Elegy for a Departed Missionary

by J. Randal Matheny © 2011

Remembering missionariesThe fallen of God none mourn;
But for a moment’s thought
Might some consider and learn
What God in man hath wrought.

Flung abroad and thrown
To save the far domain,
Unheard, unheralded, unknown,
Shone truth in splendor plain.

In years of faith and doubt,
He served the Word with prayer,
With much or little, without,
Or burdened with many a care.

Just as he quietly served,
So too he died, ignored;
To heaven by God removed
To gain his just reward.

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A man’s faith in himself wavers because he knows his foibles and limitations, his fears and doubts. A man’s faith in God may also waver, but not because of any deficiency in the Creator. The more one studies God, the more one’s faith grows.

The Lord Jesus urges us to look to God’s works as a builder of faith. “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28 NET).

To answer his doubts and fears that God “might become inactive,” Asaph wrote,

I will remember the works of the LORD.
Yes, I will remember the amazing things you did long ago!
I will think about all you have done;
I will reflect upon your deeds!”
O God, your deeds are extraordinary!
What god can compare to our great God?
(Psalm 77:11-13 NET).

To remember the works of God is to find faith.

• The Missus and The Maiden caught the fourth Johnny Depp pirate movie today for about $4 each. I wasn’t up to yet another foul-smelling Depp movie. One was great, two was OK, three was testing my patience. Four is a no-go for me.

• Yesterday morning we meet with three Events on the way to church.

  • (1) The electric company had turned off the lights in our neighborhood so they could sink new poles in the ground and had about a half-mile stretch of the main avenue out of our area down to one lane;
  • (2) Some school — and there are many of those our way — sponsored a parent-kid bike ride out our way (we’re the region of Preference for such). Was gonna be interesting as they went back out the one lane beside the electric trucks;
  • (3) The Colinas Mall sponsored some sort of foot race, so at the intersection, one could only turn left, which, fortunately, was the direction we wanted to go.

• Jon Warnes’s 100 Days of Scripture on Facebook really took off. I think we’ve got Richard H. set up to send out the Bible verses by email. Gonna see if we’re too old to memorize. Give it a try?

• In June, gonna make a change with FMag, make or break. Also must nail down details for the resurrection of the Brazilian mag. Did you catch my editorial today, with Romans 16:16 as its jumping point?

• The TFR Fellows think that just because it’s Memorial Day they can take off. Imagine that. Everybody else in the rest of the world is working today. Four measly posts so far today, and count how many of those your good and gracious editor made.

• The temps were chilly this morning. When I checked about 9 a.m., my e-thermometer reported 50ºF. Had to have been colder than that earlier, down in the high 40s. For here, with no indoor heating, brick-and-mortar construction, and tile floors, that’s cold!

• Remember this: any time someone talks down the Bible, it’s almost certain he seeks to diminish its authority in our lives and to undermine the Lordship of Christ. There just might exist some bibliolater out there somewhere, but it makes a perfect straw man for those who want to decentralize the Word of God in the life of the saint.


I saw your site recommended on Mashable. It sounded interesting so I
went to check it out. Imagine my chagrin when I saw you had used what
for millions and millions of Christians a curse word.

So I won't be using your service nor recommending it to anyone.
J. Randal Matheny • vCard


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by J. Randal Matheny © 2011


I was not there when soldiers fell
Beneath the volley of fire,
Nor did I see the mortar shell
Or feel the strands of wire.

I busied self with lesser worries
Than freedom’s ugly war,
Like one who bustles off and hurries
To his next menial chore.

Today, let me and mine give pause
To truths we cannot hide:
For family’s sake and freedom’s cause,
Many a soldier died.

You may reproduce this in print as long as you retain the author’s name and copyright and provide a link to this page: http://is.gd/memorialday. Online, we ask you not to reproduce but to link to this page.

An email: “I’ve been looking for something simple with all the ‘spirit of the day’.  You nailed it…”

In marriage, a man and woman abandon their interests in other people to dedicate themselves exclusively and totally to each other. When God becomes our Lord, something similar happens. This was true of Israel, and Moses’ words apply to Christ’s people today:

Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you except to revere him, to obey all his commandments, to love him, to serve him with all your mind and being.
Deut. 10:12 NET

Many call themselves Christians, many say they’re religious, but it’s all in vain if they do not serve God above all others and with all their being. It’s just a lie to think that one can conduct one’s life as others do and still receive God’s approval.

It must be said that, as the Israelites did, many play at religion. They don’t take God’s word seriously. They don’t know his will. They impose on the Lord their own ideas. They carry God in their pocket and pull him out only when it serves their desires. Maybe they say a little prayer now and again, or do some good work sometime, but their life as a whole is dedicated to a home-made idol. They obey only those divine laws they find convenient.

So the great question is: Does the Bible verse above describe my life? Or the previous paragraph?

Lord God of Israel and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, make me to discover my duties toward you. Teach me to fear and love you.

Tears of a soldierby J. Randal Matheny © 2011

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears
Was fiercely fought upon a field,
Where neither side would give or yield,
And neither heard the victors’ cheers.

Hard against the Whitened Downs,
Struck man and beast his match and pair;
Horses’ hooves cleaved heavy air,
From royal heads fell regal crowns.

The greening slopes were ground and churned,
As armies’ met to mete their worst;
Soldiers, downed, on dying cursed,
Ambitions bled and hopes were burned.


The title and first line come from J.R.R. Tolkein’s book, The Silmarillion. My poem has nothing to do with his book or the battle mentioned therein. It was suggestive of an idea, which I ran with.

