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