24 December 2012


First of all, it is best that we define three of the words in the heading of this article. The word ‘symptoms’ as used in the medical field can be described as indicators of an underlying health problem. For example, if someone is experiencing chronic fatigue, this may indicate a serious heart problem. In spiritual matters, a member of the church who is habitually absent from the worship assemblies may indicate that there is a lack of love for the Lord which is a real ‘heart problem’.  The word ‘society’ is defined as: “A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations”. The following definition is one of the best that I could find regarding the word ‘secular’ (adjective) but in this case I will use the word ‘secularization’ (noun) to aid in our understanding of the word ‘secular’:

“Secularization refers to the historical process in which
religion loses social and cultural significance. As a
result of secularization the role of religion in modern
societies becomes restricted. In secularized societies
faith lacks cultural authority, religious organizations
have little social power, and public life proceeds without
reference to the supernatural. Secularization captures
a long-term societal change, but it has consequences
for religion itself. In Western countries,
where it has been most pronounced, it has made the
connection to their Christian heritage more tenuous.
Yet secularization is important beyond the formerly
Christian West, given that many of the forces that first
sustained it there affect other societies as well.”
    - Frank J. Lechner

It is generally understood that a structure is no stronger than its foundation. This is true of civil governments and nations. When the foundation has been weakened, society is most likely to crumple, decay and implode. In Psalm 11:3 we read, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” The foundation of any civilization is the family unit. Someone has rightly said, “As the home goes, so goes the nation.” In our country, the traditional understanding of marriage and the home is under attack by Satan and our secular society. Biblically speaking, marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman as husband and wife (See Genesis 2:20-25; Matthew 19:4-6 & Ephesians 5:22-33). This is God’s design for marriage and the home and believers in His Holy Word are bound by the will of the Heavenly Father in this important matter.

But decisions are being made by governmental officials and judges as well as citizens in various states in our nation to the contrary of what we refer to as a ‘traditional marriage’. Note the following:  “On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved the legalization of same-sex marriage in their states.  In addition, voters in Minnesota rejected a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as an opposite-sex union.  Same-sex marriage is already legal in Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), New Hampshire (2010) and Washington, D.C. (2010).  In addition, California continues to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed between June 16 and November 4, 2008, the period in which same-sex marriage was legal in California.”  The ‘Gay Movement’ is becoming more and more influential in our society. Even some mainline denominations are ordaining ‘gays’ to be bishops and preachers. Some ‘Pastors’ are performing marriages of same-sex couples. The movies and television programs are presenting same-sex marriage as an alternate and acceptable lifestyle. Not a few school systems are using text books to influence our children that ‘two fathers’ or ‘two mothers’ are normal and that parents should not object to such teaching in the classrooms. Biblical passages found in Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Jude 7 clearly condemn such life styles.

We also have learned that married couples are now in the minority. There are more young adults ‘living together’ rather than choosing to go through a marriage ceremony. Again, the movies and television programs are projecting this arrangement as being acceptable in our modern society. The Holy Spirit had the apostle Paul to write in Galatians 5:19-21 that “fornication” (“illicit sexual intercourse) is one sin mentioned among others as being classified as “works of the flesh” and “that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” “Other signs of cultural decay are accepted with little notice. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of babies born in America are born to unmarried women.”

In this ‘secular society’, “there have been 53 million abortions performed in the United States since Roe v. Wade was decided back in 1973. While the number of abortions is down, on the average, there have been approximately 1.21 million abortions in America each year.” One may call that which is growing in a pregnant woman’s womb a fetus or whatever; but, the fact is, it is a living being, an unborn child. God’s attitude concerning abortion is found in Proverbs 6:16, 17: “These are six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood…” (Emphasis, mine, RE).

Our teens are being taught in many of our schools (even in lower grades) on how to have ‘safe sex’ while the objections of parents are being rejected. Some liberal-minded professionals, including educators and doctors, believe that teenage girls should have the right to purchase “emergency contraceptive pills, generally sold in the U.S. as Plan B-Step or Next Choice.” “These pills contain a synthetic hormone similar to birth control pills, prevent ovulation – and, therefore pregnancy – about 85 percent of the time when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.” John, the apostle of love, was instructed by the Lord to write these word, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Emphasis, mine, R.E., Revelation 21:8).

