Don’t you love this strong admonition of Solomon’s? Often we hear moaning and groaning that Christians are not doing their duty. We might have even joined in such a tirade. To some this explains why the Lord’s church seems to be dwindling in our time or that preachers or brethren in general will not take a stand for the truth as they should. Some get so depressed they seem to have in common the woeful sentiment Elijah expressed, “…And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1Kings 19:4a) I hope we do not actually go this far when we are discouraged. No doubt many of God’s children are content to be “sluggards.” But I have noticed a peculiar thing about those complaining and that is they are not talking about their own personal efforts but are mostly bemoaning that others are not doing enough or we blame others for causing our state of mind. Continue reading » “Go to the Ant, Thou Sluggard” – Proverbs 6:6
Curiously, the two letters, D. V. are often found at the end of letters written in Eighteenth Century and older correspondence of some very famous people, just after the post script of their hand written correspondence. The “D” and the “V” stand for two Latin words, “Deo Volente” which simply means “if God wills.” By this means, whatever was communicated in the letter, the author trusts, can only happen if God wills it to happen. If this expression is not used simply as a habit with no thought given to its obvious worth, this shows an obvious and faithful subjection to God’s will and the true desire of the one who has remembered to express this to the one being written. The real strength and good that comes from such a thing is that this shows the correct dependence upon God for not just our well-being but also our planned actions in this life. I would like for us to think for a few minutes about what God says about our need to trust and depend upon Him more. Continue reading » Always Trust And Depend Upon God
Psalms 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
There is a feature that most of us put a lot of stock in. This is that any maker, whether he or she be an architect, painter, sculptor, potter, metal smith, gunsmith, jeweler; any of these, will usually leave their mark upon their creations. Their seal or stamp or signature assures the owner of its authenticity and worth; it’s very quality. Usually when we know who made a thing it tells us a lot of things we want to know about the thing itself and of its standards of usefulness or quality. A valuable and very fine Rembrandt, Vermeer, or a Matisse or even a Picasso can be authenticated by the artist’s signature and if the painting lacks such an identifying mark, then it is usually worthless. We look for those identifying marks to know whose it is. Continue reading » The Maker’s Mark
(2 Corinthians 3:3, “clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”)
What possessions do I really need? Something I have come to realize is that my little Cambridge New Testament is my constant companion. So, I guess I need it. I have many other Bibles that are finer, with more features, but this one is convenient and is “well trained” by usage and handling. Using Power Point presentations in sermons for many years now, and knowing how effective imagery like that can be in preaching, there is still something to be said about standing before an audience to preach the word with no aids at all but a faithful Bible like this without fear of the power going out! I have it with me always and get kind of panicky if I misplace it. Ask most preachers and you will find that my little quirk is not so rare.
My grandfather told me about forty years ago he never travelled without at least $200.00 in his wallet and advised me to always do the same. That advice seems quaint, now. My father had favorite Bibles, too, but never left the house without his pocket knife and I have rued the times I have not heeded his practical advice. Then there is American Express which apparently does not think much about Bibles because they tell us never to leave home without their credit card! On the subject of having a few key things, laughingly I remember just a bit of a wacky poem by Jeff Cooper (now deceased, an old master of skills-at-arms) which goes, “…ain’t many troubles that a man cain’t fix, with seven hundred dollars and his thirty ought six.” That is just a little bit more prepared than I usually need to be for the life I have chosen, but you get the idea!
The better part of wisdom seems to indicate that a few material things, like Bibles (!) might be very useful to have. I was just looking at my two large suitcases containing everything I will need while I am here in India teaching classes for preacher students half a world away from my home, when another stray thought came to mind. What struck me was an old Latin quote of all things, which has rattled around in the kind of cobwebby areas of the old cranium for a long time. “Omnia mea mecum porto.” If you are not familiar with this quote, please allow me to explain further. I remembered it, believe it or not from my scouting days, as it is one of the wise sayings supporting the concept of “Be Prepared,” the famous motto of the Boy Scouts. And then learning in adulthood where the quote is derived, I now am rounding out my comprehension and hope you too will appreciate it.
Not really all that obscure, the great Seneca of Rome wrote (in his Epistulae Morales 9.18-19), about a remark made by the highly esteemed Greek philosopher, Stilpon (c. 380-300 B.C.). His home city of Megara was besieged and destroyed, not untypically, by the army of a fellow Greek, named Demetrius (nicknamed Poliorcetes, because he was a destroyer of cities). Perhaps, wishing to gloat a bit, Demetrius did not assault him, but did verbally confront Stilpon as the venerable thinker calmly walked away from his city in total ruin, the flames of the burning city leaping high in the sky behind him. Sadly, he had lost the city of his birth, his home and his family, a disaster which almost no one could ever recover.
Noticing that Stilpon had nothing with him but what was on his back and nothing in his hands, Demetrius sardonically asked him if he had lost anything. Stilpon calmly said, “I carry all my property about me.” In other words, “I have lost nothing.” Stunned, this made Demetrius actually doubt whether he had really conquered anything. Seneca writing of this historic statement interpreted Stilpon’s remark, in Latin, as “Omnia mea mecum porto,” or “All of my goods are with me”: justice, virtue, prudence, the very fact that he considered nothing good that could be snatched away; material things being transient and impermanent but the classical Greek principles he revered were in the mind and character of the man.
What we have here is the concept of the man who is fully furnished with all he needs, within his heart or mind. The Book of Proverbs says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” (23:7a). Naturally, this made me think, standing there looking at the two bags, what if this was all I had in the whole wide world? And this reminded me of Paul’s words in, 2 Timothy 3:15, to his son in the spirit, Timothy, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” All of us who have taken the Lord’s word to heart like this and have lived with the word for a long time appreciate anyone else who is dedicated to the scriptures and have made them at home in our hearts. But even more this passage tells us 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
As Christians we know that nothing we accumulate here will travel with us to the next life except what resides in the heart or soul. Matthew 6:19-20, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Yes, I can conclude; I have everything I need right inside my heart.
“Christians Must Fight” by Foy Wallace, Jr.
“The spirit of pacificism is taking the fight out of the church. But the conflict between truth and error is unending. Victory does not come by truce. God’s terms are unconditional surrender…The church grew when the fight was waged and the battle raged. When the let up came in the fight, the let down came in the church. It is said that the sectarians do not fight anymore. That is because the church has quit fighting and they have nothing to fight. If gospel preachers will fight now as they fought then…and truth will triumph as it did then. Shall we yield to the line of least resistance, or shall we challenge error in its strongholds and citadels?”
(Why did I choose to “resurrect” such a statement that is more than 50 years old? We must observe from this quote a certain truth: this sentiment is rare in our time of extreme tolerance. Times have changed and many among us have changed with it. When the preaching of the gospel is done in our time, it is very rare to hear preachers express their desire to be militant in their expression of the gospel. No one relishes the concept of “fighting” in any religious sense today. Continue reading » Quote From the Past:
I knew a wonderful Christian once upon a time who had a saying I have never forgotten. He would say it pensively and reflectively when referring to good, decent people he knew, some of them relatives, who were not Christians and who attended some denominational church. Quite sadly, he would declare: “They are in the right pew, but the wrong church!” Continue reading » Doing the First Works: Right Pew, Wrong Church?
Just one of several weird Catholic doctrines easy to biblically refute:
When I was a young teen I remember some younger friends of my sister’s whose families lived in our neighborhood and were Catholic, some of Irish and some of Italian backgrounds. While very decent people morally they were steeped in the culture of Catholicism both in practice and in mythology. One of the myths that made quite an impression upon us was their belief in “transubstantiation;” which is the belief that in the Catholic communion the bread and fruit of the vine are miraculously changed into the flesh and blood of Christ. Continue reading » Doing the First Works: Transubstantiation
Christians from the very beginning have had to decide whether or not to honor the holiday observations of religions other than that of Christ. That first generation of Christians, being Jews, were confounded by the insistence of some that they continue to observe the “laws and ordinances” of the law of Moses. But this was soon answered by the apostles (Acts 15:24-31; Ephesians 2 15; Galatians 5:6) who plainly defined the old law as dead. Therefore the observation of special days and practices under the old law were now only matters of indifference. Continue reading » Doing the First Works: Observing Religious Holidays?
Did You Know That All Of The Conversions In The New Testament Are Found In The Book of Acts?
A very excellent fact to know is that all of the cases of conversion are very conveniently found in the Book of Acts. Added to this is the fact that all of these cases of conversion mention baptism. The prevailing denominational views of course minimize or eliminate the need for actual baptism over variations of grace only salvation.
I have rejoiced many times to see the happy amazement of so many Christians when this basic help to their understanding is revealed to them. They almost hate to admit that such an obvious truth has been right in front of them all along. But now that they know about it, they are thrilled with prospects of easier access, less bumbling and confusion on their part when they are attempting to convert the lost.
Continue reading » Doing the First Works: New Testament Conversions
From the biblical standpoint it seems very obvious that it has always been God’s aim to have His children be humble and unadorned by the typical failings of status conscious man. We are reminded of Job 32:21-22, where we read, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. (22) For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.”
Even the dire warning found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, has the strong teaching that this prophecy will come to be because of the vanity and ego of man; “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Such a desire to be exalted by other men is wicked and the Lord has been clear in His commands concerning this very thing (Matthew 23:8-11, “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”).
Continue reading » The Titles of Clergy: Are Gospel Preachers Pastors?
Once upon a time, in perhaps another world (sometimes it seems like it to me!), I received my income by secular employment. That’s right; because I did not begin to work with a church as a located preacher till I was almost 30. During my early adult years I was not the Lord’s man and by that I don’t mean I was not a Christian because I was, but only in the sense that I received no financial support from the church for doing the work of preaching the gospel. Of course, gospel preachers are entitled to receive such support and usually depend upon it for their livelihood (as did Paul the apostle: Philippians 4:15&16; 2 Corinthians 11:8; Acts 28:30). For me the change from secular work to being dependent upon the Lord for a livelihood was really quite great. But there is more to this idea and I’d like to bring you to my point by explaining how I come to this.
Continue reading » "Are You On the Guerdon of the Lord?"
Insomnia, or the inability to get enough sleep during the night is a problem that many have. If we don’t get enough sleep it can cause all kinds of difficulties and our health suffers, too. We should first make certain there is not a medical problem that we are dealing with. If it is a medical matter we need to see a doctor for diagnosis. Some practical advice is not to have caffeine in any form after four in the afternoon because it takes at least six hours for its effects to wear off. It is often the culprit when we go to sleep just fine, but awake in the wee hours and we are then unable to sleep more; that is such a miserable thing to endure.
However, true insomnia is sometimes caused by other reasons. The Lord knows we need sleep and that it is a comfort to us as well. The word of God actually addresses this subject quite a bit. Let us consider some things that He wants us to know about sleep:
Continue reading » Blessed Sleep
This past January 2010, I had the pleasure of joining Joe Price and Dan Torres with a number of Indian brethren in Bangalore, South India to teach classes to more than 120 liberal gospel preachers who expressed interest in leaving their institutional backgrounds. Having never preached or taught the gospel of Christ in another country I found the experience much more rewarding than I ever would have thought. I would like to highly recommend the potential and the validity of this extraordinary effort that after following this work from its inception from afar I have now had the chance to witness it and join in to do my part.
Of course, Joe Price had been on four previous trips to India and Dan Torres had been previously as well, so I was the new guy. This work was originally pioneered by Bobby Holmes and Stan Cox back in 2004 and faithful brethren had come nearly every year in the intervening years. On my trip I was filling in for Bobby, who requested me to come to fill in for him, since his health has become perilous and he has decided because of the sometimes difficult aspects of such travels he cannot return. Bobby has been indefatigable through his many trips to India and his devotion to the spread of the truth throughout India is unquestioned. In fact, if you spend some time with Bobby you will learn that his enthusiasm for India is infectious!
Continue reading » India – Teaching Liberal Preachers Sound Doctrine
Many years ago, while living in Houston we were awakened in the middle of the night by police officers banging on our apartment door and bedroom window. Bewildered and bleary eyed I opened the door to hear the cause of all the uproar from one of the officers who explained that most of the cars in the parking places out front had been broken into and burglarized.
