Monday, June 30, 2008



When you look at a woven tapestry, you see a beautiful picture. But if you turn it over and look at the other side, you see a jumbled mass of threads. This is a parable. From our side things seem so confused and out of place. But God sees His church, made up of living stones, formed into a beautiful temple which He indwells through His Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).

Pentecost in Acts ch 2 was a celebration of victory. God The Spirit did great things. Yet Satan immediately began his destructive efforts. We find already in New Testament times while the apostles were still living, that the church faced extreme challenges from within. Let’s look at some of these.

Challenge 1. Jesus wore a disguise and was not really flesh & blood.

John says: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 2 John 7

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:1-4

Challenge 2. Jesus did not really die.

Paul said: "But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block (offensive) and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. 1:23-24

John said: "This is He who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth." 1 John 5:6

Note it was Jesus Himself in the flesh who came by the water of His baptism and the blood of His death. Lacey wrote: Jesus the Liberator - two lasting images: soaking wet at His baptism, soaked in blood at His execution. But HE didn't stop short at the water. NO, HE went through with the Water AND the Blood."

Challenge 3. Jesus was not raised from the dead.

Paul wrote: "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen." 1 Cor. 15:12-13

Challenge 4. Ignorance of the Holy Spirit.

Paul said: "And finding some disciples he said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said to him, 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.' And he said to them, 'Into what then were you baptized?' So they said, 'John's baptism.'" They were then baptized with Christian baptism - water & Spirit.

Paul said: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." Romans 8:9

Paul said: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." 1 Cor. 12:13

Challenge 5. Jesus lived under the Law, therefore we should ignore all that He said.

"God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds..." Hebrews 1:1-2.

Jesus said: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." John 12:48-49

Challenge 6. The Old testament should be discarded.

Jesus said: "Then He said to them, 'These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.' And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." Luke 24:44-45

Paul said: "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4

The New Testament writers made extensive quotations from the Old Testament as they were led by the Holy Spirit. Note Peter's sermon in Acts 2 and Paul's sermon in Acts 13. The record of our wrongdoings was nailed to the Cross, Col. 2:13-15.

Challenge 7. We can be saved simply by our own obedience to law.

Paul wrote: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." Gal. 2:21

James wrote: "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10

John wrote: "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
1 John 1:10

Paul wrote: "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith." Phill. 3:9

Challenge 8. Christian love is not important.

Paul wrote: "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." Romans 10:2

John wrote to Ephesus: "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Rev. 2:4

Again: "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment." 1 John 3:23

Paul wrote: "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Cor. 13:13

The earliest form of what later became creeds was a set of questions based on Jesus' command to baptize disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). These creeds were staments of The Faith intended to be a shortcut to reaching a true basis of relationship to Jesus. Early Restoration leaders said: No Creed But Christ. No Book But The Bible. No Name But The Divine. And these slogans were intended as a statement of their Faith.

Thursday, June 26, 2008



When Adam was put out of the Garden, he was told that thorns & thistles would grow, but only by hard work would he wrestle a living from the ground. Many of life's problems come under this heading. Flooding, drought, earthquakes, volcanoes, and on and on. We are in a battle for life with Nature. This is going on all around our world. Yet this is part of God's blessings. We struggle, we experience, we learn. But especially we TRUST GOD. Compare Hebrews 12:5-13. We discipline and train our children because we want them to grow up and to succeed in life. So does our Heavenly Father wish us to do so. This is love in action.

RIVER OF MUD - we care because God cares. Churches of Christ are helping in this time of crisis in Iowa and other States. We can help to relieve this great loss. Money can be sent to:

WFR Relief Ministries; White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ; P O Box 35801; West Monroe LA 71294-9951.

Church of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc.; 410 Allied Dr; Nashville TN 37211-3304.
Both are under the direction of elders.

What Do I Do Now? Sorrowing Without Losing Faith.

"The key to being a faithful Christian is not avoiding tests of faith; it is handling those tests appropriately." Andrew Phillips

Three Books stand out: Job, Lamentations; Psalms. Read Job 1:13-22; 2:7-10; Lamentations 5:19-21 Suffering is real, but we reach beyond that. The true answer is to Look to God and His Glory!

1. It is all right to ask questions of God. But it would be wrong to murmur against God.

a) Job’s testing.

