Tuesday, October 24, 2017



I retain a mental image of my wife addressing one or more of our children about some misdeed or incorrect behavior. Every once in a while, she would place her hands on either cheek and look them directly in their eyes and say: “Do you hear what I am saying?” What was her point? She was attempting to get their complete attention so she could instruct them regarding what is or isn’t acceptable behavior. Just because a child or children heard her call their name did not necessarily compute that they were listening to what she was saying. Why? They were preoccupied with their activity or something else that had their attention.

It makes one wonder about people who gather together for a Worship Service. Do they do it with eagerness or habit? Do they gather with hearts and minds anticipating the presence of the Lord in an intimate worship experience? Do they have a sense of the Holy Spirit ready to guide them into more of God’s truth that will enable them to better understand the ways of the Lord during personal times of the unexpected or uncertainties in life? If only Psalm 122:1 was a greater reality for each one who sits in a pew – “I was glad when they said to me: Let us go to the house of the Lord.” When people gather for a worship service currently, are they hearing or are they actually listening?

Dr. Haddon Robinson was skilled in the area of Communication. He said about Sunday Sermons, there are four “don’ts” that should be carefully remembered: “Don't assume the subject is dull. Any message will have a fresh insight or a helpful illustration. A keen ear will listen for such. Don't criticize before hearing out the speaker. Don't let your prejudices close your mind. Effective listeners keep an open mind, restraining the tendency to argue or agree until they fully understand the speaker's position in light of what the Scriptures teach. Don't waste the advantage which thought has over speech.
Many times, the words that may have been the most useful for a person are missed because of merely hearing words spoken but not listening to what the words mean. If only we would approach the preaching of God’s Word with this type prayer hymn in mind:
Speak, Lord, in the stillness 
while I wait on thee;
Hushed my heart to listen, in expectancy.

Fill me with the knowledge of Thy glorious will;
All Thine own good pleasure in my life fulfill.

We should also remember the words of admonition in James 1:22-25 which emphasizes a further step: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Mirror…If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, October 20, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – The Dignity Of Life.

Among the various religious movements and groups in this nation, several of them have addressed the critical issue of the dignity of life. One group makes this succinct statement: “Human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.

We would do well to remember Genesis 1:26-31 that God created man and woman in His image; Deuteronomy 10:17-19 that God loves the orphan, the widow and the stranger; and Psalm 139:13-16 that God formed and designed each of us and knows us intimately. 

The dignity of human life was front and center in a White House News Briefing where General John Kelly addressed the media about reactions to the deaths of four military men in Niger. He stated the following: “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation (the President’s Telephone Call). Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That's obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life -- the dignity of life -- is sacred. That's gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well. Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought -- the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred. And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying, and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them because they're in Arlington National Cemetery. I went over there for an hour-and-a-half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed.”

We read in Proverbs 31:1, 8-9 – “The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” The Book of James reminds and requires God’s people to emulate pure religion (James 1:27). 

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – Righteousness.
When Jesus spoke and shared His heart with His people, part of what he emphasized was Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” He wanted His followers to seek for, hunger and thirst after, Righteousness. One of the reasons is shared in the Book of Psalms. There is a beautiful and helpful statement in Psalm 89:14-15, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” If one is to live in the presence of the Lord, one will have to embrace that which is foundational to the throne of God – righteousness and justice. Additionally, one will also find there His love and faithfulness.
When Habakkuk was seeking some resolve for the nation in his day, he was reminded that (2:4), “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” Some translations state it: “The just shall live by faith.” When Martin Luther read this in his studies of the Book of Romans, it grabbed hold of him and he could not escape the truth in Romans 1:16-17 that, “The just shall live by his faith.” It would be easy to conclude that it was a vital part of Paul’s thought and heart. He repeated that statement in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38.
The aspiration of Paul to be righteous is expressed in Philippians 3:7-9, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” That righteousness is imputed to the child of God on the basis of God’s grace and received by one on the basis of faith alone.
The Reformers were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to make known the Biblical message that the just (those who have been justified by God’s grace) and righteous ones have standing before God by faith and grace alone. It is “not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). It is God’s righteousness that is to be seen in us who have been justified by the bl0od of Christ (Romans 3:24). If others looked at you, what would they see? Would they see a person who thinks he is self-sufficient or one who has submitted his life and will to Jesus Christ alone? What one is speaks so loud people cannot hear what one says!
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Monday, October 9, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – STORMY WEATHER.