Cal Thomas, a well known columnist writes, “There is no longer any cultural corrective because we have abandoned the concept of objective truth. Nothing is right or wrong, because that suggests a standard by which right and wrong might be defined. Personal choice is the new "standard," which is no standard at all. One might as well develop individual weights and measures. This is the age of pluralism, inclusivism and tolerance wherein individuals have the right to believe whatever they choose, morally, doctrinally, etc. But this is not anything new. In Judges 21:25, we read, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

A growing number of people, especially young people, no longer believe in God or religion. An October poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life drew attention to the rise of the religiously unaffiliated—now 1 out of 5 adults and 1 out of 3 adults under 30.” Atheists, the ACLU and other liberal groups are continuing to make impact on our nation’s scene with their objections to anything pertaining to ‘Christianity’. My friends, America is not a ‘Christian nation’. Believers in God, Jesus Christ and the Bible are in for a real battle against the forces of evil that are prevalent in our nation.

There are other ‘symptoms’ we could discuss that are indicators of the deplorable condition in our country but we shall mention only these presently. In closing, please read carefully the following from the Word of God: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).  “The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). The passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 had reference to God’s chosen people at that time which was the nation of Israel; however, the directives, principles and promises can be applied to the present condition in our country today. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thomas, Cal, Newspaper Article, Gay Marriages, etc
The National Law Review, Employment and HR: United States: Results of State Voter Referendums On Same-Sex Marriage: Implications for Employee Benefit Plans, McDermott Will & Emery
Christianity Today, December, 2012
Article by Joseph S. Adams, Jacob Mattinson, Todd A. Solomon and Brian J. Tiemann
Merica, Dan, CNN
Yudell, Michael, Article, Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Bible, New King James Version

24 November 2012

A Gated Church

No doubt, we all have of heard of a ‘gated residential community’. But a ‘gated church’? Well, the church is not really ‘gated’ but the property is sometimes ‘gated’ to keep unwanted people off of the premise who might break into the building or to enter the grounds for immoral purposes. I have heard of some churches having fences around their parking lot in order to keep would be thieves from breaking into the automobiles while the members were worshiping. For the first time to my knowledge there is a church of Christ in the city where I live that has installed a gate to keep cars and trucks from entering their property except during their worship assemblies. The famous city of Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish worship, was indeed a literal ‘gated’ city as mentioned in the Bible.

In the New Testament we find several references to ‘gates’ being mentioned. The first one I desire to observe is the “narrow gate” that is found in the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 7:13, 14. In most instances, you will have to be invited into a ‘gated community’ before receiving permission to enter the premise if you do not live there. The “narrow gate” that Jesus mentioned is open to all who will accept His invitation that he extended as found in Matthew 11:28: 30: “Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (NKJV). But a person cannot accidentally enter the “narrow gate”; rather every effort will be required as is plainly taught in Luke 13:24: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Those who enter the “narrow gate” and walk the “straitened” way will eventually enjoy eternal life with God. In contrast, there is the “broad gate”. There is much sadness in the Lord’s statement, “many are they that enter in thereby” (ASV). Those who enter the “broad way” simply fail to make proper preparation or they rebel against the Lord and His word. This is the easy way to travel but the end leads to “destruction”.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus made this precious promise before He died on the cross: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” One understanding of the latter part of this verse is that though Jesus would die on Calvary’s cross and His soul would go to Hades (the unseen world of departed spirits), He would not remain there (See Acts 2:27). No power could prevent Him from coming forth from the grave and fulfilling His promise to establish His church. This He did on the first Pentecost Day following His resurrection when He sent the Holy Spirit upon His twelve apostles (Acts 2). It was then that the gospel of Christ was preached and some 3,000 penitent believers responded and were immersed and the Lord added them to the church (Acts 2:36-38, 41, 47). The church of Jesus Christ has an ‘open door’ policy. No one is to be excluded or prevented from entering the church which is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23). The church is where both Jew and Gentile can be reconciled to God and be “fellow heirs, of the same body” (Ephesians 2:11-18; 3:3-6).

There is a ‘gate’ found in Hebrews 13:12 that is of great importance, especially to all who have had their sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5): “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, Martel Pace makes this observation regarding verses 12 and 13: “The idea of the animals being incinerated outside the camp on the Day of Atonement is introduced. The bull offered for sin was carried outside the camp (see Lev. 16:27). The idea of Jesus’ being crucified OUTSIDE THE GATE (v.12, Emphasis, mine, RE); see Jn.19:20) fulfilled that symbol. By accepting the stigma of guilt (a probable meaning of “outside the gate”), Jesus could bear our sins. Leaving the camp (v.13) suggest a total break from the synagogue and the temple.”

In contrast to the church, heaven is a ‘gated community’! Jesus has gone to prepare a place for all who prepare to go there when this life on earth is finished (John 14:1-3). Jesus Himself is “the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is only when we give our lives to God that we will be permitted to enter into “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10, 11). In Revelation chapters 21 and 22, the gates in heaven are mentioned six times. They are described as follows: “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west” (21:12, 13) “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl” (21:21). “Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there)” (21:25). Now, please note who will be able to enter the eternal city of God: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (21:27). “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (22:14). This is the final invitation our Lord will extend to the redeemed: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Individuals who will not be permitted to enter the gates of heaven are described as follows: “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murders, and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (22:15). “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (21:8).

