Friday, June 29, 2007

The Big Screen

What kind of influence does entertainment really have on our culture? It may be bigger than you think. When I grew up, the mainstream, popular movies were E.T., The Stars Wars Trilogy, The Indiana Jones movies, and the like. While Spiderman, and Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and some of the other summer blockbusters might not be too bad, many of the mainstream movies today are nothing but filth. If you want to check the content of a movie to examine whether or not it is suitable for you and your children, I suggest looking at http://www.screenit.com/.
According to The Gallup Poll, May, 2006, more than one-fourth of movie-goers feel they have seen a movie that has had a profound effect on their religious beliefs. 81% of this group said the movie strengthened their faith, and about 14% said that it weakened their faith. 5% did not comment either way.
I imagine the reason a majority said there was a movie which strengthened their faith is largely due to the movie, The Passion of the Christ. Although this movie was both fiction and non-fiction in content, the scourging scene and the crucifixion help Christians recognize the torture that Jesus experienced for the salvation of mankind.
I also imagine that movies like The Da Vinci Code, anything directed by Michael Moore, and documentaries that attempt to discredit the true identity of Jesus make up for those who have let the cinema have a negative influence on their faith. It is sad that many are willing to make big bucks by thriving on controversy. But folks go to watch these movies for the thrill of anything that looks like rebellion.
The real purpose of this article, however, is to encourage the reader not to let the media or the entertainment world have ANY influence on what is to be believed. I watched The Passion of the Christ, but if I had never watched it I would still believe that Jesus died the cruelest of deaths for my sins. I do not support controversial movies that attack Christianity and I will not pay one penny to view them. But even if I did see them, I would not let bogus authority lead me down a path of doubt.
The only thing to be accepted or rejected with regard to religion lies between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21. I would add that the historical reality of the life of Jesus on this earth and the creation itself are also extant for our consideration. These alone are meant to be the influencing factors for all cultures.
So don’t ever forget that a movie is just a movie, the media is not equipped with the truth, and the Word of God stands forever.

“That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” ~ (1 Cor. 2:5)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Applause

A man and his wife sat charmed at a violin recital. They were dazzled by the ability of young Japanese musicians who were able to play the violin so well at a very young age. The instructor commented that as early as age 2, these young people were taught first the proper stance and second how to take a bow. They were taught these things before they even learned how to play. There is something very significant here that needs application. We must see the importance of these two principles in Christian living.
First, we need to know where to stand and how to stand. Paul told the Christians in Corinth that they stood in the gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-2). If we do not stand properly in the truth of the gospel, then our lives will not be sweet music to the Author of our salvation.
Secondly, we must see the necessity of encouragement. These young children were taught to bow, so the audience would remember to applaud. Although Jesus taught that we are to seek only the Lord's approval (Matt. 6:1-8), at the same time each of us need encouragement from brethren who watch our progress and support us when we lack the faith or courage to stand alone. People respond to positive reinforcement. It is not because their ego demands such, but because we have been made to be a kind of people who depend on one another. Then, by depending on one another we can properly learn how to depend upon God.
"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving"
(Colossians 2:6-7).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Polling Yourself

According the most recent Gallup polls on religion, updated June of 2007, 63% of Americans claim to be a member of a church or synagogue. When asked about attendance, only 31% admitted that they attend worship services once a week. Another interesting question, "As a whole, is religion gaining influence or losing influence in America?" 55% believed that religion was losing influence. Hmmm, I wonder why?! 63% claim membership and only 31% attend weekly. It is so difficult to figure out why religion is losing influence! How about this folks - "Go to worship!"
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you..." (James 4:8).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Enduring Sound Doctrine

It is right there in front of our faces. The Bible clearly states - "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers" (2 Tim. 4:3). This very important word "endure" needs a true definition. What exactly is Paul talking about?
It occurs to me that many folks are "enduring" sound doctrine...much like a sheep endures being shorn or cattle endure the branding iron. One definition of the word means - "to bear or tolerate." It is there and nothing can be done about it so you have to put up with it. Many hold this attitude toward the commandments given by God in areas of worship and personal conduct. They endure singing without the instrument. They endure not getting to drink alcohol. They endure the narrow road, they just don't like it very much.
That is not what Paul meant when he discussed endurance. This word, in the Greek text, anecho, means "to hold up." The idea behind "enduring sound doctrine" is not putting up with it, but holding it in such high regard and recognizing its holiness so as to live life by the very fiber of its teachings.
The Psalms declare the exalted position of God's word - "And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes" (Ps. 119:47-48).
Paul said correctly, that the time would come when some would not endure sound doctrine. There are certainly some who openly oppose the Bible, but sadly there are also many in the Christian system that often don't love it like they should.
“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15) ESV.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Posers

