Front lines and backups, and undoers

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 617 • February 24, 2021

FRONT LINES AND BACKUPS, AND UNDOERS

You may think that last word undoers is out of place in the subject line of this essay but I will show you, before we conclude it that, while undoers may be insidious destroyers and enemies of progress and success, sometimes the undoers are the only real defense against evildoers. Please stay with us until we get to that part of the study. We intend the whole essay to be positive and helpful. We will emphasize first the front lines and backups, the true progressives in the direction of improvement and achievement. Continue reading

#geraldcowan

Preach the gospel of Christ

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 616 • February 21, 2021

PREACH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST

I’ve often been confronted, perhaps you have too, by apparently serious persons – professed Christians as well as agnostics, atheists, and anti-religionists – who say, “Just preach the gospel – nothing else, not politics or culture or tradition or church doctrine but only the gospel of Christ.” It may be persuasive in any and all religions, but it will probably be disregarded in certain cultural and political systems today. There are in fact some theocratic systems where religion and politics are one and the same (theocracy does not apply exclusively to the Judeo-Christian religions). Islam is theocratic. Several of the current “isms” (including both Catholicism and Protestantism) would impose theocracy if they could do it successfully by making their version of the law of God also the law of the land and of the world. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #geraldcown, #gospel

Shooter’s mistakes

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 615 • February 17, 2021

SHOOTER’S MISTAKES — THE SHOOTER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SHOT —

The parables selected for this essay — whether invented by me or adapted from something told by others – have been told by me before. There’s no law that every story told or every sermon preached or printed has to be original and used but once. Sometimes it takes repeated hearings before the intended message is understood and absorbed. As we sometimes say in cliché, “If at first you don’t get your point across, try again – repeat as necessary.” Second shots may hit what first shots miss. Other pointed lessons may be learned from the same illustration. Jesus repeated some of his parables and other lessons. So did apostle Paul. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #stories

Room for all

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 614 • February 14, 2021

ROOM FOR ALL
A Gospel Sermon. Text: Luke 14:12-24.

A song by Ira F. Stamphill emphasizes that “there’ is room at the cross for you” and for all who are willing to come to it and seek its benefits, chief among which is salvation from sin and its consequences. Jesus sets no limits on the invitation he wants extended in his name. He instructs those who speak for him to teach everyone what he has said and encourage them to believe and receive what he has done for mankind. Go everywhere in the world and preach to everyone in the world the gospel message – those who believe it and respond properly to (as in being baptized) will be saved (Mark 16:15-16). Teach and make disciples in all nations, all parts of the world, properly baptizing them and teaching them to obey and continue in all the things taught by Christ (Matthew 28:18-20), proclaim the need for repentance and forgiveness of sins everywhere in the world (Luke 24:47). Do not exclude anyone who is willing to come to Christ to share drink the water of life which he provides (Revelation 22:17). Emphasis: Whosoever – that is everybody – who, by his own will and choice comes to Christ seeking life in him will find there is room for him. There is nobody the Lord does not want to come to him and be saved by approaching God through him (Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me all …, John 14:6 nobody comes to God the Father except by me). He came to seek and save all who are lost (Luke 19:10) and cannot be fully satisfied and content as long as anyone remains unsaved. No matter how many come to the Lord there will always be room for more. Compare Luke 14:22 “Lord, we have done as you said, and still there is room.” Of course this does not mean he will save everyone. He will not and cannot save those who reject him and refuse his offer and his invitation. But even then he will grieve over the loss (Matthew 23:37-38, Luke 19:41 “wept over (the city).” Most of the world is and will be unsaved, but not because the Lord wants it that way. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #invitation, #sermon

Difficult problemas: Sidetracked saints

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 613 • February 9, 2021

DIFFICULT PROBLEMS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT – 5. SIDETRACKED SAINTS

The term “sidetracked” is railroad terminology. It means that a railroad car or cars, or whole train, have been diverted to a side track away from the main track. Such a car or cars are, at least for a time, “out of service.” The term has also come to mean taking the wrong track instead of the right one, the designated one. There are several ways in which side-tracking may occur: the engineer may choose a side track, or someone may put him on the wrong track by working a switch without the knowledge of the one operating and guiding the train. Continue reading

#dependence, #geraldcowan, #service, #works, #worship

Remedy for sin: a ‘gospel sermon’

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 611 • February 4, 2021

THE GREAT PHYSICIAN’S REMEDY FOR SIN
A “Gospel Sermon”

Mark 2:16-17 (and parallels) provides a basis for calling Jesus the “Great Physician.” In replying to complaints from self-righteous persons about his association with sinners Jesus made an analogy: sin is a spiritual sickness; he is a spiritual physician – not remote and detached but directly involved with his patients. Those who recognize and realize they are sick seek his attention and receive it. Our prime concern should be that of Jesus – healing the sin-sick soul, removal of sin and its consequences from human lives. Continue reading

#forgiveness, #geraldcowan, #pardon, #sin

Names on the church roll

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 610 • February 2, 2021

WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED UP YONDER . . .

