Tuesday, August 30, 2011

William Woodson Tribute: "Our People"

This coming Sunday will be the one year anniversary of the passing of our dear Brother William Woodson. I wrote this article last year, and I would like to repost it in his memory. I was his preacher for nearly 8 years, but more importantly, we were friends and I had so much respect for him on every level. I am praying that God will give us more men in the church like William Woodson. He made the church better, and heaven will be better with him as an eternal friend...

I met Brother William Woodson formally while preaching in Kentucky several years ago. I had listened to him during various lectureships and meetings. I had read many of his writings and certainly had a good knowledge of his influence in the brotherhood for decades. Over the past 8 years I have come to know him as a mentor and a close friend.

It would be impossible to state in this brief article, my appreciation for all that I have learned from this gentleman from Walker County. But there is one phrase, that in my mind, has meant a great deal to me over the past few years. It is a phrase I have often heard him use in the pulpit or in a Bible class. I have read it many of his writings.

Brother Woodson affectionately liked to refer to the church, as "Our People." I think this concept, though somewhat simplistic, is actually in reality quite profound and extremely fascinating. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It proclaims our identity as God's people, the church. Brother Woodson understood what it meant to be a child of God. He knew everything there was to know about various groups within the world's concept of "Christendom." He knew the difference between Biblical, undenominational Christianity, and everything else. There is a great distinction between "our people", of which Brother Woodson himself became a part, and the rest of the people. This phrase explained how much it meant to him to be a member of the church that belongs to Christ.

2. It couples us with our predecessors. I have always respected William Woodson a great deal for his loyalty to great leaders of the past. He found out what made the people of the restoration great. He not only defended their efforts, but he sought to imitate their greatness and pass it down to the rest of us. He knew more about the development of the churches of Christ then perhaps anyone else living. The more he studied, the more he was convinced that those who helped us find our way back to the New Testament church had it exactly right.

3. It states that we are brethren. It was more important for William Woodson to be in God's family, than to be in any other family, group, or organization. He truly loved his brothers and sisters in Christ with a love that surpasses any other. I believe that he served his whole life in the church out of sincere humility, and also with tremendous pride. His humility was found in his diligent service and labor of love to his Creator and the church. His pride was the confidence of his own salvation, and the blessings he knew were his because of the knowledge of the truth.

I love William Woodson dearly. He was, and still is, and will always be, a great friend. I love him most for his love for God and the church. I could think of no greater honor than to carry on an understanding of this wonderful phrase, and be identified along with him throughout eternity, as one of "Our People."

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." ~ 1 John 3:14

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Missing Out

I could not hold my tears back. I tried. But they were from my heart and they represented everything I believe and dream and think. So when Kent O'Donnell was finishing his presentation at Willow this past Sunday night - as he ended with the picture of he and his family, I cried.

People may not understand this, but when you work as a preacher you share a close bond with all preachers and their families. You are on the same team. You understand the sacrifices. You have the same goals and dreams for the church and for every soul in the world. You know there is someone else out there that wants other people to be saved so badly, they are willing to make it their life's mission.

I honestly feel deeply sorry for any Christian who cannot sympathize with at least part of what I am talking about. You see, in order to get to have these feelings, you have to put something into your realtionship with God and the church. If you have never been on a mission trip, there are some things you cannot understand. If you have never been a worker in the church, there are some things you cannot understand. If you have never allowed youself to get close to God's people, there are some things you cannot understand.

As Christians, we know that the greatest joy is having a relationship with God, being a part of the kingdom, and knowing we are among the saved because God loves us and has forgiven us at great cost. But second, and I am telling you it is right close to the first - is the joy that comes from a very close personal relationship and love for the people of God.

If you cannot cry from time to time, with appreciation for some of these relationships, then you are truly missing out.

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren..." ~ 1 John 3:14

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let Jesus Do What He Came To Do

Two verses from the gospel of John have recently made me ask the question, "Why are so many people keeping Jesus from doing what he came to earth to do?"

Here they are:

John 3:17 - "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

John 12:47 - "If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world."

Without taking what is said by Jesus in these two verses out of context, let's simply understand the basic themes of these two passages. Jesus came to save the world! He came to redeem every sinner and provide an avenue of forgiveness. He came to do the will of God and teach the human race how to live. He came so that we all could live in heaven with God eternally.

