Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Counterfeit Counterfake

Charles Swindoll reported the following story (Growing Deep in the Christian Life, p. 159-60):

Several years ago, in Long Beach, California, a fellow went into a fried chicken place and bought a couple of chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The young woman at the counter inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day-a whole bag of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to open the meal and enjoy some chicken together. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken--over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. By then the manager was frantic. The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, "I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money. Here." Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, "Oh, great, let me call the newspaper. I'm gonna have your picture put in the local newspaper. You're the most honest man I've heard of." To which they guy quickly responded, "Oh no, no, don't do that!" Then he leaned closer and whispered, "You see, the woman I'm with is not my wife...she's uh, somebody else's wife."

Before we jump all over the counterfiet counterfake, we might take time to realize that we are often living two lives ourselves. There is the normal, God-fearing, respectful life we live. Then there is the tempted, dark, sinful life we war against coming to be. This is why good deeds aren't enough. Our good deeds cannot make up for our transgressions. Is there really such a thing as citizen of the year? I say that citizen is a sinner, an individual in need of a merciful, gracious, and longsuffering God!

In a sense there is a part of us that hinges on being a forgery, a fake, a phony. But with God's help we can be less of that person and more like God. "Sweet will of God, still fold me closer, till I am wholly lost in Thee." ~ Leila Morris (1900)

"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." ~James 2:10

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Right of Refusal

Today I took my son Daniel to McDonald's. After we ordered him a happy meal and me a quarter pounder, we prayed and began to eat. I took one bite and noticed that the burger was not cooked. I am not one to bicker but this was not an edible sandwich. I took the box, burger and all up to the counter and showed the cashier. She apologized and said that this was not an acceptable product. After I went back to my seat another lady came back with a cooked quarter pounder, two free apple pies and a signed card from the manager for a free combo meal. Needless to say I was impressed by the service, even though it was only fast food.

This incident reminded me of the relationship between those who serve and those who receive service. The one rendering the service has the obligation to do what is expected by the recipient. If the service is not acceptable, there is a natural right of refusal. I don't have to go back to McDonald's if I don't want to. I don't have to eat a half-cooked quarter pounder. I have the right to chuck it in the garbage.

Today we are living in a society that only accepts this principle in certain arenas. The problem we are facing with people and their approach to religion is a strange enigma. People are deciding that God will accept them no matter what they do and no matter how they worship. They think that they can take away God's right of refusal. They may be fooling themselves and others who they are dragging along behind, but they are not fooling God and those who read and obey His word.

How many times have you had people tell you that as long as they are doing something with their hearts, God will accept it? Ironically, the same folks who claim that others are speaking for God when they stick to the Biblical guidelines for worship are themselves more than happy to speak for Him. They say, "This is who I am, accept me. If you do not accept me than you do not love me."

This is not service. Service considers the served, not the servant. But before we speak for God ourselves, let's consider this valid principle: The fact that something has been offered from the heart doesn't rob God of His natural right of refusal. God knows what He wants. His word has placed the order. If we offer our own half-cooked religion it is likely He will find a pace for it. I imagine He has a round cylinder of His own.

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." ~ John 14:15

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Are You Secure?

Recently one of my college friends wrote about how her son gives when the offering is collected. They have been telling him that it is time to give money to God. So when the man comes by with the tray and the little boy puts in his money, he says, "There's God!"

Children associate things differently than we do because they do not know all the facts. The great advantage children have (yes, they have an advantage) is that they bear less responsibility. Their roof, meals, and clothes are provided. When it comes to the offering my children put in their money without an ounce of worry. They don't know what a budget is yet. In fact, with great anticipation our 3 year-old begins to say about the offering plate, "Here it comes!"

Adults are often just the opposite. We worry and forget that God takes care of sparrows (Matt. 10:29-32). We know about the house payment, the car payment, and the other bills. Sometimes when we allow Satan to let us care too much about these things, we become insecure in our heavenly treasures. This leads those of us who are adults to express about the offering plate, "Oh no, here it comes!"

Are you secure enough in your relationship to God to give Him what is His without worrying? Perhaps we need to be like that little boy. Perhaps we need to be looking for God.

"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? ~ Matthew 6:30


The longer I have been in the church the more I realize the importance of unity. Christ prayed for it (John 17:21ff). Paul commanded it (1 Cor. 1:10). When we realize God’s greatness, we are reminded that it has much to do with the perfect unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. John said, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).

There is more than one way to be together. Unity and union are not the same thing. Tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline. There will probably not be much agreement or peace right away. Some marriages are this way, and sometimes union, not unity, better describes a local congregation of God’s people.

Some congregations are frozen together. They are together, but it is a cold, rigid togetherness. There is little communication, fellowship, or activity going on. Frozen togetherness is not desirable. It leaves people stale and in the back of the proceedings, much like last summer’s catfish, caught but forgotten, too late to thaw out and needing to be removed.

Some congregations are melted together. They have withstood the heat of trial and temptations and have come out on top. Their love for one another, their involvement with each other, and their dedication to the kingdom has united them in an unbreakable bond. Heat added to that which is frozen separates. But heat added to that which has already melted finds new areas for bonding together. The key to melting together is the melting of individual hearts. When hearts are considerate and loving the greatest kind of Christian unity is possible.

How can we achieve such unity? When I come into our assembly I want so much for everyone to be on the same page, loving together, worshiping together, understanding together, and working together. It should occur to each of us that 100 pianos tuned with the same fork are automatically tuned to one another. They are not of one accord because they have been tuned to one another, but are united because of the standard of measurement by which they have been tuned. The Bible is our tuning fork. Every instrument that is willing to yield to this standard can be perfectly united with like instruments. God’s word is the last great hope of unity on the earth.

