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  • J. Randal Matheny 8:57 am on 2016-06-11 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, HuffPo,   

    Three recent ‘loves’ come together 

    Three things happened recently, none directly related to the others, that cause me to bring them together, because of their subject.

    One, Nelson Smith wrote a 475-page book that looks at every appearance of “love” in the NT, some form of the Greek words agapao/agape. I received a copy of it two days ago.

    Two, Ron T. ends his remarks on the recent HuffPo article critical of the church with a thought on the nature of love. Seems to be a proper way to end a review of that article.

    Three, I’m reading a Brazilian brother’s book on the love that transforms. He uses 1 Cor 13 as the basis for his work.

    I don’t know the history of the copy of Smith’s book in my possession. It was apparently in some library, perhaps of some congregation. A library pocket and card, with no indication of ownership, are still on the inside back cover. The card is blank; no one ever checked it out. (It could be the second or third or fourth card, replacement for one or more previous cards, but I have my doubts.) The 1997 book is in very good condition, a sign that it was little used. (If the library card came from a private library, we’ll assume differing study habits rendered this simple work unnecessary.)

    All that to say this: I can stand to study more and apply better the love of Christ in my life. Do we meditate carefully over a reference to love whenever it appears in a Bible text, or do we skim over it to get to the supposed important points more to our interest?

    One post-NT writer said others observed of Christians, “See how they love each other!” Jesus said our mutual love is our badge to the world. “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another” Jn 13.35.

    James pulls in the OT commandment, following the Lord Jesus, and dubbed it the royal law, the defining quality of our treatment of others: “But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” Jas 2.8.

    Showing to everyone, friend and enemy, the love of God is the ultimate DNA test of sonship: “Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete” Mt 5.48 CEB.

    Love lasts. All else fades. We may not be reading books or articles about love, but let us highlight it in our Bibles, see it in our heavenly Father, and imitate that selfless, sacrificial love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    #love #HuffPo #books

  • J. Randal Matheny 10:34 am on 2016-06-02 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, , , , ,   

    God loves you, regardless. His commands permit fellowship. 

    white-gloveGod loves you, regardless. His commands are conditions to enjoy his presence, for he is holy and whoever approaches him must be purified through obedient faith in the blood of Christ. His commands are not requirements for love. He loved you before you sinned, and after. It is his love that reaches out to you and invites you to obedience. His love comes before your obedience, not after.

    Humans make behavior a condition of love. To earn love you must do this or that, or be perfect in some way. God does not do this. His commands put us in a position to receive forgiveness. His commands are themselves an expression of his love. (More …)

    • According to Greta 12:30 pm on 2016-06-02 Permalink | Reply

      Glad to have stumbled upon your blog. It is something that most of us struggle with, the guilt of our sins- not being able to feel loved when we sin. I guess it is something that we learn as our faith increases.

      • J. Randal Matheny 1:48 pm on 2016-06-02 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Greta. Guilt pretty much kills a feeling of self-worth, which impacts our view of what God must think of us, doesn’t it? Growth in faith will certainly help us work through this. Thanks for the comment.

    • ofhisgloryblog 11:22 pm on 2016-06-02 Permalink | Reply

      AMEN. Hallelujah
      God Bless you friend.

    • Danielle Smith 4:47 pm on 2016-09-26 Permalink | Reply

      “Two common misunderstandings diminish the love of God. One, that we must earn his love through our perfection. Two, and perhaps the more common one today, that God’s love is permissive of any action and dismissive of obedience. Both are deadly to our relationship to him, turning his love into either pettiness or permissiveness.”


  • J. Randal Matheny 6:18 am on 2016-05-25 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, , , , , weddings   

    A Fall wedding in the cold South—on Saturday 

    weddingOn Friday we’re off to cold weather, heading south, to the city of Curitiba. It’s almost winter time here, and people say it dips below freezing there. In the southern hemisphere, going south is like going north above the equator — it gets colder. And here, it feels colder, since houses have no indoor heating.

    My assigned task is to give away a bride. Cosma’s parents are both deceased, and she invited me to do the honor. She lived in SJCampos for some time, and Vicki and I became close to her.

