Saturday, December 23, 2017

Out of the Abundance of the Heart!

"Words are power. Whether used to twist or reveal, language matters..." Washington Post

If you're older than five, you're more than likely to have heard the saying "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me." It is one of those little rhymes that parents teach their children to help them understand that they need to let go of insults and hurtful words sent in their direction. But, as with so many of these sayings that we all too often take for granted, it is not true. Sure, sticks and stones will hurt your bones, but words can be as painful as any physical object. And they can be as or more painful because of the effect they will have on the soul of the hearers. And that is not even to take into account that many a child will understand the rhyme as meaning that they can insult others without hurting the hearer.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

"I've Done Graduated"

The other day I was listening to a preacher discussing the peace that God gives those of us who are His. During a particularly poignant segment of the message, he mentioned that he had spent some time in the hospital visiting a brother on the edge of eternity. According to the preacher, a lady who works in the facility, wanting to give comfort to the bereaved, said that "this is okay because this will only add another angel to heaven." This was said without knowledge as to who the individual on the verge of death was or what was his particular belief system.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Do Not Forsake!

If you've been a Christian for a fair amount of time, it is more than likely that you've encountered someone, somewhere who has told you that they're a "Christian," but do not attend church. Although I've never taken a scientific survey (or an unscientific one, for that matter), I would dare say that the number one reason proffered for that lack is that "the church is full of hypocrites." Somehow, the person saying such a thing makes a determination, necessarily using himself as the standard, by which everyone else must be measured. Thus, since he believes himself to be the paragon of sincerity and honesty, everyone not measuring up is, by definition, a hypocrite.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Nature of Man

I always find it curious when people are discussing how things are and how they should be, that they often make a comment to the effect that "such things should not happen in the 21st century." That is offered as some sort of justification indicating that we should know better and that, by now, we should have gotten beyond that particular behavior. You will likely hear such statements when people are complaining about this or that attitude or such and such actions, particularly by religious people.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Reformation: Does It Even Matter Any More?

October 31st has come to be known for Halloween, perhaps the silliest "holiday" that the American mind has conjured up. But long before it became famous for candy and general mayhem, it marked the beginning of what eventually became known as The Protestant Reformation. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed the famous "95 Theses" to the door of Wittenberg Castle unleashing a revolution that would result in the Word of God reaching more people than it had ever before.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Need for Personal Holiness by Arthur W. Pink

By our fall in Adam we not only lost the favor of God, but also the purity of our nature and therefore we need to be both reconciled to God and renewed in our inner man, for without personal holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “As He that has called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of behavior, for it is written ‘Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am Holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16), God’s nature is such that unless we be sanctified there can be no intercourse between Him and us. But can a person be sinful and holy at one and the same time? Genuine Christians discover so much carnality, filth and vileness in themselves that they find it almost impossible to be assure they are holy. Nor is this difficulty solved, as in justification, by recognizing that though completely unholy in ourselves we are holy in Christ, for Scripture teaches that those who are sanctified by God are holy in themselves, though the evil nature has not been removed from them.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

If You Can't Beat Them, Keep Attacking Them!

Many are the so-called Christians who seemingly are interested in proclaiming the truth, but in reality, all they do is embark upon a crusade against a particular doctrine. Nothing, it would seem, will dissuade them from what they see as a commission from God to right all the wrongs in the church. Take Reformed Theology as an example. There are few doctrines that draw as much criticism in our generation than the one that tells us that God is the decider—not man. And it is no wonder, for man's natural inclination is to want to have things his way--Burger King was on to something!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Take Heed to the Doctrine

“If our doctrine be true, and our lives be wrong, how terrible is our sin! For then we have brought despite upon the truth itself. On the other hand, however, it is also very sad when men use the social graces which God has given them, and the moral momentum of a godly ancestry, to commend a message which is false. Nothing in the world can take the place of truth.”
J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

One of the battles that the church of Christ has to wage in every generation is the battle for a pure doctrine. In today’s world, that is seemingly more important than it has been, perhaps more so than at any time in this country’s history. The hallmark of our current generation is the abandonment of doctrinal truth, or at the very least its neglect, at the expense of getting along and being “tolerant.” The modern church is awash in the attitude that our current generation has of overlooking truth in order to be more accepting. Witness the reaction from a so-called “evangelical” against the Nashville Statement (you can read the full article containing the quote here):

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

Several months ago, I commented to a fellow church member one of the things that my generation, and seemingly every generation, is quick to forget: that all subsequent generations are, in large measure, a reflection of the previous ones. As the saying goes, nothing happens in a vacuum. If today's generation has grown up with a sense of entitlement and a very, very thin skin (think of “snowflakes” and their eternal aggrieved status!), it is due in large part to the fact that its ancestors promoted such thinking. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Selling our Souls for a few Hours of Pleasure?

