Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Destructive Doctrines

The extremist’s cemetery is always full to overflowing, as they say. They seem to die off early, in their infancy, hardly before they get started. But there is always another simpleton standing in the wings, waiting to take up their dogmatic mantle, to keep their guru’s wild assertions and teachings alive.

The Church, down through history, has had its share of these die-hards. Men who have argued vehemently for their extreme views. Three of these beliefs, taken to the extreme, end-up being “destructive doctrines.” They sap a saint of all his or her inward joy and peace, leaving only a critical spirit.

These three dogmas are: Calvinism, Arminianism, and for the last one-hundred years, Dispensationalism.

The first will leave one fatalistic; the second, humanistic; and the third, academic. Going off the deep end with the one will have you saying, “Whatever will be, will be.” But to follow the second to its extreme bounds is to believe you have a magic wand, and all that is necessary is for you to wave it at your discretion. You know, like Aladdin’s Lamp, just make a wish. The last of these destructive teachings appeals to the head, the intellect. It takes the heart out of Christianity. Like the Modernist of old, it takes a penknife and cuts out large portions of the scripture, in spite of the fact Jesus said, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”      

Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.”

(Job 31:6)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It Doesn't Add up

I know very little about math. I dropped algebra when I embarrassingly found out “PI” was not the same as my mother's pie. I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide; after that, other than these listed, it’s all just a bunch of jumbled figures. And so I’ll have to borrow the brains of others to make my point.

I am told, I believe it's in geometry, that part which completes a circle is known as the “compliment,” or “completer.” Whether it is a circle that needs very little to complete it, or one that needs a great amount, that part that completes is still known as the “compliment.” What I am desperately attempting to convey to you is the fact that the less of the circle, more of the compliment is needed.

There are many of us who feel we come so miserably short in our Christian lives. But we need to remember, “[We] are complete in Him.”  Truly, He is our Compliment! He can make up in every area of our life where we are incomplete. The less there is of us, the more there will be of Him.

Do we need patience? Then let us pray, “Lord, be my patience this very hour.” Maybe you are lacking in wisdom, strength, peace, contentment, courage, or any number of things. Why not right now pray this simple prayer, “Lord, at this exact moment be thou my ___________. If you will appropriate this by faith, He will complete what you lack.

All the aforementioned doesn’t add-up, unless you put Christ in the equation!

Monday, March 28, 2016

What Could Be Better Than Your Best?

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts...Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not...But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly...But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD [their] God...And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

From this story in 1 Samuel, chapter fifteen, we find, “Our best is not good enough.” God had plainly specified everything was to be destroyed utterly, not just the vile and refuse. When the Lord condemns the whole, we are not to spare a part. When our Sovereign says, “All must go,” we are not at liberty to keep back what we deem exceptions to His rule.

Crucifixion of self is not partial but complete. Any portion of the flesh that is not “nailed down,” I guarantee, will destroy you in the end. You kill it, or it will end up killing you. Interestingly, when David received news that Saul had been killed, and asked who was responsible for his final demise, the young man answered, “I was.”

And just exactly who was this young man in particular? Let his own words answer this question, “I AM AN AMALEKITE!”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Things Sure Have Changed

The early Christians did not get into trouble for saying that Christ was crucified. They got into hot water for saying He was alive. There was little controversy in His death; it was His Resurrection that was debated. His Resurrection is the central theme of every sermon recorded in Acts. No amount of persecution or suffering could stop these common people; no, not even martyrdom. 

True, Christianity died with Christ, and was laid with Him in the tomb; but just as true, when Christ rose from the dead, transfigured, so also did Christianity! It was once again in motion with an even greater zeal than it had possessed before. The world would factually say of Christianity after His Glorious Resurrection, “We never saw it on this fashion.”

Timid lambs were given lion-like hearts; sad and depressed devotees became exceedingly joyful; doubting skeptics were transformed into loyal followers; the hopeless became hopeful; and best of all, the conquered became the conquerors!

“You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.”

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cheer Up

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.” Too many of us are living as if we were in the pre-Resurrection days. Like the disciples on the Emmaus road, we are walking with the risen Savior and are sad. History tells us, after the post-Resurrection era, believers greeted one another with three, little, simple words: “He is risen!” Maybe we ought to get back to this primitive salutation.

Jacob was existing rather than living because he thought Joseph was dead. But when the news came, “Joseph is yet alive,” we are told, “...the spirit of Jacob revived.” It was then that Jacob said, “It is enough.” And so it is with any who are sad and despondent today. It is enough to hear “Jesus is yet alive!” These words will cause our hearts to burn within us again, and will revive our sagging spirits. Hallelujah, He is risen!