It is also very apparent from these two passages, that Jesus has no pleasure in the thought of having to condemn even one person to hell. This does no mean that Jesus will not judge every soul and divide the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:32). But it does mean that Jesus didn't leave heaven and die on a cross so that one day he could sentence us to everlasting punishment. He made the sacrifice to save our souls.

It seems so strange to me that many people think of God as being so harsh; as nothing but a rule-making, law-enforcing Master. The wrath of God is just, due to our rejection of the Savior. The justice of God is perfect because he is a loving, impartial, gracious and merciful Father.

Look at your life and ask yourself whether or not you are living in such a way that allows Jesus to do what he came to the earth to do! He died to save you, not to condemn you. He loves you and wants you to be forgivien and to have the best life possible for both now and eternity.

A close and honest examination of the Scriptures should lead you to this simple conclusion: If heaven is not your final and eternal destination, it is not because God desires such. If you remain unsaved, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." ~ 1 Tim. 2:3-4

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nameless

Last Saturday I was treated to a country breakfast in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it was in a little town that prefers to remain nameless - Nameless, TN. I remember while at Freed-Hardeman, Dr. Dowell Flatt used to speak of being from Nameless. He went to school there. I never knew that years later I would be invited to breakfast at the old general store next to where one of my mentors grew up.

How did Nameless get it's name - or how did it become Nameless? One version of the name's origin holds that when residents applied for a post office, the place for a name on the application was left blank, and the U.S. Post Office Department returned the application with "Nameless" stamped on the form. Another explanation was that residents there decided to call it "nameless" after one of them said "This here’s a nameless place if I ever seen one, so leave it be." Bill Flatt, Dowell's brother, was once told that there were three families that wanted to run the store and post office, but they all wanted it to be named after their own family. So the compromise was to give the store and the town no name at all. In any event, that little stopping post in Jackson County will probably remain forever, "Nameless."

When it comes to the human population, God chose to give us a name. It was to be an everlasting name, better than that of sons and daughters (Isa. 56:5). It was to be a new name, for both Jew and Gentile, coming directly from the mouth of God (Isa. 62:2). The Father of spirits had a plan to adopt every human being into His spiritual family. He does not want us to be homeless, hopeless, or nameless.

Therefore, how sad it is that many within the realm of religion prefer to remain nameless! Sadder still is the fact that many of God's people, though blood bought and gospel taught, never choose to tell others about the glorious name by which they are called. It is not nostaligic for Christians to remain nameless. Such is left only for quaint country stores in the heartland of America. The church is not a museum! It is the living, breathing, body of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Thank you, Lord, for giving us a name that is above every other name! Be patient with us, Lord, to do everything in your name and for your name, giving glory and honor to You!

"And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." ~ Acts 11:26



Monday, August 1, 2011

Goad Kicking

Certain problems demand the proper tools in order to fix them. Not every solution is easy or pleasurable. Sometimes, we just need to be prodded.

The "goad" or "oxgoad" was a traditional farming implement used to spur and guide livestock. It was useful in rounding up cattle, as well as motivating any animals pulling a load. The device goes all the way back to ancient Egypt, and has become iconic as a way of explaining any needful urging that one may receive in life - the prick of your own conscience, your mate's constant nagging, or any wise words that you might not want to hear in the short term. According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, to "kick agaist the goads" means to "offer vain and perilous or ruinous resistance."

In the book of Acts, Saul learned a valuable lesson about goads - "As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' And he said, 'Who are You, Lord?' Then the Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads'" (Acts 9:3-5). Saul found out that in rejecting Jesus he was hurting his only chance for solving the answers to all of life's problems. In presecuting the church, Saul was doing more than just turning a deaf ear to Christ. He was shaking his fist at God! He was kicking against the goads!

How many of us kick against the goads? When your spouse sees something lacking in your attitude or behavior, how do you respond to their advice? When a friend shows concern for the path on which you are traveling, do you appreciate it, or do you think about "unfriending?" When the preacher states clearly from the Bible than sin is sin, do you ignore it when it applies to you? Let's face it, we all do some goad kicking. But the goad is still needed, and all we are doing in kicking is hurting ourselves.

The next time you hear something that is true, that you don't like to hear, that may call for a change in your life, act accordingly. Don't get mad at the messenger. Don't despise the truth. Realize that goad kicking is to be left to the uneducated, unwise, untamed beasts. It is not an activity that is characteristic of a child of God. It is hard for you to kick against the goads!

"The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd." ~ Ecclesiates 12:11