This gift is direly needed in the church

To a church confused about the use of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul wrote, “But you should be eager for the greater gifts” 1 Corinthians 12.21. And again: “Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” 1 Corinthians 14.1.

Paul urged them to desire some gifts more than others. He was speaking, of course, of miraculous gifts, such as prophecy. But if saints in the first century could pursue certain gifts, since they were more important than others, it stands to reason that today saints should value certain non-miraculous gifts above others. Continue reading “This gift is direly needed in the church”

26 Biblical points on sex and marriage

To accompany a recent sermon on sexual immorality, I wrote the following summary points on sex and marriage, focusing especially on the former. They have been translated from Portuguese.

These are basically bullet points designed for people who are coming to know God’s will. They’re designed to be starting points for further study. Continue reading “26 Biblical points on sex and marriage”

Sundries: Sex, memory, and a bad sort of minimalism

I avoid sensationalism, preferring the understated approach. Sex is one of those subjects that turns a lot of heads. In Brazil, money and religion are volatile subjects. So when addressing them, we try to deal with them in all sobriety. Last week, I posted for the congregation in Brazil 26 summary points on the biblical teaching about sex and marriage. Maybe I’ll share it here one of these days.

The points reinforced a lesson to the church on sexual immorality. To be holy means, in part, knowing how to deal with our sexuality.

Modern society is soaked in sensuality. The word is counted as a good thing. Not so in Scripture. It’s the door to immorality. Continue reading “Sundries: Sex, memory, and a bad sort of minimalism”

Please don’t squeeze the bonbons!

At the check-out at the bread store, I saw this little sign above a basket of goodies: “Please don’t squeeze the bonbons.” I asked the cashier what that was about.

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe how many people squeeze them — not just children either — the adults do, too!” she said. (Is this just a Brazil thing?)

So why would an adult squeeze a bonbon? Are they resisting temptation to buy one? Are they checking for freshness? Or do they have some secret hatred of humanity, trying to destroy the enjoyment of a bonbon by others? Continue reading “Please don’t squeeze the bonbons!”

Wang and I — Helping one another

Wang, a Chinese woman from Nanning, was surprised when a bus seat was offered her, with smiles from everyone around her. Someone finally showed her the note taped to her back: “Please take care of this pregnant lady.”

Wang recognized the handwriting of her husband, who must have stuck it to her back before she left home.

We in Christ show the same care for one another. We seek to ease the burdens of those weighed down by their cares and struggles. Continue reading “Wang and I — Helping one another”

When hating yourself is in your best interest

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26, NIV).

 

“Literally, self-hatred refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group to which one belongs.” —wikipedia.org

How to hate one’s own life? Some have learned to hate themselves because they have been ridiculed, derided, or devalued by people around them. They find many reasons to hate themselves and consider themselves worthless, but Jesus isn’t talking about one’s self-worth. Continue reading “When hating yourself is in your best interest”

The glory of the church

In his book Family of God: A Study of the New Testament Church, Batsell Barrett Baxter’s first chapter is entitled, “The Glory of the Church.” It’s a fine title and a marvelous way to begin the subject. Brother Baxter gave eight reasons why the church is glorious: its origin, its foundation, its beginning, its relationship, its universality, its simplicity, and its destiny. It’s worth reading and appreciating.

His chapter needs no rewriting or revision. So allow me to take another tack that complements the points above. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, and the first of many problems he tackled was that of divisiveness. In the longest section of the letter (chapters 1-4), he wrote, Continue reading “The glory of the church”

Love for self is selfishness

If any age of man is the era of selfishness, ours is it. The selfie is our symbol. If Narcissus had his pool of water, we have that ubiquitous extension of our personalities, the smartphone.

In the last letter that has remained from his hand, the apostle Paul warned his son in the faith, Timothy, away from false teachers and manipulators of souls. The entire passage deserves reading, but start with these six verses: Continue reading “Love for self is selfishness”

Money wins — or does it?

Money wins elections, they say. Whoever spends the most takes the seat.

Some men say money wins women, too. The English language has names for women who attach themselves to rich guys.

Even Proverbs recognizes that money wins influence. “A person’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before important people” Proverbs 18.16.

It would almost seem that money wins in religion as well. Continue reading “Money wins — or does it?”