A Few Reading Suggestions

I don’t know if the congregation that you’re a member of has a subscript to Gospel Minutes or not, but if they do and you haven’t read last weeks article by Clem Thurman then I thoroughly suggest that you do so (Vol. 62, No. 42 – October 18, 2013). The article is called “Bed Too Short and Cover Too Narrow” which is a reference to a verse of scripture in the book Isaiah. Brother Thurman does an excellent job addressing the short comings of our modern-day culture and the answers to life that it seeks through any avenue other than God. If your congregation doesn’t have a subscription to this good paper then try to find a nearby brother or sister who can “loan” you theirs.

Are you looking for a “Halloween themed” devotional? Try the article I posted this morning on Keltonburg Preacher called “Don’t Let Your Sweet Tooth Trick You.” There’s enough room in it to go a couple of different directions. It’s a little similar to the point that Randal made in his latest post on Forthright called “A not-so-happy birthday card” which I also encourage you to check out if you haven’t yet done so.

Are you looking for some “meat of the word” reading about the nature of Jesus? Check out this article that I read yesterday by Wayne Jackson. It comes with the spiritual calories so get ready to exercise those spiritual senses (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Have a great day!

#bible-devotionals, #forthright, #god, #gospel-minutes, #links

Tidbits and Prayer Requests

Hello! I hope all of our readers are doing well. I wanted to share a potpourri of thoughts with you this Friday morning. We appreciate you very much.

  • It is a beautiful sunny day in Southeast Georgia. We ask your prayers that we can get some rain. Our drought is nothing like the Southwest has suffered, but we are double digits below normal for three years. It is sad to see so many ponds dry. Also, continue to pray for rain in the Southwest, they desperately need it.
  • I also ask your prayers for me as I continue battling a neurological condition. The pain has been especially bad, lately. I see a new neurologist in two weeks.
  • I read that the Baptists in Kentucky are having a symposium on Calvinism. They say that only one of the speakers is a Five-Point Calvinist. I wish they would figure out that the Baptist doctrine of salvation is Calvinist-Lite and return to the truth of Scripture on how to be saved.

BTW, here is a shameless plug for my book on how to be saved.

  • On a lighter note, the 17 year-old son of one of my cousins didn’t know who John Wayne was. Moments like these seriously make you feel old. Likewise, I recently realized that in 2014 it will have been 20 years since I finished graduate school at Freed-Hardeman University. Time flies much too quickly.
  • I am listening to the Bible on digital audio. As I write, I am listening to Acts 11.
  • I am privileged to develop a manuscript on John 21 for the Southeast Georgia Lectureship at Richmond Hill. The lectureship is October 27-28. The last chapter of John is a fascinating study and I look forward to taking it apart and finding the treasures there.

This Sunday morning I will be speaking on James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Of this passage, Burton Coffman writes:

“James did not seek to discourage any who might have been qualified for such work. As Harper suggested, ‘His words were meant to remind us of our responsibilities, rather than to deter us from our duties.'”

We must not allow this passage to be a path of rationalization to avoid evangelism. We must all become more knowledgeable about Scripture. What thoughts do you have on this verse?

For your reading:

#books, #forthright, #gossip, #prayers, #rain, #reading, #salvation, #writing

Where Does Evil Come From?

In my article today I examine the darkness of evil as illustrated by the Nazis. I hope you will read it and share it with others. The tagline for my Facebook post is, “Evil enters our hearts when we leave the door open.”

We see the evil in our world and we have to wonder where all of it comes from. No one is born evil (Ezekiel 18), so it comes from somewhere.

I like the line from the Woody Allen film, “Hannah and her Sisters.” Max von Sydow plays a professor who was discussing a show where historians wondered why the Holocaust happened.

Sydow’s character said, “The reason they can’t find the answer is because they are asking the wrong question. The question is not how did it happen but why doesn’t it happen more often?”

We focus on the Jewish Holocaust as if it is the only one in history. However, genocide has existed since time began in one form of another. Ask the Serbs.

Evil has an origin and it enters the hearts of men if we allow it. Read the chilling illustration I use today and you won’t likely forget it any time soon.

#devil, #evil, #forthright, #satan, #sin

The Limited, Unlimited

Christmas is over and the wrapping paper is discarded. The toys are being ignored and Christmas cards are in garbage bags.

The things of this world fade with time. Man’s idols and empires are dead and false messiahs are in their graves. Money is shredded and material wealth is languishing in landfills. Everything in this world will expire because the fleshly is temporal (2 Peter 3:7-11).