An empty tomb is the cure-all for an empty heart.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Backslider and the Resurrection

“...there shall no sign be given...but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” The superficial sign seekers of Jesus’ day were much like those of our own. This type is interested more in novelty than Deity. How disappointed they must have been at Jesus’ reply to their request for a sign. The only redemptive sign He would give would be that of His resurrection. No other signs would have any spiritual significance if there were no resurrection.

We can understand our Lord using the temple as a sign of Him rising from the dead, and, also, the writer of Hebrews giving us the example of obedient Abraham and his son, Isaac, as a figure of Christ’s resurrection. But to use a disobedient, compassionless backslider, who cared only for his own race, as an illustration of the greatest historical event of all time, is, to say the least, baffling.

Nonetheless, I have a theory about this oddity. Could it be that Jesus wanted to show those of us who have made so many mistakes and experienced just as many failures that He is able to turn the tables, so to speak? That those things we are so ashamed of and sorry for, in the end (without condoning them), He will work these embarrassing times for our good and His glory? It’s just like our Sovereign God to do something like that, isn’t it?

All backsliders, because of the resurrection, get second chances, if they so desire. Even the horrible sin of denying their Lord. Ask Simon Peter, if you doubt me!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sniffing the Perfume

“When thou [wast] little in thine own sight.” It is perfectly legitimate to be a giant for God, if that’s God’s plan for you. But when you see yourself as such, well, that is when the problems arise. This same principle is illustrated in Moses face shining; it was acceptable for others to be aware of it, as long as Moses’ was not conscious of it.

At the zenith of David’s life, when he was king, we are told, “Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who [am] I? This royal soul considered himself a “flea” when attention was placed upon him by others. He stuffed his ears with cotton when the crowds cried out, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” This wise warrior knew the fickleness of people. He was well aware, as his blessed Lord would be in future years, that those who cry “Hosanna” today, may be saying “Crucify Him,” the next.

I heard an old preacher say years ago, “Live fish stay on the bottom, dead ones float to the top.” For those who seem to be riding the crest of popularity now, I might remind you, one goes down faster than he or she went up. And once you hit bottom, and pick yourself up again, you don’t begin where you previously were, but where you are, at the bottom. And the climb back up can take longer than you’d like. So, God’s good advice to all is, “take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently.”

“A compliment is like perfume, it is to be smelled not swallowed.” 
(Bob Jones, Sr.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Let's Think About Preservation

This article is not written with the idea of trying to convince anyone to embrace my viewpoint. For a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. I realize the truth of the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” But I, like the old-timers, know you can give them a little salt and make them thirsty. I hope this essay does just that.
The purpose of The Journal, as most of you know, is to get people to think for themselves, to be independent thinkers, if you please. Paul tells us a man needs to be “fully persuaded in his own mind.” It is not learning something new that is so difficult, but unlearning the old. And so often pride, or position, keeps us from giving up the wrong for the right.
Think about it, all true Bible believers accept the fact God has preserved His Word. The question is, Where? When a young novice preacher asked a seasoned scholar this question, the old gentleman pointed to his book shelf and to a long row of translations, replying, “It’s in them.” But, an inquiring mind would wonder, who then is to decide what is, and what isn’t, the Word of God. If you leave it to individuals, even theologians, they all would come up with different opinions. Thus each would have their own private interpretation, which the Bible condemns. “Interpretations belong to God,” says Joseph. Not the Catholic Church or some evangelical Greek or Hebrew scholar.
God preserved the Living Word in one body, using human means, and He without error. He was not the closest thing to the Living Word of God; He was the authentic, 100%, Living Word of God.  
Therefore, we must ask ourselves the question, “Has God preserved His Written Word in one Book, having no error or any such thing?” Can there be a Book in the world that is its own interpreter, dictionary, and corrector of any human mistakes in the compiling of it (like a computer does)? I personally think so. And as Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book”

God promised to preserve His Words, not just His Word (Psalm 12:6-7). “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” If every Word is not God’s, then whose words are you putting your faith in?
Someone has said, “Inspiration without preservation is irrelevant.” Think about it!

Friday, March 18, 2016

To Do Or Not To Do

Speaking of questionable things in the Saint's life, opposites can both be right. There are groups of Christians who do not believe this. One has to be wrong; both cannot be right. Contrary to the teaching of some, the Bible is not always black and white, when speaking of what a Christian may or may not do. Many areas are shaded grey. I don’t know why this is—possibly God wanted each of us to enjoy life according to their individual taste and temperament. And, just maybe, He wanted to see our attitude toward a brother who does not do things like we do.

