The headlines have been scrolling on my Facebook feed over the recent choice of the Girl Scouts to allow boys who dress as girls to attend their meetings and become part of the program. (Link) Even before this, the Girls Scouts have had a connection with Planned Parenthood, the organization murdering thousands of innocent children every week. The politics of the world, along with the world’s absence of morals have entered one of the strongest (at least for now) organizations to assist young women in developing skills and become confident during their maturity.
The Girl Scouts are not the only organization with a focus on young people who have had their share of issues. The Boy Scouts have bowed to the hand of political correctness over the past few years. (Link) Their behavior is consistent with an organization founded by mere men and now being run by a leadership who would rather be liked than be right.
As hundreds of people become angered by the recent decisions of the Girl Scouts and the decisions of the Boy Scouts, maybe it is time the church focus on the opportunity before them.
As Christians, we believe the Bible provides us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1.3). This Holy Book gives us the guidelines we need to stay transformed by the power of God and to avoid being conformed to the world (Romans 12.1-2). If we will open the sacred text, we will see there is a better way to teach our children than depending on human organizations seeking political gain. Searching the pages, you will find Paul’s instructions to Titus,
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” (Titus 2.3-6; ESV)
It is time our older men and older women rise up and become teachers to our young people in the aspects Paul’s gives to Titus. It is not the world’s responsibility to teach our children; it is their parents, their grandparents and the men and women of our congregations. We need the men and women of the church to rise up and get to teaching. Complaining about the world does no one any good.
Remember, our young people will learn from somewhere. If the church refuses to teach them, the world will.
Start today and get your young people together with those older and let the teaching of experience begin. Here are some easy ways to start:
- Take the young people to the homes of those married over 50 years and let them hear of the commitment it takes and the blessings that a couple can have each year.
- Let the young women sit at the feet of the older women and let them share with them that changes that have taken place in homes over the past 60 years. (We need to be reminded of the history.)
- Let the young men sit at the feet of the older men and hear what responsibility is and how each one of them has a responsibility to fulfill.
- Have the young people serve the older people at an appreciation banquet.
- Have your young people sit with the older people during services.
Begin today and leave our young people with the teaching they truly need.
Just some thoughts,
Studies have shown for years that our attitudes determine our outlook. Put another way, some say, “It’s your attitude that determines your altitude.” As you go throughout your daily activities, people can tell much about your life by your attitude. You attitude is viewed in your voice tone, your facial expressions and even in the way you walk.
Below is an article I wrote over five years ago in an online Leadership Development Group I was facilitating. The lesson is still practical today and I encourage you to take a look and see how you can avoid certain attitudes.
The Rotten Fish Face
- I can see them as plain as day. You know the ones. They are in every meeting, every conference and every crowd. They are the ones with their arms crossed and their frowning faces put on tight. Their looks tell you that they could care less. The scow of their face makes you wonder what thoughts are going through their minds. From the first words you spoke, they did not want to listen to you. Their rotten fish face makes everyone around them move farther away.
- The Rotten Fish Face have a tendency to have an attitude that matches their scowl. Their mind is always son the negative, very seldom focusing on the positive.
- It took me a while to figure out why many conferences, church buildings and meeting rooms have carpet on the floor. It is for sleepers. Whenever someone falls asleep they will not injure themselves when they hit the floor. I am convinced this is the same reason that many church buildings have padded pews. Sleepers are in every audience. They just linger back and try to avoid being seen. They will hide behind people and any other obstacle that keeps them from being seen. Typically, they do not care about the lesson. They are just there to pay their dues and then get back to work or go home.
- Sleepers have a tendency to sway between (1) knowing it all or (2) thinking nothing matters to them. In both cases, they put learning on the back burner to their personal comfort.
The Opinionated Man
- Wiggling in their seats and ready to go is their main duty. Their secondary duty is to take notes to give you their opinion. No matter if it is right or wrong, they will give you their opinion. When they
approach you, their ego bumps into you before they do. It would not be so bad, but the way they approach you is not to help, it is to show you how much they know.