Please give this video a look. I know some of you may not appreciate the way the host goes about saying what he's saying, but the words are absolutely true. We often try to convince ourselves that, as the host here puts it, "we're adults" and those things on TV are not really going to affect our minds.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said that what comes out of the mouth is a reflection of what's inside the man. If that is what is constantly coming out of the mouths of the people you're watching on TV, then that's what's in their heart and by definition that is what you're going to be ingesting into your brain (and heart). Sooner or later that is going to have an effect on you. If you begin to think that you're immune, be careful that you do not fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

I heard a believer one time tell me "well, if you're going to eliminate all the cursing and dirtiness you see on TV, you'll never be able to watch TV at all." Well, why is that a problem? If it takes not watching TV in order to avoid the constant barrage of filth that some shows are known for, then stop watching. You wouldn't watch an X rated show, would you? If so, where exactly will you draw the line if you start watching things that base their stories on garbage. It's one thing to watch something that now and then has some questionable things in it (although even that should be subjected to our censorship). But it's another all together to watch things that make it their aim to scandalize the viewer as much as possible! Television producers are humans like the rest of us. In most cases, sad to say, they are depraved human beings who are out to push a particular agenda on the viewing public.

We need to be discerning. As a famous preacher once said, "don't watch on TV things that could place your soul in jeopardy." I don't think it can be said any better.

And by the way, I don't want any of you to think that I'm directing this personally at you because I believe you're engaging in such behavior. I don't know whether you are or you're not. I simply want to call your attention to something that all too often goes unchecked because we just don't think about it often enough. The key here is to follow the injunction in Philippians 4:8 and think on things that are edifying.

Blessings to all.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Man Centered World

I recently finished reading through the book of Exodus. I, like many others, have often wondered how it could be possible that a people who witnessed first-hand the amazing works that God did in their midst and in their behalf, be so unbelieving? How is it that they could experience miracle after miracle, from the plagues that afflicted the Egyptians, to the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the pursuers, and still be so unbelieving? Indeed, one of the first things they did once they had been delivered from Egypt, was to complain that they had no water!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Perfected Through Trials

I have often wondered why things seem to go so well for me and my family. We don’t have the problems that afflict so many others. Our children are relatively well adjusted and we did not have any problems of drug addiction or issues similar to that which often accompany the teenage, rebellious years. We have lived in comfort and, I dare say, luxury for a good portion of our adult lives and have never really experienced need to the extent that many face. When all things are considered, our lives have been quite comfortable and relatively free of difficulties and trials.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Wars of Man

Recently I watched a series of documentaries detailing the events that led to and that eventually brought to an end World War II. The very first thing that captures your attention, is the unspeakable carnage that the war brought to the peoples of the world, especially in Europe and Asia. By the most accurate estimates, nearly 70 million people lost their lives in a war which was unleashed by the maniacal delusions of Adolf Hitler and the imperial designs of Japan and Italy. For more than a decade, most of the peoples of the world were embroiled in a war that consumed the better part of a whole generation of young men. Men who in most cases had only begun to live before they met their demise.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tolerance: The Utopia That Wasn’t

Recently, conservative commentator David French wrote in a National Review article titled "We’re Not in a Civil War, but We Are Drifting Toward Divorce," about the increasing polarization of our citizenry. According to Mr. French, our nation has seen a continuing trend, which has accelerated in the last 20 years, of people self-segregating into like-minded enclaves around the country. If you look, for example, at the now famous electoral map, you will understand what he means. The country is sharply divided between red and blue states, a fact that indicates not only what the politics of a particular region are, but also its general ideology.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Where No Man Has Gone Before?

If you're like me, every time I watch a space alien movie (which isn't all that often, now that I think about it) or some sort of space exploration program, I'm always wondering why aliens are almost always portrayed as hostile. Think of the last such program you saw. With few exceptions, aliens in them are always out to destroy humans and are more than likely monsters who, for some reason, have little in the way of logical thinking abilities, but nevertheless manage to be way more advanced than humans are (think Aliens!). Perhaps those who write and produce such shows are simply mirroring what they know to be true about humanity in general: we are depraved people who would likely do the same thing if we ever encounter a less advanced civilization than our own. And come to think of it, that's exactly what has happened throughout human history!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The More Things Change...

For as long as I can remember, I've been hearing people in Christendom talk about how it's been "nearly 2,000 years since Jesus was crucified." And of course, that is true. But I mention it because in the minds of some, the fact that Jesus has tarried for nearly two millennia is proof positive that Jesus' return is not going to happen and that Christianity is a fraud. From them you hear echoes of Peter's critics who declared even in the first century that the Second Coming was a hoax because it had not taken place in the 30 years of so before Peter penned his second epistle (2 Peter 3:5ff). People's impatience can sometimes know no bounds!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Grace, Free Grace!

