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Monday, July 2, 2012

The 3%

Our society loves talking about the percentages. We talk about the 99% compared to the 1% when it comes to wealth in our country. We talk about the percentage that the economy grew last month, or even what percentage of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is our national debt. Yet there is one percentage we don't seem to enjoy talking about; the percentage of our time that we use serving God.

Let's think about some things here. There are 365 days in a year. There are 52 weeks a year and 24 hours in a day. That means that there are 168 hours in a week, and 8,760 hours in a year. If we were to attend services every time the door was open, whether it be Bible classes or worship services, that would mean in an average week we would spend 4 hours a week at services. I realize sometimes services go over the set time limit, and that many get to services a little early and stay a couple of minutes afterward so we will say we spend 5 hours a week at services. That comes out to 2.9% of our week. I also realize that during the year there are gospel meetings that add an extra service on Monday and Tuesday night. This happens twice a year. This means that if we spend 5 hours a week at services, we spend 260 hours a year coming to church plus add the additional 4 hours for the extra Monday and Tuesday night services during gospel meetings twice a year, that brings our grand total to 264 hours a year or 3.01%.

Now to be fair, I realize that there are many who spend many more hours doing the work of the Lord. I realize that there are those who spend hour after hour conducting home Bible studies, visiting, helping around the building, studying their Bibles, and more. However, that being said, how many only do the 3% or less?

My challenge to everyone is to think outside of services. I challenge all to go to those services that take up 3% of our time per year, but I also want us to challenge ourselves to go beyond that. I want to encourage all to extend our Christianity beyond just worship services. This means living our lives in a Christian way throughout the week but also being willing to give time to further the Kingdom. If we spend an extra two hours per week in addition to worship services we would still only be spending 4.2% of our time doing things for the Lord. Surely we can find the time to serve the very Being that created us, and made salvation possible. Surely we can find the time to tell others about Him!

Let me encourage you to go beyond just the 3%!

Friday, June 29, 2012


Abraham Lincoln once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."

Dewayne Wise this week proved Lincoln true. Wise, the left fielder for the New York Yankees, was playing June 26th against the Cleveland Indians. A foul ball was hit down the left field line just into the stands in the 7th inning with 2 outs. Wise dove into the stands to catch the ball and didn't make the catch. Wise then proceeded to act like he caught the ball and ran to the dugout with his glove closed. The  umpire not knowing Wise didn't catch the ball called it an out. The umpire was fooled on this play. Human beings can be fooled but God can never be fooled.

Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 found this out the hard way. They attempted to fool God and it cost them their lives. Paul said, "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." (Galatians 6:6-8). God is not fooled. God knows how we act and what we do. We will eventually reap what we sow. There will be no fooling God.

How do we live our lives? Do we live our lives pretending to be a Christian, hoping to fool God? Do we live our lives thinking that as long as we are good people God will understand?

Remember: There is no fooling God. "God is not mocked" and on judgement day God will judge us all based upon the way we lived our lives on this earth (Revelation 20:12). We will reap what we sow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Burning Books

On June 12, 2012, author Ray Bradbury passed away. In one of the novels that he penned and published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury shows how television destroys reading literature. There are others who say that his book shows the danger of censorship. Regardless, Fahrenheit 451 shows us a society that has determined books have no value and has even made it the job of firemen to burn houses with books. The novel even points out that the Bible is included as a book with no value.

Although I hope our society never becomes a society that fails to recognize the importance of literature, our world is slowly becoming a society that fails to recognize the importance of the Bible.

Bradbury tells us in his novel that the censorship started with individuals ripping a page or a paragraph from books because the people disagreed with what was said. This continued until the value of literature was completely lost.

How many times in our society do we unwittingly do as those in Bradbury's book did and devalue the Bible?

How many times do we tell ourselves that certain sections of scripture don't apply to us?

How many times do we falsely tell ourselves that if we "rip" out or don't follow one section that it will be okay?

In Jeremiah 36:23 the Bible tells us, "As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot."

Jehoiakim cut the word of God into pieces because he didn't like what it said. Notice what God's response was in Jeremiah 36:29-30.