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:17

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Question of the Week

This week's top question was once again brought to us by our 6 year-old son, Luke. You can count on him for a funny quote or a great question at least weekly. For example, being a cub scout, he overheard the question as to whether he would continue on to eventually get to eagle scout. "Evil scout?" "No, Luke, not evil scout, but eagle scout." But this was not the question of the week.

On the way home from lunch Sunday from the back of the van, we heard, "What's an outlaw?" This question was posed to Amber and I. We answered that it referred to someone who acted outside of the law. Of course everyone also gets the idea of old west shoot 'em ups and stagecoach robberies. We explained enough about that for him to get the general idea.

Once again from the back of the van, "Then what's an in-law?" Holding back our desire to laugh loudly we explained that this was entirely different scenario.We told him about how marriage unites families that weren't formerly related. Of course we didn't use that exact terminology, but you can imagine how we got the concept across.

I asked Luke what brought on such questions. "I just wanted to know what they were," he said. This reminds me that our children are always learning new concepts. They depend on us to give them the information they require. How we present things has a lasting effect on their world-view.

If your child asks questions about outlaws and in-laws, I am confident you could answer those questions. But what if your child asked you about salvation, Christ, instrumental music in the worship, prayer, heaven, hell, or something of this nature? Have you equipped yourself with the answer they are depending on?

Or are you an outlaw?

"Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." ~ 1 Corinthians 15:34

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?"

Oliver Twist asked this question and he got into some deep trouble. But it was his duty. The orphans had cast their lots and Oliver was chosen. So he asked the master for more gruel. More gruel! Now there are a lot of things to ask for, but more gruel? For these poor orphans in Dicken's classic novel, gruel was worth asking for. It was a basic need that gave them some sense of fulfillment. They needed it to live.

So when my son asked for more last Sunday morning, I shouldn't have been surprised. However, the nature and location of his request did not involve gruel from a nasty orphanage mess hall. It originated in a place where most people are found asking for less. It was within the four walls that many never enter which find the mainstays hoping for an early exodus. He was there, right next to me on the pew. The box had been filled in with an "x." It signified "more."

Most churches give visitors an opportunity to fill out visitor's cards. My son had picked one up. I filled out the information (name, address, et cetera). Of course there are also those sentences with a box next to them you can fill with an "x." These include such questions as:
[ ] I am new in the area.
[ ] I am looking for a church home.
[ ] I am just visiting.
[ ] I would like a visit from the preacher or a member.
[ ] I am a member of ________________________________________.

Some of these applied to us. But there was another one that also should have applied. After I had marked the appropriate boxes, my son editted the card by checking this one:

[ ] I would like to know more about the church of Christ.

Then he looked up at me and smiled, as if to say, "Dad, you forgot this one."

He was right. I am very thankful that my son wanted to know more about the church. But I am also very thankful that he reminded me that I still want to know more about it as well. Me, the preacher. Me, the one raised in the church. Me, the adult, the father, the teacher, the man. Me, the child.

I will never forget the lesson my son taught me with a simple "x" in the box. There is so much more to know about the church. There is so much more to know about the Savior. It is a life-sustaining, basic need worthy of the asking.

"Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?"

"Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more."
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Must Tell Jesus

When Elijah Hoffman penned the words to the song "I Must Tell Jesus" over 100 years ago, he must have had Hebrews 4:15 in his mind. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Another verse in Hebrews explains, "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).

These things being so, I often find it difficult that some advocate that it is sinful to offer any type of worship to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. It is obvious from Scripture that the heavenly host will worship Jesus throughout eternity (Rev. 5:13). We should understand that singing songs like "I Must Tell Jesus" are not only permissible, but they can bless our lives in very special ways.

One such example was given to me this week by my wife's grandmother, Ruth Turner. Ruth is in an assisted living facility now. In the ten years I have known her she has lost much of her ability to do things both physically and cognitively. She usually doesn't know who we are anymore, or at least she is confused about where to place people and events. But inside her heart her love for Christ remains as the most simple and yet beautiful grace in her life.

When we went to celebrate Thanksgiving lunch with her on Tuesday, a meal provided by the facility where she now lives, the grandkids sang some spiritual songs for encouragement. In a pause between songs, Ruth began to sing softly, and sweetly. "I Must Tell Jesus." The rest of us then began to sing it with her.

You see, Ruth must tell Jesus. She must tell Jesus the things that the rest of us cannot yet understand. She has lost her husband, the love of her life and her companion for more than 60 years. She has lost the days of her ability to do many of the things that once brought her enjoyment. She understands loneliness. She understands heartache. She understands trials. She also understands that the one person she must talk to to overcome is the only Savior and consolation of mankind.

When we are alone, and no one else understands, we must tell Jesus. When we are tempted, and no one else is strong enough, we must tell Jesus. When we are hurting, and no one else sympathizes with our pain, we must tell Jesus. Jesus came because God knew we could not bear the burden alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.


I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.


Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior;
One Who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus;
He all my cares and sorrows will share.


O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.


~ Elijah Hoffman (1893)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thankgiving Vacation

That's right, not Christmas vacation, but Thanksgiving vacation. My family and I will be using the last week I have of vacation for Thanksgiving week. So the blog may suffer from lack of updates. But I will try to get to it. God bless all of you, and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Near Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, there once existed a most horrifying place. First mentioned in Joshua 15:8; this deep and narrow ravine just outside the city walls served as a refuse dump. Day and night a fire burned in this terrible pit. Sometimes sulfur (or brimstone) was added to keep the flames going.

