Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Turtle Doves

This is the time of year when lights are in windows, stockings are hung by fireplaces, and the smells of candies and cookies fill warm houses on cold winter days. This is also the season of musical melodies seldom heard at other times of the year. Whether you hear "Deck the Halls" or "Jingle Bells" or "White Christmas" - you get used to those songs that have become a part of your yearly December experience.

Anytime a person hears the expression "two turtle doves," no doubt their first reaction is, "and a partridge in a pear tree!" Everybody is familiar with "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It is a part of our culture. We can probably all recite the 12 days, even if we transpose the days of the "Lords O' Leaping" and the "Drummers Drumming."

Let me for one moment, give you something else to think about, that may change your first reaction to "two turtle doves" forever. Though many know it, few think about the fact that the real reason these birds were chosen for the song, surround the actual events of Jesus' birth.

According to Leviticus 12:2, a Jewish woman who gave birth to a male child was unclean for seven days. She was not allowed to enter the temple for forty days (Lev. 12:4). At the end of the forty days, the required sacrifice to the Lord for her purification, which would also serve as a dedication of the newborn to Jehovah, was "a lamb a year old for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtle-dove, for a sin-offering" (Lev. 12:6).

Leviticus 12:8 ends the chapter this way - "And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean."

Now consider this section of Luke's account of the birth of Christ - "Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, 'A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons'" (Luke 2:22-24).

In a time of year, filled with giving, good cheer, and physical blessings, I am most thankful for the reminder that Jesus - God in the flesh, King of Kings and Lord of Lords - was born into the poorest of families, and placed in a dirty feeding trough meant only for livestock on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It reminds me of genuine value and true riches. It tells me that humility was never so expressed in any moment in time - as was seen in the birth of our Lord.

I can never doubt how much God loves me, and what He is willing to do for me. All I have to remember, is "two turtle doves" - and be thankful.

"who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." ~ Phil. 2:6-7

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blessed is the Man who Trusts the Lord

"I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord. Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust..." ~ Psalm 40:1-4a.

From these four verses we are reminded about the grace and deliverance of God. Anytime you seem to be in a rough spot, it is important to be patient and trust in God.

1. Because he hearkens. To hearken is more than just to hear. To hearken is to listen with great care. The word "inclined" in verse 1 means - "To stretch, to extend, to reach out, to bend or bow." What an amazing thought that God would make such an effort to help our pitiful state. When you cry out to the Lord, he will move from where he is to where you are. You will no longer be alone.

2. Because he helps. The "pit" and the "miry clay" in verse 2 describe two places of desperation from which there seems no possible deliverance. The pit is likened to something man has made - a dungeon, a cistern, a well. Sometimes we are cast into difficult places by others. The clay is, on the other hand, a natural calamity, that we probably ventured into in our own foolishness. But God will take us from the gutter to greatness; from sinking sand to solid stone.

3. Because he heals. How many of us have lost our song? How many of us have lost our desire? How many of us have faith that has grown cold? While we have lost our sense of spiritual self, God has stayed the same. He can heal hardened hearts and remind us again of the goodness of his grace. Christians need to let God put a new song in their hearts that exits their lips in praise to their marvelous God. Let God do this great work in your life - no matter how long it has been since you first obeyed!

Remember that God hearkens, helps and heals. Let this reminder turn into praise for God in your life that will cause others to fear and respect the Lord. The psalmist offers this wonderful promise - "Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust..."

"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You." ~ Psalm 5:11

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts - Milton Perry

Last Summer I was asked to speak on a Summer series at the Graymere church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee. After the service, an older gentleman came to talk to me. His name was Milton Perry. Mr. Perry was 96 years old at the time that I met him. We talked for about 15 minutes and I know he would have talked longer if I could have stayed. He told me about the beginning of the Graymere church, his presidential appointment to postmaster in the Post Office, and his years of preaching the gospel.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine handed me a newspaper article that contained Brother Perry's obituary. On the back of the paper, his grandson had used a full page ad to print the final letter Milton had sent to him. Here is what it said word for word:

"Today is the day proclaimed by the Massachusetts Governor of the Plymouth Colonies, Gov. William Bradford, as a day of Thanksgiving on December 13, 1621. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed it as a National Holiday. This day was when everyone in the U.S. were to give God thanks for their many blessings.

Today I am both mindful of, and thankful for, the many blessings that He has bestowed upon me. Foremost among these blessings is the gift of such a remarkable, loving and caring grandson. My life would have been truly a dismal abyss without you. Every moment spent with you has been a joyous occasion. I well remember the many trips that you have provided me to such places as Nantucket, Bermuda, Cancun, and various other enjoyable resorts, that I probably would not have been privileged to enjoy without you. Since the days of your infancy and teen-age years, you have been a ray of sunshine in my life, always flashing a big smile, an optimistic outlook on life, and a winning personality, befriending everyone you meet. I suppose the greatest joy that you afforded me was when you made the decision, at an early age, to obey the gospel and be baptized into Christ. I pray that you may always remember that your "Priority" must be (Matthew 6:33) and live by the two "Greatest Commandments " as stated by Christ in (Matthew 22:36-40). Then, finally abide by the admonition: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

To me, heaven would not be a true utopia for me if you were not there. So resolve to "Meet me in the morning" where we'll live forever where there will be no heartache or sorrow and no parting. This life is but a proving ground to qualify us for heaven.

My prayers are with you always. May God richly bless you."


Papaw (signed Milton Perry)

On this November 26, 221 years to the day after George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving that inspired Milton Perry's letter, I would like to offer some Thanksgiving thoughts of my own:

I am thankful that we still live in a nation where we can rejoice about someone obeying the gospel in a full-page newspaper article.

I am thankful for Pawpas who love their grandsons enough to give them a Christian heritage.

I am thankful for meeting Milton Perry, and the opportunity I had to talk with him on a Wednesday night after services in 2009.

I am thankful for the fact, that as I begin a new preaching work, there will be more people out there like Milton Perry who will become a part of my Christian family. I can't wait to meet them.

I am thankful for the lesson Milton Perry taught the rest of the world, simply by living the Christian life, and loving God and the church more than anything else.

Thank you, brother Perry - I will "Meet you in the morning..."

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." ~ Rev. 14:13

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From Realizations to Responses

Do people really know who God is? I am not asking if they know that he exists, or that he created the world, or that he sent Jesus to die for mankind. I am simply asking, do people realize just how big God is? Do they understand his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence?

Most people cannot see God or be changed by God, because their knowledge and comprehension of his true being is too small. In order to illustrate this example, let's go back in time and visit the scene on a ship once headed to Tarshish.

The first chapter of Jonah gives the account of the prophet God selected to preach to Nineveh, but who chose to be a deserter instead. He boarded a boat that was heading in the opposite direction from his divinely appointed destination. God responded with a storm so terrible that it caused the ship's crew to eventually locate Jonah and demand some answers.

When Jonah was pinpointed as the cause, he told his shipmates about the God of heaven, the creator of both land and sea. He discussed his own disobedience to God's command. He finally got the men to cast him overboard in a last ditch effort to save their lives.

With Jonah gone, the sea immediately calmed down. Here we find the response to their realization. Jonah 1:16 reads, "Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows." This is a fascinating verse. It brings to mind what people do naturally when they get a true understanding of the nature and power of God.

This reminder from the Bible should cause us to ask ourselves a few questions and reflect...Do we need more storms? Do we need more calm? Do we need more Jonahs? What needs to happen before we realize how great God is? What needs to happen before we properly respond?

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe." ~ Deuteronomy 10:17

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Soul Winning

Have you ever been asked to define use words to represent who you are and what you believe in? Have you ever been asked to describe your dreams, and tell everyone what matters to you most?

If I were asked these questions, it would be very easy for me to answer them.

Where I live is inconsequential. How much money I make, not important. What people choose to think or believe about me - only significant as far as the gospel needs the proper support to make a difference in lives. Fame is completely irrelevant, because it is vanity and I know I will be forgotten eventually.