If you remember the old "Merv Griffin Show," then perhaps you will remember the episode when Merv had a body-builder on the program as a guest. Mr. Griffin asked the man why he developed some of his particular muscles to such a degree. Without an answer the man flexed and the audience applauded. Again, he asked, "But what do you use those muscles for?" Once more the giant showed his defined figure, pumping his biceps. Finally, Griffin asked once more what he used all of his muscles for?! The body-builder didn't have an answer.
I am pretty sure that many of you readers out there know a good portion of the Bible. You may know about the church, worship, how to pray, teach lessons, et cetera. Many of us, by perpetual activity and the providence of being raised in the kingdom of God, are well-defined. We have the goods, but what have we developed them for? May God help us not to just be posers.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." ~ James 1:22

Friday, June 22, 2007

Questions and Answers

I would like to remind the readers that this blog has a mission to present Biblical ideas and promote Christianity. I would appreciate any Bible question you have, and would like to post the question and answer on the blog. To submit a question, please use the email link: jeremiahtatum@bellsouth.net
Thank you for your interest and God bless.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oops!

People make some big blunders. Consider the following:
Two teenagers burst through the front door and raced to the counter with an empty pillow case.
"Put it in," they demanded of the clerk.
"Put what in?" the attendant asked.
"The money. Put it in and nobody'll get hurt," they barked.
The puzzled library attendant, who had less than $1 in collected fines in the petty cash box, ducked out the door and called the police. They, too, were dumbfounded.
"It's the first attempted library robbery I ever heard of," said one cop, scratching his head.
The only plausible explanation was that the two careless crooks got the Grandon City, Kansas, bank mixed up with the library. The two buildings are a block apart on corner locations, and at the time, the bank's exterior was partially obstructed by scaffolding.
The youths, believed to be runaways from Florida, were nabbed by police hours after the bungled heist. In keeping with their crime, the bonehead bandits were taken into custody and promptly "booked". (Published in Campus Life, 1980).
Proverbs 14:16 reads, "A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident." Those who are set on evil must be careful, for folly soon awaits them. You may not be planning to rob a bank, but consider the temptations you often run head-long into, thinking you will come out unscathed.
"To do evil is like sport to a fool,
But a man of understanding has wisdom" (Proverbs 10:23).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dead in the Water

Pastor David Martin has written openly against baptism for the remission of sins. With one of his objections, he writes - "If my past sins are forgiven when I am baptized in water, and it is possible for me to 'lose my salvation' and go to hell after being baptized, then wouldn't my best chance of going to heaven be to drown in the baptistry?!! - before I had a chance to sin so as to be lost again? If I wanted to be absolutely sure of heaven, isn't that my best opportunity?"
The reader will note that within this objection there is the false doctrine of "once saved always saved."
But on the other hand Mr. Martin is exactly right, although he doesn't know it. When a person submits to baptism their only hope for salvation involves being dead in the water. In Romans chapter 6 Paul helps the Christian understand baptism as a death, burial, and resurrection, in which the one baptized is dead to sin, buried with Christ, and raised to walk in newness of life. He then says, "...reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:11).
To the Colossian church, the apostle also wrote - "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil-desrire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience" (Col. 3:5-6).
Also, the Corinthians knew that the love of Christ which allowed for His death also compels us to give up our lives for God - "For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
Paul applied this principle in his own life, when he said, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). To the church at Corinth he put it most simply, "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily" (1 Cor. 15:31).
Therefore, yes, part of the objection is correct. The only chance we have to live is if we die. So when you obey the gospel, consider yourself dead in the water.
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever desires to lose his life for My sake will find it" ~ Matthew 16:25.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

1 Peter 3:15

Some time ago I was given an article written by David Martin, Pastor of the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Bartlett, TN. I recently came across it again and decided to fulfill the requirements of 1 Pet. 3:15. For Pastor Martin's 13 "Questions A 'Church of Christ" Preacher Cannot Answer", you can visit http://www.biblebelievers.com/ and check the left hand scroll under "Church of Christ." This was my reply:

Dear Mr. Martin,
My name is Jeremiah Tatum and I preach for the Pulaski St. church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, TN. Some time ago a friend of mine copied your article on the church and gave it to me. I was cleaning out my office and stumbled on it again. I would like to answer your claims in the most respectful way I know how.
I am not a Campbellite. I had never heard this expression until I was 23 and had moved from the west to the south. I have found that this expression is mostly from this area because this man had a great deal of influence on this side of the country. I was raised in the church and had heard Alexander Campbell's name once or twice, but never as I recall from the pulpit. He was a good man, but he had several doctrinal misteps. We can admire any of those in times past who were working out issues of the church and salvation. But they have no authority. The Bible alone is authoritative with regard to all things spiritual. Now I would like to answer these questions you have supplied, which to me seem very easy to answer.

1. God has never in latter times hand-picked individuals for service. He has called all men by the gospel, and it is in the court of men that individually we reject or accept that call. There has always been a remnant of the church since it began. Anywhere people on this earth were doing the will of God as given through the holy Bible, the church has existed. But restoration does have it's place, for many have left God's design for the church only to adhere to human doctrine.

2. No person needs to be baptized by another church member in order to be saved. Paul was not sent to baptize, but to preach. People were still being baptized, but the emphasis in 1 Corinthians 1 is that only the subject in baptism was significant, and that each Christian must unite in the One who wears the name of the church and who was crucified for them.

3. God is not waiting for the baptistry, He is waiting for the sinner.

4. Have you read Gal. 5:4? what does it mean to become "estranged from Christ?" How can you lose a relationship that never existed in the first place?

5. Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us that our sins/iniquities separate us from God. There is no sin that the Lord can be pleased with. But we also know that God can wipe all of our sins away (Jer. 31:34). 1 Jn. 1:9 makes it clear that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It is not upon God to forgive sins of which we are unwilling to repent. Christians live in a saved state in which they receive continual cleansing. To argue that a saved person cannot so sin as to be lost is fundamentally incorrect. To believe that one who has accepted God at one time in their life cannot reject God later is also neglects the reality of free moral agency and the disposition of a God who is perfect in judgment.

6. God is not an Indian giver. Galatians 6:1 tells those who are spiritual to "restore such a one with meekness/gentleness, considering themselves." Who is to be resotred? Is it not the Christian who has fallen? Would it not take place through public confession of sins and prayer(James 5:16)?

7. There is no sin that is unforgiveable. But when Christ talked about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31) He indicated that when a person rejects the very means of salvation as given by the truth which the Holy Spirirt teaches, that person is in a state of damnation. But a person can leave such a doomed state by choice. As long as we have our faculties we have a choice. But if we choose to reject God's teachings we are lost.

8. People who believe that... when they trip and therefore say a cuss word and consequently get hit by a bus...that this combination would cause their soul to be lost, have no understanding of God's ability to forgive and the grace that makes salvation possible. We all should be praying to God who forgives us of sins, but that doesn't mean that every time we make a mistake we have to immediately pray over it to save our soul. This is preposterous and I know of no person who would believe such. These type of arguments are only used by people who are looking to silly ideas so that they can disregard simple truths.

9. The "church of Christ" is a Biblical name for the church. In the book of Romans Paul says "churches of Christ" to refer to several united churches. Any person who understands grammar understands that taking the singular from the plural would be to say, "church of Christ." There are other Biblical names for the church. You can find: church of God, the church, the Way, church of the Firstborn, and other examples. Any of these names are acceptable descriptions for the church of the Bible. This is why I am not a "Church of Christ." For more on this you may visit my blog spot article - "They're Church of Christ." View http://www.backtothebible.blogspot.com/

10. I can do without pitch pipes, pews, song books, indoor baptistries, and the like - if you can get by without instrumental music. I agree that we have no "specific authority" for these things.

11. This involves a more complete study of the Greek text. I cannot fully respond in a few sentences, but I would like to discuss it with you. One thought, however. When Saul was told to "arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 16:22), was he being told to wash away sins that had already been forgiven? No doubt he was already a believer in Jesus as the Son of God, but he was told to see Ananias for further instruction. Among the instructions given baptism was included.

