Monday, July 13, 2009

New Blog soon

In coming days, I'll be posting my material to a blog associated with "In Search of the Lord's Way." We'll be giving news, Biblical articles, and useful information at that blog.

Let me encourage you in the coming days to check out that blog.
Also there are daily devotionals at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good News!

Through the efforts of brethren in New Philadelphia, Ohio, we are able to appear on a new cable system (PCM, Channel 2) each Sunday morning at 7:30! Thanks to Tim Hatfield and the New Philadelphia Church of Christ!

The Lord be with you,

Monday, April 27, 2009

the Gospel

What is the gospel? To hear some speak, the gospel is merely the facts. They say that 1 Corinthians 15 makes it clear that the gospel is compromised of the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Well, let's see.

1 Corinthians 15:1-5 ( NASB ) 1Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

First, the word gospel means "good news." Good news is a message, not facts.
This message was made known, preached, and received.
They took their stand on this message.
They were saved by this message.
They were expected to hold fast to the word which was preached in order to remain saved.
If they let go of the message, they would have believed in vain.

Second, the message of the apostles was persuasive.
They taught with an end in mind. They wanted their listeners to hear and heed what they heard.

Knowing the fear of the Lord, they persuaded (2 Cor. 5:11).
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—(2 Cor. 6:1)
Acts 18:4 ( NASB ) And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
2 Tim. 2:24-26 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Third, they sought obedience to their message.
Obedience to the gospel was their goal (Rom. 10:14; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; 1 Pet. 4:17).
Paul wanted those who believed the gospel to be obedient to the faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:25-27)see also Acts 6:7.

The power of the Gospel worked when people believed the message about the facts and heeded that message. The gospel is God's power to save (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:21).

Let's not commit the fallacy of confusing the points of the message with the purpose of the message. The good news is a message of salvation to the one who hears and obeys.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Always and Forever

I will be at Highland Church of Christ in Columbia, TN, on May 3 to do a marriage enrichment seminar.

Sunday Morning Worship: 9:00AM
Bible Class: 10:30AM
Lunch: 12:00PM
Early Afternoon Session: 12:45PM

Our Theme:
Most married couples seem to put everyone and everything else before their most important relationship—their own. In Always and Forever, Phil Sanders focuses on critical issues that will help your marriage last a lifetime. You’ll learn the importance of these six keys to a satisfying relationship:

- The Biblical Essentials
- Communication You Care
- The Secret to a Lasting Marriage
- The Secret to an Intimate Marriage
- What Wives Want
- What Husbands Want

I'm really excited about coming to Columbia May 3! Jackie and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary on May 17!


Friday, April 03, 2009

April 3-5, 2009
Jackson, Missouri Church of Christ

Friday PM: Why is Our World Turned Upside Down?
Saturday PM: Will Jesus Really Help Me?
Sunday AM Bible Class: The Greatest Needs of Our Time
(Faith Hope and Love)
Sunday AM Worship: Why You Should Be a Christian
Sunday PM Worship: Living with Faith in an Unbelieving World (Postmodernism)

Come if you can.
I will be at Lads to Leaders Convention April 10-11 and in Elizabethtown, KY for a gospel meeting April 12-15.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blame It on the Spirit

For many years the evangelical world has believed the Holy Spirit operated directly upon their hearts, not only in bringing about salvation but also in day-to-day guidance. How often one might see in religious literature phrases that suggest the Holy Spirit spoke directly to someone or impressed on his heart to pursue a particular course.
Even among churches of Christ, we are seeing churches turning from the truth to error, supposedly at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. An eldership recently wrote a letter to the members of the congregation explaining why they were going to use instrumental music in one of their worship services. They said:

In the last few months we have been led by the Spirit to believe that as one of our tools we need to offer a second service, a service which will include a blend of a cappella and instrumental music. We realize that this is a break from our tradition and that many of you are struggling with this, but we have witnessed the Spirit’s great movement in the Wednesday evening college worship, a worship service with instrumental worship. Where God is moving, we seek to join Him, even if that entails some departure from our tradition. We believe Jesus gave us this pattern in John 5:19 (“The son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing”). …

We have spent considerable time inquiring of God and feel led by His Spirit to pursue the goal we set forth for 2009 and to utilize the implementation of two services as one of the tools for reaching this goal. We ask you to walk with us as we strive to walk with God.