Romans fourteen (familiarize yourself with it) is a classic example of how opposites can both be right. Paul discusses three basic areas of controversy in the early Church that still exist today. In verse two, he covers the issue of diet (pork or vegetables); is one to eat or not to eat? In verse five, it is days ( our Christmas for example, etc); is one to recognize or not to recognize? And, in verse twenty-one, it is drink; the question is whether to drink or not to drink (grape juice was not an issue). Then, in the same verse, he gives us an underlying principle for all we do or allow in our lives.

There are three types of believers in this enlightening chapter: There is the legalist (weak brother), who judges the mature Believer who enjoy their liberty. But those who exercise liberty (strong brother) despise those who are legalists (see verse 6). The spiritual man, however, is the one who understands that the strong need to grow in love, and the weak need to grow in knowledge. The weak must learn from the strong and the strong must love the weak.

There is the legalist that judges, the libertarian who despises, and the lover of good men, who takes in both.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Am I Here For?

There are times in many of our lives when we ask, in bewilderment, “What am I here for?” Especially during those  intervals when there seems no apparent reason for our existence here.

It’s important during these times to remember, we’re not here for a “what,” but a “who.” That little three-letter word will change one’s whole outlook on life. The “who” may not be visible to you, but you are to them. They need you!

Adam was not created for a “what,” but a “Who,” GOD! Eve was put on earth for a “who,” Adam, not a “what.” Our Creator is not interested so much in “whats,” but He most definitely is in “whos.”

Paul suffered most of his long ministry. He was a weary soul, and had cause to be. He told the Believers at Philippi he longed to depart this life and be with his Lord. But added, Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Those of us closer to His House than ours, and you who know nothing but pain, day-in and day-out, need to realize it is more necessary for us to hang-out here awhile longer than to go home. Someone, someplace, somewhere, needs you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

He's Happy To Do It

A few years back, around five in the morning, I was sitting on the edge of my bed and found I didn’t have the strength to stand. My physical malady, they had recently discovered, left me this way at times. As I sat meditating, a scripture overwhelmed my soul, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Then it seemed an inner voice said, “You have never allowed me to minister to you.” For the first time in over half a century I acknowledged this was so. Though unconscious, and unintentional, nevertheless it was true.

As Peter, of old, I, also, had ignorantly said, as it were, “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” not realizing that it makes Him happy to do so (John 13:17). With a humility I’ll never know or understand, He still enjoys laying everything aside, condescending, and ministering to my particular need. When this truth gripped my heart I fell to my knees, asking Him to minister to any part or whole of my life, whatever He deemed I needed.

"My Jesus knows just what I need."

Monday, March 14, 2016

The God of the Old Testament

A few years before my conversion, in the mid-fifties, a book came out entitled, “God is a Dirty Bully,” the reference being to the God of the Old Testament. It still was the talk among preachers and the theme of writers, even after my salvation.

But just one scripture from the Almighty’s mouth settles this fallacy, For I am the LORD, I change not.” He is “The same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Our God is the same God of the two Testaments.

All that the New Testament writers had before then in referencing God was the Old Testament. When they wrote of God’s love, mercy, compassion, grace, longsuffering, etc., it was to the God of the Old Testament they were pointing.

Both Testaments display the “goodness and severity of God.” He’s the God of eternal principles; they don’t fluctuate. The God of Wrath in the Old is also seen there as the God of Love; and the God of Love in the New, as the God of Wrath.

The religious crowd of our day, along with the media, tell us we’re to live according to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Meaning the “Blessed’s” of Matthew chapter six. But what of being cast into“Hell,” in chapter five?

As A.W. Tozer says, “It take two wings to fly.” Many New Testament Christians downplay the Old Testament and the Jew excludes the New Testament. Either way, you’ll never get off the ground. Whenever one says, “It is written,” there needs be a, “Again, it is written!”

The only difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, is the God of the New Testament has skin on Him~rds

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sooner or Later

Anyone familiar with the history of the Christian Church is aware every age had its devotees who believed their age to be the last. And on the other side of the pendulum, those who believed it was up the road, so to speak, in the distant future. Which is right? Both! We are to live as if our day is the Last Day, but we are to work as if That Day is future.

The truth is, as with most questionable and frictional positions, neither side can take an absolute stand with certainty. So each needs to give their counterpart a little elbow room. For a fact, someday will be the last day; and admittedly it may be sooner than later. But then again, it may be later than sooner.