29 And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, 'Thus says the LORD, You have burned this scroll, saying, "Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it man and beast?" 30 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night.

God took what Jehoiakim did very seriously. Do you devalue the word of God and try to censor it? Do you try to pick and choose what you are going to obey?

I encourage all to obey the "whole counsel of God" that we have recorded for us in God's inspired word.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court

This week a lot of attention will be focused upon the Supreme Court. The court is set to make decisions on whether several issues are constitutional. They are going to decide the constitutionality of the health care law, Arizona’s immigration law, whether or not a juvenile can be sentenced to life without parole, and whether or not it is constitutional for someone to lie about military honors. Many of these cases have garnered lots of attention over the past several months as individuals have argued both sides. This week, as the court releases its decisions to these controversial cases, the rulings will be final. There will be no appeal, no do-overs; the court will have made its decision. Regardless of how you feel about these laws. the Supreme Court’s decision will be final; it is the highest court in our land.

The Bible tells us, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Revelations 20:12). As John saw his vision of Heaven, he saw that there was going to be a Day of Judgment for all. He saw that God was going to judge all by what they had done. There are several things I think would be prudent for us to notice.

1) God is the Supreme Judge. Once God makes his decision, it will be final. There will be no second chances at the final judgment, there will be no appeals. God’s decision will be final.

2) God will judge by the Supreme Law. As the United States Supreme Court decides whether or not a law is constitutional, they do so by comparing it to the law of the land. God will judge based on the Supreme Law that he has given to us, the Bible.

3) All will face the Supreme Judge. No one will escape facing God and giving account for his or her actions (Romans 14:12). This judgment will occur for everyone. We will all face death and judgment. The only question is when? And what will our judgment be? Although in many ways we can’t control when we will face death, we can control what our judgment will be by determining if our actions are “constitutional”, if our actions are following what God’s law tells us to do.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Dangers of Misinterpreting the Word of God

Mark Wolford, a Pentecostal pastor, died during a Pentecostal ritual Sunday (5/27/12) in West Virginia.  Reports tell us that 30 minutes into the service Wolford passed around a poisonous timber rattlesnake. The rattlesnake bit him on the thigh and then eventually as the situation worsened Wolford was taken to the hospital where he passed away. Interestingly enough, Wolford's father had passed away earlier in his life at a similar service from a snake bite.

Many times religious snake handlers point to Mark 16:17-18 which says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and if they drink any poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." Although this was true in the first century we no longer need or have spiritual gifts today; we have the word of God. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 tells us, "Love never ends. As for prophecies they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away." The only thing that the perfect could be referring to in the context of these verses is the word of God. Now that we have the word of God, spiritual gifts have ceased.

I believe there is a major lesson that we can learn from what happened to Wolford. Misinterpreting the word of God can be deadly. If Wolford had interpreted the word of God correctly he would have known that spiritual gifts had ceased and in all likelihood he would still be alive. If he had interpreted the word of God correctly he would have realized after his father's death that picking up snakes can be harmful. He would have known that even though Mark 16 says "it will not hurt them" it can hurt today because spiritual gifts have ceased.

If we fail to interpret the word of God correctly it can be deadly to us as well. Although depending on what is misinterpreted we may not lose our physical life. Misinterpreting the word of God can cause something much worse to happen; losing our soul.

Think about it. If we fail to interpret what the Bible says about salvation. We won't be saved. If we fail to live the Christian lives that God has shown us how to live; we won't be faithful unto death, and thus receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).

I challenge all of us to study the word of God diligently so we know how to live our lives for God. I encourage all to think about the dangers that can come spiritually from misinterpreting scripture. After all misinterpretation of scripture can prove to be deadly!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Recently Lolo Jones, an American Olympic hurdler, said that she is a virgin and that she will not have sex until she is married. Later in a tweet she said, "I am a Christian. Saving myself for marriage b/c that's what the Bible taught me to do." What an example! I don't know what Lolo Jones's religious views are. I do know that she is setting a great example and I am so thankful for that.

