The Essential and the insistent

When Jesus spoke you listened. Jesus didn’t draw people to him because he was physically imposing, like Saul. Nor did he draw people because he told them what they wanted to hear, like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day. He was earnest and kind, forthright and compassionate, full of truth and full of love. He was the master teacher, mentor, debater, defender, and friend.

As the Word made flesh, God incarnate, Jesus demanded your attention, not because he was loud, obnoxious, or insistent, but because his words were essential. He did not speak to hear himself, nor did he waste his breath speaking that which was superfluous (see Matthew 12:36, 37).

As we look back upon the ministry of Jesus, we should be captivated by the brevity of it. God is eternal. He created man as a temporal, mortal being. His plan to help man achieve immortality was gradually revealed over four millennia. Then, when the moment was perfect (Galatians 4:4), he pierced time and wrapped his everlasting spirit with flesh and blood. The pure Word walked around on this sin soaked soil for about one-third of a century. Continue reading “The Essential and the insistent”

Crying as I pitch historical documents

I’m up to my elbows in paper, going through old files and crying as I throw away tons piles of historical documents relating to the work and the church in Brazil over the years. I have material in English and Portuguese starting from the 1960s and 1970s.

Months ago, I moved from my office space, which I had rented for 17 years, to a home office. There’s not room for everything, so most of the files must go. I have boxes of papers and files scattered around the office and the bedroom, and it’s past time to pare it down. Continue reading “Crying as I pitch historical documents”

Becoming humble

Becoming like Christ is a full-time, life-long pursuit. It is a journey which includes both forward and backward movement. Times of advancement and times of stagnation should be expected. It is important to understand that this “walk” with Christ which we are on is our life’s work. We must continue to press forward. While perfectly emulating Christ is impossible, it is likely that some aspects of Christ’s life may be easier to imitate than others.

Humility is one quality of Christ that requires dedication and persistence. Acquiring humility is difficult, for the moment when you think you have it, it is gone. It is also difficult because the world is so devoid of humility. The absence of humility gives us all the more reason to develop and demonstrate a humble life. Continue reading “Becoming humble”

Make up your mind to serve Jesus

Few people think they can do great things. Perhaps that’s because humans look at their faults and weaknesses and convince themselves they cannot reach greatness.

A close friend of mine in high school wanted to become a physician. A counselor told him his grades were not good enough to enable him to get into college. Instead, he was encouraged to go into a technical school. He did, but he always thought what might have happened if he had persisted in becoming a doctor. Continue reading “Make up your mind to serve Jesus”

The Purpose and Power of the Priesthood

Have you given much thought to the priesthood? Some may see it as a waste of time. But I want to suggest to you that a study of the priesthood will enhance your appreciation for God. The story of the priesthood is really a story of us, of sin, of forgiveness, and of service.

The Story of Us

So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-6 NET).

Continue reading “The Purpose and Power of the Priesthood”

The road to glory

How does one achieve glory? Humans think glory means to exalt self above others, and so people have tried to find a way to become the most exalted on earth.

Many used politics to find a route to glory by becoming a ruler. Others accumulated wealth as a way to find themselves exalted and enshrined in memory. Others have simply dominated others in an attempt to gain it. All of them have failed because they never understood what glory is. Continue reading “The road to glory”

Yet not with a whole heart

Why do you serve God? Perhaps you serve God because that is what your parents did. Perhaps you serve God because that is what your spouse desires. Perhaps you serve God for the sake of your children. Perhaps your reasons are less noble.

The Chronicles are often neglected books. But we do ourselves a disservice to neglect any of the sacred writings. There are a number of extraordinarily deep statements in the Chronicles. One that bears upon our thoughts today is a statement made in 2 Chronicles 25:2. In a description of king Amaziah, the inspired text reads, “he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart” (ESV). Continue reading “Yet not with a whole heart”

Instruments of peace

When you listen to some people talk you would think that it’s the church’s job to serve them. They treat the church as if it’s a business that’s supposed to provide a service, and if it does not they can point in indignant tones at the church that had apparently failed them.

The problem with this view is not that not only is it unfair (it is), or that it is harsh and judgmental (it is) but because it misses the very essence of what it means to be a Christian. Continue reading “Instruments of peace”

Use your gift

You are a unique person. No one else is like you. God made you an individual with characteristics, personality, and tastes that distinguish you from every other human being who lives or has ever lived.

“Identical” twins aren’t. People who know such twins can usually tell them apart from their manner of being. Continue reading “Use your gift”

The least of them

By John Kaniecki

“And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me” (Mathew 25:40 NET).

If one looks at this statement literally it is perhaps one of the most powerful statements in the Bible. That is, the way that you treat any human being is the way that you are treating Jesus. If Jesus came up to you and said “I’m hungry”, I am sure that you would give him all of the food that you had. But what about that drug-addicted man, dressed in rags, who is always begging by the side of the road. According to this scripture, there is no difference between the two. Continue reading “The least of them”