Big news today is Fabia’s baptism. I add an extra tidbit about it on the posterous site (this post title is teaser), which you’ll find interesting to read.

Other big news: we have no meeting place for Sunday in Taubate. When we arrived last Sunday, we were told that the hotel was closed for renovation. Our sister in Christ, Rose, said she saw on TV that it went bankrupt. Whichever’s the case, one of the managers finally got in touch with us today to say we couldn’t meet there any more until April, when the hotel would be reopened. Continue reading

Vicki just now threw away two of the pans, handle-less, that the Ashland MS church gave us 30 years ago, before we had a single kid. She got new pots and pans for Christmas. I bit my tongue as she took them up to the trash bin. The others, still with handles, she plans to give away. Those pans have cooked many a meal. They’re almost like family. Almost. Is that sentimental, or what?

Two major items written today: first, my Forthright Magazine editorial, “The Continuum of Time,” a year-end thought, and then my commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4, over on The Fellowship Room. A third item, if you count my UPLift poem, “In Gray and Gravid Swirls,” today on this site. Ah, and The Prayer of Christmas Past. Continue reading

UPLift, Your Day to Shine
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IN GRAY AND GRAVID SWIRLS
by J. Randal Matheny

The clouds sit low upon my brow,
They came I know not why nor how;
I ask if they would weigh and press,
Or covered me with plans to bless.
In gray and gravid swirls, they chide:
“Why must you ask? You need not guess;
For ill or good, you decide.”

Brightly,
Randal

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We’ll make it short today. Tonight we go about 20 minutes from home, still in SJCampos, to Paulo and Socorro’s for the Christmas Eve Supper. That’s the Catholic tradition here, and some non-Catholics do it as well, though without the religious trappings. Is that OK, you think?

Yesterday, I promised a poem of mine. Original, unpublished, still got the shine on it. Here: “God Is More.” Whatcha think? Continue reading

Here is the 3rd stanza of “Because of Thy Great Bounty,” from The Eternal Things, by Grace Noll Crowell. It seemed a fitting thought to counter the commercialism of the season.

Because love has been lavished so
Upon me, Lord,
A wealth I know that was not meant
For me to hoard,
I shall give love to those in need,
Shall show that love by word and deed,
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, whether your tree be large or small, real or artificial, green or silver (do they make those anymore?).

Yesterday, one Journey paragraph mentioned alliteration. Can we say another word on that? Maybe there was a day when a topical sermon was effective with the key words or points all beginning with the same letter. I have my doubts about that today. I’ve done alliterative sermon points. Used to. Can’t remember the last one, however, since my sermons now are almost all textual and expository. Again, who hasn’t heard sermons where the words are forced so they’ll fit a scheme? One man’s opinion here is that alliteration ought to be retired in sermons. Has gotten too gimmicky. (I’m braced for the preachers’ reprisals.) Continue reading

If you are struggling with a hidden sin in your life, I encourage you to seek it out and destroy it before it destroys you. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us and cleanse us. I know from experience that one of the hardest things to do is tell God out loud what you have done and ask for His forgiveness. Just saying what I had done made it sound so terrible that I never wanted to sin again. It might also help to share your struggle with a brother or sister in Christ. Sometimes it is enough to confess to God and ask Him to forgive, but other times we need some help to get through. Christians should help each other to overcome sin, but no one can help you if they don’t know you are struggling.

via Active Service.

This brother, a preaching student at Bear Valley, starts with paintball and goes to dealing with hidden sin. Check out the whole article at the link above.

The fact God has specified in the New Testament ways in which we are to worship him indicates that he still cares about the form of worship, that it is not a matter of indifference to him. If he simply had said “worship me” and not identified ways in which he desires to be worshiped, everyone would agree that all ways of worshiping him would be acceptable. But since he commanded specific ways of worship, one devoted to pleasing him should not risk displeasing him by worshiping in ways he has not commanded.

This seems to be a good and fair statement, from Ashby Camp, in a PDF review of Milton Jones’s work on instrumental music. His review is enlightening.