It was here that the dead bodies of executed criminals and others who were deemed unworthy of a proper burial met their end. They were cast out like the rest of the garbage and human waste. The Canaanites also sacrificed their children there to the false god Moloch or Baal, the one they called the “Sacred Bull.” The pagan priests would beat drums as loudly as possible so parents could not hear the screams of their children as they burned to death.

Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible Volume I, explains, “It became the common lay-stall garbage dump of the city, where the dead bodies of criminals, and the carcasses of animals, and every other kind of filth was cast.”

Above the heap was a steady stream of smoke, and the stench could be smelled by locals and travelers for miles. Around the edges of this forsaken place dogs lined up, gnashing their teeth as they attempted to get to the garbage.

What would someone call such a place? The Greek word was Gehenna, meaning “The Valley of Hinnom’s Son.” If you look for the word in your Bible you will not find it. But the English substitute is well understood, “hell.”

The Son of God used this word to describe the place reserved for eternal punishment. He said in Matthew 10:28 it is a place where both body and soul would be destroyed. He said in Mark 9:43-44 it is a place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” He said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:33, “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”

Gehenna was a real place. It was a place so awful that Jesus used it to foreshadow another real place even more terrifying: a place with no light, no love, no hope, and no God.

Jesus therefore issued a very important warning while on the earth, And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

Do we fear God? We should! Hell is being prepared (Matthew 25:41). If Gehenna was the last place on earth anyone would ever want to be, I can assure you it is the last place anyone would want to be in eternity.

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?” ~ (Hebrews 2:3)

Monday, November 12, 2007

An "I wish this weren't true" Story

Recently on a facebook group the discussion has centered around Bible class attendance. The question was "What can we do to encourage people to attend?" Let's face it, there are some folks who just won't come to Bible class. It doesn't matter what you do, they are not interested.

This past Sunday morning an amazingly tragic moment in the history of Bible class took place. A friend of mine, who works for a congregation of about 250, noticed a mother and two children come into the auditorium and sit down during the Bible class hour. They are not usually at Bible class. They had forgotten to set their clocks back, and so they sat down thinking it was time for worship.

When they realized their mistake, do you want to guess what they did? If you thought the worst you were correct. They left! And they came back again in an hour for worship! Don't you wonder what they did with the hour they could have spent with God's word?

I wonder how much those children will ever know about the Bible? This is the first time I have ever written an article with no idea how to end it. I don't even know what to write. There is nothing else to say.

I Will Not Forget

As I stood with my family yesterday in front of the Pulaski St. church building, I saw a sight I will never forget. We were there to watch my son walk in his first parade as a cub scout. I imagine it was destined to be one of those unforgettable days anyway. But on this Veteran’s Day, coming down the street, there was a worn, blue van with a window open and a small American flag hanging from the opening. The van said, “Countryside Healthcare.” There was a driver, and in the passenger seat there was a very elderly man. He was hunched over, just peeking out the window. He could not move, for years of work and sacrifice were weighing his body down. I knew he was a veteran. I knew he had served my country. He was one of the willing ones; one of the doers; one of our country’s finest. But all he had left was a humble ride in a van. He said nothing, and his face had little expression. It may have been that he was not able to speak, though it was sure that the life that he had lived was speaking for itself. As I looked into the window I thought about the fact that this may be his last memory of a day like this. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know how well he could see me. But in this sparsely populated crowd, where many had rather sit at home or do something else than attend such a parade, our eyes made contact with one another. What do you say to a hero? I waved, and I said, "Thank you." It is a moment I will never forget.

And I will not forget. I will not forget, no matter who burns a flag and calls it freedom of speech. I will not forget, no matter who refuses to support the cause for which we have fought and continue to fight. I will not forget, no matter what challenges lie ahead concerning freedom and the price that has been and must be paid so that people can obtain it. I will not forget about our real heroes. I will not forget what they have done for me. I will not forget.

"Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren" ~ Deuteronomy 4:9

Friday, November 9, 2007

Appreciating Potlucks

Recently at my son's cub scout meeting, it was announced by the pack leader that at the next meeting we were going to celebrate Thanksgiving "potluck style." She then asked if the boys knew what a potluck was. Only about half of them knew. My first thought - these boys have never worshipped with the churches of Christ.

Everybody who has spent anytime in the church has something they can remember about potlucks. I have a ton of memories. Maybe you can identify with a few:

1. There are the memories of potlucks at the Livingston church of Christ. If you have never had a bum steer than you have never been to a Livingston potluck. Also, if you needed a report on edible dishes you could ask Nikki Boyd. She was the one who would make sure everybody knew which dish a certain family had brought. This is because their countertops were napping spots for their many cats. Also, their children would drink straight from the 2-liters.

2. There are the memories of potlucks at the Turlock church of Christ. These were given a special name by my sister's father-in-law. To protect all parties I will not give the name, but he called them "(last name here) Sundays." That is because a certain family, who came maybe once a month, could be counted on for the potlucks. If there was a meal, they were there and they were first in line. You could also see them filling up plates "to go."

3. There are the memories of potlucks at the Buena Park church of Christ. I only remember these because I was young and remember how much fun we had just spending time with friends. I remember eating hot dogs in the summertime out in the grass between the buildings. This was a great time in my life, and I had some of my best friendships and moments of spiritual growth in these years. My parents also were in charge of youth group events, so I was exposed to many older teenagers who were Christians. I still remmeber the ice-cream supper night when my friend David's younger brother ran into a pew and split his head open.

