My Thoughts

Great adventures in faith


Monday, October 5, 2015    

Grace 02Do yourself a favor?  What is it?  It may seem strange, but humor me.  Get a piece of paper and write down all of your shortcomings.  Shortcomings = sins.  Sins?  Yes, where you come up short in pleasing God.  If you’re telling yourself you don’t have any, you’re a liar.  Put that down first and then get started.  I’ll wait.  When you’re finished, come back to this article.

No, I don’t want to see your list.  That’s between you and God.  Now, get out another sheet of paper.  On this sheet I want you to write down the name of every individual, including your own family, describing how their life is a mess, their lifestyle is grievous, they are an embarrassment, all the bad choices they have made, and how they are never there when you need them.   Then, when you’re finished, put down the names of everyone you’ve ever disappointed, discouraged,  irritated, or created resentment in.  Remember, this list isn’t for me.  So don’t cheat.  Put it all down.

If you need another sheet of paper, get it.  Now, I want you to write down whether or not you believe God loves any of those folks you’ve listed.   Even if they are Christians, do you believe He will save them?  In spite of their shortcomings . . . sins, do you believe God’s grace will cover them in their imperfections?  If you don’t think He will then do this. . .

Find that list where you wrote down all your sins.  Look at them.  If you’ve been honest with yourself, there are more than one or two!  In spite of those sins and you being a Christian, do you believe God still loves you?  If so, then next question.  In spite of those sins, do you believe you will still go to heaven because of God’s grace?

You are a sinner.  No matter how hard you try, you will always be imperfect.  You will always need Jesus.  You will always need His grace, mercy, and love.  If God will forgive your imperfections, and you know what they are, why will he not forgive the sins of those you have written about?  Aren’t you and they Christians?  Again, if God’s grace will save you in spite of your imperfections, why will that same grace not save those folks you have written about?

If you think God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness is reserved specifically for you and not them, aren’t you following the same path the individual in Luke 18:9-14 took?  If so, is it possible that you could lose the very justification you thought you possessed?  If you cannot forgive others how will God forgive you?

Who deserves grace?  We all need it, but we don’t deserve it.  That’s where God’s love came in (John 3:16)!


Thursday, October 1, 2015   

Who Remembers ThisIf you are on Facebook you’ve seen pictures from the past and are asked if you know what it is.  Things that were quite familiar a few years ago are a mystery to teenagers today.*

I grew up in Oklahoma.  As a child there were a lot of experiences I never had.  I had never been to a drive-in theater until I was a sophomore in high school.  I didn’t know what the speakers were and had to be told.  I was more at home in someone’s farm pond than I was in a public swimming pool.  I grew up hunting and we ate what I shot and killed.  Walking two or three miles was ordinary and hitch-hiking was a common practice.  Air conditioning was a luxury reserved for the well-to-do.  If you had a water circulated window unit, you were “up-town.”  Most folks used the 4/65 formula to cool their car!  You were considered rich if your car had a Dynaflow transmission.  My stepfather informed me as late as 1954 that if a person owned a car with an automatic transmission, he was too lazy to drive!

Our world is changing.  Not just in the  things described above, but in foundation truths this country was founded upon.  Liberal education prevails.  Our true history is disappearing from textbooks, replaced with a hatred for America.  We are expected to apologize for our past hostilities.  You would think, from what some believe, we would be better off if Japan, Germany, and Italy of the thirties and forties had won WWII.  Then our aggressions in Korean, Vietnam, or the Dessert Storm conflicts would not have happened.

Public education is no longer reading writing, and arithmetic.  Morals, ethics, the Bible, prayer, or pledging allegiance are things of the past.  Too offensive!  If a child points a finger at another, he is office bound because it could have been loaded!  On the college level, a recent suggestion portrayed the pronouns “he” and “she” as sexists.  Both sexes should now be addressed as “ze.”  The bathroom of your choice is the norm.  The only thing that seems to be offensive is truth and common sense!

God is relegated to the closet of silence and obscurity.  The ACLU fights every hint of Christianity in government or public education, yet is oblivious to Islam being substituted and required.

If a government and populace was guilty of cutting its own throat, with its own consent, the USA is rapidly becoming that kind of fool.  What is amazing is that intelligent people can’t see how they are destroying themselves.  Wickedness may seem to be the victor, but the Hitler and Stalin of today will experience the same kind of fate as their mentors.

Our strength is not in political parties or their power.  Our rock is our God.  Our salvation is through His Word that became flesh and dwelt among men.  The one who is our Savior is Jesus.

