Monday, September 30, 2013


[As we face the current budget crisis in Washington, these words are more needed than when I posted them a year ago.]

“There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen. Some were saying, ‘We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.’ Others were saying, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.’ Still others were saying, ‘We have borrowed money to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards.

We and our children are [just] like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.’

I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints.” (Nehemiah 5:1-6 HCSB)

Perhaps you’ve heard this definition, “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours.”

Money talks, and mine usually says, “Goodbye!”

Businesses are struggling, property values have fallen, houses are “under water,” unemployment is high, inflation is creeping in, and I could go on with the misery index. The gravest peril, however, is that our nation is drowning in red ink—owing more than 16 trillion dollars. That is a mind-boggling amount. Serious people say that we are on the edge of a fiscal cliff. If America’s financial system fails, we will experience a global meltdown that is unprecedented in scope. There is a lot of hot air in Washington, but no backbone, it seems, to deal with the crisis.

As we continue in our reading in Nehemiah, we come to chapter five. There we see the kind of leadership needed to rescue us from drowning in red ink.

Let’s understand THE PERIL.

Their economic evils were brought on by UNBRIDLED GREED.

“There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen. Some were saying, ‘We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.’ Others were saying, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.’” (Neh.5:1-3)

Do you see the peril God’s people faced? During the days of the effort to rebuild Jerusalem, economic disaster loomed on the horizon. Nehemiah would have to provide strong leadership through this dangerous time.

The outcry of the laborers resulted from their unjust treatment, brought on by unbridled greed. Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll calls this a strike by laborers who had been working on the wall. While they didn’t picket, they did create problems.

Perhaps we think that labor problems are something relatively new. They are not. They are caused by greed--the greed of management that doesn't care for the employees concerns, such as we see in this text, and the greed of workers who want a bigger slice of the pie than they deserve.

Yet, the Scripture enjoins that laborers be dealt with justly and compassionately and that laborers work submissively and eagerly. Numerous passages could be cited, such as Colossians 3:22-4:1.

Think about the transformation that would occur in the workplace, if these principles were placed in effect. The increase of productivity would create such a tide of prosperity that would drive down the deficit and lift all aspects of the economy. Workers who do their job at peak efficiency, not just when the boss is watching, but as a service to God and employers who pay as much as they can, instead of as little as they can, who create good work conditions, and provide benefits to the greatest degree possible will fuel an economic powerhouse. That’s the way to run a business.

We like to think of America as being a free nation. But today we are in bondage to foreign governments who help keep our economy afloat by funding massive debt. We are the largest debtor nation in the world.

Israel, during Nehemiah’s time, was also in trouble because of UNLIMITED CREDIT.

“Others were saying, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.’” (Neh.5:3)

Simply put, these were in debt over their heads. They had borrowed beyond their ability to repay. That is a recipe for disaster.

Did you know that many commit financial suicide with the edge of a credit card? Easy credit will ruin you. An escalating cycle of debt inevitably marches one toward the day of reckoning. What is true of a family will also be true of a nation. The day of reckoning may be postponed delayed because of the abundant resources of our nation, but eventually there will be a day of reckoning.

The federal government is spending money like there is no tomorrow. If we keep it up, there will be no tomorrow! We have loaned billions to other countries that have neither the means not intention to ever pay it back. Entitlements are growing at break neck speed. The national debt is like a hungry monster gobbling up all the capital that might have been used for investment. Washington, DC is a black hole where trillions of dollars disappear.

If we could travel back through time and interview the Founding Fathers--those brave souls who were willing by blood, sweat and tears to liberate a nation from tyranny, who spent their financial resources to establish America, what would they say about what we have allowed America to become? Could they believe we would permit such domination and intrusion of the federal government today?

Many times we feel helpless to change the course of our country—it seems so out of hand. But, we must try.

Let me suggest a place to start. Get your own financial house in order. Stop borrowing money. Perform plastic surgery and get rid of the credit cards, if necessary. Begin to work to get out of debt. Make a budget and stay on it.

How many people are hindered in God’s service because of debt? For instance, say there is a young couple who believes they are being led to go to the mission field, but they owe so much money they can’t afford to go. Here is a middle aged couple who know they should be tithing and giving to the Lord’s work, and yet they owe so much and the financial strain is so great that their giving is paltry.

Let us be wise stewards of the money God has permitted us to have. Then let us demand such stewardship from our elected officials. When fundamental financial principles are violated, no amount of money manipulation by the Federal Reserve or political programs from the President will solve the economic misery that results. The only answer is to return to sound fiscal policies.

The Jews of Nehemiah’s day were suffering a monetary malady brought on by unbridled greed and unlimited credit. There was also the problem of UNUSED RESOURCES

“Some were saying, ‘We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.’ Others were saying, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.’ Still others were saying, ‘We have borrowed money to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards.

We and our children are [just] like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.’” (Neh.5:2-5)

People were having to borrow to eat because others owned the land. Today foreign investors are gobbling up chunks of America. They are buying industry and property. One day we are going to wake up and find that we have signed the title deed to America over to foreign domination.

This chapter speaks of how the children were in bondage because of the economic conditions. We are shackling our children with such massive debt so as to enslave an entire generation to come. What we are doing to our children and grandchildren is criminal!