I want to be defined as a soul winner. When people think of me, I want them to know that I care enough about their salvation to help them work theirs out while I work out my own. I believe in the Bible. I believe in its saving power. I believe in God. I believe in His plan. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who accomplished the plan. I believe in the church. And, I believe in people. I believe they are changeable. I believe they need Jesus.

My dreams are simple. I want to affect eternity. I want to go to heaven, and I want everybody to go with me.

That, in my opinion, is the description of soul winning. And, if you ask me, I think it is the only thing that matters.

"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!"
~ 1 Corinthians 9:16

Monday, October 25, 2010


The former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge once said - "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Persistence is defined as "the quality of continuing steadfastly in spite of obstacles." Synonyms for persistence include endurance, perseverance, and adherence. In our walk with God, Satan is going to try to doing everything he can to stop us. We will also, in our weaknesses, put some of our own problems in the way.

The Old Testament paints a great picture of what life is really like. The Jew's Egyptian bondage can be compared to the slavery of sin. Moses serves as a type of Christ, a savior and deliverer appointed by God. The Red Sea is an example of the salvation experience, pointing to the necessity of baptism in the New Covenant. And yet, once the Israelites began to experience their freedom, they still had a wilderness to negotiate. This is life: a wilderness! Even though we have been set free in Jesus, we still have a need to mature and choose God every day.

The Hebrew writer therefore wrote to the church, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:12-14).

We may think it would sure be nice if we had no worries once we became Christians. But a relationship with Christ is not a promise that worldly struggles will immediately cease. Instead, being a Christian means that we now have what it takes to overcome the world through faith. We have the cleansing blood of Christ to take away our sins. We have the motivation of heaven to endure hardship. We have the good news for others to make a difference along the way.

There may not be a more important word for the Christian than "persistence." In the end, it will be the difference between eternal life and eternal condemnation.

"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" ~ Hebrews 10:36

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When Grown Men Pray

This week has been a great week. We had a very successful gospel meeting that was well attended. Many people responded and the church was encouraged. The weather has been perfect. We enjoyed fall break. To top it off my grandparents came from Arkansas and we celebrated my grandmother's 80th birthday.

But there was one signature moment for me from this past week. It meant more to me than anything else has in quite a while. Sunday after services we went to eat at my parents' house. Before the great meal my mother prepared, my grandfather Tatum led a prayer. He thanked God for the privilege of worship. He thanked God for our family. He simply talked to God. It is hard for me to describe to you, just how much it means, as a 37 year-old man, that I still get to hear my grandfather pray!

Although it may be hard to believe, many people will go their entire lives without hearing their parents or grandparents pray. I have spoken to people who have watched their father become a Christian in his old age, and tears streamed down their cheeks when they told me that until that time they had never heard their father pray! Prayer in the home is one of the most powerful and meaningful lessons any child will ever experience. When children hear their superiors talk with God, it brings comfort, joy and peace into their lives.

Parents, you may think it does not make that much difference whether or not you pray at the table, or in the living room in a family devotional, or before bedtime with your children. I am telling you from the bottom of my heart, it makes all of the difference in the world.

God will bless us in a very special way, when we talk with Him. He will watch over and protect our families. He will forgive our sins. He will console our hearts. He will heal our land.

"...At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord." ~ Genesis 4:26

Monday, October 11, 2010


When one chooses to become the same as that which is generally accepted, this is conformity. Conformity is to act in accordance with the rules. It is the agreement to behave like and believe that which is conventional. It is being a mirror-image of the standard.

There are times in which conformity can be a bad thing. Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 - "..and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Christians do not want to be like the world, because it is sinful and evil and passing away (1 John 2:15-17). It would be wrong for one who has been called out of the world and into the church, to be a copy of the very things he has rejected (Phil. 3:7).

There are also times in which conformity can be a good thing. When it comes to our citizenship and the laws of our government, it is easy to see why conformity is necessary. If we do not obey laws and respect authority we will sentence ourselves to a life of conflict and trouble. We will be punished, because there are consequences to rebelling against the standards of social responsibility.

There is one specific time in life, when conformity takes on a beauty that cannot be matched. Romans 8:29 explains, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..." God chose from the beginning that we would be given an image to copy. This image is our perfect Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When a person makes a decision to be a Christian, this is the main thrust of what they are doing. They are deciding to look like, talk like, act like, love like, forgive like, sacrifice like, and be like Jesus!

Near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, there is a portrait of James Butler Bonham, a man who died for the sake of freedom. But the inscription explains that no real picture of Bonham exists. Rather, the portrait is actually of his deceased nephew, who greatly resembles him. The picture was posted, to allow the public to get the best impression possible of a man who died so they could be free.

There is no picture of Jesus Christ for the world to see today. The portrait Jesus chose to leave of himself, is us! If we are living like we are supposed to live, people will be able to see the One who died for their everlasting freedom. The world is depending on us to look like Jesus. We must be conformed to him!

"who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." ~ Philippians 3:21

Monday, September 20, 2010


This past Sunday morning I did something that I rarely do. I polished my shoes before worship. I don’t polish my shoes often because I am disorganized and somewhat lazy when it comes to shoes. But I have some fairly new brown dress shoes, and I have noticed that they had already faded a little. So I went to the laundry room, reached above the washing machine, and found the brown shoe polish. Then I went to work.

There is no dress code for the worship assembly. There is no tie and jacket rule. We always need to be careful about judging by appearances, or making the world feel unwelcome or unfit for the kingdom of God. Every single person who enters the church building should be loved the same, welcomed the same, and given the same spiritual opportunities. We have an obligation as Christians not to draw attention to ourselves, whether it is that we have not clothed ourselves enough, or we have clothed ourselves too much.

Back to the shoe polish. What is the point? Why did I polish my shoes? I remember as a young boy, getting ready for worship on a Sunday morning. I never had to worry about whether or not I had something to wear. In fact, my parents always let me wear special clothes. They were clothes that were different than anything else I would wear that week. Kids don’t wear button up shirts and ties except on special occasions. But every Sunday was a special occasion for me.

Wearing my best clothes to worship on Sunday has never been about a dress code. It has never been about looking a certain way for others. It has never been about trying to set myself apart from the person who may wander in from the street and into our assembly. It has never been about the fact that I happen to be the one speaking from the pulpit. This past Sunday morning, I polished my shoes because I was getting ready for God. I was getting ready to worship him. I was determined that he was deserving of my very best.

I don’t know what you wear when you assemble with the brethren. I can tell you that on the subject of dress, modesty is the key. Just remember, that God is not only worthy of our effort, he is worthy of our best effort. There is not a more important day on your calendar than the first day of every week.

"'and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me.' Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God." ~ Deuteronomy 26:10

Monday, September 13, 2010


Cleveland Amory tells this story about Judge John Lowell of Boston: One morning the judge was at breakfast, his face hidden behind the morning paper. A frightened maid tiptoed into the room and whispered something to Mrs. Lowell's ear. The lady paled slightly, then squared her shoulders resolutely and said, "John, the cook has burned the oatmeal, and there is no more in the house. I am afraid that this morning, for the first time in seventeen years, you will have to go without your oatmeal." The judge, without putting down his paper, answered, "It's all right, my dear. Frankly, I never cared much for it anyhow." ~ Bits & Pieces, March 4, 1993, p. 23

One of the most important responsibilities humans share is that of communication. One would think, in this time of mass media, internet, cellular phones, and other technological tools of information, that people would be experts with regard to communication. Actually, the opposite is true. On the whole, instead of taking quality time to spend with a small group or an individual, we attempt to spread ourselves thin on the surface of the whole world all in one day. This has led to a lack of communicating what is on our hearts and in our minds. We have become so distracted by the speed at which we are moving, that we cannot really see where we are going or why.

How do couples live their whole lives together, and not really know each other? How do people work together every day, and not understand each other? How do Christians worship for years together, and not even know their brother's first name? How do next-door neighbors spend 20 years 100 feet from each other without ever becoming friends? How do people go through life on the earth God created, and not identify with the One who made all things?