You will not succeed by your own strength or power.  No, it will come through My Spirit say Yahweh of the armies of heaven.”  (Zechariah 4:6 IEB).

* In the fifties, “Jacks” was a game kids played on the wooden living room floor or on the sidewalk.


Monday September 28, 2015 

We do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names.”

My Traditions 01Search the Internet and you will find churches posting that slogan on their website.  That is a noble goal, yet it does not unite all who display it, not even in the body of believers I belong to.  Why?  Because our patterns are not equal.

One of our problems is, we read our culture and church traditions into the Bible and assume that is what first century Christians practiced.  We assume they had a complete King James Bible in special holders on the back of each pew.  We visualize the first century saints with an auditorium/sanctuary set up just exactly as ours is.  When they entered theirs on Sunday morning to worship, they sang, prayed, gave, taught, and partook of the Lord’s supper exactly as we do.  Their religious vocabulary was the same as ours.  The conduct in the assembly was just like ours.

Church building?  Pews?  KJV Bible?  Auditorium/sanctuary?  None are mentioned in scripture – so how do we do the “Bible names” thing?  Church buildings don’t show up in the pages of history until the fourth century.  All the other things came after that.

Until persecution forced them out, the apostles preached in the temple courtyards.  They met in homes.  Have you noticed how “unchurchy” house assemblies are compared to those that are church “sanctuary” meetings?  Same group in both places, but different attitude or conduct!  Is a church building “holy,” but a living room isn’t?  What book, chapter, or verse does that pattern of difference come from?  Have you ever noticed how many man made rules of conduct we expect compliance to in the church auditorium/sanctuary which aren’t considered when we meet in someone’s living room or den?  In one there are precise, strict decrees to be observed, rules governing reverence, a specific decorum, and special furniture, but in the other there isn’t.  Is the worship of John 4:23-24 accepted only in the church’s auditorium/sanctuary?  Didn’t that worship take place in unlikely sites, such as the catacombs, where the stench of death mingled with the praise of the faithful?

Tradition caused the Pharisees to hate Jesus because he did not conform.  Traditions in time become very dear and cannot be separated from a “thus saith the Lord” in the minds of those who perpetuate them.

Modern man creates binding patterns that are as ridiculous to Jesus as were those supported by the Pharisees.  An expedient way may be designed to carry out a New Testament practice and not be wrong unless it is elevated to the position of being the only way to do it!  Then it is reclassified by Jesus (Matthew 15:9).  Let us examine all our expediencies and make sure they have not been so elevated!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sin 02We’ve been blessed to live in a country where the Bible was respected, Presidents prayed, School children pledged allegiance, School Christmas plays were every December, and the Ten Commandments were valued.  Stores closed on Sunday.  Shacking up was shameful, divorce was discouraged, and common courtesy was prevalent.

In the seventies, people thought Eve’s path was better and began populating the course of fools (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).  Prayer perished from public education.  State and Federal threw out the Ten Commandments.  Faith was ridiculed.  Political correctness became common sense.  Disrespect is the norm.  Lies are preferred.   Crudeness is applauded.    Sin is respected.  Righteousness is avoided.  False pride is the goal.  Worshiping man is our destination!

Businesses are falling like dominoes for every foolish thing introduced to a gullible public.  The offended minority is our obligatory pattern to appease.  The rulings of six justices is our scriptures!  Marriage is redefined.  The future for the faithful is not bright.  Our faith will be tested.  Christians will ask, “Will I be lost if I shop with a business that supports sin?”  What did the faithful in the Bible do?

When Lot parted from Abraham, where did he go to live?  Wasn’t it a homosexual city where ten righteous people could not be found?  What was Lot’s business?  Wasn’t it selling wool from his sheep, meat products, milk, cheese, and such?  Where did he shop?  Wasn’t it with the same folks who gathered at his door demanding he send the angels out so they could have sex with them?  Did living in Sodom and doing daily business with Sodomites sully his character and ruin his opportunity to be saved?  Let God answer that question.

Two times in 2 Peter 2:6-9 inspiration refers to Lot as “a righteous man” and once as “his righteous soul.”  He is included in the phrase “godly men.”  We live in a broken world.  It was broken long before you and I were born.  Because we live in such a world, does that mean we fellowship the sins of the world when we buy and sell with it?  If so, then we are all lost because not everyone we have done business with in the past has been righteous.  If we are asked to disobey God, we must follow the course the apostle took (Acts 5:29).  But, did they stop shopping with unbelievers?  What if a Christian belonged to a wicked person and did not have that freedom?  A severe beating or death is a choice he could make.  Paul and the Philippian church greeted those “in Caesar’s household”  (Philippians 4:22).   Some were slaves.  Did this mean they agreed with everything that went on there?  Didn’t the taxes paid by Christians support a corrupt and sinful government?  Did that mean they were guilty of supporting sin?  No!

Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You take them out of the world – just keep them from the evil one.”  (John 17:15 IEB).

We live in a sin filled world.  We are sinners.  Saved ones, yes, but still sinners.  We have been saved and brought into fellowship with God.  Jesus’ blood keeps us righteous.  Since we are in the world, let us be a light to it.  Let us be a city that is set on a hill.   Let our lives glorify and honor our God and Savior.


Monday, September 21, 2015

But he was wounded for the things that we did wrong.  He was crushed for the sinful things we did.  The punishment, which made us well, was given to him!  And, we ourselves are healed by means of his wounds.  We all have wandered away like sheep.  Each of us has gone our own way.  But Yahweh has laid upon him the guilt of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:5-6 IEB)

Christ suffered and died for your sins once for all time.  He was a righteous man dying for bad men.  Why?  To bring you to God.  Although his body was put to death, he came back to life by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18 IEB).

Blood of JesusAmazing!  Jesus paid for my sins!!  The lyrics say it all in the song, written by Elvina M. Hall in 1865, “Jesus Paid It All,”

“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”

I owe, so how do I pay Jesus back?  What is the price of that payment?  Is it a monetary one?  Is it a works effort payback?

Do you remember Jesus’ parable about the servant who owed his master “several million dollars” and could not pay it back (Matthew 18:23-34 IEB)?  The master cancelled his debt (v.27).  How much of what he owed did he pay back?  Zero!  What amount is the blood of Jesus valued so one may start paying it back so he will be debt free?  How much obedience is required to pay off that value so we can say “We did it”?

Some have set the price of Jesus’ blood too low!  They believe they have paid the amount down in a drastic manner by:

●    Their repentance,
●    Their immersion for the remission of sins,
●    Their attendance in the assembly,
●    Their partaking each Sunday of the Lord’s supper,
●    Their giving each Sunday as they have prospered,
●    Their singing as commanded,
●    Their efforts to teach others the Gospel,
●    Their visits to the sick,
●    Their encouragement to the fallen,
●    Their daily efforts to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Are these actions important?  Yes, but not to pay off the price Jesus paid.  To even think we can, is to down ground his blood sacrifice and make what we do just as or even more important than his blood!  Here is something to think about if you believe you can pay it off!

●    To pay it off, one must be perfect as Jesus was.
●    To pay it off, one must be sinless as Jesus was.
●    To pay it off, one must be innocent as Jesus was.
●    To pay it off, one’s obedience must be perfect as Jesus’ obedience was.
●    To pay if off, one must shed his blood as Jesus did.
●    To pay it off, one must sit at the right hand of God, as Jesus does.
●    To pay it off, one must be the Savior of mankind as Jesus is.

Anything less cheapens Jesus and his sacrifice for us.  Anything less aligns us with Satan, who wished to cheapen God’s plan to save mankind. so he could remain the god of this world.

Is your “Good News” one that believes we are saved by cheap blood?


Thursday, September 17, 2015

The most important priests and teachers of the law were trying to find a way to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people.”  (Luke 22:2 IEB).

Fear 02Fear is a strange animal.  It can freeze strong men motionless.  It turns legs into Jello.  It makes an orator speechless.  It turns the powerful into cry babies.  It makes important people self conscious.  It changes the aggressive into cowards.

The fear in the priests and teachers of the law blinded them to the weakness of the people’s loyalty to Jesus.  Pilate’s willingness to release Jesus was undermined by his fear of losing his standing with Rome.  Pilate’s answer was to wash his hands while staining them with cowardice.  The priests and teachers ridded society of their troublesome Rabbi, only to  propel him into the world’s recognition, while they melted into obscurity.

Ignorantly they served the devil in his fruitless attempts to thwart God’s plan to save a lost mankind.  He was doing everything within his power to remain the god of this world.  He had deceived those priests and teachers into believing they were God’s followers.  They thought Jesus was Satan’s puppet attempting to undermine their godly positions.  Jesus was just another false Messiah to them.

They thought they were doing God’s work.  Surprisingly, they were!!  That’s right.  They were doing God’s work!  How?  They were fulfilling prophesy, just from the wrong side of the street.

