My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


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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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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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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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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My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 05-25-2020

I wish we were not the only church in town.

What do you mean?

If we stay as a member here, I know I will lose my soul.

Really?  Why is that?

This congregation is so deep into error that the elders, deacons, preachers, and members are without the Spirit of God.

I agree that we have our problems, but Paul told us only one member needed to be disciplined.  Besides, we have not lost the Holy Spirit nor His indwelling.  Why would you want to leave an assembly that God has not left?

One disciplined?  This whole church needs to be disciplined, not just ONE member!  Why is Paul overlooking the denominating, the abuses in the communion, lack of faith, rejecting the resurrection, and all the other infractions?  How can God’s Spirit continue to dwell in us with all this mess going on?

True, we have our shortcomings, but you are just as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

I am part of the SOLUTION.  We are the faithful Jesus’ group because we go by His name.  The other groups are following men.  We are following the Savior.

Yes, but Jesus is the one who prayed that his followers would be one.

We are ONE.  We follow Jesus.  We are not running after Cephas, Apollos, or Paul.

Yes, but neither Jesus, Cephas, Apollos, or Paul agreed to the congregation being divided into four divisions or denominations.

We are not denominated because we following Christ!

Yes, but you have created a division by separating yourselves from us and using Jesus as your excuse.  No one is correct.  All four groups are in error.

We are not in error, WE FOLLOW JESUS!

But you want to leave “the church of God” and create a second church.  By doing that, are you not separating yourself from Jesus?

What do you mean?

Paul refers to all four groups as “the body of Christ,” does he not?

Yes.  So, what is your point?

Do you want to pull out of the assembly that God continues to dwell in?

But you folks are teaching and practicing error.  Once we leave, God will follow us!

You are correct about our being in error, yet your group wants to pull out of the assembly that the Holy Spirit continues to reside in?  Would that not mean that you are the one who is leaving, not the Holy Spirit?

We cannot continue to fellowship error in teaching and practice.

True, but did the Holy Spirit tell you to leave and establish an assembly that is without erroneous teaching and practices?

No, but if we stay, we will be fellowshipping error and its practices.

Is that what the Holy Spirit is doing by remaining with us?

He is only staying since Paul is writing to correct your errors.

Perhaps, but the Holy Spirit has remained with us even before Paul knew about our condition to write anything.  God continued to indwell and inspired us.  Was the Holy Spirit guilty of fellowshipping our error by not leaving before you do?

No, God was not guilty, but you certainly are.

You recognize that God has not withdrawn His fellowship from us, but you want to do what God is not willing to do?

Our group just wants to do what is right, so we are commanded to leave and establish the true disciples’ church.

So, Jesus’ prayer found in John’s gospel does not mean anything to you about being “one”?

You and the other two divisions are in the ones who are in error.  We are going to do the Lord’s will which is the RIGHT thing to do.

And that is how denominationalism started.


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 05-21-2020

Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” (John 8:31-32).

We sometimes read a passage like John 8, preach it to a crowd, and assume they know exactly what is expected of them.  Is that expectation from (1) God, (2) the preacher, or (3) what each listener thinks it is?  Is Jesus saying one is a true disciple ONLY if he continues to PERFECTLY keep his word WITHOUT fault?  Is that freedom dependent upon knowing the truth, and if so, how much must one know before that freedom is granted?

According to the apostle Peter, there is a “newborn babe” stage in all of us (1 Peter 2:2).  How quickly are we required to go through that stage? Some of the Hebrew Christians were not teachers because they continued to need milk (Hebrews 5:12-14).  Why were they so slow in their transition?  Were they without truth because they were slow in continuing in Jesus’ word?  Did this negate them in “truly” being Jesus’ “disciples”?  Did their lack of growth mean they were not “free”?  Brethren today might classify such congregations as “unsound” or “digressive.”  However, neither Peter nor God did.  They were God’s elect (1 Peter 1:1).  They were the Lord’s chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation, and they belonged to God (1 Peter 2:9).  If you lived in any of those locales that Peter was writing to, you would be a member of that “kind” of imperfect assembly!

The Hebrew writer, speaking to Jewish members accuses them of being “dull of hearing and unskilled in the word of righteousness.”  How much scripture must one know before he can lose that label of “dull” and “unskilled”?  The church at Corinth had Holy Spirit filled men called prophets, yet they experienced a four-way split which questioned the depth of that filling.  Does their need to be corrected reveal their bankruptcy of “freedom”?  Were they guilty of not continuing in Jesus’ word because they were void of perfection?

If that were their condition, how could they be “free”?  Yet, the Holy Spirit continued to operate through them in those gifts and God continued his indwelling (1 Corinthians 3:16).   Those two facts proved they were “free.”  But how could God indwell folks who were off course?  Why would He stick with them?  God’s glue is of a better quality than what we possess.  Despite the corruption of first century assemblies like Corinth, God continued to dwell in them even with their error and practices (2 Corinthians 13:5-10).  Due to our perfectionist’s ideas, no one is sound other than our assembly.  Today’s “sound” congregations would not fellowship a modern-day Corinth.

When the Corinthian brethren assembled with the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread, and they ate and drank it upon the first day of the week, THEY THOUGHT they were worshiping “in spirit and in truth.”  Yet, Paul informs them what they were partaking of was NOT the Lord’s supper!  They were going through the motions, but Jesus was missing!  In that letter to the Corinthians you have a church of Christ preacher telling the membership to forsake the assembly!?  Surprise, surprise!  Paul told them they needed to stay home.  How about that?   Despite all the correction Corinth needed, God had not left them as vacant property.  He continued to own them.  Some today would have already torn their church sign down and written The Jerusalem Advocate that they were a digressive church!  1 Corinthians is one of 27 letters showing God’s fellowship with a church which was going in all the wrong direction.  But He stayed with them.  This “stick-to-itiveness” on God’s part is a foreign concept to grasp since it does not sound like the Gospel we preach!

One has to wonder if we have missed something which is included in John 8:31-32 that we have refused to consider?  It does not fit the idea held by some that heaven’s doors are open ONLY to one who is a member of a perfect congregation?  So, how does the following passage apply to the church in Corinth?  Were they saved, but NOT free?

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

 If being “free” is available only to perfect individuals who are members of a perfect congregation, then who is “free”?  We preach it and assume!


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 05-18-2020

Do not be obnoxious. Do not be pushy. Do not make yourself a nuisance. Do not get in someone’s face. Do not become someone’s favorite person to avoid. Do not be wordy. Do not be aggravating. Do not show up unannounced. Do not wear out your welcome. Do not attend when uninvited. Do not be a busybody. Do not hog the conversation. Keep it short. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. Ah, but do be loving. Do be kind. Do be considerate. Do be helpful.

Most of us will find ourselves in that grouping, either as the person who should “do not,” or the one who needs to learn the “Do be.” We are the one who is usually or always on the wrong side of the fence! The preacher must have been thinking of us when he was working on his sermon to correct the guilty! When his accusing finger stops, it seems to always be pointing in our direction. If perfection is the goal, we seem to be the ones who exercise its absence.

No one wants to be wrong. No one enjoys being corrected, especially when acquaintances observe your embarrassment. How do you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, smile and pretend it never happened? Jesus told a woman, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). If Jesus had said that to us, there would have been a loud gasp followed by the question, “What did he DO to need Jesus to say THAT?” Would questions flood our thinking and questions begin, such as, “What will people think of me?” or “Will they stop talking with me?” or “Will I be an outcast?” or “Will I lose my job?” or “Will I ever live this down?” or “Will this hurt my family?”

Did Peter blush and suffer embarrassment when Paul got in his face to corrected him for hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11)? Did the church apologize to the slave girl when she reported that Peter was at the door and they accused her of being “mad” or “our of her mind” (Acts 12:15)? Were the apostles embarrassed when Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)? Jesus had asked the apostles how many swords they had. They answered “Two” (Luke 22:38). His response was, “It is enough.” However, when Peter used one of the two to defend Jesus against the arresting soldiers, Jesus admonished him with, “those who lived by the sword, would die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).   Were his actions right or wrong? Was that embarrassing to Peter? You try to do the right thing and your wrong?

