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Adventures in Faith

RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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THE UNITY THAT WASN’T!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-19-2020

How sound must a congregation be, to continue to be the body of Jesus?  How far “gone” must a congregation be before another congregation may stop having fellowship with it?  How “unsound” must a congregation be before another congregation may declare it is apostate? 

If the church of God in Corinth existed in our city today, how would that fact bear on our answer to those questions and our fellowship with them? 

Corinth had members who were divided into one of four denominated groups.  This group psychology affected their fellowship, yet they continued to be one congregation.  When Paul wrote to them, he addressed them in the singular form as “THE church” and as “THE body of Christ.”  He did not gloss over their error but sent information on how to correct it.  Yet, he did not withdraw from them nor did he refer to them as “apostate,” “liberal,” or “digressive.”

Despite their error in doctrine, their divisive actions, and their disposition of arrogance, he commanded withdrawing fellowship from only ONE of their members.  Not one single Gentile nor Jewish assembly described them as “apostate” nor threatened them with withdrawal actions if they did not repent immediately.

To their credit, they did not scatter, establishing four different denominations.  God continued to dwell within them, to inspire them, to perform healings through them, and continued recognizing them as His children despite all short comings.  Paul had to write a second letter because they did not correct all of their practices nor false doctrine with the first one.   Yet, neither epistle sees Paul either labeling or withdrawing from them.

For a person to claim to be “biblical,” but withdraws fellowship when that is not Paul’s instruction, fails in practicing Paul’s course with the Corinthian church.

When one congregation refuses to fellowship another, yet the one withdrawn from looks a lot better than the church in Corinth, is the withholding of fellowship a restoration of New Testament Christianity or a manmade system of error?

The divisive nature of the Corinthian church caused the four groups to not wait on one another during Communion.  The groups would not share the fruit of the vine nor the unleavened bread.  This caused some to remain hungry while those who would not share the wine, consumed it themselves.  This resulted in some going home hungry while others went home drunk.  Paul rebukes and informs them that they should stay at home since they would not share.  The same could be said about those who fail to have fellowship with one another.  To withdraw fellowship from another is something that Paul refused to do.  This did not cause Paul to be charged by other congregations of fellowshipping error.  Rather than follow Paul’s example and continuing to have fellowship with one another, today there seems to be a disunity unity.

IS THAT REALLY IN THE BIBLE?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-16-2020

From time to time I see articles challenging the reader to get back to “calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways.”  Although that phrase is not found in our Bible, it has a noble ring to it.  The problem is that most who use it, though honest and sincere in statement, are inconsistent in practice. 

One seldom sees written articles that warn us about “saying but not doing.”  It is easier to criticize the actions of others rather than be the brunt of that criticism ourselves.  When presenting our case to another, we want to be positive rather than negative.  The glow of the positive always outshines the dullness of the negative.  What salesman begins by pointing out why you should not buy his product?  So, we want to teach truth, even if it means overlooking our negative practices. 

Since we are individuals without perfection, there are inconsistencies that cling to us all.  Many make the bold statement, “We only teach the Bible.”  The problem is in failing to recognize that “truth” is not truth just because we believe it.  The human side is disastrous in its failure to reach perfection.  N.B. Hardeman pointed out three phases which all congregations go through.  1) Going into trouble, 2) Coming out of trouble, or 3) Being in the middle of trouble.  Perfection is unreachable by each assembly in life’s journey.  Jesus is the perfect head of the church, but the membership is made up of sinners who must be constantly cleansed (1 John 1:7-10).

Some congregations tout their faithfulness and believe their hilltop light is more brilliant than other assemblies.  That may be so, and we are happy for the light which they shine toward others.  Jesus himself spoke of those who had different degrees of work.  Yet, there is a lingering truth which should humble those who wear their badge of pride.  We are all sinners who should readily admit that imperfection and continue looking to Jesus for our cleansing.

Some may take pride in the fact that their consistency is better than that which is possessed by other congregations.  Although I appreciate and love the elders, deacons, evangelists, teachers, and members at Campbell Street, I realize we are inconsistent because we lack perfection.  Jesus came to save lost sinners and the “sinner” epitaph remains, but thankfully he made us “saved sinners.”

Do we actually find that what we do is specifically expression in the Bible?  No.  We take our actions and search for something similar in the Bible and proclaim that we are “doing a Bible action in a Bible way.”  Our proclamation makes it a Bible action?  If something is not “named” in our Bible, we refer to it as being “necessarily implied” or “inferred” therein.  For example, others use the term “Sunday School” whereas we refer to it as “Bible classes.”  Neither phrase is found in scripture.  Anglicans introduced us to that practice over four hundred years ago.  We refer to the furniture which holds the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine as “the Lord’s table.”  Since we have had house churches since February, which house assembly is the one using “the Lord’s table”?  We allow time and tradition to make a piece of furniture be that “table” rather than the two elements used as the Lord’s supper.    

Some of our “church” songs and beliefs about the church building are man created rather than Bible based.  Certain rooms are “holier” than other rooms.  We reserve one room for worship and another for teaching.  We never ask for a Bible passage that demands such.  Manmade rules regulate what is not acceptable in one room but allowed in another.  We misunderstand Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 11 and believe the entire congregation must be in one room to validate the Lord’s supper.  Covid-19 threw that practice out the window, but it will be restored once a vaccine is found.  Sometimes habit is stronger than scripture.  The problem is in not knowing the difference.

The fault of the first century church continues to be one that lingers today.  Sometimes believers think their practice is blessed by God and is required of all.  All traditions that some wish to bind today originated years after the first century.  Time helps a a tradition to evolve into a doctrine.  Some beliefs do not take much time to make that transition.  Religious gullibility often spreads faster than a pandemic.

So, when we do things that are not named in the Bible, but we criticize another who follows our practice, why are we not just as guilty as they are?         

DEFINING DECEPTION

My Thoughts. . .

Monday 11-09-2020

Deception has always been present.  It started in the Genesis 3 garden and has not stopped.  It seems that man often redefines things despite the consequences.  If Satan can redefine something stated by God back then, he should be just as capable of doing the same today.

In the fourth century the “universal” church financed the construction of their meeting place.  After all, Hebrews 10:25 authorized that expenditure even though that passage is minus the details.  How is a church building part of Satan’s deception?  Although there is nothing wrong with a congregation financing the construction of their meeting place, do not assume the devil walks away from an opportunity.  Time is often necessary to complete his deception and remove our suspicions.

1. Bible students usually believe authorization is necessary from scripture for any actions to be performed.  1 Corinthians 16:1-3 is quoted as authority to spend the funds collected on Sunday to finance local evangelism, edification, and benevolence.  Sadly, the passage itself does not show those items we have added to it!

A. If we stay within the boundaries set by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, it only mentions a collection each Sunday for a benevolent work OUTSIDE their local area.

B. If we restrict ourselves to what is written in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, it mentions absolutely nothing about that contribution being 1) for local evangelism, 2) local edification, nor 3) local benevolence.  Regrettably, we read “local” into the passage.

C. If we restrict ourselves to what is written in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 1) it says nothing about using it to purchase property nor to erect a church building.  2) It says nothing about paying a missionary’s salary who is working in a location he has been sent to by the local church.  3) It says nothing about paying Paul nor supplying the expenses of those carrying that bounty to the receiving congregation.

D. Unfortunately we add to what 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 actually states in order to finance our local expenditures.  Our authority?  “Everyone else is doing it,” “It is expedient,” or “How are we going to take care of our expenses if we don’t use that collection locally?”  If something is expedient, it is defined as such because scripture does not provide that detail.  This leaves a congregation free to define what expedient means to them.  This develops into a problem.  This is where Satan stays busy.  For example, having a kitchen and eating at the building is defined as an expedient to promote edification in that congregation.  However, for another congregation, since that action is not mentioned in detail in scripture, they claim that it cannot be an expedient.  Therefore, it must be an ADDITION to scripture.  That difference in opinion is used by Satan to promote division.

2. People identify the meeting place as “the church.” 

TRUTH: the people who meet there are the church, not the dwelling.  Does a building “fear” (Acts 5:11), have “ears,” (Acts 11:22) or need to be fed (Acts 20:28)? 

3. The church building is a holy place. 

TRUTH: The building is nothing more than a dwelling constructed of wood, brick, and cement.  People who gather in the building are to be holy (1 Peter 1:15).

4. The church building’s room for worship is “the Sanctuary.” 

TRUTH: Although the word “sanctuary” is defined as “the holiest part of the building,” that is a manmade designation rather than a Biblical one.

A. Some redefine it as “the auditorium,” rather than refer to it as the “sanctuary.”  However, this does not slow the devil down in his attempts to deceive.