There was famine in the land, but it was because of violation of God’s principles—not because of “global warming.” Thus, the people had come under judgment. If you read your Bible carefully, you will discover that drought and famine indicate God’s judgment on a nation. Last summer, America’s heartland baked under the heat. Food prices are bound to reflect this come winter. Just another year like that—and famine could come to America.

As we look around the world and television brings us horrific pictures of starving multitudes, and we ask ourselves, “Why?” The so-called experts today warn us of the population bomb, that unchecked control of the population is the reason for poverty and starvation. These famines are but harbingers of worse to come if we don’t control the population, they say. The world’s resources are running out, we are told.

This is nonsense. The problem is not overpopulation. You should go on YouTube and search for the clip, “Demographic Winter” and you will see that declining birthrates in the West threaten civilization.

The real problem is a rejection of God’s truth. For example, we are often confronted with the starving masses in India as a need for population control and redistribution of wealth. Yet India grows enough grain to feed its people. The problem is a false religion that believes mice should not be killed, for it could be the reincarnation of your mother-in-law, so the mice eat enough grain to feed the people. Sacred cows wander the streets. Those cows could be slaughtered to feed the hungry, except the heifer might be grandma. Sin is the reason that people starve.

Then, another folly was UNFAIR TAXES.

“Still others were saying, ‘We have borrowed money to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards.’” (Neh.5:4)

Taxation is not a new problem. When Israel decided they no longer wanted to be a theocracy, with God as King, but desired to be a monarchy like other nations, they were warned of the heavy burden of taxation the king would place upon them. We see such monetary misery in Nehemiah’s time.

Their burden of taxation was so great they were having to mortgage their property just to pay their taxes. That is unfair, and that is what we can say about the tax system of the United States. We are taxed at ridiculous levels. If an individual did what the government does they would be arrested. We call it stealing—taking that which doesn’t belong to you. Each year the local, state and federal governments confiscate the hard-earned dollars of the American worker at excessive levels and give it to many who will not get off their back-sides and work, as well as fund a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy, where we hear of news reports about extravagance and waste funded by tax dollars.

Our Declaration of Independence relates the causes of the colonists’ decision to separate from England. It states how King George (and here’s a direct quote), “has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent swarms of officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

How ironic that this is what the federal government is doing today. It seems King George now sits in the White House.

Can you imagine our Founding Fathers tolerating such? Don’t you remember the Boston Tea Party? A number of people have decided they will form a modern, “Tea Party” and I am part of that. I love my kids and grandchildren too much, and I appreciate this nation too much, to just go quietly in the night.

If America is going to survive, wasteful spending must be checked and tax rates cut so that the productive members of society have the money to keep the economy moving. We hear a lot of talk about taxing millionaires and billionaires, when the tax hikes planned will cripple small business, and bring down the economy.

From the peril we turn to THE PROVISION. There is a provision from God to meet our economic peril. Scripture tells us here how Nehemiah was able to lead his people out of their monetary miseries.

His solution, first of all, involved ANGER.

“I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. After seriously considering the matter, I accused the nobles and officials, saying to them, ‘Each of you is charging his countrymen interest.’ So I called a large assembly against them and said, ‘We have done our best to buy back our Jewish countrymen who were sold to foreigners, but now you sell your own countrymen, and we have to buy them back.’ They remained silent and could not say a word.” (Neh.5:6-8)

Nehemiah got hot! There is a proper time for anger, channeled in a productive way. Listen friend, this country we love is about to drown in red ink. You have a government that is bleeding us to death. Our leaders are enslaving our children and grandchildren. They are causing America to be sold off piece by piece to foreigners.

The Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin.” Anger can be sinful. It is sinful, when it is selfish. But anger towards injustice and iniquity is needful.

There came a day when Jesus Christ came into the Temple. There He saw the greedy leaders had turned His Father’s House into a house of merchandise. He saw this as an affront to God. The Lord also saw how this was an impediment for those who wanted to know God, so he turned over the moneychangers’ tables and took a whip and drove them out. Jesus was angry, but without sin.

Nehemiah called a great assembly against the leaders. I am calling for such an uprising--not with bullets but ballots. We have that privilege and responsibility. It is our patriotic duty to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. As long as we are apathetic, we will do nothing.

Nehemiah was just one man, but he made a difference. You can too, if you are willing to take a courageous stand. Nehemiah was a government leader as a man of God. That’s the kind of folks we need in office.

Nehemiah not only got angry, but he made an APPEAL.

“Then I said, "What you are doing isn't right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God [and not invite] the reproach of our foreign enemies?” (Neh.5:9)

Nehemiah appealed to them, by reminding them, that they must one day answer to God. That is a reminder the politicians need. There is a higher court than their constituents that they will stand before. The way of opinion polls may make for re-election, but principles make for sound governance. It is the difference between a democracy, where the majority rules and a republic, where principles rule. We are in danger of becoming the former, when we were established to be the latter.

Nehemiah also appealed to them to get their act together because of their enemies. There were enemies then--there are enemies today. As long as America exists, she will have enemies. There will always be those waiting and ready to prey upon us in a time of weakness.

If the economy of a nation deteriorates, its ability to defend itself will weaken, likewise. Bullets and bombs won’t save us. Should an economic disaster befall America today, on the scale of the Great Depression, can you imagine the civil strife and chaos in our cities? In the 1920’s, we had a populace that by and large was industrious and ethical. They were able to help each other and get through those desperate days. Those used to living off the government today would rise in armed rebellion, loot and burn and pillage and plunder if their entitlements were shut off. This nightmare scenario is on the verge of unfolding.