James admonished, “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16).


Do we really believe that?


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 05-14-2020

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. . . As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. . . Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:14, 27).

What is wrong with the left hand? The left hand does not want to help us with this job. Why not? Oh, the southpaw did not like it, so he voted to refuse to assisting the rest of the body in this work. He threw such a “hissy-fit” that we had to double up to do what he refused to do.

That is sad news! Now, what is wrong? The left arm decided to cooperate with the left hand, and both are refusing to help with the work. They are rebelling and there does not seem to be anything the rest of the body can do to get their assistance. Does it not upset them about what others think? No, they believe their actions are right and the rest of the body is wrong in its expectations. Well, if the left hand and arm will not work, do they think they have a right to participate in the food and drink taken in by the mouth and stomach? They believe it is their right to have it all! They don’t believe the rest of the body has that right.

Don’t they realize that the body has many parts and they are just two among the many? Oh, they know it, but they have distanced themselves from us mentally and condemn us because we will not believe all that they believe in. They believe they are special and have honored privileges which the rest of us have forfeited due to our practices. They want to cut us off from the nourishment which they believe is reserved only for them. If the rest of the body were separated from the left hand and arm, wouldn’t that remove them from the work the heart does? Yes, it would. But they believe they have the divine right to be separated even if it means having their flow of blood stopped. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Did Paul not make a comparison between the human body and the body of our Lord? Did Paul not teach that if two body parts are separated from the body it would be impossible for those parts to continue to live? Yes, he was showing that all parts need one another. If any is cut off, death happens to the severed parts.

Wasn’t the Corinthian assembly the one that received that illustration? Yes, they were. Did they not have multiple issues involving both doctrine and practice? Yes, they did. Did God withdraw his Spirit from them? No. God commanded them to withdraw one member only. So, the rest of the assembly continued to have God living in them? That is right. Dividing the assembly is unauthorized by God? So, why do folks who accept the 27 books of the New Testament divide with little or no fellowship between them? I do not know. You will have to ask the left hand and arm that question!


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 05-11-2020

I hate wearing a mask.  Why?  My breath goes straight up to my glasses and clouds them.  Why am I wearing a mask?  No, I’m not robbing a bank.  It is because of the COVID-19 Virus and a mask is supposed to protect you.  That is what some doctors claim.  According to others it doesn’t help you, it helps others.  If you are sneezing or coughing, your mask catches your fluid particles in it, keeping others from breathing in your ailments.

The way some wear their mask it isn’t going to help them if someone coughs or sneezes close by.  Why?  They are wearing their mask as some men were their trousers.  Low boy!  The mask is over their mouth, but not their nose, just as some wear their trousers too low and show?  Their mask covers their mouth, but not their nose.  If they breath ONLY through their mouth, no problem.  But, if they are breathing through their nose, what protection do they have when someone nearby sneezes or coughs?

Why do some people do that?  Isn’t that ruling for their protection?  They do not believe the rule applies to them.  How many of you when driving through a 30-mph posted zone drive 38 or 39 mph?  Why?  You justify your 8 or 9 mph over the speed limit because (1) you are in a hurry, (2) 30 mph is a ridiculous speed limit, (3) you have the right to drive at whatever speed you desire, or (4) that posting doesn’t apply to you because the cops will overlook your speed unless it is 41 mph or higher.  Most choose number (3) and give it as their reason for disobedience?  Most probably think, “It is a ‘dumb’ law and you don’t have to respect ‘dumb’ laws.”  You might be surprised to learn that murderers use that justification to do away with a cheating spouse or whatever.