The good news was that they had caught the guy and had him handcuffed and subdued in the backseat of one of the police cruisers. When I got a good look at him I noticed that he was about my age at that time; early twenties. The police wanted all those folks they had awakened and who had been robbed to identify and reclaim any items the thief had taken from their cars. As I looked over that jumbled pile of stuff the guy had broken out car windows to get at, I was amazed at the inexplicable collection of junk he had stolen. There were Tupperware containers, pots and pans, old style portable transistor radios, dirty pillows, auto parts, gear shift knobs (!),..well you get the idea. Pathetically, my plastic lunch box, hard hat, and yes, my car’s gear shift knob, were there, too. Everyone having gotten their belongings, the police hauled off the inept thief to the pokey. We all went back to bed shaking our heads at such a stupid and out of control person. The driver’s side window of my work car had been smashed by him and as I later found out would cost a little over $300.00 to replace. The deductible on my insurance for such matters was $250.00, naturally.
Continue reading » "…Let None of You Suffer…As a Thief"
My parents gave us a great old Electrolux vacuum cleaner as one of our wedding gifts long ago. Even though it does not see much use these days we still have it and I marvel at its design. The chrome and stainless steel Electrolux nearly screams Buck Rogers in its science fiction spaceship design which hails back to the middle of the last century.
One of the most peculiar things I have noticed about the old Electrolux is if one holds the nozzle close to ones mouth when speaking, it seems to suck a great deal of the sound of the words right down that long hose! It is a strange observation and I have amused a lot of kids with that little trick over the years. Sound waves are dependant on air to be carried and like shouting into the wind voices are carried away with the air.
Maybe we have felt this way in another way, too. Have you ever said to yourself, with a degree of resignation, “Oh, what’s the use? No matter what I say or do, my spiritual efforts for the Lord will always be misunderstood and unappreciated by others. It seems just like shouting into an old vacuum cleaner!” That while others do relatively little, and you at least labor on, you are not respected nor recognized by them. We must realize that it will always be like that. Though it is gladly received when it rarely happens, we must not ever become dependant upon others to be spiritually buoyed. What we must rely upon and must fully realize is that the Lord is always there and we can access Him in prayer and He not only listens to us but gives us the help and encouragement we so often desperately need.
At such times we should remember what scripture has to say in wonderfully encouraging ways: Isaiah 41:14, “I will help thee, saith the Lord.” 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
There is even more: Psalms 8:1-4, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Just think of the wonderful and encouraging passage in Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
Our personal efforts may seem to go nowhere and often no one seems to care, but there are much larger issues at hand. Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
When I was just beginning preaching, I know I benefited greatly by a number of older preachers, including my own father. Though some of these were not aware of it they served as mentors to me by their reputations and examples. One I have admired in so many ways was Robert L. McDonald, Jr. At one time he told a story that bears repeating at this time and I want to use it here as the premise for this article.
The account goes like this. During the process of preaching a gospel meeting in a certain place brother McDonald had just concluded one of his sermons, which no doubt was thorough on insisting on the adherence to Bible authority. As the listeners were filing by, an elderly man approached him and referring to the sermon said, “That was a real cow bell!” This man went on to explain what he meant by this and that his comment was intended to be the highest compliment, which for our purposes now, was along the lines of understanding why milk cows used to wear loud bells around their necks. The owner of the cow could hear where his cow was when the bell sounded as it walked. This told him if his cow was close or far. So, his remark meant that the sermon brother MacDonald had preached had the sound of telling him what he needed to know, the truth.
Continue reading » Preaching the Gospel With the Jerusalem Ring
Don’t we all wish to experience kindness from others? It is one of the sweetest manifestations of the change that comes over the new convert. It should always be one of the most evident manifestations of the living word seen by others in the child of God. In fact, all Christians have already been the beneficiaries of the ultimate form of kindness in God’s love for us as we can read in Ephesians 2:7, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Because we recognize that this is so, we begin in our faith owing others that which we have already gained through Christ. God’s kindness should actually be prayed for just as David did in Psalms 119:76 where he said, “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.”
Kindness is a most beloved word of God’s faithful to be considered. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” The KJV uses the word “gentleness.” The Greek word is chrestotes and is defined by Vines as “goodness of heart, kindness.” Continue reading » Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness (Gentleness)
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…” (Gal 5:19). The word adultery, according to Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words is defined as one “who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another.”
The Bible warns us of this insidious sin throughout its pages in both Old and New Testaments. Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Note the severity of punishment of those who committed this sin under the Law of Moses, Leviticus 20:10, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Though this is not required of us under NT Law, we have to be impressed with the level of seriousness that God has placed in this matter. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Adultery