What Jones came out and said has generated quite a bit of attention. She has had people who have poked fun at her position and others like myself who are so thankful for it. She conducted an interview with HBO and talked about how tough this stand has been for her. At one point in the interview she said "It's just a gift I want to give my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. There's virgins out there and I want to let them know that it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than graduating from college has been to stay a virgin before marriage. I've been tempted, I've had plenty of opportunities."

The Bible tells us "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many" (Matthew 7:13). The Bible also tells us that fornication is wrong over and over in scripture (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Galatians 5:19-21). What a blessing it is that an athlete like Jones understands this and knows how important it is to follow what the Bible says, not the norms of society.

Following the Bible can be very tough. In fact, the Bible makes it clear over and over that living the Christian life won't be easy, yet will be worth it in the end. Revelation 2:10 tells us, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."

The world may view following what the Bible says as unimportant, silly, and maybe even weird. What the world thinks doesn't matter, only what God thinks! It will all be worth it in the end.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Was Cole Hamels right or wrong?

Cole Hamels, star pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, was suspended by Major League Baseball recently for throwing at rookie outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals on Sunday, May 6th. The interesting thing about this incident (at least in my opinion) is not the fact that Hamels threw at Harper, but what happened after the game. In a post-game interview on May 6th Hamels said, “I was trying to hit him, I’m not going to deny it. I’m not trying to injure the guy. They’re probably not going to like me for it, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That’s the way, and I respect it.” After Hamels admitted that he intentionally threw at Harper there has been article after article written bashing Hamels for what he did, and the fact that he admitted it. Although I don’t condone the action of throwing at Harper by Hamels, I do condone his honesty. As sports writer after sports writer has written about how stupid Hamels was for admitting that he threw at Harper, it shows how little honesty is valued in the world that we live in.

The interesting thing about the situation is that just like Hamels decided to be different and be honest. We as Christians must be different as well. 2 Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (ESV).” The Bible also tells us in Revelation 21:8, “But as for…all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (ESV).

Although I don’t condone or appreciate the example that Hamels showed by throwing at Bryce Harper, I do appreciate his willingness to be honest and the example that he showed by telling the truth. I hope that we as Christians can be the aroma of Christ and have similar strength to tell the truth.

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Honor of Mother's Day

In honor of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, here are some quotes I thought you might enjoy:

“Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world.” -Kate Douglas Wiggin

"Woman knows what man has long forgotten, that the ultimate economic and spiritual unit of any civilization is still the family”. -Clare Boothe Luce

“For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.”-William Ross Wallace

“I regard no man as poor who has a Godly mother” – Abraham Lincoln

 “Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, or kiss the place to mike well? My mother”Ann Taylor

“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” – Abraham Lincoln

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” – George Washington

25 Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:25-31).

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Things That Youth Can Accomplish

As I read through the history of the Israelites, one of the things that has always amazed me is the story of King Josiah who became King of Judah at age 8. The Bible tells us many stories of evil kings, even of King Manasseh, Josiah's father. Despite the evil ways of his father, the Bible tells us Josiah“did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left" (2 Kings 22:2). After his evil father reigned for 55 years, I find it incredible that Josiah cared enough to repair the temple. While the temple was being repaired, he found the lost Book of the Law, read it and tore his clothes when he realized they were not following the word of God. I continue to be amazed as King Josiah asked the priest to inquire of the LORD for him (2 Kings 22) and did this in a humble and penitent way. He then read the law to all the people of Judah and lead the people as he attempted to get them to follow the law. King Josiah reformed Judah at the young age of 26 (2 Kings 22:3). It is amazing the things that those who are younger can accomplish.

Here at the Elizabethtown Church of Christ, we have so many young people who are willing to lead and do the Lord’s work. I am so thankful for all the young people that we have and their willingness to lead in things like the youth service that we had this past Sunday evening. I am also so thankful for their parents and grandparents who encourage them and work with them, and our Elders who allow them opportunities to serve.