Anarchy would spread like a plague. The chaos would be so great there would be a call for military intervention, and likely out of that climate a dictator would arise with a desperate people subjugating themselves willingly under his iron grip. In fact, executive orders have been recently signed by the President to seize power in such a crisis. Our military has recently had training exercises in some of our cities. Preparations have been made for this.

That’s what happened in Germany. I have been reading about it in Churchill’s, “Memoirs of the Second World War.” It sounds like reading today’s newspapers as we head toward World War III.

After the first World War, Germany was bankrupt and the currency worthless. Enter Hitler, a charismatic leader who promises Germany will be reborn. You know how that worked out. Don’t say it couldn’t happen here. Those Germans were educated, sophisticated and yet in their plight were willing to believe the lie.

Nehemiah called upon the people to ADOPT sound economic principles.

“’Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop charging this interest.

Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage of the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil that you have been assessing them.’

They responded: ‘We will return [these things] and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say.’

So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this.

I also shook the folds of my robe and said, ‘May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn't keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!’

The whole assembly said, ‘Amen,’ and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.” (Neh.5:10-13)

Nehemiah was going to hold the feet of the politicians to the fire. He said, ‘You do the right thing or you’re out of here!’

Nehemiah not only demanded statesmanship, he demonstrated it. He set an example of sacrifice:

“Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah—from the twentieth year until his thirty-second year, 12 years—I and my associates never ate from the food allotted to the governor.” (Neh.5:14)

Nehemiah was an example of service. We need such a spirit in our day. What we don’t need are leaders living as princes, while they make the people into paupers.

Monday, September 23, 2013

THE SHEPHERD’S STANDARD: The Communication of Truth

“A bishop then must be…able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

If I shepherd is to feed the flock of God from the Word, he must comprehend the message himself and be capable of communicating its truth with clarity.

“A pastor must be a careful student of the Word of God, and of all that assists him in knowing and teaching that Word.  The pastor who is lazy in his study is a disgrace in the pulpit.”[1]

We cannot dispense what we do not possess.  It is impossible to lead someone to green pastures unless we have fed there ourselves.

If we do not have the passion to prepare and the competence to communicate—and we must have both—then we have no business mounting the pulpit!

“The preaching and teaching of God’s Word is the overseer/pastor/elder’s primary duty (4:6, 11, 13; 5:17; 2Ti 2:15, 24; Tit 2:1).”[2]

John Calvin underscores this:

It is not enough to have profound learning, if it be not accompanied by talent for teaching.  There are many who, either because their utterance is defective, or because they have not good mental abilities, or because they do not employ that familiar language which is adapted to the common people, keep within their own minds the knowledge which they possess.[3]

The preacher immerses himself in study, saturates his mind with Scripture, thoughtfully crafts his sermon, and makes an application to the congregant when he proclaims it.  The truth is not presented as information only—not stopping with inspiration either—but aims at transformation!


God of Truth,
Your Word is Truth.  It is the Light we need in this dark world.  We need not “make it relevant” for the truth is unchanging, and being eternal, it is never outdated.  Help Your preachers to be diligent students, disciplined speakers and devoted servants of Your church.
In The Name of the Incarnate Word,

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (p. 79). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


[Too often we are guilty of "stinkin' thinkin'" that gets us into trouble.  With that in mind, I repost this from last year--somebody needs to read it--and stop and THINK!]

“The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways.’” (Haggai 1:7 HCSB)

The old fellow was often found sitting in a wooden chair on the porch of the general store. His skin was plowed with furrows as deep as the spring fields, his hands weathered as his bib overalls. Jim had been a sharecropper in Alabama and was now a fixture in town. One day, a boy who regularly came with his Mom, to help carry her purchases from the store, let his curiosity get the better of him. He asked, “Excuse me sir, but what do you do here every day?” Old Jim, leaned near the rail, let go a brown stream of tobacco juice, and turned to the lad with these words, “Well, sometimes I sits and thinks…and sometimes, I just sits.”

Can we plead guilty to the latter much more than the former? How much real thinking do we do? I am concerned that we don’t seriously think very often, for precisely that reason—it is serious business. Of that serious business, the most deliberate and deepest thinking should be thinking about God.

Someone has said that we are “amusing ourselves to death.” That seems on target. Our time is spent on thoughts that are trivial, absorbed with the vacuous nature of the temporal to the exclusion of the eternal. Our faces take on the demeanor of Alfred E. Neuman, the icon of Mad Magazine, “What, me worry?”

Yet, the quality of our thinking in terms of the subjects we contemplate and the quantity of our thoughts about such profound considerations shape us. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Think on things that are worth thinking about. Sit and think…don’t just sit.

It is the challenge issued to the Jews by the Lord through His prophet Haggai. Twice in the span of a few verses of chapter one, we hear God underscore the need to, “think carefully” (1:5, 7) and then twice in chapter two He calls His people to, “Consider carefully” (2:18). In this brief book, the Lord lets loose a barrage of nine questions to stimulate their thoughts.

What were they to carefully contemplate? These are subjects for us to consider also.


“In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

‘The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.’

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?’ Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways:

You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to become drunk. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner [puts his] wages into a bag with a hole in it.’ The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord.

