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
Have you ever felt that your personal struggle, temptation, or challenge is especially burdensome? Perhaps you feel your thorn in the flesh is unmentionable. You might consider it more shameful, embarrassing, or onerous than the burdens that others bear. You keep it to yourself, instead of letting other saints help you with it.
Or maybe it weighs upon you so much that you speak of it incessantly. It follows you constantly, like a thick cloud of oppression. It keeps you from experiencing the full joy of God’s presence.
Did you ever ask God why you struggle with this thing instead of something else? Would you swap your burden with someone else’s? Do you wish you didn’t have to deal with this particular difficulty? You’re not alone. Continue reading
Brazilians have a new word to tell someone not to worry: Relaxe! Relax. Don’t get worked up over it. No problem. Somebody used it with me recently when I was in line at the padaria with an armful of items and a younger man urged me to go in front of him. I protested that I was fine, there was no need for me to step in front of him. “Go ahead,” he said, “Relax!” So I did.
One guy I know tends to overwork and overthink. When he remembers to do it, he tells himself to relax. Unfurrow the eyebrows. Breathe deeply. Let go. Instead of being an escape from responsibility, relaxing in this way can becoming a path to trusting God.
Spiritual relaxation isn’t an occasional nap from doing the will of God. Rather, it is a state of being as a saint, a way of living in the Lord, an easygoingness that permeates the zeal for the house of God.
Such a state is needed for people who get worked up over the tensions of life, the pains of relationships, and the challenges of faith. Pretty much includes all of us, doesn’t it?
Here are three ways to relax spiritually, involving the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The saint tells himself to: Continue reading
The Missus was miffed recently when a popular brotherhood effort reprinted a post of mine and misspelled both my names. I’m used to it by now. We’ll let the guilty go unnamed, because they’re good people and it’s an innocent and harmless mistake.
Normally careful people have their moments of inattention. I have mine; you, yours, right? Some moments of distraction can burn the house down or drown the baby in the swimming pool (for those who have such luxuries). We pray those moments are few and far between.
Other moments might let the water boil out of the kettle, or the tea steep too long, or the toast burn in the pan. Inconvenience, for sure, but nothing much more than that. Continue reading
The video of a doctor dragged bloodily from a United Airlines flight last Sunday by airport security personnel will long provoke anger, long after the episode is investigated and resolved. The video went viral, and United’s stock has taken a multi-million dollar drop in value.
One writer noted that it wasn’t United personnel responsible for the scene, but an airport security person. Regardless, it happened on a United flight and the company will bear the brunt of the criticism. Continue reading
Yesterday, someone discovered the post on my personal website, from 2011, which shared a link of a podcast by the name “Water in the plan.” I was a guest on Kyle Massengale’s “iQuest” program, and that was the title for the subject of the day. We spent about an hour talking mostly about baptism in all its rich and varied teaching.
Since yesterday the post has received over 50 hits. On my site that’s a significant number for such an old post. So somewhere on the internet, the link was undoubtedly shared, with lemmings falling over the podcast cliff. I thank whoever it was. Continue reading
What follows is something of a confession. Through the years, I’ve felt no shame or embarrassment to invite churches and individuals to financially support our efforts in missions. In the past, I’ve joyfully extended that invitation, believing fully in our task, as I still do. After several occasions, however, where we have lost larger amounts of monthly support, that ease of asking, that freedom to invite, has been lost. Perhaps it’s partly age, partly feeling tired of the process of fundraising, which I am no professional at doing, nor do I wish I were.
We no longer have a wide base of contacts among Christians, after so many years on the field. In recent years, our friends have heard our pleas several times. How can we then place yet another burden upon them? Continue reading
Trust is a precious and rare commodity in the world. It is easily damaged and destroyed by thoughtlessness and selfishness. To place ourselves or a part of our hearts in the hands of another is a delicate step.
We have learned therefore that trust is not to be extended lightly. We’ve become skeptical, even hardened against hurt. Love is a jittery bird, easily frightened.
Coupled with our desire to see before we step, such reluctance to trust prevents us from having a full and free relationship with God. He deserves our unreserved confidence. He never fails his people. He always comes through. He never forgets a promise. Continue reading
The people of God in some regions of the world, Brazil included, are locked in a necessary battle for their identity. Within their midst false teachings have arisen. Such teachings may emanate from newcomers. Often, however, trusted brethren change their message. Where they once proclaimed the truth, now they preach a modified gospel, which is no gospel at all, but a distorted version of it. Continue reading
Women need a feeling of security, say many writers in the field of marriage and counseling. That observation seems to hold true in our experience. That security often means physical and financial security. Though today it’s socially anathema to say it, a woman often looks for a husband who will provide these things for her. She wants to feel protected.
This was Naomi’s prayer for her daughters-in-law, after the death of her sons: “May the Lord enable each of you to find security in the home of a new husband!” Ruth 1.9.
At the same time, we all need security. Let’s first define our terms. The dictionaries give something like this: “1. freedom from danger, risk, etc.; safety. 2. freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt. 3. something that protects or makes safe; defense.” No one can live on the cusp of danger. Continue reading
Do you ever feel alone? When we feel that way, we’re probably not really alone. Feelings don’t do a good job of reflecting reality. They’re a result of our interpretation of events and situations. Since our views of reality are often skewed, our feelings seldom reflect what’s really happening.
But let’s say, for sake of argument, that there are times when we’re really alone. Isolated. Estranged. Closed off from people. What would that be like? How would we really feel? Continue reading
The internet is awash with talk of fake news. It almost seems like those who talk most about it are most guilty of it. It wouldn’t be the first time for something like that to happen.
The whole fake-news brouhaha appears to be politically motivated. Media groups pledge to root it out. They’re the same ones who were in the bag for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Something’s rotten in Denmark.
But we can expect such things from the world. Corruption and dishonesty are to be found at every turn.
In matters of the Spirit, however, we look for truth. We spurn human theologies and traditions in order to discover the right path of God. That search must turn to the Bible, where it will find its goal. Continue reading
With the arrival of a new year, new resolutions and plans appear in the mind. It’s good to reevaluate one’s goals and objectives, analyze past performance, and plan for better results.
Usually, plans made at the new year tend to be ambitious. The exercise gyms, for example, have their best attendance in January. That’s understandable. But neither should the small, incremental changes be despised. To borrow the language of Zechariah, let us not despise the day of small things, or as NET puts it, “small beginnings” Zech 4.10.
Sometimes it’s easier for us to nudge up our efforts in small ways than by big changes. Tweaks can often accomplish more than drastic measures. Continue reading
One writer described the year 2016 as the year of disruption. I dare say he’s correct in many ways, speaking as he is from an American perspective. Disruption was true around the world as well, with Brexit, Fidel Castro’s death, China’s growth, Venezuela’s continued death spiral, and a host of other sad tendencies.
Brazil was no exception. President Dilma was impeached and removed from office. The economy slowed and joblessness grew. Corruption went beserk. Continue reading
Every year around Christmas time people occupy themselves with talk about peace. Religious folk who profess to be Christians experience a jump in warm wishes for peace on earth. At Jesus’ birth, the shepherds in the field heard a heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” Lk 2.14 KJV.
The KJV translation, say some, tends to lead people to a bad conclusion about the possibility of peace on earth and good will toward, or among, men. There’s no doubt that people use the verse in a sappy, wishful sense. Better manuscript evidence points to a slightly different reading, with a far different meaning: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” (NET). Continue reading