The neighbor’s party noise is patent:
He thinks to drown his sadness with sound,
To fill his empty heart with drink,
His meaningless days, with movement and song.
While dwelling in darkness, dwarfed by loss,
He makes himself out a magic giant.
To save his soul, Jesus sends me.
Photo illustration only, not of the crash mentioned below.
Almost an entire professional soccer team, with a gaggle of journalists and flight crew, perished Nov. 29 as they were arriving for the South American Cup in Medellin, Colombia. The team came from southern Brazil. Many of the journalists were well known nationally. Everyone is in shock over the loss of 71 lives. Only six survived.
Apparently, electrical failure was reported by the captain before the plane, owned by a Bolivian company, fell from the sky.
The loss of life is tragic. There is reason to be sad and to mourn. I wrote a short devotional piece, on DeusConosco.com, to help people deal with this moment. Continue reading
The brethren often pick up bad habits from the denominationals. Here’s one: Saying that the “Go” of Mt 28.19 means, “as you go.” It appears to be a justification for not going into all the world as a defined mission for the church.
Except that it’s all wrong.
When an aorist participle is followed by an aorist imperative in narrative literature, it almost invariably piggy-backs on the force of the imperative. That is, it is translated like an imperative because the author is trying to communicate a command. — The Great Commission or the Great Suggestion? – Daniel B. Wallace
I don’t often say something is a must-read. This one is.
A comment on Mat 5.16:
“The policy of obscuration, of hiding beliefs and convictions, is often urged by lukewarm Christians, so-called ‘reasons of prudence and wisdom: gradual accustoming of men to new ideas; deference to the prejudices of good men; avoidance of rupture by premature outspokenness; but generally the true reason is fear of unpleasant consequences to oneself. ‘ To think and act thus is deliberate disloyalty to Christ. Your light, given to you from above, not to be used according to expediency, but to shine; your light, not you, the object being not to make your person prominent, but your Christianity. The Christians, individually and collectively, should perform this task as their steady work. For the light which shall be thrown out from them in every direction, before all men, consists in their good works, the fruits of their regeneration, the proof of their being illuminated by Jesus. These should be seen by the people for a definite reason. All men that come in contact with their works shall be forced to draw conclusions as to the power that inspires them. And so the glory, the honor will be placed where it properly and exclusively belongs, will be given to the Father in heaven. This fact renders the admonition urgent by giving to it its real basis.”
On some social medium, a brother whom I am not now able to identify said that we shouldn’t confuse the mess of the world—or in his instance, of the USA—with the good health of the church. His warning is appropriate, for the family of God often thrives in less than ideal circumstances. It often grows in the midst of persecution. Continue reading
“However, men obstinately refuse to change their lives, even before the most eloquent warnings (20-21). This is the world in which we live: a world hostile to God even in its core, a world that prefers to make for itself its own ‘idols’ and establish its own models of behavior.” Continue reading
Immediately after the introduction of the sermon on the mount—the joyful beatitudes—comes the great missions statement of Jesus, making his disciples salt and light in the world, Mt 5.13-15. Here is where the joy starts, in fulfilling the purpose of God for our lives in the world. This is how the sermon proper starts, with mission.
Why does Jesus need to tell his people to shine? Continue reading
Where do we put most of our time, energies, and money?
Do we talk mostly to ourselves? Is our preaching, teaching, and writing directed largely to the saved? Do our offerings get spent on keeping the saints secure and, perhaps, comfortable?
Yes, we must edify the brethren. But if our time, energies, and monies were easily measurable, would we discover that they are devoted more to ourselves than to the lost?
Some even doubt the need to evangelize. Not a few are willing to let the rest of the world enter perdition with no effort to save them. Others have little sense of the church’s Main Mission.
God wants to save everyone. Nothing is clearer in Scripture than this. Equally clear is that he has put his people in the world to proclaim his salvation to all. That is their task.
God does not do what he has given us to do. He may raise up a faithful people to do it. His providence is still at work. But we are right that he will not appear in visions or dreams to preach the gospel.
God has give us the task of mission, and he fully expects — and equips — us to do it.
Mostly, the church of America dabbles in missions. Will the Lord of the harvest not hold his people accountable for their failure?
I ran across this story on the Internet:
Today, when I went to pick-up my daughter from preschool she was sitting on the ground in the corner of the after-care area with three blind students. All of them had smiles on their faces. The after-care instructor told me my daughter has been spending time with these three students every afternoon this week, answering questions and explaining to them in vivid detail what different objects, people and animals look like.
The story, which I assume to be true, reminded me a bit of what the people of God do for those who are spiritually blind.
A blessed and joyful day of thanksgiving to all today, for you and your loved ones. Much to be grateful for. On my personal site, I shared just now “7 Things that Thanksgiving Day Means to Me.” On those seven things today’s prayer was based as well.
This is the kind of list to check twice, is it not, the list of blessings? Continue reading
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible”1 Corinthians 9:19.
In the Old Testament, God provided instructions for the slave who wanted to serve his master for life. He was to go to the doorway and allow his master to pierce his ear with an awl. Continue reading
We call little girls big girls and they are proud. I suspect calling big girls big girls would not elicit the same reaction. (I have not tried it personally and do not recommend attempting it, at the risk of one’s health and well-being.)
Words must be measured. The person to whom we address ourselves determines our approach. Continue reading
It can be harrowing, out on the front line of faith, taking licks from hostiles. But it is here where God calls us to be, in order for him to find the few who will respond to the message of Good News in Christ.
Somebody asked me today what is different about my faith. Here’s how I answered him. The whole discussion was interesting, and he was civil until the very last, when he let loose profanity. But perhaps someone is reading whose heart will be touched.
Such conversations remind us to hear ourselves speak from the perspective of our hearers. I often try to write with specific people in mind. How will they take this? Where are they coming from? What hot buttons or flag words automatically get their ire up? How can I phrase ideas? Where should I start with this person? These kinds of questions bid us to be careful and speak with wisdom and grace. Continue reading
You’ve probably heard me repeat the Brazilian saying that the country starts the new year only after Carnaval (held this year Feb. 17). There’s a grain of truth in that. January is the main vacation month. Many travel, especially from our city, since so many are from other places. Then comes the waiting for Carnaval.
Carnaval always falls on a Tuesday, so the holiday often runs from the previous Friday through Wednesday morning. It’s one of Brazil’s main holiday periods.
That kind of calendar affects the work of the church. Absences in meetings. Failure to carry through plans. Lack of flow in activities.
Workarounds are possible, of course, other things can be done, options are available. God’s people find ways to fulfill their mission, whatever the circumstances, regardless of the date on the calendar.
We can “always work enthusiastically for the Lord” 1Co 15.58 NLT.
Or something like that. Yes, the Lord Jesus gave a command to rejoice. An imperative to be happy, Lk 10.20. That’s what we’ll study tomorrow at Taubaté in our series, “Commandments of Christ.”
An amazing thought, this command to rejoice, one that goes against a lot of psychobabble and man-made philosophy that teaches that emotions are uncontrollable. (Maybe this idea is the reason for modern society being in hot water.)
That’s one reason why we’re looking at this tomorrow, but another, larger one is that this command comes in the midst of the work of proclaiming the Good News. Now ain’t that a big thought!? Your biggest joy just might be in the middle of doing the great task of God, the mission of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, the salvation of souls.
But shhh! Don’t tell anybody the secret. We certainly wouldn’t want this to get out now, would we?