Gates can be used to keep someone in or out. Often gates function in both directions for people to enter and/or leave. In heaven, the gates open only one way and that is to permit saved people to enter for eternity. "Dad," said Charles H. Gabriel, Jr., from the embrace of his father, "if I never see you again here, I'll meet you where the gates never swing outward." His father, the beloved song writer, had gone to New York to bid his son God-speed as he departed for France during the First World War. It was while clasped in that last good-bye, his eyes turned toward the gates through which he must pass to go on shipboard. Those gates of entrance to war and death swung both ways; it gave him apt figure of speech to phrase his parting from his father. "I'll meet you where the gates never swing outward!" The words sketched a picture in the mind of his father, who, while the train journeyed westward toward his Chicago home, held in his heart his son's heart-warming good-bye of love and...affection. From his meditation came this tender song: "Where the gates swing outward never!" (From Forty Gospel Hymn Stories by George W. Sanville, 1943, p. 80.

Where the Gates Swing Outward Never

“Just a few more days
to be filled with praise,
And to tell the Old, old story:
Then, when twilight falls,
and my Savior calls,
I shall go to Him in glory.”

Just a few more years
with their toil and tears,
And the journey
Will be ended;
Then I’ll be with Him,
where the tide of time
With eternity is blended.

What a joy t’will be
when I wake to see
Him for whom my
Heart is burning!
Nevermore to sigh,
never more to die –
For that day
my heart is yearning.


I’ll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I’ll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign for ever.”

~ Charles H. Gabriel

02 November 2012

'For Conscience Sake' - My Vote

I am almost apolitical. I was 35 years old before I cast my vote for individuals seeking elective offices in my state and that was due to the encouragement of one of my best friends. And when I did vote, I ‘killed’ his vote for the person running for the office of governor. Since that time, I have voted more for the man rather than for the party. I am conservative by nature and usually I have voted as a
Republican but not always when I had to make a choice on an individual basis for a certain office. I have never made voting for one’s choice a test of Christian fellowship. I have been disappointed in some of my choices of candidates after learning of their lack of moral fortitude and unwise decisions.

I have tried to obey the laws of the land as taught in God’s Word; yet, as an imperfect human, I have often failed in my efforts. Also, I pray for those who are in authority on every level of our government (local, county, state and national). The Lord God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, ordained the civil government but that does not mean He is always pleased with rulers who are evil. (See Romans 13:1-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-15). I fervently believe that God still rules in the affairs/governments of men as taught in the book of Daniel 4:25; 5:21.

When it comes to foreign and economical affairs, I am a layman. I do possess certain convictions regarding these matters that might be different when compared with the convictions of some of my fellow citizens. But my vote for the highest office in our country this time will be based primarily on my convictions regarding some moral issues, namely, abortion and same sex marriage.

The present President endorses and encourages both. As a Christian and a gospel preacher, I cannot vote for a person, regardless of the office he seeks, who would support either of these issues. I believe that life begins at conception and it is not within the realm of mortal man to go counter to what God has taught in His Holy Word in taking the life of the unborn child. God made man and woman to be joined in marriage (See Genesis, chapter 2). Jesus Christ gave credence to this account as found in Matthew 19:4-6. The apostle Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Romans 1:18-32, that sexual relationship, women with women and men with men was both shameful and unnatural. Sodomy is condemned both in the Old and New Testaments (See Leviticus 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; 2 Peter 2:4-9; Jude 7). I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet (my father was a mill worker), but the time is coming, unless there is a drastic change in the moral condition of our nation, that preachers of the Word of God will be accused of ‘hate crimes’ when we teach what the Bible says on these subjects. It has happened in other countries and it is probably being considered among some officials in our nation.

I now quote in part the words of the great reformer, Martin Luther, when he was being tried at the Diet of Worms, Germany in 1521: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason … I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”

26 September 2012

"Little Is Much When God Is In It"

The subject of this article is the title of a beautiful and meaningful religious song. The lyrics are as follows:

“In the harvest field now ripened,
There's a work for all to do.
Hark, the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.

Does the place you're called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He'll not forget His own.

When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
"Welcome home, my child, well done."