“The Lamb’s Book of Life”(Revelation 20:12, 21:27) is not only the roll book of Christians but is God’s complete record and roll of the persons saved and added to His list of those approved and accepted by Him from the beginning of time until the end of it: all those who came to the Lord by whatever way He appointed for them and were then perfected in Christ (Hebrews 10:9-14) when they accepted him as the ultimate way (John 14:6), the last step into God’s congregation for heaven. The book(s) will be opened and all the names read out on God’s final roll call for eternity. You and I, along with everyone who ever lived will “be somewhere, listening”– hoping to hear our names called.

“DON’T TAKE MY NAME OFF THE ROLL”

How often we hear that said by people who have absent from worship and service activities of the church – sometimes for a long time – and have not supported any part of the works program of the church. They often realize and admit that their negligence is wrong. There is no acceptable and valid reason for their failure. They are not sick, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated. To make things worse, they do not honestly intend to start being faithful – at least not in the near future. But they are anxious that their names not be dropped from the church directory or membership roll. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #membership, #prophets

Difficult problems, 4: Tradition and culture

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 609 • January 30, 2021

DIFFICULT PROBLEMS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT — 4. TRADITION AND CULTURE

Assimilation into a new social or civil environment can be traumatic because of uncomfortable and unwanted changes. Not only because of what is new and necessary but also because what must be given up and replaced. For example: emigrating and becoming a citizen of a new country is a difficult and not always welcome journey. Learning a new language, adapting and adjusting to new social norms, being bound by new laws and rules, leaving one’s old identity and taking on a new identity, new allegiance, and different expectations can be overwhelming—one may become “homesick” for the old country and the old ways and consider returning to the former position. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #tradition

Let’s play a game

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 608 • January 27, 2021

IF THE NEXT ONE WAS TO BE YOUR VERY LAST ONE …?
Ecclesiastes 9:10

INTRODUCTION

There’s a game called “What if it was your last one.” It’s a fun game to play. “What would you do, say, or want if it was to be your very last ___?” You can put anything you want in the blank, if you are asking the question. People usually put some shallow, superficial, or frivolous thing there. Nobody really wants the game to be heavy and serious. The fact that anything might really be your last in any category is a thought that may seldom cross one’s mind. We don’t want to think of anything as being the last we will have. Perhaps we should think about it more often. Continue reading

#death, #geraldcowan, #judgment

16 things you need to know about yourself

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 607 • January 24, 2021

SIXTEEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOURSELF

Here are sixteen things you need to know about your personal condition. This is not a select or limited list for an exclusive group. It is a universal list. It is not a multiple choice list from which you can choose, accept, or reject items. All items on the list apply equally to all persons, whether they know it or not. Note each item carefully. It may not be easy or comfortable to stay properly focused, but everything on the list applies to YOU. Number sixteen is the application. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #humanity, #lists, #man

Uncomfortable problems (3) Sincere doubt

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 606 • January 20, 2021

UNCOMFORTABLE PROBLEMS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT – 3. SINCERE DOUBT

Existence of God is easy for a child to accept – in depth philosophical arguments and evidence are not needed and would not be understood if given. God made everything – God made me. I am important to God. That’s easy, isn’t it? What about Jesus, the son of God? Jesus loves little children – red, yellow, black, white; they are all precious in his sight. Jesus loves me – I know it ‘cause the Bible tells me so. I love him too. That’s easy, isn’t it? What about the Holy Spirit? That’s not easy for anybody, is it? What else is there that a child can understand and accept without much difficulty? The church. These are all the people of God, children and old people too. They love each other and do things to help each other and make each other feel happy. And they do things to make God and Jesus happy too. God and Jesus are happy when the people they love in the church do what is right and good and don’t do anything to hurt other people. That’s easy, isn’t it? None of this is difficult for a child to believe and accept. Is this what Jesus meant when he said we must all become like little children (Matthew 18:3)? Maybe, at least in part but not in everything – we’ll say more about it later. Continue reading