If we desire a gift that will be timeless, we must turn to the spiritual for answers. It is the only thing that lasts (Matthew 25:31-34, Matthew 25:46).

Read More

So, why is Jesus the limited, unlimited? What does He provide for us?

#faith, #forthright, #gift, #messiah, #savior

Once Saved, Always Saved?

Once we become a Christian, immersed in the waters of baptism (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4), cleansed in the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7), and sanctified from the world by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), can we ever be lost?

We know that if we walk in Christ, bringing glory to God, as we find in Scripture, we will remain in the arms of God (Ephesian 2:19; 3:20-21; 4:1).

There are those who teach that a true Christian can never be lost. I agree (Romans 8:1).

However, the question remains as to whether we can leave the Lord by exercising our freewill? Scripture says that we can (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31).

The following articles examine this very important question:

No Condemnation in Christ

Once Saved, Always Saved 1

Once Saved, Always Saved 2

Once Saved, Always Saved 3

I hope you will diligently study these passages and pray about them.

 

#apostsy, #forthright, #hebrews, #impossibility-of-apostasy, #lost, #once-saved-always-saved, #salvation, #saved

Can We Be Saved by Works?

My article today at Forthright is the second in a series of articles on the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. They base their doctrine on works salvation, which is completely foreign to the Gospel.

If we can be saved because of works, we are ostensibly saying that we can live perfectly enough that God would be forced to save us or be shamed before the world. That is laughable but is exactly the idea behind Catholic salvation.

I hope you will read Purgatory 2 and give your thoughts on their false claims.

#catholic, #forthright, #grace, #purgatory, #salvation, #works

Strange Doctrine of Purgatory

Today at Forthright, I began a series of articles on the complex and confusing Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. After doing a study of the subject and delivering two sermons on the subject, I still find it convoluted.

What it actually says about Christ and his sacrifice on the cross is offensive.  Your input on the article will be appreciated.

I list several quotes today that help the reader get an idea of what the doctrine claims. One of the quotes, which will be covered more in the second installment just astounds me. It stands completely opposed to all of the study I did for my book on salvation.

Ponder this amazing quote from those who teach purgatory:

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

What thoughts do you have on this admission? My thoughts will come next week but I look forward to reading yours, in the meantime.

 

 

 

#forthright, #grace-faith, #purgatory, #salvation

Keeping Our Readers in Mind

As a writer and editor, I always need to have my audience in mind when I write, design, select photos and create titles. What can best serve the reader while maintaining the integrity of the message?

That is always a challenge. If there is something about our product that turns readers/viewers away, we must eradicate it immediately and arrive at a better design.

With that in mind, I wonder how many people have stopped reading the “Spiritual Sword” because they can no longer see the microscopic print. I admit I have a hard time seeing it and it requires a lot of work to make it through such a large issue.  I expect the font is so small to keep printing costs low. But, that must be weighed against losing readers. I guess I can stop reading it or get a magnifier.

Randal and I always want your input about Forthright — what you like and do not like. Your input is like gold to us. We maintain the site but it exists for you. Therefore, you always need to be in the equation.

As always thank you for your patronage of Forthright and at the Fellowship Room.

#fellowship-room, #forthright, #readers, #reading, #spiritual-sword

Prayer, Pride and Purgatory

These three items in the title are on my mind this morning. Let me explain:

  • We all have problems and pains in this world. They are a part of the human condition. As a Christian, we hear that we should give our problems to the  Lord. But what does that mean in a practical sense? How do we accomplish that? Read my discussion and comment, please.
  • I am so proud of the new Forthright Magazine page! It is gorgeous and I pray much good is done in the Lord’s kingdom, as a result. Remember, if you  were a subscriber before, nothing has changed. We hope even more people will subscribe and that our readership will increase. Please pray about this work and frequent the page. And of course, please promote us on your website and add a link, if that would be appropriate.
  • In mid-August, I am to speak on the doctrine of Purgatory for a lectureship. I am reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, where much of the doctrine originates. Your input and information on the false doctrine of Purgatory would be appreciated.  By the way, if you have a major doctrine in your denomination and it isn’t even discussed in the International  Standard Bible Encyclopedia, that is a bad sign. 🙂

#forthright, #joy, #prayer, #pride, #problems, #purgatory

Fresh Way to Present the Word

I am enjoying using Christian fiction to teach the Word of God in a personal, intimate way.  Today’s story is about Jose, whose courage, faith and love led him to his physical limits to reach someone whose soul was in need. If we only had his resolve and persistence in the area of evangelism. I hope you will read, The Road to Valencia and that you will be moved by Jose’s story.

