Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Precious Gift for Two Girls

This article has a video of a very special gift for two sisters whose father was in Iraq. Click here. You may have to scroll up to the top of the page to view the clip. I hope you enjoy it.

Due to the holidays, I may take a little time off from the blog until after Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Years.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Why Did He Drown?

Anyone who has taken the Fisher's of Men Person to Person Evangelism Course knows the answer to the question before we tell the story.

A man is in the water and he is drowning. He yells for help. A nearby boater gets to him and says, "Get in!" He pushes the boat away and says, "Leave me alone." Another boater gets to the scene and throws a life vest to the man. He throws it back saying, "I don't want that. Can't you see I'm drowning?" In the meantime, a man on the bank had a rope from his campsite, and he throws it to the man saying, "Grab the rope and I'll pull you to shore!" The man pushed the rope away also. The two boaters witnessed the whole ordeal with shock and disbelief. Before they could get to the man to rescue him, the man had gone under for the last time and he drowned. Now comes the question. Why did he drown?

It was not because he rejected every attempt to rescue him. It was not even because he may have wanted to drown. The only reason this man drowned is because he was in the water.

What does this mean to us?

A man was dying in sin. He asked for help from many of his acquaintances. There were some who befriended him and invited him to church. Some from the Church tried to talk to him about his soul. Others showed him a real Christian example and encouraged him to do what was right. They taught him about God's love and Jesus' sacrifice. They made sure he understood what grace was all about and the necessity of accessing that grace (Romans 5:2) by obedience to the Gospel of Christ. But, that man simply rejected the Gospel. He was a good man, but he just would not make that commitment to the Lord. Eventually he died, and he was lost for eternity. Now we can ask a similar question. Why was he lost? The answer is not because he rejected the Gospel. It was because he was in sin.

Today we must realize that the world's greatest problem isn't global warming or a nuclear Iran. The world's greatest problem is sin. It always has been and always will be. Sin will destroy many people for all eternity. Jesus said, "If you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). There are people all around us who are "in sin." We must renew our sense of urgency in carrying the Gospel to a lost and dying world!

Friday, December 7, 2007

More Good Information on Leadership!

I saw this on SlideShare and thought is went well with the recent series I did on "How Do You Spell Leadership". There are some excellent thoughts in this "Little Book." I hope you enjoy and benefit from it.

Little Book of Leadership Powerpoint

From: PhilDourado, 1 month ago

Powerpoint version of the free ebook The Little Book of Leadership, from www.TheLeadershipHub.com . PDF version also available

SlideShare Link

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership? #10


It is only appropriate that the last installment in our series on leadership be about perseverance. God's leader must stand and continue to stand. Consider Nehemiah, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul and many others. They all had one thing in common--- Perseverance.

Of course, the tough thing about perseverance is that it takes courage and conviction. What's more is that it can be fortified with prayer. As a matter of fact, it must also be fortified with faith.

Just remember Ephesians 6:13. "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership? #9

Interested in the Future.

We need more dreamers among our elders today. Yet, many people don't like that. Remember what Joseph's brothers said about him? "Behold that dreamer cometh" (Genesis 37:19). Bottom line -- leaders must have vision because without it we go nowhere.

Do you remember the story about the little boy who wrote an essay for his teacher? The essay was to be about what the boy wanted to be in 20 years. The little boy wrote that he wanted among other things a 2000 acre ranch and a 4000 square foot house. When he got the paper back from the teacher, he had been given an "F". The teacher said the little boy's essay was unattainable because he was so poor and he came from a low income family. However, the teacher did tell the young man that he could take the paper home and rewrite it and she would change the grade. When the boy took the paper back to the teacher, it had not been edited at all. He looked the teacher in the eye and said, "You keep the "F" and I'll keep my dreams." As the story goes, the little boy surpassed his dreams and the aging teacher took her class to his huge ranch every year for a field trip so they could see how important their dreams were.

Leaders need to set goals for the future. We also need to set objectives to reach those goals. When someone climbs stairs, they do it one step at a time. No one goes from the bottom of the stairs to the top in one step. Furthermore, God's leaders need to always look to the future. They need to be forward looking. Technology is also an important aspect of this vision. We need to take full advantage of the blessings that are available to us today and tomorrow.

Be result oriented! Sometimes it is not a question of what works, but what works best. The leader must identify what needs to be accomplished. Then he must forget what doesn't work or is just mediocre, and keep what works best to glorify God and save the souls of the lost.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership? #8

Handle God's Word

Obviously, we cannot go into much detail on this point. However, just as Hosea wrote "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6), we need to take the need for the knowledge of God's Word seriously today.

Many passages teach this importance. There is the need to "search the scriptures" (Acts 17:11). There is the need to "rightly divide the Word" (2 Timothy 2:15). There is the need to "grow in knowledge" (2 Peter 3:18). There is the need to be "filled with knowledge" (Col. 1:9-10).

