Index by Subject

Desperately Seeking Relevance


The following article contains observations and perceptions that I have developed in the last few decades as a Christian and preacher.  The warnings are offered because of my concern and love for the people of God. I have tried to write cautiously, and to avoid inflamed rhetoric.  I pray my comments will be considered, and my intent understood.

Perhaps you have heard of the apocryphal “Chinese” curse, “May you live in interesting times.”  While it might seem to be a blessing, the phrase is most commonly used in an ironic sense.  It seems that times of physical peace and blessing are typically rather boring, but times of conflict and upheaval are, at least historically speaking, much more interesting.

It is our misfortune to live in interesting times!  We have rogue nations with nuclear bombs; a rapidly increasing world population, resulting in significant economic and ecological challenges; a militant faction of Muslims declaring jihad throughout the world; an extremely partisan spirit in Washington D.C. that has made our government ineffectual and unresponsive to the needs of the American people.  We have militant social activists seeking to disrupt and remake the norms of morality and decency.  We have racial unrest. Continue reading » Desperately Seeking Relevance

Running Ahead of God

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

Most people are aware of the fact that Jonah tried to run away from God. He could not do so, and neither can we. We are also aware of Saul of Tarsus resisting God, or kicking “against the goads” (Acts 9:5). In this article, I want to consider some lessons we need to learn from those who made mistakes in the “opposite direction” – those who tried to run ahead of God. To put it another way, we will consider the accounts of those who presumed to know what God wanted and acted on their own to carry it out. Continue reading » Running Ahead of God


To look into the life of Jeremiah is to gain a greater understanding of our Lord’s character.  Jesus once asked his disciples who men say that he is.  They answered and said, “Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:13-14).  What was it about Jeremiah that caused the people of Jesus’ day to say he reminded them of the prophet of God?  A study of the book of Jeremiah bears out two glaring characteristics of the prophet that forever associates him with the Christ.  Jeremiah was a meek and fearless preacher who faithfully preached God’s message to a lost and dying people.  The prophet of God writes, “If I say, I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name, there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). Continue reading » Jeremiah

Let There Be Light

There are several phrases and themes that are used repeatedly throughout the Bible. One is these is “light” and the ongoing contrast between light and darkness.

The creation of light is the first command given by the God (Genesis 1:3). At the end of the Bible, the light of God is shown as overwhelming and casting out all darkness (Revelation 22:5). Between these two beacons, the imagery of light makes nearly two hundred appearances in the Bible. Continue reading » Let There Be Light

Qualified and Disqualified Preachers

Gospel preachers are in the public spotlight and that is exactly where God wants his faithful ministers.  Sermons are delivered in the most public manner.  Articles they write are read throughout the world.  Their daily activities are watched and put to the test of hypocrisy due to the public nature of their work.  Lives can be changed for the better or worse depending upon the content of the message proclaimed.  The command of God is to “preach the word” not our personal convictions and opinions (2 Timothy 4:1-2).  A preacher is disqualified from the work of an evangelist when he preaches or writes about his personal opinions and convictions as though they represent truth. Continue reading » Qualified and Disqualified Preachers

Preaching is Not about Me

2 Corinthians 1:12; 4:2

The apostle Paul was accused of “commending” himself to the Corinthians at 2 Corinthians 3:1.  Paul answers the accusation in the first 5 chapters of 2 Corinthians by explaining that his preaching was not about gaining a following through teaching his personal opinions, convictions, or reason.  The gospel is a divine message with divine origins.  To preach any other message would be to pervert the gospel.  Unfortunately the factious of every generation seek to bring down preachers of truth.  Let us examine 2 Corinthians 1:12 and 4:2 that we may see what real preaching is. Continue reading » Preaching is Not about Me

Paul’s Concern For the Souls of Men

One of the greatest tragedies of the church today is our apparent apathy toward the souls of men. We can become so caught up in the material aspects of our daily lives that we all too often lose sight of the spiritual condition of those around us. As Jesus Himself lamented, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).  

The apostle Paul was a man who saw the need to respond to the Lord’s appeal for laborers. The extent of Paul’s concern for lost souls can be seen in all of his efforts and writings, but this article will focus upon the first few verses of his address to the elders of the church in Ephesus recorded in Acts 20:17-21. Continue reading » Paul’s Concern For the Souls of Men

The Work of an Evangelist

In 2 Timothy 4:5, the Apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” The admonition is serious, and any man who would take on the work should have an understanding of what God requires of him. It is also important that all Christians know what is the evangelist’s work.