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:10 (NKJV)

"Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That woe and well-being proceed? Why should a living man complain, A man for the punishment of his sins?" Lamentations 3:38-39 (NKJV)

"Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned like a hearth. My heart is stricken and withered like grass, So that I forget to eat my bread." Psalms 102:1-4 (NKJV)

2. Don't deny God's existence. Job never once denied God's existence. He questioned God's justice and His timing of things, but never the fact that GOD IS.

a) Do not deny faith.

The Book of Job teaches us that when we suffer, there may be reasons behind it that we will never know. Our response should be faith. Biblical laments uphold the importance of faith in Him.

b) Allow emotion and feelings to work through.

Job did not speak for a week. When he finally spoke, his anguish was clear. "Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, So that I am a burden to myself?" Job 7:20 (NKJV)

"Oh, that I were as in months past, As in the days when God watched over me;" Job 29:2 (NKJV)

"You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." Job 42:3 (NKJV)

c) Allow events to finish and bring closure.

Our loyalty to God is greater than our loyalty to our friends. But we love God by loving our friends first. However, even though we may overlook their faults (as God overlooks our faults), we may still keep them as friends even while refusing to participate in their mistakes.

"It is not wrong to ask tough questions as long as we prayerfully deal with them through reading God's Word (letting God remind us of His power as He did with Job); praying honestly about our struggles, and asking others for help. If we leave tough questions unresolved, they can chip away at our faith. Biblical laments openly articulate difficult issues, but they do come to a conclusion." Andrew Phillips

"We cannot produce pat answers to solve someone's serious problems in a few short minutes. What we can do is walk alongside our hurting friends during the biblical lament process. That experience will not be quick, easy or simple, but it will bring the comforter and the comforted closer to God." Andrew Phillips

d) Our weakness is God's power.

"And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9 (NKJV)

"My grace is sufficient for thee. The Lord answered his prayer, not by removing the thorn, but by giving grace to bear it, and by the assurance that Paul's sense of weakness, caused by it, fitted him to receive the divine strength." —People's New Testament, (Johnson's Notes)

It is not wrong to lament and ask questions (but not murmur against God). Lament (sorrowing, grieving, mourning) is part of our life here on earth. But for this process to be healthy, we must follow the biblical pattern.

"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." 1 Cor 12:26 (NKJV)

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15 (NKJV)


Eternal Life In God The Son

"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." 1 John 5:11 (NKJV)

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20 (NKJV)

1. Church is a Family of Live People!

"One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always." A.W. Tozer

a) Jesus gives Life.

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Matt 18:20

"As His name would prove a time to draw together many clusters of His dear disciples, so if there should be but two or three, that will draw Himself down into the midst of them; and related as He is to both the parties, the petitioners and the Petitioned -- to the one on earth by the tie of His adopted flesh, and to the other in heaven by the tie of His eternal Spirit -- their prayers on earth would lift upward through Him to heaven, be carried by Him into the holiest of all, and so reach the Throne. Thus will He be the living Conductor of the prayer upward, and the answer downward." —Jamieson-Fausset-Brown

Compare Rev. 5:8; 8:3-5.

2. First Prayer of the Morning (Baillie)

Eternal FATHER of my soul, let my first thought today be of Thee, let my first impulse be to worship Thee, let my first speech be Thy Name, let my first action be to kneel before Thee in prayer. For Thy perfect wisdom and perfect goodness: For the love wherewith Thou lovest mankind: For the love wherewith Thou lovest me: For the great and mysterious opportunity of my life: For the indwelling of Thy Spirit in my heart: For the sevenfold gifts of Thy Spirit: I praise and worship Thee O Lord.

Yet let me not when this morning prayer is said, think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of Thee. Rather from these moments of quietness let light go forth, and joy, and power, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day; Keeping me chaste in thought: Keeping me temperate and truthful in speech: Keeping me faithful and diligent in my work: Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself: Keeping me honourable and generous in my dealings with others: Keeping my loyal to every hallowed memory of the past: Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of Thine.

O God who has been the Refuge of my fathers through many generations, be my Refuge today in every time and circumstance of need. Be my Guide through all that is dark and doubtful. Be my Guard against all that threatens my spirit’s welfare. Be my Strength in time of testing. Gladden my heart with Thy peace; Through Jesus Christ my Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

[John Baillie - a Scotsman of the past.]

3. Jesus taught us to say God Our Father

"Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one." Luke 11:1-4 (NKJV)

a) The Holy Spirit’s role.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" Luke 11:13 (NKJV)

J.W.McGarvey: "Verse 12 is peculiar to Luke, and in verse 13 Matthew has "good things" where Luke has "Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is the best of all gifts, being as necessary to the soul as food to the body." —Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus is Himself Paraclete (Advocate 1 John 2:1). God The Holy Spirit is another Paraclete (Comforter/Helper John 14:16; 16:7).

