Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thoughts on Halloween

Be Filled With The Holy Spirit

    Is Halloween just good fun or demonic?  Both - depending on how you use it.  In Christ we are free!  Romans 14:14.

    “AMERICANS are obsessed with the supernatural,” said Jeffrey J. Kripal.  Just look at the TV shows about vampires and zombies.  Supernatural themes sell well - as they did in the First Century.

    As the world thinks of ghost & goblins, remember the ONE who is HOLY.  "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  [1 John 4:4]  Note Eph. 6:10-18.

    1. Has the church pulled the plug on God’s Spirit?

    “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." Acts 19:1-2   

    "For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection--and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both."  Acts 23:8

    "...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."  Romans 14:17

    In New Testament times the Holy Spirit is described as Someone who “annoys us” and “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the Church to move forward.”  Note Acts 16:6-10.

    2. Compel them to come in.

    “Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”  Luke 14:23

    The goal is not to abandon the world, but to keep ourselves IN CHRIST and salvage as much as possible from this evil world.  Christians do renounce the falseness of the world, but do not reject the Creation itself.  [note Romans 8:19-23.]

    “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.  Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city." Acts 18:8-10

    3. Christian Love, Holy Joy.

    “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.”  1 Thess 1:6-7

    "Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Eph 5:18-20(NLT)

    Following repentance (change your heart and life), a surge of Holy Joy springs up!  But a kind of joy can spring up from darkness also.  The temporary joy of wine will ruin your life.  For Christians the Holy Spirit gives true HOLY JOY.  This JOY is the New Testament worship of GOD who is Father, Son, Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).  In the Lord's Supper we give thanks to the Father through the Son.  Wine will ruin your life.  But he who is filled with the Holy Spirit is rooted in Christ and is gloriously sober.  Quoting Scripture and singing hymns would not be spiritual if there if not also humility, submission and the fear (reverence) for God.

    "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will."  Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

    Helps. "He greatly assists or aids us."  [Often in ways that we are not aware of.]

    Our weakness. Assists us in our infirmities, or aids us to bear them. The weaknesses to which we are subject, and to our various trials in this life. The Spirit helps us in this ---

    (1.) by giving us strength to bear them;

    (2.) by encouraging us to make efforts to sustain them;

    (3.) by showing us power, and truth, and our Christian blessings, which help us to endure our trials.

    (4.) He will make a way to escape.  1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9

    For we don't know. This tells us of the aid which the Holy Spirit gives us. The reasons why Christians do not know what to pray for may be ---

    (1.) we do not know what would be really best for us.
   (2.) we do not know what God might be willing to grant us.            (3.) we are to a great extent ignorant of the character of God, the reason of His dealings, the principles of His government, and our own real needs.  Eccl. 8:16-17.

     (4.) we are often in real, deep perplexity. We are encompassed with trials, exposed to temptations, feeble by disease, and subject to calamities. In these circumstances, if left alone, we would neither be able to bear the trials, nor know what to ask at the hand of God.  John 16:33.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I wrote this for the Ensign in 1985. It reflects the problems in the church at that time. Christ's One Spiritual Church is indestructible! But local churches may lose their candlestick (Ephesus, Rev. 2:5).

"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" 1 Peter 4:17 (NKJV)

What Peter wrote was true even as he was writing. The destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) followed shortly. God is prepared to judge His own people more severely than others. Compare James 3:1,13-14; 4:17; Ezekiel 9:6; Jeremiah 25:29. The perseverance of the church involves the promise of God's judgment on the church and its leaders for their unfaithfulness.

"The time will come when many people will gather around and say, 'Lord, Oh Lord, we sure did preach in Your name, didn't we? And in Your name we sure gave the devil a run for his money, didn't we?' We did all kinds of stunts and gimmicks in Your name, didn't we?' Then I'll declare right in front of everybody, 'I've never known you. Get away from Me, you wicked religious racketeers' (Matt. 7:21-23 Jordan's Paraphrase). [Note He is not talking to denominations.] HOW can our Lord say such things to good, faithful brethren who have devoted their lives to Him? The apostle Paul gives the answer in Romans 10:1-4; 2 Cor. 3:1-6. There is a way that seems so right, but it turns one away from the Spirit of God. Jesus warned about the leaven of the Pharisees. "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matt. 16:12 Compare Matt. 15:1-9.