Little is much when God is in it.
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name.
~  Kittie J. Suffield
In Matthew 13:31, 32, we read the words of Jesus about small beginnings: “Another parable he put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, “which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” The church of Jesus Christ began small, comparatively speaking, with 3,000 souls being saved on Pentecost (Acts 2). The early church not only added members but “multiplied greatly” (Acts 6:7; 2:47; 5:14; 6:1). It is estimated by the time of the death of Stephen there were some 20,000 members in the city of Jerusalem. Rapid numerical growth among religious groups does not necessarily mean that God is pleased with their teaching and practices. There are ‘mega’ churches today that simply teach what is pleasing to the hearers and provide instrumental music during their assemblies that would arouse more emotionalism than true spiritual strength.

However, there are devout Christian men and women who will travel thousands of miles to begin a work in a Christ-less country and live for years in the preaching and teaching of the gospel of Christ. Such sacrifices are deserving of our financial support and prayers. There are Christian families who have moved to areas in our own country where there was not a congregation and they began worshiping in their homes and inviting friends and neighbors to visit with them. These dedicated Christians are to be commended for their faithfulness. There are several strong churches existing today because of such commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.

And then there are churches in small cities and rural areas that are suffering the loss of members due to deaths and the moving of their young adults to large cities in order to find work. Of course there are some who become unfaithful and that contributes to the lessening of the number present for the various assemblies. The fact is that in many areas we are not converting others to Christ as in years past. The field may or may not be as fertile as it once was when people would allow you to have Bible studies in their homes and when our neighbors would attend our gospel meetings. Also there are ‘inner city churches’ that have suffered the loss of members who have chosen to identify with larger congregations in suburban areas where their children can be with other children of the same age group and where more activities are planned for the youth. Nevertheless, the small groups of Christians who remain faithful year after year are worthy of our encouragement for their steadfastness.

It is not recorded in Revelation 3:7-13 the size of the church in Philadelphia and that is not the important thing to remember about these saints. It was their faithfulness that mattered with the Lord. He said, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Vs.8). It is implied in this verse that the church in that city was few in number but strong in faith because the Lord did not find fault with them. The Christians had kept His word and had not denied His name. The Lord expressed His love for them (vs.9); they had persevered and He exhorted them to permit no one to “take your crown” (Vs.11). Finally He makes this promise to them: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God
and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name”

Always remember it is not the size but the faithfulness of a congregation that is important in the sight of our Lord Jesus Christ. Read again the words found in the second stanza of the song, ”Little Is Much When God Is In It”:

“Does the place you're called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He'll not forget His own.”

In conclusion, may these inspired words of the apostle Paul be inscribed in your heart when you become discouraged: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (NKJV, Galatians 6:9)

21 August 2012

May 1, 1919 – July 3, 2012

I had the privilege and honor of speaking at the funeral service for sister Frances Cochran on Friday, July 6, 2012 in the South Commerce church of Christ building in Summerville, Georgia, my home congregation. Sister Cochran was 93 years old at her passing on Tuesday, July 3. Her husband, Charles, died some 36 years earlier. They had one daughter, Martha Cochran (Ken) Parker. They were dear friends of my family. Sister Cochran had known me for some 70 years.

In December of 1941, my family moved from the community of Welcome Hill (which was located a few miles northwest of Trion) to Summerville, the county seat of Chattooga County, Georgia. There was a small group of Christians meeting in a rented hall downtown and near the courthouse. It was a short time later that the Cochran and Elliott families met. In 1945, a new building was constructed on South Commerce Street and the church began meeting there. There were several Christian men and women who influenced me as a young boy but none more than Charles and Frances Cochran and Julius and Thelma Sprayberry. I am sure that the Bible class material used in those early years would have consisted of the small cards published by the Gospel Advocate Company and later the quarterlies that were published by the same company.

Charles and Frances were servants in the truest sense of the word. They carried people to their respective doctors; provided transportation for members to the various assemblies of the church; delivered meals to those in need and helped others in ways too numerous to mention. Sister Frances continued to minister to members and friends after the death of her beloved husband. She took care of
loved ones in her home as they aged and/or needed constant care. Even when she was physically unable to aid others, she telephoned to check on various ones.

The strength of a church is made of up of individual Christians who are committed to live righteously, serve others and to worship God. This, sister Cochran did all of her life in Christ. Everyone who knew her would testify to this truth. She was ‘proud’ of the young men who became preachers from the South Commerce Street congregation. Men like Lawrence Garmon (deceased) James Watkins, Tommy Broome and yours truly. She always would tell me when she read an article of mine that had been published in the Gospel Advocate or other brotherhood publications. She desired that I come by to see her when I was in the area. She always was cheerful even in spite of her ailments and would inquire as to how Virginia, the children and grandchildren were doing. I would often visit with her via the telephone.

I believe what John wrote in Revelation 14:13 would summarize her life and death: “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” She, like Paul could say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).

08 June 2012

"Are You Married?"

My wife and I were eating lunch recently at a local restaurant. The server was a petite pretty young lady, exceptionally nice, and attended to our every need. I said to Virginia that I hoped she was as good and pleasant in every way as she was in her demeanor toward us. As we were finishing our lunch and she approached our table, I noticed some kind of a ring on her left hand so I asked, “Are you married?” There was a slight pause before she answered and then she replied, “No, I suppose you could say I am engaged. My boy friend and I have been living together for five years and we have one child.” While I was disappointed, I was not surprised. I offered to marry them for just a free lunch but she refused my offer.

The complete disregard toward the teaching of the Word of God concerning marriage is not a gray matter. It is either black or white. Living together without the marriage vows is a violation of God’s law; or, it is white, meaning that it really doesn’t matter at all because there are no rules governing such cohabitation of unmarried couples. Sad to say, married couples are now in the minority in this country. People who are living in what the Bible calls fornication should straighten out their own lives before condemning couples of the same sex who are marrying one another; now having said that, it is to be understood in no uncertain terms that practicing homosexuality is not a gray matter. Either it is condemned in the Holy Scriptures or it is allowed. That is to say, it is either a black or white issue. There is no neutral position.

And when it comes to politics and the leaders in our national government, it is not a black or white issue where race or ethnicity is concerned. The reason being, I heard a white leader say that he saw nothing wrong with men marrying men and women marrying women. Soon after that I heard another national leader who was black say that he condoned ‘gay marriages’. The real issue therefore is whether or not the Word of God commends or condemns such life styles and then it becomes a black or white issue morally speaking and not a gray one. Bible believers understand God’s design for marriage, that is, one man for one woman.

You perhaps have noticed that I have not given all the biblical passages that speak out against homosexuality. That can be done in another article. It is rather useless to quote and/or read scriptures to someone who does not respect the inspired Word of God. The unbelieving world cares very little, if any, for the teachings of the Bible. How would you react to someone quoting verses to you from the Quran (Koran)? The belief of an individual determines his manner of life. Carnality produces a perverted way of living in the individuals who choose not to believe in God, His Son and in His Holy Word.

How sad it is that people who know what the Scriptures teach on the sanctity of marriage but choose instead to live in all manner of sexual immorality. The same principle applies today in this important matter regarding the individuals who do not “receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” A great man of God wrote: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (From the ancient writings of Paul as found in the book of 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11).

“Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (NKJV, Proverbs 14:34).

26 May 2012

"There Will Be No Invitation Songs On the Day Of Judgement"

The title of this article is a quotation taken from brother Wayne Jackson’s ‘A New Testament Commentary’ and his remarks on Luke 12:35-48 regarding the watchful and foolish servants (I do recommend this one volume commentary by our beloved brother). Now this statement of truth I have known but just had never thought of it in this manner. The emphasis is on the necessity of being prepared when our Lord returns to claim His own and to judge each individual as taught in Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 2:6. Procrastination is a work of the devil. We have all heard the saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” We are taught in Proverbs 27:1: “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” The people that the inspired writer James spoke about in chapter 4:13-17 had made ‘big plans’ about their future business but they had left God out of their proposed endeavors; so they were informed as follows: “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” In the immediate context you have this statement: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to them it is sin.” Since we do not have the promise of tomorrow we should always include in our thoughts and plans, “If the Lord wills” we shall “do this or that.”

The Heavenly Father desires “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God gave His Son to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16); and the good news about His death, burial and resurrection “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Faith in Jesus as being the divine Son of God comes through the “word of  God” (Romans 10:17; John 20:30, 31). This living active faith motives one to repent of sins and be immersed into Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:36-38).

There is danger in delay. A person should obey the commands of the gospel when they are first learned. The exhortation in Hebrews 4:7 can be applied here: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” Over the years we have had a practice of singing a song of encouragement in our worship assemblies to give opportunity for people to make known their desire, that is, to complete their obedience based on their confession of faith in Jesus Christ as being the Son of God. One song that used to be sung during the evening assemblies as well as during gospel meetings was “O Why Not Tonight” No doubt scores of sinners have responded during the singing of that grand old hymn. The lyrics really stress the need to give one’s life to Jesus while there is time. Remember, there will be no invitation songs sung on the judgment day!

O Why Not Tonight?

O do not let the word depart,
And close thine eye against the light;
Poor sinner, harden not thy heart,
Be saved, O tonight.

Tomorrow’s sun may never rise
To bless thy long deluded sight,
This is the time, O then be wise,
Be saved o tonight.

Our God in pity lingers still,
And wilt thou thus His love requite?
Renounce at once thy stubborn will:
Be saved O tonight.