4. There are memories of potlucks with special people long since past. Many dishes we have admired from great cooks are no longer available. You know what I am talking about. Nobody could make a pie, or pickles, or fried chicken like sister you know who. But this is not what we miss. We miss their generosity, friendship, and their Christian attitude of service. We miss their presence in our lives. We miss their smiles and their examples.

David Pinckley has instructed me on the finer art of naming these meals. He does not like to call them potlucks, but rather, "covered- dish" dinners or suppers. I guess some people would like to remove all luck from the equation. But I do think there is luck involved. Perhaps we can call it providence. This is because I am so thankful that my son and myself were not in the group who didn't know what a potluck was. So we can be thankful for the fellowship of the saints in all of its different forms. We understand because we are children of God.

"that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me." ~ Romans 1:12

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How Important is it....Really?

"Surprised to see an empty seat at the Super Bowl stadium, a diehard fan remarked about it to a woman sitting nearby. 'It was my husband's,' the woman explained, 'But he died.' 'I'm very sorry,' said the man. 'Yet I'm really surprised that another relative, or friend, didn't jump at the chance to take the seat reserved for him.' 'Beats me,' she said. 'They all insisted on going to the funeral.'"
~ Coffee Break Ministries

This may seem like a funny little illustration. The sad thing is that for some people, this may not be too far from true. Football is a great American pastime. I enjoy it as much as anybody. When I was able to attend my first Vols game in Knoxville, I was very excited. The game lived up to be even greater than I had expected. The atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced for a game.

But it is very important that we always keep things in perspective. So here are a few reminders when it comes to sports:

1. It is only a game. Some people base their mood and everything in their lives upon a win or a loss. After Phillies reliever Mitch Williams gave up a World Series winning home run to Joe Carter in 1993, Phillies fans pelted him with hate mail and serious threats. It caused Williams to start packing a gun. He retreated to his Texas ranch, thought about quitting baseball, and was later traded.

2. Keep your spending to a minimum. Someone said, "Imagine another world looking down at 60,000 people who pay $900,000 to sit in a stadium that cost $45 million to watch 22 men being paid $7 million a year dispute the possession of a ball that costs $16.95." Billions of dollars are spent each year on sports. There is nothing wrong with recreational spending. But we might ask ourselves how much we spend on these things in comparison to what we give to the Lord.

3. Value your friendships. I have seen what sports can do to relationships, and it is not pretty. When church basketball games end up in fist fights, when sports tournaments bring out the worst attitudes ever displayed in public by those who claim to be Christians, and when pride over a win or loss keeps brethren from wanting to talk to one another - we have a problem.

There is more to say on this subject, but the final point has to do with what it all amounts to in the whole scheme of things. When Jesus comes there will only be one victory for us to be concerned with. The importance of being on the winning team in this case is eternally significant.

"And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." ~ 1 Corinthians 9:25

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dealing with Pain

“Forgive and forget” is an oft used phrase for conflict. It is obvious that forgiveness is a necessity for us all (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:35). I have preached about forgiveness on occasion. During these times I was sure I understood what the Bible intended and was certain about proper attitudes and conduct from a Biblical standpoint.

But there is a variable that sometimes has been unaccounted for. It is the hurt that is experienced from the offense. Until you have experienced a deep hurt caused by someone else, it is very hard to help people know how to deal with it. This pain is not something that just goes away in a moment. Even after a wrong forgiven, this pain can linger inexplicably no matter how hard one tries to remove it.

How long does it take for medicine to work? When you have a headache or some other ailment, you want relief as fast as you can get it. If there really were a drug out there that would provide instantaneous relief, the inventor could name the price. But all solutions take time. Some may alleviate the pain for now, but it can come back again at a later date.

Before we get too discouraged, we might consider the fact that our Savior dealt with pain. He endured hardship, rejection, accusations, physical harm, and misconceptions about His purpose. But over the process of time His pain has been eased. His pain has been eased by His victorious resurrection and ascension. His pain has been eased by obedient followers who also allowed themselves to experience similar sufferings for His name’s sake. His pain has been eased by the revelation of the truth over time. His pain has been eased because of His heart of genuine forgiveness and mercy, understanding the nature of the people He created.

I wish I could tell those reading this article there will be no difficult times ahead. I wish I could tell them there would be no sickness, pain or heartache, no death, no rejection or hurt feelings, no recurrent pain long after an incident has taken place. But pain allows us to grow and depend on God. Pain allows us to be more careful with our activity. Pain allows us to learn valuable lessons about life. Pain allows us to have fellowship with the Man of sorrows, who Himself was acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3).

If there were no pain, what glory would there be in our final victory? If there were no pain, what consolation would exist in a heavenly abode? If there were no pain, what hope would we have of things that are better? God knows what he is doing. Trust Him. He understands every heart ache. He will ease your pain.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Own Affections

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren a third time, he dealt with some attitudes that needed adjusting. There had been some in Corinth that challenged Paul's authority as an apostle. They challenged his sincerity and ability as well.

In this letter we know as Second Corinthians, Paul directly stated how these claims were false. Other times, he used sarcasm to enumerate the ridiculous nature of these claims. I recently came across one particular verse that struck a chord with me. "You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections" (2 Cor. 6:12).

What a humbling thought! For the Christians in Corinth he was probably referring primarily to their continuing struggle within to leave the pagan society in which they were raised. For a further discussion, read Paul's follow up statements about their need for separation from these worldly influences (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

Let's get back to verse twelve. I think I know what Paul is talking about. We live in a world that is giving more and more credence to man's opinions and affections. The idea that truth can be known (Jn. 8:32), that there is one system of faith (Eph. 4:4-6), and that there is a proper way of understanding the universal message of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21) is being challenged on every side.

Those who promote changes in theology, which lead to changes in the church, claim that the view currently held is stifling, traditional, close-minded, and unloving. Paul has a word for those who make such challenges. The restrictions have not come from God or the truth He has transmitted to faithful men. The restrictions come from individual affections. These restrictions have sadly limited the ability for those in error to see what God wants them to see.

We need to put our own affections aside and seek God's face. This is the only way we can please Him, and it is the only way unity will ever be achieved. God's word is the truth which makes us free.

"But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." ~ James 1:25

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Friend David

For all of those who read the blog, thanks for your patience as I have been out of town. We'll get started again with an archive article of mine. I hope you enjoy it.

I met my friend David in 1980 at the Buena Park church of Christ. David Dominguez and I shared almost everything in common. We were the same age, liked the same things, and we were raised in Christian homes. Many times we would spend Sunday afternoons after services together at my house or his. We would watch the L.A. Raiders. We also liked to watch old episodes of The Three Stooges. We played together, got into trouble together, and spent most of our time at the church building together. It was a great blessing to have a close friend like David during my early years.

I met my friend David while preaching for the New Providence church of Christ. David Shearer was first introduced to me through a letter I received in the mail. Our congregation was looking to do mission work somewhere in the states. Marshalltown, Iowa gave us our fist opportunity. After many conversations on the phone, David and I became good friends. We still talk nearly every Monday. I have been to Iowa, and he has been to my home in Kentucky and now my home in Tennessee. He is a fellow worker in the kingdom I can rely on and whom I respect. It is a blessing to have a close friend who understands the ups and downs that go with preaching.

I met my friend David at the Chaparrall’s steak house in Lawrenceburg, TN. David Pinckley and his wife Frances had come to meet the “candidate preacher” and his family. Now I see David almost every day. If I need to talk to somebody I can always count on David. He supports me and encourages my family. He is as giving as any man I have ever known. He loves the church and he loves people. He is hard working and dedicated. He is fun to be around, and laughter fills his office. He is like a father to me. It is a blessing to have David in my life.

I met my friend David in the Pulaski St. church building. David Burdine is younger than I am, but every time I see him and spend time with him he teaches me another lesson I desperately need to learn. He is a kind and compassionate person. He does more for the elderly than any 28 year-old I know. Worship and Bible study are exciting experiences for David. His willingness to sacrifice himself for the cause of Christ is limitless. He is always building up and never tearing down. As a younger Christian he is a reminder to every mature Christian about what they ought to be and just how great it is to be God’s child. It is a blessing to have a guileless Christian example like David.

“…But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” – (Prov. 18:24).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leaving on Trip

This is not a normal article, just an anouncement and prayer request. I am leaving this afternoon for Iowa, and will be gone for about a week. Please pray that I might have a safe trip. Pray for my family who I am leaving behind. Please also pray for the brethren there and the lost we are trying to reach. I will try to keep things going on this page as much as possible.
God bless.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Was Satan Ever a Heavenly Angel?

"Was Satan ever a heavenly angel?" ~ David Brumley

Great question. Many people have never properly identified Satan. So let's allow the Bible to tell us exactly who he is. Actually, the Bible clearly states that Satan was, indeed an angel. (Rev. 9:11) - "And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon." This word in Hebrew and Greek means "destroyer."He is also referred to as, "the prince of the world" (Jn. 12:31), the "god of the this world" (2 Cor. 4:4), and a "liar and murderer from the beginning" (Jn. 8:44).

Satan was puffed up with pride (1 Tim. 3:6), and was cast out of heaven (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6, Rev. 12:7-9). In the passage in Revelation 12, one would note that the war was between Michael (an angel) and his angels, and the dragon (Satan, the Devil), and his angels. It makes sense that if Michael was the head angel of a group of angels that fought with another who was the head of another group of angels, that the second leader would also be an angel. Satan was not a part of the Godhead. It is hard to understand who he could possible be, if not an angel. A balance of all the texts regarding him bears this out. No verse says exactly, "Satan was an angel." But it is understood by looking at all of the passages regarding him that he was.

2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6 in discussing angels include all of the angels that have been taken out of heaven who will be lost eternally in hell. Their reservation is not a current binding, but an eternal destination already reserved. Jesus said that "the prince of this world is judged" (Jn. 16:11). He is referring to the Devil here. Since we know that Satan is currently working on the earth (1 Pet. 5:8), we understand that what Christ meant was that his future is already fixed. The reservation for chains of darkness is a future reality that cannot be changed. Both Satan and the rest of the angels who left their original abode with God have this destiny awaiting them.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

"Getting on my Nerds"

Two nights ago my son Luke slept in our bed. I slept on the couch. It was move or don't sleep at all. Trust me. His reason for the need for comfort was a book his first grade teacher read at school that day. It was about a boy who had a nightmare in his closet. The nightmare would get out of the closet in the middle of the night and get in the boy's bed. My son is now terrified. He is looking for that nightmare everywhere he goes. I will have to thank her sometime for that one.

I am telling you that it has been a chore dealing with it. But I must realize he is only six. I was also afraid of the dark when I was younger. I would imagine things that weren't there. Luke has asked me on occasion to move objects or clothes that are in the dark so they will not look like certain things he has imagined. We have to do certain things to help our kids sometimes even if it seems ridiculous.

But with the extra effort, there is also the fun side. Last night Luke said I was doing something that was really "getting on his nerds." I told him I was sorry for getting on his nerds and that I would try not to get on his nerds.