‘You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought [the harvest] to your house, I ruined it. Why?’ [This is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. ‘Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.

So on your account, the skies have withheld the dew and the land its crops.

I have summoned a drought on the fields and the hills, on the grain, new wine, olive oil,
and whatever the ground yields, on man and beast, and on all that your hands produce.’” (1:1-11)

Carefully consider your priorities.

There is nothing wrong with making a living, but it should not be interpreted as the same thing as making a life. Providing for our household is commendable, but to do so while neglecting the house of God is condemnable. Jesus set the priorities of the eternal and material in their proper order, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33) When we concentrate on the material then our minds will be gripped with anxiety and insecurity. Those were the misplaced priorities in the skewed thinking of the Israelis of Haggai’s congregation.


“Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord.

Haggai, the Lord's messenger, delivered the Lord's message to the people, ‘I am with you’--[this is] the Lord's declaration.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.” (1:12-15)

Carefully consider your purpose.

God has placed us here to glorify Him (1:8). This is our great purpose. The Westminster Catechism puts it this way, “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This is to be our consuming passion.

How do we do that? Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8). It is about producing fruitful works that are of eternal quality—and not doing it grudgingly but gladly. It is in the context of abiding in a love relationship with Christ and His joy abiding in us that this is done.

“As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.

If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11)

This understanding stirred the souls of the Jews and stimulated their activity. The proper attitude of reverence toward God led to the proper action of service to God. They were abiding in Him. God says, “I am with you.” (Haggai 1:13)


“On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: ‘Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and to the remnant of the people: Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn't it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel’-[this is] the Lord's declaration. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land’--[this is] the Lord's declaration. ‘Work! For I am with you’--the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

‘[This is] the promise I made to you when you came out of Egypt, and My Spirit is present among you; don't be afraid.’ For the Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Once more, in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations so that the treasures of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of Hosts. ‘The silver and gold belong to Me’--[this is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

‘The final glory of this house will be greater than the first,’ says the Lord of Hosts. ‘I will provide peace in this place’--[this is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.” (2:1-9)

Carefully consider your promises.

God never asks us to do something without providing the resources to accomplish our task. His aim is not to use us up like something expendable and then throw us away, but to use us to exchange what we do in the temporal sphere for that which is of eternal worth. We can exchange the coin of earth for the currency of eternity!

Let this world be shaken! The people of God are promised an unshakable kingdom! God shakes the things of this world—sifts out the dirt so only the valuable remains. It is the promise of stability.

Not only is there the promise of stability, there is the promise of strength. Three times God exhorts believers in these verses to, “be strong.” (2:4). Whatever the circumstances, we have the indwelling presence of God that drives out all our fear (2:4-5).


On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth [month], in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet: ‘This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Ask the priests for a ruling.

If a man is carrying consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does it become holy?’ The priests answered, ‘No.’

Then Haggai asked, ‘If someone defiled by [contact with] a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled?’ The priests answered, ‘It becomes defiled.’

Then Haggai replied, ‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me’--[this is] the Lord's declaration. ‘And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled.

Now, reflect back from this day: Before one stone was placed on another in the Lord's temple, what state were you in? When someone came to a [grain] heap of 20 measures, it [only] amounted to 10; when one came to the winepress to dip 50 measures from the vat, it [only] amounted to 20. I struck you--all the work of your hands-with blight, mildew, and hail, but you didn't turn to Me’--[this is] the Lord's declaration. ‘Consider carefully from this day forward; from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid; consider it carefully.

Is there still seed left in the granary? The vine, the fig, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yet produced. But from this day on I will bless you.’

The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: ‘Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah: I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and destroy the power of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overturn chariots and their riders. Horses and their riders will fall, each by his brother's sword. On that day’--[this is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts—‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, My servant’--[this is] the Lord's declaration—‘and make you like My signet ring, for I have chosen you.’ [This is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.” (Haggai 2:10-23)

Carefully consider your position.

God chose Israel to be His holy people. They were to be a witness to the nations. Impurity would damage the credibility of their claims. Hands defiled by sin could not offer a pure sacrifice—they contaminated what they touched.

Yet, God’s intent was to bless them. When He sifted everything, all that would remain would be that which was of eternal value.

Think about it! What a difference it will make!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


“A bishop then must be…able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

As observed in these studies, most of the qualifications for the pastor listed here deal with character.  This one, however, stresses competence.  The pastor is supremely a man of the Word, and has an ability to teach it.  If we are not capable communicators, we may lead in other areas of ministry, but the office of pastor would not be one of them.

Alford says: “not merely given to teaching, but able and skilled in it.  All might teach to whom the Spirit imparted the gift: but skill in teaching was the especial office of the minister on whom would fall the ordinary duty of instruction of believers and refutation of gainsayers.”  Expositors says: “didaktikon (διδακτικον), as a moral quality would involve not merely the ability, but also the willingness to teach, such as ought to characterize a servant of the Lord (II Tim. 2:24). [1]

So, the pastor is not just tolerable, but skillful in preaching.  He is noted for it.  Although he is a pastor—and that involves a host of responsibilities, many will refer to him as, “the preacher” because he will be associated with this vital role and will exhibit a mastery of his craft.

According to the meaning of the word, he likewise has a passion for preaching.  It does not come across as a duty to be grudgingly fulfilled, but a privilege and delight to stand and proclaim the treasure of truth!