It is so important for us to train our young people to lead, as they are an important part of the church. These young people are the future Elders, Deacons, Preachers, Bible class teachers, parents, and worship leaders. The church will always need leaders in order to function in the way the church works best: God’s way that the Bible describes to us. I am thankful for the many young people that we have at Elizabethtown who are willing to step up and lead. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flying to Eternity

It was just another afternoon, the weather was beautiful, and 80 year old John Collins and his wife Helen decided to take an afternoon flight in their family’s plane. However, the flight didn’t go as planned; John Collins had a heart attack, and wife, Helen was left to fly the plane. The problem was that she didn’t have a pilot’s license. She had flown for years beside her husband; she had even taken the controls in the air before, however she eventually had to land. When Helen radioed the tower and informed them of her situation, pilot Robert Vuksanovic scrambled a plane and flew beside her as he relayed instructions to her on how to land the plane. 81 year old Helen Collins was able to successfully land the plane on the runway  by using the instructions that Vuksanovic had given.

Just as Vuksanovic relayed instructions of how to fly as he flew in a plane beside Helen Collins, God has relayed us intructions of how to fly through life through his Holy Word. The Bible gives us instructions regarding Christian living, salvation, and “all things that pertain to life and Godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). The Bible shows us exactly how to live our lives in a way where we can land our “spiritual plane” in eternity in Heaven with our God. Are we listening to the instructions from God which tells us how to land our plane?

Are we:
1) Studying the Instructions?
2) Following the Instructions?

The Bible tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Do we have that faith to trust and obey as God relays us instruction of how to land our plane in eternity with him?

Monday, April 16, 2012

3 John, Jude, Revelation

This week we will finish up our study of NT books with 3 John, Jude and Revelation.

3 John
Author: The elder (John) (1:1).
Audience: “to the beloved Gaius” (1:1).
Purpose of Book:  John writes in order to encourage Gaius, condemn Diotrephes and his behavior, and to commend Demetrius who is a good example to all.

Author: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James (1:1).”
Audience: “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: (1:1).”
Purpose of Book: Jude writes to encourage Christians to contend for the faith and not fall for the teachings of false teachers.

Author: “…he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John (Revelation 1:1).”
Audience:  “John, to the seven churches that are in Asia (Revelation 1:4).”
Purpose of Book: The purpose of the book of Revelation is to give encourage to the Christians under heavy persecution during that time period and encourage them to “be faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Testament overview on the epistles of Peter and 1 and 2 John

Epistles of Peter and John
After taking a few weeks off we continue our study of looking at overviews of NT books this week.

1 Peter
Author: Peter (1:1).
Audience: “pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1).
Purpose of Book: Peter writes to those who had been “dispersed” because of severe persecution. He writes encouraging the Christians who had been part of the dispersion and gives them encouragement to keep following Christ.

2 Peter                                                                                                                          
Author: Peter ( 1:1).
Audience: “to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ” (1:1).
Purpose of Book: The purpose of second Peter was for Peter to strengthen his fellow Christians in their faith and to warn them and have them be on guard against false teachers and to encourage them to grow (2 Peter 3:17-18).

1 John
Author: John
Audience: Believers
Purpose of Book: John writes offering certainty for faith in Christ, and gives those who believe assurance for their salvation in a time where many false religions were prevailing.

2 John
Author: John
Audience:  Elect lady and her children (1:1).
Purpose of Book:  John writes to encourage the church to walk in truth and love, and be on guard against false teachers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Freedom of Religion includes Baptism?

I apologize for not being very consistent with my blog posts the past several weeks.

The past several weeks the Elizabethtown Church of Christ in Elizabethtown, Ky has decided to take on an issue that has plagued the church here for the past several years. The Elizabethtown Church of Christ has participated in the prison ministry in Hardin County, KY as early as the 1970's and during those times baptisms were carried out when inmates requested them at the building where the congregation meets. However in 2002 the policy changed and since then inmates have not been allowed baptism when they request it. The church in Elizabethtown conducts on average around 5000 correspondence courses a year in the prisons in our area and teaches monthly classes in the local prison ministry. We have several ladies who spend all day on Monday's working to grade these courses and sometimes then come back later in the week to finish. Yet, when we have taught these inmates the gospel and given them the very thing that can truly rehabilitate their lives and they have requested to put Christ on in baptism we have been blocked from doing just that.

