Archives for : June2016

A Fallstreak Hole

The older we become the more amazing things we see.  We’ve stood in awe of waterfalls, mountains, and canyons.  We’ve trembled before tornados, tsunamis, and volcanoes.  With the accessibility of social media, it can feel like we’ve pretty much seen it all, and then God shows us something new and incredible.  The rare phenomenon pictured above is called a Fallstreak Hole.  It was recently seen in Victoria, Australia (Grind TV).

A Fallstreak Hole only occurs under some specific conditions.  First of all, it almost only occurs in certain cloud formations (cirrocumulus and altocumulus).  Second, the water temperature in the clouds has to be below the freezing point but not yet frozen (known as “supercooling”).  Third, ice crystals need to form within these conditions and then set off a chain reaction where all the other surrounding water partials start freezing and then falling.  The end result is a hole in the sky.  In the picture above, when the sun hit the falling particles just right, it also produced a rainbow.

Only through God’s power that we have clouds at all, not to mention all of the other amazing things that come from clouds.  Jeremiah 10:12-13 says, “It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses.”

In His wisdom, God thought out, planned, and added special features into the creation so that we can stand in awe of His glory and power.  He has built in so many little wonders into the universe.  There is no telling what other mysteries God has incorporated into creation that we are yet to see.  When we come across them, let’s give God the praise and honor He deserves!

“Stumbling” or “falling” in the Bible

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4 NKJV).

On several occasions I have had the privilege of trekking into the mountainous Himalayan districts of Nepal to visit congregations of believers and teach the Bible. I reflect back upon those hikes with wonder at how many times I slipped or stumbled and was literally upon the very edge of falling.

I actually did stumble and fall twice on my most recent such trip, but stayed on the trail and caught myself on my hands and knees without injury.  One of my companions also had a similar fall with the same results.

Most of the time, however, had I fallen, it would have been much more serious. Those circumstances involved steep up or down rock steps where a misstep would have resulted in a hard tumble for considerable distance, or a narrow trail on an almost sheer mountain-side. A fall from that might send one down hundreds or even thousands of feet.

Some readers might remember the old country song, “Please help me I’m falling.” Whether that is an emergency plea or a simple request for a hand back up depends to a very great degree upon where or in what circumstances the fall occurs. A slip on a soft surface may result in a slight bruise; a fall from the side of a mountain usually means broken bones or death.

Spiritually, any fall is of the most serious nature.

The Galatian Christians (see the verse quoted above) were on the point of rejecting salvation by grace through obedient faith in favor of a righteousness obtained by meritorious works of the Law of Moses (cf. Romans 9:31-10:4). Paul said such a decision would result in their fall from grace. Imagine losing all of the blessings and gifts which God has prepared for us, while doing what we think will acquire those same benefits. What a tragedy.

Other spiritual falls described in the Bible include:

Falling “short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Falling “into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Falling “away” into apostasy or false teaching (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Falling “into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

Falling “into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7).

Falling “into disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).

Falling “away (from God)” (Hebrews 6:6).

Falling “into judgment” (James 5:12; compare also falling “into the hands of the living God, Hebrews 10:31).

Falling “from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:17).

Falling “from your first works” (Revelation 2:5).

The consequence of any of these falls is, potentially, eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Only obedient trust in Jesus can spare any human from the inevitable fall from God’s glory into sin. Only confession of and repentance from sins can spare the erring Christian from guilt and punishment (1 John 1:8- 9; 2:1-2).

One is prudent when walking on steep mountains to watch his step and avoid falls. One is much wiser who carefully avoids temptation, resisting the attempts of Satan to ensnare and condemn.

— by Michael E. Brooks

Elijah the prophet was a member of an endangered species

“And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for

the Lord God of hosts; because the children

of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn

down your altars, and killed your prophets

with the sword. I alone am left; and they

seek to take my life'” (1 Kings 19:14 NKJV).

A group of us were traveling upriver in Bangladesh by boat from the city of Pirajpur to visit various villages and points of interest. We were thrilled when, soon after our launching, we were joined by a pod of river dolphins who swam along beside the boat, frequently rolling on the surface and even leaping out of the water in a display of power and grace.

Our pleasure in this display was enhanced by our knowledge that the Gangetic river dolphins (along with all other freshwater dolphins) are rare and are classified as either threatened or endangered by governments and environmental agencies.

Pollution, net fishing, the abundance of engine driven boats (with sharp propellers) in their habitat, and other factors has reduced populations to a few thousand or in some species mere hundreds. We were blessed to see something which most of the world’s population may not even know exists, and which may not exist much longer if steps are not taken soon.

Elijah the prophet was a member of an endangered species. He had already resigned himself to the fact that he would soon die, and with him, all hopes that Israel would be a nation which served the Lord God. He was discouraged and defeated, confused as to how God Almighty could allow his people to reject him totally.

Unless steps were taken soon, all hope would be lost.

Yet steps were being taken. Elijah’s survival, and that of the faithful in Israel, did not depend upon human government or agency. God himself was supervising their fate. He had resources of which even the prophet was unaware. “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).

Elijah did not have a complete count of the faithful.

He was not aware of the seven thousand faithful worshipers of God remaining in Israel.

So also when modern Christians despair at the prevalent immorality of our cultures, and when it seems that the wicked prosper while the righteous perish, we may not know the true state of affairs. But these things we can know by faith, and that knowledge will encourage us to continue to serve our God.

First, we know that God is still in charge. Jesus promised “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Of his kingdom it is said that “[It] cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28).

Though the earth and all that is in it will someday be destroyed, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

Secondly, we know that righteousness abides. Paul affirms that salvation has been received by many through faith in Jesus. “But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world'” (Romans 10:18).