- Many of the “opinionaters” (my new word) never listened to your lesson or read your book because they have listened or heard them all. Their quest for knowledge has stopped, because their ego is too big. The “opinionator” is also known by another name, “Captain Know-it-All.” He knows everything about everything. He will share his wide variety of knowledge with you before you even begin to explain exactly what you need. Many times, he will volunteer his knowledge without you having to ask.
- The complainer is one of my favorite categories of people with bad attitudes. Complainers want a pity party for themselves to show everyone how bad they have it. Do not give it to them! It does them no good. When you give a complainer a pity party, it is the same as pouring gasoline on an already lit fire. The flames will get bigger and there is a great chance you will get burned.
- Complainers will find everything wrong with everything. You could give them a $100 bill and they would complain because it has a wrinkle in it. If you share a great strategy with them they will find some excuse to not do it and complain. When I think of the excuses of complainers, I think of a quote from a preacher named Marshall Keeble. Mr. Keeble said that “an excuse if nothing more than I lie with a suit on.” Complainers make up lies with a suit on.
The Proper Attitude
Remember to avoid the three attitudes listed above throughout your life. There are many attitudes that I could continue to list, but those three specific attitudes cover those which will be your greatest hindrance. The attitudes to avoid are most prevalent when you are speaking to them, but they still apply to reading a book. Those attitudes to avoid apply in every facet of life. I am sure that you know people who fit those characteristics at work, family members or neighbors. Do not gain those attitudes, avoid them. (Be sure to provide a self-check on your life to avoid these attitudes.)
I am sure you have seen how these attitudes can destroy a work, congregation, lesson and career.
The proper attitude to have is one of “W.O.R.K.” I know I just said a horrible word in the English language, but I am going to say it again “W.O.R.K.!” I am asking you to take on an attitude of “W.O.R.K.”
“W.O.R.K” is a simple word for you to remember. It stands for:
- W – Willingness to
- O – Optimistically
- R – Receive
- K – Knowledge
Just some thoughts,
Bottom of Form
Today I bought a 74 year old Bible for $2.
The sign said, “Estate Sale.” As Carrie and I followed the signs, we pulled in the driveway of an early 1940’s white house. The house was small and people were walking about it looking for what treasures they could find. As I entered the houst was clear that the owner had passed away a while ago and the house had not been updated since the 50’s. Everything held a masking tape price tag. I walked through the house and did not seen anything I could not live without. As I walked through the living room, a small book on the coffee table captured my eye. Amid all the other books, this one stood out.
Picking up the book, I wipe the dust form the front cover and read the title,” New Testament: Protestant Version.” With that title, I knew the Bible would be mine.
“Do you have any cash?” I asked Carrie. She nodded she did.
I made my way to the garage where two ladies sat eating their lunch. “Will you take $2 for this Bible?” They quickly agreed.
I thought it was a fair offer for a 74 year old Bible with a rich heritage in our nation’s history.
These Bibles were printed by the United States Government Printing Office and given to service men and women fighting for our country in World War II.
Opening up the first page, you read some powerful words from May 6, 1941 from President Franklin D, Roosevelt,
“As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origin have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.”
What a powerful statement from the President of our country. I am not sure that we have a President or a Congress who will give Bibles to our military today. This is a vital part of our nation’s history.
Here are a few more pictures with some words to consider:
Just some thoughts,
Last night, I sat down with my journals over the past few years to reflect on the past and I ran across this short list I am made regarding the leadership of the church. I did not include a lengthy discussion, just the points as I thought of them. Take a moment and see what you think.
What Type of Leadership Does the Church Need?
- The church needs a leading leadership. – Shepherds need to lead the flock, not follow them.
