The transformer of soul and place and time

God transforms lives. This we know already. In immersion, we are created anew. We are born again, John 3.3, 5. We become new creatures. The old passes away.

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5.17.

The physical and material conditions of life count for little. Continue reading “The transformer of soul and place and time”

The convert is teaching me

The church needs more evangelists. I’ve said it before, and I say it again: The church needs, more than anything, more personal evangelists. It doesn’t need better buildings. Nor does it need more pulpit preachers, which puts me in a category of almost one. Nor does it need more mass media — this from one who works both in print and online, in both Portuguese and English.

Yes, what the church really, really needs is more evangelists.

That’s what the Lord told us to pray for.

We don’t need slicker and prettier programs, either. We need the people of God talking to the people of the world. Continue reading “The convert is teaching me”

Of plans and accomplishments

Have you made plans for the new year? Remember that God is a God of plans. His plans are to save all people. When you make your plans within this will of his for salvation, you are guaranteed success.

He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom. This was God’s plan for all of history which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3.10-11 GW.

Continue reading “Of plans and accomplishments”

Meet and complete the new year with spiritual power

Was 2019 a year of spiritual growth and service for you? Did you make substantial progress or regress? Did your spiritual power grow or shrink? Did your love for the Lord Jesus Christ expand and reach outward or did it wither and die?

Whatever your evaluation of the year we leave behind, the year forward holds promise of positive change, powerful transformation, and eternal influence. The key to it all is spiritual power, its source the Holy Spirit of God: We are “strengthened with power through his Spirit” Ephesians 3.16.

How does such power come to us? The larger passage of Ephesians 3.14-21 offers us many paths. Continue reading “Meet and complete the new year with spiritual power”

Entering into Christ, living in Christ

Each person enters into Christ, by baptism, individually. People can even be immersed at the same time, as happened with three thousand souls at the beginning of the church in Acts 2, but the decision is personal. No one can decide for anyone else.

While we enter into Christ individually, we live in Christ as a community, as a family. Life in Christ does not exist outside of a vigorous participation with his people. Continue reading “Entering into Christ, living in Christ”

They marched boldly

Ten awesome plagues. Pharoah finally gives in to Moses’ demand and releases the children of Israel. God grants them favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, who give them silver, gold, and clothing. They see appear before them the Lord in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light.

Egypt behind them, freedom up ahead. “… the sons of Israel were going out boldly” Exodus 14:8, NASB.

What a heady feeling it must have been! Clutching their firstborn children, the Israelites get their first taste of victory and freedom. Continue reading “They marched boldly”

Lack of humility is an ugly thing

Cain killed his brother. He did so because he would not own up to his unacceptable offering. Where did he learn such hubris? Did he observe the blame game being played by his parents? Humility would have led him to admit his failing to the Lord and to ask him for forgiveness. But no response of his is recorded to the Lord’s admonishment in Genesis 4.6. Was his the first passive-aggressive reaction? Instead of humility, he sought revenge. He refused to be shamed by his sin.

Lamech promised payback to offenders. He called his wives to listen to his threats. He immor(t)alized his violence in song, Genesis 4.23-24. Perhaps he was the first rapper. Instead of seeking reconciliation, he sought to cow opposition and to vanquish every challenge to his supremacy. So he escalated violence. He would have made a great dictator. The NET Bible provides a subtitle for Genesis 4.17-26, which sounds ironic: “The Beginning of Civilization.” Continue reading “Lack of humility is an ugly thing”

How humility acts

Humility is not often in the news. The trait is barely recognized in society, not at all by the media. Ours is a power society.

To find humility, one must go to the pages of the Bible. There, it finds plenty of space. And it is there that we will find an answer to the question: How does humility act?

Humility is a mindset that produces distinct actions which distinguish it from the world. Here are four of them. Continue reading “How humility acts”

No peace but God’s peace

Peace is not merely an inner sensation, but an objective state of being. In the Bible it is, first of all, peace with God. This peace does not depend upon a person feeling that God is near or convincing himself that God is bringing him peace. A person can feel peaceful but in fact be in a state of rebellion against God and not be at peace with the Creator.

Such was the case in Jeremiah’s day. The prophet condemned the priests and false prophets who denied there was any danger, when in fact destruction and devastation was approaching. Continue reading “No peace but God’s peace”

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”