It all has to do with communication. It is not that the information is unavailable. Your wife wants you to know her dreams - have you asked her? Your co-worker wants to understand what makes you tick - have eaten lunch with them? Your neighbor could use a friend - have you knocked on their door? Your brother wants a spiritual relationship with you - have left your pew to visit theirs? Your God wants you to know Him and love Him - have you opened His word?

"And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles..." ~ Galatians 2:2

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Our People"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Have Time

Saturday evening I attended the benefit dinner for Heritage Christian University. The guest speaker was former first lady, Laura Bush. I do not consider myself a political person, but I always vote and do my part as a citizen for for my country and for Jesus' sake. I was not there to be political. I was there to support the university and see what a very important person in the history of our nation had to say.

After her speech, she was asked several questions. One question in particular was, "What is something about your husband that you appreciate, that perhaps would not be known by the American people?" Her answer to this question, I believe, was the most meaningful statement of the evening.

Laura Bush stated that her husband has read the Bible completely through, from Genesis to Revelation, every year since 1987. I don't know about you, but I think that is absolutely fantastic. There are two main reasons why:

1. It is good to know when the leader of your country reads and studies the Bible. We pray for the president all of the time. We pray for the leaders of the world to seek the face of the Creator. We should be comforted when our leaders have not forgotten God.

2. It is humbling to consider that the man who is arguably the busiest man in the world still has time to read the Word of God. We excuse ourselves from the reading of the Bible because of all that is on our plate. We always promise that we will get around to studying, tomorrow, next week, or next month. If the president of the United States has time to read the Scriptures, so do we.

The key to our future, as a nation, and as a church, is knowing and obeying the will of God. If we do not read our bibles, how can we succeed?

"All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth." ~ Psalm 138:4

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Power of the Word

Sydney Harris, once said, "I am tired of hearing about men with the 'courage of their convictions.' Nero and Caligula and Attila and Hitler had the courage of their convictions--but not one had the courage to examine his convictions, or to change them, which is the true test of character."

There are people in this world, however, who do have the courage to examine their convictions, and even to change them. This being the case, Christians need not be too concerned about the long term spiritual status of people with an open mind. Our concern instead should be about getting the Bible into the hands of people who have not fully studied the will of God.

When I was a younger preacher, I used to worry about my Bible studies. I would concern myself with whether or not someone would obey the truth, and when it would happen. If it was not soon enough for me, I might find myself being pushy with the progress of the person who had already humbled themselves enough to study.

As time has passed, I have let that go. The reason is simple. The word is powerful. It will not return to God void. What we need to do is enjoy reading it, and teach it, and simply let the Bible do the work. What will eventually happen is exactly what needs to happen. People will be converted to Christ by the teachings of the Lord, rather than being converted to us.

When you study with someone, avoid being confrontational. The Bible will confront a person plenty. Assist and guide with patience. Show how the word of God is changing you. Allow the plan of salvation to unveil itself before the reader's eyes. The time will come when you will not have to ask the student about baptism. God's holy word will have them coming to you pleading, "here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36)

"But the word of God grew and multiplied." ~ Acts 12:24

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Preacher the Church Needs

What kind of man does the church need to be their preacher?

1. He must be a man who loves God.

First and foremost, the preacher must love the Lord. He must love the Lord so much, that when there is no motivation to preach from the human standpoint, he will still be motivated to proclaim the great gospel of God. If the preacher has a strong love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he will aim to do the will of God, and the commandments of God will not be burdensome (1 John 5:3).

2. He must be a man who loves people.

I once heard a young man say that he wanted to be a doctor because he did not want to have to deal with the common people. That made me laugh! What did this boy think doctors are supposed to do? The church is like a spiritual hospital. The hospital needs a good doctor. Jesus is the great physician because he cares for us and has the remedy for our sin. Preachers must want to save and heal souls. When preacher sees a person, he should see God's child. To him, there are only two kinds of people: Christians and potential Christians.

3. He must be a man of the book.

A preacher is a Bible man. Perhaps Paul's greatest statement or instruction to the young preacher, Timothy was simply - "Preach the word!" (2 Tim. 4:2). People cannot worship or have a relationship with a God that they do not know. The God of heaven has left his greatest information about himself in the pages of the Bible. His character is found there. His will is found there. His plan is found there. People desperately need to know the God of the Bible. There is no other God.

4. He must be approachable.

The greatest downfall of preachers over the years has been that when they leave the pulpit they don't know what else to do. Your preacher should also be able to be your best friend. You should be able to relax with him and tell him anything and see him as your closest relative. Young preachers need to know that the majority of their ministry will have nothing to do with public speaking. It will be about caring, building relationships, and genuinely loving people and the church. Preachers are not meant to have authority, that is where the elders come in. They simply need to be the kind of men that every person wants to know and love.

"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." ~ 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This past Sunday morning a very profound statement was made by one of our young people as he led the closing prayer. In reference to our opportunity to worship God, Bobby Hendrix prayed to our God, "We hope you are satisfied." Since that moment this statement has been in my mind and it has found a place deep in my heart. It is an incredible statement by a young man who has learned something of great importance.

The majority of humanity is fixated on self-service and self-fulfillment. Even in the church, many are misled by the false concept that worship is for man. Because of this, people are constantly struggling in their relationship with God and His church. People will shop for the church that they like. People will go where the doctrine being taught pleases them. People will look to worship in a congregation that appeals to their senses more than their inner man.

That being said, nobody can deny that doctrine is important. The Bible is the only religious doctrine that is truth. Worship that is heartfelt and uplifting is also necessary for the edification of the body. But the bottom line is that, as the song says, "we gather together to ask the Lord's blessing." When we come together as a church, if we are not gathered to worship and please the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the world, we have missed the mark.

How beautiful that one of our young people gets it! How wonderful that he is coming to worship to satisfy the desires of his God! In a time of people wanting to change what the Bible says or simply serve their own wishes with regard to worship, I am refreshed by the prayer I heard this past Sunday.

Each of us should think about why we come together as a church. Each of us should ask ourselves every time we have come, "Did I satisfy the God of heaven?" If we have this on our hearts and in our minds, and if we obey the teachings of the Bible, it will be a blessing to know that the answer to our question will always be, "Yes!"

"We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:8-9

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Do Yourself a Favor

If you were going to do the best thing you could possibly do for yourself, what would that be? If there is one thing in life that you could have over anything else, what would it be? These two questions are not exactly the same, but they are very closely related.

Sometimes the thing we want the most may not be the best thing we can do for ourselves.

Once a man approached Jesus as he was walking along the road. The young man ran to him and knelt at his feet and asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Jesus responded to him appropriately by telling him to keep the Law of Moses. This was the law that was still in effect during the life of our Savior. The young man stated that he had kept the Law of Moses from his youth. At this point, Jesus challenged him concerning genuine faith:

"One thing you lack: Go your way sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come take up the cross and follow Me." (Mark 10:21). The young man did not obey this command of the Son of God. He went away in sorrow. But why?

The reason is simple and applicable to each one of us. Until we come to a willingness to give up what matters in life to us most, we cannot be disciples of Jesus. Jesus himself proclaimed, "So likewise whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33).

It seems fair, that the one who gave up heaven and separated himself from God on the cross with our sins would also require a similar sacrifice. We are only Christians when we follow in the footsteps of Christ. A servant is not greater than his master.

If you want to do yourself the greatest favor you could ever do, then forsake everything you have and follow Jesus.

The second favor is like unto the first. Build relationships with people who care primarily about your soul.

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." ~ Matthew 16:25

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"For What is Your Life?"

Last night it was my privilege to attend a VBS as guest speaker. As I was listening to the announcements they were asking prayers for a family whose child had recently drowned. That was the fourth family this summer that I had heard of in this area that had lost a child to a drowning accident. After that announcement of course, the rest of the evening proceeded as planned.