- The church needs a seeking leadership. – The leadership seeks to seek the lost sheep and bring them back to the flock. The leadership needs to see the will of God, not the thoughts of man.
- The church needs a prepared leadership. – The leaders need to be prepared for the good and prepared for the bad. Someone once said, “Good and bad situations should never surprise a leader. They are always prepared.”
- The church needs a visionary leadership. – The leadership should examine questions like, “Where will the congregation be in one year? 5 years? 10 years?”
- The church needs a knowledgeable leadership. – The leadership needs a knowledge of the word of God and the flock to which they lead.
- The church needs a faithful leadership.
- The church needs a confronting leadership. – The leaders need to confront sin.
What Type of Leadership Does the Church NOT Need?
- The church does not need a leadership into “bill-paying” only.
- The church does not need a pew packing leadership. – Success is not found in numbers, but in faithfulness.
- The church does not need a micro-managing leadership.
- The church does not need a “maintenance leadership.” – Maintaining a congregation and leading a congregation are two different things.
Just my thoughts,
“What if Jesus never rose from the grave?”
Most Christians discuss the resurrection, but what if it never happened?
Without Christ rising from the tomb, there is no gospel. (1 Corinthians 15.1-8) If Christ was born as a man, lived as a man and died as a criminal only to remain in an earthly grave, there is no good news. The testimony of our Lord is false and most would call Him a liar, a false prophet and a leader of crazies. Without the good news of His resurrection, there is no good news. Without the good resurrection news our lives are tremendously lost in the turmoil of this world and our hope is in vain. The faith of the everlasting scriptures is reduced to a pile of rumble amid the chaos of lies.
Without Christ rising from the tomb, the Bible is not true. The prophecies of the Messiah dying to rise again would not hold water, because the Messiah would have been a man. His life would have been no different than ours and the Old Testament law would still be intact today. As the letter to the Hebrews discusses the passing of the old law to the new, but without the power of the resurrection, the One who brought the new will never hold it viable to our lives today, for His testimony is false.
- Without Christ rising from the dead, we are dead. The same words Paul speaks to the Ephesian church echo in our lives today, “…made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2.5; ESV). Without the resurrection of Christ we have no hope of ever being made alive again, we are dead in our trespasses and sins. If Christ never rose, His blood stopped. His blood stopped at the cross, because He was not the Son of God!
What would you add to this list?
And now the Good News…
- The good news is that the tomb was found empty! Christ did arise from the dead and our everlasting hope is found on His life. His tomb is empty and His feet walked this earth after His death. The women saw him, the apostles (except Judas) saw Him and many other saw Him! There is a gospel, a resurrection and good news!
Since we know the tomb was found empty, are we living like it?
Just some thoughts for the week,
One year ago on March 30th, it was a Sunday and I stood before the congregation in Mount Pleasant and delivered my last sermon as their full-time minister. The road from that day until now has been amazing. There have been three jobs after leaving Mount Pleasant and even the great question of whether or not I would return to full time ministry again. It was a long, bumpy and rewarding road.
Today, I reflect on these words and I share them with you. As you read them you will see that I borrowed and adapted from one of the greatest speakers of our time. These words are some of my favorite I have spoken because the thoughts of my heart flowed through the pages as I wrote each word. If you would like, take a moment and see what you think.
The words are many, but so are the meanings.
My brothers and sisters,
This will be approximately the 1,153rd time I’ll speak to you from this position, and the last. We’ve been together for 8 and ½ years now and now, it is time for me to go. But before I do, I wanted to share some thoughts, some of which I have been saving for a long time.
It’s been my honor to serve as your minister; the first full-time minister of this congregation. Many of you have shared your thoughts in the past few weeks to say “thank you”, but I could say the same of you. Carrie, Alexis, Emma, Caleb and I are grateful for the opportunity you gave us to serve.