Again we are taught, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

We may not always see or know of the many who have obeyed such teaching and who are living righteously before God. But we are assured that they exist.

Finally we know that Jesus will come again. “For yet a little while, and he who is coming will come and will not tarry” ( Hebrews 10:37). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come
. . . (2 Peter 3:9-10).

God preserves his people unto his own purpose. We can have confidence before him in every situation, knowing that he loves us and that his power will prevail. We may be threatened, but the people of God are never endangered, so long as they trust in him. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

by Michael E. Brooks

Are you a fryer or a flier?

Eagles and Chickens

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew

their strength, they shall mount up with

wings like eagles; they shall run and not be

weary, they shall walk and not faint”

(Isaiah 40:31, ESV).

 

Have you ever tried to corner a chicken? Paving stones are more aerodynamic than chickens!

Somehow this most inelegant of birds senses that flight is a matter of the greatest urgency, and in a flurry of claws and feathers she does her best to avoid a destiny with an iron skillet and a bottle of Crisco.

Poultry in motion.

Have you ever tried to corner an eagle? Ten-foot chicken wiring tends to be an inadequate confinement.

And in the broad, blue sky, a thousand feet above the earth, there aren’t many corners anyway.

Receding raptor.

When we attempt to rise above life’s difficulties on our own, our efforts are usually about as exalted and dignified as a harassed hen. And the temptation usually catches us, red feet clasped in hand, hanging upside down and ready for the fryer.

So why do we try vainly to live our lives without the help of God? Don’t we want to soar on wings like eagles? Don’t we want to rise above the dust and grit of the hen house? Why do Christians try to get along without the benefit of Bible Study and worship time?

Why do we fail to seek consolation in prayer? Rest on the wings of the Lord. Pray for his strength. Be in his presence for worship. Serve his people.

“You yourselves have seen what I did to the

Egyptians and how I bore you on eagle’s

wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus

19:4).

So are you a fryer or a flier?

— by Stan Mitchell

Socialism is an economic system where everybody is equally miserable!

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help'”

(Ronald Reagan, August 1986).

There is an old African joke where the Tanzanians, who are socialist, accuse Kenyans, who are capitalists, of being a “dog eat dog society.” The Kenyans have an answer, however. They say that Tanzanians are a “dog eat nothing society.” Which makes me think of Churchill’s apt definition of socialism: “Socialism is an economic system where everybody is equally miserable!”

I think a lot of people think of Christianity as the ultimate self-help system. They search the scriptures for better techniques for making money, having better marriages, and becoming more self-confident. It fascinates me to see purportedly Christian books with titles such as “Christian Assertiveness,” or, “Ten Easy Techniques to Make Your Church Grow.”

Christianity is not a system of independence; it’s one of dependence. We rely on God, not better technique!

Don’t look for Christian material on the “Self- Help”

bookshelf. God, himself wishes to help us! The Christian life is not about self-confidence; it’s about God confidence. It’s not about self-help; it’s about God’s help. It’s not about methodology; it’s about mercy!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6 ESV).

It’s true. The Lord really is here to help!

— by Stan Mitchell

Does God Have Alzheimer’s?

My friend has been carefully monitoring her grandmother for some time…

There have been signals. Telltale signs. Inexplicable actions.

Lately they have been much more pronounced and observable. This is not simply “old age;” this is symptomatic of something far worse. Her grandmother doesn’t just forget something, she simply can’t remember.

She can’t recall people or how to do the simplest of tasks. Faces have no context. Loved ones are total strangers. It’s as if her mind is a sort of computer hard drive that has been irrevocably erased. The data is all gone. The external components are still intact, but there are no files to open and review.

Now my friend’s family has been forced to make a heart- wrenching decision to put grandmother into a nursing home. Grandma will never return to her old homestead.

Her home with its treasures and precious memories will be emptied and divided among her loved ones.

Alzheimer’s has claimed yet another unsuspecting victim.

What would it be like to not be able to remember? What would it be like to forget? What would it be like to lose the ability to function normally because your memories are being incrementally erased from your mind?

Imagine her dreadful plight.

She can see, hear, and move, but she can’t remember.

Names mean nothing to her. Every face is an unknown.

She is an infant in an old woman’s body, at best.  I shudder to think about it. I am sad for my friend and her family.

But it occurs to me that God also has a similar affliction-figuratively speaking. He can’t remember like he used to. Perhaps it might be more appropriate to say that “He doesn’t recall as he used to…” No, that’s not a misprint.

The “Ancient of Days” doesn’t recall things as he once did. You might say it’s a divine form of Alzheimer’s.

Don’t believe me? Read the following passage and pay special attention to Jer. 31:34b:  “saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.”

You may be thinking, “But Mike, how can this be? God is incapable of not remembering.”

In order for us to address this apparent dilemma, let’s notice a few Scriptural points:

  1. God’s is all-knowing (1 Samuel 2.3; Psalm 139.1-6; 147.4-5; 40.5; Matthew 10.29-30; Romans 1.19-20.)
  1. For God to not know or remember something would mean that he is not omniscient.
  1. God remembers sin in the sense that he knows everything, past, present, and future.
  1. Under the Law of Moses, sins were remembered each year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16; 23.26-32).

“But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year” (Hebrews 10.3). This annual remembrance was necessary in order that God’s people (a) would be made conscious (Hebrews 10.2) of the enormity of their transgressions as well as (b) what was required in order to atone for them. Sin is a type of debt (Romans 6.23). So when the high priest offered the blood of innocent animals on behalf of the nation, the people were forced to see and remember the consequences–both physically and spiritually–of what they had done.