Our blessed Lord refuses none
Who would to Him their souls unite;
Believe, obey the work is done;
Be saved O tonight.


O why not tonight?
O why not tonight?
Wilt thou be saved?
Then why not tonight?

31 March 2012

"Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters"

The Preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes 11:1: “Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days (NKJV).” Bible students generally agree that this verse, in the light of the immediate context is speaking of being a benevolent person who sees others in need and displaying a charitable attitude toward them, regardless of their moral status. It may be a gift of money, some food or a word of encouragement. Jesus Christ was the perfect example of this principle while He lived on this earth and He taught His disciples to profess the same attitude as found in the ‘sermon on the mount’ (Matthew 5-7). The apostle Paul later wrote: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9, 10). Our Lord stressed that when we “do a charitable deed” we should not do such to be seen of men (Matthew 6:2-4); but, our heavenly Father knows when we give and the intent of our heart: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). To help a friend, a fellow Christian or a stranger without a desire and expectation of recognition is indeed rewarding.

The joy is in the giving and not in the recognition.
“Wouldst thou too narrowly inquire
Whither thy kindness goes!
Thy cake upon the water cast;
Whom it may feed who knows?
~ Goethe
But the Preacher further states: “For you will find it after many days.” The recipient of your kindness and generosity may, in fact, inform others of your deed. You may even be recognized in a public manner without your foreknowledge of the happening. This might occur soon or later. You just never know. “The seed sown in the morning of life may bear its harvest at once, or not till the evening of age. The man may reap at one and the same time the fruits of his earlier and later sowing, and may find that both are alike good” (Plumptre).

Please pardon the personal experience but I would like to share with you a blessing I received recently. I was in a large department store when I saw a lady who works where the ladies cosmetics are sold. I approached her and mentioned that I saw her at the funeral service of a mutual friend. She and the friend’s daughter had worked together in years past. Before I could say but a few words, she quickly stated that she knew who I was and how much she had appreciated my encouraging words to her when a niece had died many years ago. She mentioned that she thought her departed niece would be so concerned about her three small children, all under the age of seven. I had explained to her that her beloved niece would not be worrying about the care of her precious children and used scripture to explain why I said that. This kind lady informed me of some of the words of comfort I had spoken to her, especially that if this lady was indeed a Christian, she and the children could be united again in eternity. She then looked me squarely in the eyes and asked, “Do you remember this conversation” and I had to be honest and say “I do not”. But, she did and my words had brought comfort to her troubled soul. I asked her how old the children were presently. She began to brag on them as to how they were excelling in their studies in various universities. Now, here I am in the “evening of age” and the bread that I had cast upon the waters years before had returned to me. As I walked away, tears were beginning to dampen my eyes as I became emotional. I had truly received a blessing. My friends, you may never know in this life how  much good you may do when you cast your bread upon the waters; but, on the judgment day, the Judge of all of mankind will remind you that “you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:34-40).

22 March 2012

A Second Chance

I know personally of an unfortunate incident wherein some family members were mistakenly informed that a loved one had been found dead in her home. A daughter was nearly in shock by the time she reached the house and ran in crying, “Mother, Mother” and she was truly surprised to see her mother walking into the room to meet her. Confused about the emotional upheaval of her daughter, the mother in turn came to an unwarranted conclusion that someone else in the family had died. Eventually, the whole matter was solved. There were tears of sadness and joy. Tears of sadness in that it could have been true that the mother had died and tears of joy that the mother was alive.

I thought seriously concerning this bizarre incident and considered some important lessons that should be learned from this experience.

1. We must understand that life is very frail, brief and uncertain. Death can come so swiftly and when least expected (Hebrews 9:27; James 4:13, 14).

2. While we live on this side of eternity, we should all prepare ourselves to meet the Lord in the judgment (Hebrews 3:7, 15; Romans 14:12)

3. When the ‘grim reaper’ comes to call on us, it will then be too late to prepare for eternity (Hebrews 9:27).

4. At death, our eternity destiny is forever determined (Luke 19:26). We will be judged individually according to our abilities and opportunities and the word of God (2 Corinthians 5:10; John 12:48).

5. Sin will be not be overlooked by God in His divine justice that is not covered by the blood of His Son (Ephesians 1:7; I John 1:7-10).

6. We should be more concerned about the spiritual welfare of our loved ones and endeavor to lead them to Jesus like Andrew who brought his brother Simon to the Lord (John 1:40-42).

7. Though we are often discouraged in trying to get our unbelieving loved ones to live for Jesus, we should be steadfast and persistent in our efforts to influence them to obey the gospel.

8. We should give our ‘roses’ to others while we do have them with us. A word of encouragement, an expression of love and a gesture of good will should be done while we have the opportunity.