When I was in the middle of thyroid cancer treatments I thought about death quite often. One of the main things that kept coming to me was the fact that if I died, life for everybody else would go on. Some people might be sad for a while, but life is meant to be lived, and people are going to do just that.

So I have been thinking about these families who are so devastated by the loss of their children, realizing that the rest of the world is going to go about their business.

We need to remember that the time to make our mark is today. Most of us are not going to rewrite history. We are not going to be remembered outside of our families and local communities. In 200 years, our own families might not even know we existed, and they may never visit our graves. This is why the impact we are supposed to be making is an eternal one.

A few decades from now, your job will not matter. The ball games your children played in will not matter. Where you went on vacation will not matter. A good number of the things that occupy the majority of our time will not matter. We need to ask ourselves if the energy we are expending at this hour is really going to make a difference in the end.

James wrote, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, then vanishes away" (James 4:14). Because life is so short, the difference that we are making MUST be an eternal difference. We have a great responsibility, to not only make our calling and election sure, but also to change the eternal destination of someone else.

Is your life about this world, or about heaven? Are your efforts all for here, or all for there? Are you making an impact that is going to last forever?

For what is your life?

"While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forgive and Forget

Some say it is impossible to forgive and forget. Some say, "I will forgive you, but I will never forget it." Some say we are supposed to remember in order to learn some kind of lesson from whatever we have suffered, even if we have forgiven the one who has wronged us. Some say that unless you have tried to forget, you have never really forgiven.

This subject could be debated for a good while. I will first tell you that I have thought about the idea of "forgive and forget" for years. I have studied this issue for lessons, articles, and sermons. I have spent time in counseling with people who have suffered wrongs. I have spent no small amount time of trying to figure out, through God and Christ's example, exactly how we are to go about forgiving others. From this, I would like to offer a few observations.

1. People who have a hard time forgiving others do not like to talk about it. Whether it is an control issue, or a matter of the need to hold on to something, people who hold a grudge want to feel justified for doing so. If they let go of the animosity they have for the person who has caused them pain, they are taking a big risk. They feel safer to harbor their ill-will then to let it go and forgive.

2. People who do not have a hard time forgiving other people are sometimes considered weak. This is especially true when it comes to the non-forgiving crowd. The people who do not like to forgive feel that they are more shrewd then the forgivers. If there is a disadvantage to being a forgiving person, it is the possibility that you may be hurt over and over again by people who love to empower themselves.

3. The capacity one has to forgive is equivalent for the capacity one has to love. People who are not forgiving are missing out on one of the greatest facets of love. In some sense, they are shutting a part of the love of God out of their lives. Jesus said about the woman who washed his feet with her tears, "...her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (Luke 7:47).

4. We will forgive more when we daily contemplate how much God has forgiven us. His mercy and grace in spite of our sins should be on our minds always. If it is not, we will be judgmental, hard-hearted, and display the pride of fools.

Jesus was not only open to forgiveness, he mastered the art. He did not see it as a weakness, but a strength. It was not a risk, it was an opportunity. It was not a struggle for him, because of the capacity he had to love humanity.

"I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." ~ 1 John 2:12

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Baptized Into Moses"

When Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthian church, one of the warnings he issued was the danger of backsliding. He was writing to Christians, many of whom had left paganism and worldliness to follow Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Within his discussion on the possibility of forfeiting liberty (1 Cor. 10:1-13), there is a gem worth keeping.

The first four verses read, "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."

The idea of the Israelites being "baptized into Moses" is fascinating. Why have we missed this in our efforts to teach the truth about what constitutes salvation today? When one studies what Paul is implying, there can be no argument about the necessity of baptism for salvation in the Christian age. Consider the following:

1. Paul was not exalting Moses. He had already dealt with the issue of those who were bragging about who baptized them (1 Cor. 1:10-17).

2. Paul was reminding the Corinthians about their commitment. Matthew Henry wrote that the Israelites being baptized into Moses was another way of saying the Jews were "brought under obligation to Moses’s law and covenant, as we are by baptism under the Christian law and covenant."

3. Paul was discussing how God saved His people. How did they leave the slavery of Egypt? What moment initiated their freedom from bondage? It was when they were "baptized into Moses" through the waters of the Red Sea!

4. Paul was explaining how Moses was the vehicle. "Baptized into Moses" indicates that Moses was the man God chose to deliver His people. Moses was a type of Christ in the Old Testament. Peter also made this connection (Deut. 18:15-18; Acts 3:20-26). Today, we are "baptized into Christ" to receive the remission of our sins and obtain a spiritual hope. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27).

5. Paul was telling these Corinthian Christians that they needed to stay faithful. He alluded to their baptism as their pinnacle moment, and yet reminded them that the Israelites did not receive the land of promise just because they had a similar baptism. Those who died without the inheritance serve as examples for the need of endurance.

There is more to be said about this passage. But the main point is to ask ourselves the question, "Why did Paul choose the imagery of baptism to make his point?" He did so because people in the first century knew when they had entered into the new covenant with Christ! It was when they were baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins!

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" ~(1 Cor. 12:13).

Monday, June 21, 2010


Since 2004, we have included in the end of the year bulletins the year in retrospect. That is, we have listed our births, deaths, baptisms, and those who have placed membership with us in the past year. This week I gleaned from those bulletins some thoughts about people who have passed on from Pulaski St. since I have been here. This list does not include everyone, but these are just some personal thoughts.

I miss Bill Powell's stories.
I miss James Tripp's smiling confidence although bedridden.
I miss Foster Lee's advice.
I miss Bim West's hunting trips.
I miss Ivan Warren's gentleness with my children.
I miss Odus Campbell's singing voice.
I miss Jean Kyle's support.
I miss Charles Heffington's positive attitude.
I miss M.D. Moore's humility.
I miss Virginia Boyd's friendship cakes and phone calls.
I miss William Potts' preaching tips.
I miss Thelma Reeves' little chuckle that reminded me of my grandmother.
I miss Wilson Boyd's critiques of my sermons.
I miss Frances Green's educated suggestions.
I miss Joan Smith's strawberry pies.
I miss Nelson Gunnell's strengthening presence.
I miss Evie Springer's Christian example.
I miss Ellen Warren's kindness.
I miss Hushell Spann's quiet respectability.
I miss Jessie Mae Rigsby's mountain moving faith.
I miss Roy Smith's love for the Lord.
I miss Ruth Trammell's love for my children.
I miss Bill Jackson's Sunday suits.
I miss Willard Wells' friendship.
I miss Audrey Wiley's spunk.
I miss Woodrow Kelly's walks of repentance.
I miss Grace Kidd's laugh.
I miss Bettye Brewer's mothering of me.
I miss "Red" Mitchell's gentlemanly Christianity.
I miss Bob Reeves' political opinions.
I miss Dot Jackson's independence.
I miss Joann Ward's hunger for worship.
I miss Elizabeth Ratliff's sincerity.
I miss Martha Dean Belew's dependability.
I miss Lelton Davis' compassion.
I miss Betsy Roberts' encouraging praise.
I miss Edsel Goff's trust in God.

These are just some of the things I am thankful for from these friends and fellow Christians that have gone on to their reward. There are so many others not mentioned here for whom I am also thankful. One thing that you can count on when you reflect on the lives that have touched your own - Heaven is going to be a wonderful place!

"Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." ~ Revelation 14:13

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hide it under a bushel? No!

Rob Cutshaw owned a little roadside shop outside Andrews, North Carolina. He was a rock gatherer, though he knew little about rocks. He knew enough to pick up ones that he could sell, and he allowed the collectors to appraise the rocks and decide their value. He would sell enough rocks and do enough wood cutting to make ends meet.

While digging several years ago, Rob found a rock he described as "purdy and big." It was a blue rock, certainly different enough and attractive enough to sell. But he had no success at selling it right away. He thought, with the right buyer, he might get as much as 500 dollars. He was willing to sell it for less if it meant paying the bills in a pinch. But instead, he just hid it for a while in the closet and sometimes under his bed.

