Positive Isn’t Always

The other day I heard someone pray that another person would receive positive medical test results. However, when we are looking for cancer we don’t want a positive result – that would mean we have cancer. You see, sometimes positive isn’t good.

The Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, and Norman Vincent Peale crowd (and their modern day contemporaries) has yet to grasp this reality. We hear about “positive preaching” and “positive mental attitude,” as if perception can trump reality. Pleas for balanced preaching are generally nothing more than a cry to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

What is positive and what is negative?  Positive is supposed to build people up while negative tears them down. Perpetually ‘happy’ preaching, however, works a most evil result upon its audience.

People who need to hear rebuke (not want to hear, but need to hear) never do. Would Peter’s Pentecost audience have been cut to the heart if he had blasted them with happy talk instead of telling them, “You are the men” (to paraphrase with help from another negativist, the prophet Nathan).

Positive preaching refrains from rocking the boat, which is, of course, perceived to be the greatest risk to church growth. A sinking boat, however, does not always rock before its plunges. Could it be that all this positive preaching is like the band playing on the deck of the Titanic?

– by J.S. Smith

“Better to go to the house of mourning . . .”

“Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.”

In this passage, Solomon is telling us that one thing is better, more valuable than another. It would not seem so among men in the world today — but it is better to go to a funeral than a party.

Solomon is not saying — you should never go to the house of feasting; this is not a wholesale condemnation of all parties (though those involving sin should be shunned). But there is more personal value for us — to attend a funeral!

The reason might be explained this way. I’ll express this through a question: Typically, when we attend a party, do we go home and think about our spiritual lives, God and eternity? No — typically, when we go to a party and have a good time; we come home tired, laughing and our stomachs are bloated.

However — when we attend a funeral, that event tends to generate sobriety, not levity. A funeral brings us face to face with the reality of death and it is good to think about death! And a funeral is one of the few occasions where there is this sober focus on death. Can you imagine – having a few friends over to eat sandwiches and talk about death?

That’s not what we do. It takes a funeral for us to take the time to con-template where we are all headed, and hopefully – think about whether we are ready to die. Solomon says here, “death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” A funeral may leave us with a sad face – but the thoughts we must entertain about death MAY DO OUR HEARTS GOOD.

“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” Now — along this same line – Solomon wants us to know – there is something else that may be unpleasant, but can do us good: It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools!

At a funeral — ideally — you hear the rebuke of a wise man (take note, preachers!). At the party — you hear the song of fools. Obviously — the funeral is better for us than the party.

“Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.” I’m sure most of you will know what I mean, when I use the word “kindling.” When you start a fire — you gather up some dry twigs, and use them to get the fire going. What happens is, the kindling makes a loud popping noise or crackling sound… but it doesn’t last very long. That’s the way Solomon describes the laughter that is typical of parties — LOUD AND ENTERTAINING, but TEMPORARY. Of course, there is more permanence and value in the funeral — and the thoughts generated by the reality of death can do more for us than the laughter of fools. Let is take this to heart, and do what Solomon recommends at the end of this marvelous book: FEAR GOD, AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.

– by Warren E. Berkley

Some sad facts

While many people around the world will go hungry today, here in America, one out of every three dogs and cats is obese.  Over the past decade the number of overweight dogs has risen by 158% while the number of overweight cats has jumped 168% (which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “fat cats”!). [Source: Time, July 24, 2017, p. 19].

Rev 3:17 – Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:

Loosed From the Law?