In the garden, Eve saw that gorgeous fruit on that single tree and was hooked.  Why would God put something that great in the middle of things and not want us to sample it?  Adam was her sweety, so his willingness to join in tasting the fruit with her, was her justification.  Let us throw in “love.”  If God loves us so much, He will not create something and withhold it from us.   Ah, love allows a lot of things.  “If God, he, she, or whoever loves me, then I can have this, do that, or break this rule and it is okay because of that love.”  THAT is the garden lie that has kept us in trouble since Eve said, “This is good . . . pleasing . . . and desirable.” (Genesis 3:6).   In the beginning God made everything GOOD (1:4, 9, 12, 18, 21, 25, and 31).  Cyanide is good for the purpose it was created, but that “goodness” does not extend to making it our breakfast drink!  Dynamite is good for its purpose, but not when it is worn as a vest.  God told Adam to “fill” the earth, “subdue” it, and “rule over” God’s creation (Genesis 1:28).  Adam and Eve could do those three acts without disobedience.  But they did not make that choice.  Choice is ours.  But not all choices bring benefits when we follow Adam and Eve’s choice in being disobedient.

During this Virus outbreak I wear a mask.  It is my choice.  My choice will help me when someone, who is 6 or more feet away coughs or sneezes without a mask.  My mask will filter out the virus and protect me.  God warns us about sin.  The blood of Jesus keeps us clean.  God gives us a mask to cleanse us of our sin.  It is Jesus, His Anointed One.  Your choice!  Put him on or leave him off (Galatians 3:26-28).


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 05/07/2020

What is the address of your church building?  You don’t have an address?  Why is that?  What?  You do not have a building?  Oh, you must have a small group and cannot afford a church building?  No?  That is not the reason?  How many members do you have?  8,000 without counting the women or small children!?  Where do you go to worship God?  What do you mean you don’t have to go to any specific location to worship?  Don’t you worship God?  Oh, you do?  Where is that?  What do you mean, everywhere?  Yes, I know God is omnipresent, but doesn’t He dwell in a special place?  So, where is it?  In YOU?  What do you mean, He dwells in YOU?  Are YOU special?  Oh, one of the apostles said you and other believers were special?  What did Paul write?

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

So, you believe offering your “spiritual worship” is not restricted to one hour on Sunday morning in a specific location?  You believe you are to “present your” body “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God twenty-four hours each day, seven days a week”?

You believe you are to worship twenty-four/seven everywhere since God is living or dwelling in you?  Why do you believe that?  Is it because of what Paul told the Corinthians?

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Don’t you know that a lot of believers don’t agree with you?  You do know that?  Then you know that they believe the only time one worships “in spirit and in truth” is on Sunday?  They think that when the group meets at the church building, that this is where they are in the presence of God to worship Him?  They believe there are certain actions that are described as “worship” by writers of the New Testament, and those are done in that location?  What?  Yes, those actions are described as worship and they are performed by those Christians on Sunday.  Where?  I cannot recall now, but I guarantee you they are in the New Testament.  I am sure it is in the book of Acts.  You have not read that?  Well, I suggest you read your Bible more closely.  What are those acts of worship?  Everyone knows that they are singing, praying, preaching, giving, and communion.  Two of those are to be done on Sunday only, which are giving and communion.  What?  You want me to produce book, chapter, and verse citation for my statements?  Those passages are written in my heart.  I think you need to read your Bible better in order for us to have a better discussion of what the Bible teaches!  Worship God twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week?  That is ridiculous!


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 05-04-2020

The year is 33 AD.  Lucius had been converted to Judaism by one of his slaves.  This was his eighth year to travel to Jerusalem with that slave during the Passover to Pentecost period.  They had heard about the young Jewish Rabbi that had been crucified in 30 AD.  There were conflicting stories.  Some were positive while others were negative.  Lucius and his slave had discussed these stories about this Joshua who supposedly was the Anointed One.  As they were returning home the slave was reading from the prophet Isaiah.  Both men were not agreeing on what that specific passage was saying.

As they were disagreeing good naturedly, a man they were passing heard their argument.  He called out and offered his thoughts.  Lucius told the slave to stop the chariot.  The man on foot was invited to join them.  He began showing them that this Joshua was the Messiah or Anointed One which the Hebrew scriptures spoke of.  The deeper he went into the scriptures, the more convinced they were that this Hebrew Joshua was the prophesied Messiah or Anointed One.   This invited guest spoke about this Joshua being immersed to fulfill all righteousness.  He pointed out how a believer, when he submitted to immersion in the name of this Joshua, was buried with him into his death and raised from that death to enter into the new life offered by Joshua.  The slave saw a body of water and asked the traveler if he and his master could be buried with Joshua and raised into that new life.  They stopped, wadded into the water, and the man immersed both of them in the name of Joshua.

