Friday, August 31, 2007

Them's Fightin' Words

One Saturday afternoon I was driving down my street when I saw a very unfortunate scuffle. Two grown men were out on the lawn fighting. Blows gave way to ground wrestling and finally, the two men came to their feet bloodied and being held back by girlfriends and neigbors. Well, needless to say, it's that time of year again. The college football season has begun!

What had happened I am sure started with a seemingly harmless rivalry. Two men talking about their favorite teams and uping the ante with promises and derogatory comments about the others' alma mater (Ok, they probably hadn't been to college, if you'd been there you'd understand). So some folks get together. The brews get opened. The game gets tight. Some close calls go either way. In the end, one guy rubs it in too much. Next thing you know it's "hide the women and children."

While being a sports fan is great, ( I should know), we need to be careful about how seriously we take things that don't matter. For many people, daily attitudes, happiness, and even their personal esteem can change with the success or failure of their favorite club. Whether people compete as fans through simply watching, or getting involved in fantasy type leagues, friendships should never be endangered by sport. When this does happen, it is a sign of shallowness, and a evident lack of Christianity being displayed in the life of an individual.

I hope we can enjoy what is meant for recreation. I hope we can enjoy being involved in sports activites while imposing healthy limits of involvement.

If we are going to get upset about something, it should not be a game. But when someone defames our Savior, His church, or our brother or sister in the faith, that is a different story. It is not about whether or not their are times to fight for something. It is about knowing what to fight for, and knowing how to properly carry it out.

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life..." (1 Tim. 6:12)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stop and Think

They knocked on the door. They shook their fists. They cursed at the store owner. The sign said "back in five minutes," but they couldn't wait. After all, the lights were on. They saw some of the workers filing into the back office. Were they all really unavailable? Surely they were just being selfish and lazy. So the tirade had begun.

Little did they know what was really going on. A co-worker had been tragically murdered the night before. She was scheduled to go into work that day. The staff was just taking ten minutes in a back office to cry, and talk, and hug, and pray. They were trying to do what they could to face the world, a world full of impatience, criticism, entitlement, and selfishness.

When someone is having trouble behind the wheel, do we immediately react negatively or do we stop and think? Maybe they don't see as well as they used to. Maybe they are lost from out of town. When someone is taking forever in line at the grocery store, do we ever stop and think? Maybe they have a lot going on. Perhaps they are in the first stages of an illness that is challenging their mind. When rumors fly about folks we know, do we ever stop and think? Where did this rumor come from? Who is spreading it and why? Do we have enough facts to have an opinion?

I am afraid we do many of the things we do that hurt one another because we are not allowing each other the proper time and respect that is due fellow human beings.

But God waited in our weakness. He paused in our moment of misconduct. He allowed for our humanity. He authored a plan of hope and gave us a chance. And that has made all the difference.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." ~ Romans 12:21

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shake A Leg

You'll have to forgive me for writing so many articles by way of my children. I am telling you they are teaching me more as I observe them than I ever could have imagined. Each night I read them a Bible story and I also let them choose a human authored book - Dr. Seuss, Little Golden Books, and the like.

The latest favorite is "Shake A Leg." This is a Sesame Street book where the characters move different parts of their bodies on each page. "Is everybody ready? Shake a leg! Honk your nose. Jiggle your ears. Rub your tummy..." As you read it, you follow along and do it.

When we go through the pages I do these things with Luke and Daniel. Luke is comfortable and knows how to perform all of the motions. But Daniel is still learning. So who do you think he watches and copies? I would like to think that good old dad is the man. You know, because he is cool (I wish). But Daniel has no idea what I am doing. He is too busy watching and mimicking his older brother. He waits to see how Luke does it. If the command is wiggle your fingers, and Luke decides to wiggle his fingers while turing a circle, Daniel will do the same.

