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Saturday, July 28, 2007

May This Not Describe Us!

I received this joke via email. I assume it is ok to post it here, but if there are copyright issues please advise, and I will remove it immediately.

A driver did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman behind him went ballistic, pounding on her horn and screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to drive through the intersection with him. Still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.

The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm awfully sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the "Choose Life" license plate holder, the "What Would Jesus Do?" bumper sticker, the "Follow me to Sunday School" bumper sticker and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.

Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.

If it's only a joke, it's amusing. If it's descriptive of you or I, it is tragic. Jesus was harder on hypocrites than on any other class of people. Throughout His earthly ministry, He rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, at one time warning His disciples to not be like them. He said, "But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." (Matthew 23:3 NIV)

May we not be such. May we practice what we preach - walk according to our words, and live the things that come from our lips.


Here is another great thought from David Jeremiah:

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)

In AD 303, Emperor Diocletian ordered Bibles everywhere rounded up and burned, and the Christian Scriptures destroyed. Instead, Diocletian perished; and within 25 years, the next emperor commissioned Eusebius to prepare 50 copies of the Bible at the expense of the government.

Centuries later, the French infidel Voltaire claimed that within 100 years, the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be swept from existence. But Voltaire died in 1778, and within 50 years the Geneva Bible Society was using his press and his house to print Bibles.

No other book has been so hated, vilified, attacked, abused, burned, banished, criticized, and despised. Yet it is history's best seller, read today and loved by billions. As H. L. Hastings put it: "Infidels for 1800 years have been refuting and overthrowing this book, and yet it stands today as solid as a rock. Its circulation increases, and it is more loved and cherished and read today than ever before."

That's our Bible!

If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they died and the book still lives. (H. L. Hastings)

Have you read yours today? I encourage you to do so, and also to carry it with you tomorrow as you join your brothers and sisters in worshipping the Author of this indestructible book.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not Enough Bandaids

Dr. Tom Malone, founder and former pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Pontiac, Michigan told a story from his boyhood. He grew up in a rural community, and would often find himself in the woods and fields playing with his friends. There was, somewhere near his home, a deep ravine filled with blackberry bushes. It was a test of manhood for boys to run and jump that ravine. He, being the youngest of his group, was one day dared and goaded into jumping that ravine. He had never tried, and wasn't sure he could, but he couldn't resist the power of the double dog dare. And so he tore off across the field toward that ravine, legs pistoning, arms pumping, eyes bulging - determined with all his being to clear the distance.

But then something happened. Bro. Malone said a little doubt began to creep in as he hurtled toward the precipice. He began to think he shouldn't do it, and so he wavered between running full speed ahead, and turning back. He hestitated. And he ended up in the bottom of the ravine. His story ended with him saying that there were not enough bandaids in all of the state to cover the cuts on his young body.

Several times in our Bibles, Jesus warned of just such a mindset. He warned that the end is coming, and we need to be ready. Don't look back - don't hesitate, or you will be lost, He said. Don't hesitate, but rather follow Him wholeheartedly. Meditate on these verses today and consider what they mean to you.

Remember Lot's wife. (Luke 17:32)

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)

Are you hesitating to serve Him faithfully in your local church? Why? Such hesitation not only lands you in the blackberries of life, but it also cuts your brothers and sisters in Christ, who need your faithful influence in their lives. Christians are taught to "... look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:4)

Or perhaps you are hesitating in trusting Christ? There won't be enough bandaids to help you if you die lost.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Amazed by the Gospel

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
-- from Charles Wesley's hymn, "And Can It Be"

I continue to read the excellent book by Mark Dever entitled "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church." This morning, I read that a healthy church will have a right understanding of evangelism and discipleship. Dever made many excellent points, but then summed up his thoughts with this comment:

"We need to get back to being amazed at the gospel."

And it was as if I had been clubbed. I was immediately convicted of the vital truth of that statement. "We need to get back to being amazed at the gospel."

This past week, Ms. Rowlings sold 8.5 million copies of her latest installment in the Harry Potter series of books. Why? Because she knows how to tell a story, and people will always stand in line for a good story.

But the gospel is the greatest story ever told. How is it that so few are interested? How is it that our churches are empty? RCC was empty six months ago when I arrived, and although it's got a few less empty seats - it's still pretty empty!

"We need to get back to being amazed at the gospel."

When was the last time you were amazed with it? When was the last time you found it so astonishing that you just had to share it with somebody? The early Christians were amazed by the gospel, and they "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) as a result. Paul the Apostle was amazed by it, and he reached the entire known world during his lifetime.

God can build a church at Randolph, but He will do it the way He always has, by the proclamation of His Word - His amazing good news gospel.

