The Hypocrite

It came up again in a conversation between, for want of a better term, a conservative member of our fellowship and a more liberal one. The liberal brother was explaining that he no longer believed in the “argument from silence.” Then he made that statement that really caught my attention: “I believe the church of Christ has been hypocritical down through the years when it insists that we sing a cappella, reasoning that the New Testament is silent on the subject of instruments.

The topic of instrumental music can wait for another article. Let’s say something about hypocrisy.

Let’s be clear about something: His terminology was incorrect. He didn’t mean we were “hypocrites” because we sang a cappella, he meant we were “legalistic.” Continue reading


Church appreciation 101

Almost a decade ago a truck driver leaned on his dolly at my front door. In the midst of moving boxes into our house a short conversation ensued. “No, I don’t go to church anywhere. I don’t think that’s necessary. I might not be a saint, but I am OK with God.”

The apostle Paul, however, offers an entirely different view in Ephesians.  He would counsel us that spiritually independent free spirits are not in the stream of what God is doing in this world.

Continue reading

Jesus on a cross

The other “It is written” of Jesus

“Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7Hebrews 10:7
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7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come To do your will, God.’”

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; Psalm 40:7-8Psalm 40:7-8
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7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come. It is written about me in the book in the scroll. 8 I delight to do your will, my God. Yes, your law is within my heart.”

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Did you ever consider that there was, in one sense, a law of God that was written only for Jesus? Jesus was asked to do things none of us could do if we wanted. Continue reading


Reordering all priorities and loyalties

“Follow me.” Instead of followers choosing the rabbi that most caught their interest, the Master Teacher chose his disciples. Christians are not volunteers, nor do they serve how and when they think best. The calling of Jesus Christ requires immediate response and complete abandonment of the former life in order to take up the Savior’s work. While one may remain in one’s station of life, one reorders all priorities and loyalties in order to live with God. Matthew 4.18-22, 1 Corinthians 7, 11 Corinthians 7, 1
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7 1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

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Thessalonians 5.10. Continue reading

Monarch on celosia


Ah, autumn! This is a new season that the novice gardener often won’t consider. Winter may be expected to be a little dreary, but autumn doesn’t have to be. Many of us don’t think that far ahead as we plan our gardening year, and we allow the garden to “slow down” in the fall, when it really could be coming alive with color and texture.

We take time in January to order seeds, maybe even plant them inside under grow lights. We carefully water and tend them. Then, of course there is the big rush to put in the annuals in springtime, and by autumn the majority of us are tired of the whole mess.

The temptation at this time of the year is to purchase some hay bales, pumpkins, and potted mums and just hide the “real” garden from view. Continue reading


Catching sight of ourselves

Artesian wells are amazing. It isn’t that the water is markedly different, but in how the water comes above the ground.

The water is under significant pressure because it is trapped in layers of poorly permeable rock. Disturb the layers and the water will shoot or flow from the ground with some force.

In John chapter four, Jesus told the Samaritan woman she could have “living water,” (John 4:10John 4:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

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). The Lord was speaking about a source of fresh, artesian water. Continue reading


Watch your head

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17Ephesians 4:17
English: World English Bible - WEB

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,

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The average Nepali man living in villages and in the mountains does not stretch much over five feet in height. Since materials for buildings are expensive and must sometimes be transported considerable distances, houses are built with lower ceilings, and doorframes are much shorter than those to which the normal American is accustomed. A frequent warning issued to me when I am entering those structures is “Watch your head.”

On my last trip to the mountains I came home with at least three healing scars on my head from careless encounters. And that did not count the time I tried to leave the barn we were sleeping in in the dark and hit a roof beam so hard it literally knocked me down. Yes, sometimes I seem to be a slow learner. Continue reading

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Have we grown up yet?

Babies. Everyone loves them. They can melt the heart of the hardest man. When parents get together we recall the circumstances of our children’s births, reliving the anxious moments as well as the humorous ones.

When our children were small we wanted the best for them and we wanted them to achieve their dreams when they grew up. We sometimes dreamed for them and often our dreams weren’t the dreams they wanted to pursue – but we would back them anyway and support their dreams. We want our children to grow up and to be the best that they can be, both in their chosen profession and (hopefully) even more in their dedication to Jesus. Continue reading

Clouds and bushes

John Newton’s other hymn

John Newton (1725-1807) was a preacher, a hymn writer, and at one time a ship’s captain. One of his hymns, entitled “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” is a song of great beauty and biblical truth. One of my favorite lines in it is this:

“Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought,
But when I see thee as thou art, I’ll praise thee as I ought.”

Of course Newton was speaking of the judgment day, but I have always thought that worship grows more deep in proportion to the degree that we see God as he is (Isaiah 6:1-4Isaiah 6:1-4
English: World English Bible - WEB

6 1 In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face. With two he covered his feet. With two he flew. 3 One called to another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of Armies! The whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 The foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

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); conversely shallow worship occurs when we see factors other than God, factors such as the selection of songs, the talent of the preacher and so on. Continue reading