Think of it this way. Think of paying off your car loan.  Each month the bank remembers that you have a car payment-and every month it mails you a reminder.

You pay on the debt for several months in a row until eventually you pay off the car and the entire debt is–to borrow from Jeremiah–”remembered no more.”

Now once the loan is paid off, does the bank forget that you bought the car, or that you had a bill to pay?

We would agree and say, “Of course not.” The bank still keeps a record of your debt, but it acknowledges that the debt has been cancelled and, therefore, no longer held against your account.

Well, God has a record of our sin–because God can’t forget anything, but now under the new and better covenant (Hebrews 8.6ff), there is no need for perennial, repetitive sacrifices (i.e., bank reminders).

By virtue of the “once and for all” (Hebrews 10.5-18) payment/sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9.13-15), God no longer remembers our sins (Isaiah 43.25) or charges them against our account. He treats us as if we had never sinned; he, in essence, forgets (Jeremiah 31.34b; cf. Micah 7.18-20.)

by Mike Benson

I checked with the Supreme Court; nothing’s changed.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and

mother and hold fast to his wife and they

shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, ESV).

Long before the political insertion of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996), marriage was a Christian institution. Long before the politicians decided to define marriage, then redefine it, God already had his own definition. This definition does not change with political whim.

When the American empire joins the Babylonian, Medo- Persian, Greek and Roman empires as dust and rubble, God’s rule will persist. The US Supreme Court cannot imagine how temporary their decisions are in the context of history.

Marriage began at creation, when God gave Eve to Adam, and commanded them to forge a union, the closest human relationship possible.

When Paul wanted to compare the relationship of Christ and the church, he chose the marriage relationship as the most accurate human analogy (Ephesians 5:25-33).

Jesus insisted that marriage and its component parts were “from the beginning” (Matthew 19:1-9).

This predates the latest Presidential administrations by some distance. It is prior to the New York Times, MSNBC and Hollywood. Marriage from a Christian point of view must be defined the way Scripture defines it.

* Puritans in England saw England as God’s kingdom on earth. It was not.

* Many Puritans came to the New World seeking to establish America as the kingdom of God; they did not.

* Dutch Huguenots entered Southern Africa convinced they were the kingdom of God, but they were not.

The United States has in many ways been a marvel of freedoms and democracy; perhaps it will continue in that manner. I hope so.

But the USA was never the kingdom of God. Jesus reminded Pilate regarding the nature of God’s kingdom:

“My kingdom,” he declared very clearly, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). It is still not of this world.

Almost the last thing said in the Bible is an invitation from “the Spirit and the bride” (Revelation 22:17).

Marriage is not a political entity; it is a Christian institution. They can legislate what they want in Washington D.C., or Brussels, or Buenos Aires. The Christian is a citizen of another country, anyway (Philippians 3:20).

I was as concerned about the supreme court’s political decision as anybody, but spiritually there is another reality.

I checked with the Supreme Court; nothing’s changed.

— by Stan Mitchell

Counselors these days talk about people being adept at “compartmentalizing” their lives.

I have always been puzzled about David’s state of mind when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to hide his actions by murdering her husband Uriah the Hittite. It’s not as if David, brought up in Jesse’s godly household, the man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) was unaware that adultery and murder were wrong!

How long, one wonders, did David intend to carry on as if nothing had happened? For months? Years?

Indefinitely? How does someone do this?

Counselors these days talk about people being adept at “compartmentalizing” their lives. So, for instance, a student might be facing a huge test for which he ought to study, yet be able to block that out of his mind while playing video games until late at night. Or a preacher might find himself in an adulterous relationship, somehow putting that side of his life, the one where he’s a worldly ladies’ man, in a different compartment from the one where he is a man of God, preaching God’s word.

I wish I could tell you that this brand of self- deception was unusual, but it’s not. It’s about as unusual as a cactus in West Texas, or a Crimson Tide fan in Tuscaloosa. This is so common, so human!

It seems likely that David would have gone to his grave convinced that he was just fine in God’s sight, had Nathan the prophet not confronted him.

Have you ever wondered why Nathan resorted to telling that heartbreaking story about the poor man and his ewe lamb who was victimized by the rich man who stole his lamb and shared it with his guests?

Was criticizing the king a dangerous occupation?

Perhaps. But Nathan faced a more critical task. He had to get David to see David for who he was! The story of a rich and powerful man who felt he was entitled to do as he pleased to the poor and helpless allowed David to see what he had done. It seems it was a moment of revelation – so that’s what I look like to God!

The poet Robert Burns once declared, “Lord give us the grace to see ourselves as others see us.” The real trick, of course, is to see ourselves as God sees us.

— by Stan Mitchell

This is the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war.

IN SEPTEMBER 1962, Russia began to build bases in Cuba for nuclear missiles with the ability to strike most of the U.S…

A month later, the U.S. discovered this when a spy plane captured proof of missile bases under construction.  The immediate suggestion by military officials was to attack and destroy Cuba.  This is the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war.

Wisely, President Kennedy decided not to attack, yet he was still able to get the missiles removed only two weeks later.  How did he do this?  He approached the situation with President Khrushchev’s perspective and tried to understand the situation through his eyes.

This is called empathy.

Sympathy is when you genuinely try to share the feelings and emotions of someone else, particularly during a trying time.  Empathy is going further and understanding those feelings and emotions, doing so without prejudice.

While we could employ this technique in a number of ways, I want us to consider this tool in relation to evangelism.

The sharing of religious ideas can be emotional, even explosive, when disagreement is involved.  When people get angry, the chances of an effective conversation decrease.

But if we can set aside our pride and dive into the thoughts of the other person, really trying to understand their position from their perspective, the ensuing road will be much easier to travel.