What happens when God's leaders lack knowledge? The answer is often seen in two extremes. First, some become liberal in their dealings with the Word. In other words, they go beyond the Will of God. Second, some become traditionalist. What I mean by this is that they do things based solely on the way they have seen things done in the past. An example of this can be seen in the old practice of covering the emblems of the Lord's Supper with some kind of cloth before it is served. Of course, this was done to keep flies off the emblems in the days before air conditioners. Yet, some people attached spiritual significance to the old covering. They did this not based on scripture, but based on their tradition.

Paul summed this up best when he wrote to Timothy saying, "Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16).

Friday, November 23, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership? #7


Solomon once said, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32). Napoleon said there are two forces in the world - the sword and the spirit. He also said the spirit can always defeat the sword.

Although this is a qualification for an elder (2 Timothy 3:2), it also applies to all Christians. As a matter of fact, all but about four of the qualifications of elders apply to every Christian. This is the "temperance"(KJV) or self-control which is one of what we call the Christian graces (2 Peter 1:6). Of course, this is something that must be learned by most of us. The brothers James and John were called "Sons of Thunder", but now John is known as "the Apostle of Love." We must all work on this in our own lives.

A leader must be in control of body and mind. This does not mean he is not passionate, but he is always in control. There is an old quote that I have seen in church bulletins for years. It goes like this... "A man is like steel. It he loses his temper he is useless." There is simply no room for a short fuse in the Christian's life.

How can one lead others if he is not in control of himself?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dianne and Derek Pickens

Here are some pictures from the wedding. Everyone from the Central Church of Christ helped make it a very special day for us and our children. We also enjoyed getting to know Derek's family. They are such wonderful people. Dianne and Derek are now living in Wichita. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

How Do You Spell Leadership? #6


Even when there is a disagreement over a matter of judgment, a leader must be able to disagree without being "disagreeable." We find an example of this with Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:39. They had a sharp contention over whether or not they should take Mark on the next trip. They decided to go on separate trips. However, we later find Paul asking for Mark by name and saying he was profitable to him for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).

Respect must exist for there to be genuine concern for others. The leader must be friendly and practice hospitality. These will go a long way to helping one to be respectful to others.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Wedding!

Our daughter, Dianne, will be getting married Friday, November 16, in Wichita, Kansas. I may not be able to make another post for a few days. When we get back I will have some wedding pictures for the blog. We will see you then!

How Do You Spell Leadership? #5


The ability to encourage others is a fundamental part of leadership. This encouragement takes different forms according to the need that must be met. Notice, for example, 1 Thessalonians 5:14. "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men" (KJV). Here we find that the unruly need to be warned, the feebleminded need to be comforted, the weak need to be supported, and leaders must be patient toward all men.

A boss can force someone to work with threats. However, a leader can make a person work because they want to . They come to appreciate and enjoy the work. I once read a story about how General Eisenhower would tell his officers to push a string which was on the table before them. Of course, the string would just pile up in front of them. Yet, when he told them to pull the string, it straightened out and followed along behind their hands. At this moment, Eisenhower would make his point about leading others. The ability to encourage others is a powerful part of the art of leadership.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Doniphan Give Away Day

Saturday, November 3rd, we had a clothing Give Away Day in Doniphan. Everyone who came was able to pick through all the clothes that had been donated for the event, and take them for free. In addition, we gave them a color brochure about the church and they could pick through several tracts written by Allen Webster for House to House/Heart to Heart. Someone told us that this "give away" was helping them get Christmas presents for their children. I want to thank everyone who helped make this day so successful.

How Do You Spell Leadership #4

Delegate Without Ignoring Responsibilities.

Do you remember when Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, saw how Moses was trying to judge every matter for all the people of Israel (Exodus 18:13-22)? Jethro said, "So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, 'The thing that you do is not good...'" It was because one man could not do what Moses was trying to do. It was not fair to Moses or the people. Jethro gave Moses some advice. It can be summed up in one word -- DELEGATE! When the work load is spread around, so much more can be accomplished. Furthermore, that same work can be done more efficiently and effectively.

On the other hand, a leader must not ignore or neglect his responsibility. It is not good for the church or the people involved when elders expect preachers to shepherd the flock. It is not right for elders to not allow and/or expect deacons to do their jobs. Deacons can also be allowed to make some decisions within stated parameters.

Jethro's advice to Moses in Exodus 18 shows us that the art of delegating involves using a certain kind of people (21). It also demands organization and job descriptions (21). Finally, delegating means we must let them do their job (22).

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Anthony Flew Converts to Theism

Back in the 1970's, Dr. Anthony Flew debated brother Thomas B. Warren on the existence of God. Flew has now come out stating that he believes in God. Click here to read more about it . He has also written a book on the subject entitled "There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind." The book can be found online. At this point Flew considers himself a Deist, but he continues to study.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership #3

Leaders Must Be Authoritative Without Being Authoritarian.