With the hurricanes being active and devastating in 2017, lives have been lost, homes and businesses destroyed and devastated, and financial losses considerable. From Texas to Florida on the coast and islands – Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico – the flooding and wind damage has taken a very great toll.

There’s an old gospel song about storms that came to mind:
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 till the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes over, 
till the thunder sounds no more,
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand 
in the hollow of Thy hand,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

The stormy weather also reminds us of a scene in Mark 4:35-41, Jesus is on a boat with His disciples. Jesus was weary and went to the stern of the ship for a brief nap. Verse 36 indicates:“Jesus was already in the boat. And there were other boats with Him.” Suddenly a severe storm erupted and the seasoned disciples were panicked. Verses 36-37 records: “Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So, they woke Him and said: Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?”

Two key points should be observed. First, there were other (smaller) boats in a convoy following Jesus and His disciples. Second, the question posed by the disciples when they awaken Jesus: “don’t you care that we are perishing?” It is obvious the disciples cared about their own plight and failed to give any expression of concern for the other boats in the convoy. It is also obvious that in their panic they seem to have forgotten that on numerous occasions Jesus had demonstrated how much He cared about people and their circumstances.

Jesus does not lecture the disciples at this point. Instead, in verse 39, He gives two immediate commands to the stormy sea: “Silence” and “Be still,” He then asks His disciples two questions, verse 40, “Why are you so afraid?” and “Do you still have no faith?”

In our lives, we will all have experiences that occur unexpectedly and are overwhelming. How should we respond to those moments? With fear? With panic? With doubt? With uncertainty? The disciples had attempted to do everything they could to keep their boat steady and safe. Being already weary, they were now almost totally fatigued. In their desperation, they came to Jesus and called upon Him for help. A lesson we should learn from this account is – Don’t wait so long before coming to Jesus who can and will make a difference in those things that would otherwise overwhelm and drown one.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – TO BE LIKE JESUS.

The Apostle Paul shared his heart when he wrote to the Philippian believers about his personal priority (Philippians 3:10-11), “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” He did have a great sense of his human qualifications in the competitive secular world. From that point of view, he also shared his credentials (Philippians 3:4-6), “If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to righteousness under the Law, faultless.”

These two statements by Paul demonstrate the tension that exists when one’s pursuit in life is for personal achievement or recognition. Whether they deserve it or not, some people receive recognition and acclaim due to either their persona or touted resume. They tend to eagerly bask in the acceptance and acclaim of their peers. Meanwhile, others who have considerable merit and ability fail to receive recognition or acceptance as being one who qualifies for some measure of human honor and respect. 

A recent devotional asks a series of questions and submits answers about one’s focus and personal sense of self-worth. They include: “(1) Are you trying to discover your self-worth? You have it in Him—He died for you! (2) Are you plagued by failure and guilt? He does what no one else will or can do for you—He forgives and forgets, kills the fattened calf as heaven rejoices (Luke 15:22-24), and clothes you with the best robes of His righteousness. (3) Are you searching for significance? Search no more—you are His child. There is no greater significance than that. (4) Are you trying to figure out your life and wondering if there is any purpose for you on this earth? The mystery is unraveled in Him as He leads you to live for His glory and to reflect the reality of His character.”

There is a simple, but basic Worship Chorus of personal commitment that should be remembered by each servant of the Lord:

To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus; 
All I ask - to be like Him.
All through life's journey, 
From earth to glory, 
All I ask - to be like Him. 

Paul has a simple resolve regarding the best choice one can make when confronting this tension. It is stated in Philippians 3:7-9, “But whatever was an asset to me, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.” If you aim high, you will find true worth, value and acceptance in Jesus Christ.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – GETTING TO KNOW HIM.

