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

No one in two places at once

No one can be in two places at the same time. That is true physically and spiritually. One cannot be baptized into Christ and baptized into a denominational body. It is either one or the other.

This is a strong argument, among other good ones, for rejecting to baptize denominationals and for the proper immersion of those who have received some sort of ceremony in sectarian groups. For if one enters into a group that is not the church of the Lord through a water-ritual of some sort, it stands to reason that that person did not enter into Christ and into the salvation that is in him.


Diotrophes’s evil

“If evangelists were not supported, then many people would never have an opportunity to hear and obey the gospel. Those who live the gospel know this. Diotrephes’ behavior, however, was disrupting the evangelistic function of the body of Christ because he was threatening Gaius and others who supported the preaching of the gospel. In contrast to living the gospel, he was doing evil by obstructing the evangelistic function of the body of Christ.” —Roger Dickson

#gospel #evangelism #mission

Sin, faith, duty

Some think that Luke has collected three separate sayings of Jesus in Lk 17.1-10, with little connection between them. That assumes much.

Jesus might well have said these three things in this order. Even if he did not, it also assumes that Luke is clumsy.

No such assumptions are needed. There can be seen a clear connection among the three points.

  1. The business of the kingdom is forgiveness of sin, 1-4. Don’t be a cause of sin, 1-2. Be a cause of forgiveness, 3-4.
  2. For that forgiving spirit, the apostles felt the need for a greater faith, 5-6. In one sense, Jesus anticipates Nike: Just do it. Faith is to be exercised. For it to grow it must be put into action.
  3. Duty in the kingdom deserves no special praise, 7-10, but it must be done. What is this duty? Again, seeking forgiveness for all.

#Luke #faith #forgiveness #duty

Merry Christmas to all!

We pray that everyone’s holiday time is filled with joy, peace, and love. May our Lord bless you in every way. From even the pain and troubles of life, may he give you growth in the Spirit and opportunity for service and for the Word. May your dedication become even more zealous and your love stronger still.

New site feeds in side column

Check the end of the side column. Please note that we’ve removed the Twitter feed for our Forthright / GoSpeak websites and have replaced it with a widget plugin for RSS feeds. That means that we no longer have to rely on a proprietary, third-party service to get the feeds to you.

The result is pretty much the same, only in an improved process. You can check all the F/G site offerings right here!

On writing and objective knowledge

This link, about the importance of note-taking, does not directly touch on spiritual things, but there are not a few applications and illustrations that can be made from the quoted point.

Think ahead: What about goals for 2019?

About a month remains until the new year. While the goals for this year get whittled down, run out, or end in a whimper, it’s not too early to think about new ones for the upcoming year.

  • Are you thinking ahead? Or waiting for the year to catch you and then play catch up?
  • How can we move forward even faster and better than we have before?
  • What hasn’t worked for you, and why?
  • Where are the failures located, in the will, in the heart, or in the mind?
  • What limiting visions hold you back?
  • What excuses are you offering for failures?
  • What mechanisms do you have implanted for learning from failures?
  • Have some gifts be strained by overuse and others untested by lack of use?
  • What other questions can you provide will help other saints to evaluate their level of and progress in growth?

Year end always provides a good time for measuring. May God bless us with much fruit that remains.

#growth #evaluation #goals

As saints beholden to no human tradition

I wonder if, as Episcopalians, we take on the power of being alive in Jesus Christ. This may sound evangelical, but that is the calling: to be dead to sin and alive in Christ.

This sad quote above comes from a PDF book on gratitude while reading Romans. The writer felt the need to apologize to his Episcopalian readers because his subject sounded like something evangelicals would talk about. It shows the horrible sectarianism of denominations who emphasize certain things in their human doctrines, to the exclusion of others.

At the same time, the quote raises all sorts of red flags. Let us, as saints beholden to no human tradition or denomination, be careful not to neglect certain teachings of the Word. Let us seek to do as the apostle Paul did, when he said to the Ephesian elders:

You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. … Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God, Acts 20.20-21,26-27.

May every healthy teaching of the word of God “sound” like us, since it a part of our identity to speak all the inspired Scripture in its usefulness “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2Tm 3.16-17.

#denominationalism, #teaching