Plato thought philosophers should rule the world. In his book "The Prince," Machiavelli said about the same thing. Even Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, had similar views concerning government.

An authoritarian believes decisions are to be made by one man or group of men presumed to know better than others what ought to be done. Yet, we must remember that no man rules the Church. We are under a monarchy. Christ is our King, and no one has the right to make his own rules or to change what the Lord has already decided.

Elders have delegated authority to rule and make decisions in matters of judgement. In other words, their job is to expedite God's law. God has already made the decisions in matters of faith. Therefore, elders do have authority, but they must always guard against becoming authoritarian.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership? #2


Enthusiasm is necessary in any worldly endeavor whether it be sports, sales, etc. God's workers must show enthusiasm or they will not attract others to Christ. Romans 12:11 tells us to "be fervent in spirit." Fervent means boiling, aglow. Ira North once said, "Enthusiasm is as powerful as dynamite and contagious as measles." Gus Nichols stated the following...

"Good preaching, soul-stirring singing, earnest prayers, all the members faithfully attending the services and abounding in good works, contribute to the making of elders and deacons (1 cor. 15:58). Some congregations are mere cemeteries in which to bury valuable talents (Matt. 25:14-30). In some places about 10% of the members are doing about 90% of the Lord's work. All Christians must work or die. It will not be easy to develop elders and deacons in a church which is filled with lukewarmness and indifference (Rev. 3:13-19). Churches need to get excited about religion, and stir one another up to good works (Heb. 10:24). The church cannot produce great men upon a diet of cold, intellectual sermons, formal prayers and songs. Such churches need to wake up and live (Eph. 5:14). The only thing many churches have learned to do effectively is to 'Quench the Spirit' (1 Thess. 5:19). Nothing will grow well in an ice house! Elders and deacons, gospel preachers, song leaders, and Bible class teachers, are best produced in the hot house of a church 'fervent in spirit.'" (from North's book "At Work for the Master" p. 65).

May we provide an atmosphere of enthusiasm in the Lord's Church so that young leaders may grow.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How Do You Spell Leadership?

This is the beginning of a series of short articles on leadership. I will use this word as an acronym. Today's blog deals with the letter "L".

What is "Leadership"? Someone once defined it as the ability to direct others to the efficient completion of a prescribed goal with a minimum of friction. Notice the three key components of this definition.
1) Direct others
2) Efficient completion
3) Minimum of friction
When all of these elements are present in the completion of a task, it is because good leadership is involved.

The Church faces a scarcity of leaders today. There are several reasons for this. Many are unaware of what they ought to do as leaders. Some are afraid to step up like Moses or the one talent man. There are those who have no foresight. The lack of training has contributed to this lack of leadership. Some are not willing to pay the price.

Obviously, something must be done to remedy this situation. First, we must realize that there is a great danger in times like this. Jotham's allegory (Judges 9) shows us that if good leaders don't step up and accept the responsibility, bad men will. Second, we must realize that nothing is going to change unless we make it change for the better. The late president Ronald Reagan once said, "I don't believe in a fate no matter what we do. But, I do believe in a fate if we do nothing."

Prepared To Preach

Last minute instructions and words of encouragement mean a great deal to us.Paul did this with Timothy. He wanted to impress him with certain truths. Among these was the importance of being prepared to preach. In 2 Timothy 2: 8, Paul told Timothy to "remember." This seems to be Paul's final exhortation in a nutshell.

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:8-10).

Paul was saying "Remember the Power of Preaching" (verse 8). The resurrection gives the gospel its power (Rom. 1:4). Just think what Christianity would be without the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:13,14,19). Paul shows us the secret to the power of preaching because what is preached has the power to save (Rom. 1:16). When you see the living Christ, you will preach the soul-saving message. You can then preach with conviction, and you will keep on preaching.

Paul was also saying "Remember the Perseverance of Preaching" (9). As powerful as the gospel is, it takes perseverance to preach it. Paul suffered in order to preach. In this verse, we see the perseverance of the man. The irony is that he preached the good news yet, suffered as an evil doer. It isn't always easy to talk to others about their spiritual condition (Ezk. 3:9). We can also see the perseverance of the message. Paul said he was in chains, yet, the Word of God was not and is not chained. Sadly, Christians can chain the Word if we change the message, or compromise it, or are ignorant of it, or hide it.

Finally, Paul was saying "Remember the Purpose of Preaching (10). Why did Paul endure all things? It was "for the elect's sake." Why? It was so that they may obtain salvation. Isn't that what it is all about? This was our Lord's purpose. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15). There is no greater purpose we can have in life!