No matter one’s prophetic outlook, it is clear the PROPHET of all prophets, Christ Jesus, plainly gave the command, to His followers, concerning That Great Day,  “... and [He} said unto them, Occupy till I come.”

There is a danger on both sides of the argument. Those who believe “That Day” is upon us have a tendency to Give Up. And the opposing brethren that believe it is in the distant future, are apt to, Let up!  

Personally, as a dying man clings to life, I am going to fight down to the last breath in my body!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Come and Sit Awhile

I remember my dear old Kentucky Grandma Morrison saying to visiting friends, “Come and sit awhile.” I think it was C.S. Lewis who mentioned in one of his books that there  was nothing any dearer than when two friends would sit around a fireplace and talk.

Sometimes in the dark of night when I think I can’t take any more or go another step, I ask my dear Lord and Friend to come sit awhile with me. I am not a mystic, as such, but in the rocking chair across from me in our dimly lit front room, I sense His still presence.  Josh Groban’s song says it best-

When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wore Out From the Ordinary

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

In other words, God says to Jeremiah,  “If you can’t stay up with common everyday soldiers, how do you expect to race with the horses?” And if you get tired of things in ordinary life, when there is no great difficulty, what will you do when you’re overwhelmed? The Lord in our text is showing his man there are greater trials ahead. And if he can’t take the small stuff, what will he do when things really get rough?

The Bible likens life to a race, and who among us will not confess, it’s hard to keep up at times; we seem to be always lagging behind.  But as Elijah of old, if God’s hand is upon us, we can outrun Ahab’s chariot and horses. And like Joshua, when in the path of God’s choosing, we need not fear the swelling of Jordan. God will open a way so we drown not when the overflowing waters cover the banks of our lives.

Young people, life doesn’t get easier as it goes on, but harder. Therefore, when the tough times come we should not ask, “How can I get out of this?” But rather, “What can I get out of this?”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

"Q and A" Times

In the life of a Believer there are occasions when God has a Q and A (question and answer) time with us. He doing the questioning and we left to answer. One of the most frequently asked questions, in my life at least, is, “How are things?”  His question along this line is always the same. I’m ashamed to say mine is not. It fluctuates, depending on my circumstances.

The question and answer I refer to is when He asks, “Is it well with thy soul?,” and my answer is not always, “It is well.” Invariably, I answer in the negative whenever I have refused to accept or have forgotten the truth of Romans eight, twenty-eight. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

There is no such thing as “bad news” for a child of God in the will of God! No matter what, it works out for our good and God’s glory. So that in the end we say, “He hath done all things well.” Nothing ever takes Him by surprise, He never sleeps, He is always on the job, 24/7. He does things, says the scripture, “according to the good pleasure of His will.” And whatever pleases Him should please us!

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Friday, March 4, 2016

When We Feel Caged-In

God may box us in, but He will never put a lid on it. At such times when we are hedged about with circumstances above and beyond our control, and we cannot find any way out, it is important to realize the way out is up. He shut Noah in, but He made sure there was an upper window.

When we feel the walls are closing in all about us, and we’re suffering from spiritual claustrophobia, like our modern planes, there is fresh air just above our heads. Celestial air will always revive the fainting saint.

The important thing is to not panic when, like David of old, we are “…shut up and…cannot come forth.” As C.S. Lewis wrote, "We can beat our wings, all ways, and flutter within our cage, but this doesn’t get us out."

Madame Guyon said it best when she penned from her prison cell:

A little bird am I
Shut out from fields of air,
Yet in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there,
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.

O, it is good to soar
These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose providence I love,
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Never Forget: You're Saved

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

When your health is gone and the body is suffering pain; when your grown children, in the far country, seem as though they will never return home again; when you can hardly make it financially from day to day; when Satan has unleashed his hounds of hell on you; when friends and loved ones misunderstand your good intentions; when your beloved nation has sunk lower than Sodom; when your precious spouse has been taken from you; when your church has lost its power; when the enemy comes in like a flood; when there is Spiritual dearth throughout the land; in the midst of all this turmoil, DON’T FORGET-YOU’RE SAVED!

SAVED! SAVED FOREVER! SAVED EVERLASTINGLY! SAVED ETERNALLY! Saved, Safe, and Secure in His Hand. Nothing being able to ever separate you from His love, which is in Christ Jesus. No one thing or person can rob you of your salvation. You cannot lose it! But you can lose the joy of it by looking at and yielding to the outward circumstances around you.

While the media, movies, and mankind in general make light of the Word, I unashamedly testify to this cursed world-

Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
I’m saved by the blood of the Crucified One!”