In the end, Mr. Cutshaw almost made a huge mistake. What he might have sold for a few hundred dollars was discovered to be the most valuable sapphire ever found. The blue rock that Rob had abandoned to the darkness of a closet for two decades -- now known as "The Star of David" sapphire -- weighs nearly a pound, and could easily sell for close to 3 million dollars!

Unfortunately, it often happens that the greatest discoveries in life are not given a chance to shine and show their true value...

1. Have you undervalued your talents, your knowledge of the gospel, or your relationship with God?

2. Have you allowed anything of potentially great value slip through your fingers without further investigation of its true worth?

3. Have you given up on something that you first recognized as beautiful, and allowed your greatest and most valuable possession to remain hidden, unseen, and unused?

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ - "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14-16)

We have the true "Star of David." Everybody should hear Him. Everybody should see Him. Everybody should know Him.

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7

Monday, June 7, 2010

"We Have Forsaken All!"

The rich young man had gone away sorrowful. The disciples had been watching and listening. Jesus had been asked by the young man what was necessary to obtain eternal life. When he was challenged by Christ to give up his riches he refused to make the sacrifice. It was at this point, that Peter decided to speak, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" (Matt. 19:27).

How interesting that Peter would make such a statement. Peter assumed that he, along with the other 11 apostles had truly "left all." He was mistaken.

1. Peter had not yet forsaken his pride. After all, it seems that he felt justified and better in this moment than the rich young man. That Peter was asking what he was going to receive in exchange for his sacrifices illustrates the immaturity of his discipleship.

2. Peter had not yet forsaken his own ideas. As Jesus revealed more about God's ultimate plan, Peter argued about it. When Jesus told the apostles that He was going to suffer and die, the Bible says that, "Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" (Matt. 16:22). Jesus told Peter in this instance that he was not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men.

3. Peter had not yet forsaken his relationships. Why did Peter deny Christ three times? Peer pressure! Why did Peter have problems with hypocrisy and prejudice in the first days of the church? Because he could not stand to be unpopular! Jesus had stated that discipleship demanded loving God more than any other person, period (Matt. 10:37-38).

4. Peter had not yet forsaken his own will. After the resurrection, Jesus commanded Peter to feed His sheep. He then went on to tell Peter how many things he was going to have to suffer for Christ (John 21:28-29). Peter's response, was, "What about John?" Peter could not allow himself to accept God's will for his life. He was still involved in the art of misdirection.

Interesting, isn't, that Peter would make the statement to Jesus, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" Peter was following Jesus, but he really hadn't sacrificed anything yet.

Is this a fair description of your discipleship? Or can you say you have forsaken all?

"For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin." ~ Hebrews 12:3-4

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vacation Bible School, 2010

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up I could not wait for VBS week. As I recall we mostly did this in the mornings, but these days it seems that evenings are best and more people get involved this way.

I have great memories of VBS from the past. I remember asking every kid on my street to go with me, and my mom shipping everybody throughout the week so that I could win that brand new Bible for bringing the most friends. I remember learning new songs that taught me about God and His Son Jesus Christ. Not only was I learning about God's love, I was learning about His word and His plan in these songs. I remember crafts and refreshments. I remember puppet shows and prizes I got to take home. Most of all, I just remember how fun it was to be a young person who knew about God and who had some direction and guidance. VBS made me realize how much I mattered!

I want to give to you an illustration that I feel is very powerful that comes from my own house. The other day, when I had my sons in the car, we were talking about how school was almost over and how VBS was right around the corner. Daniel, who is five, immediately chimed in, "Rememeber last year when at the puppet show that puppet said, "I got my ba-a-a-at! I got my ba-a-a-t!? That was really funny!" Luke pointed out that was a skit they did on Thursday night. This conversation reminded me that our children are very perceptive and impressionable. They are listening to everything we say and do, and they are getting memories right now that will last them for the rest of their lives.

My three children love VBS. I want to tell you that as I write this there are tears in my eyes. This is my dream come true. That my children would want to be at church services and that they would be in a congregation that loves them the way this one does is more than I could ever hope for or want. So in advance, I want to thank my church family for the way you love all of our children.

It is my opinion, that our love for our children and for God's will in their lives is what makes our VBS the greatest VBS I have ever known. We are doing something great here, and I hope we realize just how important it is.

If you are looking for a way to make a difference - VBS at Pulaski St. is the answer.

June 6-10, every night at 7 p.m. SEE YOU THERE!

"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'" ~ Matthew 19:14

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Body of Evidence

Australian mountain climber Duncan Chessell is beginning his final ascent today to the top of Mount Everest. This mountain in the Himalayas boasts the highest peak in the world (29,002 feet; 8,840 meters). It has been scaled by some 2,700 individuals over the years, and by the end of 2009 in these efforts 216 lives have been lost.

Chessell's mission, this being his third time to attempt to climb Everest, is to find evidence on the mountain that may prove that the summit was first reached in 1924. As of now, credit is given to New Zealand's Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who are acknowledged as the first to conquer Everest in 1953.

In 1924, Briton George Mallory and fellow countryman Andrew Irvine perished somewhere near the summit of the great mountain. In 1999, Mallory's body was finally recovered, but the camera equipment has still not been found. Chessell is hoping to discover Irvine's body, and along with it photographic evidence that these two men did what was absolutely unthinkable in 1924. If everything goes with the plan, Chessell will reach the peak sometime this weekend.

This fascinating story brought to my mind the value of what each one of us may leave behind. One day, we too will have reached the summit of this life. Our lives will be only memories for those who will carry on. Will we leave something in ourselves worthy of another man's discovery? Will our contribution to this world be hidden in some distant land, unattainable for those who need the evidence of our journey? Or will we make sure that the scope of our life was much more than just a climb, but rather a victory of the highest degree?

The truth of God's word allows us to stand upon mountains. We have the banner of hope that we can drive into the highest peaks of our land and declare victory and possession in the name of our Savior and Lord. We have the greatness of the church, the kingdom of God in this world that we can bring to other people. We cannot let this evidence die with us - for the gospel is the greatest story ever told.

If you have gained such a victory - If you have scaled such a mountain - Than say so!

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy" ~ Psalm 170:2

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Greatest Gifts of Graduation

I recently came across an illustration that reminded me of what really matters for those who are graduating...

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car.

Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box. Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the Box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold. Angry, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matthew 7:11, "And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in Heaven, give to those who ask Him?"

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible.
It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.

When I read this illustration, it reminded me that our graduates need to remember one very important truth. Whatever gifts you receive at this hour from your parents, or any person in your life for that matter, none can be so important as the knowledge they have wanted to share with you about God.

If you have Christian parents, make sure to thank them for the greatest gift they have given you. Until you have given your life to that same Creator, no diploma will have qualified you for a successful life in this world.

"Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." ~ Ephesians 6:2-3

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Last Will and Testament of Jesus Christ

While listening to a sermon this past week I began to think about the title of this article. I am sure I am not the first to think of it, and I will definitely not be the last. But I believe, if you will give me a minute of your time, it is worth your consideration.

Since God came in the flesh (John 1:14), it seems that His time here on earth would be most significant. And since He exited this realm after only about 33 years, it seems even more important that if He left something behind that mankind would be even more obliged to listen. This is, of course, where the value of the New Testament comes in.

When do men write their wills? They write them during their lifetime. In fact, they basically live their will until the time comes to draft the document that will continue their wishes long after they are gone. So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wrote the initial remarks of His will during His lifetime. We can see this in the work of the four gospels. We can see how the preliminary teaches of Christ set the precedent for the complete will that would be read aloud afterward to the human family.

When are the terms of the will articulated to the beneficiaries? They are communicated after the benefactor's death. This explains the time and the content of the rest of the New Testament. It makes perfect sense, that the complete terms of Christ's will would only be disclosed after His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus left the Holy Spirit behind to continue to unveil the terms of His will until the reading of such will was completed. These terms are now documented in the pages of your New Testament.