Paul did this in Acts 17.22-34 when he stood on the Areopagus and shared the Gospel.  He knew how they thought and adjusted his approach, and did so with positive results.

Strive not to blast people with your understanding of things.  Start where they are and go from there.  You will be more effective for the Lord.  Jesse Wagner

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2.5

Mike Benson

 

If it feels good, do it!

When there is no consequence there is no motivation for compliance.

In this post-modern society, the thought of consequence for one’s actions is deemed unacceptable. The common ideology is that “if it feels good do it” or “if you believe it is alright it is OK.”

This type of thinking has permeated our society and affected the judicial system of our nation. Today if someone breaks the law they can’t understand why they are arrested and why they may face punishment.

For instance, if law enforcement stopped giving tickets for speeding, more people would exceed the speed limit.

When there are no consequences for home invasion, burglary, felony theft, assault, destruction of private and public property, etc. what would detour one from committing these acts? Where there is no punishment for breaking the laws of the land, chaos is certain.

From the beginning of time, God has given humanity laws to live by.

In the Genesis record it notes:

“Then the LORD God took the man and put him

into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and

keep it. The LORD God commanded the man,

saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may

eat freely; but from the tree of the

knowledge of good and evil you shall not

eat, for in the day that you eat from it you

will surely die'” (Genesis 2:15-17).

This context sets the precedent of God’s dealing with humanity and his commands (laws). Adam was to keep the garden and not eat of the tree of knowledge.

The consequence of not obeying God’s commands was death. As one continues studying about Adam and Eve, the text notes that they broke the law of God and were cast from the garden. Not only did Adam and Eve face physical death but they were cast from the presence of God (spiritual death).

James in his New Testament letter notes the law under the Christian dispensation. He calls it the “law of liberty” (James 1:25; 2:12). The children of Israel were under the law given to Moses while the Gentiles had a “law unto themselves” (Romans 2:14).

To break God’s law is sin. John in his first letter defines sin:

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

Paul writing to the Christians at Rome noted the consequences of breaking the law of God:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

In Galatians chapter five, verses nineteen through twenty-one one can find a listing of sins (lawlessness) recorded. This is not a conclusive listing but note the concluding phrase as to the consequence of practicing such things, “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

Throughout the teachings of God there are laws for humanity to keep. There are also noted consequences for not keeping the law. Even though our society deems consequences unacceptable, God does not.

I wonder what the future holds if our society continues in this manner?

by John E. Werhan @ www.forthright.net

“Don’t be frightened,” he said. “I’ll look after you.”

“Whatever Happens”

During his courtship with a young woman named Julia Dent, Ulysses S. Grant once took her out for a buggy ride.  Coming to a flooded creek spanned by a flimsy bridge, Grant assured Julia that it was safe to cross.  “Don’t be frightened,” he said.  “I’ll look after you.”

“Well,” replied Julia, “I shall cling to you whatever happens.”  True to her word, she clung tightly to Grant’s arm as they drove safely across.

Grant drove on in thoughtful silence for a few minutes, then cleared his throat and said, “Julia, you said back there that you would cling to me whatever happened.  Would you like to cling to me for the rest of our lives?”  She would, and they were married in August 1848. *

Wikipedia provides the following summary of the marriage Ulysses and Julia Grant:  “The Grants’ marriage was often tried by adversity and it met every test, as the couple gave each other lifelong loyalty.”

In Genesis 2:24, we find God’s design for marriage: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united [“cling”] to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

It is the “clinging together” in loving commitment that will enable a married couple to endure the challenges that life brings and enjoy life together.

And it is “clinging to Christ” that will enable a person to navigate through this life and have the hope of eternal life.

Life has its challenges but sin is our greatest enemy, for it separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and condemns us (Romans 6:23).

But God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we might be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

God will save those who “cling” to Jesus by placing their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  Jesus will continue to wash away the sins of those who continue to “cling” to Him faithfully (1 John 1:7).

“I shall cling to you whatever happens.”  That mindset is crucial for a great marriage.  It also describes how we should respond to the Savior.

Whatever happens, won’t YOU cling to Jesus in trusting obedience?

 

David A. Sargent

What MUST the Baptizer Say?

IS IT NECESSARY, i.e., Scripturally required, for one who is baptizing another to say a certain verbal formula just prior to the baptism itself?  Must he actually utter the words, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” in order to certify the immersion?  Let’s consider these questions together in the light of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).  Please note:

.  What if the immerser says nothing just prior to the candidate’s immersion?  Is the immerser guilty of sin?  How might he go about repenting of this omission?  Would a second immersion be necessary because he was silent just before the baptism took place?

.  When a candidate is immersed for the remission of sins is he still in sin because the one doing the immersing did not articulate a specific verbal formula?

.  Is any candidate’s salvation in any way dependent upon the verbiage of the individual performing the baptism?

.  Is there a specific passage of Scripture which instructs the one doing the baptizing to say a certain verbal formula?

.  Is there an approved example in the New Testament which illustrates where the individual doing the baptizing actually said, “I now baptize you in the name of…?”

It essential that we differentiate between what the candidate MUST DO (Acts 16:30), and what the one doing the baptizing COULD SAY.  Every candidate MUST believe on the Lord Jesus and be baptized (1 Pet. 3:21), but every individual doing the immersing is free to speak or remain silent at the event.