When they finished, the traveler said he needed to take the road leading to Azotus.  They bid him God speed and watched him disappear over the next hill.  Their former argument was forgotten as they joyfully continued toward home.  They were excited about sharing their biblical information about Joshua the Messiah.  They wondered if anyone back home knew about this Joshua?

Back home the slave began questioning other slaves if they knew Joshua.  Some had heard a few rumors.  The slave began teaching them what the traveler had pointed out to him and his master.  The master, with his slave, made their weekly trip to the synagogue and asked the attendees the same question.  They both received the same response.  The master was asked to teach the assembly.  He opened the scriptures to them, showing Joshua was the Anointed One of God.  Soon, many of those they shared with desired to be immersed in Joshua’ name.

Soon, questions were being asked by the group.  How do you ask a question when you don’t know what to ask? Should we go to the synagogue on the first day of the week rather than on the Sabbath?  Since the traveler had not mention either a meeting nor connected it with the first day of the week, why would such a question be asked?  Since they were believers in Joshua as the Messiah or Anointed One, what would that mean as far as them being his followers?  Must they refer to themselves as follower of Joshua?  If one was a member of a Greek synagogue, should they refer to themselves in Greek as the followers of Jesus?  Should their synagogue worship change?  If so, how?  Why?  Was a change necessary or even essential?  Since the traveler did not give that information, why should they know or suspect any changes were needed?  They were Jews, so now they would be Jews who knew Joshua or Jesus was the Messiah or the Anointed One, or in Greek the Christos.

Since they didn’t know what questions needed to be asked, nor what being a follower of Joshua or Jesus included, perhaps next year’s visit to Jerusalem would include contact with that teacher.  Maybe they could ask him if he would come to their country and city and teach them what Joshua expected his followers to do?

Have you ever wondered if the eunuch in Acts 8 ran into any of those problems when he returned home?  If so, what was he supposed to do each week when no one was available to supply such information?  We often assume that he found an assembly of Christians who did everything we do, and they taught him what was or was not essential.  However, how would we go about proving our assumptions are valid?  If the Jerusalem church continued to make sacrifices at the Temple and pay the Levitical priests for those services to prove they followed the Old Testament Law, is that what the eunuch continued to do (Acts 21:18-26).


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04-30-2020

Four hundred and nine years ago King James of England did the English-speaking world a favor.  He commissioned a translation committee, from members of the Church of England (Anglicans), to produce a new, modern English translation of the Bible for his day.  Since the King James Version (KJV) was a “new” translation, it suffered through the same criticisms which new English translations endure today.  The Geneva Bible had been in print for 51 years.  Wycliffe Bible was also read.  Something “new” in religion often comes with a “suspicious” tag tied to it.  The Geneva Bible was Calvinistic.  Wycliffe translation mirrored the Catholic Vulgate.  The King James Version survived to become the accepted English translation for more than three hundred years.

The American Standard Version appeared in 1901.  It’s claimed to fame was its close tie to the Greek New Testament.  That bondage killed it as far as the reading public was concerned.   The English language does not follow the Greek usage.  It was popular with a few preachers but today is no longer printed.  The New American Standard Version replaced it.  The Revised Standard Version attempted to replace both.  When I was a “boy” preacher in 1954, the RSV came out with a “hardback cover” in red.  Immediately it was condemned by some as a “Communist” Bible due to that specific color.  The NIV followed that version.

Each of those new translations from the ASV to the NIV were compared, not to the original Greek or Hebrew languages, but to the King James as if it was the inspired standard.  The “thee,” “thou,” and “thine” language of the KJV became the authorized way to pray or sing church songs.  Some even woefully proclaimed, “What will we sing if we start using ‘you,’ or ‘your’ while singing?”  Some continue to pray using the KJV grammar which is not objectionable.  The problem that developed in the sixties was that some made the KJV grammar the ONLY way to acceptably pray by God.  Some claimed that it was “God’s prayer language”!