Of course, a passion for preaching requires a passion for preparation—all the prayer, study of the text and the application of homiletics (the art and skill of preaching) that he can muster.  This must be done week after week—and sometimes multiple times each week.  If that fire is not in a man’s bones, then it will be evident in the pulpit—and he should resign as soon as possible.  Such is not qualified to be a pastor.

Old Matthew Henry said of a pastor that he is, “ready to take all opportunities of giving instructions, who is himself well instructed in the things of the kingdom of heaven, and is communicative of what he knows to others.”[2]


Father of Light,
Jesus is Your only Begotten Son—and You made Him a preacher!  What grace is this that You would permit us to wear that title!  Keep a fire burning in our bones to preach the Word!
In The Name of Your Son and Our Savior, Jesus,

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
[2] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.

Friday, September 13, 2013


[As we consider current events in the Middle East and particularly in Syria now, this post from this time last year is even more pertinent today.  Read today's news through the filter of God's Word and you will see where things are moving.]

“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream with visions in his mind as he was lying in his bed. He wrote down the dream, and here is the summary of his account. Daniel said, ‘In my vision at night I was watching, and suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea. Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.’” (Daniel 7:1-3 HCSB)

In 1971, Herman Wouk’s novel, “The Winds of War” was published. It is historical fiction, taking real events and people, along with some fictional characters, woven together masterfully to tell of the events leading up to World War II. Later, it was made into a highly acclaimed and hugely successful television mini-series.

It seems the winds of war are blowing again—and this time for World War III. These are the very winds which Daniel describes in chapter seven of his prophecy.

This all rises from THE DREAM he had.

“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream with visions in his mind as he was lying in his bed. He wrote down the dream, and here is the summary of his account.” (Dan.7:1)

It is a dream which gives us a view of heaven and earth—of kingdoms in conflict.

The dream gives us the eternal perspective of THE SOVEREIGNTY OF HEAVEN.

“Daniel said, ‘In my vision at night I was watching, and suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea.’” (Dan.7:2)

As the winds of war begin to blow, we need to be reminded that it is the Creator who unleashes them and directs them. To that point, consider this quote from Haddon Robinson:

“It was Napoleon Bonaparte who, early in his life, said, ‘God is on the side of the biggest artillery.’ Years later, when he was exiled on an island, he reversed his opinion, and conceded, ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’”

In the maelstrom of human events, never forget that God is on the throne and moving things to the inexorable conclusion of His purposes. Rulers rise to power, kingdoms come—and those same kingdoms crumble into the dust of history. Conflict stirs and battles ebb and flow, but ultimately a sovereign God is on His eternal throne bending all things according to His will, overruling the human rulers.

Even the forces of hell when let loose are channeled to the fulfillment of God’s plan. That is what we see in this verse. The winds of war that blow are demonic powers. Consider Revelation 7:1-3,

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, restraining the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel, who had the seal of the living God rise up from the east. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were empowered to harm the earth and the sea: ‘Don't harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.’”

Satan has been permitted to function as, “the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.” (Eph.2:2b) But, the angels of the Lord are seen to restrain the winds and will only allow the Devil to work in accord with God’s time and will.

The dream also gives us the earthly perspective of THE SEA OF HUMANITY.

“Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.” (Dan.7:3)

The sea depicts the restless nature of sinful humanity, continually in turmoil as a storm-tossed ocean, waves whipped by the winds. The tides bring the ebb and flow of nations, rising in power and crashing down, only for another wave to roll in. It is a fitting picture of human history.

“’But the wicked are like the storm-tossed sea, for it cannot be still, and its waters churn up mire and muck. There is no peace for the wicked,’ says my God.” (Isa.57:20-21)

In Daniel’s prophecy, there are four world empires which are presented. The revelation this dream brought will be followed by the explanation that Daniel sought.

So from THE DREAM we move to examine THE DETAILS.

“As for me, Daniel, my spirit was deeply distressed within me, and the visions in my mind terrified me. I approached one of those who were standing by and asked him the true meaning of all this. So he let me know the interpretation of these things: 'These huge beasts, four in number, are four kings who will rise from the earth.

But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever.'” (Dan.7:15-18)

This corresponds to Nebuchadnezzar’s vision recorded in the second chapter of Daniel. You will recall it is of a great statue that is made of four different metals, diminishing in value from gold to silver, then bronze to iron and the feet of iron mixed with clay, even as the metals are increasing in strength until the feet which are smashed by a Rock hurtling from heaven, bringing down and supplanting all other kingdoms. These are four world empires and seen from man’s viewpoint are glorious and powerful. But, all will be brought down by the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, when He brings in the Kingdom of Heaven to reign over the world.
Daniel’s dream presents the Divine viewpoint which sees beyond the external pomp and power to the nature of man’s rule—bestial and fierce in its wickedness.


“The first was like a lion but had eagle's wings. I continued watching until its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, set on its feet like a man, and given a human mind.” (Dan.7:4)

This image was well-known in the ancient world and has been unearthed by archaeologists—the lion with wings was the popular representation of Babylon. The great king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, is alluded to here. His experience of being judged for his arrogance is recalled, where for seven years he was like a beast, until God lifted him up and restored his sanity (see Daniel 4).


