Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Grace Part Two

I just wanted to give you my take on why we talk about the subject of Grace in an intellectual way instead of an experiential one. I believe that Donna hit the nail on the head in the "comments" section of my last post regarding Grace when she said that it requires us to confess when we talk about it experientially. Confession does not come easy to a people who are full of pride. If you grew up in the fellowship of churches of Christ, most likely you had or still have some pride. How could you not? We were taught from an early age that we had all the right answers. We were "unique". I may be the only one, but when I was growing up I was more conscious of the fact that I belonged to a church of Christ than the fact that I was one of God's children.......a Christian! Was I born with that belief? Nope, I LEARNED it. Add to pride the communication that only perfection is acceptable, and you really have ruled out any chance of true confession and transparent living.
How many elders did you ever witness asking for prayers in the congregations you grew up in? You were part of the perfect church, with perfect elders and any thing less was not allowed. That is why most of my generation are not part of this fellowship anymore, and a lot of them are not part of ANY fellowship. They gave up on trying to be perfect. So "Grace" was pretty much a "denominational" theology or doctrine....who needs grace when you are perfect?

So I thank the Father for men like Monte Cox who have been preaching the last 10 years or so that Jesus came "Both full of Grace and Truth". He makes the point that truth without grace is not really truth, and grace without truth is not really grace.

If we are willing to be confessional, THEN we will be able to talk about grace to people on a level that they can relate to.....an experiential, every day living level. There is a HUGE difference in experiencing grace and knowing about grace. The world doesn't need to know about grace, it needs to experience it. Think about that the next time somebody wants to know from you what grace is all about. Old habits die hard, and it will be easy to give it the ole "unmerited favor" speech. That won't impact people to make a radical transformation........and that is what Grace is all about.

Thanks Donna!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Back to the Future

Ok, here is a little quiz to start off the week. See if you can figure out who wrote the following and when they wrote it.

" Scores, perhaps hundreds of young preachers are casting about, finding the old hermeneutic inadequate.....designed only for the polemics of a day that has long vanished, and yet unsure what approach to using the Bible is best. They have a desire to work for the Lord, but the tools they have been handed are unfit for the task. They see futility of preaching unity and practicing division. Many are poised to give up or give in. The best will probably give up, and those who give in will offer a half-hearted, career-oriented loyalty to traditions in order to maintain their livelihood.
Any attempt to move in a new direction must be Biblically informed. I personally have no respect for a movement that does not take the Scriptures seriously. The Bible itself must be restored to its rightful place of prominence in the churches. There is simply no point to changing anything, unless we have the warrant of Scripture. Introducing this need is crucial, for it is no human project, it is nothing less than what God demands of His people.
Jesus had an ongoing controversy with two leadership elements in Judaism. Sadducees and Pharisees. In both cases the problem revolved around their misues of Scripture. The Sadducees were 'clearly wrong because they were ignorant of the Scriptures as well as God's power,' Jesus affirmed in Mark 12: 24. The Pharisees were guilty of substituting their traditions for the Word of God....'You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition!' (Mark 7:7-9) In similar ways, we have entirely too much biblical ignorance, a massive lack of confidence in God's power, and the continued affirmation of tradition over Scripture.
Returning to a true reliance on Scripture is the very basis of our adventure of faith. To throw ourselves unreservedly upon the Word of God will require the dismantling of several cherished traditions which have from long usage, calcified not only our progress, but also dulled the very tools which are designed by God 'to demolish arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God'. (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5) "

What is your guess? F. LaGard Smith.....1980's? James Dobson....1990's? Jimmy Allen, 1970's? Max Lucado, any time in the last 20 years? Rubel Shelly in this new Century? Mike Cope on his wonderful Blog? C.S. Lewis in the 40's?

The quote is from brother G. C. Brewer in 1933! I guess it is encouraging to be reminded that those who went before us struggled with some of the same things we struggle with.....but you can't overlook or sweep under the rug the lack of progress in addressing the problems he identified OVER SEVENTY YEARS AGO!!! Is that not PATHETIC? When you stop and think about it, it is even MORE pathetic to think about the fact that Jesus addressed this same problem OVER 2 THOUSAND YEARS AGO, and we STILL won't listen to Him. Have you ever been reading in the Old Testament and thought to yourself, "Man, those Jews just had to be brain dead to keep making the same mistakes decade after decade, century after century. Why couldn't they get it?" Well, as the old saying goes, "we is them, and them is us." Guess what, we wouldn't have gotten it either, cause we don't get it now!