Too many times I have heard the simplistic answer, “The evangelist is to evangelize!” The Greek word for evangelist means, “the bringer of good tidings … one who brings good news.” So, looking at the definition, the evangelist preaches the gospel to the lost. When this is contended, it is sometimes intended to limit the work of the evangelist to that single act, preaching to the lost.

Continue reading » The Work of an Evangelist

Advice to Preachers: Write!

I mentioned my intention earlier this year to write an occasional article on the subject of technology and preaching.  You may put this article in that category, though the tie-in is tangential at best.  I would like to spend a moment explaining why I believe it is important for preachers to write, as a means of teaching and personal growth.

I recently came across a memoir written by Warren E. Berkley, where he described his views of writing.  The quote comes as Warren describes his 40 years of work as a gospel preacher:

Continue reading » Advice to Preachers: Write!

Digitally Recording Sermons

We are living in the digital age.  Though some churches still offer audio recordings on analog cassette tape, most have gone to offering audio CD’s of sermons.  Other congregations offer audio recordings of the preaching done at their congregation over the internet, on the web sites they maintain.

The process for offering sermon audio is simple, and inexpensive.  For those who are not familiar with how it is done, may I offer some suggestions as a primer.

First, it is necessary to get the sermon audio into a digital format.  While there are more expensive (and intricate) ways of doing it, the simplest is a portable digital recorder.  For less than $100, one can be purchased that has stereo capabilities, and records in several different file formats.  The results are amazingly good, and are achieved simply by pressing record, and placing the recorder on the pulpit during the sermon or class.

Continue reading » Digitally Recording Sermons

Lessons to Learn from Elijah and Obadiah

1 Kings 18 records a conversation between the great prophet Elijah, and Obadiah, the steward over the house of King Ahab.  Despite his close association with the evil king, scripture describes Obadiah as a man who “feared the Lord greatly” (18:3).

Elijah gave Obadiah instructions to set up a meeting between him and the king.  The two were mortal enemies, and Ahab had been searching for him ever since Elijah had instigated a drought in the land in response to Ahab’s evil practices.  As Obadiah told him, “As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,”’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you” (18:10).  Elijah was now ready to reveal himself to the king, and recruited Obadiah to set up the meeting.

A number of lessons can be learned by becoming familiar with these two men, and examining the conversation they had on that eventful day.

Continue reading » Lessons to Learn from Elijah and Obadiah

Preaching With The Pen

In the January 2010 issue of Watchman, I wrote an article titled, Projector Preaching.  It was the first in a series of articles intended to benefit those who preach the gospel.  The articles will contain suggestions and helps I have utilized in my 31 years of preaching the gospel.

Please understand that it is not my intent to set myself up as an authority on the matter of preaching.  I have some experience, and have greatly appreciated the advice and examples of men who have influenced me through the years.  I simply want to pass on some of what I have learned to those who may benefit.

It is my intent in this article to encourage preachers to write. I am convinced writing, (though among the most difficult of tasks for a preacher), is a wonderful discipline that will benefit both the preacher and his audience.  In this I include not only those who read his words, but others who will benefit from his increased discipline, ability and scholarship.

Continue reading » Preaching With The Pen

Are We Too Issue Oriented?

Issues seem to be more numerous among brethren today than they were two or three decades ago.  Denominationalism and Institutionalism were the two main areas of concern when I began to preach the Gospel.  Over the last few years, Divorce and Remarriage, the Deity and Humanity of Jesus, AD 70 Doctrine, Days of Creation, plus where to draw the line of fellowship regarding these subjects have become matters of importance that need to be resolved.  As a young man in the Gospel, I was not being forced to say where I stood on a big list of controversial issues, nor was I being ridiculed for not taking a stand among some who had already thought out their position before I knew a position should be taken.   The religious landscape is different today.  Internet access quickly disperses information to people all over the world.  People share their thoughts instantaneously with others over social networking sites. Today, a new issue can arise with a click of a button.  “Where do you stand on this or that issue?” soon follows.

Some, desiring to rise above the clouds of controversy in search for a less disagreeable walk with the Lord, try either to ignore issues or at least downplay their importance.  They may deflect a controversial matter with, “I fear we have become too issue oriented.”  Is this more spiritual than resolving the matter in the light of God’s Word?

Continue reading » Are We Too Issue Oriented?