The church here in Elizabethtown has politely and quietly over the years talked to those who are in charge of this policy hoping to get it changed. However, nothing has changed. The past several months the church in Elizabethtown has been trying to figure out what to do, after all the eternal destination of these prisoners are at stake. The church decided to take the issue before the Hardin County Fiscal Court (sort of like the city council for Hardin County) on March 27th, 2012. Although the Fiscal Court could not change the position of the Jail on this issue we realized they have influence and that this would bring the issue to the forefront of our community. We have been blessed with several positive articles that have been placed in the paper. See links below.

We live in a state (Kentucky) that has many detention centers in it that allows prisoners to be baptized. Our question has been why not Hardin County? Why not allow prisoners to put Christ on in baptism and allow them to use religion as rehabilitation?

The things prohibited in the Kentucky Department of Corrections Policies and Procedures Manual for Religious Programs includes animal sacrifices, nudity, self-mutilation, sexual acts, etc. We can't imagine why baptism is being looked at in a similar light.

There have also been additional questions that have come to light as public attention has been brought to this subject:

Why is baptism necessary, when it wasn't to the thief on the cross? We don't know for sure the thief was never baptized before he was put on the cross, but we do know for sure that he was subject to the old law as Jesus had not yet died on the cross to kill the old law.

Will a God who is a God of grace not understand that they wanted to be baptized? The Bible never says that God would, all we know is that every conversion story in the book of Acts involved Baptism and that 1 Peter 3:21 tells us that "baptism doth also now save us". All we can go by is what is in God's holy word.

Why do prisoners deserve to have the right to be baptized? After all they committed the crime, they should suffer the consequences! Although we don't condone the actions that put prisoners into prison we feel that the Bible makes it clear that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). The Bible shows us that Christianity is about second chances. Think about the conversion of Saul in Acts 9 as Saul went from being a persecutor of Christians who stood by as Christians were stoned and even helped put them in prison to becoming a Christian through baptism. Even if we look at this from a worldly view, doesn't it make sense to try to give prisoners the teaching and ability to carry out the teaching in order that they can be rehabilitated and changed  instead of going out again after they are released and committing another crime and costing the tax payers more money? Prisoners being allowed baptism benefits all parties.

By allowing baptism are we not just allowing prisoners an excuse to get out of their cell? Although we cannot judge the intentions of the prisoners as only God can. We don't allow just any inmate to be baptized. As this is a serious commitment we do our best to ensure that inmates have studied through our correspondence course or some other means and understand the seriousness of baptism! In addition there are many prisons throughout the state who allow the baptisms to occur in their facilities where the prisoners never even have to leave.

Shouldn't they have found religion before they committed the crime? Many times the first time that prisoners have been exposed to the gospel or have stopped and taken the time to think about religion is after they have become incarcerated.

We have been so thankful for the opportunities that we have had to teach, we just want to be able to carry out the instruction in scripture on how to be saved. We have been encouraging those in Hardin County, KY to let their elected officials know how they feel about this issue. We hope that you will keep us in your prayers as we try our best to allow God's teachings about salvation to be carried out to these inmates!

Mark 16:16 "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

1 Peter 3:21 "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"

Romans 6:4 "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Week in History: John Wooden Wins 10th National Title

March 31st, 1975, UCLA led by legendary head coach John Wooden defeats Kentucky to wins Wooden's 10th National Championship. Wooden would then retire following the game. It is amazing as a sports fan to look back and realize the only times that Wooden failed to win the National Championship from 1964-1975 was '66 and '74. It is a feat that in all probability will never be done again. When I think of John Wooden I think of success. He worked hard, payed attention to detail, and followed his Pyramid of Success to accomplish his goals.

As I think about Christianity, I realize that we have to work hard, pay attention to the details of our life, and follow the Bible, in order to be successful in life. If we can do that then we can be more successful than John Wooden was from 1964-75, we can receive a reward that is better than a national championship. We can receive the reward of eternity in Heaven.

Are you working towards that reward?

Hebrews 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

James 1:12: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Titus through James

Titus through James
As we continue to look at the books of the New Testament, this week we will think about Titus through James.
Author: Paul  (1:1).
Audience:  “to Titus” (1:4).
Purpose of Book: Paul writes this letter to Titus to help and encourage him in his ministry to Crete. Paul gives him instruction such as to preach sound doctrine, and what the qualifications of elders are.