One of the issues that often come up when discussing the doctrines of grace with someone who does not believe them, is the misunderstanding that those on the free will camp have of its tenets. Although those of us who believe in what is commonly called "Calvinism" point out that nothing takes place by coincidence or because of man's autonomous, libertarian free will, we are continuously accused of being fatalists. And why? Because in the mind of the free will advocate, if whatever comes to pass has already been preordained by God, then whatever will be will be and we can just sit back and do nothing. Our actions, the thought goes, will make no difference in the final analysis, so why even try.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Heaven and Why I Want to Go There

A few weeks ago, I did a mini review of a book by Rob Bell entitled “Love Wins.” As you may remember, Bell has determined that heaven will be nothing more than a glorified earth where God will banish anything that is “bad.” I discussed at the time, that Bell’s concept of heaven has little to do with the scriptural idea and very much to do with the concept that man has of what heaven “ought” to look like. As humans, we have a tendency to fill in the gaps with our thoughts and ideas about what heaven, or anything we have not experienced or seen, is like.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Bible Tells Me So

There’s an interesting controversy in the church today that has been brewing for some time, but that seems to be gathering steam of late. And that is the role that the Bible plays in the life of the church and Christianity as a whole. You may have heard of a rather well known preacher who has popularized the idea that Christianity is not dependent on the Bible simply because Christianity began before the Bible. I suspect that what the preacher is intending to say is that the New Testament was not composed until after Christianity had been established. This fact is then used to promote the idea that we should not be so dependent on the Bible for our faith and that we need to detach ourselves from some of its pronouncements if we’re going to be successful evangelists in a postmodern culture.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Jonah’s Decision

One of the most interesting characters in all of the Bible has to be Jonah the prophet. Just about everyone knows at least some of the story of Jonah, especially the part where he is swallowed up by the big fish (most of the stories, especially children’s stories, say it was a whale) and, after three days, is spat up by the fish unto dry land. But often we read Jonah’s adventure without really understanding what the book is all about. In the story of Jonah, we are faced with some very important issues that we all come face to face with at one time or another. They are the sovereignty of God, man’s decisions and Jesus’ resurrection. And it is God’s sovereignty that I’d like to discuss briefly here.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Faith and Works: They Are Not Opposites!

One of the ever-present issues that the church of Christ faces is maintaining a balance between what it believes and what it does. All too often, those churches that emphasize knowledge show a weakness in putting that knowledge into practice. The reverse is also often true: many churches are so immersed in what they, as a church, do that their knowledge of the doctrine of Christ and his word suffers. You often hear preachers pleading with their hearers to ensure that they do not neglect the “weightier matters of the law” while at the same time not relegating the others to second banana status. This, it seems to me, is a problem that demands our attention as the body of Christ and against which we must constantly guard ourselves if we are to be an effective organism.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Enlightenment and the Church

For the past several months my wife and I have been watching a series on the history of the church produced by Ligonier Ministries. The presenter, Robert Godfrey, is a teaching fellow at the Ligonier School and a church historian. The programs have been extremely informative and the presenter’s wit and humor give the episodes added appeal.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Good for Thee, But Not for Me

You've probably heard the, undoubtedly grammatically improper, saying that things sometimes seem to be curioser and curioser. This came to mind the other day as I was reading an article on our new president. According to the author, Mr. Trump is of the mind that the world should hearken back to the time when family was paramount, morals and faith were essential and the American work ethic was the driving engine behind the country's prosperity. Nothing strange about that, you may say, since conservatism is all about recapturing what have been the long-held values of our country.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Deciphering the Code

Have you ever taken the time to think about how those on the left side of the political or religious spectrum make use of language? This occurred to me the other day as I was reading an article about the new National Security Council structure under the new president. According to the author, the president's new structure, which has basically gutted the previous one and in essence created a whole new NSC, is a recipe for disaster. (As an aside, one of the most amusing assertions in the article was when the author decried the "rivalries that will arise between the State and Defense Departments." Anyone who knows anything about government, can tell you that government agencies are always suspicious of one another. Why this individual thinks that NOW we'll have rivalries is beyond me!)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Morality of a Nation

During this past holiday season, my wife and I were discussing the so-called "Black Friday" and the effect that commercialism and society's new approach to morality have had on our country. During our growing up years, stores would be closed all day on Thanksgiving and usually would not open until  mid-morning or later the next day. The same would take place during the Christmas holiday. Now, however, the trend moving in the opposite direction is astounding for its speed and seeming disregard for anything other than the bottom line. Now, I'm not one who decries profits or that believes that commerce should be done without regard to the bottom line. But the greater point here is not about profits, but about how our country's moral moorings have eroded in little more than a generation.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Does This Kind of Love Win?

One of the defining characteristics of the information age is that anyone with a keyboard can become a bestselling author. Take the case of Rob Bell as a clear example of this trend. In his bestselling book “Love Wins,” Mr. Bell sets out to dispel, in his view, the many mistaken ideas that people have about heaven, hell and everything in between. As Mr. Bell sees it, Christendom is full of misguided ideas about what Christianity is all about and what God will do at the end of the age. The thought that some will be given eternal life and others will be eternally condemned is too much for Mr. Bell to handle. His idea of heaven is simply a glorified earth where people will live happy go lucky sort of lives and war, pestilence, disease and hunger will all have vanished. And of course, eventually everyone will “make it” if they want to.