This is a responsibility every Christian has. I'm sure Timothy always remembered the Power, the Perseverance, and the Purpose of preaching. We ought to be impressed with these facts as well. In his book "How To Build A Great Church", Mac Layton told the story of the great black scientist, George Washington Carver, who sought funding for some of his projects. He approached Andrew Carnegie for a financial gift. Carnegie listened to Carver's proposal and gave him $500 for his work. Carver thanked the philanthropist and immediately asked for another meeting. Carnegie asked why. Carver said, "Sir, I have not impressed you with the greatness of my cause." He gave the scientist another meeting and that time gave him a check for $500,000! We must be impressed with the greatness of God's message and do all we can to impress others also.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Reich's Conflict

Robert B. Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under president Bill Clinton and now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote an article about "Bush's God." Click here to see the article. Although this article was written in 2004, it serves to remind us that we are facing some great forces of secularism today. Especially notice Mr. Reich's last paragraph.

"The great conflict of the 21st century may be between the West and terrorism. But terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The underlying battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernist fanatics; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe blind allegiance to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is no more than preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe that truth is revealed solely through scripture and religious dogma, and those who rely primarily on science, reason, and logic. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism is not the only danger we face."

Notice, he says terrorism is a "tactic, not a belief." However, he ignores the radical beliefs that fuel terrorism. Reich paints with a broad brush which obviously includes Christians along with radical Muslims. Christians are not terrorists, but the secular leftists in our country today see this a an opportunity attack Christianity along with Islam. Statements such as these ought to make every Christian open his eyes to what we are facing today. Christians are in a spiritual war. We are at war against the forces of secularism, and he is on the wrong side.

Tough Decisions

Decisions are a part of everyday life, and those who make the best decisions in life will have a richer and possibly more successful life. However, making decisions is not always that easy. David found that out as one can see in 2 Samuel 11. Here you can see what a poor decision can do for you.

In 2 Samuel, we read how David looked (vs 2) when Bathsheba was bathing. He then inquired after the woman (3). Then he sent messengers to her (4). He should have stopped looking in the very beginning, but he didn't. How often does this happen today resulting in adultery, pornography, cyberporn, and even what some call cyberadultery? After David learned that Bathsheba was with child, he tried to cover up his sin by deceit and trickery (8, 12). David finally went so far that he stooped to murder (15).

Why did David make such bad decisions during this time of his life? He made his first bad decision in the passion and pressure of the moment. Just as Samson did with Deliah and Peter did when he denied Jesus, David made a snap decision without giving himself time to think it through. David also failed to consider the consequences. Of course, these consequences were severe (10-14). His decision was also hypocritical and could be considered rebellious. Why? Look at verse 4. The Bible says he lay with her for she was "purified from her uncleanness." In other words, he was careful to not break one minor Old Testament law while breaking a major one. The decision to murder was made due to David's own self-imposed restrictions which caused a state of desperation. David had a deadline to beat. He tried to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba to cover up his sin, but when Uriah would not do so David felt like he had to act quickly to keep the damage controlled. How often do we set up deadlines or get it in our heads that has to work out a certain way, and we end up making bad decisions based on a narrow perspective? Finally, missing from this passage is counsel. Why did he not seek out godly counsel in this matter? It was probably because he was trying to save face. At that time, covering up his sin was more important to David than Uriah's life. It was more important than repentance and more important than doing what was right.

What does that mean for us today?
1. We learn that we must SAFEGUARD ourselves against pressure. The best way to do this is to make up you mind what you will do before you find yourself in a tempting situation. Don't make poor decisions in the "passion of the moment."
2. STUDY (especially the consequences). We must train ourselves to think of the consequences of our actions. As the Lord said through the prophet Haggai, "Consider you ways" (Hag. 1:5,7).
3. SUBMIT to God. We must do this rather than rebel or act hypocritically (James 4). One of the best things one can do during a time of temptation is to pray.
4. SUBSTITUTE faith for self-imposed restrictions (Hebrews 11:6). It may be hard to turn things over to God, but it is always the best thing to do. Actually, the sooner we do this the better things turn out.
5. SEEK SUBSTANTIVE advice. There are times we all need advice. The key is to get good advice.

It is true that some decisions are not as important as others, but the important decisions can make or break one's life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Devil's Devices

Most people have seen pictures of the great wall of China. This wall was built to keep enemies out, but it did not work. Why? The enemy did not assault the wall, or try to destroy it. They simply bribed a gate keeper and then walked in. All of us have gates to our lives that keep Satan out. Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, "for we are not ignorant of his [Satan's] devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan has many devices which he uses to try to get into our lives.

Doubt - (James 1:6:-8) Satan delights in keeping us off balance.

Disengaged - (Lamentations 1:12) Someone once said "Hardening of the heart ages people more quickly than hardening of arteries." Satan doesn't was us to really care about other people, the Church, what the Bible really says, or our own soul's destination. As long as we don't care, he has us where he wants us.