“Suddenly, another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, 'Get up! Gorge yourself on flesh.'” (Dan.7:5)

The bear—a large, lumbering brute—accurately depicts the battle tactics of Persian warfare. They used mass waves of soldiers to overwhelm their enemy. When Iran (the descendents of the Medes and Persians) waged war with Iraq in 1980-1988, they employed the same strategy—and sending their soldiers into the teeth of modern weaponry saw the sands soaked with blood. But, it was much more effective in ancient times.

Note that the bear had three ribs. That is, the Babylonians being conquered were assimilated into the kingdom of the Medes and Persians—three peoples blended together in this second empire. Each successive empire becomes an amalgamation of those preceding it.

THE THIRD WORLD EMPIRE: GREECE next came to dominance.

“While I was watching, another beast appeared. It was like a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back. It had four heads and was given authority to rule.” (Dan.7:6)

The leopard is known for its speed—and this is an accurate depiction of the “blitzkrieg” methods of military tactics which Alexander the Great employed. The scope of his conquest of the known world is only dwarfed by the speed with which it happened. Alexander died as a young man before being able to enjoy the spoils of his success. The four wings of the leopard symbolize his four generals who divided up his kingdom after Alexander’s death.

THE FOURTH WORLD EMPIRE: ROME would be the final human empire.

"While I was watching in the night visions, a fourth beast appeared, frightening and dreadful, and incredibly strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet whatever was left. It was different from all the beasts before it, and it had 10 horns.

While I was considering the horns, suddenly another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. There were eyes in this horn like a man's, and it had a mouth that spoke arrogantly.” (Dan.7:7-8)

Daniel is so overwhelmed by this image, that he seeks more understanding.

“Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, the one different from all the others, extremely terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws, devouring, crushing, and trampling with its feet whatever was left.  [I also wanted to know] about the 10 horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three fell-the horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly, and that was more visible than the others. As I was watching, this horn waged war against the holy ones and was prevailing over them until the Ancient of Days arrived and a judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, for the time had come, and the holy ones took possession of the kingdom.

This is what he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, different from all the other kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, trample it down, and crush it. The 10 horns are 10 kings who will rise from this kingdom. Another, different from the previous ones, will rise after them and subdue three kings.  He will speak words against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High. He will intend to change religious festivals and laws, and the holy ones will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. But the court will convene, and his dominion will be taken away, to be completely destroyed forever.” (Dan.7:19-26)

The legions of Rome trampled the nations under their iron-soled boots. Historians have documented the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. But, Rome was not destroyed—only divided. This empire will be reconstituted in the last days—a United States of Europe, if you will. Ten horns (symbols of power) represent ten nations that form an alliance. This kingdom is described in Revelation 13:1-2:

“And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. The beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear's, and his mouth was like a lion's mouth. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.”

The “little horn” is the Antichrist, the Beast, the Man of Sin—he is Satan’s surrogate and dictator of this regime. Following the rapture of the church, he will be revealed and will awe the world (see 2 Thess.2). For three and one-half years, he will portray himself as the messianic savior of Israel—pledging their protection and enforcing a peace in the Middle East. During this time, the Jews will have a rebuilt temple and reinstituted religious ritual. But, then the Antichrist goes into the temple and demands to be worshipped. He attacks Israel and initiates a holocaust where during the last three and one half years of his reign of terror, he seeks the genocide of the Jews. All this climaxes with Christ’s return to cast down the Beast into the bottomless pit and Jesus inaugurates 1,000 years of peace on earth.


“As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.
His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of His head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire.

A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His presence. Thousands upon thousands served Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. I watched, then, because of the sound of the arrogant words the horn was speaking. As I continued watching, the beast was killed and its body destroyed and given over to the burning fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their authority to rule was removed, but an extension of life was granted to them for a certain period of time.

I continued watching in the night visions,

and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him.

He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people,
nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.” (Dan.7:9-14)

“The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey Him.'” (Dan.7:27)

Verses nine and ten correspond to John’s vision in Revelation four and five. Chapters six through nineteen unfold the seven years of tribulation during which the Antichrist will hold sway over the earth. At the end of chapter nineteen of Revelation, and the following chapters, is a description of the return of Christ, overthrow of Antichrist, the opening of the books and judgment, with the Millennial reign of Christ which gives way to the eternal state in the creation of new heavens and a new earth. This is what Daniel summarizes in 7:11-14, 27.


“This is the end of the interpretation. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts terrified me greatly, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself." (Dan.7:28)

He was doubtless distressed because of THE SINS OF THE PERISHING.

As a godly and compassionate man he would find no joy in this judgment. God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and neither would Daniel. But, he was nonetheless disturbed over the rebellious nature of man and refusal to honor God. The brutality and bloodshed that have marked the march of armies was disheartening.

We anticipate the end with the same mix of emotions. While we are thankful that righteousness will be vindicated and Christ exalted, the horror of the judgments that accompany that should distress us.

Are we burdened for those who are lost? Are we warning them?

Daniel’s distress would have also been linked to THE SUFFERING OF HIS PEOPLE.

He understood that the Jews were going to face a slaughter. He had a vision of a man that would almost make Hitler seem an amateur compared to Antichrist’s assault on Israel.

We look today at the Middle East. A fire has been kindled. The winds of war may soon whip it into an inferno that will engulf the globe.

How should we respond?

“But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that [day] the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, [it is clear] what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat.

