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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Time is the life of the soul

                                    "Time is the life of the soul." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Isn't that an interesting observation as it regards our life on this earth? I thought about that quote by Longfellow when I began

Isn't that an interesting observation as it regards our life on this earth? I thought about that quote by Longfellow when I began considering how to present our editorial lesson for today, the first day of 2012. TIME - where does it go? Didn't we just start this year that, all of a sudden, is ending? I think that I can easily sympathize with old Job when he said, regarding time: that it goes by "swifter than a weaver's shuttle." (Job 7:6)

I guess that it's natural for preachers, teachers and editorialists to think about the subject of time at the ending of a year and the beginning of another so that's what my thoughts will be about today. Our lesson will consist of some things that relate to the subject of "time."

The first thing I'd like to mention is a music video I watched a short time back. It was a performance of that most famous and beautiful hymn, "Amazing Grace." It was performed by a group of four tenors known as "IL DIVO." It is a most beautiful rendition of the song, but it wasn't the singing of it that makes it applicable to this lesson.

Rather, it was the location of the performance that got my editorial juices flowing. It was being performed in front of a live audience in the ruins of the Roman Coliseum. To say that their singing ability enthralled the audience would be an understatement. Think about this setting though for a moment, if you will.

A vast crowd of people, listening to and appreciating a hymn about the "amazing grace" of God, being performed by a group of singers in the arena, the location, where untold thousands died for nothing more than sport. Where professed Christians were put to death in some of the most horrible ways that the evil mind of man could dream up.

And now, about 2000 years later, one of the recognizable and emotionally provoking hymns ever written is being sung not only to an audience present there, but being broadcast around the world to untold millions. What an amazing thing for us to witness and to think about how the passing of time changes things.

Don't you see this as proving what Christ said in Matt. 16:18 about the "gates of hell" not prevailing against His church. And I can't think of a better worldly picture epitomizing the "gates of hell" than what happened in the Roman Coliseum against the followers of Christ. Think of it this way: the "Amazing Grace" of God was given to mankind in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ and He still reigns.

Continuing on with our thoughts on "time" consider this: there was a "time" when a promise was made by God that a Savior/Messiah would be coming. One that would save man from his sins. Then occurred the "time" when this Messiah did come in the flesh. A "time" when He lived, taught, died, was resurrected and ascended back to heaven. And lastly, a "time" when He'll return.

I don't know when that "time" will be and neither does anyone else. But that hasn't stopped many prognosticators over the years from predicting a certain "time" or date. They've all had one thing in common - all have been wrong

It's interesting (to me anyway) that, in making their predictions about the end of "time" and Christ's 2nd coming, they take some passages from the Bible, tie them to things said or written by uninspired men in order to arrive at their wrong conclusions. What I find interesting about this is, they obviously believe some things said in the Bible but, just as obviously, refuse to believe God's Word when it tells us that "nobody, not even Jesus Christ himself, knows when that will be." (Mt. 24:36) What an interesting antithetical way of arriving at their misconceptions.

Well, as we wrap up the old year and start out on our voyage through the new, I feel there are some things we need to consider about this coming "time." I think that first and foremost is the understanding that we don't know how much of this new year that we'll see, do we? Will it run it's entire course? Maybe. If it does, will we run the entire course with it? Again, maybe.

You see, there are some things regarding "time" for which we don't have answers. However, there are some things that we can know about "time." We know that it is short, it's passing, it's uncertain and that it's irrevocable when it's gone. And another thing we know from reading God's word is, that we are accountable to God for what portion of "time" we're given.

The passage in Rev. 22:12 says that when Christ returns he'll have our "reward" with Him and it will be bestowed on all mankind, "according to his doings." That phrase, "according to his doings," relates directly to how we use the "life of our soul." And also understand this: that the concept presented by the word "reward" is, oh lets call it, a two-way street.

A well-known hymn writer (Tillit S. Teddlie) once wrote these significant words about "time." He said that, "Yesterday is forever gone. Tomorrow may never come. Today is the day of all days." In Eph. 5:16 God, through the Apostle Paul says: "make the best use of it." I think that should lead us into our final thought about this subject of "time."