May God forgive me for allowing the gospel to become anything but amazing in my heart. And may God help me to become once again astonished by it. Will you, my friend, pray the same prayer?

Wesley said it well:

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Bible - Valuable for All Time

I liked the thoughts in Dr. David Jeremiah's daily devotional today. I share it here with you:

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to
be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold. (Psalm 19:9-10)

In 1944, newspaper editor T. Harry Wilson bequeathed a special book to the Greater Victoria Library in British Columbia. It was a rare first-edition copy of the King James Bible, one of only 50 known copies in existence. It was displayed in 1979, then stored away in the vault and forgotten. Now the library has rediscovered the book and sent it to Sotheby's auction house in New York where it's expected to raise about a half-million dollars.

The Bible is your most valuable possession, more precious than gold, and sweeter than honey. How easily it can be forgotten, but how valuable when rediscovered!

"I want to know one thing," said John Wesley, "- the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book."

Have you neglected your Bible? Isn't it time you rediscovered it?

The Holy Scripture is of much greater benefit to us than day or night, than the air we breath, or the light of the sun. (Matthew Henry)

Friday, July 20, 2007


I never cease to be amazed at how God wants to communicate with us. If we will just seek His face, He will be there, and He will reveal more and more of His truth to us.

An example happened to me in just the last 2 days.

This past Wednesday we held our first midweek prayer meeting. These meetings last no more than 1 hour, and have a two-part format - discussion style Bible study followed by praying for those in our church by name. This week we prayed for the first 10 families in our church database by name. Next week we'll pray over the next 10, and so on until we reach the end of the list, at which time we will start over. If you are in our database, you are being prayed for by name. We also prayed for our missionaries, by name.

But the example I refer to happened in the Bible study portion of the meeting, not the prayer time. We began a discussion of Bible words - important words in the Bible and what they mean. I asked for suggestions on words we might study - words like submission, faithfulness, forgiveness, love, etc. One person suggested a word I would never have thought of - trembling. And so I wrote it down for study.

This morning I opened my Bible for my daily time with God, and read this:

The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved. (Psalm 99:1 KJV)

I encourage you today to read Psalm 99. For in it God gives us a picture of His holiness. And when we get a view of God in His holiness, we cannot help but tremble.

How do you see God, my friend? Is "love" the only word that comes to mind when you think of God? I have a Basset Hound named Chloe that is like that. She only loves, always, no matter what I do to her. Is that your picture of God? If so, how do you explain things like Psalm 99 in the Bible, where God's justice and holiness are said to be reasons for us to tremble?

Interesting thoughts, huh? We'll talk more about it on a coming Wednesday night study, so plan on coming and joining in the discussion. We need you there. Your brothers and sisters need you to be praying for them, just as they pray for you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Just a reminder that we will be having our first open mid-week prayer meeting tonight. The elders and deacons have been meeting for prayer every other week on Wednesday evenings, but starting tonight we want to open that meeting to all. Please join us as we do a brief discussion-style Bible study, followed by a time of prayer. We will meet at the church at 6:30 and be finished by 7:30 at the very latest. You've heard the old saying, I'm sure - "You can tell how much people love their church by the Sunday morning attendance. You can tell how much they love their preacher by the Sunday evening attendance. And you can tell how much they love God by their Wednesday evening attendance." I'm not sure how true that is, but I do know that we as a church need to pray more.

Also, a reminder that the Timothy Club will once again be playing golf this Sunday at 1:00 at the Paradise Lakes golf course in Randolph. Cost is $15.00, which includes the cart, and all are invited to attend.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How could God allow it?

Now there's a question we hear often. We heard it on September 11th. We heard it in the aftermath of Columbine. We heard it when a man broke into an Amish schoolhouse and shot several young Amish children to death. We heard it recently when a young woman in our area was found murdered. In our own community, we have just witnessed two tragedies very close to home - a family around the corner from our church woke in the middle of the night to find their home burning to the ground, and just yesterday my next door neighbor lost his life when he had an accident in his pickup truck.

Why does God allow bad things to happen? If God loves us, why does He allow it?

This past Lord's day, we studied John 4 - the healing of the nobleman's son. Perhaps this nobleman and his family thought the same thing as they watched their little child sink deeper and deeper into sickness. How could God allow such to happen to a little child? As the nobleman hurried on the road to meet Jesus, perhaps the thought was there - how could God allow my little child to die?

But we know the end of the story and know that the Lord used that little child's sickness to lead the nobleman to Christ; and not only the nobleman, but his entire family. God was in control, and was able to turn even what seemed unjust into a wonderful result.

