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 Everipedia.org. 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: http://gospeak.org/sjc/.

#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

Mornings

This little piece to encourage especially those who aren’t morning people.

Mornings call to life and new beginnings,
Awakens in the heart those tenderest feelings;
Words fly up to God in gratitude,
The early hour sets the day’s whole mood.

J. Randal Matheny

#poetry #morning #gratitude

Meaning of Paul’s phrase, ‘in Christ’

Hello, friends, I’m looking for some quotes on the meaning of Paul’s use of the phrase “in Christ” and its equivalents (“in him,” etc.). Yes, whole books have been written on it, but the need at the moment is a paragraph or less.

Also, if someone has a ready-made list of items about the phrase, please send it on or link to it as well. Charts like this one are fairly common among us.

Brother John H. has this short list based on Eph 1. (Ephesians uses the phrase some 27 times.)

Thanks!

BTW, Barry Newton has a great article today called “Churchscape,” about how people choose churches.

#in-Christ

Stan’s first article on Forthright, so appropriate now he’s gone

side-by-side

This may have been Stan Mitchell’s first article on Forthright Magazine, in 2004: “Comrades in Arms.” It shows his interest in hymnology, missions, heaven, and the servant attitude.

And one day, as the song says, we will see our comrades again.

Stan M. has left this world

Friend Stan Mitchell passed away this morning. This was his day to publish on FMag, and we had one article to go up of his. One more for next week also. Then his column goes quiet.

Lee Parish will be filling in on Tuesdays through the end of April. Beyond that, we’ll see.

Family note: DD and her fiancé had started premarital counseling with Stan. They were going to ask him to perform the wedding ceremony.

#departures #writing #FMag

Tips on how to reprove someone

The one who reproves another will in the end find more favor than the one who flatters with the tongue, Prov 28.23.

So how does one go about this in order to have a positive result, and not just dump criticism on the other?

I saw this article today and it reminded me of the verse above that I had read yesterday.

What suggestions would you give on how to reprove another?

#reproof #correction #Proverbs

The waiting harvest

This is one of the best things William Barclay wrote in his Daily Study Bible:

THE WAITING HARVEST (Matthew 9:37-38)

9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.”

Here is one of the most characteristic things Jesus ever said. When he and the orthodox religious leaders of his day looked on the crowd of ordinary men and women, they saw them in quite different ways. The Pharisees saw the common people as chaff to be destroyed and burned up; Jesus saw them as a harvest to be reaped and to be saved. The Pharisees in their pride looked for the destruction of sinners; Jesus in love died for the salvation of sinners.

But here also is one of the great Christian truths and one of the supreme Christian challenges. That harvest will never be reaped unless there are reapers to reap it. It is one of the blazing truths of Christian faith and life that Jesus Christ needs men. When he was upon this earth, his voice could reach so few. He was never outside Palestine, and there was a world which was waiting. He still wants men to hear the good news of the gospel, but they will never hear unless other men will tell them. He wants all men to hear the good news; but they will never hear it unless there are those who are prepared to cross the seas and the mountains and bring the good news to them.

Nor is prayer enough. A man might say, “I will pray for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom every day in life.” But in this, as in so many things, prayer without works is dead. Martin Luther had a friend who felt about the Christian faith as he did. The friend was also a monk. They came to an agreement. Luther would go down into the dust and heat of the battle for the Reformation in the world; the friend would stay in the monastery and uphold Luther’s hands in prayer. So they began that way. Then, one night, the friend had a dream. He saw a vast field of corn as big as the world; and one solitary man was seeking to reap it–an impossible and a heartbreaking task. Then he caught a glimpse of the reaper’s face; and the reaper was Martin Luther; and Luther’s friend saw the truth in a flash. “I must leave my prayers,” he said, “and get to work.” And so he left his pious solitude, and went down to the world to labour in the harvest.

It is the dream of Christ that every man should be a missionary and a reaper. There are those who cannot do other than pray, for life has laid them helpless, and their prayers are indeed the strength of the labourers. But that is not the way for most of us, for those of us who have strength of body and health of mind. Not even the giving of our money is enough. If the harvest of men is ever to be reaped, then every one of us must be a reaper, for there is someone whom each one of us could–and must–bring to God.

#harvest #evangelism #mission

Church and gospel

It’s a saying in some parts that, in God’s church, some are evangelists but all evangelize. That’s a fair summary of the work of the saints. Whatever function we fulfill in the body of Christ, whatever our task, no matter how large or small, everybody has a single mission—to save souls. Isn’t that what Christ came to do?

From the cross the Savior did not hand goodies or ladle soup. While hanging on the cross, he did, in his last earthly breath, save a soul. On Pentecost, our Lord did not establish a benevolent work or camp or orphanage or Christian college. He founded a people composed of the saved, Acts 2.47. He put supervisors and servants to guide it, not a board of directors who were heavy contributors to makes its decisions.

The church was created as an agile creature, mobile in the extreme, flexible in its approach, with a complete Message to proclaim to all. Missions was not an appendage. It was its reason for existence.

But today many churches are playing more games than an NFL team that makes it to the Super Bowl. Continue reading

Ohio churches decrease by 10.8%

In his bulletin-subscriber email sent a few hours ago, David Kenney, preacher with the Wadsworth OH congregation, wrote,

The number of congregations in the state of Ohio has declined from 418 to 373 (2009-2018), which is a decrease of 10.8 percent according to Churches of Christ in the United States published by 21st Century Christian. We have much to pray about!

First off, I did not realize there were that many congregations in Ohio, so I give thanks to God for all of them. Not a few saints in the past have dedicated themselves to the gospel. We ought to be grateful for the work that has been done thus far. Continue reading

God mentioned three times in Paul’s greeting in 1 Corinthians

The greeting in 1 Cor 1.1-3 includes God three times. All three mentions are of great importance. Continue reading

The path from division to unity

In a regional brotherhood event in northeastern Brazil last week and tonight in an evangelistic study at our local gym, I shared five ways, in 1 Corinthians 1-4, that the apostle Paul requires in order to move from division to unity.

There is more in the first four chapters about the solution to division, but this will get us started. Continue reading