One of the things about ministry is things go by so fast. You spend a lot of time in between Sundays. A minister’s job is never clearly seen. Most see you just on a Sunday and very few will see you during the week. The few, think they are left out, but truthfully, they are blessed. If you do not see a preacher coming, realize there are others who needed to see him more.
To some, we spent nights awake talking, crying and being frustrated together. Others, we spent time in the hospital talking over food sitting on a tray that made the tray look better than the food. Still others, we talked. We talked about things this world will never know, because you had a simple trust in me. You allowed me into your life and trusted me to help you out.
Those are the times no one sees, and some still question.
People ask how I feel about leaving and the fact is, “parting is such sweet sorrow.” The sweet part is the next chapter in the journey of our lives and the sorrow — the sorrow is the goodbyes.
The goodbyes are hard because this is the congregation my children have really known. When the congregation decided to take a chance on a 31 year old minister, Alexis was 5 and Emma was 2. Caleb was not even in the picture yet. Many of you are our family. To my children, some of you have adopted them as grandchildren and they think of you as additional grandparents. You are the ones they prayer for at night as they lay in their beds. I have heard the words – the sincere words of innocent children as your names are lifted be them to the Almighty God.
Our family grew here. This is the congregation that will be the one which settles in the heart of our children. This is the congregation, along with the pounding surf of the ocean and allowed me the everlasting opportunity to baptize Alexis into Christ.
From the morning ritual at the Holiday Inn to the ritual in this building, we have seen members come and go. Some have moved onto greater things in different places and two have moved one to their eternal rest. It is our goal to cross over from this life to meet them there.
As we came here, with nothing but open hands, we will leave, after paying a small loan back to the congregation, with nothing but open hands. Ready and willing for the next opportunity to serve the Lord, our God.
In the past 8 and ½ years, it has been my goal to push and challenge you to fill a greater purpose. The status quo of Christianity is not built on a Sunday morning pew, but on the actions of a loving Son. It was the challenge of the Savior that caused 12 ordinary men to change the world, through a simple message preached. It is the duty of every man, every eternal wanting man, to hear the message and make the response from a sincere heart. Without the sincerity of heart, it is just an emotionless action. But see a man with a pierced heart, and you will see a changed man, willing to take the cause of Christ to anyone, everyone and leaving no one behind.
This is where our passion must reside. The message of the gospel, is only found in the words that God breathed into existence. Without the Creator’s words, there is no road map and no hope for the created. You and I possess that road map, that lamp to our feet and the light to our path – it is not hidden through the ages anymore, but it is held in our hands to be read, studied and diligently placed into action.
Our faith, left in our minds alone, yield nothing. But faith put forth on the world’s stage means salvation to anyone ready, willing and searching. The way is narrow, the burden is light and the Savior is waiting. It is to this end, Christians live. It is to this end that Christians strive to find the unity found in the Savior, not in the world.
The journey we have traveled has been one to strengthen our faith and magnify our light. The light of the city set on a hill shines for all to see and all to realize the light does not go out, but it glows brighter day by day. For us, our light will only shine as bright as our faith will allow.
This was the challenge. The challenge to see how bright out faith will shine amid the busyness, the temptations and the desires of the flesh.
The challenge for our faith is clear and the battle wages one. Through the days of good, the battle is waging, when the days are bad, the battles still rages on. No matter the greatness of yesterday, the hope of the future home in the Lord is our power and our strength.
There is power in the gospel….because it is the saving grace of our lives. The evidence that Christ took on death, laid in a grave, then broke free from the pain of death to walk, talk and clearly speak before rising into the clouds is the message we teach, preach and live by. There is no greater message than that of Christ.
For over 8 years we have fought side by side in the fields around us. We have won some battles and lost a few others. The battle is not over. We still find ourselves clothed in Christ and clothed in the full armor of God and we walk through the world, knowing that some will follow and some will fight….but we wage on.
The unity of faith, the faith we strive for is the same which was delivered once for all time. It is this same unity for which our Lord prayed that night. The unity that all men who come to Him, believe in Him and follow Him completely.