What is different about Christ's will that separates it from all others? Most wills deliver physical blessings to those who are qualified and who will meet the terms and conditions that are found therein. The inheritance is only temporary, and eventually whatever one receives will either decay or be given to someone else. Christ's last will and testament delivers to each person an incorruptible inheritance, reserved in heaven, which will never fade away. There is not another will; past, present, or future, that can bless men eternally.

The New Testament is much more than an historical document. It is more than a guidebook for Christian living. It is more than an ethical foundation for a peaceful society. The New Testament is the last will and testament of the one and only Son of God. It makes sense, then, that we would make sure to be present when the terms and blessings of His will are being publicly disclosed.

There will be a public reading of the last will and testament of Jesus Christ this Sunday at 247 Pulaski St., Lawrenceburg, Tn, 38464. I hope to see you there!

"For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive." ~ Hebrews 9:16-17

"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." ~ Heb. 10:10

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Under-appreciated Faith

As I looked back down West End Avenue, all I could see was a ocean of people. Over 32,000 had gathered to run the Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon. All I can tell you is, "That is a bunch of human beings!"

The start was staggered, with 33 different corrals going off one at a time. This was done in order to give more space to the runners and to help the race go smoothly. Every participant was measured by a special race chip on their shoe to record the actual time it took them to complete the race.

Even with all of this organization, it was still quite chaotic. For many it was hard to move without bumping into other people. With that many people on the streets of Nashville, you can imagine there were some who got sick, some who needed medical attention, and some who simply could not finish what they started.

Looking behind me from the third corral, just before the race began, one thought came into my mind: The Israelites crossing the Red Sea. I began to think about what it took for the estimated two million people to travel together in unfavorable circumstances. We were only 32,000! We only had racing gear and bib numbers. These people had all their livestock and were moving their every possession.

Hebrews 11:29 reminds us about God's chosen people - "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned." We only think about the mumbling, the doubt, the fear, and the backwardness of this nation during the exodus. Have we ever considered what kind of faith would have been required to walk two million people and all they had through the long miles of that miraculously walled-up sea?

Maybe some faith is under-appreciated. We champion the faith of great ministers of the gospel, but what of the men who preach in anonymity? We celebrate great accomplishments, but what of the simple daily tasks that summon the same courage? We call to mind great lessons taught to us by famous men, but what about the lessons we have learned from little, elderly women?

We need to give the common Christian more credit. It takes an uncommon measure of faith to enter the spiritual race, and more to finish. You have to believe that God will offer safe passage. You have to keep going when you want to turn back. You have to believe that the end is going to be better than the beginning, and that the entire process will be worth all the effort.

It is going to cost every person the same price to cross over - Faith! "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith" (1 John 5:4).

"But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle." ~ Exodus 13:18

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Welcome Home!"

He was at the end of his rope. He was disillusioned. His plans that once seemed so perfect were now only broken dreams. His friends had left him. He had disrespected his roots. He was now alone in a strange place and was struggling to survive.

This story is a story once told by the Savior of men. Many people can identify with it in a spiritual sense. We want to make our own decisions, and to find our own way. Sometimes the search for ourselves has caused us to abandon who we were raised to become. Then, with some distractions and failures we find ourselves so far away from home that we wonder if we can ever get back. We wonder if our lives will ever be fulfilled and special. The answer comes to us in the same way it came to man in this parable.

Luke 15 tells us that the prodigal son came to himself. He realized an essential truth always present in his life. It was the nature of his father. Even if in his own mind he felt like he deserved not to be forgiven, he knew that his father would take him back. This is the confidence that took him from doubt to determination, from heartbreak to home. "I will rise and go to my father.'

The prophet Isaiah reminds us, "All we like sheep have gone astray..." Although each of us have left our Father in our own way, God has called us all back in the same fashion. He made the ultimate sacrifice. He reinstated us fully. He rejoiced at our return.

Do you ever ask yourself, "Can I really go home again?" If you do, you are not alone. But our guilt is not as great as our God. Our grief is not as gripping as His grace for us. God not only wants us to come home, He is waiting for us, longing for us, and looking for us.

So today, if you are thinking of making a return, we humbly say in the name of our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ, "Welcome Home!"

"'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'" ~Luke 15:32

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Significant Stones

Some rocks are just nothing more than rocks. Others have great value. They may be valuable in their natural state - whether it be a ruby or a diamond or some other precious stone. They may be valuable because they were a gift...people receive rings set with stones for engagements, and anniversaries, or just as a symbol of a relationship. They may be valuable because of a special occurrence. I knew a man who once led his girlfriend out on a picnic to a rock on which he had engraved his marriage proposal.

About 3500 years ago, God and Israel were united by some of their own significant stones. The Israelites had just miraculously crossed the Jordan river on dry ground, even though it was the flood season. At God's command, as the priests who carried the ark of the covenant entered the mighty river, the waters stood still. By a mighty hand God had delivered his people from slavery and had brought them into the land that he had promised to Abraham.

Joshua was then commanded - "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, 'Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood firm.'" (Joshua 4:2-3). He later explained - "that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever" (Joshua 4:6-7).

These stones were significant in their natural state. They were created by God to exist in the midst of an important river. It was the river which constituted the boundary of their freedom. It was the river of Naaman's cleansing through obedience. It was the river where the Son of God was later baptized.

These stones were significant because they represented a gift and a relationship. More than any diamond has ever told a bride that her husband loved her, twelve river stones declared - "Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts" (2 Chron. 6:14).

These stones were significant because of a special moment in time. As the years passed, these stones reminded every Israelite about the goodness and providence of God in their lives. Perhaps this is why just a little while later the prophet Samuel set up a stone during a great battle and said, "So far the Lord has helped us" (1 Sam. 7:12). He understood that God had delivered them, and would deliver them all the way.

As Joshua once did, we should leave behind symbols that remind us of our God. We need to do this for ourselves. We need to do this for our children. After all, God has left a most precious Stone behind for us.

"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation...'" ~ Isaiah 28:16

"And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." ~ 1 Cor. 10:4

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


In the work, "Evangelism, A Biblical Approach," by Mike Corcoris, evangelism is defined as - "communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ with the immediate intent of converting the hearer to faith in Christ, and with the ultimate intent of instructing the convert in the Word of God so that he can become a mature believer." This is a good definition. Evangelism is more than just preaching. The end pursuit is to help people develop a deep and personal relationship with God

When one looks into the original word, evangelist means "bringer of glad tidings" or "bearer of good news." The fact is that evangelism is effective because of the message. It covers such a wide variety of blessings: salvation, hope, forgiveness, peace, joy, and ultimately eternal life with God in heaven.

Every Christian should understand that the work of evangelism must be a priority in their life. We have such a great story to tell. It is not a fable or a fantasy, but the real and historical fact of the death, burial and resurrection of the only Son of God. Who, being truly saved can keep from sharing the news? God has smiled on us. He has been so good to us.

If you are Christian, I want to make an appeal to you to tell others about what God has done for you. Jesus made this same plea to the man he healed amongst the tombs - "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you" (Mark 5:19). With the coming of spring as a reminder of the life that God has freely given to us, people are already thinking about God's blessings. What better time is there for us to invite them to worship or to study the Bible with us?

Let's count our blessings! What a great and wonderful God we have who has freely given to us all things! It should be on our minds to extend these same blessings to others. People need the Lord. We have the opportunity to give to others the most important message they will ever receive. Let's go!

"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." ~ Mark 16:15-16

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What God Believes

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). We have heard this definition of faith all of our lives. We understand that faith has substance, and evidence, and yet at the same time it is trusting in something without all of its physical attributes present.

How you ever thought about what God believes? You might think that this is not a Biblical idea. After all, if faith involves believing in something that you cannot see, and God sees everything, how could God believe in anything?

I submit to you that God does believe in many things, if indeed we are discussing His will. In fact, I am quite convinced that the whole human experience has something to do with us believing in that which God believes, or allowing His will to become our own.

