Thanksgiving like no other…

When King David’s son Solomon decided to build the temple of the Lord and a palace for himself, he made great preparations. The Old Testament book of 2nd Chronicles records the following.

And Solomon assigned 70,000 men to bear burdens and 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 to oversee them. (2 Chronicles 2:2)

A project that requires a 153,600 man workforce is quite an undertaking. In 2 Chronicles chapter 3 you can read about some of the details and size of the building. It would make the TBN headquarters look like a drug flop house. It was not only huge but was adorned with jewels and had gold everywhere. No expense was spared and the furnishings were as magnificent as the building.

Finally, when everything was completed according to specific plans, the Levitical priests brought in the ark of the covenant in which lay the tables of the law. Then the celebration began!

Three praise leaders assembled a choir and the musicians which included cymbals, harps, and lyres. To round it off there were 120 preachers playing trumpets! They started to play and sing in unison and the glory of the God filled the place like a cloud so that the priests were unable to stand to minister.

This is a mega church doing it right! Praise and thanksgiving with singing, and musical instruments, and God give his approval by filling the house with his glory! Is there a lesson for us here? Read the account for yourself, part of it is here.

12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 (and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,
“For he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:12-14)

One of the marks of the people of God way back in David’s day, and in the days of his son Solomon, was praise and thanksgiving. It was done loudly, by many people, using voices and musical instruments of all sorts. Today I read several passages written by the great apostle Paul who was routinely giving thanks. He give thanks for the faith of those who had put their trust in Jesus, for their holy lives, for their generosity, etc. And he taught others to be always giving thanks as well. An unthankful Christian in the Bible is unthinkable.

So, as we gather with family and friends this Thursday, have a blast! Enjoy the food God has provided, praise God for his grace and goodness, laugh, sing, play music, and be  thankful. It’s a plan God approves.

My Proverbs 31 Woman

“An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.”  (Proverbs 31:10-31)

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”. I am long over due!

The 13th of next month I will have been married to this wonderful woman 11 years. How do I describe her? In a word, Amazing!

If I chronicled here all she has accomplished, just since I have known her, most of you would applaud and perhaps a few of you would grumble that a woman has that much influence. Much of what she initiated, suggested, or orchestrated behind the scenes, she will not be credited for. But she didn’t do those things to improve her ego, trust me when I tell you, she doesn’t have a self-esteem problem.

When I read the passage where Paul mentioned and commended those “women who labored with me in the gospel” I always think first of Carol. I know no person with more ambition and determination to get things done for the kingdom. She is a driven lady who is just as ambitious in her singing, preparing for a house party, or getting help to people in need, she is an equal opportunity enthusiast. Only God can anticipate what she can facilitate!

Carol is a woman of vision. I have never known any person, man or woman, who can see the end of a dream long before I start to think. She just assumes nothing is too hard and if something is worth visualizing it is worth realizing. Again and again, I’m thinking, “That will never work!”, but it usually does work.

Hard work is her gait. God made this gal with her cruise control set on about 85. She thrives on getting tasks accomplished. And she is not bashful about recruiting others to help. I lovingly gave her the nick name “The Little General”. She has come close to making grown men run away screaming. As I told one friend who was her pack mule for the hour, “Just do what she says and everything will be fine”.

She is generous to a fault. Her heart and her hands are always open to those in need. Again and again I have seen her heart open and her hands busy to meet someone’s needs. I have seen her reach out in tangible ways to scores of people in amazing and creative ways to simply help. Her care for others is one of her traits I admire most.

Her ear is tuned to that still small voice. It is not uncommon to hear her say to me, “I just said that before I even thought about it.” Or “I believe the Spirit (of God) wanted me to do….” or “say ….”. And there is a couple with an adopted child, a husband with a godly wife and a one time widow with a godly man, and ….well you get the point I hope. From babies to marriages, singers and church vans, new ministries, and saying exactly the right thing to inspire hope in the hopeless, I am married to a woman who ‘walks in the Spirit”.