But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.” (2 Peter 3:10-13)

Be prepared!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


“A bishop then must be…able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

Many of the character qualities found in the pastor’s requirements are likewise listed in the deacon’s description.  The ability to teach is a notable exception.

Both pastors and deacons are expected to lead the flock in its mission and be willing to bleed for the flock in their ministry, but only the pastor is expected to feed the flock with his message.  It is part of what sets him apart from other church leaders.  If he cannot effectively communicate the Word of God, he will be unfruitful in the work of God.

The kind of teaching required is not just giving information from Scripture, but getting transformation by Scripture.  Such truth must master the teacher so that he is an incarnation of the Word.  The truth must further be mastered by the teacher so there can be accurate transmission of that Word.

It is notable where this pastoral responsibility falls in the list of character qualities.  There are a number of important virtues that precede it, as if to suggest that unless these are evident in his life, then his message will be rejected as the poisonous weeds of a hypocrite instead of the palatable food from a holy man of God.

The International Standard Version translates this as, “teachable.”  While, I don’t think that is the best translation, it must be underscored that unless a pastor is teachable, he will be incapable of teaching.  Leaders are learners.  They cannot bring others to drink from the stream of Truth unless they know from experience what it is to have their thirst satisfied.  Until we have fed our souls in the green pastures of the Bible, we will not be able to lead God’s flock to be nourished there.


Lord, Our Shepherd,
Thank You for giving us Your precious Word to feed our souls and thereby giving us the knowledge to bring your sheep to pasture there.  You never fail to satisfy us with this life-giving stream of Truth.  We have drunk of it time and time again.  Then, in that strength you impart, we have been enabled to direct Your flock to do the same.  The field has always been green and the stream never dry!  As day by day, Sunday by Sunday, year after year we have occasion to preach the Gospel, we bless You that there is never a lack of message for the famished sheep who come to us.  Glory!
In The Name of the Living Word, Jesus Christ,


Monday, September 09, 2013


“A bishop then must be…hospitable…” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

I recall a phone call from a pastor friend several years ago about Debbie, a troubled young teen.  He and his wife had taken her into their home—and her defiance had led them to exasperation.  They wanted to help her, but no longer felt they could.  So, they proposed that we take her in for a time.  We did.

It was a challenge, but we tried to show her love and help her.  Later on, she would find a job and a boyfriend—they planned to marry.  I’ve now lost track of Debbie, but hopefully we made a difference in her life.  She said we did.

Sheep need a home—a pasture and sheepfold where they can feel safe and be nourished.

The hospitality spoken of here found its occasion in the fact that in the days of the great Roman persecutions, Christians were banished and persecuted, and rendered homeless.  Or, in the case of traveling preachers and teachers, ministering from church to church, these servants of God were to be received and cared for by the bishop.  Or, because in the early centuries, the local churches had no church edifice in which to worship, the church met in the home of an individual.  The bishop should be glad to thus open his home for this purpose. [1]

Love for God’s lambs is the fundamental foundation for hospitality.  Love can never stop at verbal profession, but must become a practical action. 

Opening one’s house to strangers involves risk, inconvenience and there is a price to pay in money, time and energy.  But, the Golden Rule applies—to do unto others, as we would have them do unto us.  If I were homeless, I would want a shelter.  So, I must offer that to others.

The pastor’s example of Christian love can inspire others in the church to do likewise.       


I am grateful for those who have opened up their home to us in the past.  We are also thankful for those You have sent into our home and the time we have spent together.  The blessings that have come from such relationships have been enriching—far greater than any personal cost.  Thank You for those today who have Bible studies in their home.  Help the movement to flourish once more, and for Your church to continue to grow.
In The Name of Jesus,

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

THE SHEPHERD’S STANDARD: The Ministry of Hospitality

“A bishop then must be…hospitable…” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

It is one thing to be hospitable to family and friends, but love demands that we reach out to those we don’t know and who may not be able to return the favor.  Jesus commanded:

Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  (Luke 14:12-14 NKJV)

Since this is the expectation for all disciples, it must be exemplified in the life of the pastor.

For one thing, this provides an opportunity to share the Gospel.  It is one thing to go knock on someone else’s door with the intent of telling them about the love of God—and we should—but, what about showing someone the love of God when they knock on our door?  Welcoming them gives credibility to our claims of grace, mercy and compassion as Christian virtues.

What if two strangers showed up at our door—she is in labor—and there is no place for them to go?  Would we turn them away?  That’s what happened to Joseph and Mary!  Surely, we wouldn’t want to do that!

Wiersbe says this means,

Literally, “loving the stranger.”  This was an important ministry in the early church when traveling believers would need places to stay (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 3 John 5–8).  But even today, a pastor and wife who are hospitable are a great help to the fellowship of a local church.[1]

Our home can be a sanctuary where a church is planted.  We may have strangers regularly tromping our carpet as they come for Bible study.  Our house can be a training center where disciples are developed, and a lighthouse where the Gospel radiates.  Neighbors can be invited in to meet Jesus—as Matthew did for his friends (Matt.9:9-13). 