The evidence is overwhelming – law has its limitations. Words from Sam Ewing illustrate the point. He said, “Crime in the cities is very discouraging. Apartment house dwellers have locks, bolts, chains, and bars on their doors. It takes a tenant longer to get out than a burglar to get in.” I’ll say it again – when it comes to human beings, law has its limitations. The apostle Paul has a long discussion about the limitations of law in Romans chapter 7 (in the context of that letter he has the Old Testament Law of Moses in view). The biggest problem he identifies in the chapter is not the law itself but man’s inability (or unwillingness) to keep it! He writes, “the law is holy, and the commandment Holy and just and good” (vs 12). But he goes on (in what are admittedly difficult words) to describe the complex human spiritual personality – “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (vs 15) . . . “how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (vv 18b, 19). Human beings can’t be justified through mere law-keeping precisely because they can’t flawlessly, perfectly keep the law! Paul already warned at Romans 3:20 that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His [God’s] sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” He issued a similar warning in Galatians 3:10 as he declares our need for forgiveness through Christ – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ ” There it is! The limitation of trusting a law-keeping system to save us is we can’t keep it perfectly! Even Babe Ruth missed more times than he hit!

Paul’s theology in Romans (and elsewhere) is that we need to be loosed from any system of salvation based on perfect human performance of a set of laws to save us. We can be loosed! We conclude with Paul’s introductory paragraph to Romans 7 (vv 1-6): “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Thank God – we can be loosed from the power of the law–not through our perfect and flawless performance, but through Jesus’ perfect performance at the cross!  Think about it.

    By: Dan Gulley, Smithville, TN

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies – 2 Thess. 3:11

There is no perfect church! The church at Thessalonica, in spite of its work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope, all which were highly commended by Paul, had her share of problems. In his closing remarks on this epistle, Paul made special mention of two kinds of people in Thessalonica.
1. Those who are disorderly (verse 6)
2. Those who are idle (verse 10).

1. THOSE WHO ARE DISORDERLY (verse 6)
The word “disorderly” is a military word. It means “out of ranks; deviating from the prescribed order or rule” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). It describes a soldier who is out of rank or a soldier who is out of order. It carries the idea of one who is insubordinate or one who is disrespectful of those who have been placed in authority over him. Paul says this group of people is not following “the tradition” passed down by the apostles (verse 6). But, the traditions of the apostles came from Christ. Hence, a “disorderly walk” denotes conduct that is in any way contrary to the teachings of Christ. Such people have problems obeying rules and regulations; even if such rules were from the Lord.

The God of peace has called us to be a peaceful people (2 Corinthians 13:11). Hence, we are commanded to live in peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14). Peaceful people live in harmony with others. Peaceful people respect rules and follow the leaders. The church ought to be a place where peace prevails: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

2. THOSE WHO ARE IDLE (verse 10).
Besides this disorderly walk, Paul heard of some who worked not at all. In other words, idleness was spreading in the church. Perhaps, there were some in Thessalonica who were living on Christian charities. They took advantage of the brethren’s kindness and benevolent spirit and would not work. Perhaps, some were saying they were busy in God’s kingdom and would not get a secular job to support their families. Over against this false pretense, Paul commanded with this stern law: “If any man will not work, neither let him eat.” Men who can work but will rather support themselves by begging or living on the goodwill of others, should not get one morsel of bread.

Paul says such idle folks are also walking disorderly (verse 11). They are walking out of ranks. They are not following the rule that men ought to work and support themselves and their families: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).

Idleness is the parent of many crimes. Paul says they become busybodies. “Busybodies are idle, yet busy; idle as regards their own work, but busy with the business of others; ever meddling with what belongs not to them; always counseling others and interfering with their concerns, whilst neglecting their own” (Homiletics, Pulpit Commentaries).

We have this proverb: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” It means a person who doesn’t have something particular to occupy himself with doing will be tempted to occupy himself with sin. Paul warns about supporting young widows from church funds which leaves them with little to do. The result, they become busybodies (1 Timothy 5:13).

Orderly and work; they are our Christian virtue and duties. To walk orderly is to walk in steps with others; it is to be in harmony. Work is commanded from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). Let us be peaceful and hardworking people of God.

Jimmy Lau
Psa 119:97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

“THE KING WHO WALKS WITH MEN”

Most kings and potentates remain isolated – some because of fear for their safety; some because they enjoy their privacy. For whatever reason, world leaders and men of fame find it “lonely at the top.” The higher they rise in power, the more isolated they become. There are few exceptions.

