust is a precious and rare commodity in the world. It is easily damaged and destroyed by thoughtlessness and selfishness. To place ourselves or a part of our hearts in the hands of another is a delicate step.

    We have learned therefore that trust is not to be extended lightly. We’ve become skeptical, even hardened against hurt. Love is a jittery bird, easily frightened.

    Coupled with our desire to see before we step, such reluctance to trust prevents us from having a full and free relationship with God. He deserves our unreserved confidence. He never fails his people. He always comes through. He never forgets a promise. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 8:26 pm on 2017-02-21 Permalink | Reply
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    VOTD: Psalm 119.2 

    “How blessed are those who observe [God’s] rules, and seek him with all their heart” (NET).

    Psalm 119 begins with two blessings. This is the second of the two. It pairs obedience to God’s commands and a full-hearted seeking of God. What few consider a blessing today is actually even more so in the new covenant of Christ. If it was a blessing under the old law, how much more so is it a blessing today.

  • J. Randal Matheny 9:09 pm on 2017-02-19 Permalink | Reply
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    Take up the shield of faith 

    “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” Eph 6.16 NIV.

    A shield provides protection. We need protection from the evil one. He is the devil, the father of lies and a highly successful warrior against the sons of man. He always takes aim in order to bring us down spiritually. Our protection from the evil one is faith. This faith must be taken up. It must be used. We must put our faith into play in order for it to protect us. Faith is useless to us if not taken up.

    How do we take up the shield of faith? By practicing the word of God. By obeying the commandment of God. By believing the promises of God. By proclaiming the salvation of God. By putting first the kingdom of God.

    Faith is active. It bids us to take hold of its power. Without it we cannot be successful against the evil one. Without it we cannot be successful in the victory of God.

  • J. Randal Matheny 2:56 pm on 2017-02-10 Permalink | Reply
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    We got clergy in the Lord’s church 

    Ron T. has an excellent article that deserves a close reading, “Dismissing the preacher for a change in direction.”

    What Ron describes is a symptom of a larger problem, it would seem, of treating preachers (and preachers considering themselves) as employees.

    You hear and read it all the time, that a man is a “preacher for” such-and-such congregation. Language betrays. Profound restoration is needed on this point.

    In the 2017 FHU Lectureship book, a contributor wrote about “lay” preachers. Editors let that go.

    What is the opposite of laymen? Clergy.

    • Eugene 3:23 pm on 2017-02-10 Permalink | Reply

      Concerning the FHU writing, do you believe it’s possible the contributor made a poor choice in wording and should have used “vocational” instead?

      • J. Randal Matheny 5:41 pm on 2017-02-10 Permalink | Reply

        Possibly, yes. It was translated into Spanish and the translator, from my incomplete knowledge of that language, chose to use a word meaning “simple,” taking it to mean, apparently, unschooled. But how does such a term insinuate itself into the language of a people who used to fight tooth and toenail the idea of clergy and laity? Many of our preachers and saints do consider the full-time “minister” to be a clergyman, if not in “theology” then in practice. Most churches act like it, too.

        • Eugene Adkins 10:32 am on 2017-02-11 Permalink | Reply

          I thought that might be the case, but I still hear you. It’s much akin to the same way a tie becomes equated to a collar in some eyes.

          • J. Randal Matheny 11:59 am on 2017-02-11 Permalink | Reply

            Ha! Good one. True.

    • James Pasley 4:35 pm on 2017-02-11 Permalink | Reply

      What you have pointed out here is just one more step on the road toward denominationalism. I also read Ron’s article and found it to have a good point. On the other side of the preacher being dismissed to “go a different direction” are the preachers who use smaller congregations as a stepping stone like a hireling so that they can go on to bigger and better things. Many preachers leave a congregation behind not because there is anything wrong with the leadership or outlook of the congregation, but simply to move to a bigger better paying position. There are times on both sides when the preacher or the congregation may want to serve the Lord in a different way or bring in someone who may have some new ideas (in matters of opinion, not doctrine). These things are not necessarily wrong or sinful, but the way it is handled sometimes is.