    Unlike American weddings, The Missus and I will remain standing up front during the ceremony. Must wear comfortable shoes, I hear tell two suits will officiate. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 12:38 pm on 2016-05-18 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, , , , ,   

    Striking the right note 


    Years ago, an elderly couple in a congregation whom we barely knew were often heard to say, “We just want to love everybody.” Their phrase has stuck with me across the decades.

    I don’t know what they meant by it. Did they want to ignore the doctrine of Christ and be, back in that day, all-inclusive? Had they been hurt seeing some harsh attitudes in the body of Christ?

    They were not prominent people in the congregation. Even their attendance may not have been as regular as one might expect. Back then, their phrase didn’t impress me much. It seemed to leave too much out. Maybe they meant to cut away beliefs or actions important to others. Maybe not.

    Whatever they meant by it, they struck the right note. The Way is the path of love, if it is anything. One thing for certain, God just wants to love everybody. And not only wants, but seeks it.

    God sent his Son for salvation. He sent his Spirit for transformation. He sent his Word for sanctification. All in the name of love.

    Maybe that couple was on to more than I knew. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 10:01 pm on 2015-05-16 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books,   

    Two new biblical commentaries for the library 

    On our way into Nashville this afternoon, we stopped by McKay’s used bookstore. It was our first trip to the store this time around. They had a lot of biblical commentaries. I picked up two, both appear to be brand new. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 4:36 am on 2015-02-14 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, , ,   

    Must read: 50 shades of … 

    Must-read: Rick Kelley’s article on his blog, “50 shades of rationalization.” Don’t miss a single word of it.

    • Harold Jones 8:07 am on 2015-02-14 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent article. It was sad to hear co-workers so excited to go see this movie. They did not listen to any reason not to see it. Thank you for the inspiring encouragement to reject Satan’s lures!

  • J. Randal Matheny 6:27 am on 2014-10-25 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, eternal destination, life journey,   

    Sorry, but it's not 'journey before destination' 

    So the perverse concept pops up yet again. This time in the epic fantasy novel The Way of Kings. The author devotes a whole chapter to three ideas, one of which is “journey before destination,” that one must consider or value the journey before the destination. Perhaps later chapters will tweak or deny the concept, but it’s doubtful.

    We’ve written at different times on this postmodernist idea, most recently on Forthright Magazine. As far back as 2003. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 1:43 pm on 2014-08-06 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , books, , ,   

    If you don't keep up, you can't operate 

    stay-up-to-dateIf you don’t keep up, you can’t operate. So I get a notice from Skype when I tried to log in this morning, in order to wish my mother a happy birthday, and the service wouldn’t let me connect. It told me to go get the latest OS X (Mac operating system) and update my Skype software. New hardware, new software, you have to stay up to date, or lose out.

    A few days ago, I clicked to open what was supposedly a super-spiffy Bible site. It told me to go update my system and then come back. Well! Imagine that! In order to read their material (the Bible, yet), I had to have up-to-the-minute software. (More …)

  • Eugene Adkins 6:09 am on 2014-08-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, , , , ,   

    Some links to articles and other sites you might be interested in 

    Read a great article yesterday, with a good attention grabbing title, written particularly for preachers. If you preach I think it’s worthy of your consideration…it reminds us of a few basic guidelines just in case we’ve forgotten about them.

    There is a very good post on Apologetics Press about the role of men and, particularly, women in the church. It’s a lengthy read due to the nature of the topic but it’s an article that can be gleaned for notes; especially the section on the  “office of a deaconess” in case you’re not familiar with the typical arguments presented with that topic.

    For those of you who are interested in adding some older circulated books of the spiritual nature that are sourced and written by various authors about various topics to your personal library, you can check out this website that I found a couple of weeks ago. The site has a long list of titles (literally hundreds of them) and the vast majority of them are under 5$. According to the site’s host, Michael Wilk, these books are coming out of his personal library that he’s looking to clear out. P.S. – I’m not getting any kick-backs here; I just know there are several book chomping readers that browse the pages of TFR and I thought some might be interested since the site has books and other materials that I’m sure are out of print by now, thus making the materials difficult to find but not necessarily “old” or useless in scope.

