Deliberate in thanking God. My gratitude list for today.

It was a normal day for us, pretty much, on Thanksgiving. Kids are scattered abroad, the one who lives near us was on vacation down south. We both worked, went to CrossFit, followed our regular routine. Except that in the evening, the Missus had a special meal, that one that I like so well: vegetarian shepherd’s pie, sweet-and-sour carrots, congealed layered salad. I’m more and more separated from social media, so missed all the hip-hooray of the American holiday.

But today here is Black Friday. Brazil imported it but forgot the day previous. Like much of what is imported from America, people choose the worst. And in American there is much to choose from.

So gratitude, as always, must be deliberate. And I chose to be deliberate in thanking God for these:

  • Long-time and new friends with whom and for whom we can pray.
  • Upbringing in the faith as a Christian, without denominational baggage.
  • Fruits from our labors.
  • The Good News of Jesus Christ which saves, transforms, empowers, and equips.
  • The God who created all, who loves man made in his image, who sent his Son to redeem us, who daily watches over us, who is faithful in all he does and promises, who disciplines us in our pain and suffering.
  • Health, daily bread, home, books, space to meditate and grow, family, communication, poetry, language, prayer, teeth (to bite the tongue), silence.

This is my list for today. Ask me tomorrow about a new one. To paraphrase the Lord, if one may be so bold, “Sufficient for the day is its own gratitude.”

How the Genesis story about Jacob is structured

See if this organization of Genesis 28.10—32.2 holds water for you. If so, it’s a beautiful picture of some important emphases in the book.

A: 28:10-12 – Jacob encounters angels
—B: 28:13-19 – A covenant and a stone pillar
——C: 28:20-22 – God watches over Jacob
———D: 29:1-12 – Jacob journeys and meets Laban
————E: 29:13-14 – Laban lauds family ties with Jacob
—————F: 29:15-30 – Jacob negotiates wages with Laban
——————G: 29:31-30:24 – Rachel and Leah compete for children
———————H: 30:25-26 – Joseph is born & Jacob is ready to leave Laban
——————G: 30:27-43 – Jacob and Laban compete for sheep
—————F: 31:1-13 – Laban renegotiates wages with Jacob
————E: 31:14-16 – Laban repudiates family ties with Jacob
———D: 31:17-32a – Jacob journeys and is pursued by Laban
——C: 31:32b-43 – God watches over Jacob
—B: 31:44-55 – A covenant and a stone pillar
A: 32:1-2 – Jacob encounters angels

via Soil from Stone: A Chiasm: Until the Time of the Gentiles Is Complete

#chiasmus #Genesis #Bible-structure

The mark of the beast and love for the Lord

Nothing about the book of Revelation here; I borrow the apocalyptic phrase to note that I’ve been written up. Marked as a false teacher. Relegated to the scourge of the earth. All because of who I associate with.

Amazing it’s not happened before now. Well, there have been one or two who took potshots. But nothing as specific and detailed as the X drawn on my forehead this past week. Continue reading

#corollaries, #criticism, #good-attitude, #religion

‘What about the lost in Africa?’

This commentator draws a lesson from Luke 13.1-9:

The passage is significant because Jesus constantly avoids letting the question get off-track; he keeps people considering their own sinful state. I am reminded of the standard question that comes up in evangelistic contexts, often to shift the subject: “What about the heathen in Africa [or some other remote area]?” This abstract question is often posed to deflect a personal confrontation with our sin and our need for God. In former days when confronted with such a question, I would wax eloquent on the evangelistic possibilities or lack of possibilities for those distant folk in need. Recently, thinking of this Lukan exchange, I have tended to quickly refocus the question by assuring the listener that God is perfectly capable of handling the needs of those distant folk, but the real question for us to discuss is what we will do with God and his call to turn to him.

via Luke 12 Commentary – Know the Time: Israel Turns Away but Blessing Still Comes –

There is an answer about the lostness of man and the condemnation that sin brings. Like the author above, however, I tend to emphasize the need of the questioner.

God has made the church responsible for telling everyone about Christ. If they’re lost without hearing the gospel, we bear responsibility for it. Let us therefore fulfill our mission with the news of salvation.

(Oh, in Brazil, the question often is asked about the natives in the depths of the Amazon jungle.)

#mission #evangelism #perdition

Ex-Facebook prez: We want to ‘consume as much of your time as possible’

He explained that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content.

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

via Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker: site made to exploit human ‘vulnerability’

Social media like Facebook causes many saints to sin, not least among their transgressions being the waste of time. So many opportunities for study, for evangelism, for edification are lost! So many souls go careening into hell for lack of teaching, because saints are clicking on social media!

Yes, Facebook is but the latest in a long line of time-wasters. But it is one of the most potent, a powerful addiction.

Facebook is not a free service. It is costly. And for some, it may well cost their eternal salvation.

“making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” Eph 5.16 ESV.

Man in his 30s lives 1940s lifestyle. I know some saints like that.

Ben Sansum is 35 years old, but he lives in 1946. Ben’s clothing, his home, the music he listens to – all come from an era before he was even born. BBC News recently paid Ben a visit at his home in Cambridgeshire, England to learn more about his decision to live in the past.

via Meet The 35-Year-Old Man Who Lives In 1946

I’ve not been able to watch this video yet. But the text reminds me that I know of a few saints who are living in the 40s or 50s, as far as their faith goes. It seems like they’ve not learned to apply the primitive truth of the gospel to a 21st-century world.

It’s not a sign of faithfulness to live and speak like people of 70 or 80 years ago. Or even to live like first-century folk, in tunics and sandals and riding donkeys. (We once met some people like that, too.)

Is it a challenge? Sure. But it’s worse to remain stuck in the past that doesn’t represent, necessarily, the original pattern of the Way.

You take it from here.

#faith #pattern #past

The love of Christ controls me

The love of Christ controls me 1) To treat people with dignity and respect, 2) To be a living sacrifice by humbling myself, and 3) To overcome the ambition of selfish desires. … [L]earn how the love of Christ controls the life of the Christian to act in a respectful, humble, and selfless way.

via The Love of Christ Controls Me – New Boston Church of Christ

#love #2-Corinthians #sacrifice