Again, thank GOD for his wonderful patience, mercy, grace, and love!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My friend Sammie

I made it to Northern California. The drive up the PCH was beyond description, and I will save that for another blog.

I got some bad news today. A friend of mine from when I was living overseas in Liberia died Monday night in Alaska moose hunting. He apparently died of a heart attack in his sleep. Sam was a native Alaskan, and was serving as a State judge in Anchorage. He had played basketball at the University of Alaska, and in fact played in the very first "Great Alaskan Shoot Out" against the Hogs and U.S. Reed.

Sammie lived life to the absolute fullest.....more than any human being I have ever known. You would have thought that he was 16 years old if you were with him more than 10 minutes. He was Grizzly Adams and Jeremiah Johnson wrapped into one person.
He was born about 150 years too late because he surely would have loved to have been a mountain man. He left behind a wife and 3 precious daughters.......so please pray for them.

My heart is especially heavy because I am not sure Sammie was a believer. Anytime I brought the subject up, he would very lovingly let me know that he was not open to discuss this subject. He would always let me know how much he appreciated my convictions and faith, but he just couldn't ever get to where he wanted to talk about his belief system. I never forced him to, and now I am second guessing my motives for not engaging him more in this discussion.

Yes, if I had known last week what I know now......Sammie and I WOULD have had that discussion. If you have a relationship with someone who is NOT a believer, think about what just happened to me. I hope the same thing never happens to ANY of you!

Amazing Grace.......how sweet the sound!

Monday, September 20, 2004


I am sitting in the student center at Pepperdine in Malibu. The temperature is somewhere in the low 70's, no humidity (duh), not a cloud in the sky and the ocean is as blue as I have ever seen it. The air quality is SO good that you can see the islands VERY clear today. This is my first trip here in September, yet it pretty much feels like this EVERY time I am here. I hope all of you can experience the blessing of being here at some point..........especially for the Lectures they have in the spring. If they don't impact your life, then you are comatose.

With all that said, I would rather be in Searcy where I could feel the hint of fall in the air and among folks who I consider "My people"!! There are some wonderful people out here, it's just that 12 million is a little too many. :) And the flat ground at Harding is more appreciated after having been here. :)

Thanks for all the comments on Grace and the post about the Missionaries in Uganda.
All of them are cherished and appreciated!

Have a great week. I probably won't have access to a computer for the rest of the week. I head up the Pacific Coast Highway tomorrow for San Jose. I have never made that drive before, but I have heard that it will be a memorable one. I can't wait to see Carmel and Big Sur.

God bless all of you!

Friday, September 17, 2004


I leave tomorrow for a week in California. I wanted to comment again on the subject of Grace before I left. Thanks all of you who sent a comment in.......they were all really good.

While I am out next week, think about the following: Why do we for the most part talk about Grace intellectually instead of experientially? There is a HUGE difference! If you asked the woman caught in adultery what "grace" is, would you expect her to say "unmerited favor" or somthing along those lines? I don't think so. So, why do we? I have my theories, and I will share them with you when I get back.

Till then, walk joyfully in his abundant Grace!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Sad Sad Day

I promise I will come back to my question about "Grace"! I hate that I am leaving all 5 or 6 of you hanging. :) I have something more urgent on my heart to blog about today, so forgive me for delaying that discussion for another day.

I am sad today......and have been for several days. I guess that I have not fully come to the realization yet that people are going to let you down. I know I let people down, probably daily. But when it is people that you uphold with the UTMOST respect and have full confidence and trust in, then it tends to knock you for a loop. I am still in that loop as I write.

A congregation where I used to attend has decided to pull support from some missionaries in Africa because those missionaries will not quit teaching that it is ok for the African people to use a drum in their assemblies. These are two missionary families.......and each family has a spouse that grew up in this sponsoring congregation. You can imagine how they feel.