12. No place in Scripture says that baptism is a "work of righteousness." If you can find it I would like for you to show it to me so I can understand this more fully. The Bible says we are saved by grace, among other things. Grace and love are the pinnacle elements of our salvation, but they do not act alone.

13. The house of Cornelius in Acts 10 received "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" just as the Apostles did on Pentecost. This was God pouring out the miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles as He had already done to the Jews in Acts 2. This signified Gentile inclusion into the kingdom of God, and this was for the benefit of the revelation of God's will for this action to both parties. In this same passage Peter commanded that they all be baptized (Acts 10:48). I submit that a commandment is not a suggestion but a requirement of God which we obey because we love Him (John 14:15).

I appreciate your Bible study and I hope these things will be helpful to you as you seek to understand the nature of the church. I believe that we may have many misconceptions about each other because we unfortunately differ and have been told stories about one another that are not altogether correct. However, I humbly submit these ideas as one who desires to follow nothing but the Bible. I am a member of the church that I read about in my Bible, and I believe we all should be. I am open to discuss any of these ideas with you at any time. I am no expert, just one who is trying to do his best.

With my regards,
Jeremiah Tatum

Without A Word

Preachers struggle mightily in one particular area that has often weakened the effectiveness of their ministry and their local work - patience. While they may have worked it out in study, outlined the sermon, and delievered it with great compassion and thorough prayer - those attending worship services are hearing the message once. Forgetting this, many preachers wonder why they are not seeing the changes in the lives of those who worship. Discouraged, they often begin to believe they are not succeeding in their efforts to change lives for the good of man and to the glory of God.
I am learning, (and it had been a difficult lesson), to understand that the word of God is working in hearts. I may want it to get worked out today, but the time table is out of my control. I still need constant reminders that I am doing the Lord's work, and that this is enough. Every visit, Bible study, kind word, Christian service, funeral, phone call, sermon, article, et cetera has influence. We just need to do the work and be patient with others. God is certaintly long-suffering with us (2 Pet. 3:15).
I recently visited with somebody who has surprised a lot of people lately. He has started worshipping. He is talking about God, the Bible, and the church. This after most of his family thought that it would never happen. Too many years have passed with no interest in these things. But God has been working the whole time. He has been working through this man's Christian wife and children. He has been working through the faithfulness of other family members and Christians. He has been working through the moments of this man's frailties. He has been working through the ever present love of His providence, provisions, and promises. Some of His greatest work has been simple, Christian activity, so that this man may gain the victory without a word. Whether we understand it or not, I am finding out that this is the way many people prefer to be won.
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives" (1 Peter. 3:1).

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Real Enemy

Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, has attributed the fall of the Empire to:
1. The rapid increase of divorce; the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society. 2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public monies for free bread and circuses for the populace. 3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal. 4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within, the decadence of the people. 5. The decay of religion--faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.
We compare these things to what is the breakdown of our society today. If we wanted to label these five problems categorically we might say:
1. The breakdown of the traditional family. 2. The unwillingness of able-bodies to enter the workplace. 3. Entertainment seen as a basic need rather than recreation. 4. Defending against enemies on foreign soil rather than materialism on home soil. 5. God and the Bible for consumerism, rather than individuals for God and the Bible.
The real enemy lies within. Satan is still active. He is doing his work to make a nation built upon faith in God to reject the very principles of its foundation. Each heart must undergo a serious self-examination if we are going to make a turn around before it is too late.
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." ~ Proverbs 14:34

Friday, June 15, 2007

They're "Church of Christ"