Now look at the King of kings. The more His fame spread, the more He mingled with the masses. This is because our Lord is no ordinary King. He came inviting men to join Him in the greatest quest of all time – the quest to become children of God and inherit eternal life. Our Lord longs to associate with men. He walked among men on this earth, and invites us to walk with Him in that eternal city “which hath foundation whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). Listen to His invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28-29). The same sentiments are echoed in the closing words of our Lord to the church at Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). He is a King who, unlike His earthly counterparts, desires to walk with men. The more we study the life of Jesus, the more we come to appreciate this fact.

At the end of Matthew chapter four we were told that “Jesus went about in Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people…and they brought unto him all that were sick, holden with divers diseases and torments, possessed with demons, and epileptic, and palsied; and he healed them” (Matt. 4:23-25). Few details are provided at that point by Matthew; only that Jesus went about doing good. The inspired historian then takes us into the mountain with Jesus, where the King delivers His great Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord then descends to the plain below to enter into His labors among the people. Generalities give way to details, and in chapters 8 and 9 we see the King of kings walking and working with men. Matthew selects ten miracles of Jesus to help us get a glimpse of a King Who spent time with the people in order that He might show them the compassion and love of the Father. Now watch as this King walks among men; all kinds of men: publicans, sinners, Scribes, Pharisees and beggars by the wayside. There were the wealthy and the poor, the city dwellers and country folks, all with one thing in common – a genuine need. Each of the miracles in Matthew 8 and 9 provides us with an aspect of our Lord’s walk with men. Let’s consider each of these.

First, there is the healing of the leper (Matt. 8:1-4). Our King walks with the unclean, and who know they are unclean. This leper was humble enough to recognize his need, and then flee to the only One Who could cure his leprosy. “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean!” (vs. 2). Not ‘if thou canst,’ but ‘if thou wilt.’ The leper did not question the Lord’s ability, but His willingness. He wanted to know if this Jesus would walk with men, and in so doing, heal him of his leprosy. Oh how the leper’s spirit must have been lifted with he heard Jesus say, “I will; be thou made clean” (vs. 3a). Those caught up in sin want to know if Jesus will walk with them. The answer? He does – not in their sin, but in order to cleanse them of their sin.

Second, there is the healing of the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13). Our King walks with those willing to show compassion towards others. Like the leper, this centurion came to Jesus, “beseeching him” (vs. 5). The plea was not for himself, but for his servant. His servant! Not a family member; not even a dignitary – but a servant. Jesus walks with those who care for others.

Third, there is the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14-15). Our King walks with those willing to serve. Our omniscient Savior knew full well that Peter’s mother-in-law would arise and serve after her healing. God is looking for men and women who have the heart and the mind of Jesus (Phil. 2:5), who are willing to serve rather than to be served. Jesus is our example in this. He is the epitome of complete surrender of His will to the will of the Father. Do you have the heart of a servant? If so, our King will walk with you.

Fourth, there is the calming of the sea (Matt. 8:23-27). Our King walks with us in times of peril. When trials and tribulations come our way, our King will walk with us, and He uses our trials and tribulation to make us stronger. J.C. Ryle is credited with having written the following:

There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think – to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing; but sickness is far better, if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy, but adversity is a greater one, if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness, and dying in sin.

When persecution arises, Jesus will continue to walk by our side.

Fifth, there is the casting out of demons (Matt. 8:28-34). Our King walks with us when evil surrounds us, overwhelms us, and threatens our very soul. We live in a world of sin. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19). It should not surprise us when, like Lot, our souls are “vexed…from day unto day with their lawless deeds” (Jude 8b). Still, our King walks with us, even to the end.