    Speaking of TFR, some of you regular readers here may not be familiar with TFR’s good ole’ buddy from the American west coast, and former “Twice Blessed” article writer for Forthright Magazine, Don Ruhl and his blog-site called “Email Devotionals“. I know it’s easy to get bogged down with daily articles in your email in-box, but with Email Devotionals, Don keeps achieving the same goal that he accomplished with Forthright – two, quick and to the point Bible based articles every day.

    If you ever know of a good website associated with the brotherhood with resources worth passing along, make mention of it in the comments. Someone might be blessed with it!

  • J. Randal Matheny 5:00 am on 2014-07-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books,   

    Arrogant author 

    Just from the book title and description, it seems the author of this book needs to get over himself and his arrogant ideas, in order to submit to the will of God.

    As Churches of Christ leave the isolation that too often has characterized our past and move into fellowship with other Christ-followers, can we really escape the doctrines that have imprisoned us? Is it possible that what we have thought of as our marks of identity are really signs of self idolatry, the tendency to put our beliefs, our ideas, even ourselves on the same level as Jesus?

    This short book takes a look at the logic that has trapped us inside our own beliefs and suggests that in order to follow Christ, we need to get over ourselves.

    (More …)

    • Rick 6:37 am on 2014-07-05 Permalink | Reply

      Same old lingo, new package

    • Randal 6:48 am on 2014-07-05 Permalink | Reply

      Yup, yup.

    • John Henson 11:03 am on 2014-07-05 Permalink | Reply

      Amen, brethren.

    • James 11:21 am on 2014-07-05 Permalink | Reply

      Ironic that they so often lambaste us for believing we can study God’s Word and know what He wants from us, but at the same time they are so sure that what we have found in the scriptures must be wrong.

    • Jack Wirtz 4:40 am on 2014-07-06 Permalink | Reply

      Well there they go again…

      • Randal 7:00 am on 2014-07-06 Permalink | Reply

        Haven’t heard that phrase in a while, unfortunately.

  • TFRStaff 5:13 am on 2014-03-25 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: book reviews, books, ,   

    Hugh’s News & Views (Two Books) 



    This week I am reviewing two books which I highly recommend to all who are interested in gaining a clearer understanding of original Christianity as set forth on the pages of the New Testament. The first is a very scholarly work; the second is written in popular language that will grab and hold the reader’s attention from start to finish.

    (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 7:43 am on 2014-03-12 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, ,   

    Quotes by Mike Brooks about the OT book of Job 

    Tweeting from Mike Brooks’s book on the book of Job today. Come follow along.

  • TFRStaff 10:58 am on 2012-11-30 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, sermon books   

    New book, God’s Cameos of Evidence 

    Sunset Institute Press has another new publication, “God’s Cameos of Evidence” by Leonard Gray. The book has 19 chapters and 119 pages.

    This series of “God’s Cameo’s of Evidences” are actual sermons, printed just as they were preached, with occasional observations and comments to that audience. ‘Cameo’s’ may refer to a piece of jewelry, a pin or pendant of a famous person, place or thing. It can also be a brief appearance of a person or a fine bit of descriptive writing, and that is where we are in this collection of ‘God’s Cameos of Evidence’ in the Bible.

    Leonard graduated from Abilene Christian College, Spent 17 years as a missionary in South Africa. Served as full-time instructor on the original staff of the White’s Ferry Road School of Preaching, and Director of their “Christ the Hope of the World” lectureship. He also served as Director of the Bear Valley School of Biblical Studies in Denver, Colorado.

    Retails for $9.99. To order call 800-687-2121. See other products on our web site http://www.extensionschool.com

    Thanks, Jerry D. Pruitt, External Studies, Sunset International Bible Institute

  • J. Randal Matheny 7:33 am on 2012-10-06 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: books, , , divine faithfulness,   

    So Jesus had a wife, did he? 

