A New Column: Communion Meditations

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
After my Forthright article this morning, “Words During the Supper,” imagine my pleasant surprise to read a communion meditation, by a guest author, in Neal Pollard’s Daily Bread email.
For a long while I have dreamed of a communion meditation column in Forthright Magazine, but we lacked a columnist.
So I decided to strike out on faith and start the column, without a columnist.
I’m praying that people will respond with submissions for the column.
Next Sunday, watch for Tony Raburn’s meditation, “We’re Going to Heaven!”
After that, it’s your move.

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The Men Pray Together

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
Friday our family returns to Brazil, after some five weeks in the USA. The big event was our son’s wedding December 15, which I’ll refrain from gushing over.
Other moments were also encouraging and uplifting. Churches responded to help make up some of the financial loss we’ve sustained over the past few years, with a 65% drop in our buying power. (For those who don’t know me, I’ve been a missionary living in Brazil since 1984.)
One of the other encouraging moments has been my participation with the men’s prayer group at the Center Hill congregation in Paragould, Ark. This church has supported us in Brazil since the beginning.
Every Monday morning they meet together in the multi-purpose building with a list of people who need prayer. The list includes the sick, caregivers of the sick and missionaries. I was gratified and humbled that my name was on the list.
Each brother “pours out his heart before God,” as organizer J.T. Ashby put it, with his own concerns, while mentioning a portion of the list, name by name.
The ministers and several of the elders and deacons participate.
For three weeks I met with these good brothers. Each time I came away refreshed spiritually and braced for greater service.
J.T.’s stout coffee, as good as it was, didn’t warm the atmosphere as much as the united devotion of the men.
I return to Brazil Friday knowing those men better. And growing closer to my Lord.
Those prayer meetings are a high point of this trip I’ll not soon forget.
“So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness,” James 5:16 NET.

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A Different New Year Blessing

Here’s a different new year blessing, written by Cornelius Claassen in South Africa.
“During the coming New Year, may the blessings of God harass you and happiness attack you wherever you go. May your miseries be hijacked and may the tsotsis (street thugs) pickpocket all your worries. May peace break into your house and may the thieves steal all your debts. May all your problems forget your home address.”
You’re welcome to add your new year blessing, pray or wish below in the comments section.

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Share the Blessings

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It testifies to the Christian underpinnings of the United States. Though other countries have imitated the observance, they lack the tradition which forms a basic underpinning of the American nation. No nation in the world is so generous to share its blessings than the United States. This sharing certainly comes from the sense of gratitude that many feel for the Lord’s copious outpouring of generosity toward us. On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to share three needs that I personally know about and can recommend to you as worthy causes. Your sharing will directly help … Continue reading Share the Blessings

FAQ

Frequently asked questions of the Forthright Magazine site. Why Forthright? The word Forthright is not only an adjective which means “honest, straightforward,” but also a noun which means “a straight path.” We want to take that path to the Cross of Christ, while speaking in a direct, clear and loving manner. Who’s behind it? A group of friends publishes Forthright. Editor Randal Matheny has lived in Brazil since 1984 and works in publishing, evangelism, church planting and leadership training. Assistant Editor Barbara Oliver works with Gospel Opportunity Evangelism in Winona, Miss. The staff writers have come on board at different … Continue reading FAQ

What We Believe

Religious sites often have a statement of faith. I don’t like’em. Nor creeds. I like to stick with the Bible. When you stay with it, you’re doing good.
But for some directories and such, they require it. So here is my attempt to satisfy them while avoiding a creedish statement. I’m sure I’ll be polishing this for a while.
Quotations are from the New American Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
GOD
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).
JESUS
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
“For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
“And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Beheld by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8).
HOLY SPIRIT
“. . . who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).
SCRIPTURES
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate [complete], equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
CHURCH
“There is one body . . .” (Ephesians 4:4).
“. . . upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).
LAST THINGS
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1).

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Sunday Evening Notes: Special effort