When we look back at the words of Longfellow, where he says that "time is the life of the soul," I'm reminded of a couple of scriptures that relate to our passage in Eph. 5:16, the making the best use of our soul's time, and to the picture painted by Longfellow's words. The first one is the preceding verse in Ephesians where, added to verse 16, it reads: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil." (ESV)

Then we should look at the words of Solomon, found in Eccl. 8:5, where we're told "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing; and a wise man's heart descerneth both time and judgment." (KJV)

If you are one to make New Year's resolutions, why not make one that says we're going to be wise in the use of the "time" that our soul is allowed. Because, when you get right down to it, this is the only "time" we have to affect the condition of our soul before it returns to God. (Eccl. 12:7)

Ron Covey

 

Begin the New Year on a solid foundation

 

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  Though I'm the highest paid preacher and the most sought-after speaker, and can command thousands by my great oratory skills, if I have not love, in the ears of God, my voice sounds like a baseball bat striking an empty metal bucket.

 

            And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.  Even if I could predict with precision events of the future; and though there was not a single mystery that I could not solve, nor was there any question that I could not answer; and though I could accomplish great feats with my positive leadership skills, if I have not love, I am nothing.

 

            And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.  Though I empty my bank account and sell everything I have to buy food for the poor, and even if I become a martyr for my cause, if I have not love, it profits me zero.

 

            Love suffers long;  Love is kind;  Love does not envy;  Love does not vaunt itself;  Love is not arrogant;  Love does not behave rudely;  Love does not always demand its own way;  Love is not easily provoked; Love does not keep a scorecard of wrongs;  Love rejoices in Truth, not iniquity.  

 

            Love never gives up;  Love is always hopeful, and Love endures through every circumstance.

 

            Love never fails, it never quits, and is everlasting because God is Love and God is everlasting.

 

            And now abides Faith, Hope, and Love, these three, but the greatest of these is Love.  Faith will cease when we see Him (Hebrews 11:1);  Hope will cease when we receive what we hope for (Romans 8:24), but Love is eternal;  that's why "the greatest of these is Love."

 

            Begin the New Year on a solid foundation.  Learn of God by studying your Bible.  The more you know God, the more you will Love Him.

                                                                                               

--Toby Miller

Committee to Save Merry Christmas

 

     I'm sure you've heard a lot of talk about the fact that some retailers seem to be getting away from saying "Merry Christmas!" and instead are substituting phrases like "Season's Greetings!" or "Happy Holidays!" in their decorations and their advertisements.  Someone has even written this politically correct Christmas greeting:

     "Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all."

     Many Christians are outraged at this shift and view this as one more attempt to remove all references to Christ from our culture.  In response, a group has been organized called the "Committee to Save Merry Christmas".  Here are some of their thoughts:

     "This deliberate and intentional substitution of 'Merry Christmas" with un-celebratory phrases are thoughtless, condescending and hurtful.  Should you -- the purchasing public -- who honors the American tradition and culture of Christmas, continue to purchase Christmas gifts from these stores when they deliberately and intentionally refuse to acknowledge Christmas? Our committee believes you should not!  We, instead, encourage you to shop where the values and meaning of Christmas are cherished."

     I have some concerns.  On the one hand, I am concerned about attempts (sometimes blatant attempts) to remove all references to God or Christianity from our society.  But, on the other hand, I have to remember that God did not give Sears (or any other store) the responsibility of telling people about Christ.  He did not give our American government that responsibility.  He gave it to those of us who are Christians.

     I think it's ironic that a lot of Christians are upset that Target doesn't greet them with "Merry Christmas!" when they walk through the door, but they will make no attempt to talk about Christ in their own lives.  We prefer to say "It's a beautiful day!" instead of "What a beautiful day God has given us!"  We prefer to say, "I've been lucky or fortunate" instead of saying "God has blessed me."  We would never dream of saying "Christ is the only way of salvation." for fear of being labeled a fanatic.  But then we'll get upset at a store which has a banner proclaiming "Happy Holidays" and refuse to do business with them.

     Folks, let put the responsibility where it belongs.  God has given those of us who are Christians the task of sharing Christ with a world that doesn't know him.  God "has given us the ministry of reconciliation...and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:18-19).  If we're going to get upset, let's start getting upset about the fact that WE'VE not been doing that like we should!

Alan Smith

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What is a watershed?

In recent years I've noticed a new signs along Interstate highways that announce
entry into a particular watershed.  For many this will be a mystery; what in the
world is a "watershed"?  The web site for the Environmental Protection Agency
gives this definition: "A watershed is the area of land where all of the water
that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place."

Waterways have been significant in determining locations of new settlements in
our country.  Water is one of the most essential resources for human sustenance,
as well as transportation and agriculture.  Look at a U.S. map and note how many
cities are situated on the banks of major rivers or at ocean ports.  People need
water, and they naturally settle where they can find it in abundance.

Not surprisingly, the word has become a metaphor as well.  A "watershed event"
is one which changes the course of things afterward.  The signing of the
Declaration of Independence changed the loyalties of colonists of the New World.
The Emancipation Proclamation forever changed the way in which some in the
United States viewed their fellowman as mere property.

An interesting list, found at http://listverse.com/2010/08/28/top-10-watershed-
moments-in-history/, states the top 10 watershed events in human history.  Some
of the events I might have predicted: the invention of the printing press and
the development of the smallpox vaccine.  Other items on the list remind me that
I'm not as well-versed in world history as I need to be.

I was pleased, however, to see the number one item on the list of watershed
moments in human history: the birth of Jesus Christ.  A quick glance at our
calendars will affirm this claim: this is the year 2011, AD ("in the year of our
Lord").  All years before AD years were BC ("before Christ") years.
(Regrettably, there are strong efforts to change those designations from AD to
CE ("common era") and BC to BCE ("before common era").)

The coming of Christ means that God's grace has been shed abundantly upon
mankind.  Paul stressed that fact in Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that
brings salvation has appeared to all men."  No one is left out of the
opportunity; any who wish may come to Christ for salvation.

But there's more to Paul's statement that needs to also be understood: "Teaching
us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12).  Jesus' appearance on
earth continues to amaze us.  But let us not fail to grasp the reason for His
coming: to lead us out of the darkness of sin to the light of righteousness.

John used this image of light when speaking of Jesus coming to earth: "That was
the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world" (John 1:9).
Later in John's gospel, Jesus used a different metaphor: "He who believes in Me,
as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water"
(John 7:38).

There's the watershed we've been looking for!  Jesus, the Water of Life, can
give us what our souls need most.  As settlers of old who set up their camps
beside flowing rivers, let us pitch our lives beside the ever-flowing living
water.  In that way alone will we find everlasting, satisfying life!

Timothy D. Hall

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peace on Earth

 

          How many times will Luke 2:8ff be read or quoted this month? Perhaps we especially like verse 14: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased" (NASV). I can't read this passage without picturing Linus on stage quoting these verses. Isaiah pictured the reign of the Messiah as one of peace, for those who would "walk in His paths" (Isa. 2:3-4).

 

          It is easy to have peace among those who submit to the Lord's rule. But what about "peace on earth" between those who follow the Prince of Peace and those who do not? Paul wrote in Romans 12:18: "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." How can we have peace with those who do not submit to the kingdom of Christ?

 

          Here are some ideas... Speak gently with them. "A soft answer turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1)."Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:6).

 

           Second, try to understand them. Seek first to understand. Then, to be understood. Proverbs 25:12 says, "Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear." Third, be patient. Jesus says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" and Paul tells us that "Love is patient and kind" (Matthew 5:44 and 1 Corinthians 13:4).

 

          Fourth, apologize for any misunderstanding or error on your part. That follows from speaking gently and trying to understand. Humility requires us to do such. "For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation" (Psalm 149:4). Fifth, control your reaction. This is one of the hardest, perhaps. Control your tongue. Control your thoughts. Control your actions. "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Proverbs 25:28).

 

          Finally, always entrust your life, your happiness, your future into the hands of your loving Father in heaven.  You may get slighted here on earth. But God will take care of you forever. "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19).