I have been asked if I have any regrets. Well, I do. There have been those lost to the world. I have been thinking a great deal about that lately, but there is only so much one can do. The final choice is in the eyes of man. God knows we have tried. We have reached, offered our lives and even offered to leave. It is always our goal to strengthen the saved, but more than that – to save the lost.
Some say a minister’s job is best left un-said, and I have to agree. There is a great tradition of warnings in ministry farewells, and I’ve got one that’s been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it started with one in of the things I am proudest of in the past eight years; the challenge of better living based on putting knowledge of Christi into the daily lives. The feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in knowledge and action.
An informed Christian is what we want. And are we doing a good job teaching our children about the church and what the church has represented in the short history of the world? Those of us over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different time. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be a Christian. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love for the church and an appreciation of its heritage in our lives.
You could see it in our fellowship and hear it in our voices. You saw it, not only on Sundays, but in Bible studies and gathering throughout the week. It was part of our personal culture and our future. You could see it in the people around you.
Families celebrated “Christian values” as did the culture. Prayers before meals, before games and even before bed. God was not a name to be overlooked but THE name to be honored.
But now, we are about to enter a changing time and some things have already changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation for the one church is the right thing to teach our modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded religion is no longer the style. I believe our spirit is back, but we haven’t achieved it all yet. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that the church is freedom – freedom from the shackles of sin. And freedom is special and rare. It is fragile and it needs protection and prayer for guidance.
So, we’ve got to teach Christ based not on what’s fashion but what’s important – why Abraham matters, who Paul was and what those 3 days in the tomb meant. You know, Easter is a few short weeks away and the thoughts of many will turn to the resurrection again. When those disciples made it to the tomb, they heard the word of the angel, “He is not here. He is risen.”
Well, let’s start saying those words. If we forget what He did, we won’t know who we are. I am warning of the eradication of the Christian mind that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the Christian mind. Let’s start with some basics: more attention on Bible reading and a great emphasis on our Christian duty.
And let me offer lesson number one about Christianity. All great change in the world begins at the dinner table. So, tonight in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parent’s haven’t been teaching you what it means to be a Christian, let them know and nail them on it. That would be a very Biblical thing to do.
And that’s about all I have to say this morning, except for one thing. The past few days I have thought about that shining city on a hill. The phrase comes from Matthew 5 who recorded the words of Christ on the mount. What He saw was important because He saw His followers being the light – the light of freedom for generations. He came here by what we call the virgin birth and was looking for the time to sacrifice Himself for all of mankind.
In my mind, that shining city on a hill, provides the message of freedom. In my mind it is a bright city built on a foundation on the rock which the floods do not destroy. It is a God-blessed city and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city of freedom.
The city has walls, but the door is always open to anyone with the willingness and the heart to get there. Just listen to Him and you can be there too. That’s how I saw it and see it still.
And how stands more the church? I pray it is more prosperous, more generous and more alive in Christ that it was eight years ago. But more than that; after almost 2,000 years, she still stands strong and true on the granite rock and she was withstood every storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the weary from all lost places who are hurtling through darkness toward home.
I feel I have done my part. And as I walk off into the next chapter of our lives, our faith, hope and trust is in the power of the Lord and the strength of His might.
My friends, keep doing it.
We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made our lives, and others, stronger we made many freer and now we leave in to good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
And so, goodbye, God bless you and God guide his children.
As I read those words several times today, I read then as a minister who took approximately 8 months off from full-time ministry because I needed it; my family needed it. Today, I am back in the pulpit again and more resolved than ever to share the message of Christ, the only way, to a troubled world.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.
Just my thoughts,
After a short time offline, the Preacher’s Pen is back and ready to go. The time offline was spent moving the website and all related files to a new webhosting company. This downtime allowed for a quick cleanup of files and various pages. Now, we are ready to grow the website and reach more people in more ways.
Beginning last year, I resigned from local work and entered a period of refreshment and renewal. After a short hiatus from local ministry, I entered the opportunity for local work with the Gadsden Church of Christ in Gadsden, Alabama. In a few weeks, I will share with you my thoughts on why I took a break and why I decided to enter local work again. It will be a heartfelt look from a minister’s eyes. Other upcoming posts are:
- When God Says “No”
- Living 6 Months on 3 Months Emergency Fund
- When Starting Over is Just Right
- What I Really Think of Essential Oils
- How to Make a Life
- Ten Ways to Enjoy Church
- Why Are You Waiting?
As I have grown in my life over the past year and re-entered local ministry, the Preacher’s Pen website is back and ready for action. Steps have been taken to improve the speed and the format of the site. Over the next few months, various resources will be added; a few of them are listed below.
April 1st – The New Preacher’s Pen Podcast
- On April 1st, a new Preacher’s Pen Podcast will be launched as a weekly tool to educate, motivate and inspire others for better service in the Kingdom of God. This podcast will be available on iTunes and other podcast formats. Stay tuned for more information.
April 6th – A New Sermon Podcast
- A sermon podcast will begin on April 6th. This will be different than the weekly Preacher’s Pen Podcast. The Sermon Podcast will feature the lessons presented on Sunday morning. This podcast will also include a link to the sermon outline accompanying the podcast in the note section.
May 1st – A New Preacher’s Pen Photo Section
- A photo section will be made available on the Preacher’s Pen website to provide photos suitable to PowerPoint backgrounds and to be used in other ways. The photos will be available for free in a digital format, but possibly available at a low-cost in a print.
June 1st – The Preacher’s Pen Store
- One June 1st, we will open, for the first-time, the Preacher’s Pen Store. This store will feature a variety of resources, books and others items. More details to follow.
As you can see, there are many things taking place behind the scenes of the Preacher’s Pen. I hope that you will be a part of these efforts by sharing them on your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.).
Thanks for being a part of the efforts to share the best message in the history of the world.
Just some thoughts,
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…”
(Deuteronomy 4:9; ESV)
I have been blessed more than I ever deserve. Throughout my life there God has placed people at various times and in various places to remind me of the gifts and the blessings given to me. My grandparents have been one of these powerful and motivating blessings.
Last June, my grandmother got better. (Click here to read more) I was blessed to spend her last three weeks on this Earth with her. For those finals days I constantly joked with her about taking her to WalMart, put her in a scooter chair and letting her drive around. She would roll her eyes and smile. After a series of joking around with her, she got serious, very serious.
“You need to get back in the pulpit.” She said.
When she spoke those words, I had been out of the pulpit for over 9 weeks. I had resigned at the beginning of the year, but stepped away from the pulpit at the end of March. I knew she was going to talk to me soon; she just needed the right moment. When she spoke, I nodded in agreement and told her that “I knew.”
“You know where you need to be. Stop messing around with those other things.” she continued.
Since leaving the ministry, I had been involved in insurance and sales. The secular work had gone alright, but not as expected. Her words struck a cord with me; but not one of frustration, but one of humbleness.
My grandmother had been one to let me know what she thought, even if it frustrated me. She was always there when I needed her and here she was again, telling me what I needed to hear.
I think she knew that I would be back in the pulpit soon, but she wanted to make sure I knew her thoughts.
Today, she would be happy. After over six months of a much needed step back from ministry, I am back in the place that I love.
She is happy, because she is better and I am here.
I have been blessed with grandparents who let me know what they thought and how much they cared. Before my grandfather passed away in 1996 some of his final words to me were, “Tell ’em what they need to hear.” He meant ministry and I knew it. I know he is happy.
In 2004, I was blessed with another grandfather, when my grandmother remarried. I was blessed with my “Grandfather Part #2.” He has always encouraged me to stay where God intended me to be and where my gifts can best be used.
I am blessed.
While my grandparents have been a pivotal part of my ministry, I am happy. I am happy to be where I am and happy to be where I need to be with a loving, supportive congregation who, together, will begin to change the world.
Thank you for allowing me to share some of my grandmother’s (and grandfather’s) final words with you. Below are a few things I needed from my grandparents and they provided them. I share them with you today, so you can pass along a lasting legacy to your grandchildren.
Grandparents: Leaving a Legacy
- No Matter What, Care for Your Grandchildren – My grandparents, grandmother in particular, always stood by me in my decisions, but she also let me know what she thought of them. I know that her influence is one of the reasons I am where I am today.
- Share Your Heart – My grandparent’s shared their hearts with me. They let me see a glimpse of where I stood in their life. I am thankful for the way my grandmother spoke with me about our family and let me know what I could do in the future.
- Share your Spiritual Life – I know my grandparents are better because I know they have graduated to eternal joy. Their spiritual life is blessed because they held fast to the faith and their spiritual legacy will continue because of the lives they touched.
Begin today and share the love, the joy and the hope of the future with your grandchildren. Even if they will not listen, they know you care.
Just my thoughts,
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Most of us have one or two lying around our house. You may be wearing one right now. They adorn everything from book covers to cars to clothing. On a side note, I find it rather odd that some who wear them do not act like they care too much about them. It has become an adorning fashion. The mere mention of it has changed over the many years since it was known as a device of death. Those in the first century would find the wearing of a cross to a thing of disgust, but many see it is different. Josephus described death on the cross as “the most wretched of deaths.” (Josephus, Jewish War, 7.203)
(I am not in any way saying that wearing a cross is a sin before God. I just find it interesting that a thing of abhorrent death is used as a fashion statement. Stay with me and you will see further.)
The cross was more than two wooden beams nailed to each other. It was a device of torture used for the ultimate criminals.
There were conquerors who used crucifixion in there conquests. Alexander the Great crucified 2,000 survivors of his siege on the city of Tyre. They were crucified along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to stand as a symbol of the power of Alexander. Josephus writes of there being 800 Pharisees being crucified in front of their wives and children in 267 A.D. (Josephus, Antiquities, 12.256) Six thousand were crucified along the Appian Way following there capture at the end of the revolt of Spartacus. It is further stated that 3,000 political opponents of Darius of Persia.
The Romans found the crucifixion as an interesting way to control an individual’s death. The historian Josephus in his writings the Jewish War mentions the crucifixion. He confirms the horrible actions of the Roman soldiers as they “out of rage and hatred amused themselves by nailing their prisoners in different postures.” (Josephus, Jewish War 5.11 and 451)
Archeological evidence has shown that the Romans would nail the ankle bone of the individual to a board then to the cross to provide a stable position for the victim to hang.
A Physician Looks at Crucifixion
As Dr. Truman Davis contemplated the story of Christ, it dawned on him that he didn’t know the actual immediate cause of death for a victim of crucifixion; so he began to study the ancient practice of torture and death by fixation to a cross.
The preliminary scourging was done with the victim naked, his arms tied to a post above his head. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue they cut deeper until the half-fainting victim is untied and allowed to slump to the pavement, wet in his own blood.
A heavy crossbeam is tied across his shoulders, but in spite of his efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.
At the site of execution, the crossbeam is thrown down, and the victim is pushed to the ground, his arms stretching over the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side. Jesus is hauled up and lifted onto the upright post.
The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain—the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places his full weight on the nail through his feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward. Hanging by the arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. The victim fights to raise himself up in order to get even one short breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that Jesus uttered the seven short sentences recorded.
The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; thus the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest and rapid suffocation occurred. This was unnecessary for Christ, who died after six hours of crucifixion.
Apparently to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. There was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart, giving postmortem evidence that our Lord died not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure (a broken heart) due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
(Source: Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 171). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers / Dr. C. Truman Davis, “A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion,” in The Review of the News, April 14, 1976.)
As you can see, the cross was not a symbol of fashion but of the cruelest deaths known to man. To those who saw crucifixions or lost loved ones to this terrible death, it was a symbol of utter disgust. To hang on a tree was to be cursed in the sight of God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13). To commit a sin deserving of death was bad enough; but to hang on a tree was to be accursed of God. The Son of God became accursed on the tree as our sin offering.
Throughout the life of Christ, He was rejected. He was rejected even though His words were amazing (Matthew 7:28-29). Even His miracles, preformed privately and in front of multitudes of people, were rejected (Matthew 9:1-8). He was rejected even though He was innocent (Luke 23:13, 14). While hanging on the cross, fulfilling Scripture, He was rejected (Luke 23:35-39). Even today, men reject Jesus as the Savior. To them it is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). John the apostle says, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)
After all, why would the Messiah hang from a tree as one accursed of God? Wasn’t He supposed to come with power and glory with the presence of God in the highest to conquer the Roman Empire and the world?
How foolish for the Messiah to hang on a cross and never come down to show His power and glory! Matthew records the words of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders, “If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” (Matthew 27:42)
Why would they believe Him if He came down from the cross? He had healed countless numbers during His earthly ministry. Would they really believe? Did they have their own selfish agenda in mind when no fault was found, a murder was let go and an innocent man was crucified?
They cross to them and many today represent two beams of wood. To the Christian, the cross represents the plan of God for our lives. It represents our personal cross bearing (Matthew 10:38)
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Jesus)
So, are you are cross-wearer or are you a cross bearer?
Just some thoughts,
Have you read the news lately?
Have you been discouraged by what is on the television?
Our lives may become so enthralled with the physical that we can easily forget the beauty of the heavenly realm. The early church had similar problems, yet Paul reminded them the true treasure is not found with eye sight, but faith sight.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4.16-18; ESV; Emphasis Mine – CMG)
As followers of a man, if indeed we can call him a man, who left a rock-hewn tomb and walked among this world for the second time before he ascended to the Promised Land which awaits all of those sealed with the guarantee of the Spirit. Why should we focus on the daily headlines of doom and gloom when we should be proclaiming the heavenly land of promise to the earthly land blazon with leaders of unpromise?
Let us join together, knowing that we are surround by so great a cloud of witnesses, and begin sharing encouraging proclamations that there is more than a tangible world has to offer. The bricks and mortar of the earth will be replaced with the crowing jewels of a heavenly crown! The kitchen table of physical food will be put aside by the banquet table of the Father. The time on earth is just time, but in heaven, time does not exist or do any of the souls expire. The beauty of heaven is seen from non- beginning to non-end; for time does not exist. Where there is no time, there is eternity. Where there is eternity there is God. Where there is God, there you should be too!
Even before we made our mistakes, took our missteps and moved in the wrong way, God was sending His only Son for us. While we wandered from from the safety of Him, He was still encouraging us to follow His Son. He reached towards us as far as His almighty arms can reach and waited for us to turn back to Him. He, like the lost son’s father of Luke 15, waited by that eternal window and ran toward us with the garment of Christ when we came to Him. He bestowed grace on those not worthy of grace. It was that bestowing to the unworthy that brought grace into full existence. Grace brings mercy, mercy brings pardon, pardon brings cleansing, cleansing brings the blood of the innocent One to cover us so we may live…and live we can.
Why are you waiting? Reach out your hand to the discouraged and share with them the Saviors courage!
Though the nations rage and the mountains crumble, God will shelter us under the shadow of His wing, the refuge of our souls will vanquish the enemy of death and a room await — a room in the mansion of the Father awaits those who are found in the cleansing power of the Savior.
Who will you encourage today?
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3.13; ESV)
Just a thought,