I wonder how long it will take before he figures that phrase out. Probably about as long as there is a nightmare in his closet.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. ~ Psalm 127:3

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Without Love

I recently received a private email from a woman in the church. She lives out of state. I have never met her before. I came into contact with her through the email message. She had found the facebook group I had started entitled, "The Truth about the church of Christ."

She has been struggling with the church, because her expereince with the church has seemed dominated by ritualism, legalism, and apathy. It has been a long time since she has seen in her brethren the kind of love that Christ commanded (Jn. 13:34-35).

What does this usually lead to in an individual? Although they have been taught the truth, they often leave the church. Why? Because they cease to believe that the church is really what it claims to be. While I know that we are living in a world that is straying farther and farther from religious truth, embracing only the spiritual blessings and favors and casting off commandments and identities, I am afraid that we are hurting the cause of Christ when we defend the truth with the wrong attitude.

When Paul wrote about the seven ones (Eph. 4:4-6), he continued with the importance of coming to maturity. The meat in this sandwich is "one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father..." But the two peices of bread is, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace" (4:3), and "Speaking the truth in love..." (4:15).

We, as a people, need to work as hard as we can to show the kind of love Christ has shown for us. With every commandment, let their be care. With every law, let their be love. With every expectation, let there be encouragment. With every responsibility, let there be respect.

If we cease to have these things, we will indeed cease to be the kingdom Christ died to establish. And people will make a note of it.

May God help us to love one another.

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." ~ John 13:35

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Speaking Out

Do we ever take risks in order to publicly say what we believe? I have a hard time sometimes knowing when not to say something. My first inclination is to speak out. I feel that most people are just the opposite. Most people don't want to say anything that might be taken the wrong way.

One example is with something today. I recently joined Facebook, an interactive online network. My goal is to connect with as many people as I can and touch their lives in a positive way. I also expect to receive the same. This site has many good things, but also it has its drawbacks. I came across a group page today that was for the purpose of connecting friends from Lawrenceburg and Murfreesboro. What I found was it was mostly college kids that like to drink and party.

On the invite message, the creator of the group took Christ's name in vain and added an expletive. I emailed him and asked him not to take my Lord's name in vain. I did this in the nicest way I knew how. I tried to respect him as much as possible, though he had shown no respect for his Creator. He may label me a Bible thumper, a fundamentalist, or a judge. This was not my goal. My goal was to defend the name of Jesus and have a Christ-like attitude in doing it.

Some people would say I shouldn't have written him. Others would say it wasn't worth my time. Still, others would do the same. I felt like it was the right thing to do. I feel this way because I love my Lord. I also feel this way because I love His creation.

Sometimes you just have to say something. I am afraid our moral character in American culture has been corrupted because we are too worried about political correctness, and not worried enough about righteousness.

Christians, please speak with me.

These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:13

Monday, October 1, 2007

To Die For

If I were to ask you the question, "Is there anything worth dying for?", how would you respond? Most people would say that they would die for their family, their faith and their freedom. I doubt, however, that in every case we would willingly give our lives.

Sometimes people use the idea casually - "That cake is to die for!" Of course they don't really mean least I hope not. The emphasis is on just how much something is desired, loved, or appreciated. Now I have heard about people driving hundreds of miles for certain foods, but that's another story.

Perhaps you read the headline last week about 30 more people who were killed by a suicide bomber in the Middle East. Sadly, we have often read a similar headline over the last few years. I don't know if anyone has done a study, but it would be interesting to know how many suicide bombings have taken place since 9-11. I wonder how many people have died.

I am not going to mince words. The Muslim religion is not of God. I know there are radicals in the group. But think about what these people are willing to die for! They are willing to die so that others will also die and be lost (in their mind) for eternity.

Christ died because He felt like we were worth dying for. He died, that we might live. For those who are confused about Christianity and Islam, that is the difference.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When I Grow Up

While my 6 year-old son and I were driving in the truck, we were talking about the future. We happened to talk about how I had gone to college, and some of what I did to prepare for my work. He said that he was thinking about being a doctor or a teacher or something similar. Then he said, "I know what would be a great job...a pirate!"

I explained to him that piracy as he knew it was no longer available. But it made me think about a couple of things. He was interested in it because it has been promoted as glamorous in his viewing. This is because of fantasy, television, books and movies. Secondly, he wanted to do it because he didn't really know what it was about. If he really knew what pirates did in real life, I'm sure he would have changed his mind.

This simple story has an application to Christianity, for which many have a child-like perspective. Christianity has been understood by many to be nothing more than a feel-good experience. It has also been misunderstood by some in that they do not really know what it demands. This is apparent by how they attempt to take on the name, and yet they live as though they were not Christians at all. In fact, for those who attemt Christianity without knowing the requirements, you might say that my son has an equal chance of being a good pirate.

I hope, as we grow up, we will all know the difference.

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." ~ 1 Pet. 4:16

Monday, September 24, 2007

"You Do Not Believe"

It is very peculiar that we as a body of believers are often accused of not believing in certain things. Here is a list of ideas that from time to time people claim about us:

1. "You are the folks who don't believe in miracles." This of course is not true. We believe in every miraculous event recorded in the Bible. We believe that God can perform any miracle he wishes to perform whenever he wishes to perform it. If we did not believe in miracles, we would have no hope, because the resurrection of Christ is the greatest miracle of all (1 Cor. 15:1-20).

2. "You are the folks who don't believe in prophecy." This of course is not true. We believe in every Biblical prophecy recorded. We believe in the prophecies concering judgment and eternity yet to be fulfilled. We believe that the prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the incarnate God, who has accomplished His work (John 5:39; Luke 24:44).

3. "You are the folks who don't believe in music." This of course is not true. We believe in every example of musical worship displayed by the New Testament church. We believe that this is the pattern we are obligated to follow (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12).

