Firmly rooted and knit together

This is the time of year when the careful gardener is painfully aware of root systems in the garden; especially when they are insufficient.

Rainfall has been almost nonexistent for the past several weeks, and many of the newer trees and shrubs are showing signs of stress. The brilliant colors that herald autumn are muted even in the more established trees, because of insufficient water. Continue reading “Firmly rooted and knit together”

The need for fellowship

“After we tore ourselves away from them, we put out to sea, and sailing a straight course, we came to Cos, on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went aboard, and put out to sea. After we sighted Cyprus and left it behind on our port side, we sailed on to Syria and put in at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. After we located the disciples, we stayed there seven days” (Acts 21:1-4 NET).

One thing that becomes very apparent as we read about Paul’s travels is that he desired to be with Christians. It wasn’t that Paul wasn’t with Christians all the time – he was travelling with a group of at least seven other Christians (see Acts 20:4 and the “we” statements in Acts 21, indicating that Luke was also with him). Continue reading “The need for fellowship”

I’m thankful today

I’m thankful today for the medium of the internet that makes it possible to communicate easily and quickly with you and so many others, seeking as we do to edify and build each other up in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful today for my time yesterday morning with the congregation in the Pimentas neighborhood, in the city of Guarulhos, about an hour from here, as I shared with them the “7 powers of the servant of God.” They’re looking to choose some men next month to serve in some important functions, a sign of good growth for this 10-year-old congregation.

I’m thankful today for the two and a half hours I spent yesterday afternoon, in the Pimentas church building, with a dozen men from several congregations in greater São Paulo area, answering their questions about spiritual service. They are earnest men, dedicated to the work of the Lord, aware of their needs, desirous of doing a better job. Continue reading “I’m thankful today”

Why the church gets no respect

You probably remember the favorite line of funny man Rodney Daingerfield: “I get no respect.” Sometimes, it seems to me, the church gets no respect.

As writer John Stott once observed, “The unchurched are hostile to the church, friendly to Jesus Christ.” Often we hear someone say, “I don’t like organized religion.” One wonders, does that mean he likes his church disorganized? As Will Rogers once quipped, “I am a member of no organized political party; I’m a democrat.” Continue reading “Why the church gets no respect”

No more “us” and “them”

It seems that throughout the history of mankind, people have developed words to distinguish groups of people. The Greeks referred to all those who were not Greek as barbarians. In Rome you were either a citizen or a non-citizen. The Jews called all those who were not Jews by the term “Gentiles.” It would seem the purpose of creating such distinctions was to elevate your own group and put down those who you considered less than your group. Even today we can find this type of terminology in places. Continue reading “No more “us” and “them””

When Christians disagree

The names “Paul” and “Barnabas” seemed to go hand in hand during the early years of Christianity. It was Barnabas who took time to find out about Saul, the former persecutor of Christians, when he was trying to join the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-27). Later, when he saw such a great opportunity in Antioch, he went to Tarsus to find Saul.

For the next year they worked together and “taught a significant number of people” (Acts 11:26 NET). They became part of the group of “prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch” (Acts 13:1). The Holy Spirit told this group to “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). Barnabas and Saul sailed to Cyprus and later went into the Roman province of Asia proclaiming the good news of Jesus, before returning to Antioch. Continue reading “When Christians disagree”