God our Refuge,
You give us a shelter in Your arms.  Your Son is preparing an eternal dwelling for us.  We have been the recipient of a warm welcome in the home of others.  Please help our home to be a haven for the hurting!
In Christ’s Name,

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

THE SHEPHERD’S STANDARD: The Kindness of Shepherds

“A bishop then must be…of good behavior, hospitable…” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

It is difficult to think of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, without associating Him with kindness.  Certainly, He could be forceful—and even angry at times.  But, whether lifting children into his lap, responding to the pleas of the hurting, or showing compassion to the poor, the gentle touch of Christ with these lambs is evident in His ministry.

If I am to be the kind of shepherd God wants me to be, then kindness must exude from my life.  From my open heart comes open hands, “good behavior” and an open home, “hospitable.”

Wiersbe aptly says, “He should be a real gentleman.  He should love people and enjoy having them in his home.”[1]   Thus, the pastor must be polite, have good manners and a proper decorum that befits his sacred calling.

The pastor must be caring and not careless.  This shows how he values people.  He recognizes these sheep belong to the Lord and were purchased at an incalculable price!  Love will be the soul-stirring force in his life.

One mark of this will be hospitality.  He can extend hospitality because he has the support of his wife, since he has proven himself a leader in his home and demonstrated faithfulness to her.  Company entertained in the house will find no skeletons in the closet.  He will not be embarrassed by his children for his family life is in order.  When there is kindness to the family in private, it will likewise be evident in kindness to the flock in public.


May the kindness of the Lord Jesus mark my ministry.  May it radiate from my home, so much that others will be drawn there.  Help me extend hospitality to those who need a shelter.  Make me responsive to the loneliness of others.  Give me an open heart and an open home!
In the name of the Good Shepherd, Jesus,

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 626). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

THE SHEPHERD’S STANDARD: The Dignity of Shepherds

“A bishop then must be…of good behavior…” (1 Timothy 3:2 NKJV)

Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest, relates concerning this word:
“Of good behaviour” is kosmion (κοσμιον), which speaks of order as against disorder. The word could be rendered here, “orderly.” Expositors suggests, “perhaps dignified in the best sense of the term.” [1]

There is a dignity about the office of the pastor, and we must conduct ourselves accordingly.  It doesn’t mean we strut around with our nose in the air as though we are special, but that we humbly behave as those chosen by grace to a high and holy task.

Wuest’s suggestion that the term could be translated, “orderly” is precisely what the Good News Bible does.  Considering this reminds us of Paul’s injunction to the Corinthian church, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”  (1 Cor.14:40).

It is not only “what” we do, but the “way” we do things in the church that matters.  There is a template of propriety that should be superimposed over all church functions.  The shepherd sets the standard in this.

The way a pastor conducts himself conveys a message, and not just what he speaks from the pulpit.  We cannot tolerate hypocrisy in our lifestyle that would lead someone to exclaim, “You mean he’s a preacher?!”  All that we do and say is to enhance the office we hold.


Blessed Lord,
I praise you for the grace you have bestowed in choosing frail men to be shepherds of Your flock.  It is an honor to serve You and I pray that You would give us the wisdom and strength to fulfill our responsibilities honorably.  Help us do the right thing, the right way, the right time and with the right motive.
In the name of Your Son, Jesus,

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (1 Ti 3:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Monday, September 02, 2013


“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV)

As we prepare to celebrate another birthday of Pole Creek Baptist Church this upcoming Sunday, I had a few thoughts about the purpose of what we call “Homecoming Day.”

Scripture enjoins us to LOOK BACK.  “Now all these things happened to them as examples…”

What Paul writes concerning Israel’s wilderness wanderings is intended to leave us an example—that even in their failures, there is a warning not to repeat the same error.  While we are not to live in the past, we are to learn from the past!  The times have changed since Pole Creek was birthed, but the truth upon which she was founded has not!

It is a mistake for young people and newer members to neglect this element.  We may relegate the past with its testimonies and traditions to the dustbin of time and miss the valuable lessons to learn.  If we do not connect with our roots, we are in danger of becoming spiritual tumbleweeds, blown about by the prevailing winds of the latest fads.

We are exhorted that from this look back to then LOOK AROUND.  “and they were written for our admonition…”  The lessons from yesterday are to make a difference in life today.  Paul was telling the Corinthian Christians that it was imperative to apply the Scripture in their day.  Today is all we have.  Yesterday is past; tomorrow may never come.  Just thinking about the past accomplishes nothing but a dreamy nostalgia.  Others labored at Pole Creek to bring us to the opportunity around us today.  Some snort about the word, “contemporary,” especially when applied to 21st century music, media and methodology.  But, all we have is the contemporary—our day, and the need to follow the Latin credo, “carpe diem” popularly translated as, “seize the day.”

After a look back and a look around, there follows a LOOK AHEAD.  “upon whom the end of the ages have come.”

The Apostle was telling them that from the Jews came the Messiah, and His arrival brought in the last days which will culminate in the prevailing of the Kingdom of God as Christ holds universal dominion.  What we learn from our past, is to stir us to take action in the present, and that in turn will shape our future.  For the child of God it is a glorious future God plans!

It is vital for those members who have been around awhile to come to grips with the sobering reality that they will not be here forever.  We may be so enamored with stubbornly clinging to personal preferences from decades ago, that we have no energy for opening our arms to embrace the young and accept their gifts and employ them.  Too many churches die prematurely because they begin to converse more on the way it was than to concentrate on the way to move forward.

May God help us this Lord’s Day to commemorate our history, celebrate our opportunity, and consecrate our future hopes and dreams to His glory!