Misconceptions arise from various sources and are often difficult to eliminate. One such example is that of the common phrase used by so many when describing those who abide by the doctrine of Christ and are a part of His church.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Well I was raised (fill in denomination hear), but my spouse was raised ‘Church of Christ.” Or perhaps it goes something like, “She’s (fill in denomination here), but her husband is ‘Church of Christ.’”
Though many don’t know it, and perhaps they’re just not thinking about it, they are trivializing God’s divine institution when they use such conversation. It plants the church of our Lord into a denominational genre, and therefore applies to the church a social bond with other bodies of belief that are not of God.
Jesus came to build His church, and did so according to the eternal plan of God (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22, 23). When we speak of the church of which we are a part, we recognize it as the one body Jesus bought with blood, established at Pentecost, still in existence today (Eph. 4:4-6; Acts 20:28). There is no universal title for the church outside of the Biblical titles to which we see it ascribed. God inspired men to call it by its proper name, as the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16), the church of the Firstborn (Heb. 12:23), the church of God (1 Cor. 1:2), or even just “the church” (Eph. 5:23).
But followers of Jesus are not “Church of Christ” or “Church of Christers.” When we say someone is “Church of Christ”, we go beyond the description allowed in the Bible for those who are in the church. We are to be called simply “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16), or “saints” (Rom. 1:7). A true Christian is one who is in the church and belongs to Christ, the One who is Head of the body (Col. 1:18).
It will prove difficult for us to spread the true message about the church if we do choose to be careful to honor its Biblical representation. The church of Christ does not have a doctrine, the Bible is doctrine. The church of Christ does not have a position, the Bible has a position. The church of Christ does not believe…, the Bible teaches... When we come into a proper appreciation for these simple ideas, we will help ourselves and others become obedient to Christ in a unified fashion and exalt the name of God and His church.
There is no greater institution on the earth than the church of Christ. It is the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). It is the body of the saved (1 Cor. 1:18). It is the family of God (Eph. 3:15). May we always strive to love our God and the church He sent the Son to establish! May we always properly represent this sacred body of sanctified people!

– “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generation, forever and ever. Amen” – (Eph. 3:20, 21).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Christian, Second-Class

Today at lunch I took my boys to a Pizza Hut (their favorite spot). There sitting with a group was a young lady who worships with us. I found out the group had been to a local VBS that was being held by another congregation. This local church wears a similar name on their building, but does not fellowship with our congregation because we support certain works (Agape being one of them). It was very clear that the hostess of this group of children didn't want to speak to me. I guess she felt it might be fellowship.Yet one of our young ladies was not afraid to attend their VBS. Perhaps our little girl is too young to think about drawing lines. Perhaps she is not hard-hearted enough to hold something against a brother. She just wants to worship God and enjoy her friendships. Some of these simple ideas could do us all some good.
I am trying to understand why certain lines have been drawn. I am trying to understand why some of God's people make others feel like second-class Christians. I don't believe there are any such saints. There are erring Christians, and there are those who claim Christianity who have never obeyed the steps of salvation and rest on a false hope. There are reasons not to have fellowship with brethren who walk in an unruly fashion. But I know I could worship with these folks, if they would only cease from holding these human guidelines which made their sweeping movement through this county 50 years ago. I want to be their brother. I want to go to heaven with them. Unfortunately, as Satan would have it, this sentiment does not seem to be mutual. At least not under these conditions. My real concern? How can we make to heaven together, if we can't even live in peace at the Pizza Hut?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's Your Funeral

When Carl Matheny passed away, there was no funeral. For this member of the church there was no visitation. No, there was not even a graveside service. Why? Because his funeral had already happened. In fact, believe it or not, he was there. He had learned the cancer was terminal. Weeks before his death he made arrangements for it all to happen beforehand. Carl Matheny attended his own funeral. Imagine getting to hear people say what they wanted to say about you before you were gone. He didn't have time to change much. Maybe he didn't need to. Perhaps those who spoke of him were kinder than he deserved, but probably not. Folks are usually more kind in front of grieving family members they are attempting to comfort, and the dead no longer have to live up to praise which is meant to represent them. Have you heard of someone preaching their own funeral? My father-in-law attended one such funeral today. This time the man had passed before the funeral, but he had left the words to be read. Outside of a prayer and a reading or two, the rest was all him. Two thoughts come to mind. 1. If someone were to preach your funeral long before you were to die, what would they say and what would you want to change? 2. Each moment we are all giving material for the preacher to read when we die, whether we leave a written copy or not. So what are you going to do with the rest of your life? After all, it's your funeral...