B. Manmade rules were created to limit the use of the building to “activities that are holy.”  Such rules are not hinted in scripture.  House to house assemblies allowed eating a meal, visiting, and other things.  Since house to house assemblies are mention in scripture, if there is a pattern, should that not be it?

C. Holy activities are defined as a) evangelism, b) edification, and c) benevolence.  Those three have to be defined because the Bible produces no such list.

5. The church building is where we meet with God to worship Him. 

TRUTH: 1) This limits God to a specific time and location (John 4:19-24).  2) Worship is limited to certain actions performed in that specific location at an announced time.  These are details taught but not described in the New Testament as “worship.”  When we claim things were done which scripture is silent about, would we not be speaking without Biblical authority?

6. The church building is “the house of God” or His “Temple.”

TRUTH: That view is the devil’s deception of what “the house of God” or “temple” is.  We are not under the first covenant where believers had to travel to a specific location to worship.  The “house of God” or “temple” is not a location, nor is it constructed by man (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17).  Christians are the house or temple of God 24/7!!

7. Since the church building is financed from money contributed for religious purposes, the edifice may not be used for secular or non-religious activities.  Eating in the building, having basketball goals on the parking lot, weddings, or funerals would be secular rather than religious.  There is no authority to have those activities in the church building. 

TRUTH: Manmade rules for a dwelling which was erected to provide a 1-hour meeting on Sunday morning, is a limitation that originated with man, not a restriction levied by God.

8. How one dresses shows one’s respect for God while in the auditorium.  His demeanor while present also shows that respect. 

TRUTH: Since the church met from house to house, what does scripture say about them entering those homes and whether they were solemn or not?  One may find that solemnity in later Catholicism, but it is not in scripture.

A. What passage demands silence and special clothing to show one’s respect for God?

B. If our respect for God depends upon silence and special clothing, then when we wear something different, either before or after that 1-hour period, would that not mean we are being disrespectful the other 167 hours of the week?

C. Since those rules are not biblical, would that not indicate the warnings against adding to the word would be applicable?

D. Dress Codes requiring suits, ties, and shined shoes could eliminate those who cannot afford that manmade standard.  Are such rules not a violation of James 2:1-4?

E. Why give respect to God only on Sunday morning by what we wear or how silent we are?  Does that mean we are relieved of that respect Monday through Saturday because we are no longer wearing those respectful clothes?

9. Is it a sin to dress up Sunday morning or to refrain from talking during worship?  No.   Our problem seems to be in not recognizing the difference between man’s rules and God’s.  To bind something when God does not, or to loosen what God has bound would be sinful.  Satan is at work to influence us to do the opposite.  From observation, one can tell that the devil has been successful!  He has caused us to unite in being divisive!

A HOLLYWOOD IMAGE

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-12-2020

Back in the forties it cost a dime to get into the movie theater.  You got to see the coming attractions, a cartoon, a newsreel, a serial feature, and the main show.  You could stay and watch it a second time.  A soft drink was a nickel, a Baby Ruth candy bar was a nickel, and the last five cents bought a large sack of popcorn. 

Movies were in black and white and Saturday theater usually featured Roy Rogers or one of the following such as Tim Holt, Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger & Tonto, Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes, Gene Autry, or Red Ryder.  Every actor had at least one, “Six shooter.”  Some were blessed to have two.  Each pistol actually held only 6 rounds, but during a shootout, no one every reloaded and they would shoot fifteen or twenty times each.  When they started shooting, they would hold the pistol straight up in the air, bring it down, shoot, reach for the stars again, bring the pistol down and shoot again.  If the good guy shot, he always shot the bad guys hat off, then shot the gun out of the criminal’s hand without drawing blood.  For middle school kids that was impressive shooting.  We thought it was real, but it was only Hollywood make-believe.

As movie characters changed, and black and white gave away to technicolor, the good guys were now police detectives.  They were crack shots just like Roy, Gene, and others.  They could shoot the gun out of the bad guys hand almost blindfolded.  Like the Westerns, a good cop would allow the crook to go for his firearm first.  The cop would turn completely around, draw his pistol, and shoot the thug’s gun out of his hand before he could pull the trigger.  Make believe scenes were bought hook, line, and sinker by a lot of movie goers.

