The gospel is centered in God

Here’s a little 3×5 card that puts the gospel squarely (or rectangularly) centered in God and his activity.

#gospel #God #salvation

Which voice will you listen to?

While doing some research for my Forthright Magazine article today, “How humility acts,” I came across this little item, which I liked. May you be encouraged by it. It was titled, “The Voices of the World.”

Appetite says, “Be sensuous, enjoy yourself.”

Education says, “Be resourceful, expand yourself.”

Materialism says, “Be satisfied, please yourself.”

Psychology says, “Be confident, fulfill yourself.”

Pride says, “Be superior, promote yourself.”

Humanism says, “Be capable, believe in yourself.”

God says, “Be wise, humble yourself.”

#humility, #lists, #voices, #wisdom

Self-control is heritable

From an abstract of a metastudy on inheritability of the trait of self-discipline:

Self-control is the ability to control one’s impulses when faced with challenges or temptations, and is robustly associated with physiological and psychological well-being. … The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis to provide a quantitative overview of the heritability of self-control. … Our results revealed an overall monozygotic twin correlation of 0.58, and an overall dizygotic twin correlation of 0.28, resulting in a heritability estimate of 60%. … This finding provides evidence that when aiming to understand individual differences in self-control, one should take genetic factors into account.

It’s not the last word of course, and would anyone say that nature trumps nurture? Continue reading


Church as people of God

Perhaps it’s such a generic phrase that it gets frequently overlooked. But as I was doing some study in Portuguese yesterday, I noted that in a goodly part of our literature, we don’t include the phrase, “people of God,” in our lists of descriptions of the Lord’s church. Continue reading

#church, #church-descriptions, #people-of-god

Notes on Colossians 4.7

As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information, Col 4.7 NASB.

Today’s MOST Bible verse is Col 4.7. Most Bible versions prefer translating the Greek word διάκονος as “minister” rather than its general sense, “servant.” Why is that? (A few, mostly off-versions, translate it as “deacon.”) Are they tainted by a clergy mindset, since “minister” has become an official title? Or is it simpler, considering that the third noun is σύνδουλος, which most translate as “fellow(-)servant”, and the versions prefer not to translate it a slave, to avoid “servant” twice in the same phrase? NASB doesn’t have a problem with that, however. Continue reading

#colossians, #servants, #tychicus

Type and antitype

Type and antitype help us to understand spiritual realities.

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life, John 3.14-15.

That is all!

#Bible #crucifixion

‘Alcohol removed me from my life’

This short article about alcohol from a non-religious perspective deserves much attention.

Alcohol removed me from my life and I removed alcohol so I can show up for my life.

These are things a Christian knows, and more. It’s good to hear it for once from someone on the outside who recognizes that alcohol adds nothing to your life — on the contrary, it takes away.

#alcohol #drinking #spirituality

Can anything more be said about the book of Acts?

While reviewing the FPress website and blog, I came across this post: The one Bible book churches study most. Within the brotherhood, multiple commentaries and study books have been written about this important Bible book. That’s not even counting works from outside the church of God.

No disparaging of the book is intended. Professor Horner’s system of Bible reading, for example, includes Acts, by itself, as one of 10 groups to read every day. He is certainly right to do so.

So here’s the question: Can anymore more be said about Acts? We of course can and must do much repeating of the book’s message. But has everything been said that can be said or written about the book? Are there any more insights to be gained?

What do you think?


In Maysville, Alabama this Sunday

Sunday, Aug. 25, at 9 a.m., I’ll be speaking, for the last time this trip, at the Maysville, Ala., congregation, outside Huntsville.

Subject: “I just want to go to heaven.” We’ll include some perspectives from our work in São José dos Campos, Brazil.

If you’re in the area, come be with us. Our son Micah and his family meet here.

Sunday afternoon, Vicki and I will travel to Mount Juliet, Tenn., to visit son Joel and family before our return to Brazil Aug. 28.

We thank friends and family for all your kindnesses. It has been a memorable trip in every way, beginning with daughter Leila’s wedding Aug. 10.

More to come in our monthly newsletter next week, Lord willing.

#alabama, #brazil, #missions

Why Bother?

For a brother in Christ I bother,
With love for the family of faith;
We care for one another,
Walking the narrow path.

#poetry #quatrain #love

The process of Bible study

This acrostic (“TIP”) might be helpful in remembering the necessary process of studying the Bible. Much can be said about each step, but this little item attempts to provide us a brief reminder. Continue reading

#bible-study, #hermeneutics

Be attuned to the Spirit’s ways

One blogger criticizes following a program to be the church:

Everyone loves to idealize the early church. Those were “the good old days.” Entire movements of the church, known as Restoration Movements, have attempted to cast aside all of church history and tradition  beyond what we have recorded in Scripture, in the interest of getting back to the “early church,” when it was all working. If we can just do what they did, the rationale goes, we will see what they saw.

What’s his solution?

As we move forward in reading the story of The Movement, let’s take care not to read too prescriptively, in search of  principles and such. Let us instead seek to attune ourselves to the person of the Holy Spirit and his nature, character, and ways of engaging with the human community. To be clear, the acts of the Apostles mattered. That’s just not what this story is about.

Oh, too prescriptively. Can we read it a little prescriptively? But wait, isn’t he searching for principles and offering us merely another set of them when he starts ought, “Let us instead …”? Indeed, he is! His problem is not with prescriptions, norms, or principles, but he wants us all to adopt his.

There’s the catch, isn’t it? How to be attuned to the Spirit and to his “ways of engaging with the human community”? Is it not through Scripture? Or are we to wait for some whisper in our ear from above? Or do we go pawing through church history (yours, ours, or theirs?) for those principles?

The Bible is exactly that, prescriptive. Otherwise, chunk it. Go with your hunches. Stick with your unholy-spirit induced beliefs. Find the Holy Spirit’s ways in animal entrails or emotional outbursts. Whatever tickles your fancy.

The writer throws out the baby with the bath water. The book of Acts is normative. It show us how it’s done and how it ought to be done. And why it’s done. And who makes it happen. We need the power and the prescription.

#Acts #restoration #normative

Brazil church information updated

Wikipedia is getting a big-time competitor in I checked their entry on the church, and the information for Brazil was pulled from the former, with a Christian Church missionary giving information for their people as if it were us. I’ve contacted the Everipedia folk and gotten a nice reply. At the moment, they’re not allowing editing, but it will be available soon.

I took the opportunity to update the information on the church in our city, region, and in the country as well. I’ve also moved it from my email account’s space to our ministry site. Much remains to be done still, but you can check the progress here:

#Brazil #Wikipedia #Everipedia #church

Gospel and evangelism

The Greek words behind “gospel” and “evangelism” come from the same root. It’s easy to explain in Portuguese: “gospel” is evangelho and “evangelism” is evangelismo. You can’t have one without the other.

The English word “evangel,” for gospel, does exist, but nobody uses it. Maybe someone can start a campaign to revive it. Or, maybe better, start using “Good News” for gospel and “Good Newsism” for evangelism. Or maybe not.

The important thing is that we understand that evangelism is part and parcel of the gospel. You cannot be a defender, protector, and preserver of the gospel without being a proclaimer of it. If it isn’t shared, it isn’t gospel. If I don’t share it and teach it, I’m not being faithful to the God who gave it.

#gospel #evangelism

The Long and Short

The long and short of living
Is in the act of giving,
To self-deny — with Christ to die,
And do the Savior’s bidding.

J. Randal Matheny

#poetry #life #self-denial