It is indeed hard for me to imagine that the Holy Spirit led them to act divisively by adding a worship activity they knew would violate the conscience of some. While the elders recognized a cappella music as a tradition, they seem oblivious to the fact that it was a divine tradition—a tradition of the Holy Spirit himself. Nor do they recall that neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit would speak new teachings or make new practices not instructed by the Father (John 12:49-50; 16:12-13).
Of course the evidence for their change is not what the Holy Spirit has caused to be written in Scripture but their own observations. They do not tell how they know that the Spirit was moving. We wonder how they knew the Spirit was moving on the college class in their use of the instrument, when there is no record of any church in the first century using an instrument. Did they hear speaking in tongues at they did at the house of Cornelius or at Ephesus? Did they see miracles?
If the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth in the first century (and He did—John 16:13; this the promise of Jesus), why didn’t the Spirit reveal the need to use the instrument in the New Testament? Why didn’t the early church, who was guided into all truth, understand they were to use the instrument? Why are the members of the congregation being asked to rely on the findings of the elders but given no Scriptural precedence for the practice?
Those who are bringing the Spirit to bear into what they are doing often ignore the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures. They forget the Scriptures claim they are inspired and complete. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If Christianity had all truth and was equipped for every good work in the first, we will not see any new truth or need any further equipping in the 21st century. “All” and “every” means “all” and “every”; not “all,” except when I feel moved.
People today are using phrases such as “the Spirit led me to…,” “the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart to…,” or “the Sprit prompted me to…” to justify their own choices and directions. Such subjective assertions are often more a statement of what they desire than of what the Spirit has revealed.
The argument that they use to justify the instrument is also the argument women who want to preach use to deny the teaching of 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:10-11. It is the argument the emerging church people use to try to reinvent Christianity.
The Holy Spirit is not in the innovation business. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit only speaks and acts what He hears from the Father. We are now to contend for the faith, which was once for all time delivered to the saints, not innovate and reinvent Christianity.
In the days of Jeremiah, some false prophets were always claiming to speak “the word of the Lord.” Jeremiah said:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? (Jer. 23:16-18)

“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” (23:21-22)

Jeremiah spoke of prophets who were convinced God had spoken to them but the vision came from their own hearts and minds. God did not speak to them; they weren’t listening to God. They spoke out of their own imagination.
To blame the Spirit and say He moved us to innovate, to originate our own beliefs and practices, is ignorant and dishonoring to the Holy Spirit. Don’t blame the Spirit; obey the Spirit who spoke in Scripture (1 Thess. 4:8). Do not go beyond the teaching of Scripture. Only in this way will you imitate the Son and Spirit.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Hunger for Righteousness

"Nobody's interested in that." That's what I heard about doctrinal matters of the church. People simply aren't interested in doctrinal things; they want preaching and teaching that meet felt needs.

Well, I beg to differ. "The Affirming the Faith" Seminar in OKC was filled and overflowing. The open forum in Cleburne over the Emerging Church Movement was full of folks, young and old. The lecture and Q & A session I did Thursday night on Instrumental Music in Wagoner, OK filled every pew in the auditorium with people, young and old.

Is there a hunger for truth? Yes. People have not stopped thinking about what pleases God, and they are willing to hear "doctrinal" preaching. The belief that people are interested anymore speaks more about those who say such things than it does about reality. People are interested in what the Bible teaches, because they are interested in God.

Truth matters to God, and it should matter to us. Preachers should get out their sermons on doctrinal matters and preach them. They might be surprised at the people's reactions.

Starving folks makes 'em hungry; and much of religion today is empty of distinctive truth.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome and Wanted

I am working very hard right now on a weekend seminar called "Welcome and Wanted." (All my loved ones at Concord Rd are likely to smile at this point or laugh!)

The purpose of the seminar is to stir churches to greater outreach to the lost. As you know, the 2009 Directory of the Churches of Christ showed that we are indeed on a plateau and not growing as we should. Many congregations do not have the motivation or the tools they need to reach out to the lost. I am hoping to stir them up to reach out once again.

I found while teaching courses in Church Growth that many churches have no plan at all to reach the lost. Many congregations have not seen a single baptism in the last year or two. Some congregations haven't seen a baptism is several years. We can and must do better than this.

I have weekends free in the coming years and would love to come to your congregation and present this material and to tell you of the great work of In Search of the Lord's Way and how it can help your local congregation.

Most of our viewers are NOT members of the church.