Discouragement - (Jeremiah 20:18) What can we do when discouragement comes? When down, look up! Pray. I realize that it is easier said than done, but we must trust God during the dark times of life. Allow others to help (2 Cor. 1:4). Remember, God can do great things when we are down. In other words, keep doing what you know you can do.

Dissatisfaction - Satan doesn't want us to be content with Christ or with anything to do with Christ. That would include dissatisfaction with the Church, Christians, or the truths found in the Bible.

Division - (Psalm 133:1) Satan wants to divide and conquer. He often uses some of the other devices to get people to this point That is why the Bible has so much to say about unity and division (i.e. 1 Cor. 1:10; John 17:20-21).

Distraction - (Nehemiah 6:3) The enemies of Nehemiah tried to distract him from the good work he was doing. Of course, being the leader that he was, he did not fall for this ploy. We have a great work in the Lord's Church, but nothing brings it to a screeching halt as quickly as distraction. Too often we become bogged down in the incidentals of the work. Satan loves to see this happen.

Denial - (2 Thess. 2:11; 2 Cor. 4:3,4) Even Christians can believe a lie when we deny the sin that is in our own lives. I doubt that there is anything that has been more detrimental to the Church than Christians living impure lives.

No, we are not ignorant of the devil's devices. This is only a short list of some of his ways of getting into our lives. We must learn to avoid them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Danger of Jumping to Conclusions

I have heard that the most exercise that some people get is jumping to conclusions. Making assumptions is a tricky thing because we have to assume that we have ALL the facts. We are not omniscient; we are not God! Click here to look at a story from Texas to see why we must avoid jumping to conclusions.

Frightening Survey!

Have you ever wondered why we are witnessing the death of morality in America today? Well there is a survey that gives what I believe to be one of the reasons for today's moral decline. To see the article click here . This survey found that more people can name the seven ingredients of the Big Mac than the Ten Commandments. When people don't know about the Old Testament command "thou shalt not kill," it is no wonder that they have no problem with killing unborn babies. This is a frightening survey.

Are All "Churches of Christ" the Same?

Do you remember the "Bouncer" ads on TV not long ago. It showed what looked like a traditional type of church building, but there was a bouncer keeping some people out while only letting those who looked like a "traditional Christian" in. It was sponsored by the United Churches of Christ. Several people asked me about these commercials. There are several groups that use this name, but we use it mainly as a descriptive designation.

The Universal Church of Christ is a group that is often simply called "universalists." Some if their leaders even signed the Humanist Manifest II. Not much is heard about them today. However, reading John 5:28,29 discredits the universalist doctrine.

The United Church of Christ came to this country in 1620 on the Mayflower to escape religious persecution. We know them better as the Puritans. Later they became know as the "Congregationalists." For most of their history in this country, they pursued unity through interdenominationlism, union, or unity in diversity. They are very ecumenical. Not long ago, the news reported that they had voted 87% in favor of accepting same sex marriages. It appears that they have gone a long way since the days of the puritans.

There is also what we can call the Church of Christ (Instrumental). This is basically the same as the Christian Church. Three distinct religious movements ultimately developed from the restoration movement of the 19th century (i.e., Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and churches of Christ).

Who are we? We simply follow the Bible in all things. This is the only valid basis for religious unity. We believe the old saying, "In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; and in all things love." When Jesus promised to build "His church" (Matthew 16:18), he was saying it would belong to Him. That is what the phrase "church of Christ" means. It is His church. The Bible refers to the church in a universal sense (as in Mt. 16:18), and also in a local sense (as in "the churches of Christ" in Romans 16:16). You can read about the establishment of this church in Acts 2. This is the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to build it. He paid for it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Finally, Jesus will present it to the Father one day (Ephesians 5:27). This is the church of Christ.

It takes man and his worldly reasoning to make God's simple plan confusing and difficult to understand. We must forget what man may say and listen to God and His Word. He is the one who sent His Son. Jesus is the one who shed His blood, and only He can save us by His grace. Remember Jesus said, "He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (John 12:48).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Power of Words

Someone once said, "Thoughts are the children of one's brain, and words are the garments they wear. Too many people dress their thoughts with words that make them look like tramps." Solomon said, "Keep thy heart will all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Words are our tools of communication, and they are powerful. They can wreck homes, destroy lives, ruin businesses, and leave congregations torn asunder. Words stir human emotions and passions to great heights or horrible depths.

Words that hurt include tale bearing (Proverbs 11:13; 16:28; 18:8; 20:19). Some words are not based on facts, such as unjust criticism. Sarcasm or jesting at a serious moment can pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18). Even flattery can hurt because by its very nature it is insincere (Proverbs 26:28; 29:5).