Years ago I (Mike) brought one particular man to the building for baptism.  He knew the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4), he knew that he lost (Rom. 3:23), as well as what he needed to do in order to be saved (Mark 16:15-16).  He was an especially large and overweight man.  I expressed concern as to how I might get him back into the water and then safely bring him out of the water.  He chose to kneel down, neck deep, in the baptistery and then suggested that I merely push his head forward under the water to complete his obedience to the Lord.  I agreed to do so in keeping with Scriptural precedent (Acts 8:38; Rom. 6:3-4).  I then started to say, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father…” when the man suddenly took a deep breath and pulled himself under the water.  My hand was touching his head, but my words were incomplete.  Was it necessary for me to baptize him again because I hadn’t finished the sentence?  Was he any less saved because of what I did or did not say?  Was his salvation in any way contingent upon my verbiage?  Were his sins not remitted by the blood of Christ because I wasn’t able to finish my sentence?  To ask these questions is to answer them.

The emphasis in Scripture has to do with the AUTHORITY for baptism and not the exact terminology employed at that time.  As Wayne Jackson states, “No passage in the New Testament, which mentions baptizing ‘into’ the ‘name’ of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or ‘into’ Christ, or ‘in’ his name), has reference to what is being said at the time of the immersion.  …There is no allusion whatsoever to a formalized ‘language code’ that is required in order to validate the immersion.”1  Watch:

.  “Baptizing them IN (Greek—eis, into) THE NAME OF the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mat. 28:19b).

.  “Be baptized IN (Greek—epi, upon) THE NAME OF Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38).

.  “Baptized IN (Greek—eis, into) THE NAME OF the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).

.  “Baptized IN (Greek—en, in) THE NAME OF the Lord” (Acts 10:48).

.  “Baptized IN (Greek—eis, into) THE NAME OF the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).

“To be baptized ‘upon the name’ or ‘in the name,’ of Jesus suggests the ground or occasion for the baptism.  “The name” in the Sacred Writings often denotes the sum of the divine attributes of the Person named; all that is involved in the Being whose name is thus designated.  ‘Into the name’ denotes union or communion with.  Thayer says that ‘by a usage chiefly Hebraistic the name is used for everything a name covers…to do a thing in the name of another, i.e., by one’s command and authority, acting on his behalf, promoting his cause.’  Thus acting by the authority of Christ from the relationship we sustain to him our Redeemer and Lord, we are baptized into a state of union and communion with God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit”’ (emphasis mine—mb).2

Sometimes one performing a baptism will hold his free hand high in the air as he says, “I now baptize you in the name of …”  Hopefully we all recognize and agree that having his hand in the air is neither required nor commanded.  It is simply a customary activity employed to add (it is argued) solemnity to the occasion.  The person who is being baptized is not in any way impacted by this token gesture.  Well, the same is true of what is said at immersion.  Verbal statements are merely customs which preachers and others have employed down through the years as they carry out their work.  The key word in that sentence is customs—and customs are not commands (cf. Mat. 15:8).

Brethren, let’s be very cautious about speaking where the Bible does not speak and legislating where the Bible has not bound (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17).  The Word of God does not specify what one doing the immersing must say; 3 it does mandate what he must do—immerse!

1 Wayne Jackson, “Is a ‘Word Formula’ Required in Administering Baptism,” Christian Courier.

2 Guy N. Woods, Questions and Answers—Open Forum, 165-66.

3 To be baptized upon the name is to be baptized on the confession of that which the name implies: on the ground of the name; so that the name Jesus, as the contents of the faith and confession, is the ground upon which the becoming baptized rests. In the name (ἐν) has reference to the sphere within which alone true baptism is accomplished. The name is not the mere designation, a sense which would give to the baptismal formula merely the force of a charm. The name, as in the Lord’s Prayer (“Hallowed be thy name”), is the expression of the sum total of the divine Being: not his designation as God or Lord, but the formula in which all his attributes and characteristics are summed up. It is equivalent to his person. The finite mind can deal with him only through his name; but his name is of no avail detached from his nature. When one is baptized into the name of the Trinity, he professes to acknowledge and appropriate God in all that he is and in all that he does for man. He recognizes and depends upon God the Father as his Creator and Preserver; receives Jesus Christ as his only Mediator and Redeemer, and his pattern of life; and confesses the Holy Spirit as his Sanctifier and Comforter.  Marvin Richardson Vincent, Matthew 28:19, Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. 1, 150.

–By Mike Benson and Jason Campbell

Does it matter what we call ourselves, as a church?

Where God Puts His Name

    Does it matter what we call ourselves, as a church? I began studying that question two months ago. I began sharing the results of that study in a Daily Droplets on April 6th, then again on April 14th, and again on April 27th. Other obligations have kept me from pursuing the study but here is some more fruit…

    God’s name is holy and we must keep it holy. Not only is that one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7) but Jesus says it ought to be a part of our prayers (Matthew 6:9). Since God’s name is holy, that to which He puts His name also carries His holiness.

    Before leaving Mount Sinai, God told Israel: “‘You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you” (Exodus 20:24).

    Before the Israelites invade the land of Canaan to establish residence there, Moses told them, “But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the Lord your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. …then it shall come about that the place in which the Lord your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the Lord” (Deut. 12:5, 11). 

    The command for observing the Passover was: “You shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to establish His name” (Deut. 16:2). 

    The behavior of the Israelites would (should) lead the other nations to glorify the God whose name they wore, whose character they reflected: “So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you” (Deut. 28:10).

    Israel, as God’s people, was closely associated with His name: “For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself” (1 Samuel 12:22; 2 Samuel 7:23).

    In God’s covenant He made with King David, He said that the house David would build (a prophecy of David’s spiritual descendants, otherwise known as the kingdom of the Messiah) would reflect the name of God: “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13, 26).