 

          "Strive for peace with everyone" (Hebrews 12:14).

 

--Paul Holland

Monday, December 19, 2011

What is reconciliation?

There are certain words in the Bible that astound the mind and thrill the heart.  Words like "redemption," "forgiveness," "grace," and "salvation" are among those words.  The worldly minded can never appreciate the magnitude nor the depth of those words as they relate to matters eternal.   But those who have been rescued from the bondage of sin have an appreciation that cannot be expressed in words.   The word "reconciliation" is another word that falls into that category.   It is not a difficult word, nor is it hard to understand.   Webster defines the word "reconciliation" as meaning "to restore to friendship or harmony, to settle or resolve." When applied to people it means to get two separated people back together again.  It may refer to a husband who wants to be reconciled to his wife, or a father who wants to be reconciled to a wayward son.  But when we use the word to refer to a sinner who wants to be reconciled to God we have come upon the richest use of the word in all of human language.   Reconciliation occurs when sinners are brought into a state of favor with God.   You may speak of material blessings, abundance of riches, or great and abundant possession in this life.  But when you talk about reconciliation with God you have exhausted the meaning of what it means to be blessed.   

 

While it is not difficult to understand the meaning of the word, it may be difficult to put reconciliation into practice, so far as human relations are concerned.   It can be difficult, and even sometimes impossible, to get two family members who are at odds with one another to be reconciled to each other.   Alan Smith shared this humorous story with his readers some years ago:  A man once went to a preacher because he was having some family problems.  He wasn't a very well-educated man and sometimes got his words confused. He said, "Me and my wife need a re-cancellation."  What he meant to say was reconciliation, but the word re-cancellation wasn't a bad choice. Because there can be peace for those who have been separated only when sin has been canceled. As sinners before a righteous God, we need a "re-cancellation".  And that's exactly what Jesus made available when he died on the cross (Alan Smith, www.TFTD-online.com).   

 

Our English words "reconcile," "reconciled," or "reconciliation" appear ten times in the New Testament (Matt. 5:24, Rom. 5:10, 1 Cor. 7:11, 2 Cor. 5:18, 5:19, 5:20, Eph. 2:16, Col 1:20, 1:21, and Heb. 2:17).   Some of these passages speak of reconciliation between two human individuals; some speak of God's act of reconciling the lost to Himself; and some speak of man's responsibility to "be reconciled" to God.   It is 2 Corinthians 5:18 that I want to focus our attention on for this article:  "But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation" (emphasis mine, TW).  Let us notice the following truths relative to reconciliation as presented in this passage.

 

First, Paul speaks of the ministry of reconciliation.  The very focus of our labors in the kingdom is that of reconciling men to God.   So often we lose sight of our purpose as the body of Christ.  God has given unto us the task of saving the souls of men.  This should be the focus of our labors in all that we do.  If we manage to encourage one another, to uplift the body, or organize and conduct a dozen or more fellowship meals each year, but neglect the salvation of the souls of men we have not accomplished what God wants us to accomplish.  Ours is not a ministry to improve the physical man, maintain a soup kitchen, cloth the naked, pay electric bills, water bills, or stock and operate a pantry for the homeless.  Paul clearly points out that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.  Our task is to save the souls of men. If we neglect that part of our work as the body of Christ, nothing else really matters. 

 

Second, Paul sets forth the terms of reconciliation.  "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature" (5:17).   In another passage Paul tells us that we are reconciled unto God "in one body…through the cross" (Eph. 2:16).  The important word in both of these passages contains only two letters. It is the word "in."   It is IN Christ that we are reconciled to God; it is IN Christ that we become a new creature; it is IN Christ that men come to have salvation.  If we are to fulfill the "ministry of reconciliation" we must be about telling men how to get INTO Christ.   If we do not fulfill that responsibility, then it will not get done.  The religious world does not teach the truth on this matter and men in general have no idea as to how to get INTO Christ!   When Paul told the Romans that they were baptized "into Christ" (Rom. 6:3-5), and the Galatians that those who are baptized "into Christ" did put on Christ (Gal. 3:27) he forever settled the question as to the importance of baptism in God's scheme of redemption. 