      • J. Randal Matheny 12:37 pm on 2017-02-13 Permalink | Reply

        James, I have observed from afar what you noted, and hoped that my conclusions were wrong. I saw this happen recently and felt profound sadness.

  • J. Randal Matheny 7:57 am on 2017-02-10 Permalink | Reply
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    USA travels (photos) 

    We arrived Wednesday at the Nashville airport. Our son Joel picked us up. Before leaving the city, he wanted to lunch at Café Mineiro, a Brazilian restaurant.

    The next day I was already speaking at the FHU Lectureship on communication and technology. Our daughter studies here and Joel is a dorm dad, besides his regular day job.

    We left temps of 95ºF and were greeted by 30º weather with wind. Jet lag, language switch. All our children came to support me.

    And we’re finding time for the grandkids: (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 6:55 pm on 2017-02-05 Permalink | Reply

    Does this apply to you? 

    The writer of Hebrews tries to shake up his readers for faithfulness with these words: “you should in fact be teachers by this time” Heb 5.12.

    Might this observation apply to you?

    • Maybe you grew up in a home where God is honored.
    • Maybe you attended a college where the Bible is taught.
    • Maybe you’ve been a member of the body of Christ for some time.
    • Maybe you’ve possessed a Bible for some time.

    If so, and you’re not able to teach another person the gospel and open up the Bible to tell others what God’s will is, this phrase probably applies to you.

    Some saints have the gift of teaching, but all of us ought to be able to teach.

    So if the above applies to you, what are you going to do about it?

  • J. Randal Matheny 4:47 am on 2017-02-04 Permalink | Reply
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    Key verse of 1 Corinthians? 

    Yesterday, I posted Nelson Smith’s comment on 1 Cor 16.14: “Everything you do should be done in love.” After reading again the conclusion of the letter, with its emphasis on love, it makes a body wonder if this verse might not serve well as the key verse to the entire letter.

    As we wrote some years back for the 21st Century Christian Adult Bible Quarterly, the problem behind the problems in Corinth was arrogance. It was almost as if the word of God had originated with them, 1 Cor 14.36, so free did they feel to modify it. Chapter 13, that towering declaration on love, is central to the discussion on gifts. Paul puts love forward as the solution.

    So, in a way, doing all in love serves as an excellent summary statement of what the apostle has been writing throughout his letter. It is the ultimate arrogance killer, 1 Cor 8.2, and the path to being known by God, 1 Cor 8.3. So we must “pursue love” 1 Cor 14.1.

    Love is not love until it motivates and permeates everything we do.

    • Eugene Adkins 9:17 am on 2017-02-04 Permalink | Reply

      So what you’re saying is 1 Corinthians 13 wasn’t originally written for marriage ceremonies?

      • J. Randal Matheny 9:57 am on 2017-02-04 Permalink | Reply

        Shhh! Don’t tell anybody and ruin the ceremony industry.

  • J. Randal Matheny 6:59 pm on 2017-02-03 Permalink | Reply

    Nelson Smith comments on 1 Corinthians 16.14 

    “Let all your things be done with charity (agape-love).”

    ” Short verse — short comment. Do your own thinking on this and see what you make of it. It tells me that love is the very thread with which the fabric of the universe is woven. God is ‘above all, through all and in all.’ (Eph. 4:6) But to the Corinthian Christians this would be a tender rebuke for as Paul’s epistles to them show, many (if not most) of the things they had done and were doing had not been done with love. It is also meant for us for we (especially Christians) too are obligated to do all our things with love. There are no exceptions if we are to do God’s will. A self-examination with respect to motivation for the things we do and the attitude with which we do them may be surprising and even profitable to us. Think on this and you will be surprised how much ‘COMMENT’ will grow out of your thinking.”