He was hated and rejected by people.  He endured much pain and suffering. . .He was hated. . .he certainly took our suffering upon himself, and he felt our pain for us. . .But he was wounded for the things that we did wrong.  He was crushed for the sinful things we did.”  (Isaiah 53:3-5 IEB).

They were the ones who hated and rejected.  They were the ones responsible for his pain and suffering.  They were the ones who made it possible for him to be wounded and crushed.  They thought they were God’s faithful servants when in reality they willingly took up the mantel of the one attempting to defeat God’s plan (John 3:16).  They succeeded in murdering Jesus.  The irony of their efforts is that they were successful in making Isaiah’s prophesy come true!

Fear can be your enemy.  It can also be your friend.  A child is warned to not touch a hot stove or cross a busy street without its parents.  Obedience keeps the child safe.  Fear of punishment for disobedience may also be a helpful reason.  God has given us warnings, to help us and keep us from harm’s way.  Yet, fear causes us to not trust God.  That fear is welcomed by Satan.  Our refusal to trust and obey God can lead to consequences which we do not desire.

What direction are your fears driving you?


Monday, September 14, 2015

Then Jesus traveled from the land of Galilee to the Jordan River where John was, so that John could immerse him.  But John was trying to stop him.  John said, ‘I need you to immerse me, yet you are coming to me!?’  Jesus answered him, ‘Allow this for now, because this is the proper way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’  Then John did so.”  (Matthew 3:13-15 IEB).

Jesus BaptismHave you ever read this passage with a question mark?  Jesus was the perfect Son of God.  Perfection does not need “the remission of sins.”  John’s immersion was “for the remission of sins.”  Why would Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, the Son of God, and the Messiah or Christ, need the remission of sins?  He wouldn’t.  He grants that forgiveness to others.  Prior to being arrested and while instituting his communion, he said the fruit of the vine was his blood poured out “for the remission of sins.”

Yet, here he is coming to his cousin John to be immersed.  John doesn’t want to immerse him and I understand why.  A sinner doesn’t immerse the perfect Son of God.  The perfect one immerses the sinner!  Jesus silences John with, “Allow this for now, because this is the proper way for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Jesus doesn’t need “forgiveness of sins,” but though he is perfectly sinless, he still wants to be the Son of Man and be immersed as an example, showing all sinners what is right.  How do you “fulfill all righteousness?”  You certainly do not ignore and leave off immersion.  If one refuses, he does something that the perfect Son of God did not do!

Jesus thought immersion in water was important and wanted to submit to it because he would fulfill all righteousness by doing so.  So, why do some who are believers hold back in following Jesus’ example?

Folks have argued over what the word “for” in the expression, “for the remission of sins” means.  Some say it means you’ve already received that remission prior to baptism (Romans 4:1-5).  Others say you receive it after you’ve been buried and raised with Jesus (Romans 6:2-6).  The argument often gets heated, even from cool heads!  However, who can successfully argue against the Lord’s example?

If Jesus found it necessary to seek out his cousin so John could immerse him, should it not be just as important to us?  Did Jesus need this immersion?  He did if he was to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Shouldn’t we want to fulfill that same righteousness as our Lord did?  If it was important to him who never sinned, shouldn’t it be more important for us who do?


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Unknown GodNo, I’m not referring to Paul’s statement in Acts 17:23!  The one I am addressing is a modern one accepted by most churches.  Yes, churches!  Yes, even churches of Christ.

Some have stuck their heads into the proverbial sand and refuse to recognize the real world.  Our government, followed by a rapidly compliant business world, is following in the footsteps of an ancient society described by scripture.

How horrible it will be for those people!  They pull their guilt and their sins behind them, just as people pull wagons with ropes. . . .How horrible it will be for people who call evil things ‘good,’ and good things ‘evil.’  They think that darkness is light, and light is darkness.  They think that sour is sweet, and sweet is sour.  How horrible it will be for people who think they are wise.  They think they’re so clever. . .They receive money to set the guilty free.  But they won’t allow innocent people to be judged fairly.  Therefore, they will be destroyed.”  (Isaiah 5:18, 20-21, 23-24a IEB).

Pulpits could warn and expose this wickedness, but many will remain silent.  Why?

Their god is their “non-profit status”!  In the 1950’s, Lyndon Johnson caused the churches to make a deal with the devil with the 501C3 designation.  Churches would lose their tax exempt status if their pulpits didn’t stay out of politics.  What is ironic is that the Constitution already exempted churches prior to Lyndon Johnson!  My, my, how deceptive Satan has been, from the Garden to the White House, but we’re too blind to notice  (Genesis 3:1-6).