On the other hand, there are some words that help. There are healing words (Proverbs 10:11). So many people are longing for healing words today. When passions are high and difficulties arise, stop and think, weigh words, speak and let the answer be a soft one. Some words are uplifting (Proverbs 12:25). They lighten heavy loads. Words need to be spoken in a timely fashion (Proverbs 15:22,23). Saying the right thing at the right time is an art that is learned. Words must also be skillful (Proverbs 25:11,12). The word that is "fitly spoken" is both skillful and valuable.

It takes the right kind of heart to use the right kind of words in the right way and at the right time. This is the heart all Christians must have. No wonder Solomon had so much to say about our words and the way we use them. We must also remember the words the Psalmist, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Common Expressions From An Uncommon Book

The Bible is the most influential book in the world. Yet, sometimes even Christians don't realize just how much it has influenced our culture. There are many well known sayings that come directly from the Bible ("A house divided against itself..." Matthew 12; "A little leaven... 1 Corinthians 5:6; "The salt of the earth" Matthew 5:13). Notice some saying most of us have heard, yet, many of us don't realize came from the Bible.

"The Skin of My Teeth"
"My bone cleaves to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth" (Job 19:20). Do you ever feel that life is overwhelming you? Job knows how you feel and then some. He didn't even know how he was still alive. However, God will see us through even though we don't know how.

"A Fly in the Ointment"
"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor" (Eccl. 10:1). One moments sin can cause a lifetime of heartache. We must be careful that we don't "sacrifice the day for the hour." Don't let one moment's indiscretion wipe out a lifetime of righteous living.

"A Drop in the Bucket"
"Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance; he takes up the isles as a very little thing" (Isaiah 40:15). Here the insignificance of the nations of the earth are compared to the immensity of God. How many times have nations tried to destroy God's people or overthrow God's purpose? The only success the nations ever had was when God allowed it because His people brought it on themselves due to their disobedience. Remember, God is in control and He is able to accomplish His will.

"The Leopard Cannot Change Its Spots"
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may you also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" (Jeremiah 13:23). When all is said and done, people are still prone to sin. Temptation plagues us all. Yet, this does not mean man cannot change. It means we will always have the same struggles. Therefore, we must never let our guard down.

"The Apply of My Eye"
This is found in Dueteronomy 32:10, Psalm 17:8, and Proverbs 7:2. The apple is a metaphor for the pupil of the eye, and it is associated with a person or thing that is highly valued. In other words, you are the apple of God's eye, and that means you are precious to Him. We in return must make His law and His will the apple of our eye.

Don't live your life by the "skin of your teeth" because of the "flies in the ointment" of your life. Remember that the powers of this world are but a "drop int he bucket" compared to God's power. Furthermore, just as the "leopard cannot change his spots," we may stumble along the way, but we can always rejoice that we are "the apple of God's eye."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Herod's Quarry

Here is a little more about biblical history. Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the quarry from which the stones for Herod's Temple were taken. Click here to read the article. I just thought it was interesting.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Old Friends

Courtney and I just spent a wonderful short weekend with some old friends (we decided to call each other long-time friends rather than "old" friends). We went to Arkansas to visit Tim and Nancy Head and their family. After going out to eat, we went to see their two youngest sons, Brian and Tyler, play football at their homecoming game. Their oldest son, Jimmy, also came home for the evening from medical school, and we were joined by Nancy's mother, Mrs. Effie. Courtney and I have known Nancy about all our lives, and we have known Tim for over 20 years. It is amazing how we can go 3 or 4 years between visits with this special Christian family and simply pick right up where we left off as if we had seen them yesterday. Times like this make the promise of heaven even sweeter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spirituality #3

One of the great dangers any army faces is attrition. Christians can suffer from attrition as well. That is why we can't take spirituality for granted. Today we will take a look at the dangers facing the Christian's spiritual life.

Worldliness or the works of the flesh is a real enemy of spirituality (Galatians 5:16-17). Of course, the flesh and spirit are always at war against one another (Romans 7). Paul even told us that our battle is against "spiritual wickedness" (Ephesians 6:12).

Take a moment to consider some signs of spiritual decline. I found this list in the Brownsville Church of Christ bulletin from when Howell Ferguson was the minister there. I do want to change that list up a little bit. Remember Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck" jokes? Well, I would like to say it this way... You Might Be In Spiritual Decline If...
1. You dislike religious conversations or company of Christians (1 Cor. 15:33).
2. Stay away from worship by willful choice (Heb. 10:25).
3. Worry more about a clean conscience than a clean heart.
4. Fear being called "over-strict" more than honoring Jesus Christ.
5. Trifle with temptation or think lightly of sin (2 Tim. 2:22).
6. Condemn in others what you tolerate in yourself.
7. Impatient and unforgiving toward others (Mt. 6:15).
8. Confess but don't forsake sin.
9. Shrink from self-examination (1 Cor. 13:5).
10. When you "strain out the gnat and swallow the camel."

