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. (Update: Read them here.)
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”
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, 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”
“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”
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”
Self-analysis is recommended. “Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” 2 Corinthians 12.5a.
Here are three questions to aid all of us in being obedient to the Lord, for that is exactly the objective self-analysis should have. Continue reading “Three questions to ask yourself for a serious spiritual self-analysis”
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 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?”
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Men abuse authority. They enrich themselves with it and oppress others with it. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Castro were infamous in the 20th Century. Maduro in Venezuela is but one more in the long list of tyrants. Jesus warned his followers, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors’” Luke 22.25. He showed by example how to be different from despots.
Jesus was given all authority on earth and in heaven by the Father, Matthew 28.18. We in the churches of God have long taught on the importance of recognizing Jesus’ authority. We are right to do so. We ought to continue to do it. Continue reading “The good authority of Jesus Christ”
The Bible begins with the creation of light by a word from God, Genesis 1.3. It ends with a mention of the light of God, tying it with the privilege of his people reigning forever: “Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever” Revelation 22.5.
Light is important as a Bible theme because:
1. God is light, 1 John 1.5
Light comes into being as a result of God’s power. The creation started with light. God spoke and it existed. Its creation before the heavenly bodies speaks to its nature as emanating from God. We speak, rightly so, of the moon not having its own light but only reflecting the light of the sun. Similarly, no heavenly body — sun or stars — has, in one true sense, any light of its own. God put them there. He caused them to exist and to shine. He is the only real source of light. Continue reading “Light from beginning to end”