Brother Guy N. Woods showed the spirit of a prophet when he wrote in the Gospel Advocate, 10-4-1979, about negativism in the non-institutional group. "It is this disposition which has led many churches, once great and active congregations, to wither on the vine. People cannot subsist on a diet of negativism and maintain robust spiritual life. We predicted long ago that just this result would follow. It is true that rubbish must be cleared away before a building can be erected, but no one ever built a house with a 'crowbar.'"

"The Churches of Christ are a dying institution." Respected brothers have said this. Now the specter of "Collinsville" has come to haunt us. Why? IF GOD WERE NOT ALLOWING IT, IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN. If God is judging "our brotherhood," it is a mistake to look for minor improvement and call them signs of hope. Yes, the judgment itself is a sign of hope - a sign of God's continuing love for His people (compare Isaiah 54:7-10). And if God is in fact judging us, the only way to respond is for "our brotherhood and its leaders" to repent where needed and to return to faithfulness in Him. If the church perseveres in faithfulness it will do so because of God!

Recent events at Collinsville and similar locations have raised some important questions which demand Bible answers (compare 1 Cor. 2:11-16). How far does the responsibility of elders extend? What is the relationship of a "local congregation" to the "church" which Jesus built? Do we understand a congregation to be a "gathered congregation" (an independent group of Christians banded together for work and worship) or a "parochial congregation (an integral part of the total brotherhood - similar to an individual Sears store). Did Campbell, Stone, etc., have the right to resign from various Churches and Associations to avoid the effect of censure? Each of these raises additional questions.

Yes, we know what Christ said. The "gates of hell/powers of death" will not overcome His "one spiritual church." There will be Christians waiting when Christ returns (1 Thess. 4:15-17). But congregations may have their candlestick / lampstands withdrawn (Rev. 2:4-5). Congregations which do not grow through conversions must die through attrition (compare Matt. 25:29).

We may react to this crisis in different ways. The "Triumphalist view" says in effect, that because of the divine promises nothing in the "Churches of Christ" can go seriously wrong. This view is not content to defend "church authority," but feels obligated to defend almost everything the "church" does - to the point that it becomes impossible to admit mistakes or weaknesses. No brakes may be applied nor any changes made in the direction of travel.

Another way views the perfect Christ, "Himself holy, innocent, pure, undefiled, etc.," (Heb. 7:26). He "knew" nothing of sin (2 Cor. 5:21). He came to be God's Lamb to take away the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17). But the "church," embracing sinners in its bosom (compare Jesus' parables of the fish net, wheat and tares, etc.) - is simultaneously holy and always in need to be purified. The church The church must always and forever pursue the path of repentance and renewal. The steering wheel must be turned first this way and then that to keep moving within the lane of travel.

150 years ago, the undivided movement was growing rapidly. Walter Scott alone was baptizing around 1000 each year. The sectarian spirit was being driven out, and freedom was the word of the day. Christians were happy! They had found the "pearl of great price"! The Resurrection Gospel was proclaimed. Grace and unity were favorite themes. When the "War Between the States" ended, the "Restoration" was the fourth largest religious group in the USA. God was blessing us!

God will move His people where He wants them to be at whatever cost! "Our brotherhood" has a serious crisis. It is a crisis of love and hope, a crisis of unfaithfulness to the teaching and example of Christ. Compare Isaiah chapter 61.

PS: New challenges come and go.  Little is accomplished by continuing to fight battles of the past.  But Satan always tries to steal our hope and joy.  Yet God is still at work in our world, often in ways we cannot see.  We pray for a "New Pentecost" and things in the spirit (Spirit) of the Cane Ridge Revival of 1801.

