By Johnny O. Trail — One radio station in Nashville does nothing but talk radio. As an avid listener to talk radio, I am always interested in the questions and comments of those who call in to the radio station. On one show in particular, the host deals with e-mails that are sent in by listeners. Last week, one e-mail in particular caught my attention. The lady who sent the e-mail asked the host, “How do I choose a church?”
The host then gave her some suggestions for finding a church to suit her needs. He proceeded to tell her to look at churches as communities and that she simply needed to find one that had people who most met her needs for friendship. Continue reading “How do I choose a church?”
Jesus cited Isaiah 6.9-10 to explain why people didn’t understand his parables. Paul cited the same passage, and Luke uses it at the end of Acts, to explain the rejection of the gospel by the Jews.
What catches our attention about the Isaiah passage is that it follows directly the account of the prophet’s vision of God’s holy glory and his calling to go speak to the people. Continue reading “Hear his voice”
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”
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”
“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to him to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them'” (Luke 15:1-2, NKJV).
I have been reminded of the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” as I have watched the concrete and brick rubble from the demolition of a roof being buried to form the solid base layer of a road bed. One of the expected problems when it was proposed to remove the old roof was, “what will we do with all of the waste material?” When it was decided that much of it could be put to good use in the building of the driveway, that project was added. Continue reading “Trash or treasure?”
To a church confused about the use of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul wrote, “But you should be eager for the greater gifts” 1 Corinthians 12.21. And again: “Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” 1 Corinthians 14.1.
Paul urged them to desire some gifts more than others. He was speaking, of course, of miraculous gifts, such as prophecy. But if saints in the first century could pursue certain gifts, since they were more important than others, it stands to reason that today saints should value certain non-miraculous gifts above others. Continue reading “This gift is direly needed in the church”
“For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ” (Colossians 2:1-2, NKJV).
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a secular proverb that describes the attitude of many. Most humans tend to focus their attention and efforts on those people and things which are in close proximity to themselves. We don’t usually spend much energy on those whom we have not met, or on needs that are at a great distance.
Paul was not of that mindset. He wanted the Christians that lived in the cities of Colossae and Laodicea to know that they were important to him. Though they had never yet seen him “up close and personal,” he knew who they were, he knew of their faith, and he had great love for them. He also was willing to invest great energy, both emotional and physical, in their spiritual growth.
Continue reading “Loving the unseen”
By Johnny O. Trail — Compassion is defined as “sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.” It might also be defined as “to have the bowels yearn” for the well-being of another. It means for one to have a deep, inward yearning for the good and welfare of another person—even in cases where they are not deserved of our sympathy. The word for compassion is used several times in the Old and New Testaments.
In the New Testament, the word compassion is combined with an action in connection with the expression of sympathy. Simply stated, we need to act compassionately toward those who deal with various physical, mental, and spiritual afflictions. If we wish to be like the Master, we should have the same type of compassion within ourselves. Continue reading “Compassion, action, and evangelism”
“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NKJV).
At the elephant breeding center near Chitwan National Park in Nepal, we were fortunate to see and photograph their latest arrival, a three-day-old baby female elephant. Though tiny (and seriously cute) she was already “all elephant” as the picture above demonstrates. Not only was she just like her mother in biological detail, she also mimicked the adult in posture, actions and other behavior. Our party was enthralled with her performance. Continue reading “Do this”
In this world there is little peace for humankind and little hope for it in the future. Jesus offers an eternal peace, of the heart, free from the vicissitudes of life and politics. While Christians pray for governing authorities, they place no hope in them. Confidence, only in Christ. He came from God and returned to God. He knew why he came to earth and fulfilled that purpose. During his time on earth, he loved, and he loved to the end. He was sure of his place before the Father, having received from him all power to bring divine love to its proper conclusion. He exercised this power with wisdom and knowledge.
Jesus calls his people to imitate his example. While his love took turns that were specific to his role in the eternal plan, its serving nature, with no holds barred, must take firm hold in his people. God is not impressed with rituals, done repeatedly for points, in the human mind, or to satisfy some random demand of heaven, as man sees it. He does command some specific actions, and through those he does bring his life and Spirit, but God looks behind the acts to the motivations and yearnings of the heart. He wants to see those and the practice of love — genuine, sincere, honest, profound. Continue reading “May every soul say, ‘My Lord and my God’”