On resolutions, 'whatever,' showdowns, struggles, &c.

God's missionAmong your New Year’s resolutions, does the mission of God appear somewhere? (We’re assuming you know what that is.) If we want to work on improvements and getting out of our comfort zone (also known as “LazyBoy recliner”), what better area to focus on than reaching the lost with the gospel of Christ?

• Our good brother Adauri preached yesterday morning about “Whatever” (my translation of tanto faz). The New Testament (ESV) contains “whatever” a number of times, but as far as I can tell, never in the sense of “It doesn’t matter to me” or “I don’t care.” Jesus was not a whatever sort of man. He was decided. He came to do the will of God, no matter the cost required. Shouldn’t we be?

• When Jesus started his ministry, he first got pushed into the desert for a showdown with the devil. No practice run, this was the real deal. So expect to get tested right off the bat when you start to make real changes. Are you up to it? Jesus had been about his Father’s business (or, in his Father’s house) since age 12. Do the math. To make a real difference in the world, there will be all-out war between you and the evil one. Can we expect less, as followers of the Master?

• In the New Testament, when one makes spiritual changes, it’s called repentance. That’s a word that’s fallen from the grace of the religious world. When you no longer leave any space for sin, then there’s nothing left to repent of. Today, people transition. Or some other such bland verb.

• We’re making available a Bible reading plan for 2012. Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter per weekday. I call it the plan for slow readers. (No shame in being slow, unless it’s cultivated.) Along with that, I’m reading an Old Testament plan as well. The Missus will upbraid me for exposing her, but her reading plan, for several years running, is three times through the New Testament and once through the Old, though twice through the Psalms and monthly through Proverbs. In Portuguese. What’s your plan?

• How many of us know the position of the buttons on the remote control better than we know the location of the books of the Bible? What does that say about us?

• Yesterday, in Taubate, a guest speaker shared his struggles as he played key roles in starting three new congregations over the past several years. How often do you get to hear that? These are the true struggles of the Kingdom, are they not? (Seems like that’s a book title, too.)

• Most preachers and saints play musical chairs as they move from one already established congregation to another. We have no inkling of what it takes to start a congregation in an area where before there was none. Maybe we peer through the mist of years and hold up those souls who were pioneers back 50 or 100 or more years ago, who started the congregations where we now sit in comfort. Can you name one of those old timers?

• Studies show more people are evangelized when new churches are started. But in the New Testament wasn’t it the other way around? Evangelists, preachers, apostles, and trail blazers went into a city, preached, made converts to Christ, and churches were born. You know, the book of Acts, our pattern, and all that. Dare say it can still happen wherever you live. And maybe the Lord wants to use you to make it happen. Might that be a New Year’s resolution?

• Do I hear a “whatever” or an “amen”?

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