The following letter was published in the May 29th bulletin of the Baker Heights church in Abilene TX, one of our long-time supporters. I was touched by it, coming as it evidently was, from the non-Christian parents of a young man converted in the congregation.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. You all have proved this statement to be truth.

TJ has been a part of the Baker Heights church all his life, but he truly became a part of your family his eighth grade summer when his Uncle Cliff invited him to WRYC. It was there that he reconnected with Luke and Carrie Bower and his life was changed forever. Continue reading

• Seems like Monday today, because we went to Taubaté last night. Funny how changes in routine tinker with your inner clock/calendar. Of course, some people live in the no-routine routine. I’ve discovered I like my practiced regimen, even though Brazilians are prejudiced against what they call being “systematic.” They prize spontaneity. Equate it with sincerity. Great mistake that one.

• The occasion last night was Aline’s birthday. She and Leila are especially close, and we enjoy her and Humberto’s company. The food ain’t bad either; the strawberry cake filled with cream deserved a second round, effectively melting my resolve to eat a single piece.

• A brother asked on an email list about a couple in premarital counseling. The guy likes to spend time with old girlfriends. While there were more details, I gave this answer. Was I too pessimistic or harsh?

  1. If he appeals to fairness, he’s not ready for marriage.
  2. A romantic relationship never (OK, hardly ever) falls back into a platonic relationship.
  3. Tell the guy to get a life, if he loves [his fiancee], and leave the other women. If he won’t leave them now, he won’t after marriage either, and it’s a set-up for adultery. He’s a lecher, unless American men are different from Brazilians, which, considering the divine wiring and plumbing, I doubt.

• Though I’m not going after any more business with that idea of mine last year, I have another gig to do, recommendation from a previous job. And the guy’s business partner is interested in one for himself as well. So I’ll do the ones that fall in my lap. Does that sound fair?

• Prayers for the folks in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. And Alabama and Mississippi. And Japan. Changing media attention shouldn’t allow us to forgot those who have recently going through tragedies and disasters as well.

• Over on TFR I mentioned Rick Kelley’s new blog, Root Downward, Fruit Upward. You’ll want to follow this one.

• With the two pieces of strawberry cake last night, it’s all fruit this morning, mango earlier, and now apple. Then salad for lunch. Time for a return to dietary sanity. Until after the group tonight.

From the state of Paraiba, in the northeast, missionary Joseph McKinney writes today on the government approval of homosexual marriage and how that complicates life in Brazil.

Yes, homo-affective relationships – that is how same sex couples are being described in the new Brazilian law that gives their relationships legitimacy. The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court has determined that marriage goes beyond just a man and woman, giving homosexuals the legal rights to marital status: inheritance, pensions, child custody, health insurance benefits, the ability to open joint bank accounts, etc.
According to the president of the Transvestites Association of Paraiba, Fernanda Bevenutty, this was a victory for Brazilian homosexuals, but most will continue in anonymity for fear of the social reaction. The census counted 800 same sex couples in Paraiba, but Bevenutty said that in reality there are a lot more.
The next step the GLBT (Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transvestites) movement will push is the controversial PLN 122 law, that purposes to add sexual discrimination to the law that punishes racial discrimination, making any type of opposition to this lifestyle a crime. That could mean that a homosexual could sue a church if banished for his or her practices, or a elementary school if rejected as a kindergarten teacher. Preachers could be jailed for repeating what the Bible says about homosexuality. So things could get interesting here in Brazil…

Read the rest of his article here. The people generally don’t support this, but like many politicians and activist judges, when in office they do what they want to.

• This email came in just this morning. “Randal, a book has been donated to the Overton Memorial Library in your honor by Friends of Overton Memorial Library. The book will be available for viewing, and you will be specially recognized, at Honors Evening on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. Please join us in the McMeans Family Reading Area within the Overton Memorial Library 3625 Helton Drive, Florence, Alabama.” I felt honored on receiving the news. I have an idea of who might have put my name in the pot, but I guess that’s supposed to remain anonymous. Anybody willing to stand in for me on Honors Evening?

• On FMag today, my editorial, “The Christian Offering and the Ordinances of God,” centers on 1 Cor. 16:1 to consider the importance of God’s commandments and how they contribute to unity. I used today’s Portuguese meditation and developed that further for the article.

• We pray for the victims’ families in Joplin, Mo. So far, 89 lives lost amid tremendous destruction. I have a second cousin who was living there last I recall, but I saw her online this morning. Apparently, their “old house” was destroyed. Update: She and her family have moved back to Arkansas.

• The Christian Chronicle’s story about the “Restoration Movement college spared” in Joplin, headlines the non-event of the Christian Church’s Ozark Christian College not being hit by the tornado, with an interview by the college president. It gave the number of instrumental churches and a cappella churches. Since it talked about the Restoration Movement churches, why didn’t it include the Disciples of Christ in Joplin? There’s at least one. Why the discrimination? Does the Chronicle consider itself in fellowship with the Christian Church, but not the Disciples? Evidently, the Chronicle is reporting news of the former group with no apologies. Perhaps it should consider changing the plug on the website: “Official news blog of the international newspaper for Churches of Christ.”

• Speaking of media, catch these articles: first, from BNc, a TV station found a person’s objection to a Bible verse on a church sign newsworthy; then, my take on why the May 21 prophecy of the world’s end was hyped by the mainstream media.

• Saturday we had 20 people here at the house for study and fellowship. I mentioned that earlier on The Fellowship Room. See the fuller description of the moment there, along with a link of pictures. I also mentioned a bit of our day yesterday as well.