Preaching the Gospel With the Jerusalem Ring

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

Projector Preaching

I used to enjoy being complimented on being a "fine young preacher."  Brethren are so kind.  Unfortunately, they are also truthful, and I don’t hear that compliment any more.  In fact, haven’t for some time.  That is not, for course, because my preaching is no longer "fine," though I am acutely aware of my limitations.  Alas, no, the problem is that I am no longer young.

I began preaching almost on a weekly basis at the age of 16 for a small congregation in Monahans, TX.  Though I refuse to divulge my age, I have continued to preach for various congregations, without interruption for about 32 years.  (You do the math, it is too painful for me!)  Oh, alright, 48 years old in April.

The first bulletin I ever published as a local preacher, for the Third Street congregation in Tucumcari, NM, was produced on a mimeograph machine.  Two weeks later the elders graciously allowed me to go down to the local office supply to make copies (5 cents per) on the Xerox machine there.

Continue reading » Projector Preaching

A Very Lovely Song

In spite of this article’s title – “A Very Lovely Song” – it has nothing to do with music whatsoever.

In fact, this is one way in which God made reference to his prophet, Ezekiel, but it was not quite the compliment it sounds like.

Consider Ezekiel chapter 33, verses 30-33:

“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, “Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass–surely it will come–then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Prophets like Ezekiel, you see, were not merely fortune tellers or providers of divine insight into the future; they were instructors of morality in light of God’s future plans (2 Peter 3:10-12). Because Ezekiel had proven himself a skillful prophet, the people greatly desired to come into his presence and hear what he had to say. They talked about Ezekiel like he was a celebrity preacher; he was the hottest topic in the land. Continue reading » A Very Lovely Song

The Simple Gospel: What to be in 2005

It’s that time of year again, when millions make New Year’s resolutions — with many breaking them within the first week of the New Year.  Resolutions are not bad. Making goals is a helpful way to achieve the improvements we wish to make in our lives. They need to be realistic and possible. Here are a few suggestions to be in 2005 that are within the reach of every Christian.

Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: What to be in 2005

The Simple Gospel: In a Sound Church, Yet Without a Clue

The expressions “non-institutional” and “conservative” are commonly used by brethren today to describe an assembly of brethren who do not support the sponsoring church or human institutions, and who are not liberal-minded in their spiritual thought.  But we need to be aware that these terms are also now being used among a great many brethren to describe congregations where brethren gladly advocate and practice the false teachings of “unity in diversity”, and where the endorsement and fellowship of brethren who teach and/or practice soul destructive error is a common occurrence.

So, it had better become obvious to faithful brethren that “soundness” in teaching and practice involves a great deal more than simply describing an assembly of brethren as being non-institutional or conservative.  I am confident that we could all profit from a full examination of what constitutes the acceptance and practice of “sound doctrine” among our brethren, but for our purposes in this particular article we must recognize that a sound and faithful group of brethren will be those who abide in the doctrine of Christ, John 8:31-32, and who will not receive anyone who does not bring this teaching, 2 John 9-11.  These are brethren who have fellowship with God and one another because they walk in the light, 1 John 1:5-7, and they are very concerned and careful that they have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, Ephesians 5: 6-14.

Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: In a Sound Church, Yet Without a Clue

White Unto Harvest: The Seed is the Word of God – 2

The Power of the Gospel in Foreign Evangelism

In our last article we considered the power of the gospel in the mission field in its ability to convert the lost and guide them in the ways God would have them to go.  In this article we would like to look at that power in the protecting, correcting, and equipping of God’s people. The purpose of both of these articles is to show how the gospel can do today what it did in the first century. Just as the gospel is all-sufficient in converting the lost so does it contain everything necessary to the needs of the growing Christian (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:21).  It is especially important to remember this in our day in light of the drift of some towards a subjective approach and others into emphasis on psychological needs of people (this is not to question that people have psychological needs).

It is the will of God that those converted by the gospel be taught to “observe all things, whatsoever [Jesus has] commanded” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:20). Let us now study some applications of these requirements. Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: The Seed is the Word of God – 2


In Hebrews 10:24-25, the Hebrew writer expounds upon one of the primary purposes for the worship assemblies, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” When we come together, it is for edification.

Edification is accomplished by several means.  As we speak to one another in song (cf. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16); pray (cf. Colossians 3;16); declare the Lord’s Death in his supper; (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26), etc.; we are built up in Christ.

Continue reading » Preaching/Teaching