I attend a congregation that practices acappella music. I always have. I don't see me ever NOT attending a congregation that uses acappella music. It is my heritage. It is my preference when it comes to singing in the assembly. But, it is NOT the GOSPEL! I would NEVER equate Ephesians 5:19 with Mark 16:16......and especially a misinterpretation of Ephesians 5:19. Jesus talked about "Weightier Matters" in Matthew 23. I didn't find drums in that list of things that are the "more important matters of the Law". He also said earlier in Matthew: "they worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men". Our fellowship had an early saying when questioned about doctrinal matters..."we speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent". Somewhere along the way we have gotten away from that. When you look for scripture regarding this subject as it pertains to the assembly, it's just not there. Period. So where do we get our motivation for such a heavy emphasis to the level that it is a litmus test? One word..History. History IS on the side of acappella music. Anybody that would argue against that is probably going to lose that argument. But there are two BIG errors in using history as the major deciding factor in this decision. First, look who it puts you in bed with. Proponents of slavery in the 1800's could also point to history, and even a scriptural admonition to a slave owner (Philemon) to be a good slave owner. Does this justify slavery? History is on the side of those who want to continue to treat woman as chattel or something to be owned. Need I go on? If "history" automatically makes something right, then many many things that have gone on for CENTURIES that we disdain and abhor are all of a sudden acceptable.....if not advocated. Secondly, and even more importantly, history now takes precedence OVER scripture! This from a people who hold themselves up as a "Back to the Bible" people. Either scripture is our guide, or it isn't. It erodes our credibility to the world and unbelievers to be inconsistent.

In this particular incident, I couldn't help but think of Paul's words in Phillipians 1 where he talks about people who he knows are preaching Christ with the WRONG motivation. Remember what his response is? "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." We know these missionaries are preaching Christ with the RIGHT motive! They are reaching children of God who are lost and bringing them to eternal salvation thru Christ. They are bringing the "Good News" to those who would go to hell for eternity without it. They are spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And yet over a drum, some would quit supporting them in this effort. Does it make you sad too? Do you see why I have been in turmoil ever since I got the news? One wonderful side note, these missionaries will still be able to stay. They will just have to find a new source for the amount that this congregation had been providing. Isn't that a blessing!

I love all the men who made the decision to stop support for these missionaries. I have talked to several of them about this decision. Every one of them is going to be in heaven with me. They are all good, Godly men. I don't envy their TREMENDOUS responsibility of leadership. It is not an easy responsibility. I have the utmost respect for ALL of them. But I am still very disappointed, probably because I do respect them so much. And now I am back full circle to where I started.........people are human and they ARE going to let you down. Regardless of their professional position. Regardless of their education. Regardless of their church affiliation. Regardless of their gender. Regardless of their status. They are ALL human, and they are going to let you down.

But there is a lesson to take from all of this. It's a VERY old lesson. One with lots of HISTORY to back it up. And that is this......don't take your eyes off of the Cross. Don't let ANYTHING rise to a level of being more important than the Cross.
The CROSS has the power to SAVE............NOTHING else does!! Priorities matter. When your fruit show you have elevated a tradition to the level of the Gospel, I think you have lost focus of the Cross.

Please pray for these missionaries. Please pray for the men who made this decision.
Please pray for me.....that I will not let my disappointment in men affect the walk that I am on. I pray that I can pour out to others the grace and forgiveness that he has given in GREAT measure to me!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Football with Family

I haven't forgotten about my "Grace" question. I just wanted to give time for the masses to respond. :) Looks like the masses may be somewhere around the fingers on one hand. I will finish those thoughts this week.

I grew up with a dad who was crippled, but he loves football. I have no doubt he would have been involved with playing if he hadn't gotten hurt as a boy. Anyway, this time of year is a special time for him, me, and my two boys. That's because it is football season!! YEA! Jan is not much of a football fan, but she puts up with all 3 of us during this time of the year. When the boys were playing, she was always there supporting them and the team. As a family, we spent many wonderful hours travelling to and from football games.

