The noble goal requires removal of practices

BY JERRY HILL — One thing was becoming clear:  the Lord’s church did not require a full-time preacher in each location in order to exist and thrive, as our custom seemed to demand.  By 1965, penitent, baptized believers were seen to be able to speak to others in a convincing way.  Churches began and grew, in which there were no full-time preachers

The last wishes expressed on earth by our Lord require his followers to “make disciples of all the nations” (Mathew 28:19), “preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15), “that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46), and “tend” and “shepherd” “my lambs” and “my sheep” (John 21:14-17).  This was to start with the apostles “in Jerusalem“, and would go to “all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Continue reading “The noble goal requires removal of practices”

Reasoning like Paul compared with teaching Paul’s message

It is an intriguing idea. First examine Paul’s reasoning. Second, imitate it in order to use that process to navigate what it means to live and worship as a contemporary Christian. To be sure, such an approach would generate information. Can we do what Paul did? Would the results be reliable? Is this all that we need for a path forward?

This possibility introduces some interesting questions.  Would reasoning like Paul in today’s culture lead to different conclusions? Could this provide a path around inconvenient cultural trappings of the first century? Might reasoning like Paul allow us to jettison what Paul actually taught?

Continue reading “Reasoning like Paul compared with teaching Paul’s message”

Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution

Every day sorrow strikes somewhere. Every day people experience loss, pain, and grief. The prevalence of such tragedy does not lessen the importance of – nor should it dull our senses to – the sorrow.

Today, Monday the 18th, the lives of three people ended in a Walmart parking lot. The early reports are that it was a domestic dispute and not the result of a mass shooter. The only reason I’m writing about this is that this particular parking lot is just down the road from where I live. I once worked in the store, and my family shops there most Monday mornings.

When these incidents happen, and they happen frequently in many places all over the world, it is important to recognize the cause and the solution. Continue reading “Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution”

How to be a Christian in a topsy-turvy world

1. Stick with the Word

Some saints want to show themselves to be intelligent by dabbling in the philosophies of the world, the theologies of the denominations, or the politics of the nations. But the world has more than enough of these. Our message has to distinguish itself clearly from all these. We preach an almighty God whose love encompasses all of history and who glory has revealed itself in terms we can grasp. From creation we move quickly to the Book of Life, whose final author knows us better than we know ourselves. The Bible is the best argument for God’s existence. His power lives in it and from it people can be convicted of the truth.

How do we stick with the Word? Continue reading “How to be a Christian in a topsy-turvy world”

Ingrate!

Parents who wanted their children to have what they were deprived of often discover it growing among the toys and privileges.

Christians who help the poor sometimes see it in the scowls at the same time the hand is extended.

Friends who share the amazing gift of God’s grace with their loved ones see it in the face of those who find salvation a small thing. Continue reading “Ingrate!”

Who’s driving?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV).

A major U.S. bus line advertised for many years with the slogan, “Leave the driving to us.” I have found that to be a comforting motto when on Nepal’s mountain roads. The local drivers who deal regularly with the narrow, rough, twisting, precipitous roads through the Himalayas and their foothills are far more capable of dealing with dangers than I. I do my best to “cast my anxieties” on them and just let them handle it. I’m not always completely successful (I do worry sometimes about certain stretches) but for the most part I have been much more relaxed and able to enjoy the scenery since adopting that attitude. Continue reading “Who’s driving?”

Suffering for doing good

Western culture and most of our societies today are based on making one person happy: me. This has infiltrated the thinking of many who would call themselves Christians. Like me, you have probably been told when certain things happen to us that are perceived as ‘bad’ that you are doing something wrong. The prevailing message often taught by many – and that most like to hear – is that if you do everything right, God will bless you and prevent bad things from happening to you. Those who teach this message seem to have never studied the pages of scripture.

We are to live the best lives we can. Peter wrote about this in 1 Peter 3:8-12, emphasising the need to live good, upstanding lives where we don’t give evil for evil but are a blessing to others. He supports what he wrote by quoting Psalm 34:12-16.

He then said, “For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good?” (1 Peter 3:13 NET). If we stopped reading there, we might get the impression that as long as we are faithful to Jesus and do what is right, nothing bad will ever happen to us. But we need to read on … Continue reading “Suffering for doing good”

When there is no peace

They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).

God desires peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He came to bring peace between man and God, between man and himself, and between man and his fellow man. We are to seek peace and pursue it. But how far should we pursue peace?

As forth-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of reminding God’s people of the covenant that they had made with God. As fore-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of warning the people of coming judgment due to their refusal to repent.

The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, was God’s messenger leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Judah’s sins were full, and their punishment was imminent. Jeremiah’s task was to speak God’s word to a nation who was dull of hearing and who would “fight against” him (Jeremiah 1:19). This task was a great burden to Jeremiah. He wished for deliverance, he tried to shut God’s words up within him and not speak (Jeremiah 20:8-9). But God was true to his promises to Jeremiah, he was with Jeremiah every step of the way (Jeremiah 1:19; 20:11). Continue reading “When there is no peace”

One at a time, please

Back in the early days of our work in Brazil, we did research into the culture and religion of the area where we worked. Among other things we did, several of our mission team visited different religions and denominations for a better sense of their teachings and practices.

One day several of us visited a large denominational church near the downtown area of our city. I think I sustained permanent hearing impairment there.

At one point, I recall all of the denomination’s adherents praying at the same time. Four hundred people speaking simultaneously — and most of them did not speak in a low volume — made it impossible to understand anything. Continue reading “One at a time, please”