Author: Paul, and Timothy ( 1:1).
Audience: Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church that met in their house. (1:2).
Purpose of Book: The purpose of this book is to write concerning Onesimus, who was a runaway slave of Philemon that had become a child of God. Paul is writing to ask them to take him back as a brother in Christ and not a slave. Paul is also making sure that he would not be punished for running away.

Author: Unknown, the only thing we do know is that it is not Paul because Paul signs his name to letters (2 Thessalonians 3:17).
Audience: Hebrews
Purpose of Book: The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews telling the Hebrews to stop acting like Hebrews and instead to follow Christ, as his way is better than the way of the old law.

Author: James (1:1), the brother of Jesus and Elder of the church in Jerusalem.
Audience: It was written to the 12 tribes scattered abroad (1:1).
Purpose of Book: James writes this book to encourage, and instruct Christian in order that they might live their lives by faith. James is extremely practical in the way he writes his book, and many times the book is referred to as a book of Christian living.

Blog Review: Calico Joe by John Grisham

John Grisham can write in a way in which he can make me open a book and keep me from putting the book down! He didn't disappoint in his latest book Calico Joe! I opened the book one afternoon and was finished several hours later! Grisham takes the story of Ray Chapman (one of only two men to die as the result of an injury achieved during a MLB game) and Carl Mays, two men who were born in the state of Kentucky and fictionalizes it from the perspective of a young boy whose father killed another player with a beanball! This is a must read for all baseball fans, and Grisham fans! It is a great story that gives a great start to baseball in 2012.

Calico Joe by John Grisham
Published by Doubleday
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
ISBN-10: 0385536070
ISBN-13: 978-0385536073
At the request of Doubleday, an ARC TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This Week in History: Einstein was Born

On March 14th, 1879, aka 133 years ago this week, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. Einstein was known for his brilliance. After all his brilliance gave our world contributions to science such as the theories of special and general relativity, and quantum theory. He even won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

When we think of Albert Einstein today we think of a man who was a genius. He was smarter then anyone else in his time. In the Bible we find a individual who is said to be brilliant as  well. In 1 Kings 4 the Bible tells us that Solomon was wiser than all other men during his time. I would take an educated guess and say that behind Jesus, Solomon was the wisest man to ever walk this earth.

"And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations...And people of all nations came to hear the widom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom (1 Kings 4:29-34)."

The most interesting thing about King Solomon is with all the wisdom that God gave him, he tried to live life with worldly priorities until he realized it didn't work. In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon tells us that life is vanity without God as its priority. He ends his book by saying "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)." Solomon is making the point that the only thing that matters in life is whether or not you have served God.

When we think of a brilliant man we think of men like Einstein who have made wonderful contributions to our earth. However true brilliance comes from someone who recognizes the importance of following God, and then follows him! Are you following God?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Letters to those at Thessalonica and Timothy.

As we continue to look at the books of the New Testament, this week we will ponder first and second Thessalonians, and the first and second letters to Timothy.

1 Thessalonians
Author: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy (1:1).
Audience: “to the church of the Thessalonians” (1:).
Purpose of Book: The purpose of the first letter to those at Thessalonica is three-fold. First, Paul expresses his thankfulness to God for their faith, hope, and love. Second, Paul looks to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians in their faith in the face of persecution. Last, Paul looks to try to supply what was lacking in the faith of some who were new converts in Thessalonica.

2 Thessalonians                                                                                                           
Author: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy ( 1:1).
Audience: “to the church of the Thessalonians” (Ephesians 1:1).
Purpose of Book: In Paul’s second letter to those at Thessalonica he continues to encourage them and commend them on being faithful through persecution. Secondly he makes clear and gives instruction concerning judgment day. Last, he warns them of those who are walking in idleness.

1 Timothy
Author: Paul (1:1).
Audience: Timothy (1:2)
Purpose of Book: Paul writes to encourage Timothy to beware of those teaching false doctrines, to instruct Timothy in regard to the organization and work of the church, and gives instruction and encouragement to Timothy in regard to his ministry.