Loving is as natural as breathing. I have been loved in an amazing ways by this great woman, my wife. She loves her children and especially her grand children, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, old friends and new friends, the grieving, the poor, the lonely and the list goes on… They all are the objects of this great lover, My Carol Jane.

Am I bragging? You bet I am!

(Carol, when you read this, please know that I love you, honor you, respect you, and am excited to see what unfolds in all of our shared tomorrows for God’s glory.  Happy Anniversary!)


Good News for Paranoid Preachers, Your fears are real!

Below are some of the ways you can loose your salvation if you are a member of “the Lord’s church” (church of Christ). The good news is that there are other ways you and I might not have thought of. This is far from being a complete list. There are some I have missed. But, the scary fact is there are some you haven’t thought of either, so be on guard…
(This list is not in order of priority or popularity. When you think about it, one way is just as worthwhile as another as long as it causes you to be lost.)
1. Failure to use the King James Version of the Bible for readings in worship. (Some more enlightened conservatives use the risky NKJV)
2. Clapping hands in time to music when singing.
3. Clapping hands at any other time in the Sunday assembly. (Any use of human hands in the assembly is suspect except for leading a song when only one hand at a time may be used but only modestly. Preachers may also gesture while preaching using their hands but not to excess, it is too much like the Pentecostals)
4. Singing during the Lord’s Supper. This is strictly forbidden by the silence of Scripture.
5. More than one person leading a song at one time. Only one song leader is approved by Scripture.
6. Serving the Lord’s Supper from the back of the “building”.
7. Serving wine in the cup instead of grape juice.
8. Serving grape juice in the cup instead of wine.
9. Using more than one cup.
10. Using only one cup.
11. Missing participating in the Lord’s Supper on Sunday.
12. Serving the Lord’s Supper on Sunday night. (In some churches, not serving the Lord’s Supper on Sunday night might damn.)
13. Using money given to the church to support orphans.
14. Using money given to the church to support widows.
15. Paying a preacher a salary.  (Paying someone to sweep the building and clean the toilets is approved)
16. Having a preacher who is not married.
17. Having only one elder. (If a church has two and one dies it is better for the church if the surviving elder dies as quickly as possible)
18. Reaffirmation of elders. (It is just as wrong to tell an elder he is doing a good job as to tell one he is not doing a good job)
19. Having a “located” preacher. (Not to be confused by having a loco preacher)
20. Doing anything Baptists might do or have done in the past.
21. Using a musical instrument in Sunday worship. (Using instrumental accompaniment for weddings is authorized provided it is done in a separate structure, divided by a separation of the roof from the part of the building used for the Sunday assembly. (There must be an air space dividing the buildings) It can be done in the part of the building where the kitchen would be if we were going to hell. Recorded music with instruments is slightly more authorized than the actual.)
22. Teaching that churches or the individuals in them are saved if they violate the first 21 items on this list.
23. Women speaking in the assembly will damn the whole congregation. ( To be safe, if an elderly widow should fall she should sing her request for help rather than speak it.)
24. Women are not allowed to pray on Sunday.
25. Women are allowed to pass communion plates and trays only from side to side. (If sitting on the end of the pew and the attendant overlooks that plate or tray a woman should modestly and quietly hold it looking straight ahead until a man notices is was missed. You just can’t be too careful!)
26. Women teaching males over 12, no over 10, no…The elders should decide what age males can be taught by women.( Women being so modest they are confused with Assembly of God , or Church of God women at Sunday lunch is not good so they should wear some make up.)This is not a salvation issue but is important enough to be mentioned.
27. Stained glass windows.
28. A church steeple is authorized if it is noticeably shorter than the shortest denominational steeple in town. Any exception to this puts the whole congregation in danger of hell fire.
29. Publishing a “Statement of Faith”.
30. Teaching that Max Lucado is a Christian.
31. Teaching the “once saved always saved” heresy. (Everyone knows it the absolute right of every faithful member of the Lord’s church to have his soul in constant jeopardy.)
32. Teaching anything that hints of the “supernatural”.
33. Teaching focused on the Holy Spirit. (If God had wanted Christians to know about the Holy Spirit he would have put it in the Bible)
34. Teaching that anyone who has not “obeyed the gospel” is saved. (It is impossible to “obey the gospel” unless one is immersed in water by a church of Christ man who says as he puts the candidate under the water, “for the remission of your sins”. If he fails to say this the person is very likely still lost.)
35. Discontinuing the Sunday night service. ( Everyone knows that all 8 people can be there if they are faithful.)
36. Sending children and grand children to ACU
37 Attending the Tulsa Workshop if you know ahead of time they are going to say anything nice about Christian church people or denominational people. If you are pretty sure this will not happen it is OK to go but do not visit the booths of progressives.
38. Teaching that the churches of Christ started any time other than 33AD.
39  Having a Sunday school.
40. Missing worship services three times in a row if not bedfast.
41. Missing worship services while on family vacation. (The safe thing is to show a bulletin or gospel tract to an elder or the preacher with the churches name on it where you visited)
42. Teaching that anyone in a denomination is saved. (There may be a possibility of some tolerance on this point if an elders daughter marries a Baptist pastor’s son. Something can possibly be worked out with God to make an exception in such hard ship cases)
43. Fellowshipping anyone or any church who fellowships anyone or any church that commits any of the prior 42 sins.
Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. Other church of Christ preachers, elders, and preaching school teachers are able to think of more and I am sure I have overlooked some. If you know of others please comment and tell what they are.
Of all of these damnable things the widely accepted view is that “the instrument” is the most common and easiest way to be lost. Some church of Christ people have guitars or pianos in their homes but why take the risk? It is a slippery slope I fear.