    A physical representation of that Holy Name in the midst of Israel was the temple built by King Solomon (reflecting, again, the spiritual descendants of David, portrayed by a metaphorical temple: Amos 9:11): “The people were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days” (1 Kings 3:2; See also 5:3-5). That temple was built for the name of the Lord God of heaven (1 Kings 8:20). It reflected His plans, His nature, His character. It was to be honored and preserved holy for that reason. “The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3).

    As we continue to study the question whether it makes a difference what Christians call themselves (individually and collectively), consider these thoughts from Exodus 34:14: “for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”—Paul Holland

Preach the word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2-4)!

What Are We To Do?

What are we to do when our culture turns from God and snubs its nose at his word, the Bible?  What are we to do when mind-altering substances are legalized?  What are we to do when our Supreme Court redefines marriage in such a way as to encompass same-sex relationships?  What are we to do when the Mayor of Houston, TX subpoenas sermons preached in Houston churches because they spoke against the practice of homosexuality? In summary, what are we to do when our culture calls good, evil and evil, good (Isaiah 5:20)?

The answer is: The same thing we were doing before our culture turned from God and snubbed its nose at the Bible. The same thing we did before mind-altering substances were legalized.  The same thing we did before our Supreme Court redefined marriage to encompass same-sex relationships.  The same thing we did before the Mayor of Houston subpoenaed sermons that were preached in Houston churches.  And the same thing we did before our culture called good, evil and evil, good.

My point is, the mission of God’s kingdom doesn’t change depending on borders, governments, rulers, and laws. Whether under the oppression of Rome, who persecuted Christians in the Coliseum, or Hitler, who murdered “enemies of the state” in the gas chambers, or the United States, who has all but marginalized Christianity today, the mission of God’s Kingdom remains the same.  Preach the word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2-4)!

Remember, Christianity isn’t American. While I’m thankful for the freedoms that have been extended to Christians living in America, I can’t really expect any secular government to adopt Christian values. Friends, be thankful for the respite we’ve had, but understand it may not last for succeeding generations.  Christianity existed long before the birth of America, and if America were to ever fall, it will still exist then (Daniel 2:44). The success of Christianity doesn’t depend upon a friendly and supportive government.

Jesus once asked James and John if they were able to “drink the cup that he am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with?” They replied, “Yes, we are able” (Matthew 20:22). What about us? While I don’t wish for it and I hope it isn’t necessary, maybe persecution is just what is needed to shake Christians out of their lethargy and purge out the leaven of insincerity.

— Steve Higginbotham

Are God’s laws up for debate?

More and more warning signs are appearing. It really started rolling when Pope Francis was elected. Just a few months into office Pope Francis said, “When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?” (CNN). Continuing the warning signs, a few months ago Pope Francis married 20 different couples. Some of these couples had been living together, some already had children together outside of wedlock, and some had even been married before (ABCnews). The last time a pope had married anyone was 14 years ago, back in 2000 (ibid). Since this is so rare, it makes one wonder what message the Pope is trying to send since he specifically chose these couples to marry.

Most recently, the Vatican released a document regarding a meeting they had called, “Relatio post disceptationem,” which translates as “Report After Debate.” One specific section in this debate was entitled, “Welcoming homosexual persons.” Here is a part of this section:

“Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?” (Zenit).

Thankfully, the document did not proclaim any definitive changes as of yet. It does recognize some “moral problems” with homosexuality and they would have to “compromise” on doctrine. What is alarming, though, is the fact that these questions are even being asked.

This document is essentially the starting point for more conversations to happen among Catholic leaders. Over the next year or so other discussions will take place on several topics in addition to homosexuality. Once these discussions are done, the Catholic Church will then tell people what their final word is on these topics.

This is extremely unsettling. Since when are God’s laws up for debate? Since when did God allow men to discuss and decide which commands to obey? Since when are any of us allowed to change what God has already firmly decided upon?

The answer should be clear: if God has already decided, then there is nothing to discuss or debate, no matter the topic. The reason this is the case is because the faith has already been handed down “once for all” (Jude 1:3). God has already given us “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). God has already given us all the commands we need to be “equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We should never expect, nor look for, nor accept anything different than what Scripture has already commanded (Galatians 1:6-9).

God has always strictly warned against the changing of His commands. He gave such warnings in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4:2), in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 4:6; Revelation 22:18-19.). At times God even struck down those who dared to go beyond His commands (Leviticus 10:1-2). Anyone who is questioning which of God’s laws to follow is walking on the edge of a treacherous cliff. Man does not get to give the final word. Not even the Pope has the privilege to give the final word on God’s commands. The final word belongs to God alone.

However, let’s not think for one second that this message is just for the Catholic Church or some other denomination. This message is for you and I. We must not change God’s laws just because our world disagrees. Our culture places extremely heavy pressure on us to change our ways. Let’s not be shaken. If God commands it, let’s stand with Him!

Brett Petrillo 

Trangsgender Voyeurism

It’s a clash of political correctness agendas, though the latter one is extremely legitimate.  On one side, we have the recent, insane push for recognizing transgenderism-even that which is simply claimed and asserted at the apparent whim of the claimant.  On the other side is an important, needed aspect of feminism-protecting women from the sexual aggression of men. Both are fiercely championed by those of a liberal mindset, and the two came face to face in the “gender neutral” bathrooms of Whitney Hall at the University of Toronto.  Ironically, two incidents of voyeurism, where male students were “caught holding their cellphones over female students’ shower stalls and filming them as they showered” (dailywire.com), occurred in September, 2015, just as the push was heating up for men and women to choose the public bathroom of the gender they felt themselves to be. Our sitting president even defended a federal transgender directive for public school bathrooms, allowing “transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, saying that society must protect the dignity and safety of vulnerable children” (nytimes.com, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, 5/16/16). The outlandishness of such baseless thinking had already been demonstrated well before this “guidance” issued by the Education and Justice Departments was made public this Spring.