If today’s trend continues, it will soon become illegal for churches to meet!  Impossible some say, speaking from their sand traps!  Tell that to Kim Davis of Kentucky who was recently released from jail!  A 2009 Federal law already makes it a “hate crime” to speak against homosexuality from the pulpit!  Now that SCOTUS has made same-sex marriage the law, “gays” will find a way to force churches and Christian schools to comply!  Wickedness hates righteousness, even using biblical passages to destroy it as their leader once attempted to do (Matthew 4:5-6).  When the church is driven underground, what comfort will a tax exempt status offer?

If sand isn’t still blurring our vision, look at recent history!  Does anyone remember when there were Christian prayers and Bible reading in public schools rather than Islamic ones?  Remember when abortion was illegal?  Remember when homosexuality was against the law?  Remember when same-sex marriage was unheard of?  Remember when refusal of service wasn’t against the law?  How comforting is that sand?  It seems to be affecting our memory!

The god called “Politics”!  Preachers don’t want to offend members who put party affiliation above faith, even if that party is indulging in the sins described by Isaiah!

The god of ignorance and apathy!  Political correctness is the deity of Washington D.C. spreading its poison “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam” and beyond.

Perhaps, like Israel, the only thing that will bring our heads out of the sand is Israel’s fate!

And when people view the land, look, they will see only darkness and distress.  All light will become dark in those thick clouds.” (Isaiah 5:30 IEB).


Monday, September 7, 2015

Foot WashingWhen I was in grade school I had the privilege of living with my mother’s parents in Stratford, Oklahoma.  My grandparent’s house was five blocks from the school building.  In the third block between those two destinations was a church building that I passed each school day.  One of my friends attended that church.  During the summer just about every church, regardless of denominational affiliation, held a revival.  That church was no different.  My friend invited me to attend with him.  He tweaked my curiosity by telling me I would see something in his church that didn’t take place in mine!

So, I went.  We sat toward the back of the sanctuary.  The typical songs and prayers were offered.  So far, nothing new.  My friend coaxed my patience with, “Just wait.  You’ll see.”  After the third song and second prayer, a man, perhaps the pastor, announced there would be a “foot washing.”  Although I was only eight years old, I knew what those two words meant.  Summer meant “shedding your shoes”!  Shoes were worn only when we went to church!  Bare feet get dirty.  So, before going to bed, both grandmother and mom would remind me to “wash your feet”!

The preacher read a passage from the Bible about how Jesus rose from the table, got a towel, and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-12).  Since the Lord’s supper was also instituted on that evening, the preacher said foot washing was as much a part of worship as partaking of the communion.  I vaguely knew about the Lord’s supper because we did that at least once each year.  Since I was young, I was overly curious about this “foot washing.”  Not everyone participated.  Eight people went to the front.  It surprised me that half took off a single shoe and the accompanying sock.  The other half were provided pans of water which the singular bare foot was placed in and the person with the pan, washed his neighbor’s foot.  Then they exchanged places.  That was it, but my friend’s prediction was true, we didn’t do that in my church!

That evening at bedtime, I heard my usual reminder to “wash your feet.”  Since I had just learned that “foot washing” was cleansing only one foot, I thought if it was good enough in church, why not at home?  Neither my grandmother nor my mom were impressed with my newly found faith!  I never could figure out why it was always my right ear that favored their pull!  However, one good jerk and I became very obedient!

As I look back on that foot washing service I wondered why they washed what wasn’t dirty?  After a day’s worth of playing, you would understand why I received my nightly reminder!  If they were dirty, why not wash both?  Since most first century folks walked everywhere, and shoes were a sole with straps, feet got dirty.  When visiting in someone’s home, the owner had his servants wash a guest’s feet as common courtesy.  In the upper room, the apostles were concerned about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24).  Jesus used this cultural courtesy to teach how to reach greatness.  Be a servant!  Somehow that lesson didn’t penetrate my eight year old brain as I watched that foot washing scene.

So often we mimic the motions of things recorded in the Bible, but miss its purpose completely.  Like Israel, we strictly obey the commands, but our lives hardly reflect the kind of salt, city, or light Jesus referred to (Matthew 5:13-15).  The world can’t see Jesus because we’re blocking their view!  Shouldn’t we ask from time to time, “Why am I doing this?  What is my purpose?  Where is my heart?”

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