Sixth, there is the man sick of palsy (Matt. 9:1-8). Our King walks with those who are suffering from the ravages of sin in their life. In the case of the palsied man, his sin brought ruin on his physical life as well. I am not denying the horrible predicament this man endured because of his palsy. But let it be pointed out that Jesus addressed this man’s spiritual malady first. “Thy sins are forgiven” (vs. 2b)! Sin has brought much harm physically to those who have lived in rebellion to their God. Such seems to be the case here. But in spite of the man’s foolish mistakes, Jesus was willing to walk with this man.

Seventh, the healing of Jarius’ daughter (Matt. 9:18-26). Our king walks with us in the depths of our sorrow. Here was a father whose child was so sick that her very life was threatened. “Twelve years of sunshine were threatened with eclipse; twelve years of playfulness were merging towards a tragedy in the heart and life of Jairus” (Morgan). Jarius was driven to the King out of the depths of sorrow. Eventually the child would die; but out of the “sleep of death” her soul would return to the body from which it had departed, and the child would arise.

Eighth, the case of the woman with an issue of blood (Matt. 9:20-22). Our King walks with men when nobody else will stand by their side. Matthew tells us she had “an issue of blood.”

That descriptive phrase must be considered in the light of the age in which she lived, and not in the light of our age. First, by reason of her trouble, she was excommunicated religiously. The Hebrew economy did not permit a woman so suffering to take any part or place in the worship of God. She was shut out from temple and synagogue worship. She was divorced from her husband by the same law. She was ostracized from society (Morgan, Electronic notes).

Alone, afraid, and timid, this woman had no one else to whom she could turn. Her money was gone, and her doctors had failed her; all that remained was her hope that just a touch might heal her. Her faith drove her out of the dark recesses of her fear with a desire to touch the boarder of Jesus’ garment – just the boarder, in hopes she might find healing. She was not disappointed.

Ninth, the healing of the two blind men (Matt. 9:27-31). Our King walks with those who long for sight. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and comet to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God” (John 3:20-21). If a man closes his heart to the truth, God will cease to walk with that man.

Finally, the healing of the dumb man possessed of a demon (Matt. 9:32). Our King walks with those whose lives have been ruined by the power of Satan. Here was a man so captured by the power of the devil that he was unable to speak. Yet once the evil had been cast out of his life, his tongue was loosed, and the dumb man spoke. I wish I could have been there to hear what the man said once his speech returned; no doubt his words were filled with praise and thanksgiving for his healed body, not to mention the healing of his soul. Surely, this man rejoiced knowing that God walks with men.

Ten miracles, declaring to us that our King walks with men. Morgan summed up all of this in a most remarkable way:

The sorrowing father, a wealthy man, a man of position, but his life overshadowed because his servant was dying; he came to Jesus. The woman who had lost everything that was worth having, religious privilege, family care, social position, all her wealth; she came to Jesus. Two blind men who, perhaps, as one of the commentators says, did often talk about what other men saw, and perchance did often talk about the Healer Whose fame had gone through all the district, unable to see His face, unable to see their own, unable to see the faces of their loved ones; they found their way to Him. The demon-possessed man, who could not find his way to Jesus, was brought by others. All kinds of need. Thus the King passed into the midst of the multitudes, and He drew to Himself, into the closest circle, the most needy people from among the crowds. And so it is to-day. It is the broken heart, the bereft, the discouraged, the unfit, that He will bring nearer to Himself than any others (Morgan, Electronic notes).

Don’t tell me Jesus does not care. Don’t tell me that He stands aloof, or that He is isolated from our cares, our woes, and our needs. More than ever, we can be assured that Jesus is a King that walks with men.

By Tom Wacaster

Sticks and Stones

    We are all familiar with the little poem: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It might be nice if that were true. But, as Jeff Abrams says, there’s a Greek word for that: baloney! Likely, we have all been the recipients of hurtful words slung intentionally or spoken unintentionally. Many of us have been the intentional or unintentional slingers of the same hurtful barbs.