9. Whenever the spirit of a loved one has taken flight into a vast and never ending eternity, it is then too late for them to hear our expressions of kindness. The lifeless body of a family member lying in a coffin cannot hear what we are saying. Oh, how many times have we wished we had said some loving words to them while they were with us.

10. As you read this article, be assured that God, in His infinite mercy has permitted you another opportunity to obey and serve Him, if you have not already done so.

If you are not a Christian, you should study the word of God that you may become a believer in Christ (Romans 10:17; John 20:30). Also, God requires that all men repent of their sins (Acts 17:30, 31). In being submissive to the will of God, you should be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26, 27). The Lord will add you to His spiritual body which is His church (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:18). We have the blessed assurance that if we live faithfully in Christ, He will grant us an entrance to the “everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10, 11; Revelation 2:10; I John 5:11, 12).

09 March 2012

"Till the Storm Passes By"

On Friday, March 2, 2012, our country was ravaged by an outburst of terrible tornadoes that brought death and destruction in at least 13 states. One tornado in the state of Kentucky stayed on the ground for 95 miles! Two others stayed on the ground for some 40 miles. At least one town was completely destroyed. Some forty plus persons lost their lives in a moment of time when their houses and other buildings fell on them. One infant was found critically injured in a field and later we learned that she died, as well as the rest of her family. Hearts were broken and heads were bowed down with grief and sorrow as people saw the destruction of properties and learned of the loss of lives. You are made to feel so small and insignificant when you consider the onslaught of nature’s forces. My wife and I prepared the best we could by getting into closets when the warning came for our county but even then we did not feel secure. It is only when the clear signal was given did we feel relieved.

In life we all experience storms of various kinds. Sometimes like the tornadoes, they come upon us so suddenly that we are overwhelmed. Please excuse the personal experience but one of the greatest encounters with the storms of life was the death of my ‘baby brother’ who only 35 years of age when he was killed while walking across a four lane highway in the state of Pennsylvania. I received the news by telephone at 1:00 A.M. the following morning. The next day I had the responsibility of identifying his body. I sought refuge under the sheltering wings of my Heavenly Father. He was the second child of my mother to be killed. Her oldest was killed in WWII at the age of 19.

I have been with families who have lost loved ones and have witnessed the tremendous grief they suffered; especially do I remember when close friends lost their teenage daughter in an automobile accident. Then there is a friend who has been greatly affected with the ‘Lou Gehrig’ disease. In but a short time she has become almost completely helpless. Individuals as ‘wage earners’ for their families have lost their jobs because of the economical situation in our nation. People like widows who are on a limited income have to make decisions as to whether to fill their much needed medicine or to buy groceries. Almost daily we learn of families who have lost their loved ones in a foreign country as they serve in the military.

There is the constant threat of war between Israel and Iran that would involve our nation, along with others. Even our schools are not safe because of the real threat of some students bent on killing their classmates. Evil is ever present in our society. Slowly, but surely, some of our religious rights are being threatened by leaders on different levels of our government. We will all experience ‘storms of life’, especially if we live long enough that will bring us much sorrow and try our faith.

One of the basic reasons why I am thankful for the book of Psalm is because David suffered so much because of the ‘storms of life’. And that brings me to Psalm 57:1 which may have been written in a cave while he was hiding from King Saul who sought to kill him. Read carefully his words: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.”
As Christians many our hymns bring comfort and solace to our troubled hearts in the time of storms that we experience. In 1958, Mosie Lister wrote both the lyrics and music to this beautiful song. May it be of strength to you.

“Till the Storm Passes By”

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there's no hiding place;
'Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
"Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by."

Many times Satan whispers,
"There is no need to try;
For there's no end of sorrow,
There's no hope by and by";
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I'll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.


'Til the storm passes over,
'Til the thunder sounds no more;
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

Hold me fast, Let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes by.

Postscript ~ You can click here to hear an acapella version of this beautiful hymn. You will need to scroll all the way to the bottom and turn off the background music for this blog in order to hear "Till the Storm Passes By". Thank you for your patience.

28 February 2012

Christian Living

Holiness is an important factor in matters pertaining to church growth. Holiness is a way of life, that is, the character of all those people who are pure in heart (Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14). How we think, talk and live before our fellowman is important. A light that flickers and salt that loses it preserving power contribute to the stagnation of a local congregation. Christians who are living godly and involving themselves in the care of others will influence sinners in the way of the Lord. Hypocrites, who deceive, negligent members who are filled with apathy and brethren who stray, injure the cause of the Lord more than they realize. Preaching without practicing prevents many from obeying the gospel.