 

Third, Paul sets forth the results of reconciliation.  "Wherefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new" (5:17).  Love of the world gives way to the love of God and Jesus; old views are replaced by new ones; new aims take the place of worldly goals; treasures are laid up in heaven rather than upon the earth.  A man once said that since he had become a Christian that all things had NOT become new because he still had the same wife, and same old sun shone every morning.  That man missed the thrust of Paul's words.  All things have become new in that the new creature no longer lives unto himself, but unto Him Who died for him (2 Cor. 5:15). 

 

Fourth, Paul tells us about the method of reconciliation.  "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).  If a man is estranged from his wife, he might be able to bring about reconciliation with some flowers and a large dose of humility.  But when man sins against God, his "iniquities" will hide God's face from him, and separate him from his Father in heaven.  All the flowers in the world cannot atone for sin.  We were not purchased with "corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18-19).   The vicarious suffering of our Lord is the method by which God would save man.  Thus, as the innocent suffered for the guilty, suffering what sin deserved to suffer, God could be just and the justifier of them that believe (Rom. 3:26).  Voluntary substitution is in perfect harmony with justice, provided every step is voluntary - the substitute in offering, the government in allowing, and the criminal in accepting.   Seeing that none of us have it within our power to pay the price for our sins, the very offer from the eternal God of grace to provide a substitute should drive us to our knees in grateful appreciation for this method of reconciliation!  C.C. Crawford once wrote:

 

This principle of vicarious suffering is the foundation upon which civilization has been built - in fact upon which all society has been built, civilized or uncivilized. It is also the essential principle of human progress towards that one, far-off event, towards which the whole creation moves.  Not so many years ago there went forth from our homes thousands of fine young men. They crossed the rolling deep and pitched their tents on Flanders fields and in the valleys of the Argonne.  When they started out, many thought it would be a lark.  But the poetry of war soon vanished, and nothing was left but the prose.  They lived in dug-outs.  They marched and ate and slept in mud. They rushed into living hells. They had ribs fractured, eyes put out, lungs filled with gas, limbs shot away. Thousand cried for water as they lay dying on the battlefields, and received it not.  They were cold and weary and homesick. No one but Almighty God knows the length and breadth and depth of the awful anguish and suffering of those who fought, bled and died on those European battlefields.  Why did fathers leave their homes and go to the front?  Why did young men, postponing the day of marriage, press the last, long, lingering kisses upon the lips of the sweethearts, and then rush away into war with its uncertain future?  I am still convinced that they died for a principle. I refuse to believe that it was all in vain - that a sacrifice is ever in vain.  There may have been greed, graft and corruption mixed up with all of it, but there was nobility, too!  Autocracy had to be overthrown, lest our own wives and daughters might have to suffer what the innocent women and children of Belgium and France suffered. The war had its sordid side, of course; but surely all this bloodshed was not meaningless!  A thousand times; yea, ten thousand times - no!  I still believe that these men suffered to advance the cause of democracy and freedom. As for me I glory in the crimson line.  I am thrilled when I read its suggestive meaning in the cup of the Lord's Supper. I am moved with an unexplainable ecstasy when I see the ancient altars dripping with the blood of the slain lambs.  Now I understand why the destroying angel who passed over Egypt at the hour of midnight, passed over those houses where the blood was sprinkled on the door-post. Now, I know to whom Isaiah refers, when he writes of One "in red apparel coming in dyed garments"; whom John the Revelator refers to, when he describes that heavenly chieftain whose vesture was dipped in blood; what Simon Peter means when he writes of that precious blood which cleanseth from all sin; and what the writer of our text has in mind when he declares that "apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."  I want to say to you, with all the power of emphasis and persuasion of which I am capable, that by the precious blood of Jesus you will be saved, or you will never be saved at all.  In all ages God has never pardoned a single sin-sick soul except on the merits of our Savior's precious blood, and He never will.  That lonely hill back of Jerusalem was the battleground of which the Prince of heaven fought with the powers of darkness, and won.  There God turned an evil thing into a channel of blessing.  There, Sin, in slaying the Son of God, slew itself.

