Note: I published this article almost 15 years ago, on a third-party site, in the early days of Forthright Magazine. We republish it today, with a few tweaks, to give thanks for the Taubaté congregation, to encourage others to preach the gospel in every place, and to remind ourselves as we prepare for yet another church plant in the city of Jacareí.
Next Sunday, we’re beginning a new work in a major city near us, called Taubaté. This city has 250,00 population, with no church there yet.
Three couples of us met there yesterday, in a home, to worship together and plan ahead. I preached on what it takes to start a congregation from Acts 2. Let me encourage you to read this chapter before continuing. Continue reading “What it takes to start a new congregation”
If we wish to know how to respond to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we need to look at stories where Christians taught non-Christians how to respond to Jesus. We should not expect letters written to Christians and which address concerns of the church to communicate what a non-Christian needs to know in order to become a disciple. Continue reading “Good news: how we can receive Jesus”
Jesus announced he came to enable us to have an abundant life (John 10:10). He described the purpose of his life as seeking out people who need help and saving them (Luke 19:10). Here are some of the ways Jesus makes a difference for our lives. Continue reading “Good news: what Jesus can do for our lives”
Jesus was not just another rabbi, religious guru, or moralistic prophet. Jesus’ story is the story of how God was at work to help us. Continue reading “Good news: God was at work through Jesus”
It took a truck to deliver the 10 pizzas, since the motorcycle deliverer couldn’t manage them all. So here came the owner in his vehicle. And right on time, too.
The pizzas were part of our going-away party, after church, for our son Joel, his wife Tansy, and our two grandchildren. (The fact that they’re the children of our son and daughter-in-law is incidental, understand.) They spent 11 months living down the street from us and will be returning this week to the U.S., as planned.
This was the first time we’ve had grandchildren living near us. It was a grand experience. They were able to see us in our home setting, rather than a few days visiting in their home once a year or so, and then gone again. Continue reading “A help to many, including me”
John Augustus Roebling envisioned a way to cross the East River in New York City and convinced state and local governments in 1867 to fulfill his vision for a suspension bridge. The naysayers opposed him, people belittled him, but he … Continue reading Bridging the gap
Reading through the New Testament, we find a controversy that seemed to plague the first Christians. It centered around whether a Gentile (someone who was not a Jew) could be a Christian and also how they became a Christian. The Jews took great pride in the covenant they had with God, represented by circumcision – they often referred to everyone else as the “uncircumcised” – and wanted to require Gentiles to be circumcised before being baptized. Although this might be difficult for those of us living 2,000 years later to comprehend, it is important to see how this impacted these first Christians.
Jesus stated quite clearly that the gospel was for everyone. He told his followers: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 ESV). Continue reading “The gospel is for all”
In 1 Thessalonians 2.3, a section of the letter where he defends himself against accusations of disinterest or self-interest, Paul described his evangelistic work among the Thessalonians as “our exhortation.”
For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.
The quotation above, from the NET Bible, translates “our exhortation” as “the appeal we make.” An exhortation is an urgent appeal for someone to take a course of action. An exhortation tells someone, “You ought to do this.” Continue reading “Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’”
Pilate was warned concerning Jesus.
Pilate knew Jesus was not guilty of sedition, but he ignored that innocence. He was warned by a troubled wife, but he ignored her warning. He was warned by his own conscience that Jesus was innocent, but he could not withstand the Jews clamoring for the Lord’s death.
“Why? What evil has he done,” Pilate asked knowing the crowd could not answer. The question meant nothing to the mob of Jews. They wanted the blood of this man who had only helped, healed, and given them hope. Continue reading “Standing with Pilate”
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!” (Matthew 23:37 NET).
Jesus knew the city of Jerusalem so well. He had witnessed its founding and watched as King David took the city and made it his capital.
But he had also watched Jerusalem overcome by the idolatry and sin that characterized it in the Divided Kingdom and saw it led into bitter captivity to the Babylonians. Continue reading “My stubborn will”