A Favorite Church of Christ Word, “Sound”

Being the curious sort, I often read the classifieds in the Christian Chronicle, a wonderful news paper filled with news of interest to church of Christ people. Each issue will have ads where local churches are trying to hire preachers. It is not uncommon for the job requirements to include that the candidate be married, that he has graduated from a “brotherhood school”, or has earned a four-year degree.

One of the most interesting requirements is that he be “sound”. What does that mean? “Sound” is one of those words with many, many meanings but in the context of describing a preacher one or more of the word’s use as an adjective would apply. Which of these do you suppose churches intend when they advertise they want a “sound” man?

1. free from injury, damage, defect, disease, etc.; in good condition; healthy; robust: a sound heart; a sound mind.2. financially strong, secure, or reliable: a sound business; sound investments.

3. competent, sensible, or valid: sound judgment.

4. having no defect as to truth, justice, wisdom, or reason: sound advice.

5. of substantial or enduring character: sound moral values.

6. following in a systematic pattern without any apparent defect in logic: sound reasoning.

7. uninterrupted and untroubled; deep: sound sleep.

8. vigorous, thorough, or severe: a sound thrashing.

9. free from moral defect or weakness; upright, honest, or good; honorable; loyal.

10. having no legal defect: a sound title to property.

11. theologically correct or orthodox, as doctrines or a theologian.

Several of these could apply but number 11 likely comes closest to what is intended. Or does it?

I think that rather than using the word as an adjective, many of our folks use the word “sound”, when referring to a preacher, as a noun.

The primary criteria is not that he teaches “sound” doctrine. The wish is that he holds forth the traditions that the traditional churches of Christ hold dear.

An example of the subtle difference would be the subject of a capella singing. Does this church want a man who will open the Scriptures and teach what it says, and only what it says on the subject? Or, do they want a man who will perpetuate a myth?

I must ask myself the question, am I a “sound” man? Do I love truth? Do I pursue it? Do I settle for less than the truth? And, much more important than if I have the truth, does the truth have me?

Is my life controlled by the words of Scripture or do I use Scripture to my own ends? Do I pick and choose verses, sometimes out of context, to prop up my pet doctrine? I hope not. I pray that I don’t.

I hope that when we in the churches of Christ use the word “sound” in relation to a preacher or teacher we will sincerely want him to be devoted to the Lordship of Jesus and a sincere seeker of the truth of Scripture, even if it goes against what we hold dear.

I want that kind of “sound” man behind the sacred desk on Sunday.