Friday, March 16, 2007

Jeremiah - God's Offer of Reprieve

Jeremiah gives us a view of one of the darkest time in ancient Israel. Hezekiah had been a good king, but his son Manasseh filled Jerusalem with blood from one end to the other. Now Zedekiah was king, and the Babylonians were coming to destroy Jerusalem. In chapter 17 at verse 4, God told His people that they had kindled a fire in His anger that would burn forever.

They should have been terrified!

Of interest is God's offer of forgiveness which, unfortunately, they did not accept. God simply said that if they would just obey the 4th Commandment, which they had been flagrantly violating, he would restore their city and it would remain forever (Jer. 17:19-25). His counsel to them was to observe the Sabbath.

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Life Without Limbs

I was recently sent a link that introduced me to the life and ministry of Nick Vujicic. I can't add much to the content of the videos posted here:

Monday, March 5, 2007

What about "The Secret"?

The latest fad amongst the network marketers (and others) is "The Secret" - a DVD and book combination created and marketed by Rhonda Byrne. I've seen it several times, and just read a scorching review of it and one of its new proponents -- Oprah Winfrey -- by actor/writer Peter Birkenhead. Check it out at

As I've said previously (not in this blog, and it's not original with me), 90% of the stuff in rat poison is good for the rat. I doubt that 90% of "The Secret" is good for the person honestly seeking to improve his life. And fortunately, most of the really toxic stuff is blatantly obvious.

This is NOT a world where you can get what you want just by wishing for it. And there IS a final judgment.

But there are a few things RIGHT with "The Secret." Building your attitude on gratitude instead of grumbling will make the world a better place. And I don't think any vision is too big. You CAN become what you want ... sorta. It's unlikely that all the kids aspiring to become the President will do so. Still, there is no reason not to aspire to greatness.

I expect there will be a lot of responses to "The Secret" now that it's become part of "Oprah Consciousness" and has become a best-seller. And I'll be looking for a solid, Biblical response to the New Age psychobabble therein. But let's remember that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Our "Secret" as Christians is, of course, no secret at all. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." And "Blessed is the man ... who meditates on God's law day and night .... whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1). In short, build your foundation in God's Kingdom and enjoy the fruits thereof. And, like the genie in "The Secret," there is NO LIMIT to the blessings.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

History of the True Church

QUESTION: There is a lot of buzz about the history of the church of Christ being the ''Campbell Movement.'' From a.d 33 to a.d 606 there is church history but then history seems to go silent concerning the church of Christ. Where did our history go? For almost 1300 years there is not much said about the "Church". Can we really account for the silence? Or has our whole belief/doctrine been fused together without accurate merits? - (Dwight B.)

The history of the Campbells and Barton Stone in the Restoration Movement is well documented.

What history looks like in the rear-view mirror is actually very similar to what we see happening today. There is the "visible" church -- those 501(c)3 religious franchises that dot the landscape. Within some, and outside of many, there are those blood-bought disciples who quietly live lives of Christian integrity and spiritual power. Inconspicuous, and often doing great works that are ignored by the culture because they are done in the name of Christ, these people are nonetheless a tremendous preserving and stabilizing influence.

Christ came in the fullness of time. Read ancient history -- The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Works of Josephus, the Inquisition, etc. etc. and realize how barbaric man is capable of becoming, and how human nature is unspeakably brutal when unrestrained and untamed. Then look beneath the surface at the people of Christian faith who have prevailed. Their names are rarely recorded, but the evidence of their lives is unmistakeable. What else could explain why fallen man has not destroyed himself and this planet in the 2000 years since Christ?

The early Christians and many since were not persecuted for their goodness, but for their allegiance. Read Foxe's Book of Martyrs and you will see that the church has always been here.

Having said that, if you look back before the Campbell/Stone Restoration, you don't see church buildings with "The Church of Christ" on them, or books and newspapers speaking of "The Church of Christ" as you do today. As it should be, I suppose. The phrase "Church of Christ" does not appear in the Bible, as you know. "churches of Christ" as a simple descriptive appears once, in Romans 16:16. Biblical Christians were not concerned with a "corporate name," that is, some name that would identify their group. Biblically, they were "followers of the Way." In John 15:15 we see that Jesus called His disciples "friends." (This is where the 'Society of Friends' got their name. Their detractors called them "Quakers" - they did not choose this name for themselves). The disciples were called "Christians" first at Antioch, and some think this was also a pejorative.

The "Church" was hijacked by the Roman Empire at about the time of Constantine. Remember, to the early disciples, Christianity was not a religion. It was a lifestyle grounded in a relationship with God through Christ. No one in those early days could stand up and say, "In the name of _________ (name your favorite 'deity' from the Roman pantheon), be healed" and expect anything to happen. But in the Name of Christ, things happened! Recognizing the power and desiring to either control it or muzzle it, they made Christianity the "official religion" of the Empire. Suddenly, to be anything in the culture or in the political system, one had to profess Christianity. And we see the same thing today: folks who speak "Christianese" ... who know the buzz words and speak our lingo and sing the same hymns .... whose lives are powerless at best, and often are counter-productive to Biblical truth.

It was, perhaps, for this very reason that the trappings of institutionalism were eschewed by the church fathers. They didn't have church buildings, real estate, elaborate church and para-church ministries, or any other sort of institutional hierarchies within which wolves could ascend into positions of influence and power. Their trademark was love, and their credentials were simply written on the hearts of those to whom they unselfishly ministered. They didn't set up seminaries, or denominational headquarters or any of the rest. They were ... simply ... followers of the Way. Their 'religion' was their life, not their Sunday morning and Wednesday night activity. Their ministries were simply the overflow of who they were.

These people knew something many of us have forgotten: that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Christ. It's not a future event, with Satan running things down here until Jesus returns. They were absolutely convinced that Jesus was their King, that He would protect them as they remained in His will, and that they had a home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. They knew that "faith" is not a belief that is maintained in spite of the evidence, but it is OBEDIENCE to Christ in all things, in spite of the consequences.

So where were the Christians before the Campbells? The same place they are now: overlooked and ignored in the world because of the compelling presence and distraction of visible religion. The TRUE church of Christ was commonly compared to things small, humble, insignificant, or unnoticed: the tiny mustard seed, or salt which flavors (and creates thirst) while becoming essentially invisible when used to season food. Spiritually, THE light of the world, reflecting the glory of God in Christ to a dark world. But alas! the world prefers darkness..... and religion. So while the picture of the church has been neglected, her footprints in history are impossible to ignore. If you're looking for a 14th century building or a 9th century manuscript with "Church of Christ" on it, you won't find it.