We need to understand that with brothers, this is natural. We have older brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God, and younger ones. How do the newer Christians walk with God? How do they follow His commandments? They do a great bit of their activity based on their older siblings. And it is not just in the doing, they notice how it is done. The command is "sing." So when the older brother sings, how does he do it? Does he sing from his heart? Does he sing so others can hear his wonderful voice? Does he sing only when he feels like singing? The younger brethren are picking up on it as they search for Biblical Christianity.

When we act like the invitation song is a good time to leave the auditorium...When we act like the reading of the Bible is a good time to do anything else but open ours and follow along...When we act like we are ready for the preacher to shut up and sit down because it is time for dinner...When we act like the Lord's Supper is a good time to pass notes or make faces at the babies...Ok, I think we are getting the drift. It is high time that we do it right.

Is every body ready? Shake a Leg!

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” ~ Hab. 2:20

Monday, August 27, 2007

Two-Dollar Faith

I have had this two-dollar bill in a mug in my office for a couple of years now. I haven't done anything with it. After all, it's a two-dollar bill. How many times have you received change and a two dollar bill was in it? Two-dollar bills are kind of nostalgic. They are nice to look at. So you tend to just keep them around.

Recently, my son Luke lost his first upper-front tooth. As chance would have it, the tooth-fairy gave him a two-dollar bill. And, even more coincidentally, I have not seen my two-dollar bill in my office lately. Anyway, I know Luke thought it was pretty cool to get a two-dollar bill. He probably won't spend it for a while.

This started me thinking about people who have two-dollar faith. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make any faith sound cheap. A one dollar faith, even a two mites faith would be of great value. This is because they would be used. But people with two-dollar faith never use it. They keep it around for show. It is original to them. They even like to put it out on their printer's tray where other folks can see it. But they never give it away. Unfortunately, it is in their possession forever.

I remember from childhood the song which said, "Love is like a lucky penny, hold it tight and you won't have any. But give it away, and you'll have plenty, you'll end up having more."

Faith is not meant to be locked up, put on display, or kept selfishly. It is not nostalgic, and it is not for under the pillow. Biblical faith is nothing like a two-dollar bill.

"But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" ~ James 2:20

Friday, August 24, 2007

How to Make "They" Become "Us."

I don't know about you, but I am constantly thinking about how to find unity with people in the denominational world. I have no desire to leave the truth to get where they are, but I also recognize that their mindset causes them to think they are of the truth as they stand. Here are some ways in which I believe unity can be accomplished:

1. Say the same thing (1 Cor. 1:10).

2. Have the same care for each other (1 Cor. 12:25).

3. Share the same goal (Phil. 3;14-15).

4. Practice the same things (Phil. 3:16).

5. Hope the same (Eph. 4:4).

6. Receive the same spiritual food and drink (1 Cor. 10:4).

7. Love the same (Phil. 2:2).

Without the Biblical standard there is no hope for unity. Without our willingness to humble ourselves and obey the word there can be no "us."

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." ~ Ephesians 4:4-6

Thursday, August 23, 2007


They are out there. I am talking about those ideas people have about salvation. Ideas that do not include the instructions God has commanded regarding our common salvation. They are saying certain things are not required or necessary to be saved. I imagine John Calvin must be pushing up fresh daisies for joy for all that people are calling "unconditional."

Condition (n) - anything required for the performance, completion, or existence of something else.

If we don't think there are conditions for certain things according to God, we might need to re-check our Bibles. Here are a few examples:

1. Hearing the gospel is conditional for Biblical faith - (Rom. 10:17) - "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

2. Repentance and Immersion are conditional for remission of sins - (Acts 2:38) - "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins..."

3. Confession of sin(s) is conditional for the Christian to receive God's forgiveness - (1 Jn. 1:9) - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

4. Denial of self and full sacrifice are conditional for discipleship - (Mt. 16:24) - "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"

The conditions are simple, but a man's heart is complex. The condition of the heart will not change the condition of the Scriptures, but it will determine the condition of the soul.

"Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers." ~ Deut. 8:1

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lyssabeth Grace

She has arrived. Our little girl was born at 7:44 a.m. on Tuesday, August 21, 2007. She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 inches long. Amber is doing well. Thanks to everyone for all the prayers. God has blessed us so much. We will do our best to give her back to Him.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Double Tithe

People often want to know how much they should give to the Lord. The easy answer is "everything," since everything was given first by God (Jam. 1:17). One thing that people neglect to do is give weekly. I only make this observation because of the fluctuation in the weekly collection. Whether we receive our salary once a month, bi-weekly, or weekly, we should budget properly so that we can fulfill 1 Cor. 16:2 - "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper..."

There is great purpose in this design, just as there is great purpose in the Lord's supper. It is about God, priorities, and thanksgiving. On the Lord's day we need to start the week with all of these things in mind.

As for how much to give, I recently heard a man talk about something I had never thought of before. While we struggle as the church to give 10% (we struggle as the church to give 5%), we are more than willing to give Mastercard and Visa 20%. The average family in America has somewhere between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 tied up in credit cards. Most of these cards have a 15%-20% interest rate.

If we can put our faith in the credit card companies, who care nothing about us, why can't we trust God by giving as bountifully? Perhaps if we didn't trust in uncertain riches, we would have more with which we could trust in the Lord.

I don't know how long we will continue to rob God (Mal. 3:8). But this double tithe has got to go.

"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Half-Way Houses

Jesus the Christ had a way of teaching that was superior. He used common ideas to deliver heavenly truths. So as He headed to Jerusalem to die, He helped the multitudes comprehend genuine discipleship. He said it was like building a tower. He said it was like going to war (Luke 14:25-35).

Jesus is not looking for fans, He is looking for followers. For those who want Christ to round out their existence, Jesus has nothing to offer. Discipleship is not measurable. It is or it isn't. There is no degree of commitment. Being a Christian is accepting the one time price by paying in full.

Jesus refused to associate His kingdom with the undecided. His conditions were strict. He said don't go to war unless you know you can win. He said don't build a fortress unless you can finish.

So let's not get confused. Jesus can't use half-way houses. If you think He can, maybe you should be committed.

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it--lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'" ~ Luke 14:28-30

Friday, August 17, 2007

7 Ages of Man

In February of 2007, Glad Tidings of Good Things printed an article entitled, "Seven Ages of Man." It was a remembrance of R. M. Cornelius's description of the different stages of life. He listed them this way:
  • 6 weeks - all systems go
  • 6 years - all systems NO!
  • 16 years - all systems know
  • 26 years - all systems glow
  • 36 years - all systems owe
  • 56 years - all systems status quo
  • 76 years - all systems slow

After the intital interest in this breakdown, I quickly looked myself up. At 34 I am intimidated. I am leaving the glow phase for the owe phase and that lasts 20 years. Yikes! But it doesn't really matter. I am still on the chart and that is enough.

Our lives are really what we make them. While it is true that we go through phases, Christianity is not supposed to be one of them. Jesus should be the Lord of every age of my life. And if that is the case...

All systems show.

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." ~ Philippians 1:21

Thursday, August 16, 2007


School has started. My oldest son, Luke, is now in the first grade. The other day I went home for lunch and ate at the table with Amber and our younger son, Daniel. As we sat at the table, this 3 year-old announced, "Wuke is missing!"

This struck me because Daniel realized the importance of Luke in our family. All is not right with the world when Luke is missing. In Daniel's world there is a hole. He is missing a playmate and friend.

Wouldn't it be nice if we all had this same attitude about those who worship with us? I think about those who are missing at Bible class, and on Sunday night and Wednesday night. Their seats are empty. We can still have a spiritual meal, but the meal is not as sweet as it could be.

I have often been asked this question - "How can heaven be perfect is any of our loved ones are missing?" The first response is that "the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4). There will be nothing sorrowful about heaven, so however it is accomplished, God has promised it and will do it.

But there is one simple fact that many have not considered. Every day that we live is an invitation to the Lord's table. This invitation is only for a while. In eternity, if heaven is not your home you will not be missing. You will be exactly where you are supposed to be.