There is a biblical and biological answer to what has amazingly become an enigma and conundrum for everyone from politicians to corporations. Jesus said, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). There are external ways to both test and validate these, and are as accessible as a basic medical examination. I trust a Creator whose ability is demonstrated everywhere from the order and continuous operation of the universe to the magnificence of the earth to the intricacies of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to somatic cells to our DNA.

In the world’s rabid desire to reject His authority, there’s no wonder that people concoct such far-fetched, senseless ideas as we are seeing put forward at the present time. Paul traces the genesis of such ludicrous ideas, saying, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…” (Rom. 1:28). Until that mindset changes, we are likely to see more issues like the push to accept transgenderism and welcome it into our public private places (like bathrooms in stores and dorms) even if they produce the kind of actions reported in Whitney Hall.  May more people simply and humbly follow the perfect guidance of God’s Word.

–Neal Pollard

Camel Lag

“So I came to Jerusalem and was there three

days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few

men with me; I told no one what my God had

put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was

there any animal with me, except the one on

which I rode” (Nehemiah 2:11-12 NKJV).

It is more than 10,000 miles by air from my home in Alabama to South Asia, to where I have traveled this past week. There is twelve hours difference (twelve time zones) between Alabama time and Bangladesh time.

In other words they are exactly on opposite sides of the earth.

Jet lag is a concept with which I am very familiar.

After flying for about 26 hours of actual time in the air over an elapsed total time of 36 to 42 hours on average, I am always tired and physically confused. My mind may say “It is morning, let’s get to work.” My body however responds, “I am tired; it is time to sleep.”

When Ezra the scribe led a company of Priests and Levites from Babylon to Jerusalem, the journey required exactly four months ( Ezra 7:7-9). We do not know how long Nehemiah and his guards took to make the same trip, but it was certainly a long and arduous journey.

Similarly, we are not told just why it was three days after arrival in Jerusalem before Nehemiah began his mission. My own personal experience suggests he may have required a little resting time. Perhaps he was suffering from “Camel Lag” from his long trip across the desert.

Time is a valuable resource, yet our use of it must reflect physical reality. Nehemiah’s example leads us to a few reasonable guidelines which will help us become good stewards of our time.

First, do not hesitate to use necessary time for rest and recuperation. When the disciples returned from the limited commission Jesus invited them to “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” ( Mark 6:31). He understood the body’s demands. It is not a waste of time for us to get the rest which is required for good health and strength.

A recent news report suggested that in America there is an epidemic of sleep deprivation — too many people just don’t get enough sleep to be healthy.

However, the body’s need for rest however in no way justifies laziness and idleness ( Proverbs 24:30-34; 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Second, Nehemiah shows us that when rest has been acquired, promptness and careful haste are appropriate.

Certainly his arising in the night was partially in order to preserve secrecy for his mission. Yet there is also the inescapable conclusion that Nehemiah wanted to waste no available time. His task was urgent. He moved decisively and quickly.

The New Testament teaches us, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We are to “Walk circumspectly, . . .

redeeming the time, because the days are evil”

(Ephesians 5:15, 16). Time is one of God’s gifts to us.

Let us be good stewards in its use.

Third, Nehemiah made excellent use of the time which he was given. When he asked the king of Persia to be appointed governor of Judah, the King said, “How long will your journey be?” (Nehemiah 2:6). Nehemiah was conscious of a limited time-frame in which to act. He worked swiftly therefore without delay or hindrance.

When enemies of Israel sought to distract him from his labors he responded, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). As a result of his determination, the wall of Jerusalem was completed in a remarkable span of only 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15).

There are physical limitations within which we all must work. Yet we must also give an account for the way we use our time, as is the case with all our possessions and resources. Nehemiah teaches us to be time conscious. In so doing, we too can accomplish great works for the Lord.

— by Michael E. Brooks

Human lives are like chimney’s coughing up the soot of sin.

All of us have probably heard people qualify their lives with something like, “Well, I might not be saint.”

While some of their ideas about sainthood may be awry, the core of that confession is right on target. All of us are currently, or we have been previously, unholy and corrupted by sin.

Human lives are like chimney’s coughing up the soot of sin. We stain our own dwelling and brick as well as negatively affecting all those living around us.

Our lives might not be an industrial smoke stack belching out a commercially sized cloud obscuring the sun, but our little fireplace flue is not holy, pure, godlike and innocent.

So how does a life whose dark chimney walls testify to the stain of sin become holy? God’s answer throughout scripture remains the same.

To the Israelites encamped at the foot of Mt. Sinai, God revealed, “I am the LORD, who makes you holy”

(Leviticus 22:32). Lest the newly minted priests be filled with a false sense of superiority, God repeatedly proclaimed concerning them, “I am the LORD, who makes them holy” (Leviticus 21:23; 22:9, 16).

It was God, not human effort, who made possible their holy lives. Israel was then charged with obeying God to avoid exasperating the situation. And yet, a question lingered: How did God transform unholy lives into holy ones?

God instructed Israel to offer sacrifices to clean up their messy lives. Nevertheless, God was clear.

“I have given the blood to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).

It was God, not they, who made them holy.

Moving beyond how Israel related to God through the covenant given at Mt. Sinai, we arrive at the foot of the cross where Jesus’ sacrificial death created the basis for a new way to relate to God through the new covenant. Nevertheless, a certain similarity persists.

“By his [God’s] will we have been made holy

through the offering of the body of Jesus

Christ once for all…for by one sacrifice

he has perfected for all time those who are

made holy” (Hebrews 10:10,14, NET).