You can reach me at or at 405-348-3242.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


There is something within all of us that doesn't like rules. We don't like being “told” to do something or to refrain from doing something. Perhaps we don't like rules because we don't like the consequences of breaking rules. Disobedience to rules brings discipline, punishment, disappointment, and pain. We know that when we disobey the rules we have to face the authority behind the rules. Rules are at heart bound up in relationship. We do not break rules; we are breaking the authority of the one who made the rules.
Sin is not simply the transgression of the law; it is the transgression of God's law. When we break God's rules, we break God's will and break from his favor. Isaiah reminds us:
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
One who looks long at the cross realizes that sin breaks God's will and his heart. God grieved at the continually evil heart found in the people of Noah's day (Genesis 6:5-7). God warns Christians not to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) by unwholesome talk or by an unforgiving spirit. Jesus grieved in his spirit to see Jerusalem rejecting God's will and refusing to embrace him as Lord (Matthew 23:37-39). You can hear the heartache of the Lord:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Rules are not some optional imperative, when they come from God. They are not suggestions. They are founded in God's own holy character. They are part of Him, and we cannot relate to Him without recognizing them.
These “rules” go to the very heart of our relationship with God. One must not confuse them with a legalistic “laundry list” proposed by power-hungry, religious zealots (Col. 2:20-23). God's rules are eternally moral and righteous; they are for our good (Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:13). They bring health of spirit and body. Those who keep them sow to life, while those who ignore them sow to corruption (Galatians 6:7-8).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lest we forget

Exodus 1:8 "Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph."

Judges 2:10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

Sociologists say that a cultural shift takes place every four to five years, as a new generation comes along unexposed to the social forces of older adults. Many of the youngest adults can hardly remember when there were no cell phones, no cable companies, and no computers. They have lived under a president named Bush, Clinton, or Obama.

The preaching in churches of Christ has changed in the last generation. It has over time become afraid to say much of anything with conviction. Preachers preach much love but little truth, grace but little repentance, salvation but little obedience, and much on relationships but little on relating responsibly to God Himself. People speak much on believing and confuse their listeners by speaking little on what to believe.

It seems we have forgotten phrases like "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) and have substituted preach only "positive" messages. Such substitution is unfaithful. It seems we have forgotten the instruction to "reprove" and to "rebuke" (2 Tim. 4:2). Have we itching ears that call only for what we want and refuse what we need?

Our youngest adults in the church are confused by their leaders' constant apologizing, qualifying, and "dumbing down." Leaders speak what we believe unless someone gets offended, and then we don't believe it anymore (all of a sudden). No wonder they are confused. Young adults want conviction, and we give them apologies. Young adults aren't afraid of the truth, but some can't seem to bring themselves to admit what they believe. Our youngest adults are confused because their leaders have confused them with doublespeak and doubt in their own beliefs. Tragic.

Spineless leaders who will not speak their convictions have jettisoned their leadership to a chaotic culture. They have left a generation at the mercy of every wind that blows, because they remain untaught. Their preaching will never set this generation free from sin or error. Only the truth can do that.

I have watched a generation of our people lose its beliefs, questioning its most basic tenets. We can't say baptism is "for the remission of sins," because we know good immersed people who were saved before baptism. We can't say baptism is immersion because we know good sprinkled folks. We can't speak against women leading in worship because some good women do it. We can't speak against instruments in worship because some good people use them.

Isn't God also good? When did people count more than God? When did we feel permitted to hush God and the Scriptures so that we don't offend somebody? A new generation feels little hesitance to tell God to hush. He is utterly disrespected, made common, and demoted from His place as the one true and living God, so that we might not offend people. What if God is offended at our silence? Doesn't God matter?

How quickly a generation passes! So much change so fast is not new in history. I only pray that it will not so dilute our faith that we forget.

The Lord bless you,

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Transition Indeed

I have not posted much since my move back to Oklahoma. Well I am here, and the best way to reach me is at or to call me at Search (405)-348-3242. I moved into the house on Salem Creek Rd.

I have not taught a class or preached a sermon since Dec. 28. I guess this is the most unusual change for me. I am ready for speaking opportunities. Of course this will end at FHU, where I will speak twice. Before the week is out, I'll go to Cleburne, TX for an open forum on ECM (12:45-4:30 pm).

I am really looking forward to the Affirming the Faith Seminar in February. As soon as it finishes, I go to Rison, Ark for a gospel meeting. Early in March I'll be in Karns, TN (near Knoxville) for the ETSOP lectures.

In the meantime we tape some more of the Search programs, one this Thursday and one in February. I'm working hard to do my best on them.

Each day gets a little better. We are finding where the businesses are and how to get around. It is really nice to see old friends, though some I don't recognize at first. God is good.