We have abused faith. We have made it too much about us personally and not enough about God. So I am asking you for a minute to consider what God believes, and to ask yourself if you believe the same:

1. God believes in people – do you? Elijah had given up on people in 1 Kings 19, but God had to remind him about Elisha and 7,000 more.
2. God believes people can change – do you? The apostle Paul learned that John Mark could change for the better. The man who was once worthless in ministry in Paul's eyes later became useful to him (2 Tim. 4:11).
3. God believes in complete and total and continual forgiveness – do you? Peter had to be taught that there was no limit to true forgiveness (Matt. 18:21-22).
4. God believes in impartiality – do you? If we are partial we commit sin and convicted by the law as transgressors (James 2:9).
5. God believes in longsuffering and patience- do you? We account that the longsuffering of God is our salvation (2 Pet. 3:15). Because of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed; his compassions fail not, they are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).
6. God believes in loving people when they are unlovable – do you? Jesus died for us when we were at our weakest. Christ's death in the midst of our sin is the supreme demonstration of God's love (Rom. 5:6-8)
7. God believes in life after death – do you? Paul learned how to believe in heaven and embrace death (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
8. God believes anything is possible - do you? (Matt. 19:26; Phil. 4:13) The anser to the question in Gen. 18:14 - "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" is..."NO!"
9. God believes that the definition of love is making the ultimate sacrifice – do you? (John 3:16-17; Matt. 16:24-26). If we are going to be disciples of Christ, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. To save our life we must lose it. To gain everything we must give everything.

Do you believe in that which God believes?

"Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!'" ~ Mark 9:23-34

Monday, March 22, 2010


As I was recently studying for a lesson on parenting I came across an older book by J.J. Turner that included the following information:

In a study conducted nearly 50 years ago by British author and psychologist R.F. Hertz, 100,000 children between the ages of 8-14 in 24 different countries were asked to make a list of ten rules for their parents. This was the final list that was compiled.

1. Do not quarrel in front of your children.

2. Treat all of your children with equal affection.

3. Never lie to a child.

4. There must be a mutual tolerance between parents.

5. There should be a comradeship between parents and children.

6. Treat your children's friends as welcome visitors in the house.

7. Always answer children’s questions.

8. Don’t blame or punish your children in the presence of their guests.

9. Concentrate on your child’s good points; don’t emphasize his failings.

10. Be constant in your affection and in your mood.

It is an interesting concept to consider what our children are thinking about us. If we want to have a good relationship with them, and be a powerful influence in their lives, we will listen to what they are saying.

Parenting is more than handing down rules and being a disciplinarian. What most parents are missing out on is relationship building.

Our children want our time, our affection, fairness, the truth, and a good example. They want to be able to respect us for all the right reasons. They want to know us, share with us, and be proud to call us theirs.

It is a documented fact that children are always wanting to know whether or not they are pleasing to their parents. Maybe it is time for some parents to ask themselves whether or not their behavior is pleasing their children.

"And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." ~ Ephesians 6:4

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Answering Questions Concerning Fasting

Did anybody really fast in the bible? How about Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, Anna, Jesus, Paul, the apostles, various nations including the Israelites, and the New Testament church?

What about fasting in the Old Testament? There was actually a commanded day of nationwide fasting for the Jews. It was the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29-31: 23:26-32; Num. 29:7). The purpose was to remind the Jews of the sins they had committed, and God’s grace in spite of their lawless deeds. The removal of food was for the afflicting of the soul. It was a purification process. It forced God’s people to realize that they depended on Him for everything, both physical and spiritual. If one were to fully examine fasting in the Old Testament, they would find several instances in which individuals or groups did so and various reasons why: wartime, illness, enemies, death, forgiveness, uncertainty, and remembrance.

What about fasting in the New Testament? Jesus was questioned about fasting, and he taught about how to do it properly (Matt. 6:16-18, 9:14-17). He fasted for forty days before his trial in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-2). He assumed his disciples would also fast (Matt. 9:14-15). The primitive church engaged in fasting regularly (Acts 13:1-3; 14:21-23). Paul mentions it as something he engaged in often (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Reasons for fasting in the New Testament include: performing miracles, obtaining peace of mind, help in marriage relationships, missionary journeys, overcoming temptation, requests for boldness in preaching, and many more.

Why should I fast? This question seems to paramount for most people. What is the purpose? Is it commanded? If I do not fast, is it a sin of omission? The true purpose of fasting in the spiritual sense is to humble oneself. The Psalmist said, “…I humbled myself with fasting, and my prayer would return to my own heart” (Psa. 35:13). When we take away the physical, we force ourselves to depend on the spiritual. We remember that God alone can give us what we need. Fasting gives birth in the Christian to a spirit of contrition and humility which God promises to bless (Isa. 57:15). It is not a question of whether or not one must fast, but rather and understanding that one should.

For how long should I fast? There is no exact time-frame for the execution of purposeful and meaningful fasting. There are biblical accounts of one day, three day, seven day and even forty day fasts. A similar question frequently considered: How often should I pray? It seems that the one who asks for a time-table is in essence working to quit. Fasting becomes effective in the same manner as does prayer. It must be done to be fully discerned. The best way to do anything effectively is to do it often. Ultimately, the frequency and length of fasting is up to the individual. But limiting fasting will not help one to understand it.

What is fasting, really? The present culture misunderstands fasting on many fronts. People rarely take the time to practice spiritually what the bible demands. When people discuss taking something away to begin a spiritual revival of self, what do they offer up? There were no reasons in the days of Christ to fast for health’s sake. People did not fast to cleanse out their digestive tract or to remove toxins. The entire concept of dieting was not present in their society. Fasting, then, was taking their sustenance away. It was not saying no to Krispy Kream donuts for a month. The biblical doctrine of fasting, as with all doctrine, becomes meaningful when it is done according to the divine scheme. One must study and observe it in its original state, practice and evaluate and try again.

Is it okay to pronounce a fast? Christ reminded his followers that fasting is not for show (Matt. 6:16-18). On the individual level, it should be between the person and God alone. But there are numerous examples in which both nations and kingdoms fasted, requesting divine involvement. Visionary leaders will realize the continued need for the church to fast today and ask for God’s providential and intervening activity. We pray for such. Fasting adds to our prayer fervent dedication toward our goal. It raises the stakes. It demands that we prove our desire for that which we are praying. It helps us take an active part in God’s solution.

Whose responsibility is it, to fast? Fasting cannot be a ritual. It cannot be forced or demanded. It is not something done to be seen of men. It takes no effect without repentance as an attachment. It remains as a spiritual opportunity. While it is not an ordinance commanded by the church, it can be of great spiritual benefit to those who are willing to make the sacrifice. The spiritual giants of the past fasted. The Son of God fasted. The early church fasted. The word of God is quick and powerful, and the Holy Spirit continues to sound forth his living message from ages before our own. Are we listening?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Difference Makers

In the heart of every person, in the very essence of their being, is the need to matter. Some people want to be loved. Some people want others to know they are loved. Some people just want to do things that will ensure they will not be forgotten. In some way or in some fashion, we all want to make a difference.

You can make a difference in words. Words of encouragement in their proper time change lives. When a young man gets up for the first time to serve in worship, the right recognition of what he has done will make him want to do it again. Most preachers will tell you that the reason why they are preaching has much to do with people who voiced a belief in their ability to minister.

You can mae a difference in actions. One of the greatest things that was ever done for me was actually done for my father. When he first lost his ability to see well, two of our neighbor's boys showed up at our house, and without even knocking, they mowed our yard. I will never forget that act of kindness. It reminded me that we had friends, and that my father was not going to go through his adjustment alone.

You can make a difference in example. People are often mistaken in thinking that you have to be well known, or somehow very prominent for your example to matter. But I can tell you that people who have had the greatest influence in my life by way of example are people who the majority of the world will never know. The person who is always kind...The person who nevers misses worship...The person who does what they say they are going to do...The person who has never and will never say something negative about somebody else...The person who is unselfish.

When I think of the passing of Jim Bill McInteer this week, I am reminded that he was a difference maker. He changed the world and helped to shape the church for the better. He did it with the right words, with the right actions, and with the right example. "...Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?" (2 Sam. 3:38).