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
~ John 14:23

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"I Don't See Anything Wrong With It..."

I imagine that you have heard this comment before. It has something to do with personal beliefs regarding worship, social behavior, or personal conduct. Here is a list of things with which many people often don't see anything wrong:
  • Social or Private Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages
  • Mixed Gender Swimming (Bathing Suits/Pool Parties)
  • Dancing
  • Tobacco Use
  • Showing Some Skin
  • Movies or TV Programs with Foul Language and/or Nudity
  • Instrumental Music in Worship
  • Women Serving in the Public Worship
  • Gambling
  • Absenteeism from Worship or Bible Class
  • Participating in Denominational Worship

The key to the statement, "I don't see anything wrong with it," is something that might be very wrong - the attitude. When weighted with Scripture, this statement can be acceptable. There is no reason why anyone should try to establish human traditions while overriding the authority of the Bible. But the problem is simple. It doesn't matter if we see anything wrong with it or even right with it - what ever IT may be. What God says matters. What He sees makes all the difference.

"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" ~ 2 Cor. 10:5.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Meekness is not Weakness

I don't know why many people get the idea that Jesus was weak. You often see pictures that portray Him as soft skinned and non-muscular. But He was a carpenter. Have you ever seen a carpenter's hands? He drove the money changers out of the temple with a whip of cords. He knew how to work. His skin was darkened and rough from the long dusty walks of Palestine. He had no form or comeliness that we should behold Him, no beauty that we should desire Him (Is. 53:2).

The reason why artists and people in general view Jesus in such soft tones has more to do with His character than anything else. He was gentle and kind. He was compassionate and caring. He was not overbearing, rude, or seflish. But He was not weak - not in the least! He was physically, mentally, and spiritually strong.

Have you ever seen any reference to Jesus saying, "I have rights." Did He ever complain about His rights being violated? Did He ever talk about what others owed Him? Did He ever complain about being jipped?

You see, the world paints the picture that fighting for oneself is a sign of strength. If you don't serve yourself, then you are weak and therefore you are selected out. But Jesus proved what meekness really is - "strength under control." That which has power and is readily usable and bridled is better than any uncontrolable force, no matter how great.

Jesus taught mankind true strength. His strength in meekness was not self-serving. It was exemplified and given for our deliverance.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." ~ Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Greatness of Attending Gospel Meetings

Ok, folks, here's the deal. We are blowing it. We are messing up big time. We are making the mistake of not attending gospel meetings. I, too, am guilty. I see them in bulletins, hear of them in anouncements, and see the fliers come to the office. But this last week I attended two different gospel meetings, and I have to say it was the most encouraging and uplifting thing I have done in a long while.

Here's why:

I supported the work of my brethren - They were encourgaed to see me. They were glad I was interested in the preaching of the gospel.
I received the gospel - As a preacher I don't get many opportunities to hear the gospel preached. I need it so desperately to grow!
I grew closer to fellow Christians - Those of us who went in the van to Ardmore had such a great time talking and just being brethren. I feel closer to the group of folks who went than I did before.
I restored my spirit - By being in the pew with brethren in different locations who feel the same way, speak the same thing, love the same Lord, I was resolved to begin again in Jesus Christ. Whether one answers the invitation publicly or privately, assembling with Christians and hearing the gospel can revive the soul.

We need to go to more gospel meetings individually and collectively. PERIOD.
"I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord!" ~ Psalm 122:1

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When The Church Becomes Imperfect

"I will not go to that church because..."
  • "There are many hypocrites who worship there." (Answer): No drowning man ever refused to get into the boat with a hypocrite.
  • "Someone hurt my feelings." (Answer): "So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his tresspasses" (Matt. 18:35)
  • "They think they are the only righteous ones living." (Answer): "There is none righteous, no, not ,one" (Rm. 3:10). "Nevertheless we, according to His promises, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:13).

The church is the called out body of Christ. It is composed of people who make mistakes, people who are still human, through striving to be more. The key to peace and growth in the church is knowing when the church, purchased by a perfect Savior who shed His perfect blood, becomes imperfect.

The church becomes imperfect the moment I enter in.

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." ~ Eph. 4:1-3

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Recognizing the Truth

Abraham Lincoln, while still an attourney, was once receiving a court-room challenge from an obstinate opponent. So Lincoln asked him, "How many legs does a cow have?" "Four," was the quick reply. Lincoln continued, "Well what if you were to call the cow's tail a leg, how many legs would the cow have then?" "Well, five," said the arguer quickly. Lincoln ended, "See this is where you are wrong. The cow has four legs. Just because you call a cow's tail a leg, that doesn't make it a leg."
People call a lot of things by different names. One of the most important keys to understanding the actual truth is to remove the attributed names of man and see an object for what it is in reality. I believe firmly that what the majority of the world calls "Faith," "Christianity", "Church", or "Religion" stands a far cry away from the actual definitions of these words. How do we see the truth about these issues? Remove man's label and look at the object in its purest form. If you want to know the true definition of these words, go to the source - the original place of these terms. Consult the Bible!
"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32)

Friday, August 3, 2007

God's Store Results

Members of the church of Christ were asked to complete a survey. They were given the opportunity to pick 5 things from God's store (talents, favors, blessings) - things they felt were very important. After 163 people answered, here are the results:

Love: 82 (50.3%)
Wisdom: 66 (40.5%)
Patience: 49 (30.1%)
Truth: 40 (24.5%)
Self Control: 39 (23.9%)
Knowledge: 37 (22.7%)
Faithfulness: 36 (22.1%)
Organization Skills: 35 (21.5%)
Hope: 34 (20.1%)
Understanding: 30 (18.4%)
Teacher: 29 (17.8%)
Happiness: 28 (17.2%)
Humility: 26 (16.0%)
Personal Evangelist: 23 (14.1%)
Grace: 22 (13.5%)
Public Speaking: 21 (12.9%)
Leader: 20 (12.3%)
Mentor: 20 (12.3%)
Artistic Ability: 18 (11.2%)
Peace: 17 (10.4%)
Boldness: 15 (9.2%)
Kindness: 14 (8.6%)
Mercy: 14 (8.6%)
Joy: 12 (7.4%)
Business Sense: 12 (7.4%)
Counselor: 11 (6.7%)
Writing: 9 (5.5%)
Elder: 8 (4.9%)
Goodness: 8 (4.9%)
Preacher: 6 (3.7%)
Gentleness: 5 (3.1%)
Deacon: 2 (1.2%)

As a preview for Sunday's sermon consider this passage - "Buy the truth and do not sell it. Also get wisdom, instruction, and understanding" - Proverbs 23:23

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Quick and Quiet Prayers

In the twentieth year of the reign of Persian king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah said a quick, silent prayer. While he was serving wine to the king, the king noticed his sad countenance. After Artaxerxes asked why Nehemiah was sad, Nehemiah responded that his concern was for his homeland and his people (Neh. 2:3). Jerusalem had been desimated. Nehemiah was now captive in a land which to him had no significance.
When the king asked Nehemiah if he had a request, Nehemiah said one of those two-second, inner-man prayers (Neh. 2:4). He was in the middle of a conversation with the most powerful man on earth, but he didn't forget the One who had given the king his power. His request to go home and rebuild was granted. Artaxerxes even gave him the tools and the workers he needed to finish the work.
Sometimes we get in situations that are difficult to face. It gets even tougher when there is so much going on there seems to be no way to ask for help. But we can say a quick and quiet prayer, and God will hear us.
It is not in the power of the prayer itself that deliverance is realized. It is not the length, the eloquence, or the timing that gets things done. God is the power. God is the deliverer. He hears the prayers- even the quick and quiet ones.
"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Mother Murders Her Children....Or Not?

I haven't had time to develop this yet, but I am working on this article. I suggest you all read this article - The point is that the law as it stands protects the mom in some cases and the child in others. I thought murder was murder...