People who do not know much about guns fill that void with Hollywood’s non-reality nonsense.  Politicians, who are anti-gun, usually display their ignorance when holding a firearm or describing one from their information of ignorance.  Even among those who have fired a pistol or rifle, some may show their ignorance when handling or speaking about firearms.  The news media often portray firearms as if they are human, and without compassion or conscience, kill thousands of people each year.  More people are killed by drunk drivers, but few if anyone blames the cars!

Some people may think that policemen draw a fat check each week for doing nothing but driving around town unless they have stopped to drink coffee and eat donuts.   If stopped by a policeman some will treat him like he is dirt who ought to be out catching “real” criminals rather than harassing them.  If you act like a criminal, you will be approached as if you are one.  You could be asked to step out of the car and commanded to go through a scenario to determine whether you are a criminal or a drunk.

If you are stopped, put both hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them.  Rather than tell him what you are going to do, wait for him to tell you what to do and when.  You will be safe when he feels safe!  He will be nice if you are.  If you want to be belligerent, he has the authority to arrest you.  Stay out of his face and he will not need to get in yours.

Men in blue occupy a dangerous job.  Modern protest groups do not mind murdering either a male or female officer.  A fourteen or fifteen-year-old can pull a gun and shoot without thinking about the seriousness of his actions.

Be thankful for those men and women who serve our communities as lawmen, keeping the peace and protecting us from those who would take it from us.

DO YOU HAVE RELATIVE TRUTH?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-09-2020

Some believe in a one hour God each week. They go “to church” for an hour to be in God’s presence. When they leave the church building, they leave God behind and the other 167 hours belongs to them. During those hours God is out of sight and out of mind. They do whatever makes them happy. God will not step in and condemn their actions because He is a “good” God and He remembers the hour they spent with Him Sunday.

Whatever kind of God you believe in will be mirrored by the way you speak, believe, and act. Some believe God will never allow anything bad to happen to them or their family. If they or a family member is sick, has an accident, develops a damaging disease, or is hurt and must be cared for, God is blamed and no longer worthy of that person’s respect. So their hurt builds a wall between them.

Such views about God demote Him to the position of being an idol. If an idol doesn’t meet one’s views of what God must do or not do, then He throws that idol away and creates another. The individual puts his trust in himself by removing God from his life. Man vindicates his actions with that justification becoming his faith. He is god and needs no other!

Not all church goers are saints. Some develop their own truth. What pleases that individual is his truth. One’s truth may contradict another person’s truth, but that doesn’t matter because he has rejected absolute truth. Everything is relative, except one troubling subject.Death contradicts his outlook on life, so he puts it in a mental closet and locks the door. He throws the key away. Yet, that door continues to remind him that life isn’t relative. He attempts to make it disappear. He works out, but lines and wrinkles reveal aging. Aging ends in death. He works harder at keeping the lock on that door. As time passes, so does his youth. Withering youth makes his relativity less convincing. Death becomes more absolute and that door has lost its lock!

Methuselah lived 969 years but those years still brought death. If death is absolute, then what is not seen may also be the same. Is there an existence on the other side of death? If so, is there an absolute being called God? Some are gambling that death is the only absolute. Are you a gambler?

MAN’S DISCIPLINE OR GOD’S?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-06-2020


How sound must a congregation be, to continue to be the recognized body of Jesus? How “unsound” must a congregation be before another church may charge it with being an apostate one? If the church of God in Corinth existed in our city today, how would either question be answered?


Corinth had members who were divided into one of four denominated groups. This group psychology affected their fellowship, yet they continued to be one congregation. When Paul wrote to them, he addressed them in the singular form as “the church” and as “the body of Christ.” He did not gloss over their error but sent information on how to correct it. Yet, he did not withdraw from them nor did he refer to them as “apostate,” “liberal,” “unsound,” or “digressive.”


Despite their error in doctrine, their divisive actions, and their arrogant disposition, he commanded withdrawing of fellowship ONLY from ONE of their members. Not one single Gentile nor Jewish assembly described them as “apostate” nor threatened to withdraw from them.


To their credit, they did not scatter, establishing four different denominations called the Northside, Southside, Eastside, nor Westside church. God continued to dwell within them, to inspire them, to perform the gift of healing through them, and to recognize them as His children despite all their unsound ways. Paul had to write a second letter because they did not correct everything addressed in the first one. Yet, in neither epistle does Paul withdraw from them.