Dad used to feel like going to at least one Alabama football game a year, but he hasn't felt like that for several years now. The closest thing to being at a game with him is to get to watch one with him on T.V. I was blessed to get to do that this week as Bama played Ole Miss. It is an experience, let me tell you! :) He comments after EVERY play, and then is upset if I don't have the volume turned up high enough where he can hear the announcers! :) His memory is not what it once was. During the game Sat. night, they were showing highlights of what all had already happened in the game and he said: "Are those highlights from last year's game?" But, he is still able to laugh at himself.......so we have a good time. Matt surprised us by showing up at Mom and Dad's house in Florence this weekend, so that meant I got to watch the game with my Dad and him too! That made it even more special. Matt was around 5 or 6 when we took him to Birmingham for his first Bama game. Because of his playing and coaching, it has been 10 years or so since we attended a game in Alabama. We do get to catch them playing in Arkansas from time to time, but that just isn't the same. Anyway, I am on a high because I got to watch an Alabama football game with my dad and my oldest son. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Luke could have been there too.

Excuse my ramblings today, but little things like watching a football game with Dad are cherished moments for me. Dad is not in the best of health, and I never know which game with him will be the last one. I hope heaven has a TV room and access to Alabama football for him! I feel sorry for everybody else up there if that is not the case. Knowing Dad, he will be trying to give Bear Bryant some coaching tips.
Thanks Dad for the memories of Alabama football and more importantly all the experiences that came with it. ROLL TIDE!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


An unbeliever tells you that he or she does not know about grace. What do YOU tell them? Yes, I will tell you my response to this question........but I want to hear your responses first. It is fine with me if you post your comment without a name. I will give you a few days. Thanks!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Hell Not an Option

Last night I heard a sermon about Hell. We don't hear as many sermons about Hell as we used to. The minister pointed out how much Jesus talked about Hell....which is a great point. He also talked about how Hell is a real place that lost souls will be cast into some day. We probably would be more evangelistic if we took that to heart more often. He quoted several applicable scriptures about those who are lost being condemned to Hell for eternity. That is one of the absolute truths that we may not understand, or even like, but it is the truth. If you believe in God, then you don't have any other choice but to believe in Heaven and Hell.

As the minister was coming to a close, he asked the question we used to hear so often when sermons like this were preached, and this is not word for word what he said, but pretty close. "How many of us here tonight can honestly say that we know we are not in danger of going to Hell if God came back tonight"? I wanted to stand up and holler out "All of us who are in Christ better KNOW we aren't in danger of Hell"! Does that mean we can't fall away, of course not. But I doubt any believer there last night was currently in rebellion and turned their back on God. I would assume they wouldn't be there if that was the case. My point is this: Hell is as real as the nose on my face or yours, but it is NOT an option to those who have come to the Lord! We need to preach that! That is what the Gospel or Good News IS! Do we need to preach Hell? Of COURSE we do.........to the lost who have never come to know the Savior or believe yet! They ARE in danger of eternal Hell. I believe that it is heresy to teach or preach that we who have been saved are "Once saved, barely saved"....and to teach our young people that they are in danger of eternal Hell fire if they haven't gone forward since their last sin. I am convinced we would have a greater impact on the world if they see our confidence in Jesus as Savior instead of seeing people who are living in fear of being only as good as our last prayer or confession. Like Paul, we need to live in confidence.......not because of us, but because of HIM! "I KNOW whom I have believed, and am CONVINCED that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day". Do you believe that too? I DO!! I KNOW I am going to Heaven, and I am trying to live a life that reflects that unbelievable blessing. I fail LOTS of times, but I have all the confidence in Him that those failures don't cause me to lose my salvation. I have faith that as long as I am trying to walk in the Light, and don't turn my back on him in rebellion, that I have been promised the reward that HIS sacrifice gave to all of those who believe. There is not such a thing as a "Lost Christian". Either you are lost, or you are a Christian. You can't be both.

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ABBA, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit, that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory".

"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died- more than that, who was raised to life- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of God?"

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height not depth, not anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

May we all live lives that testify and witness our confidence in Him, and let it transform our lives to His likeness so that those who don't know Him will be drawn to his "Good News" of ETERNAL life. Let's don't be guilty of putting another link in the chain of fear around so many Christian's necks that communicates they are in danger of Hell. That is heresy....it is NOT the Gospel message. If we teach that, the Cross was for nothing and the Savior died for no consequence.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"

If we trully believe, then we trully know that we are a saved people! Heaven is the reward HE gave us......and we are all going there to be with HIM! Isn't that GOOD NEWS? Let's live lives "worthy of his calling"....not lives of fear.