"...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Claiming The Promises Of God

Claiming The Promises of God
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:4 (KJV)

1. Satan is the confuser.

Since the time that sin entered the world (Romans 5:12), Satan has tried to spread confusion and despair. People have schemed and planned and attempted to create salvation for themselves. Some look only for pleasures and fulfillment. Yet God Himself is always near us! Acts 17:26-28

Satan tries to get us to fight each other. Jesus said of the Jews: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." Matt 23:15

Paul wrote: "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." 1 Tim 1:12-13

2. Christ is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

The Law of Christ is steadfast. 1) Love God (Jesus is God). 2) Love your neighbor. Matt. 22:37-40

"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. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." 1 John 3:23-24

The Gospel which Paul and the other Apostles preached was the Good News Gospel that God had acted in Jesus Christ to put the world right with Himself. When we become aware of our failure and need, we praise the God who rescues us!

"...yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. 1 Cor 8:6

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17

3. God has already acted in Christ Jesus.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Author of Salvation. He (God The Son) came in "flesh & blood" to devote Himself to accomplishing the Father's Plan.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love..." Eph 1:3-4 (KJV)

"For when we were still without strength, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

God did not wait on us to recover strength and be able to save ourselves from sin and evil. Rather, He acted before we even knew about it! Christ died for the wicked at the time God chose! No one is praised for being wicked and rebellious. But, as the Father who loves us, God acted in Christ to set us free and make us new - to redeem us.

"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: 'When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.'" Eph. 4:7-8; Psalm 68:18.

"Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:22

"So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:27

Let each one trust in the Name of the LORD and rely upon his GOD. Note Isaiah 50:10. "Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God."

What better way to meet the problems and joys of life! The Parable of the Sower speaks to our response to God's Message. It is those with a "noble and good heart that bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).

Friday, October 11, 2013


New book sparks controversy, debate, and Bible Study.
"Killing Jesus" A Historical Account. Bill O’Reilly. New book just out. I read it and it is historically accurate. It puts JESUS and the reality of His Crucifixion in the minds of many people. It views the Apostle John as an eye-witness. 1 John 1:1-4. It picks up on the History that is out there (which some have denied). Some will focus on what they see as conflicts and errors ("we eat the fruit and spit out the seeds"). But others will take JESUS seriously, and we can and do pray: "God's Will be done in all this."

Trust in God.

"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." 2 Cor 1:20 (NKJV)

We trust GOD. The Holy Bible is our authority. God has not forgotten us! The Light of Christ shines in the darkness! John 8:12. God can still bruise Satan under our feet! Romans 16:20; Luke 10:18. God sends the Spirit of life into the Two Witnesses! Revelation 11:11-15. God’s great Kingdom has come!

John the Apostle writes as an eyewitness of JESUS.

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." 1 John 1:1-4 (NKJV)

"That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:9-14 (NKJV)

Think on these things 
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Phil 4:8-9 (KJV)

When the church is obsessed with sin and evil, we bite and devour one another. Lacey writes about the COMMAND in Phil. 4:8-9. "To round off, guys: stuff your mouth with truth; pack your head with heroic ideas; occupy your hands with doing the right thing; stack up your deep places with purity; focus your vision on beautiful things; fill your imagination with excellence, dignity, distinction. Phil. 4:8

What you think about determines the quality and direction of your life. Satan strives to distract us. Naturally, people who think positive, uplifting thoughts have happier, healthier, longer lives. They are less stressed, more vibrant and enjoy better sleep. That’s why the scripture encourages us to think on good things — things that are true, noble and lovely. Some translations say to "fix your mind" on them. When you fix your mind on noble things, you close the door to the negative voices and open your heart to allow God to work in your life.

Choose today to fix your mind on good things. Do whatever you need to in order to keep those good thoughts before you. Write them on note cards and put them in a place where you can see them. Confess God’s promises over your life and declare His blessing on a daily basis. As you fix your mind on the goodness of God, you will rise higher in every area of your life. You will be filled with His peace and victory, and you’ll see every dream and desire in your heart come to pass.

Father in heaven, I choose to fix my mind on JESUS. I choose noble things, thoughts of peace and victory. Fill my heart with Your goodness that I may glorify You in everything I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.