For a person to claim to be a Bible believer, but withdraws fellowship when that is not Paul’s instruction, fails in practicing New Testament teaching. When one congregation refuses to fellowship another, yet the one withdrawn from is a lot purer than the church in Corinth, is the one withholding fellowship not following its own pattern rather than God’s?


The divisive nature of the Corinthian church caused the four groups to not wait on one another during Communion. The groups would not share the fruit of the vine nor the unleavened bread. This caused some to remain hungry while others who would not share their wine, consumed it. This resulted in some going home hungry while others got drunk “in church.” Paul rebukes and informs them that they should stay at home due to their attitude. The same could be said today about those who fail to have fellowship with one another. To withdraw fellowship from another is something that Paul refused to do. Instead of continuing fellowship, some promote and justify disunity.

OUR INCONSISTENT PERFECTION!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-03-2020

Man, in all of his glory is little more than a bundle of inconsistencies. He reads his Bible but develops his own doctrine which is different from his neighbor’s understanding. He makes his religious practices holier than others through his own prejudices. He deifies certain actions that are peculiar to his chosen beliefs. His church has special positions that promote one individual’s faith over another. Power struggles are born out of the human desire to “be first.” Some of those inconsistencies are so subtle that advocates will accept one part as truth and condemn another, although both are related. An illustration?

One church believes they would be without biblical authority to purchase Sunday School literature not developed nor produced by their own Publishing House. It would be a sin to buy another publisher’s material because it would support error. No one consciously wishes to support false doctrine. However, inconsistency is a tool of the Devil and he is the champion of deception.

That church buys their song books from THEIR Publishing House. However, those song books contain hymns which are written by individuals who they believe are false teachers, such as Luther, Gaither, Amy Grant, John and Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, and others. They would never think of inviting any of those individuals to teach nor lead them in those songs. Yet, they will sing them despite the fact that the authors were not members of their faith. Since they paid for song books that contained hymns written by those who were not of their faith, that made them guilty of supporting those they considered to be false teachers! Perhaps they are not aware that their preacher usually develops his sermons using study helps written by men who are not considered “valid Christians.” If the preacher has his degree, even though he attended a university sharing their faith, it still used lexicons, Bible translations, and commentaries written by those who were not considered “real” Christians.

The usual justification is, “Oh! Everyone does it.” Yes, that may be true. But everyone happens to be categorized as “man” and man is inconsistent. If God demands perfection to be saved, then our inconsistencies, no matter how well organized and presented, will not lead in that direction! Justification built upon inconsistency is a poor platform. Man develops his own “Catch-22″ situations. It can cause him to choose the wrong god to save him!

MYTHS EASILY SWALLOWED AND PASSED ON!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 10-29-2020

Whatever category one wishes to discuss, there are myths introduced which some will swallow as if it is truth.   In my youth Saturday movies featured heroes such as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Hopalong Cassidy.  Myths were innocently given and passed on. 

MYTH: In shootouts, a six shooter could be fired ten to fifteen times and never be reloaded.

TRUTH: If a pistol’s capacity is 6 cartridges, it would fire only those six and then need reloading.

MYTH: The good guy always allows the bad guy the opportunity to draw first.

TRUTH: When that is believed, the good guy is shot by the bad guy.  Sometimes the criminal shoots the wounded good guy again to make sure no living witness is left to testify against him!

MYTH: The good guys could draw their firearm, shoot without aiming, and knock the bad guy’s gun out of his hand.

TRUTH: It might happen accidently, but to purposely do so is found only in make-believe movies.

MYTH: When a person is shot, the bullet will lift the individual off the ground and throw him back several feet. 

TRUTH: A person might fall backwards when shot, but most would collapse when hit.  A bullet would not pick a person up and propel him backwards.  In some cases, a person might not realize he was wounded.  If he is the criminal, he remains a threat to the police who are attempting to disarm and arrest him.

MYTH: One fired pistol shot by a good guy will totally put the bad guy out of action.

TRUTH: Unless a pistol bullet hits an individual’s brain or heart, a bullet will not instantly kill nor immobilize him.  A criminal, though mortally wounded by police, can still shoot his weapon, wounding or murdering the policeman before the bad guy bleeds out and dies.  That is one reason no police, sheriff, or Federal officer attempts to shoot a criminal in the shoulder or leg.  Arms or legs are small targets which move and are difficult to hit.  If hit, there is no guarantee that the criminal will be hindered in shooting back at the officers.  Center mass is the region taught to fire at if shooting becomes necessary.