4. "You are the folks who don't believe others are saved." This of course is not true. We believe "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). We believe "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Ac. 2:38). We believe "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Ac. 4:12). We believe that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18)

It is not that we do not believe in these things. It is simply that concerning these we choose to believe God's commandments, rather than man's opinion.

"But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." ~ Acts 15:11

Friday, September 21, 2007

Spousal Abuse

I do not know the statistics. I am not sure how it is actually quantified. The reason is because there are many ways spouses can abuse one another.

It is obvious that there is a type of abuse that can be statistically charted. But what about the things we do to our spouses out of sheer selfishness?

Case in point. The other day I saw the stupidest thing I have ever seen being done in a vehicle. I was at the stoplight. An elderly couple was just in front of me. They had a handicapped license plate. She was driving, and smoking, and her husband was in the passenger seat hooked up to an oxygen tank!

I just shook my head.

But are we choking out our spouse in our own way? Are we allowing them some air? Are we promoting health, spiritually, mentally, and physically? I don't know about you, but I would hate to lose my soul, second-hand. I know we will all stand alone in judgment, but that doesn't mean that we aren't sometimes killing each other.

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." ~ Philippians 2:4

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Babel Revisited

Dubai, a part of the United Arab Emirates, now boasts the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Passing the CN-Tower of Canada, the Burj-Dubai stands 1,831.5 feet above ground. Dubai is a booming area, and this tower is the latest of the Samsung cooperation's achievments.

I ask, why? Why build it? Is it about prowess, power, money, or a name?

The Bible tells a story of people who dwelt in the plain of Shinar who said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Gen. 11:4).

Not far from the ancient plain, another tower now stands with similar goals. No matter how tall it gets, or how famous it or its builders may become, one fact remains:

"if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing, but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it." ~ Acts 5:38-39

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a "hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride influence their decision? We'll never know.

What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm's getting worse." But as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave. "This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you'll have to arrest me."

Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave either. He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.

News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day. (Christian Values Qs Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1994, p. 10).

Some of us may read this and think, “How ridiculous, they got what they deserved.” But there is a much greater storm just off shore. How many of us continue to “party” in the meantime?

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” ~ Matt. 24:37-39

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Visit to the Kingdom Hall

I have always wondered what it would be like to be in an episode of The Twilight Zone. After last Thursday evening, I don't have to wonder anymore.

Call it research for a presentation. I showed up right at 7 p.m. for their ministry school. I had made several other attempts to contact the local Jehovah's Witnesses. I had been by the Kingdom Hall at least 5 or 6 times and I had left my card with a note to call me. They never did, so I decided to drop by.

I was the only man without a tie there. I observed their worship and school. These were my findings:

On the one hand:
  • The people were very involved and dedicated.
  • Most of them played an important role.
  • You can tell they had studied their material well.
  • They all have a sense of obligation to teach others.
  • They never once looked at the clock or seemed that they were ready to leave.
  • They were dressed modestly and respectfully.
  • They were not at all worldly in their appearance or thrust.
  • They were convicted.

On the other hand:

  • They misinterpreted the Bible continuously.
  • They only referred to God by saying, "Jehovah."
  • They talked of the "temple class" and the "slave class."
  • They taught it was sinful for Christians to celebrate birthdays.
  • They talked of the coming "reward in Jehovah's new world."
  • They spent most of their time teaching out of their Watchtower publication.
  • They only read from their slanted New World Translation, also their production.
  • They said very little about Jesus Christ.

It is indeed unfortunate that they are so evangelistic, and yet their doctrine is wrong. I have to say it was a different experience. It was like I had stepped into a black hole.

The two things I took from the evening that have been sticking with me the most:

1. Those who have the truth should be more excited about it.

2. Those who visit with us must often feel awkward, too.

"If you abide in My word, you are My disicples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." ~ John 8:31-32

Friday, September 14, 2007


I admit it. I have a problem. The good news is that I am praying about it and I hope you will pray for me. This preacher sometimes tends to get a little too preachy.

Preachers understand the importance of being spiritually minded. It is a matter of occupational awareness. This is because people hold us to a higher standard than others. If we do not live spiritual lives, then our ministry is not effective. So to start I can assure you that doing the right thing is always on our mind.

Then there is the pulpit. Unless you take your place there two or three times a week, you don't know how it changes your life. The responsibility is great. People depend on you to help them work out their salvation. When you get to have that type of role it is often hard to leave it behind when you get down. This leaves the preacher with the preachy problem.

Occupational awareness + pulpit exposure = preachy preachers. It just happens. I can't tell you how often I have been told to "lighten up", or to "stop being a spiritual policeman." Sometimes we just need to be regular people, too. People with weaknesses. People who are patient. People who can cut the common man some slack.

I am learning that one thing people want, even more than instruction, is room. Not room for sin, but room to move. Preachers will have greater influence when they give the power back to God and His word to change lives. We cannot do it by force. In the meantime, those we strive to help need space for emotions, faults, and even doctrinal immaturity, until the time comes when they come to us to help them grow. Our preaching day will come.

We still need to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). But may we never forget to respect the humanity of those who hear.

"A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" ~ Proverbs 15:23

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Absolutely No Soliciting"

I have encountered this sign at the doorfront of several businesses. When ever I think of this term my mind goes back to New Zealand, 1997. On a campaign we were told that some doors might have the sign, "No Letterboxing." This meant you could not leave a flier. When we came in to report on our first door-knocking effort, I replied that several of the homes refused "soliciting." The native folks burst out in laughter. Turns out "soliciting" means entirley something else in that country. But they knew what I meant.