 

    Jeff Abrams has written a book (2011) titled Sticks and Stones: A Study of Hurtful Words and Helpful Remedies. You can order a copy from his website: sticksandstonesbooks.com. It is a small book, with only 115 pages in 17 chapters. It does not take very long to read, about two hours. But learning how to control our tongues is a lifetime endeavor! Abrams brings a truly wicked sin of the tongue to our attention and challenges us to control it better. That specific sin is gossip.

 

    Most of the book is about gossip. His book is full of Scripture quotations, especially from the divine book of wisdom on tongue control: Proverbs. Yet, Abrams also weaves human interest stories and quotations from other writers seamlessly into the book in a way that makes it very compelling, engaging, and challenging. For its use in a Bible class, he provides questions for discussion at the end of the book for each chapter.

 

    Abrams’s ability to string words and phrases together makes it easy to envision what he is describing: “Satan devours with malicious words – they are his most effective utensils of destruction. As he devours us, he desires us to devour others. His devouring words are not to be ingested, digested or regurgitated to others. They are to be hated, avoided, vanquished from our vocabulary” (pg 13).

 

    As I mentioned, most of the book is about gossip – about the first seven chapters. But he also provides a few chapters on how to handle being a target of gossip and reminds us that great men of the Bible were targets of gossip. He also warns us what the end will be if we persist in the sin of gossip.

 

    Without a doubt, our words will be a factor on the day of judgment: “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

 

    In his final chapter, “Your Tongue on the Day of Judgment,” Abrams writes: “The one who whispered on earth, will scream in hell. In this life the whispers were heard by many. In eternity, the screams will be heard by no one. There will be no network of nitwits to impress. Words that once terrorized and traumatized will be muted. The backstabber’s once powerful blade will crumble. If you are an unrelenting, unrepentant gossiper, consider yourself warned. The hell your words put others through, will soon be your permanent address. You will be neighbors with all who spoke the devil’s language. Your place will be the chorus of the eternally cursed” (pg. 113).

 

    The “Better Way to Talk,” Abrams points out in page 84 (and I first heard from Wendell Winkler) is to “Think” before you speak:

 

    T – Is it true?

    H – Is it helpful?

    I – Is it inspiring?

    N – Is it necessary?

    K – Is it kind?

 

    Abrams’s book Sticks and Stones would be good to read personally, good to study in class, and good to preach from the pulpit. Words do, often, hurt. We should wield them wisely.

Milton Shadur isn’t your typical judge

“The Judge Is Stepping Down”

News about a judge retiring from the bench doesn’t usually generate headlines around the country.  But Milton Shadur isn’t your typical judge.  After nearly four decades of issuing rulings in hundreds of cases, Shadur will retire – at age 93.

One fellow judge called Mr. Shadur “simply a legend”.  He graduated from the University of Chicago at age 18 with degrees in math and physics before serving in World War 2.  President Jimmy Carter appointed him to U.S. District Court in 1980.  Shadur hadn’t planned to retire, the article via Associated Press reported, but complications from recent surgery led him to this decision.

It’s sad to see someone who has been an effective servant step down from their duties.  Each of us have had a favorite President, governor, or other leader that we admired.  The time came, however, when they had to retire, either because of age or term limits.  “Oh how we wish **** could lead us again!” we often think.  But it cannot be.

The passing of legends is described in Scripture.  Jacob had not lived long in Egypt before his death, but his son, Joseph, had become legendary in his plans for the nation to survive the 7-year famine.  When Jacob died, “the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days” (Genesis 50:3).  Moses, who led the descendants of Jacob out of Egypt, died at the age of 120, “and the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days” (Deuteronomy 34:8).

What if that were to happen with the one who has led us out of captivity?  The one who has led us toward our Promised Land, and has provided for our needs every day?  What if God were to announce His retirement?  Or could it possibly be true, as Friedrich Nietzsche said in 1882, that “God is dead”?  What would we do then?

Thankfully we don’t have to ponder such scenarios.  Moses stated the truth about God in an eloquent way: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations … from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:1,2).  Jeremiah wrote this: “You, O Lord, remain forever; Your throne from generation to generation” (Lamentations 5:19).  How good it is to know that God’s throne will remain forever!