"At a particular moment, and by no means secretly, the heavenly Secret opened upon them, and there was communicated to them, in a rush of wind and a dazzle of tongued flames, the mystery of the Paraclete in the Church. Our Lord Christ had vanished in His flesh - our Lord The Spirit expressed Himself toward the flesh & spirit of the disciples. The Church, itself one of the Secrets, began to be." [adapted from Charles Williams)

Compare Romans 8:8-17; Gal. 4:6; Matt. 10:19-20.

Monday, June 2, 2008


We at the Union Church of Christ celebrate a Homecoming Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend. These are some things from our celebration. R.D.Ice.

PENTECOST REFLECTIONS -- May 11, 2008 was Pentecost Sunday. British teacher N. T. Wright preached that day on "The Stream, the Lake and the River," [Ezekiel 47:1-5] and his sermon ended with this challenge: "The Spirit of God longs to fill the whole earth with God’s glory, and our worship here today is supposed to be a sign and a foretaste and a means towards that end, as we celebrate the glory of Jesus and share in His Spirit and are thereby equipped to pour out, ourselves, from our own hearts, those rivers of living water to a world – God’s good world – which is once again in danger of dying of thirst." Read John 7:37-39. Jesus was glorified in the Cross & Resurrection.

I Want To Know Him!
Paul wrote: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death..." Phil 3:10

"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.. John 14:6

John wrote: "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God..." 1 John 4:2

JESUS is God's PLAN! ALL relates to HIM: Bible, church, forgiveness, salvation, precious promises, hope, eternal life, etc. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." Jesus is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." All "authority" and "power" derives from Jesus Christ [Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:5-11].

Christ is the first priority of the church. Not people. Not ministry. Not growth. Not success. Christ and Christ alone occupies the place of ultimate and absolute priority in the church. If the church is once again to become salt and light to the world, SHE MUST PUT JESUS FIRST! Compare Rev. 2:4-5.

This world is the arena of God's redemptive work through Christ and His One Body. We need to be open to God's power at work among us. For the Brotherhood of Churches of Christ to survive after we older folk are gone, we must pray and work for Revival, Renewal, Spiritual Awakening! We must enlist the young people in the Army of God's Kingdom.

It's all about Jesus!
Everything in all of Creation has
Made By Jesus stamped on it.
And long before Earth's Foundation,
He had us in mind as the focus of His Love.
That we should be holy and blameless
by His Love and Mercy.
He wanted us to enter in the celebration
of the glory of His grace
by the Hand of His Beloved Son.
Christ was the Sacrifice -
His Blood poured out on the altar
of the Cross. We're now a free people -
free of sin & death, penalties and punishment.
It is in Christ that we find out who we are
and what we are living for,
that we should be to the praise of His Glory!
[Eph. 1:3-12; Col. 1:14-22; Romans 8:1-4]

Sometime around 1894, Elder Daniel Austin Preached a Gospel Meeting ( a church-planting revival in this case) in the one-room schoolhouse at the community known as Union. This was on a dirt road, about five miles SW from Philippi, WV. A coal mine & community called Lillian was down the hill at the bend of the river. A number of people lived on small farms on the fairly flat land around Union.

The original deed for the first schoolhouse at Union came from John A. Jones dated April 23, 1873. On December 25, 1918, the Union Congregation of the Church of Christ purchased the "old" schoolhouse in which they were meeting. A "new" schoolhouse had been built across the road and is still standing, although abandoned for some years now.

Elder Daniel Austin preached a number of Gospel Meetings around W.Va. On December 6, 1896, Kromer Ice [R.D.'s grandfather], received a request from Elder Daniel Austin, of Alpha, W.Va., to use Kromer’s school house at Rigan's Run, Doddridge County, to hold Preaching. Note that preachers in the Churches of Christ back then were called "Elder." David Lipscomb mentioned this in his book, "Questions and Answers."

There were few Churches of Christ in West Virginia at the turn of the century. Looking at our area, the church at Mt. Nebo at Brunner’s Ridge, dates from 1825. Union from 1894. Mt. Liberty from 1916; Belington, around 1942; Central in Clarksburg dates from 1938; Blueville at Grafton, 1911; Gladesville, 1908; Philippi 1945; Buckhannon, 1953; Elkins, 1952; Weston, 1956.
The Independence Church of Christ dated from the 1940s and existed for some years. In fact, Union & Independence were like one congregation with two buildings. Yet each was separate from the other and worked to proclaim Christ in their own way. In time deaths and finances caused the people to abandon their separate existence and to come to Union around 1994.