#doubt, #geraldcowan

Uncomfortable problems: Loneliness

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 605 • January 15, 2021

UNCOMFORTABLE PROBLEMS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT, 2 — LONELINESS

A visitor or member may walk into a church assembly alone and leave alone, without any real contact and nothing that could be called fellowship. Loneliness is not a one-sided problem, it is multifaceted and requires a balanced approach if any solution for it is to be found. Sometimes when one walks into a church assembly or meeting he feels the need to “put on a different face,” an “I belong here too” face, in order to appear to be or pretend to be something expected by others but which requires covering up or pretending not to be the person he really consciously is, an outsider, a misfit. One may really want to fit in, may feel the need to fit in and may try to appear to fit by joining in, mouthing the same words and doing the same as others do in worship but feeling like a pretender, a hypocrite. He knows that the God he cannot see is present and can look into him in ways no one else can, listening to his thoughts and reading even the intentions of his heart and mind, knowing he is pretending, ashamed and afraid to be known, afraid he will be found out exposed and rejected as a misfit. The same “put on a Christian face” happens at other times too. He visits or is visited by other Christians, he encounters the preacher or an elder or any member of the church on the street or in the market and must quickly deny himself and put on the mask of community, identity, or fellowship. He cannot allow himself to be seen without his “Christian face” firmly in place. He covers his imperfections, he hides his questions, doubts and uncertainties, insecurities and fears. He feels like a daffodil among orchids, fearing though not wanting exposure, rejection, and removal. In the midst of a crowd of others he feels alone. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #loneliness

Uncomfortable problems the church needs to talk about (1)

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 604 • January 15, 2021

UNCOMFORTABLE PROBLEMS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT (1)

In the next several issues of my personal essays I intend to touch upon a few untouchables and mention a few unmentionables, maybe even one or two “please don’t talk about that” issues — difficult and uncomfortable matters that will not be solved and will not go away by being ignored. There are in fact many uncomfortable problems the church generally ignores, matters that cause great pain and perhaps some embarrassment and uneasiness but seldom get mentioned, either from the pulpit or in classrooms, or in printed materials produced by the church — perhaps not even in private conversation, matters we just don’t really want to talk about. There may be some people too who are “untouchables” – not to Jesus but to His hypercritical people. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #problems

Does all mean everything?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 603 • January 12, 2021

DOES ALL MEAN EVERYTHING?

More about giving: How Much Is Enough?

The last essay, about The Widow’s Mite, did what I expected, raised a few questions and comments pro and con and ranging from “great” to “how dare you” – and between the two some serious questions, such as “how much is enough” and “does all really mean all” in the Bible? It also does not sit well with some to point out that we are not always telling the truth in songs we sing but obviously do not intend to be taken literally by God or by ourselves and others who hear and even sing with us. Some examples on the point: “All to Jesus I surrender … I surrender all.” “Now I’ve given to Jesus everything…Now I gladly own Him as my King.” “I’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold.; I’d rather be His than have riches untold.” “Take the world, but give me Jesus.” “We give Thee but thine own, what e’re the gift may be: All that we have is thine alone, in trust, O Lord, from Thee.” “Lord, I give myself to Thee, thine for ever more to be.” It seems as if just saying or singing the words is enough, even if our lives contradict what we are saying, We sing or say, “Jesus is Lord,” and do not hear Him asking, “Why do you call me Lord but do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Jesus is Lord, whether I know it or not, but He is not my Lord if I do not obey Him and his gospel. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #giving

The widow’s mighty mite

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 602 • January 10, 2021

THE WIDOW’S MIGHTY MITE
Putting in my two cents.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it: “I’ll just give the widow’s mite” – which means “I’m just giving a pittance, just a little bit.” Those who speak this way have decided that a penny or two counts with the Lord, so they’ll get credit as a giver, no matter what the amount actually is. If you ask for a scripture reference to prove the point most cannot tell you where to find it (can you?). There is one, in Mark 12:41-44, also stated in Luke 21:1-4. They also can’t tell you where it says attitude is more important than the gift itself, but they believe that if your heart is right the amount you give or how much you do is irrelevant – that God looks at the heart and not the gift itself. Can you give a scripture reference for this? Actually there is none that fits this. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #giving