 

Beloved, if mere men are willing to suffer for the betterment of mankind, how grateful that our Lord was willing to suffer and die for us.  How wonderful, indeed, is the ministry of reconciliation that has been placed in our hands! 

 

--by Tom Wacaster

 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Working With Jell-O

 

 

Senator John Boehner used this analogy some months back when referring to attempts to "negotiate" with the President and his staff in matters concerning the economy, taxes, and balancing the budget.   More precisely the Speaker of the House pointed out, "Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-o," Boehner said. "Some days it's firmer than others. Sometimes it's like they've left it out over night."   I have been preaching for almost four decades now, and I can attest to the frustration that comes with trying to reason with folks in a logical, analytical manner.   Some folks simply cannot be taught; not because they are incapable of receiving the facts, but because they have become so close-minded that the truth cannot penetrate their thick skull.  Pride and selfishness play an important role in hardening the heart and closing the mind to truth.   It is even possible for a person to so harden his heart that he no longer loves the truth (2 Thess. 2:10).  When a man reaches that point in his life, "God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Frankly, that frightens me!  

 

 I used to say that reasoning with some folks is like trying to wrestle with an octopus - about the time you get hold of one arm in an attempt to tie the creature down, another one grabs you from an altogether different direction.   Liberalism has a way of avoiding truth while making you think it is addressing the issue.  Politicians are good at this.   If you have some time to waste, tune in to CNN or C-SPAN and listen to the news conferences with any of our leading politicians on any issue whatsoever.    Try to pin a politician down on any issue and you will quickly learn that it really is like trying to work with Jell-O.    You might take a moment to tune in to one of many talk show programs.  It is astounding how a liberal can call in, be asked a simple "yes" or "no" question by the host, and in an attempt to answer the question actually avoid the question all together!   Every attempt to press the point of the discussion is like - well, like working with Jell-O!

 

Liberals in politics have their counterpart in the sphere of religion.  Trying to reason with purveyors of false doctrine is like working with Jell-O; you can't pin them down on any single issue, and simple "yes" or "no" questions are avoided like the plague!  I have had opportunity to conduct two public debates in more than forty years of preaching.  One thing I have learned from those debates is the inability (or unwillingness) of my opponent to stay with the subject.   It is like working with Jell-O, and most of the time it is Jell-O it its liquefied state!   Reason flies out the window, emotion takes hold of the disputant, and you end up chasing rabbits more than addressing the subject at hand.  It can be frustrating! 

 

This week I had the opportunity to discuss a religious matter with someone I met while eating breakfast at Whataburger.  I have learned from practical experience that "arguing" with someone over a religious topic accomplishes little.   So, when I come across a prospective student, I attempt to get an appointment to come into their home and have an open Bible study.  This will provide opportunity for the student to see what the Bible teaches, rather than listen to what I might think on the matter.    On this particular occasion I asked the question, "Why do you suppose there are so many strange churches popping up everywhere?"   Rather than address my question, he took the same kind of approach a politician might take on a sticky issue, and commenced to discuss how his fiancĂ© has some really "weird" ideas about religion.  When I asked him what might motivate a person to pursue such radical and far-fetched ideas, he asked if I believed in prophets today.  Attempting to keep him on the subject and move toward an in-home Bible study, I asked if he would like to see what the Bible had to say on the matter.  He changed the subject again - this time he wanted to discuss the unreasonableness of some women when it comes to having a normal conversation on husband and wife responsibilities.  I felt like I was trying to work with Jell-O.    It was difficult (if not impossible) to pin him down on any single point, and our conversation ended with an invitation to visit our worship assembly or public Bible study opportunities.   As expected, there was no definite commitment, but the typical response, "I might just do that someday!"    "Someday" - but then that's a topic for another discussion. 