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." ~ Matthew 5:13

Monday, March 1, 2010


As I was driving Sunday evening down the main highway that runs through our little town, I read a billboard for a local business that made me laugh. It said, "SMART CARDS, BUY ONE GET OEN FREE." That was not my typo. That is exactly what the sign said. It was a glaring mistake. So far, to my knowledge, the sign has not yet been changed. It made me wonder if anyone has seen that sign yet and decided to purchase a "smart card."

We are human. We make many mistakes. As a preacher, I sometimes misquote a Scripture. Sometimes I use poor grammar. Sometimes I just call out the wrong text. When I write articles, the good people who work here in our office help to make them better through proofreading and adjusting. I proofread everything I write several times, and still some of the worst mistakes get through.

Being a Christian does not imply perfection. Christianity as a whole is just the opposite in some senses. Claiming Christ is a declaration of dependence. It is a recognition of one's own individual guilt. It is a plea for help, and mercy, and grace!

A large part of what it takes to be a Christian is the humility to let other people proofread your life. Elders, friends, parents, spouses, and others who truly care about you will take the time to look over the book you are writing and help you make some corrections. I used to hate when my mother would look at my schoolwork and tell me I did something wrong. Part of my problem was that I was too lazy to do anything twice. Another part was that I was too proud to accept my imperfections, or that I could try harder or do better.

As time has passed I have learned that being under authority is not a hindrance, but rather a safeguard for my soul. Our God is the chief proofreader of our lives. He is here to make what we think, what we say, and what we do, more excellent. He is helping us to write a better story.

"...I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." ~ Jeremiah 31:33

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Apathy (def) - "a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion."

Not caring is not normal. God created man, and in doing so he gave him a moral conscience (Acts 17:26-27). The apostle Paul even discussed the moral code sometimes obeyed by people who are ignorant of the law of God (Rom. 2:14-15). So it is expected that certain things matter to us: How we conduct ourselves, how we see others treated, right and wrong, causes worth making sacrifices for, et cetera.

This is why apathy is unhealthy, and in many cases, just plain sinful. In doing a study on apathy, one will find that it exists more often in people with mental illnesses. It is commonly associated with depression, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, schizophrenia, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and other diseases. This should tell us, that when a person does not care about the things that everyone should care about, something is wrong upstairs. Now it is one thing to have a disease that you cannot control which causes you to be apathetic, and it is another thing to choose not to care. Perhaps we could describe the latter condition without the letter "a", "pathetic."

With regard to the Christian life, there are some things for which every child of God should care. One should care about faithfulness to God, the unity and direction of the church, humanity's ideas and treatment of the Godhead, the Bible, their personal relationship with God and man, sin and its consequences, those who are less fortunate for any reason, and one should care when they see another person being mistreated.

The list could be longer, but the point is that it is important to remember what matters and what things should affect us.

Plato once said that, "The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves." If this has some truth in it, what about the spiritual state of Christians who stop caring...who is governing them?

Are you bothered with being bothered, or do you still have the type of conscience with which God would be pleased? God wants a people who have a heart for Him, who care about what He cares about. Be very careful and guard you heart! Satan isn't just looking for people who are set on evil, he is looking for people who are too lazy to care!

“So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man." ~ Acts 24:16

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


You saw the sign. It said, "WET PAINT!" So, naturally, you had to take a closer look. "Yeah," you thought, "It does look like it is still wet." But, you wondered if it had dried completely. Perhaps it would not rub off at all. You could not contain yourself. You just had to touch it and find out! Just you had have paint on you now! As my five year old likes to say, "Well, duh!"

Human beings are hard to figure out sometimes. If we see someone staring up into the sky, we look up, too. When we stand waiting for an elevator, it is never enough that someone has already pushed the "up" button. We have to push it, too. We just can't leave well enough alone.

Why are we this way? No matter how independent we may be, there are times when we are going to be followers. If this were not true, we could never hope for heaven. Our salvation rests on the very principle of discipleship. Since we are followers, worshipers, and disciples...signs matter! Friendships matter! Commandments matter! Choices matter!

In one of Christ's discussions with the apostles, referring to the religious error of the Pharisees, he said, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matt. 15:14). Jesus was relating the simple principle that reminds us don't have to learn the hard way.

It is our stubborn pride that often leaves us walking away painted. We were unwilling to listen. We were unwilling to yield. We were unwilling to consider the inevitable direction of the path we were walking down. When our lives seem to be filled with more questions than answers, rather than do our own thing, the better solution would be to trust in God. Our way is the wrong way. God's will has been given to us so that we will not fall so far and hurt so much.

So consider the purpose of the sign, and make the application. "WET PAINT!" means "WET PAINT!"

"And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." ~ 2 Peter 1:19

Monday, February 8, 2010

What is Written

There are some things in life that are often taken for granted. A sunset. A meal. Our health. It is not that we don't appreciate them, it is just that we are so used to them being there for us. Yet, at any time, if any of these underated blessings were instantly removed from us, there is a good possibility that would be devastated.

Among these great blessings, often forgotten, is God's written word. Again, it is not that we do not love the Bible. It is not that we never read the Bible. It is not that we don't know that it is what saves us and what will judge us in the end. It is simply that we do not contemplate often enough the power and the influence of the Holy Spirit's written word.

In the realm of religion the Bible is used, but by the majority this use is abuse. The Bible is used for speculation. The Bible is used to justify human activity. The Bible is used to support causes. The Bible is used as a spare tire, only when people are in trouble. The Bible is used like an epiphany, a genie, and a myth.

What I am finding, day by day, is that the simple and unchanging word of God has become my strength. The commands have built my fortress. The accounts of its history have become my heritage. The love of God, communicated within its pages has become my heartbeat. The story of Jesus has become my theme.

There is nothing more important in life, than to take some time to read what God has written. There will be many things I will regret doing in my lifetime. But one thing I know for certain, I will never regret even one second I have spent in God's Holy Word.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." ~ Romans 1:16-17

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just Where Do You Think You’re Going?

When Paul wrote to Galatia he immediately addressed a problem many still have today: walking away. He said in Galatians 1:6, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to another gospel.” During this time, Judaizers had come into the church at Galatia to persuade the members to trade in their new-found Christian liberty for the old bondage of the law. It seems as though they were having success, appealing to those who were still babes in Christ to turn back to the familiar comforts of the law.
In essence, Paul asked the Galatians, “Just where do you think you’re going? Why are you going back to an imperfect way?” Paul reminded them that salvation was founded through the grace of God in Christ Jesus. God had constructed a plan through his love and grace to redeem mankind, because the law was insufficient, temporary, and only a tool to bring Israel and the rest of the world to the time of the saving Messiah (3:24,25). Justification came through faith and obedience to the plan God worked through Christ. The new and living way was to be the only way!
Sometimes don’t we act just like the Galatians? Isn’t it true that although called by the gospel we often end up obeying laws of imperfection that once left us condemned? How often do we commit sins that we’ve committed once before? How often are we persuaded to live according to worldly concepts that we should have once and for all abandoned for Him?
How sad God must be when one who has obeyed the truth falls back into sin and fails to reestablish a relationship with Him. Such are like the thorny soil (Matt. 13:22), who let cares and deceitfulness choke out the message of salvation. Also as the rocky soil (Matt. 13:20,21), some may receive the word with joy, but endure only for a while. When tribulation and persecution arise they leave the faith, because the word had not taken root in their hearts.
Why do we seek for help in the wrong places (Matt. 6:33)? What do we think we’ll solve if we leave the Lord? During Christ’s ministry some of His disciples went away and walked with Him no more (John 6:66). Jesus then asked the twelve if they wanted to leave as well. Peter said correctly, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68).
If we are going to live eternally with our God we have to grow ever nearer to Him. The only way is in Jesus (John 14:6). God has left us the means to stay in that way (John 14:4). If you choose another path, just where do you think you’re going?