Just remember, spiritual decline, unabated, will always result in spiritual death. What does it mean to be spiritually dead? It means to have stopped trying. It means to have stopped feeling. It means to have stopped thinking. It means to have stopped repenting. May we do all we can to avoid spiritual decline and spiritual death.

I hope you have benefited from these posts about spirituality as much as I have by writing them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spirituality #2

In Galatians 6:1, Paul said, "...those who are spiritual...." In the last post, we took a look at what spirituality is not. But, who are these people?

A popular definition of the term is "believing in the unseen realm of spirits and being devoted to a system of feeling and/or acting based on the acceptance of those unseen realities." By this definition, animist or Buddhist who meditate for hours are spiritual. Also, Muslims who want to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam is spiritual. However, the Christian must discover and accept God's meaning for biblical terms. "Spiritual" is the adjective form of the noun "spirit." "Spirit has a very broad usage, such as, breath, wind, angels, feelings, will, demons, the quality of life, and man's inner being. When Jesus gave us a description of God, He said, "God is a spirit" (John 2:24). It is from this particular meaning of spirit as related to God that the term spiritual gets its primary New Testament meaning (One exception is Ephesians 6:12). "Spiritual" means "of, or pertaining to, God." It applies to a number of things reflecting a divine connection: the Law of Moses (Romans 7:14); The gospel (Romans 15:27); Reveled truth (1 Corinthians 2:13, 9:14; Power of miraculous gifts (Romans 1:11); Blessings (Ephesians 1:3); Songs (Ephesians 5:19, Col. 3:16). Throughout the New Testament it is apparent that when an inspired writer wanted to lift the reader to the God standing behind those things which have touched or can touch one's life, he used the term spiritual.

Paul made a distinction between those who are spiritual and those who are babes (1 Corinthians 2:14-3:1). He showed that it is an attitude toward revealed truth (1 Corinthians 14:37). Being spiritual has its reality in objective Bible truth and the manner in which a person opens his heart to it. This is how spirituality comes into one's life. Thus, being spiritual is not only to receive, but to LIVE according to the will of Christ (Galatians 5:19-61). The spiritual person of Galatians 6:1 is one who is busy maturing the qualites of personality possessed by Jesus and expressing them in service.

How can you know when one is spiritual? It is anyone who believes Bible truth and conforms his life to it. The degree to which one meets these criteria determines spirituality. Spirituality is not simply an "emotional high." As a matter of fact, Jesus recognized the fact that we may become tired and emotionally drained (Mark 6:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8, 4:8).

Hebrews 5:12-14 is a key passage to becoming more spiritual. It has to do with work and maturity. There is a need for food (personal Bible study). There is a need for exercise (constant use of what one learns). Of course, we must also claim God's help (Hebrews 4:16).

Imagine two Christians. One does a great deal of talking about the love of God. He gives an impressive discussion of Christianity using beautiful expressions of faith. The other is very quiet. When someone needs help, when one is discouraged, when one needs guidance, when one is wandering away, HE IS THERE! Which of these two is the spiritual person? It is one thing to talk a good game, but spirituality will put these things into practice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spirituality #1

In Galatians 6:1, Paul speaks of those who are "spiritual." This indicates that there is a state of being which is called "spiritual." But, what is spirituality? Many don't understand this basic New Testament concept, and therefore, we will take time in the next few posts to discuss it. In order to better understand spirituality, our first study will be a discussion of what it is not.

A spiritual person is not one with warm feelings or great emotions. Yes, emotion is inherent in Christianity, but it is not based on pure emotion (Isaiah 1:18; John 6:44,45; Romans 10:17). Spirituality is also based on learning and reason. We would do well to remember that emotions can't always be trusted because they are not necessarily based on evidence or truth. It is also very easy to manipulate one's emotions.

A spiritual person is not one who does a lot of talking about their own dedication. Some people act as if saying that they are something makes it true. Didn't Jesus condemn those who made a show of their "spirituality" (Matthew 6:7)?

A spiritual person is not one who only keeps negative commands. It is not enough simply to keep the "Thou shalt not's." There is more to obeying Jesus than just not doing some things. There are also things we must do. What about the Great Commission? What about brotherly love (Hebrews 13:1)? What about benevolence (James 1:27)? As Christians, we must take the initiative to do what Christ would have us to do.

A spiritual person does not use some mechanical process to become so. There is not a book or CD on "How to Become Spiritual In Five Minutes a Day." Well there might be, but I would doubt its effectiveness. I once received a letter stating that if I would carry some kind of cross in my pocket, I would prosper spiritually. Of course, they also wanted money. What we need is to get the crosses out of our pockets and into our lives (Luke 9:23). This is a 24/7 proposition.

A spiritual person is not spasmodic in living the Christian life. This is the on again/off again type of Christianity. A spiritually minded person doesn't try to take it on and off like clothes. They don't push a button to turn their spirituality on and off.