The Company You Keep

In my Bible there is a heading above Matt. 9:10-13, Mk. 2:15-17, and Lk. 6:29-32 which reads, "Jesus Eats with Sinners." The Pharisees complained about this fact and because of it accused Christ of sinning Himself. Now remember, just because the Pharisees made the accusation doesn't prove the sin. Jesus turned His dinner hosts into disciples. He took Levi from tax collector to apostle. Jesus did all things well (Mk. 7:37). Concerning what Jesus was doing, what company shall we keep? Read 2 Cor. 6:14-18 and you will find the commandment concerning uniting with immoral people. There are many other verses in the New Testament which address this topic. For balance we must remember the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 5:9-11 - "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person." It is impossible for us to live on the world without knowing people of the world. If we know the will of God it is our duty to humbly share it with others. But when folks who know better choose to engage in sunful acts that harm the kingdom we shall have no part with them. In some cases, we actually have more precedent for dining with sinners than we do with "Christians" who are engaged in worldly living. Sin is still sin, and we have no excuse to sin by ourselves or with others (1 Cor. 10:13). However, we still have the responsibility of a good influence (Matt. 5:13-16). So I keep that header in my Bible in mind - "Jesus Eats with Sinners." And don't we appreciate that?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Appearances

In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, "Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship." "We were thinking of something more substantial than that... perhaps a building," the woman replied. In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford! (Published by Today in the World, 1992). Appearances can be deceiving. This is why men do not judge men with regard to their eternity. Jesus pronounced a woe on the Pharisees because they were the clean surface with the corrupt center (Matt. 23:25-28). Today many people continue to keep up "appearances." They dress Christianity. You can see them on Sunday. They may look good to the elders, brethren, and the community. But within the heart of many who appear godly something is incredibly wrong. But God cannot be fooled. "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Heb. 4:13). Some people look like nothing and are spiritual giants. Others look the part but are whitewashed tombs. As Daniel of old said, "But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets..." (Dan. 2:28). Remember humility. There is a God in heaven who can see through appearances.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Consistency

This last March I was up in Kentucky preaching a gospel meeting for the New Providence church. During an adult Bible class we were talking about consistency in worship and in life as a Christian. A comment was made by Bobby D. Osbron that I haven't forgotten. He said, "It's like those folks who talk about how folks shouldn't work on Sunday and then they go out to eat after services and make the folks at the restaurant work." I had never thought about that, but it put a new thought in my mind about the first day of the week. Many of us go through the motions of Sundays and do the same things week after week. While Christians must recognize this as the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10) and never forsake the assembly (Heb. 10:25), we must also evaluate our approach to what we do with that day before we criticize others. If we are going to preach the gospel than we need to be consistent. If we are going to expect others to live up to the standards of Biblical teaching than we must not put up any stumbling blocks. If there is nothing wrong with going out to eat on Sunday, then there is nothing inherently sinful about working on that day. However, God must be first place in all things, and we must assemble with the saints. And as for blank statements, proceed with caution. You may end up convicting yourself.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Epitaph

After a funeral the other day I wandered through the cemetery and came upon a headstone with the following epitaph - "Here lies a life well spent, so all you gossips be content, for only God knows which way I went." The old saying that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" doesn't ring true. Words are very powerful and can do great damage to relationships. It is evident by this epitaph that this person didn't like being talked about, especially when it came to heresay. James writes, "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell" (James 3:6). James also reminds us that no man can tame the tongue (3:8). Therefore, knowing that we can't tame it completely, two things must be kept in mind. 1) The speaker needs to speak with godliness and great caution. 2) The hearer needs to have a forgiving heart and consider their own words. Otherwise, our epitaphs will not be as honorable as they should be.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Genesis

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). The first thing we learn from the Bible is the truth concerning the beginning of things. Outside of the eternal Godhead, everything has a beginning. What we learn about the beginning of the universe is that it began with God. As has been written many times over in bible study materials, we have in this verse a scientific argument for creation. The majority of scientists agree that in order for life to exist the following five principles must also exist - Time, Force, Energy, Space, and Matter. We have all of these in the very first verse of the Bible: "In the beginning" (TIME), "God" (FORCE), "created" (ENERGY), "the heavens" (SPACE), "and the earth" (MATTER). And so God in His infinite wisdom provided for our weak human minds more than just an "I said so" with regard to the beginning itself. He left us with a tangible piece of information about our existence.

And so we launch this blog with the same hope, that out of a simple opening word, with time and patience it will become something more. "In the beginning..."