    —Nelson M. Smith, Agape Study Manual, p. 211

  • J. Randal Matheny 9:32 am on 2017-02-01 Permalink | Reply
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    A necessary battle 

    The people of God in some regions of the world, Brazil included, are locked in a necessary battle for their identity. Within their midst false teachings have arisen. Such teachings may emanate from newcomers. Often, however, trusted brethren change their message. Where they once proclaimed the truth, now they preach a modified gospel, which is no gospel at all, but a distorted version of it. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 2:09 am on 2017-02-01 Permalink | Reply

    VOTD: 1 John 3.16 

    “We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians” (NET).

    • J. Randal Matheny 2:11 am on 2017-02-01 Permalink | Reply

      The NET Bible (bible.org) is a fine version, with tons of textual notes, my go-to choice in English. Here, however, they’ve translated αδελφων (brethren, or brothers and sisters) as “fellow Christians.” The term “Christians” actually appears only three times in the New Testament. NET would have done better, if they were going to change it up, to translate it as “spiritual family” or something similar.

  • J. Randal Matheny 4:10 am on 2017-01-28 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119.86 

    So how the second line connect with the first?

    All your commands are reliable.
    I am pursued without reason. Help me! (NET)

    And in what sense is a command reliable?

    • Eugene Adkins 4:13 pm on 2017-01-29 Permalink | Reply

      I suppose a command is only as reliable as the one giving the command. As for the first part, I suppose the frustration would be the difficulty of reconciling how doing good leads to being treated wrongfully. Followed by a request of the good commander for help due to the psalmist’s view of the said commander’s commands.

    • J. Randal Matheny 4:42 am on 2017-01-30 Permalink | Reply

      I wondered if the reliability of the commands refers to the promises attached to them.

      • Eugene Adkins 5:50 pm on 2017-01-30 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know. Perhaps both. Verses 89-90 seems to lean toward the emphasis of the one “settling” the word/commandment/law. Verses 92-93 seem to lean toward what you’re saying. I don’t think either view damages the other. The trustworthiness of God’s word definitely seems to be the point.

        After initially reading your question my mind was thinking more along the lines of someone being able to “promise” you the moon, but that doesn’t mean they can deliver on it. With God it is a much different story.

  • J. Randal Matheny 7:47 am on 2017-01-26 Permalink | Reply
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    I believe in life after death 

    I answered a question about life after death here:


    I also shared this answer, with a slight edit, to readers of UPLift.


  • J. Randal Matheny 9:52 am on 2017-01-25 Permalink | Reply
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    Spiritual security of the faithful 

    Women need a feeling of security, say many writers in the field of marriage and counseling. That observation seems to hold true in our experience. That security often means physical and financial security. Though today it’s socially anathema to say it, a woman often looks for a husband who will provide these things for her. She wants to feel protected.

    This was Naomi’s prayer for her daughters-in-law, after the death of her sons: “May the Lord enable each of you to find security in the home of a new husband!” Ruth 1.9.

    At the same time, we all need security. Let’s first define our terms. The dictionaries give something like this: “1. freedom from danger, risk, etc.; safety. 2. freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt. 3. something that protects or makes safe; defense.” No one can live on the cusp of danger. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 4:09 am on 2017-01-22 Permalink | Reply
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    This Day, the First 

    On this day, the first, when Jesus rose
    Alive, and set aside his burial clothes,
    His faithful followers come together and meet,
    To sing his praise, around his table they eat,
    And in his Name they pray for peace
    And courage to speak, that he increase,
    His grace be given, his saving truth be spread,
    Because they know he lives who once was dead.
    Their God is Father, they in Christ immersed,
    This day they glory in him whom God raised first.


  • J. Randal Matheny 5:47 am on 2017-01-19 Permalink | Reply
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    Lack of human bond factor in addictions 

    Isolation is apparently a strong factor in addictions, according to one study.

    “… humans absolutely require connections with other humans, and when we fail to make these bonds, we unconsciously form a bond with what we can find — for some its drugs, for others it may be gambling or any other addictive behaviors.”

    The church of Jesus Christ makes a great difference here, IF we are following God’s plan to be the true family of faith and developing relationships based on the ardent love of God, 1 Pet 1.22, rather than a bunch of individuals who show up once or twice a week to go through some rituals.

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