It is a wonderful thing, but an odd thing, that the Creator God would love His creatures so that He would choose to come and live among them on planet earth. I can’t imagine an earthly king who would one day say to himself “I think it would be good to go out of  the palace, through the courts, and out the gate and go live with the commoners“. Such an idea flies in the face of reason. Why would royalty desire the humble means of those poor souls who are only a harvest away from starvation? How could the one whose servants stand at the ready to care for every detail of need want to come and make his abode with the lowly?

Ah, Christmas, the season when we remember the time when earth was interrupted by the birth of a baby boy. His first hours were lived in the most humble setting, a cattle stall with the smell of dung and odor of the animals near by. Yet this child was a King whose birth had been foretold by the prophets, long years ago. His mother was told He would save His people from their sins, and Matthew reminded the readers of his book that according to Isaiah his name would mean “God-with-us”.

The wonder of Christmas is that not only did a King come for a visit but He came on a mission. Men and women and boys and girls were groping along in the darkness of their sins with no hope of life after the earthly tent was finally folded. But He appeared…”To save His people from their sins”. His life would be short by today’s standards but it was one that perfectly met every holy demand of God the Father’s law. His ministry would be to the human trash of the day to heal brokenness, to give sight to the blind, to make cripples run, jump, and shout for joy. He would raise the dead, feed thousands with enough for only a few.

He would break all the rules of religion, he would squash racial divides, he would talk to the wind….and it would listen. He would round up some unlikely candidates to help Him with His mission. The twelve were truly a cross section of the lower rungs of society. He would laugh and love with them, eat with them, pray with them, minister with them, and then be abandoned by them and even denied and betrayed by them. But, oh how He loved them. But the wonder of this One is that He loved everyone intensely. And, He would die to prove it.

A child was born, a son given, a life lived, a live given. He defeated the forces of darkness by defeating death, by satisfying God’s demands about sin and its penalty, and offers to all who will accept the gift, eternal life. He is the only human who could have justly condemned, but He didn’t come for that. For you see, people were already condemned. No, He came to give life, and forgiveness, and peace.

There are still those who deny Him. Some even declare with their lips that He never even existed. But every one of them declares His life and death every time they write a date on a check, or a note to a friend. No other person in human history has been so opposed as this man. The ultimate oddity is that this man of all men who ever lived would have had opposition. He only gave, and gave, and then gave Himself as a complete payment for every man’s sins and today lives so we too can live.

God-with-us! Merry Christmas.

His peace,
Royce Ogle

“…..the gates of hell shall not prevail….” against the church

On last Sunday the Hemley Rd. church in Bayou La Batre passed a mile stone that many did not expect. At 2:00 p.m. they had a celebration and dedication of their permanent home. Against great odds and in the face of opposition from within and without, the little flock has persevered in prayer and service and they now have a facility with great potential, much of the rehab work has been done, and they are debt free.

People traveled from as far away as Los Angeles, California to come share the great victory and celebrate what God has done. On Sunday morning I taught the adult Bible class and challenged them to remember that the race of faith is a marathon, not a sprint. One of the greatest qualities of one who would please the Lord is patient endurance. Learning to walk in step with the Holy Spirit, and when necessary, to simply wait upon God are much needed disciplines.

Bro’ John McCord, pulpit minister of the ElCampo, Texas church of Christ preached, reminding us of the past and casting a vision for the future. He characterized the members of the Hemley Rd. church as “Sold out, over committed, junkies for Jesus” whose mission is to confront their community with the claims of Jesus while serving their physical needs. Two of ElCampo’s elders were there as well.

After the great service there was a spread to die for, (or because of). Big fat bay shrimp prepared in different ways, and almost everything one could want for a great feast. The fellowship was amazing!

In the afternoon World Radio Director Bro’ Ken Bolden opened the time of dedication, celebration, and thanksgiving. One after another, elders, preachers, and those who have generously given to the work in Bayou La Batre spoke words of encouragement and challenge and several of the men prayed simple, humble prayers, asking God to keep His hand on the work and to continue to supply every need. Next to the last speaker was a leader at Hemley Rd. Bro’ Billy Spaulding gave a very moving and inspired talk answering the question “Have I ever seen Jesus?” As he told of the many times he had seen Christ in others who had come to Bayou La Batre to serve those who had lost so much he was so overcome with emotion he had to pause before he could continue. Billy Spauling is one of those “Salt and Light” men for whom I, and everyone who knows him, hold the deepest respect and trust him completely to always do the right thing.

I closed the meeting giving honor to Daphnie German without whom the work would have died long ago, and to my wife Carol whom I often lovingly call “The Little General”. Just as in Paul’s ministry, faith filled women with pit bull perseverance, and unconditional love in their hearts, are just as valuable to ministry as any man can hope to be.

There are perhaps 2 or 3 pews of teens who are there every time the doors are open. What great potential!There have been 3 baptisms in the last few weeks! What a great bunch of Christians who see no limit to what God can do. Praise God for the folks at Hemley Rd. church of Christ in Bayou La Batre, Alabama.

If you know a preacher who is Christ centered and grace oriented and can support himself for several months please contact me. The church desperately needs a preacher full time to come along and help them.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

Before the Throne of God I Stand

In the year 1863 a young 22 year old minister’s daughter in Ireland wrote what is without question one of the best Christian songs ever written. Her name was Charitie L. (Smith) Bancroft. Her father was the Rector (overseer) of a county where they lived.

The theology of the song this young lady penned gives a glimpse into the sort of preaching and teaching she was exposed to. I don’t know the name or denomination of the church she attended but I do know this, they preached the word of God and comprehended the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

This great song has become one of my very favorite songs. Unlike much of our contemporary praise songs, this one is packed full of Biblical truth. Last Wednesday this song was the last one before the lesson at my church. My heart was stirred as I sung those words and thought of what Christ has done for a sinful man like me.

Please read the words of this great song and let them soak in. I am convinced that if all of us understood and believed the message of this wonderful song there would be far less focus on the trivial things that seperate us as believers. This is the basis of Biblical unity.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!”

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle