January 31, 2010

It’s all about relationships – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by kdkelly

Consider for a moment two verses from the New Testament: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)  and “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” These two verses talk about reestablishing a relationship that man had with God when Adam and Eve walked with Him in the garden. Man’s sin separates him from God and that separation can only be closed by the blood of a perfect sacrifice. That sacrifice was made by the Lamb of God, His son, who came to seek and save those who were lost.

Another verse to consider is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39) This verse talks about establishing a relationship one person with another and is first stated in the Old Testament. (Leviticus 19:18) Sometimes we get caught up in things and forget about what is really important—relationships. Without a relationship with God, we really have nothing to look forward to in the life to come. Without relationships with each other, we have nothing to look forward to in this life. We gather together to worship each Lord’s Day. Let us not forget each other the other six days of the week.

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Contemporary Worship – Ron Boatwright

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

From where did the idea of “contemporary worship” come?  The purpose of contemporary worship is so everyone can have the worship they want and enjoy and not what God has authorized as acceptable. This is selfish rebelliousness. That which is called “contemporary” includes much which God has not approved and for which He has no respect.

Even in the generation following Adam and Eve, Cain offered to God “contemporary worship”. In other words Cain offered to God worship that pleased himself instead of God. Cain’s worship was contemporary for his time period. “Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:3-5). Why did the Lord have respect for Abel’s worship but not for Cain’s? “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous” (Hebrews 11:4). How did Abel offer his sacrifice by faith when Cain didn’t? “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Since Abel offered his worship by faith, that is by the word of God, his worship was accepted. Cain’s worship was rejected since it was not according to God’s word. God has always dictated to man how He is to be worshipped.

The idea that worship can be changed to suit each generation is outrageous. In every generation, worship must always be what God has approved in His word. “It is not in man that walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

Contemporary worship includes: baby dedications, worship services with denominations, women leading worship, clapping of hands, waving of arms in the air, swaying from side to side while standing, praise teams, also women in the praise teams taking part in the leading, drama groups, singing groups, mechanical instruments of music, burning candles and incense, etc.  Besides all this entertainment during worship, gymnasiums are now being added for everyone’s recreation and enjoyment after worship is over. Where is God’s authority for all of this? “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). To do “all in the name of the Lord Jesus” is to do everything by His authority. There is no authority from the Lord for many of the things done in contemporary worship.

Contemporary worship is based on what is popular and pleases people at the time and not on what God has authorized in the Bible. The various things done during contemporary worship usually have their start in the denominations and then congregations of the Lord’s blood bought church “copy cat” them, just as Israel wanted to be “like all those nations” around them (1 Samuel 8:5). Contemporary worship will usually change when something else new comes along. Contemporary worship is designed to please men rather than God.  Paul asks the question, “do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

If we want to be true worshippers of God, our worship must be in spirit and in truth. Jesus says, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). It doesn’t say, “God is Spirit and we can worship Him any way we want”. In contemporary worship people don’t seem to care if God is worshipped in spirit and in truth or not. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). Contemporary worship is a “feel good” worship mainly concerned with what me, myself, and I want, and not what God has authorized.

In contemporary worship man does what seems right to him, just as in Israel’s day when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). When people engage in worship, which God has not authorized, their worship is vain.  Jesus says, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). Contemporary worship is vain, since it is after the doctrines of men and not from God. It is another tool of Satan designed to cause people to lose their soul.

January 24, 2010

O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by kdkelly

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37) This is one of the great laments to be found in the entire Bible. The grieving Christ surveying the city of Jerusalem from afar, knowing that he had been sent to seek and save the lost, knowing that he was going to suffer for all their sins and the sin of the world, spoke these worlds over the very people he sought to save—and they would not be saved because they refused to listen. He taught them and sometimes finished his teaching with the phrase, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

As we study our Bibles and listen in our minds to words that are spoken, do we “hath ears to hear” or have we allowed ourselves to become deaf. Have the cares and temptations of the world left us unable to “hear” the one who was sent to save us. Have we allowed ourselves to become deaf to the prophets and to those who speak to us from the pulpits every Lord’s day. We know that the Lord will come for us as a thief in the night after which there shall be no more opportunities for forgiveness of sins. How terrible it will be for us to cry out, “If I had only listened.

Fortunately for us, “The Lord is not slack concerning is promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Rather than be like those who would not listen, let us all open our ears to hear. Let us be like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet to hear his words. (Luke 10:38)

Beloved, I am encouraged as I worship with you, that you are not hearers only, but doers also. I have learned much from you about how to put Christ’s message into practice and I hope I have been of some value to you too. My fervent prayer is that we shall all hear one day, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.—Ray Anderson

Conversion Part 3, A proven fact – Steven Cuffle

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Philip was directed by the Spirit of God to a chariot clambering down a deserted road. He came up next to the chariot and heard the man inside reading from the Old Testament. Beginning with the very place he was reading in the Old Testament, Philip preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul, after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, went into the city and began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even more than that, Paul proved that Jesus was the Christ of God. Both Philip and Paul used the Old Testament to teach people about Jesus and the wonderful salvation that has been offered to all mankind through him. They did not rely on new testimony to prove the Messiahship of Jesus, they relied on testimony that was hundreds of years old.

When Luke records that Paul “prov[ed] that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 9:22), he gives us an important insight into Paul’s speech. Paul took the information contained in the Old Testament and put it together so that it became impossible to honestly deny that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Passage after passage, verse after verse, Paul added argument upon argument to his preaching until there existed such a weight of evidence that no soul could honestly remove the burden. Paul took scattered fragments of prophecy, pieces of a puzzle interspersed throughout the Old Testament, and masterfully wove them together until God’s plan to save mankind was clearly seen by all.

The Old Testament is our tutor to lead us to Jesus Christ. It was put in place to teach mankind the information needed to prove Jesus as the Christ. The Old Testament is God-breathed, inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching us and making us wise unto the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Those who believe the prophets are led under God’s careful tutelage to Jesus. We must study and learn the Old Testament Scriptures so that God can teach us about Jesus. We must study through Moses and the prophets with this aim, think and praying to God as we are reading, “Show me your Son.” A proper understanding of the Old Testament will lead us to Jesus Christ and the salvation offered in him to all who believe.

There are more than 1,000 references (direct and indirect) in the New Testament to Old Testament passages. The two halves of the Bible are inextricably linked together in such a way that not understanding one makes having faith in the other very difficult. The writers of the New Testament do not call upon their readers to have blind faith in their accounts. They purposefully show, time and again, prophecy and passages that Jesus Christ fulfills. The aim of the Old Testament is not, and never was, a legal justification before God through a system of written ordinances; the end of the Old Testament was Jesus Christ, and in the New Testament the glory of the Son of God is completely revealed to mankind.

If we allow God to take us and teach through his word, the only honest conclusion, after all things are considered, is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; God has proven this fact beyond the shadow of a doubt. The Old Testament begins by talking about God speaking light into the universe (Genesis 1:3), and it ends with the promise of that light, the Sun of Righteousness, that will come with healing in its wings (Malachi 4.2). Jesus is that light. Jesus is the point. Jesus is the purpose. Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the reason. Jesus is the beginning, the end, the all in all. If we will let God guide us through his word, there is no other conclusion than Jesus Christ—it’s a proven fact.

January 17, 2010

An unstable world – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The news for Haiti this week should be more than enough to convince us that we live in an unstable world. The catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake leveled much of that impoverished nation and demonstrated the power that can be unleashed by nature on those unfortunate enough to be nearby. We remember the devastation resulting from Katrina, Gustav, Ike and the tsunami that hit Indonesia several years ago. Certainly our prayers go out to those people and the ones who are involved in the rescue and recovery effort. When you see the power of these events and their unpredictability, you have to wonder why man believes he can control nature and the weather.

It was a beautiful world when God created it and everything in it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) Adam and Eve lived in a beautiful garden with food to eat and a river to water the garden. (Genesis 2:8-10) It was a wonderful place to live. But all that changed when they sinned against God and were cast out of the garden to live far from idyllic lives. (Genesis 3:14-19).

Even so, the world itself had not changed. That did not come until the days of Noah and the flood. Man, too, had not changed. He continued to sin. In fact God saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) God said to Noah, “The end of all is come upon before me; for  the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13) One hundred and twenty years after God’s pronouncement, “the fountains of the great deep were all broken up and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:11-12) It rained when it had not rained before. It flooded when it had not flooded before. Only eight souls survived the flood. (Genesis 7:13, 1 Peter 3:20)

This is the world we live in today—the post flood world. It still floods and there are droughts. There are blizzards and there are heat waves. There are earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes. Some of these we can predict within a few hours or days, and some we cannot. Even so, it is still a wonderful world. The photograph of earth taken from space shows a beautiful blue planet with swirling white clouds. We live in a beautiful part of Arkansas, and we can see God’s handiwork all around us.

But we know it will not last. Peter wrote, “But the heavens and earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7) We just don’t know when that will happen. However, we take comfort in knowing that “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness: but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” (2 Peter 3:9-10) One thing we are able to conclude from these verses is that man is not in control. Things can and do change suddenly. I read in this morning’s newspaper that one woman had only been in the Haiti airport fifteen minutes when the earthquake hit. Her life quickly changed forever. So did the lives of all those who were living or visiting there.

But, just because such calamities befall some people, it doesn’t mean that they are more sinful than anyone else. Jesus taught as much. “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices And Jesus answering said unto them, suppose ye that the Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5) Jesus was teaching that   how much we suffer cannot be necessarily be attributed to our own sin. Just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so also great misfortune falls on those who have little sin. Our suffering is often due to the general sinfulness of man. In the days of Noah there were doubtless some who were far more sinful than others, yet all but eight perished.

It is our own sin that we need to be concerned about. This world contains many temptations that appeal to our senses and to our pride. We need to resist these every day because we don’t know when our time on this earth will end. Paul said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27 )

Let us concern ourselves with the things we can control. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ) Whether the end comes for us catastrophically or peacefully at the end of a full and productive life, we need to ensure that we will be prepared to stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in this body, whether they be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

January 10, 2010

Do the right thing – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by kdkelly

In Bro. Cuffle’s article he said, “Christianity is not about believing the right things; it is about doing the right things…” He is emphasizing that believing is not enough; you must act on your belief. But, what is the right thing to do? There was a time in Biblical history when every man did what seemed right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6). Some today would argue that there is nothing wrong with that. What is right depends on the situation. Love of our fellowman should determine the right thing to do since love is the only absolute value in life. Is this true? I don’t think so if we believe what the Bible teaches. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), let God speak for himself. Jesus said the first and great commandment is to love God. The second is to love our neighbor. Love God first, then our neighbor. How do we love God? We love him by keeping his commandments. (1 John 5:3). His commandments, as exemplified by the very life of Jesus and his teaching, will guide us to the right thing to do. Regardless of what some would say, it is not man’s nature to know how best to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23). The word of God shall guide us. (Psalm 119:105). Let’s put our trust there first.

Trench warfare – Steven Cuffle

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

There is nothing worse than thinking one thing and finding out that reality is altogether different. For hundreds of thousands of soldiers in WWI, the fanciful, boyhood vision of warfare was utterly destroyed by the reality of the trenches. All images and pretense of glory were wiped away by weeks on end in muddy pits, chlorine, mustard and phosgene gasses, and charges en masse into machine gun fire. The world learned very quickly that there was nothing lovely about war.

When you hear the word “Christian,” what images come to mind? Because we live in a country like the United States, our perceptions about what a Christian is or what a Christian does are likely to be very different than the reality experienced by first century Christians. Modern American Christianity exists in brightly lit buildings with vaulted ceilings. Finely dressed men and women sit on padded pews in air conditioned comfort. In some places you will even find rock bands, movies, musicals, theatrics, donuts and coffee, bowling alleys, flashy speakers and feel good messages. These are the modern American “boyhood visions” of Christianity.

In James 1:26-27, the Lord’s brother brings the reality of Christianity home. The word “religious” in v. 26 refers to outward signs of religious ceremony without inward devotion. This is the only time the word appears in the New Testament, and it appears to warn people that pretended piety isn’t enough. Singing without mechanical instruments, listening to a sermon, or even taking the Lord’s supper on the right day of the week are not enough to please God in and of themselves. This because, as James is emphatically telling Christians in the first century, Christianity is not a religion; it is a way of life. Christianity is not about believing the right things; it is about doing the right things because of what one believes. The reality that we must all come to accept and to live by is that Christianity is not a clean religion; it is a very dirty religion. Christianity exists in the trenches.

It exists in the trenches because Christians are locked in mortal combat with sin. Christians are those people who have been transferred out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved son (Colossians 1:13). They have made their citizenship in heaven rather than here on earth (Philippians 3:20). Because of this, the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour them (1 Peter 5:8). External rites are of little use in a battle for the people’s souls. Inward transformation must take place, and service that is offered to God must be service that is truly spiritual (John 4:24). Daily, our minds must be renewed; daily, our lives must be offered as living sacrifices to God; daily, we must think of things that are above, or else we will fall away from the God who loves us and saves us (Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:2). If we ignore the battle that rages inside us between the Spirit and the flesh, then surely we will lose the war.