The quest for knowledge is noble. Education is a privilege that should never be neglected or taken for granted. Vigilance would require that a stand be taken against the “dumbing down” revisions and relegating a student’s achievements in terms of “Pass-Fail” rather than requiring attainment of the highest standards.

When it comes to spiritual knowledge, there must be a higher standard and requirement about God’s Truth and one’s knowledge of it. For instance, if one’s quest is truth, then it would be best to learn all one can about Jesus Christ because He said: “I am truth” (John 14:6).

In Insights for Today, Chuck Swindoll shares the following: “I remember it well. Almost as clearly as if it happened last month. But it didn't. It happened deep in the summer of '58. I was a Marine. Almost eight thousand miles of ocean between me and my wife. One-word descriptions of my condition? Disillusioned. Stretched. Learning. Lonely. Determined. Sincere. Uncertain. Afraid. The Quonset hut I called home housed forty-seven other Marines, and row after row after row of the identical round-top dwellings wrapped around hundreds of other young fighting men—men who had been trained to kill. No need to contaminate your mind with the stuff that went on inside those barracks. If you have trouble imagining, just think of a pack of hungry junkyard dogs that have been teased until they're snarling and foaming at the mouth. Add an endless stream of profanity, subtract all moral restraint, multiply by tropical heat and humidity, divide it by 365 days a year, and you have some idea of life on Okinawa.” 

Charles R. Swindoll shared a personal moment in his life when he felt all things were progressing toward increased hopelessness. Until, he read the following from the Amplified New Testament – Philippians 3:10 – and he said, “It was all I needed to hear: [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.”

How well do YOU know HIM? Do you know your Shepherd’s voice and are you following Him with complete obedience (John 10:27-30)? How well and how often do you make Him known to others? Do others see Jesus Christ living in you? By your life, as well as by word, are you making Him known? 

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Monday, October 2, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – PSYCHOLOGY OF MINISTRY.

The usual focus of Church Boards and Congregations is on the Philosophy of Ministry – what a Minister’s and Church Leadership embrace as the functional priorities (some thoughts copied from Bible.Org). Ephesians 1:5-12 (ESV) gives the main foundational principle, especially in verse 6: “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” and verse 12, “we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” That fits nicely with the answer to: What is the chief end of man? The response is” “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Other aspects of the Philosophy of Ministry include: (1) Exalting the Lord in all ways and all things (I Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17); (2) Equipping the saints to do works of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16); and (3) Evangelizing the lost (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20).

An area where there also needs to be focus and purposeful interest is: The Psychology of Ministry. In a cursory research of the subject, one point that is made and seems obvious is: “What are we to do when the problems of daily life seem insurmountable and no one seems to care enough to listen or suggest solutions?” A study from a decade ago suggested that hundreds of ministers abandon ministry each year due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention within their local congregations. If this is reality, does it matter to the average congregant or church association? In a day of political and societal pressure, Peter wrote to the Church – I Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be alert and of sober (sound)mind so that you may pray.” Paul wrote to Timothy similar words – II Timothy 1:7 (NKJV), “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

I want us to think about the Pastor and the Pew. The idea about having a sound mind and being self-disciplined is important. When I do not have the privilege of ministering God’s Word as a Pulpit Supply, my wife and I make it a point to visit the “smaller” churches. At one time, these churches were viable and maintained a reasonable attendance. While sitting in the pew to worship, it is obvious that the one conducting the service is disappointed that the attendance is so limited and small. The question above surely comes to mind when a handful of people are desirous of preserving their Church and so few seem to care. Legitimate excuses aside, when a Minister stands in the pulpit to declare God’s Truth and so many don’t seem to care, it can be very disappointing, discouraging, and in some cases – depressing. He can even muse, if the membership doesn’t care, why should I?

If a Church is to be revitalized, there needs to be a gathering of those whose commitment is at the very least, the expression of Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the LORD.” And the words of Psalm 97:12, “Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” There is an increasing need for firmly committed Biblical Christians who will be loyal to the Savior Who has called them out of darkness into His glorious light (I Peter 2:9-10).

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.