Which is the real thing?

“Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:3-6 NKJV).

I once had my email hacked while I was out of the country, then used to try to raise money fraudulently by writing to my home congregation in my name, saying I had an emergency and needed several thousand dollars to be sent to me immediately. Those in the church office recognized the appeal as false because, as one reported to me later, they asked, “Have you ever seen anything written by Mike with that many grammatical mistakes in it?” Maybe all that high school and college English had some value after all. Continue reading “Which is the real thing?”

Teach me your way

Psalm 86 is identified as a “prayer of David.” He began by asking YHVH, the God of Israel, to listen and answer him, because “I am faithful” (Psalm 86:2). God is always “abounding in faithful love to all who call on you” (Psalm 86:5). God is always faithful to his people and God wants his people to be faithful. On this basis, we can “call on you in the day of my distress, for you will answer me” (Psalm 86:7). This is one of the great privileges of being a child of God.

Notice how David described God: “For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5). So often our view of God is that he is just waiting to pounce on us when we do wrong. This is not the view we find of God in the scriptures. God is loving and kind – he not only wants what is best for us but gives us those things that we need. Continue reading “Teach me your way”

Graceful words

They are more powerful than a punch to the gut, and potentially more inspiring than a sunset over a beach. Words have the power to build or destroy. We vastly underestimate the power of words, for good or ill, to affect others. And, what is more, the Christian is obliged to use gracious words:

“Let your speech always be gracious,” the good apostle said, “seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). Continue reading “Graceful words”

Faithfully serving God

David was nearing the end of his life. Although he had wanted to build the temple for God, he had not been allowed to because he was a warrior (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). Instead, he drew up the plans and what needed to be made, as well as organizing the Levites and priests to serve in the temple (see 1 Chronicles 28:11-21).

God had chosen David’s son Solomon to be David’s successor and rule for God in Israel. “He said to me, ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my temple and my courts, for I have chosen him to become my son and I will become his father. I will establish his kingdom permanently, if he remains committed to obeying my commands and regulations, as you are doing this day’” (1 Chronicles 28:6-7). Continue reading “Faithfully serving God”

The Sounds of silence

One question that comes up frequently in a discussion over a cappella music is whether arguing from the silence of Scripture is a legitimate way to study the Bible. Does silence communicate? I recall that my mother could communicate without saying a word. Does the Bible suggest that it should be interpreted by its silence as well as by its words? What if the Bible actually expressed how it was to be interpreted?

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Jesus was capable of fusing the entirety of the Law of Moses into two principles: Love God and love your neighbor, noting that “on these two commandments depend all the law and prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Continue reading “The Sounds of silence”

One minute late

Last Sunday, our time changed here in Brazil on the same date as in the US. That’s unusual. Usually, it occurs before, but was put off a few weeks because of the runoff presidential election last month. The US went off Daylight Savings Time, and Brazil, or much of it anyway, went on. So our time difference from Central Time, where most of our family members are, went, overnight, from two to fours hours.

They say that Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of DST. Whatever caused this normally practical and good-ideas man to come up with this, we’ll never know. Must have been the same day he dreamed up the post office.

On Sunday Brazil held its country-wide National Exam, which also functions as a college-entrance exam. Some people missed getting in for the exam because we lost an hour. One girl was one minute late, after the gates had been closed, and missed her chance. When the gates close, no pleading will open them. Continue reading “One minute late”

Do this

“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NKJV).

At the elephant breeding center near Chitwan National Park in Nepal, we were fortunate to see and photograph their latest arrival, a three-day-old baby female elephant. Though tiny (and seriously cute) she was already “all elephant” as the picture above demonstrates. Not only was she just like her mother in biological detail, she also mimicked the adult in posture, actions and other behavior. Our party was enthralled with her performance. Continue reading “Do this”