Following WWII, the Churches of Christ had explosive growth. Many who had been sent overseas with the military, came home with a vision of a world to be won to Christ! A period of great missionary activity was generated and many outreach ministries were begun. [Don Daugherty went from this area as a missionary to France.] Churches of Christ concentrated on lifting up Jesus Christ and proclaiming the Good News of God’s great offer of Salvation.


Like the Israelites of old, we need to be called back from time to time to the Ancient Order of things in the New Testament. We are to look to Christ Jesus and go straight to the goal! "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." Phil 3:20-21

Satan tries to distract our attention to other things. The Church at Ephesus was in danger of losing their candlestick because they no longer loved Christ as they did at first. Rev. 2:4-5. "that you have left your first love."

We can only share what we have ourselves. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." 1 Cor. 12:13 We are God's Family and we share our life together.

All the SAVED have the same FATHER! Our UNITY helps promote the Cause of Christ Jesus. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." 1 Cor. 10:16-17

The Great Commission requires that we make people disciples (students and followers) of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10

Not the "End Time" (it could be) but John teaches us to live as though each hour were the Last One. "And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour." 1 John 2:17-18
Paul spoke of the "present distress" taking place in the world of his time. 1 Cor 7:17-26.

"And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all." Acts 4:33


Who Is My Neighbor Whom I Am To Love?

"So he answered and said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

The Jews interpreted neighbor very narrowly to exclude Samaritans and all Gentiles. But Jesus expanded this.

1. A neighbor is available.

Prov 27:10 "Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." Your relative may be distant. Your neighbor is close at hand, and available to help you.

The scriptural principle is: "be loving to your neighbor." For if he loves his friend as he loves himself how much more would he love the Holy One who loves us without partiality, with a true compassion, for He is the Master of the world and everything is in His hand, may He be blessed. See then, "Be loving to your neighbor" is what causes "Be loving to God…

2. Love God by starting with your neighbor.

"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." 1 John 4:20-21

3. A Commentary on the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37.

Jesus taught in Parables using language as commonly understood. Lacey asks the question: how would the Lawyer react to these words which Jesus used? This is important to the impact of what Jesus said.

One of the Religious Lawyers tried to catch Jesus out. "But who is my neighbor?" Five Hebrew words are translated "neighbor." The Lawyer could have argued about each one. But Jesus was saying: Let Me show you what "neighbor" means. And He told a Parable to show the extreme feelings that "loving neighbor" can overcome.

Lacey restates the Parable to show the impact of what Jesus is saying.

There’s this man leaving Jerusalem by the Jericho Road, OK? He gets mugged by thieves, left in the gutter half-naked and two-thirds dead. One of the Rabbis is passing, sees him and crosses the road to avoid him! Then a Temple Servant goes past, sees him, and does the same. Next up a Palestinian (Samaritan) goes past, sees him, and what do you reckon? Note: Israelis would expect the Palestinian (Samaritan) to a) walk on past and ignore the wounded man; b) go over to see if they left any money; c) start kicking him to finish him off.

But Jesus shows something different. d) The Palestinian (Samaritan) cleans his injuries, lifts him on his donkey, takes him to the next country inn, pays for bed & board, promises to pay whatever extra might be needed. So, says Jesus, who’s the neighbor? The slick Lawyer mumbles, "The Sama- . . . the one who helped him." "So, go do the same," Jesus said.

God is love - God is action.
God’s world-shifting love for us
gave Him no choice but to send His Son
as a virgin sacrifice to purge the sin
that blocked us from God.
And if God Himself loves us that much -
we should love one another!
[1 John 4:7-21.]


We, like Peter, face times of testing.

"And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Luke 22:31-32

A Prayer of Repentance and Returning.

O Lord our God, we bring ourselves to Your Throne of Grace, confident that You will accept our prayer of faith. We trust you as Abraham did, and You accounted him as righteous. Please forgive us and cleanse us from all sin with the blood of Christ’s sacrifice. We struggle with doubts and fears. We are tempted and tried. But as Jesus overcame the world, give us Victory in His Name. We pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen. [Heb. 4:15-16; 1 John 1:1-10; Matt 11:28-29]