Christianity exists in the trenches because it is a life of self sacrifice and service. James goes on to say that pure and undefiled religion is one that ministers other people. It serves and cares for others who are unable to care for themselves (James 1:27). What good is it if we know that someone has a need but we are unwilling to meet it (James 2:16)? A faith that refuses to help other people is a dead faith (2:17).

Christianity exists in the trenches because it exists in the world (John 17:15). Those who give themselves to God do so amidst a wicked and perverse generation, a generation that lives darkness rather than light (John 3:19). It is the job of the Christian to reach and teach the gospel of Christ to all mankind without becoming stained by the world (James 1:27). It is the job of the Christian to teach and preach because they love mankind, all of mankind, despite the hatred of reviling they receive in return.

Being a Christian is not an easy task, but the Lord did not call us to “easy.” The Lord has called us to an eternal glory which is received after a life of faithful service in the trenches.

January 3, 2010

Dare to stand – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The book of Joshua is a wonderful book from the Old Testament detailing the actions of faithful Joshua and the people of Israel as they entered into the promised land and took possession of it in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. It chronicles the conquest of cities, the dividing of the land and the hand of God in accomplishing all that he had promised that he would do.

As death approached Joshua he uttered the words that have been repeated for generations by God’s faithful as they work and worship. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

Joshua was challenging the people to choose whom they would serve because he was aware of the corrupting influence of the Canaanites and Amorites in whose land they dwelled and Israel’s history of turning back to their old ways. The first chapter of Judges gives us evidence that the Israelites did not drive those people out of the promised land as they been commanded.

At the time of Joshua the Canaanites were a morally bankrupt nation practicing every form of perversion that man could think of in the name of religion. Excavations of their cities have revealed images and figurines depicting sexual perversion, temple prostitutes of both genders, and urns containing the remains of children sacrificed to their gods, Baal and his wife Ashtoreth. It is no wonder that God through Joshua warned his chosen people to beware of them and to avoid associating with them. Lust of the eye and lust of the flesh are temptations as old as man himself and are by their very nature hard to resist. The devil has used them to corrupt man from the very beginning and continues to do so today.

Joshua’s challenge to the people to choose whom they would serve is just as relevant today. While the vast majority of us in America do not worship gods made with hands, we have made gods of our passions for the good life—and by that I mean those things that appeal to our senses. Certainly there is nothing wrong with pursuing things that make us feel good as long as they are things that do not go against the teaching and commandments of God the Father and Jesus his Son. We feel good when we gather to worship him in spirit and in truth. We feel good when we help our bothers and sisters who are sick or have some need that we can meet. We feel good when we see our children grow up to be fine ladies and gentlemen who also worship God and keep his commandments.

But how often do we see these things portrayed on television, in the movies or on the pages of advertising as something to be admired? We see just the opposite, don’t we? Parents are portrayed as being foolish and stupid. Drink this and put on that and women will fall all over you. Wear these clothes and you will be happy. What has become of us that we are willing to be so self-indulgent? What has become of us that we have become desensitized to the destruction and burying of the unborn? I guess it’s because we just don’t bury them in pots like the Canaanites and call it religion. Why have we bought off on an American dream portrayed by the ungodly which is not the American dream that many of us grew up with? I don’t have the answer to that. All I know is that America seems to be headed in a direction that I’m not willing to go.

I’m not willing to go. What way am I headed? Listen to the words of Jesus, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall for rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) His yoke is easy and his burden is light compared with the yoke and burden of sin.  He also said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” (John 14:1-4) He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). His yoke is easy and his burden is light and the way home to the Father is clear. But the way is not easy. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

As we make our New Year’s resolutions, as I know we will, let’s ask ourselves if the resolutions will serve God or do they only serve our own selfish ambition and interest. The joy we share as Christians comes from knowing that we will set our minds on the things that are above and that we do not travel life’s road alone. I take comfort in that and I know you do too. May God bless us in the new year as we choose to serve him better every day. I’ll help you as I know you’ll help me. Amen.

Dare to stand like Joshua;

Dare to say the word,

As for me and for my house,

We will serve the Lord.

C.M. Robinson