People forget the origin of the King James Version.  It is an ANGLICAN Bible.  It replaced Catholic and Calvinistic translations. But it reflects the beliefs of the 1611 Church of England.  Since the version became so popular with the reading public, those differences came to be accepted as inspired rather than man created.  Examples of Anglican influence would be the refusal of the committee to translate words in Hebrew and Greek into English that conflicted with Anglican beliefs.  Baptism was spelled from the Greek letters into comparable English ones so sprinkling and pouring would not be in conflict with their mode of baptism.  The word means “immersion.”  The word “deacon” was transliterated rather than translated to make the men of 1 Timothy 3:8-12 into a high church “office” rather than to be understood as “male church servants.”   The RSV muddied the water by doing the same thing in Romans 16:1 with Phoebe.  She was a female church servant, but not a male church servant as described by Paul in 1 Timothy 3.

The KJV substituted human tradition into scripture causing future generations to believe something was divine rather than human.  The divine name of God is YHWH.  The consonants were lost due to this non-usage.  That failure to use the consonants was laid at the feet of Jewish culture rather than scripture.  The Jews refused to say YHWH’s name because they thought it was too holy to say.  So, they substituted.  They replaced it with the Hebrew word “Lord.”  The KJV adopted that Jewish tradition.  The Hebrew name YHWH is found 6,519 times in the Hebrew Bible.  The KJV renders it as “Jehovah” (the Latin of YHWH), but only in Exodus 6:3; Psalms 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; and Isaiah 26:1. They substituted the word “LORD” in caps 6,510 times rather than Yahweh or Jehovah.  4 times it is rendered as “God” and then there is 1 variant.  Most English translations after the KJV continued that human tradition.  This caused readers to believe it was sinful to say YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah) when reading.  Exceptions to that engrained belief are the ASV, IEB, and New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses translation) of the Old Testament.

Almost every translation of the Bible, to some degree, mirrors the beliefs of those who worked on it.  Some are better than others, and there will always be one that is considered the worst.  Despite that weakness, each major translation has its merits.  Each has its peculiar substitutions that are noted and explained.  Everyone has his favorite translation.  Philip’s question to the eunuch continues to be needed today, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30).


My Thoughts. . .


Is life playing a cruel joke on you?  Does it seem that whatever decision you make, it is wrong?  Have friends deserted you?  Does it seem that your prayers get no higher than the ceiling?  Here is what scripture says about David.

Testimony in the Old Testament:

For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life–except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5).

Testimony in the New Testament:

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, . . . These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised” (Hebrews 11:32, 39).

He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).

From these passages David appears to have only one major sin that disrupted his peaceful life – “in the case of Uriah the Hittite.”  The rest of his days seem to be tranquil and peaceful without the hint of worry, distress, or disappointment!  That is, until you read some of his prayers.

O God, listen to my prayer.  Don’t ignore my prayer.  Pay attention to me; answer me.  I’m worried, and I’m upset over what the enemy says and how the evil people stare at me . . . I have great anxiety . . . I’m scared; I’m shaking.  I am overwhelmed with horror. . . . I wish I had wings like a dove.  Then I would fly away and rest. . . . I would hurry to my place of escape, far away from the raging wind and the storm.” (Psalm 55:1-6, 8).

Here we see a different story.  In fact, it appears that David is not much different from us.

Have you ever wished you could get away from it all?  When life is closing in on you, wouldn’t you like to have a place where you could lock out that pressure so it could not get to you?  Sometimes we want God to be our slave, fetching our needs how and when we want them.  When His response does not match our desires, we yell at Him as we would a disobedient family member.  David exhibited those frustrations in his prayers as we often do in ours.  Jesus stated, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  Our problem is that God provides that “place,” but we open the wrong doors.

Jesus told his disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart!  And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives.  So, don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

Like the apostles, we look at the storm rather than at Jesus.

And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care if we perish?’  And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’” (Mark 4:37-40).

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