A congregation may possess the greatest orator for a preacher but no one will come to hear him if the church is not respected in the local community. The fact is, neighbors and friends visit mainly because of their respect for you, the life you live before them, and the example you are. They may disagree doctrinally but they will respect your convictions. A ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude turns people away; however, a true sense of concern and compassion for others will entice them to listen to what you say.

It is not necessary to wear certain kinds of apparel or to carry a placard advertising that you are member of some religious group. Your friends and neighbors already know what you are. They notice your enthusiasm or your indifference. They observe your faithfulness or your ungodliness. You are preaching and practicing before them every day.

Our peers are listening to our speech, watching what we are wearing, observing our habits, noticing our recreational activities, learning of our dealings with others and they are even concerned with our loyalty to the Lord and the local church. In fact, someone is scrutinizing every aspect of your daily life. You may, in fact, be the reason a person decides to become a Christian or to remain in sin. Never underestimate the power of your influence for good or bad!

The sentiments expressed by the apostle Paul as found in Philippians 2:12-16 should be considered and obeyed by the children of God: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His great pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among which you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

One of the greatest contributing sources to church growth is the individual Christian who is living faithfully to the Lord before his fellowman. What kind would your congregation be if all the members lived just like you?

16 February 2012

How Much Was Whitney Houston Worth When She Died?

This was the heading of an article that was written which I found on Google News early on Tuesday morning, February 14, 2014. The body of the deceased singer had barely reached the funeral home and days before her body would be buried when numerous writers began filling the newspapers and other medians of communication with such unimportant matters. This person had a beautiful voice and everyone who has ever heard her sing “I Will Always Love You” will testify to this truth. There is no doubt but that she made multiple millions of dollars in her life time but when a person comes to the end of life on this earth, it doesn’t really matter whether you have all the wealth in this world. Jesus said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life” (Matthew 16:26)?  The rich man in the story that our Lord told lost his soul in torment, not because he was rich but rather that he left God out of his life. The poor man whose name was Lazarus was in “Abraham’s bosom”, not because he was poor; rather it was because he included God in his life (Luke 16:19-31). The measure of a person’s worth is not how much silver and gold one may accumulate in this life. But, this is what counts the most in the eyes of so many people. The Preacher said, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The patriarch Job exclaimed, following the tragedies he experienced, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). In my understanding, the question raised in the heading of this article is really not important and was in poor taste so soon after the death of this icon in the music industry. The question ‘what was the worth of her soul while she lived’ is more appropriate. And that is applicable for all of us. The answer is found in the familiar passage in John 3:16, 17: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The apostle Paul expressed the attitude of God in this manner: “For this good and acceptable in the Sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3, 4). In short, God wants all mankind to be saved and He provided the way of salvation through the death of His Son on Calvary. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and are submissive to His will by repenting of sins and are baptized in His name will have that salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38; 2 Timothy 2:10).

10 February 2012

The Honeybee and The Buzzard

Surely we all have some knowledge regarding this insect and this fowl. Both have been placed here on this earth for different purposes as designed by the Creator, God Almighty. While their functions are vital, they are radical in contrast. The buzzard is rather despised by the human family. We esteem this bird as being unsightly in appearance and undesirable because of its work, the devouring of dead
carcasses. Yet, in the balance of nature, this scavenger has a rightful place in our environment. The honeybee, on the other hand, is well thought of and respected. While we dislike the sting of such a small insect, we do appreciate the delicious honey that it makes for us. The bee can be seen visiting the beautiful flowers and various blooms in the vegetative kingdom. No wonder the honey that this bee makes is so sweet.
Strangely enough, the buzzard and the honeybee remind us of the various attitudes and dispositions found in different people. First of all, some folk enjoy dwelling on the ungodly, the gossip, the hearsay, the ugly, the bad, the filthy, the hurtful, and the immoral. They seem to get their kicks over telling or hearing a good piece of juicy slander. And, the worse it stinks, the better they like it. This old world is filled with individuals who love filthiness. The Bible refers to people who “speak folly” and whose “heart will work iniquity” (Isaiah 32:6). Paul writes of the unrighteous in this manner, “Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (Romans 3:13, 14). Their ultimate end is eternal perdition, for Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, 37, “And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

We are grateful however that there are many Christians who love the good and the beautiful things of life. They think upon that which is pure, honest, just, true, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). They feed upon the word of God that is “Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb” (Psalms 19:10). They know that “pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24). They “love life” and endeavor to “see good days”; therefore, they “refrain their tongues…from evil” and “speak no guile” with their lips (I Peter 3:10).

The question therefore is, “To be or not to be”. That is, are you soaring over dead carcasses and seeking the corrupt; or, are you feasting upon the beautiful and the good? Let us all ‘be’ (live) like the honeybee and not the buzzard!