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
* Our special effort in September to increase the email list subscription yielded good results. We hope you’ll join us in an continued effort to get the word out about Forthright. The conclusion of the special effort during last month doesn’t mean we should relax; rather, that we ought to keep up the hard thinking of how we can introduce the site and list to new people.
* We never add people manually to the email list, like so many unscrupulous list owners. (OK, I confess to adding my mother-in-law, at her request.) And our list service automatically removes invalid email addresses. So each one of the subscribers is a live person who went through the double-opt-in process to guarantee identifying the proper subject, with a working address. We can’t guarantee that everyone reads the emails, but we do know from the email messages and reprints, besides online comments, that they are being read widely.
* Speaking of online comments, feel free to use the comments section at the end of each columnist‘s articles. They appreciate feedback, especially on the content of their material and how it touches or influences you.
* We’re considering a second Forthright Fellowship in December, when the Mathenys will be in the USA. Please be praying for that and thinking about joining us. It looks again that we’ll have it somewhere in the Midsouth, possibly Tennessee. We may invite one or two other online ministries for a joint event. (The first Fellowship was in Florence, Ala. — thanks, Richard!)
* Our Assistant Editor is raising new funds for her support, having gone through a recent change in ministry. Please pray for Barbara Oliver as she contacts churches and individuals. She is a worthy, long-term servant who, besides her own work, provides important help to others. I’ve been blessed to know her better and work beside her for the past several years.
* Pray, too, for many missionaries around the world whose support and works have been diminished because of the dollar’s devaluation. If your congregation supports someone outside the USA, you may want to investigate their needs.
* A final thought: Many love love. Few love their neighbor. Be one of those few.
* Have a great and blessed week.

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Righteous and Devout

by J. Randal Matheny
The meeting was small, even by Brazilian standards. Maybe the rain and the cold kept some away. The cold more than the rain. Brazilians are used to the latter, but complain bitterly about low temperatures.
It was the second time to be at that place, at that time of year, for that purpose.
The “Flower Garden” congregation hosted the second annual Encounter of Good Ministers of Christ June 2. Home from college, my son Joel accompanied me as I attended for the second time. A day of song and prayer, fellowship and comaradarie, teaching and preaching.
Four men of God preached the word of Christ. Only one was what we call a full-time preacher. None lacked in quality.
The theme examined the character of the good minister, that we are to be righteous and devout men, as was Simeon in Luke 2:25.
The challenge is to be righteous and devout in an unjust and perverse world. No, challenge isn’t the right word. Opportunity. Mission.
The examples and stories that Joaquim dos Santos told illustrated well his lesson. One friend at work, a religious person, asked him, “Can a Christian retire?”
“Sure he can,” Joaquim replied, “as soon as every person in the world has heard the message of Christ.”
Every prayer, each song, each of the three biblical appeals to action, each introduction, was fervent. Men knew intimately the word of the Lord and were moved to speak and act from an urgent love and a white-hot zeal for the house of God.
Otavio Calegari asked if we as husbands and fathers wanted to leave a legacy of character or coinage.
The cold and drizzle failed to dampen the enthusiasm. On the contrary, the meeting of righteous and devout men intensified their resolve and challenged them to greater service and a deeper walk with God.
Several area churches were represented. Embu-Guaçu. Monte Azul. Sãõ˜˜Bernardo. São Vicente. Nove de Julho. Jardim das Flores. São José dos Campos.
These names won’t mean much to you. But, with sister congregations, they form the foundation of the kingdom of God in our area. God is working through the fingers and feet of such as these.
Sérgio Nascimento acknowledged that grabbing somebody’s class or sermon outline doesn’t work because it involves no work on our part, no application, no act of entrusting ourselves and our hearers to the Lord and his Word (Acts 20:32).
The meeting inspired us more to “love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17). No one ignored the great dangers we face among the churches. Apathy toward our single mission to save the lost. Weakness from failure to know the Word and to devote oneself to prayer. Massive influence from the world to give in to passions. Wasted time on self rather than serving the family of God. False doctrines being brought in from religious neighbors and from those within the church itself.
But there was no despair, for faith spoke courageously and conviction braced each participant with confidence in the future.
There was no fear at the threats from worldliness or apostasy, for the God who holds the world in his hand was in full evidence among them.
Aware of their own shortcomings and failures, conscious of salvation through the mercy of God, and grateful for the pure sacrifice of the Lamb without spot or blemish, these men called upon the power of God for their life and task.
Those I know personally are tireless, dedicated, visionary, and patient. Limited by time, resources, funds, and tools, they nevertheless redeem the hours, sacrifice to do the work, and hunt with cats. (Brazilian saying: Who doesn’t have a dog, hunts with cats.)
Alex Soares reminded us that even something as small as a phone call can restore people to the Lord. He made a call to a Christian lady who was discouraged, embarrassed to return, resolved to give up the faith. Because of his one call she reversed her decision and repented.
I didn’t want to drive the two hours, one way, to get to the encounter. But I wanted to be with these men. They inspire me, encourage me, shame me, enliven me.
Simeon was a righteous and devout man who looked for the restoration of Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him. And I was in the presence of such men who look for and work toward the full restoration of the church of God, who are committed to following God’s pattern for life and work, who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in their hearts.
On the drive home, as the wipers swiped the rain from the windshield, and the headlights tentatively pierced the fog, I gave thanks for the opportunity to be present and came away with a renewed spirit.
For while such righteous and devoted men as Simeon still live among us today, there is hope.

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