#christian-fiction, #forthright, #short-fiction, #writing

Christian Short Fiction

My interest in using Christian short fiction to teach Bible lessons is growing. Read my thoughts on the subject and get a listing of my stories so far. I have another one coming on Tuesday.

#christian-fiction, #forthright, #short-fiction

More Lessons From the Civil War

My article today examines the Civil War and the lessons we can learn from that terrible conflict. We examine the effects of racism, prejudice, hatred and division.

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War began on April 12th. In the intervening years, have we learned the major lessons from the war? We can quickly say that we have, because we have not had another internal war on our own soil. Yet, our speedy answer may betray us.

The Civil War was not an isolated event occurring in a vacuum. It happened because of reasons and motivations. If we have the same attitudes today, even without engaging in combat, we have learned nothing.

As an avid student of the Civil War, I see many more lessons than I described in the article.

For example, on both sides of the conflict, completely unqualified men were given the responsibility to lead troops when they did not possess one iota of ability to do so. It was a hopeless situation for the troops and countless numbers of men died, as a result. Why were they installed as high officers? They were successful businessmen, so certainly they could lead troops. The folly of such a decision had fatal results.

The implications for the church are obvious. How many churches have installed men as elders simply because they were successful businessmen? These congregations overlooked the qualifications for a man to be an elder and made a political appointment, instead. The results, sadly, are the same. The army loses its way and people die.

Another lesson we learn from the Civil War is that without the proper tools, no Army can succeed. In the second half of the War, the Confederate troops were constantly in survival mode. They routinely ran out of supplies as the Union cut off their supply routes. In time, they were without shoes, clothes, food and weapons.

As God’s people, if we do not utilize the tools/weapons God has given to us, we will run out of supplies, as well. We will be defenseless if we fail to wear our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17). We need the fruits of the Spirit and the lessons of God’s Word with us all the time. When we leave them behind, we haven’t a chance. Moreover, if the pulpit is bereft of Godly teaching and it is missing from our homes, then we find ourselves without any means to defend ourselves.

Finally, the Confederates fought with extraordinary courage and did things that they had no right to do with their emaciated bodies, tattered clothes and poor supplies. They fought with everything that they had. If we can separate ourselves from why they were fighting, they are an astonishing example or what courage, strength and resolve can accomplish.

We need that resolve as Christians because we face an Army that APPEARS to be an overwhelming foe. Naturally, there is a difference because we have the Lord fighting for us (Hebrews 13:5).

On the other hand, the Union Army suffered defeats in the beginning because they were overconfident and under-prepared. We can find ourselves in the same position if we do not arm ourselves with God’s Word. We must be humble before God, understanding our weaknesses, and committed to righteousness and evangelism. God’s grace and mercy cannot help us, if we try to fight Satan on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Allow God to empower you and fight ahead of you every day (Romans 12:1-2).

What other lessons can we remember?

#civil-war, #elders, #forthright, #leadership, #lessons, #racism, #righteousness, #war

When Our Community Burned

“On March 24, 2011, a controlled burn in Ludowici, Georgia spreads on the wings of high winds. Exceedingly dry conditions and the fuel of Georgia Pines accelerate the conflagration. Fire trucks and emergency services swiftly move into action. Smoke billows into the sky sounding the alarm for miles around.”

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#fire, #forthright, #tragedy

Lessons From the Garden of Eden

My Forthright article today uses the story of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-3) as a backdrop to teach some valuable lessons about  Biblical authority. The failures of Adam and Eve are cautionary tales for us as we move through our own lives.  I hope you will read, Biblical Authority and the Garden of Eden and gain a deeper appreciation for God’s will and our relationship to His divine utterances.

#bible, #biblical-authority, #forthright, #obedience

Scaling the Mountains of Our Lives

“In our lives, we travel on smooth ground until we turn a bend and suddenly a mountain looms before us. We step back intimidated, wondering how we will overcome this incredible obstacle. Yet, we can face it bravely or turn and surrender.

These mountains constitute the formidable challenges we face in our lives. More than annoyances or conflicts, they are the ones that alter our lives and threaten to spin us out of control. They may be marital problems, car accidents, legal, financial, family or health issues. In their specific contexts, all of them can be devastating.”

Read  More

#faith, #forthright, #heartbreak, #pain