Once again, not only do we discover that God is making people holy, but from other texts we learn that we are responsible to appropriate God’s gift to us. We must rely upon the blood of Jesus to be forgiven and atoned (Romans 3:24-26; Ephesians 1:7).

Accordingly a familiar note rings out, we are not capable of cleaning up our lives or producing holiness within ourselves.

Since God makes us holy through Christ’s death, we ought not to denigrate God’s work in our lives under the pretense of a false sense of humility by describing ourselves as sinners.

God’s people are holy! Along with the apostle Paul, we should rightly describe fellow Christians as being saints, that is holy ones.

“To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).

by Barry Newton

There are many guidelines we can use to become better Bible students.

The Bible is God’s inspired book (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

From it, we find the path to heaven (Romans 10:17).

Therefore, we should be eager to immerse ourselves in God’s Word.

How can we presume to follow and emulate a Savior that we know nothing about? Christians must develop the initiative and routine to read and study God’s Word on their own (John 14:15).

We must be very careful when we study so we can learn the truth of the Gospel. We must be diligent to monitor the veracity of the teachings of men (Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 4:1).

We must never tamper with the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18). In fact, we’re warned not to even think beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).

There are many guidelines that we can use to become better Bible students.

First, God is always good. His “goodness endures continually” (Psalm 52:1, NKJV). He is eternal, all- powerful, all-knowing, awesome and incomparable (Jeremiah 32:17,27; Psalm 66:3; 86:8; 1 John 3:20). If we see God as always being good, then we will not charge him and the Bible with error.

God and His Word deserve the utmost respect and reverence (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Second, facts are not trivial. We must learn everything we can about the Bible. The number of books of the Bible, the divisions, the authors, the names of prophets, priests, apostles and cities are important as we build familiarity and comfort within the Biblical world.

Third, remember the covenants. The majority of false doctrines come from a failure to understand that we are under the new covenant and no longer under the Law of Moses (Hebrews 9:11-16). The student must rightly divide the Word if they will be pleasing to God (2 Timothy 2:15).

Fourth, slow down and notice the small words. We miss so much when we hurry. Scripture is laser focused on its redemptive story. Nothing is wasted. When we slow down, we notice a richness of detail that we would otherwise miss.

Spiritual light and darkness is a major theme in the writings of John (John 1:5; 8:12; 1 John 1:5). When we slow down, we notice an overlooked gem in the hours leading up to Christ’s arrest.

In the upper room, Jesus tells the Apostles about his imminent death (John 13:1). Jesus says that one of them would betray him, and he sends Judas out to make provisions (John 13:25-29).

John mentions Judas leaving and notes “it was night”

(John 13:30). Judas was a part of a drama that began before time and was prophesied in Genesis 3:15. John’s theme carries through to the end.

God’s Word is filled with such overlooked examples if we will notice them.

Fifth, we must focus on the simple. Fleshly man craves the dark and exciting. Conspiracies capture our imaginations. When we approach God’s Word, we must be childlike and filled with wonder and trust (Matthew 18:3).

God’s Word says what it says, and there aren’t any schemes or tricks. We develop spiritual eyes through the gospel transformation and we see as God wants us to see (Romans 12:1-2).

Bible students need to restrain their imaginations and focus on the spiritual, not the fleshly (Romans 8:5-8).

Bible scholars are often atheists and every passage, author and book in the Bible is doubted and discredited.

We must be very careful with men and we must trust God above all (Titus 1:2). God’s Word is a treasure if we will respect, revere and receive it with gladness.

Visit http://howtounderstandthebible.abiblecommentary.com/ for more helpful Bible study tips.

— by Richard Mansel

Preacher, you put him to sleep. You wake him up!

“And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at

the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul

talked still longer. And being overcome by

sleep, he fell down from the third story and

was taken up dead” (Acts 20:9, ESV).

You have heard the joke. A man falls asleep during the sermon. The preacher spies him, and addresses his neighbor. “Can you reach over and wake brother so-and- so up?”

The punch line follows: “Preacher, you put him to sleep. You wake him up!”

I’m sorry. I never liked that joke.

And I don’t think it’s because I lack a sense of humor.

I think Jesus used humor to get his points across, and as long as it’s appropriate, I think a preacher can do it effectively today, too.

Can you imagine a man attempting eye surgery with a beam in his own eye? Can you imagine a punctilious housewife straining a gnat out of her soup…and swallowing a camel?

What I don’t like about the joke is that it blames the wrong person. It’s like saying that an assaulted woman was guilty because she was running at night or the victim of a robbery was guilty because he left his car window open. Perhaps he was unwise, but the thief was the guilty one!

And I don’t really mind (much) if someone is having a hard time staying awake on a given Sunday morning. You know what I mean — when he dozes for a moment, then wakes up guiltily, and does his best to stay the course. Get more sleep next Saturday night, but trust me, I understand.

But what I don’t understand is the person who outright “crashes” in worship, making no pretence that he despises proceedings. It’s not just a rebuke to the preacher, it demonstrates a lack of respect for God himself.

If you are a child of God, ask yourself, is this the way you should act in God’s very presence? What if the Lord were to come and speak to us directly, would we pay attention? If the preacher uses God’s word, is there a difference?

Parents, I ask it in all kindness, observe your child in worship. If he or she is not demonstrating proper respect for the Lord, it’s your responsibility to teach them, by word and example how to do it properly.

Your leadership might also be needed with regard to bedtime on Saturday nights. If need be, cancel other activities in order to carry out the most important thing you will do all week — worship God!

I say this in love. If we do not show proper respect for God, worse things than falling out a window may happen to us!

— by Stan Mitchell