I am ready to put this sign up now inside my TV screen. Here I was, just watching Monday Night Football, when a commercial comes on the screen for "Interactive Male." This is some kind of homosexual chat-line out of Nashville. I know things are falling apart when something like football, perhaps the most manly thing on the planet, is being turned into a side-show for the advancement of the gay community.

When will this end? There may be nothing more discouraging then living in a society morally akin to Sodom and Gomorrah. I shouldn't have to change a football channel to get away from it. Oh, wait a minute, when was the last time I changed the channel during a beer commercial?

Umm...this was more enlightening than I thought.

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's in the News?

So what is the world talking about these days? What does the world really care to talk about? You can find out by getting on the internet and looking each morning at the main story on Yahoo, MSN, or some other site most often used as a homepage.

This morning, on just about every one of these sites the headline was "Spears Bombs at the VMA's." The Video Music Awards were last night. I am happy to say I didn't know this until I saw the headline today. Modern music is continually in a down spiral. The videos are filthy, the lyrics are ungodly, and the majority of the artists are morally bankrupt.

Yet what do we as a people wish to talk about and read about? Britney Spears and the VMA's. I know I am only in my thirties, but I am glad I care nothing about these things. Our young people do, however - mostly because the world's young people do. We need to give our kids something else to talk about and think about, something that is more excellent (Deut. 6:4-9).

What is news to us defines who we are. Several internet host sites not only give headlines, they add categories for more current events. I have noticed the most common categories are "Finance, Autos, Real Estate, Movies, Music, Personals, and Shopping." One category that is found less and less - "Religion."

This is the world in which we live. It has become too much about us, and too little about Him. So ask yourself this question - "What's in the news?"

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." ~ 1 John 2:15-17

Friday, September 7, 2007

Truth and her Children

Mary Winkler said she was abused. She said she was forced to do things she didn't want to do. She says that her husband was abusive to her and her children...

These were things she said after her lawyers helped her plan her best escape from the murder she committed. Her first testimony was, "My ugly came out." In her first interview (on tape) she claimed that the one thing she didn't want was for Matthew Winkler to be defamed and persecuted. Now it seems she is first in line to do it herself.

The question that keeps coming back to me is this - How can a person who really loves the Lord persecute His church? The latest is the Oprah Winfrey show, September 12th. She will appear on the show to tell, "what really happened." Sorry to say, but I doubt it. Only Matthew and Mary will ever know what happened in their home. The media isn't going to tell the true story, they don't know it. Some may say she is doing this for custody of the children, or perhaps for some other reason.

Two things are for certain. 1. Mary Winkler is well pleased to slander the man she shot in the back who is not here to defend himself. 2. Mary Winkler does not care about the church, otherwise she would stop attempting to make it a byword in the public arena.

The Lord will work it out. Praise His name!

"...wisdom is justified by her deeds." ~ Matthew 11:19

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...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alcoholic Stupidity

The drunk husband snuck up the stairs quietly. He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and bruises he'd received in a fight earlier that night. He then proceeded to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he'd pulled one over on his wife. When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his wife. "You were drunk last night weren't you!" "No, honey." "Well, if you weren't, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?"
Drunk people do stupid things. Alcoholic beverages make a fool of those who think they are untouchable or unaffected by liquor. In our city limits, 4 new liquor stores will be opening soon. 4 liquor stores! We need zero more!
I am afraid that in the near future there will be more tales of stupid things. But next time, there will be no humor in it. It may be somebody I know.
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. ~ Proverbs 20:1

Monday, July 30, 2007

Harsh Judgment

People tend to be the most critical of the people with whom they spend the most time. In marriage, it is especially this way. We do not give our spouses enough room to move. Eventually, our expectations of perfection choke them out of their own personality and self-worth.
When you get to know someone in such an intimate way, your ability to appreciate their good qualities is often altered by the mistakes they have made or the hurt they have caused.
I have been married to my wonderful wife for 9+ years. I know this is not very long as compared to others. One observation about myself in this relationship, is that I find myself trying to excuse my weaknesses and bad choices by blaming my faults on her. This is a very stupid and immature thing to do. But unfortunately, people do this in relationships all of the time.
In close relationships faults are very apparent, sometimes gleaming. Selfishness and pride cause individuals to use the negative traits in their spouses to get by with the continuance of behavior that is both poor in judgment and in scope.
As a cancer survivor to this point, who is just happy to be alive, I am begging those of you who are married to see the person you married as the most wonderful person on the earth. Don't execute such harsh judgment. If you are healthy then you should be happy. If you have today to spend with that person then make the most of it. See this person as the person you married for all of the right reasons. Examine your own weaknesses and contribute to the effort of love and peace in your home.

They say a wife and husband,
Bit by bit,
Can rear between themselves a mighty wall,
So thick they cannot speak with ease through it,
Nor can they see across it, it stands so tall.
Its nearness frightens them, but each alone
Is powerless to tear its bulk away; and each
Dejected wishes he had known
For such a wall, some magic thing to say.
So let us build with master art, my dear,
A bridge of love between your life and mine,
A bridge of tenderness, and very near,
A bridge of understanding, strong and fine,
Till we have formed so many lovely ties,
There never will be room for walls to rise.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Love of Money

What are you willing to do for $10,000,000? Two-thirds of Americans polled would agree to at least one, some to several of the following:

  • Would abandon their entire family (25%)
  • Would abandon their church (25%)
  • Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
  • Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
  • Would leave their spouses (16%)
  • Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
  • Would kill a stranger (7%)
  • Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
    Source: James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth, 1991

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" ` 1 Tim. 6:10.