    People get all bent out of shape about supposed discoveries like the manuscript that claimed Jesus had a wife. Or they get excited about the latest discovery of Noah’s ark. (Poor Noah must have built a dozen of them.) I didn’t even bother to read beyond the Twitter headline about the wife claim. You can pretty well be sure that if a major media outlet touts it, it’s wrong. Scripture is complete in itself, and our faith ought not to be shaken by such news. Nor should our faith rest in said archaeological confirmations. Or in the Shroud. If the words of Scripture do not convince, no material evidence will either.

    • The FPress website was down for over 24 hours. This morning it appears to be back up. These things happen, seems like, just as you’re working on something or depending on it to be online.

    • For those who like to keep up with us, our latest ministry report is now online in PDF format. This time, I did a little Zingers feature, one-liners on things happening around here and in the work.

    • Brad Cobb sent out the following email. which I’ve slightly edited for length.

    Michael Shank is not preaching full-time, and is looking for secular work so that he doesn’t have to move his family. Ordering some of his book, Muscle and a Shovel, now would be a good time, for his benefit. The congregation here ordered another hundred a few weeks ago, and they’re already gone. We’re considering placing an order for another 200 this week (and we’re a congregation of 75 people).

    Last week, a Christian in the next town over confided in one of the members that he was struggling with his attitude and anger and in doubting his faith. This member gave him a copy of Muscle and a Shovel. Yesterday, the man called our member, thanking her for the book, said his faith has been incredibly strengthened because of it, and that because of reading just the first half of the book (he’s not done yet), he conducted the first Bible study he’s ever conducted with three other people.

    If you can help out Mike (and trust me, it will help you also), please order his book from http://www.MichaelShankMinistries.com.

    I’ve not read the book, but I hear good things about it.

    • After the first presidential debate on Wednesday, several saints on Facebook made comments that called attention to Jesus’ discussions with the religious leaders of his day, an attempt to redirect attention from politics to spiritual matters. I liked that. It seemed effective for me, so I hope it was for others as well.

    • I like devotional thoughts (and write them, too) and follow not a few brethren’s writings. On occasion I read outside the brotherhood, too, like this one, on BibleGateway.com, about the integrity of the gospels, taken from the Case for Christ Study Bible by Lee Strobel. Seems to me to be quite a challenge to talk about apologetics in a devotional format, but maybe it works for those who already believe. Reinforcement. (More …)

  • J. Randal Matheny 8:43 am on 2012-09-11 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , books, Patriot Day   

    On 9/11 

    Most people remember where they were on 9/11. I was in a used bookstore when a lady entered talking to the owner and starting telling about the WTC. I thought she was talking about the plot of a novel.

    Where were you that day?

    I mentioned on Twitter if the apostles often remembered where they were on the day when the Lord called them. (Do you tweet?)

    So far today, I’ve written only this, a prayer of self-denial and full surrender: “My Hopes Collapsed.” (Last night, my editorial, “Sundry Thoughts,” at Forthright Mag was quite late, all my fault. Ron’s book project gets big mention.)

    I’d be interested in hearing how you’re serving the Lord today.

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    • Don Ruhl 10:32 am on 2012-09-11 Permalink | Reply

      Living on the West Coast, I was three hours behind, so it was around 6:00 a.m. and I had just turned on my computer, got onto AOL, using their old program, and there was this stunning news of a jet liner crashing into the World Trade Center. I ran to the TV, and another plane crashed into the other tower, and I immediately thought, as everyone else did, that we were under attack. It was such an unusual attack, it was hard to believe. It shook me up greatly.

      I remember Americans quickly uniting, supporting the president, and being kind to one another everywhere, including on the road.

    • Eugene Adkins 5:49 pm on 2012-09-11 Permalink | Reply

      I heard about it early in the morning on the radio. I thought they were joking at first, then I thought it might have been a small plane on accident, then I thought I don’t know what to think.

      I listened to the radio all day; I didn’t see anything on TV until about 4:00 or so because my job kept me on the road. When I got to a TV I watched two of the smaller buildings collapse from the damage.

      I remember where I was, what it looked like and how I felt. I think maybe a lot of people have forgotten 2 of the 3.

      I also remember looking at the American flag in a different way – and seeing them all over the place in the days to come.

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