But even if God is on His throne, could it be that His abilities might be diminished?  He was once great and powerful, no doubt.  But what about now?  Hear what God said in Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I do not change.”  God was omnipotent in the days of Moses; His power is the same today.

The same can be said of God’s Son: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  What a difference it makes to be in the Kingdom of God!

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall

Don’t Shut Up – Stir Yourself Up, and Speak Up!

Jerry Seinfeld told the following – “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” I want to speak to an apparent fear fear among Christians – the fear of speaking up for Christ. Let me acknowledge the obvious – not every Christian has the same aptitude or abilities or same exact responsibilities. Every member of the body of Christ cannot be a “mouth” (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Still, Jesus said that if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before His Father who is in heaven – “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). The New Testament directs every Christian to be “speaking the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15); to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3); and to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

Our Guilty Silence is the name of a book published in 1967 by British theologian John R. W. Stott. In the preface of that book Stott mentions reticence on the part of church members as one of the things hindering evangelism. He calls it a “shyness in speaking about the things of God” which has helped to produce a church of “silent saints.” Of course, saints are not really silent. All week long Christians freely, openly, eagerly and publicly hold forth on topics ranging from the economy to politics to sports and movies and music and everything else in the world. We are bold about hobbies and politics and products and topics of all kinds. Except, sometimes, the gospel. Even at church assemblies you hear people chatter about all kinds of stuff – where they’ve been and what they did this past week, and what is coming up this week. Yet, some of these same folks shut up tight as a clam when it comes to talking about Christ – and a few clam up to the point they won’t sing praises to Him even in worship! Some people just don’t engage in much gospel talk. I’m not talking about all of us crossing the sea to become “missionaries” or knocking on doors. I’m talking about what Otis Keener meant when he said, “Missionaries are not made by crossing the sea but by seeing the cross.” I’m talking about what Peter said in Acts 4:20 after being told by Jewish authorities to zip his lip and talk no more about Jesus – “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 8:4 says ancient persecuted Christians scattered and “went everywhere preaching the word.” Today unpersecuted Christians go everywhere. Question is are we preaching the word? In 2 Timothy 1:7-8 the apostle Paul urged a timid Timothy to “stir up the gift of God which is in you” and “not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” Many church members today need that same admonition. We live in a time when culture around us would rather Christians just shut up. But souls are lost and undone in sin. Jesus still saves. Don’t shut up – stir yourself up. And for Christ’s sake, speak up.

  By: Dan Gulley, Smithville, TN

Definitely . . . Maybe

It is always frustrating to hear news reports about recent developments in the field of science.  The wildest speculations of scientists are reported as though they were established facts.  Ross Spears has suggested this helpful glossary for interpreting the terms and phrases often used in scientific reports:

  • “It is commonly thought that . . .” — This is what I believe and the 2 or 3 people I occasionally talk to agree with me for the most part.
  • “The literature says . . .” — I think I read something somewhere by someone else but I can’t remember exactly and I haven’t bothered to look it up.
  • “It is widely known that . . .” — This is what I’ve always been taught and there is no need to question it.
  • “I (or we) believe . . .” — I think, but I’m not really sure.
  • “Most certainly . . .” — Probably.
  • “Probably . . .” — Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet my house   on it.
  • “Maybe . . .” — Not a chance.
  • “Therefore . . .” — My data isn’t conclusive, but I have to draw a conclusion to write this paper.
  • “The data is conclusive . . .” — It sorta leads you to believe that what I’m saying might be so.

Believers should not have their faith shaken by the unfounded guesses of biased, atheistic “scientists” who are bent on disproving the Bible.  The true fact is this: No verified scientific discovery has ever contradicted what is taught in the Word of God.  Actually, scientific discoveries have always tended to confirm rather than disprove the things that are taught in the Scriptures.  We should remember the words that Paul wrote to Timothy: “. . . keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science (knowledge) falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20).

– by Greg Gwin