1. Hollywood characters, as well as anti-firearm politicians, often demonstrate their total ignorance when it comes to handling one.

A. Actor Eric Hexum had a 44 Magnum pistol used in the movie he was working in.  It had a blank cartridge in it.  He playfully put it to his head and pulled the trigger.  The paper wadding in the cartridge hit his head with such force that a piece of bone broke off and penetrated his brain.  Loaded or unloaded, one must not play with a firearm.

B. A few years ago a picture was published of a female California Senator holding an AK-47.  Her finger was on the trigger.  That is a definite violation of gun safety rules.  She demonstrated her ignorance about firearm safety as well as firearm use.

2. If it is an auto or semi-auto firearm and the magazine in not removed before showing it, there may be some regrets to follow.

3. If they also do not check the gun’s chamber after removing the magazine, they are failing to see whether or not it is loaded.  A firearm can remain loaded even if the magazine is removed!  Today’s firearm manuals contain all of those safety tips.  Some never read them!

4. They carelessly point the muzzle at nearby people when one of the rules of handling a gun is to never point it, loaded or unloaded, at anything you do not wish to destroy or kill.

5. There are no guarantees that the person being fired upon and hit will be immobilized or killed.

A. A North Carolina man, Kenny Vaughn was shot 20 times by a disgruntled neighbor and lived.  All bullets failed to hit a vital organ.

Sometime politicians demand that a police officer must shoot a criminal’s gun or knife out of this hand.  The legs are also demanded as a target.  Even if the police shoot the criminal in both legs, it does not guarantee he will be immobilized from carrying out his desire to kill a cop.  The police may warn him multiple times to drop his weapon, but if he does not obey and attempts to harm them, their response is to protect their lives.  He is the lawbreaker, not the lawmen.  

1. If a knife welding criminal is charging at the police, intend on killing them, he endangers the officers who may protect themselves.  Officers are trained to shoot “center mass” until that threat is stopped.  Since one bullet may not stop such an individual, multiple shots may become necessary to carry out that goal.  For politicians or the public to defend the criminal rather than the officer, indicates something is wrong more with them than the officer.

2. When such demands are made of officers by the public or politicians, it probably is because those making those charges have accepted too many myths as truth!

IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I AWAKE. . .

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 10-26-2020

Most people do not visualize themselves meeting Jesus in the first century. If there is any thought, it relates to him being seen after our death.  Some see a stern Jesus eyeing them as a critic and pointing out every flaw.  He displays no smile.  A frown is his only greeting.  One sees judgment in his eyes and a wrath ready to explode from his speech.  His countenance is brilliant, not as a mark of beauty, but as a sign of condemnation.   One falls, not on his knees, but on his face, waiting for those terrible words, “Depart from me. . . I never knew you!”

Few expect a smile from Jesus because of our failed and feeble attempts to be perfect.  Some hope their efforts to be “good” will measure out to 70 or 80%, but truthfully know zero will be their reality.  If one’s hope was founded upon “gap insurance,” where Jesus’ grace would fill that “small” needed breach, that emotion vanishes into hopelessness.  That view succeeds in leaving one’s self-righteousness totally naked. Such an individual surrenders to a fearful wait for judgment which holds nothing more than darkness and gnashing of teeth.  Seeing Jesus face to face is not that person’s number one wish.

That probably is closer to the vision some people think will happen after their death.  No doubt that will be a true insight for those mentioned by the Hebrew writer (10:38-39 – “draw back to perdition.

Some believe at the judgment Jesus will reveal every sin one has committed, from the first to the last. This might be so if not for the statement in Hebrews 10 which says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (v. 17). God is an excellent forgetter! His is a lot better at it than we are.  Jesus did not remind the adulteress woman of her sin (John 8:1-11).  Neither did he remind Peter of his vulgar denials (John 21:15-19).  How can past sins be introduced when God has forgiven and forgotten them?  Not only that, but how can one have sins that God has already cleansed with the blood of Jesus? Sadly, some consider their sins more potent than the cleansing power of Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus will not be a distraught individual who hates welcoming people into a place which he died to prepare (John 14:1-4).  He will demonstrate his love with a gracious spirit to those who have responded to the payment he made for their salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  It will be a happy and glorious day which he planned thousands of years ago.  In our assemblies we sing those songs about heaven, but we may have deep-seated views causing us to sing off key.  So, how do you see Jesus?

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