A spiritual person is not produced by baptism. Of course, this is when one is added to the body of Christ (Galatians 3:27). This is when one becomes a Christian, but he is also a babe in Christ (1 Peter 2:2). Yes, a Christian is a spiritual being, but growth is necessary (Hebrews 5:12-14).

A spiritual person is not necessarily one who is faithful in attendance. All spiritual people are faithful, but not all faithful people are spiritual. Faithfulness is a stepping stone to spirituality. An individual can be faithful in attendance and unfaithful in living the Christian life.

Finally, a spiritual person is not one who lives without relying on Christ. Even Paul recognized this (Philippians 4:13). We find our strength in Him (Ephesians 6:10). If you want to be spiritual, depend on the Lord.

Just being a good person or even faithful in some aspects of Christianity doesn't make one spiritual. There is so much more to it. My next post will deal with what spirituality is. Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Scientology On Trial

A prosecutor in Belgium is charging Scientology as a criminal organization in that country. Click here to read the article. One thing a reader might find helpful is a brief history and explanation of Scientology at the end of the article.

However, as interesting as the article is, it doesn't compare to the comments that follow it. Just scroll down and read what has been posted. It is amazing how much people hate "religion." Especially notice comments numbered 37 and 40. They give an idea of what many of the other comments are saying. These are not representative of all the comments, but they do show a strong tendency against religion as a whole. One person said truth is personal, and, therefore, no one should try to convince anyone else of their truth. Question: Why is he telling us this? Doesn't that violate his own rule that he should not try to convince us that he is right about his "personal truth."

First, unlike some of the people commenting on that article, I don't believe religion (even false religion) should be banned. Why? God even put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He gave man a choice for a reason. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating false religion, but I am acknowledging that people must make choices.

Second, a counterfeit always implies that there is a genuine article. In other words, if there are counterfeit religions, there must be a genuine religion. Man has always had a tendency to change God's way of doing things (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23).

Finally, we must get back to simple the Christianity of the New Testament. We need to preach Jesus just like Philip did when he was with the Ethiopian (Acts 8). Of course, that means one must preach all of His Word. The problem that so many have with religion today isn't really with religion in general as much as it is with the religious people who give it a bad name. Thus, we are challenged to be the best Christians we can be so that the world can see what real Christianity is all about (Matthew 5:16).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Great Day In Doniphan

Last Sunday was a great day for the Doniphan Church of Christ. Bruce Gobbell did the preaching. Bruce was the perfect choice as speaker for the day since he served this congregation two different times. First, he was here in the late 1950's and the early 1970's. It was also good to see so many people who had formerly been members. Here are some pictures from the day.

Thank you for making this a special day for so many!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Indestructible Truth

They burned the truth in the market place and thought their work complete;
But next day, with a smiling face, they met it on the street.

They threw it in a dungeon damp, and thought it was no more;
But lo, it walked with lighted lamp among them as before.

They scorned and ostracized it, and ordered it to depart;
But still it dwelt in all the land and challenged every heart.

-- Flynn (via Glad Tidings of Good Things, Jacksonville Church of Christ)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nine Steps To Building Relationships

Romans 12 is one of those treasure troves of Bible study. This post focuses on our relationships with "one and another." If we could sum up Romans 12:9-21, it would have to be with the word "love." As a matter of fact, that love among brethren is one of the greatest determining factors when it comes to church growth. Here Paul gives us 9 steps for building relationships with brethren.

1. Be Genuine (vs 9). "Let love be with hypocrisy." When we begin to talk about people in private the way we treat them in public, it will go a long way to building better relationships.

2. Be Careful Of Other's Needs (10). We are to be "affectionate to one another." In other words, we should treat them in a kind and loving way.

3. Be Contagious With Enthusiasm (11). We are to be "fervent in spirit." Ira North use to say "Enthusiasm is as contagious as the measles and as powerful as dynamite."

4. Be Positive, Patient, And Prayerful (12). This is a natural response to verse 11. The only way we can keep rejoicing in hope and being patient in troubles is to continue in prayer.

5. Open Your Heart And Home To Others (13). Hospitable people make life so much more beautiful. Opening one's home is like opening their heart.

6. Never Speak Evil Or Negative Of A Brother (14). "Bless and curse not" does not leave much leeway does it? God has always condemned backbiting and murmuring. This kind of thing can destroy the church.

7. Be Sympathetic To Each Other's Feelings (15). This will help us avoid the problem of indifference toward others.

8. Avoid Pride And Partiality (16). Look around when you are assembled with the church. Is there a member with whom you have a problem associating? Then you may want to work on this area of your life.

9. Let God Handle The Justice (17-21). When we seek revenge, we have to put ourselves in the place of God because we don't have all knowledge in order to truly be just. Another thing about letting God handle the justice is that it forces us to depend completely on Him.

May we always strive to build better relationships in the local church.