 

Some weeks back I watched a portion of Walt Disney's "Alice In Wonderland."  It reminded me, in an amusing way, of how illogical some folks can be.   Some years ago Jefferson Airplane produced a song titled, "White Rabbit" - a definite reference to Alice in Wonderland and the complete lack of logic demonstrated in the story.  The last stanza of the song is thought provoking:

 

"When logic and proportion

Have fallen sloppy dead

And the White Knight is talking backwards

And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"

Remember what the dormouse said;

'Keep YOUR HEAD'"

 

Next time you are in a discussion with someone who cannot seem to stay on the subject, "keep your head," and remember - trying to reason with some people is like working with Jell-O!

By Tom Wacaster

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ASK YOUR "DOCTOR" ABOUT PROGRESSIVOR TODAY

 

Are you tired of walking in "the strait and narrow way"?  Are you finding that to "abide in the doctrine of Christ" is too restrictive?  Does the mere mention of "the old paths" make you nauseated or send you into fits of rage against "antiquated thinking"?  Are you finding it dull and boring to do all "in the name of the Lord Jesus"?  Would you like to be able to enjoy greater freedom and more flexibility in your moral life . . . to loosen up and have more fun?  Would you like to enjoy a more entertaining atmosphere in worship (whenever you may decide to attend worship)?  Would you like to have a more broadminded and inclusive attitude toward the different religious beliefs and viewpoints that are out there in today's world?  Then ask your D.D. ("Doctor of Divinity"), pastor, preacher, or priest about Progressivor.  This medication has been on the market for several years, and has helped many to a more carefree, less restrictive religious life.  It also is available in a generic brand known as Liberaluce.   

 

This drug has worked wonders in the lives of thousands.  It has enabled people to throw off old fogy moral values and to enjoy a wide range of sexual pleasures, including sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, sex with others although married, sex with those of the same gender, as well as a variety of other sexual activities (whatever floats your boat).  It permits a person to divorce and remarry as often as he or she chooses to do so, and for whatever reason is convenient, or simply to live together without being married at all.  In short, it allows a person to be religious without having to be righteous. 

 

Regular doses of Progressivor have proven to broaden one's tolerance of all kinds of religion, including Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Islam, Secularism, "New Age-ism," as well as the various "brands" of Christianity.  Progressivor aids in the adoption of a "salad bar" type of religion which allows one to pick and choose bits and pieces from various religious traditions and to reject those parts that do not meet with one's own wisdom and approval.  Progressivor immunes one from strict adherence to the Bible because the developers of Progressivor have determined that the Bible is wrong about many things.

 

Progressivor allows for entertaining worship services that really resonate and "rock" in today's culture.  Guitars, banjos, fiddles, saxophones, trumpets, and percussions are all allowed.  Just sit back and enjoy the show.  There is no charge for admission.  At some point a plate or basket may be passed through the audience and you will be invited to "pay," but you should feel free to "pay" only what you feel like "paying."  ("Church" really can turn out to be a rather cheap way to enjoy some good entertainment).   And the program is likely to feature a very entertaining speaker (either man or woman) who is able to deliver "one liners" as well  as (or better than)  any late night TV host you have ever heard.  In short, Progressivor is a modern religious "wonder drug."  Be sure to ask your "Doctor" about it today.

 

Potential harmful side effects of Progressivor include blurred vision, resulting in not being able to see at any distance.  Total spiritual blindness has been known to occur in some cases.   Progressivor is also known to result in  deterioration of the backbone,  weak knees, indistinct and misleading speech patterns, confused thinking, and ultimately eternal death (Romans 6:23).  Be sure to check with your "Doctor" before taking Progressivor.  Depending upon his view of God, the Scriptures, religion, and life in general, as well as his respect for the Great Physician, he may or may not recommend it.  Progressivor is not for those who want to please God and live forever with Him in heaven.  But for those who do not believe in either Heaven or Hell, or who believe in the former but not in the latter, Progressivor may be just the religious medication you have been looking for.

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tis the Season for Fools

 

          Have you seen or heard of the billboard in New York and other places, put up by American Atheists? It has wise men traveling toward a manger beneath a star. It reads: "You KNOW it's a MYTH. This season, celebrate reason." The American Atheists have been "celebrating reason" since 1963. Apparently before that, they were fools too...?