2 Timothy
Author: Paul (1:1).
Audience: Timothy (1:2).
Purpose of Book: Paul writes this second letter to Timothy as Paul is about to pass away. Paul encourages Timothy to come visit him soon, but also encourages him to guard and preach the true word of God that has been entrusted to him.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Galatians thru Colossians

Several weeks ago I started an article series on the books of the Bible. We took a pause from this study last week but we will continue with the next four books of the New Testament this week as we look at Galatians thru Colossians.

Author: Paul, the apostle (Galatians 1:1).
Audience: The churches in Galatia (1:2).
Purpose of Book: The purpose of the book of Galatians is to defend Paul’s apostleship that had been called into question, and then to urge those in Galatia to adhere to the word of God and not turn to a different gospel, instead to live by faith.

Author: Paul, the apostle (Ephesians 1:1).
Audience: The faithful saints in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1).
Purpose of Book: The purpose of the book of Ephesians is to fortify and strengthen those who are already believers in Christ. Paul hits on things such as unity, the importance of the church, and Christian living.

Author: Paul, and Timothy (Philippians 1:1).
Audience: Saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi along with the elders and deacons there (Philippians 1:1).
Purpose of Book: Paul writes to acknowledge the gift that the church at Philippi had sent him, to report on his circumstances in prison, and writes to the church about the joy of being a Christian.

Author: Paul, the apostle, and Timothy (Colossians 1:1).
Audience: Saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae (Colossians 1:2).
Purpose of Book: Paul uses the book to show the sufficiency of Christ in meeting our needs, addresses several aspects of Christian living while addressing some of the false doctrines that had crept into the lives of the Christians there.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Week in History: Washington Monument and a Christian Application

I can remember when I was a young teenager going on a family vacation to Washington D.C. I was amazed by the towering Washington Monument. I can remember that it towers at the top of the D.C. skyline. As a child I was disappointed that it was closed for remodeling as I would have loved the opportunity to go to the top. The Washington Monument is an amazing structure constructed for an amazing man who did so much for our country. Have you ever wondered about the history behind the monument, or wondered why they decided to make a monument for Washington?

It was in 1783 (yes, even before Washington was president) that the structure was first proposed and when the city of Washington D.C. was designed the designer even left room for the structure. George Washington died in 1799 and they discussed a memorial at that time for him but once again never actually put one in motion. In 1832 at the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Washington they finally decided to build him his monument. Robert Mills, an architect, was chosen for the project and he came up with an Egyptian Obelisk design. On July 4th, 1848 the cornerstone was finally laid. The construction of this monument was held up by politics in the 1850's however, and then by the Civil War in the 1860's. At last in 1876 Congress finally passed legislation that would allow the monument to be finished. On this week in history in the year 1885 the Washington Monument was finally dedicated. The monument was the tallest structure in the world when completed and although it is no longer the tallest structure in the world remains the tallest structure completely built out of stone.

When great men do great things our society honors them for this. We build monuments, statues, make holidays,name streets, buildings, and cities after those who do great things for our society. We show how thankful we are for their service. The greatest man who ever walked this earth was Jesus Christ. No man has done more for mankind. After all it is through Jesus that we can have salvation. How do we show our thankfulness to Christ? I would suggest that the best way to show your thankfulness to Christ would be to give your life to him and live for him everyday through what the Bible tells us to do. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." The kind of worship that the Bible is talking about here is the latreo kind. This kind of worship talks about a worship that serves. This is a worship that must be lived out. Are you living your life as a "monument" to Christ. If not why not start today?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Acts, and letters to the Romans and Corinthians

Last week I started an article series on the books of the Bible. I hope that it was beneficial to your study and will continue to be as we look at the next four books in the New Testament.


Author: Luke, the Physician (Luke was probably the only non-Jewish writer in NT, and also wrote the gospel of Luke).

Audience:  Theophilus (Acts 1:1); In all probability he was also writing to the Gentile believers.

