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”

What we need

A person cannot grow in faith and works while distancing himself from the family of God. Christians need each other, 1 Corinthians 12. We belong to one another, Romans 12.5.

Neither can one be saved while neglecting the word of salvation, Ephesians 1.13; James 1.21. God’s power is in the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, Romans 1.16; 1 Thessalonians 1.5. Without the word there is no hope, Psalm 119.74, 81, 114, 147; Romans 15.4.

Whoever has no time for prayer has no time for God. To receive, we must ask, Matthew 7.7-12. “You do not have because you do not ask” James 4.2. Continue reading “What we need”

Serious thoughts on the Faith

Concern for the direction of some churches in some places calls for a stronger feeling of gratitude for those in many locations who hold fast to the true gospel.

Even rational people in religion think it normal to speak of denominations and fail to see themselves in the Bible’s condemnation of divisiveness. They’ve been led to a total disconnect between spiritual truth and their practice.

The one hope of Ephesians 4.4 is summed up by Paul in Romans 5.2: “we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.” For mankind who distanced himself from his glory, Romans 3.23, this is wonderful news. Continue reading “Serious thoughts on the Faith”

God’s action and man’s response

Newton’s third law of physics states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no similar spiritual law at work in God’s plan, since we can never equal his actions. But there is a divine principle that applies about action and reaction: Every action of God deserves a positive and receptive reaction on man’s part.

In the plan of salvation, people have sometimes ridiculed the emphasis on God’s part and man’s part. The two are decidedly unequal. God’s part deals with the procuring or accomplishment of salvation. Man’s part is described by receiving or accepting salvation.

For all that God has done for us, then, something must be done on our part. Salvation is not automatic, nor universal. There are conditions to be met. Something must be done by an individual in order to receive it. Continue reading “God’s action and man’s response”

The prayer of faith: It’s a done deal

In the Old Testament, when God promised a thing, he would put the promise in the past tense. If he said it, it was a done deal. If he promised, you could count on it being done.

On the banks of the Jordan River, Moses recounted to Israel the work of God among them. When King Og of Bashan came out with his whole army against the nation, the Lord said to Moses:

“Don’t be afraid of him because I have already given him, his whole army, and his land to you” Deuteronomy 3.2a. Continue reading “The prayer of faith: It’s a done deal”

How to overcome negativity, and other sundry thoughts

How to win over negativity? Overpower it! Repel it! The old phrase, like water on a duck’s back, is suggestive. Don’t let it penetrate. Power up your mental strength. Fill your head and heart with God’s blessing and goodness.

The use of the word “overpower” against negativity sounds militaristic, and it is. To say we’re in a battle might seem melodramatic, but the Bible describes the Way in such terms. So many of us go with the flow, however, we have yet to feel the heat of the conflict. We’ve been conquered. Continue reading “How to overcome negativity, and other sundry thoughts”

Is unity still a realistic pursuit?

The first pair of brothers was not united. Cain was jealous of Abel and killed him because of his righteousness, Genesis 4. Unity has always been a desirable pursuit, Psalm 133. It has not always been an easy exercise. Moses dealt with rebellious siblings, and Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. In Israel, tribe rose up against tribe. Abram’s sentiments to Lot are rarely heard: We are family, so let’s not quarrel, Genesis 13.8.

The early church dealt with challenges to unity at every turn. Judaizers, promoters of human philosophies, libertines, and greedy opportunists sought to slice the family of faith into pieces and prey on the weak. Continue reading “Is unity still a realistic pursuit?”

Are you living for the weekend or the world’s end?

The young man in his mid-20s worked behind the counter of the bread store on the plaza next to my office. He served up coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and bread toasted on the grill. His conversation centered on the weekend. He labored five or more days a week, but lived to party on Friday and Saturday nights. His weekdays were nothing more than a countdown to living it up in noise, drink, and carousing.

He worked a dead-end job with a dead-end life. Continue reading “Are you living for the weekend or the world’s end?”

Know what to do with God’s word

James’s three-pronged advice appears, at first glance, to help improve human relationships. It certainly would improve them, were we to apply it to how we deal with others. Not a few sermons and classes take this approach. But attention to context places us on a different plane.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1.19.

Continue reading “Know what to do with God’s word”

A help to many, including me

It took a truck to deliver the 10 pizzas, since the motorcycle deliverer couldn’t manage them all. So here came the owner in his vehicle. And right on time, too.

The pizzas were part of our going-away party, after church, for our son Joel, his wife Tansy, and our two grandchildren. (The fact that they’re the children of our son and daughter-in-law is incidental, understand.) They spent 11 months living down the street from us and will be returning this week to the U.S., as planned.

This was the first time we’ve had grandchildren living near us. It was a grand experience. They were able to see us in our home setting, rather than a few days visiting in their home once a year or so, and then gone again. Continue reading “A help to many, including me”