Friday, June 30, 2006

Healing and Reconciliation?

Richard Mansel, a dear Christian, recently sent me a link describing the actions of the House of Deputies in the Episcopal Church. By 72.9 percent of the vote on June 20, they approved the Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation. This healing and reconciliation actually "compels each church to consult the wider Communion when making significant decisions." Basically, they are not willing to halt the approval of homosexual bishops and clergy nor to refrain from "blessing" same-sex marriages.

It seems the way to union and healing for Episcopalians is to forsake the teaching of God for the "wider" communion. If there are some folks out there who disagree with what God teaches, it seems preferable to them to seek reconciliation with the other folks even if it means forgetting the teaching of God in Scripture. How sad! They would rather have the communion of men than the holiness of God. They would rather sit silent and allow sin to continue. It is not any surprise, then, when the same group of Episcopalians would not endorse a resolution to say that Jesus is the only way to salvation (thus denying John 14:6 and Acts 4:12). When you jettison God's will in one area, you find it easy to throw it all out (thus James 2:10).

Those among churches of Christ who are seeking communion with brethren who err on the instrument are basically saying the same thing. Healing and reconciliation with error is actually breaking communion with God. To give approval, to bid godspeed, to those who teach and practice error is to participate in their evil deeds (2 John 9-11). The Bible still teaches that God will uproot every plant which He has not planted. Where in the New Testament has God planted the use of instruments in Christian worship?

Instrumentalists must appeal to a "wider" understanding than the New Testament. They made the argument in the 1800s that we must "keep up with the times." They believed we must change or die! (And so the doubters speak today.) They said people will not come to our churches unless we change. In spite of their prognostication, in the 1900s a cappella churches outgrew the instrumentalists, thus disproving that we must give in to the world to grow.

It should not surprise us that in 1989, the Disciples also voted that Jesus was not the only way to heaven.

And they say there is no slippery slope! Nonsense.

Real healing does not come with giving up our faith to the world's fickle notions; it comes when we with humility and love give ourselves fully to the will of God. How can righteous people forsake the Lord to get along with people? Will those "people" judge us in the end or will the Lord? Did the people of the world send their Son to die for us?

Romans 12:2 should be shouted to us all: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Let us hold fast to the Lord and not give in to peer pressure and the desires of men.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

From the Roman period

While Jackie and I were in Israel, I purchased several olive oil lamps, most of which were reproductions of the kind of lamps used in the days of Jesus. We first saw them in Nazareth at the exhibit on the daily life of Jesus. They gave us two round lamps there. Throughout Israel, you could pick up some similar lamps for a few dollars. We found the best price in Bethlehem. An antiquities dealer, however, had one that dated from the Roman period (63 BC to 325 AD). Since it was priced reasonably, I decided to buy one. I wanted something I could say was from the time of Christ and found in the Holy Land. The pattern on this lamp identified it as being from that era.

They put a lesser quality of olive oil in the reserve and put a piece of cloth in the spout. A full lamp could burn for about four hours and provided an amount of light that was somewhere between a candle and a lantern.

As a preacher of the gospel, I thought about Jesus being the light of the world. I also recognized that I was to be a light to the world. I was not to put my light under a basket but on a lampstand that it may give light to all. I was to let my light so shine that men may see good works and glorify the Father in heaven.

My sweet daughter, Tara, is preparing a case to put this lamp in. Eventually, you will find it displayed in my office to remind me always to take the light to the world.

May the light of God bless your life today.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Go to Israel!

My lovely wife Jackie and I had the best vacation ever, when Concord Rd Church of Christ, in gratitude for our ten years service, sent us to Israel. We will never read the Bible the same way. If you can go to Israel, go!

Yes, I know there was a bombing down on the Gaza strip. This is from a fuss going on between the Fatah and the Hamas Palestinians and does not affect Jerusalem and Galilee. We even into Palestinian Bethlehem with no problems (it is more than 30% Christian).

I cannot express in words how blessed we were to go to see the land where Jesus walked and preached and ministered. Jackie and I will never forget this trip.

We expect some day to go again and perhaps host a group. There was so much to take in, we cannot remember it all.

Just one example. Did you ever think about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, looking up from the garden to see the Temple? Did you ever consider the close proximity of Capernaum to Kursi or the Mount of Beatitutdes?

We took a boat ride on a choppy Sea of Galilee, floated in the Dead Sea, and sat in the Garden Tomb. We prayed on the Mount of Olives and saw Joppa, Caesarea, and Nazareth. We went up to Caesarea Philippi and ascended Mount Tabor. Wow. It was wonderful. We also went to the Shepherd's fields in Bethlehem and selected five smooth stones from Elah.

Save your money and go to Israel if you can!