 

          Christmas and Easter are the seasons for the fools to come out of the proverbial wood-works.  Not the ones who are celebrating Christ's birthday - although it's safe to say that God is not concerned that we celebrate the birth of Christ. If He was, He would have told us to celebrate it. We ought not to do God's thinking for Him nor think that we can "out-spiritual" God by creating celebrations, for His sake, that He did not command.

 

          Having said that, the incarnation is at the heart of Christianity. Contrary to the beliefs of certain religious groups like the Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses, if God did not become flesh, there could be no salvation. It's only because of the incarnation that we have a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

 

          No, the fools to which I refer are those who incessantly attack Christians for believing that this world didn't happen by accident or for believing that - yes - Jesus was born without a physical/human father and yes - He did raise from the dead.

 

          I'm referring to fools like Dr. Stephen J. Hawking - professor of physics at Cambridge University and best-selling author.  His most recent work, The Grand Design, purports to show that the universe could have come into existence by itself.  What?  That is a totally stupid idea.  How could anything produce itself? Where did the energy come from that produced the thing in the first place?

 

          Perhaps you've heard about the billboard above - Celebrate reason this season.  Yes - please! It is reasonable to believe that either mind is eternal or matter is eternal.  Hawking does not believe the latter; why can't he see the former?

 

          "The fool as said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).

 

-Paul Holland

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm Losing Control of the World"

             Perhaps the quintessential Thanksgiving cartoon is Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving. It's the episode when Peppermint Patty invites herself and Marcie and Franklin over to Charlie Brown's for Thanksgiving dinner. You probably watched the episode. Charlie Brown - because he's "so wishy-washy" in the words of sister Sally - can't tell Peppermint Patty "No." They're supposed to be at their grandmother's for Thanksgiving; they won't even be home.

 

            At one point in his conversations with Peppermint Patty, Charlie Brown hangs up the phone and laments, "I feel like I'm losing control of the whole world." Do you ever feel like that? Have you ever felt like you are not in control of anything? Sometimes we feel like we're not even in control of ourselves.

 

            The great thing is - the liberating thing is - we are not in control. I cannot control anybody except myself. The deception many people fall into is that they believe they can't even control themselves. That is decidedly false. On the other hand, we do not control the world nor anything in it - except ourselves.

 

            The great thing is that God is in control.  He always does what is right. He always does what is best. He always does what is the good for us, His children. That is liberating and ought to make life much more worry-free.

 

            In the following verse, meditate on what God says about Himself and what He tells Abraham to do: "When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1).

 

--Paul Holland

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is Jesus the reason for the season?

One of the often seen quotes at this time of the year is, "Jesus is the
reason for the season." Of course that is in reference to the coming
Christmas Holiday. I realize that for a lot of folks that is a very true
statement. The question is, should it be that way?

What makes the month of December any more holy or inspiring than any other
time of the year. Samuel Johnson wrote this about this season: "(We as a
people or) the Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days,
but as memorials of important facts (or events). Christmas might be kept as
well upon one day of the year as another; but (I feel) there should be a
stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is
danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected."

Are we in danger of neglecting remembering the day of the birth of Jesus?
Well, in all honesty you have to admit that the church we read about in the
bible never celebrated that day. Was it a momentous occasion? Absolutely! It
received a detailed description of the day in the gospels. The problem as I
see it is not the keeping of Christmas, but remembering Jesus every day.

Our daughter-in-law Mylinda shared these words of wisdom from our adorable 4
year old grand daughter Allison: One morning Allison told her mom: "Jesus
lives in your heart. That's where I keep MY Jesus, in my heart, all day
long!"

You see, too some Jesus is the reason for this particular season; yet those
with more insight realize that Jesus is the reason for EVERY season. My
prayer is that like that 4 year old little girl; I can keep Jesus in MY
heart all day long. Not just this season or this month or on the 25th of
December, but every day.

From now on, whenever I hear the phrase, "Jesus is the reason for the
season," I'm going to try to respond, "No, Jesus is the reason for every
season, "because I have him right here in my heart all day long.

Russ Lawson

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