Tuesday, February 28, 2012


"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10, ESV)

Why do we stay so busy? Why, even when we are not going and doing, do we seek noise? Why is there always a radio or television on? Why are we afraid of stillness, allergic to quiet, unwilling to endure solitude?

There is a time for action. There is a time for speech. There are times when to remain silent would be sin, to be inactive would be cowardice. But there is also a need for quiet. There is a need for solitude. There is a time to allow silence.

When we stay busy, it is hard to see how we are expressing our dependence on God. Constant activity seems to imply that we are central, indispensable.

When our world remains noisy it is hard to reflect. We may know the truth, we may discuss the truth, but we can hardly reflect on it. And truth that is not reflected upon and applied is of little value in reclaiming our lives. If we are to draw near to God, we need to listen to his word in Bible study, confess our need in prayer, and quietly reflect on how it all needs to work out in life.

Inactivity is evidence of spiritual illness. So is constant activity. Engage in intentional spiritual activity this week. Also engage in some intentional quietness this week. Let it be quiet enough to allow you to think. You need it. We all do.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Compliment

Someone paid me a rare compliment the other day. They said, "You are one of the least creative people I have ever known."

Does that not sound like a compliment to you? Maybe you need the context to understand. The point was that my lessons are not my own, but attempts to faithfully present what the Bible itself says.

The comment took me back to another conversation long ago. I was a teenager at the time; Grady McKnight was an older brother in our congregation that often taught Bible class and sometimes preached. I had given three sermons (and had fainted during the first two). Brother McKnight asked me when I would give another lesson. I replied that I was waiting until I had found something original to say. He shook his head and replied, "If it is original, then it is not Bible and we do not need it."

I hope the compliment about my lack of creativity was true. I wish it were more true. I try to allow not only the content but the structure of my sermons to be determined by the text itself. But, of course, I do not always succeed.

When I fly, I do not get to choose my own pilot. If I did, I would not look for the most creative pilot I could find, but the safest. I do not need anyone looking for a new route to London. I will be much more satisfied with the proven route, carefully followed.

Originality and creativity are great in certain aspects of life -- and deadly in others.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3, ESV)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why The Emphasis On Baptism?

I am often asked a question that goes something like this, "Why does the Church of Christ put so much emphasis on baptism?"

We put an emphasis on baptism for several reasons.

1. The command to baptize comes from our Lord (Matt 28:19), and we take very seriously what he has commanded. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
2. Baptism focuses us on the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord (Rom 6:3-4). "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
3. Baptism places us in Christ (Gal 3:27). "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
4. Baptism is involved in removing our sins (Acts 2:38 & 22:16). "And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’" "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name."
5. Baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:21). "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Do not blame me for the Bible’s teaching about baptism. I did not write the Bible. If I had written the Bible it might not say these things about baptism, but I did not write it, and it does say these things. In view of what the Bible says about baptism, the question ought not to be "Why do you emphasize it?" The question ought to be, "Why do so many who claim to be Bible believers delay submitting to the Lord in baptism?"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Extreme Life Makeover

I have never watched Extreme Home Makeover, but I know the concept of the show. A house is remodeled to help a needy family. Or is it?

In most cases, what really happens is not the remodeling of an existing home but the destruction of the existing home and the replacement of that home with a new one. In most cases, the changes that are desired are too extreme for the existing structure to support them. In other cases, it might be possible for the existing structure to bear the weight of the additions, but one would end up with such a strange looking house -- with odd roof angles and two or three styles -- that it is better to rebuild the whole house.

Is there a lesson here?

How many of us are trying to tack a few Christian concepts onto a way of life that is non-Christian? It does not work. The existing structure is unable to bear the weight of the new additions, and the whole thing looks very odd.

Jesus warned us against trying to patch his teachings onto our ways of looking at things. "No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved." (Matthew 9:16-17, ESV)

The Christian life begins with death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:1-4). It is not to be a minor remodeling job, but an extreme life makeover.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Not Fully Cured

I welcome the news that "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" has suddenly developed a conscience about the misuse of funds. The folks at Planned Parenthood can whine until they are blue in the face. The plain fact is that it never was right, never will be right, never could be right, for a group that solicits funds to preserve life to turn around and give any portion of those funds to a group that exists to destroy life. In fact, even if the difference were not so marked, it is just plain wrong to request donations for one thing and then give the money to something else.

The move announced this week is a step in the right direction, but I still have a problem with what the Komen people are saying and doing. First, they should not hide behind a statement like, "we will not give any of our money to an organization being investigated by congress." No, they should come right out and admit that what they have been doing was terribly dishonest and immoral. They should also promise that they will never do such a thing again, no matter how the investigation of Planned Parenthood turns out.

Money given in good faith by people who want it used for breast cancer research should never, ever, ever be given to an organization whose primary purpose is anything else. That is especially true when it is clear that many of the people giving would have been horrified if they had known where their funds were really going. Take a clear, forthright, bold stand on this, Susan Komen, or you will never get a dime of my money, and I will use whatever influence I have with others to get them to stop supporting you.

Let’s face it. If I were to solicit funds to drill water wells in Africa, and then turn around and give those funds to an organization that builds chicken coops in Asia, I would be (rightfully) called dishonest. If I were to solicit funds to drill water wells in Africa and then turn around and willfully give those funds to someone who poisons water in Africa, I should be locked up for life, if not executed.

This is a simple matter of honesty. Susan Komen for the Cure has not been honest with people. Come clean now. Admit the wrong of what you have been doing and solemnly promise to never do it again. Anything short of that and we will not see you as fully cured.

UPDATE: This just in (Friday, 3 February, noon)...
Susan G. Komen for the Cure has given in to the illogical pressure from the mindless but controlling minority and reinstated funding for Planned Parenthood. This organization has shown what it is really made of -- equal parts dishonesty and cowardice. I am only one; I do not have much influence; but I will use what influence I have to see to it that you never receive another dime from anyone who cares about logic, honesty, or justice. This is incredibly shameful, dishonest, cowardly, and immoral. English is a rich language, but there are not enough words to express the disdain thinking people must feel toward your organization.