Purpose of Book: The purpose of the book of Acts is to continue where Luke left off in his gospel (Acts 1:1-3). The book goes on and tells about the church and how it will function after Jesus ascended. In many ways the books serves as a link between the gospels and the epistles.


Author: Paul, the apostle (Romans 1:1), and Tertius was used to transcribe his words (Romans 16:22).

Audience: Those in Rome

Purpose of Book: To show that salvation is offered through the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17).

1 Corinthians:

Author: Paul, the apostle  and Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 1:1).

Audience: Church of God in Corinth, and to those sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2).

Purpose of Book: The apostle Paul had founded the church at Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18). Since that time the church at Corinth had become involved in things that no Christian should be involved in and had several questions about what they were supposed to do as Christians. Paul is sending this letter to try to help them get back on track, answer their questions, and put Christ back as their focus.

2 Corinthians:

Author: Paul, the apostle, and Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:1).

Audience: Church of God at Corinth, all Christian in the whole of Achaia (2 Corinthians 1:1b).

Purpose of Book: In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses the letter to expresses his relief that the Corinthians had received his letter in the manner that he wanted them to. He then goes on to address some issues that were tearing the church apart, such as false apostles and teachers and defends his own work.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Week in History: Valentines Day and Spirituality

Editor's Note: This will be a new feature of the blog. I will have a weekly historical item that happened this week in history with a Christian application!

History tells us that on February 14th, 278 A.D. a priest by the name of Valentine was executed. Emperor Claudius II was in charge of Rome at the time and had decided that marriage and engagements were hurting the military might of Rome. Claudius believed that the love that the men who would have been joining his military had for their significant other, was causing them to refrain from becoming a soldier. As a result Claudius banned ALL marriages and engagements. Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret as he believed that an injustice was being done by the Emperor Claudius. Claudius found out about it and that became the death of the man, Valentine, and later would become the start of what we call Valentine's Day. The Catholic Church made Valentine a "saint" after his death, and in approximately 496 AD Pope Gelasius declared that Valentine's Day be celebrated every February 14th.

Today, Valentine's Day is known as a holiday of relationships. It is a holiday in which we are supposed to show how much we care about those in which we love! It seems significant to me that we celebrate a man who stood up for the love and relationships that those in Rome had for one another. It brings the thought to my mind of whether we would be willing to stand up for our love and relationship to our God! I wonder whether we will have the same conviction to do what is right as Valentine did. John, the apostle of love said in his book, "This is love for God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)." I hope that this Valentine's Day you will evaluate your love in the relationship that is most important, the relationship that we have with God. I hope that you will look and see if you are keeping his commandments in your life, and choose to live your life in a way that shows your love for God. Now you know a spiritual application that you can think about on Valentine's day. I hope that your relationship with God is a match made in Heaven which is accomplished by doing what God in Heaven has directed.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phillipians 4:8)."

Love is not merely a feeling. "Being in love" moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep it. - CS Lewis

Note: I don't condone the religious beliefs that Valentine held nor of the Catholic Church, however I do condone his stand for things that are just!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Gospels of Christ

I believe that it is extremely important to know what is in the word of God. It is helpful in Bible study to have an idea of the background of the books of the Bible. For the next several weeks my goal is to do a string of articles giving a quick overview of the books of the Bible. This week we will start with the gospels. I hope that these will be useful to you in your personal Bible study.

The Gospel according to Matthew
Author: Matthew aka Levi, the tax collector and apostle.
Audience: Jews  
Purpose of Book: To show that the Old Testament has been fulfilled; Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews.

The Gospel according to Mark
Author: Mark, aka John Mark. This is the same John Mark who went on the 1st missionary journey with Paul and dropped out.
Audience: Romans
Purpose of Book: To show Jesus as the suffering servant, to call the readers to action.

The Gospel according to Luke
Author: Luke, the Physician (He wrote his book in chronological order, and was probably the only non-Jewish writer in NT).
Audience: Theophilus (Luke 1:3), Greeks
Purpose of Book: To show that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

The Gospel according to John
Author: John, the Fisherman, apostle and brother of James, the apostle. John wrote 5 books in New Testament.
Audience: Gentile Christians
Purpose of Book: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).”