You can trust Him, my friend, even when you don't understand Him. He is working all things for His glory, and for your good.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:13 KJV)

We Do Not Well

Some of the greatest stories ever written appear in the Old Testament. Take for example 2 Kings 7, where we read of a time when the Syrian army besieged Samaria. After a period of time the food ran out and the city of Samaria was in a bad way, even to the extent that the people were sinking to cannibalism just to survive. There was no hope for rescue, but then God intervened. He made the besieging Syrians think another army was coming, and they fled for their lives, leaving all their possessions and supplies behind.

Outside the gate of starving Samaria sat 4 lepers. In desperation they decided to surrender to the Syrians, but they arrived to discover the Syrian hordes gone. Ravenous, they tore into the food supplies and stuffed themselves with food. But then they looked at each other and said, "We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace." (2 Kings 7:9) They went back to the city to share the good news, and the starving people of Samaria shared in the bounty.

Whenever I read that story, I'm reminded of our responsibility to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Christians feast daily on the wonderful thought that He loves us and gave Himself for us. We are saved, and secure in Him.

And yet all around us people are starving for want of that good news. People need to hear about Jesus and His love for them. When we are silent, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace.

Will you share the good news with somebody today?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Semper reformanda

I'm reading a book entitled "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church" by Mark Dever. As I read this morning I came across this interesting thought:
At the time of the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church had a Latin phrase that became something of a motto: semper idem. It means 'always the same.' Well, the Reformed churches, too, had a 'semper' motto: ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei. 'The church reformed, always being reformed according to the Word of God.' A healthy church is a church that hears the Word of God and continues to hear the Word of God. And such a church is composed of individual Christians who hear the Word of God and continue to hear the Word of God, always being refashioned and reshaped by it, constantly being washed in the Word and sanctified by God's truth.
I was reminded of how important it is that the Word of God be central to our lives. We don't just glance at the Bible. We don't just read it once and think, Oh that's nice. We don't just read it and allow it to change us with respect to salvation. No - we read it over and over again, and submit ourselves to what it says, so that we are constantly being made more and more like the author - the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.

I'm convinced that there are two kinds of people in the world - those who are semper idem - "always the same", and those who are semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei - "always being reformed according to the Word of God.

Which are you?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

After Many Days

And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. (1 Kings 18:1)

There is a fascinating story in 1 Kings 17-18, and if we don't get some rain around here pretty soon we're going to think it hits a little too close to home! For it's in these chapters that we read of Elijah praying that it would not rain, and it didn't rain in the land of Israel for 3 years. This was God's judgement on wicked king Ahab for his idolatry and other sins. It's a good read, so I encourage you to check it out in your copy of the Bible.

After Elijah prayed and the rain stopped, God sent him to a remote location where he would be safe from his enemies. And then three years passed. Now that would be a long time to be thrust off by yourself, waiting for God to do something. That little phrase "it came to pass after many days" just kind of paints the picture for me.

Have you ever felt like God wasn't there anymore? Does it seem to feel like "many days" pass without a word from Him? We all experience periods in our Christian lives which feel dry and lifeless - desert experiences which try our souls. It's important to realize that at such times it is really only a feeling. God never leaves you, even if you sometimes feel like He does.

When you come to the desert places in life, how do you handle it? Some choose the path of drifting away from God and His church. Others, like Elijah, wait patiently for God to send the rain. Even in the desert, my friend, keep right on trusting Him. It may take many days, but He will be there at the end of those days, and He will bring rain to your thirsty soul.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

In the Dark

In the black silence of the woods, my stifled cries of pain sounded much louder than then really were. For the millionth time, I felt my flesh tearing as I tried to pull away from the blackberry bush which had snagged me. I knew I was in the general area where I wanted to set my tree stand, but it was pitch black, and I was obviously off course.

Deer hunters like to get into the woods before light, so as not to disturb the deer which are out feeding during the night. The problem, of course, is that you have to try and silently move through the woods in the dark. And stumbling in the dark is no fun.

Bartimaeus knew all about that. I encourage you to read about him today in Mark 10:46-52. He was a blind man, and he sat by the roadside begging. One day he heard a commotion and learned that Jesus was passing by. He began to scream out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" He was in the dark, and yet he knew his only hope was to get to Jesus.

What a picture of us all! We are all blind and stumbling in the dark, until we get to Jesus. Only Jesus can give us sight. Now there are many forms of blindness. Some are blind because they have never heard the truth. Some are blind because they have heard but reject the truth. And some are blind because they don't think the truth applies to them.

Don't stumble in the dark, my friend. If you will but run to Jesus, He will turn the lights on. He alone can make blind eyes see.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,

Monday, July 9, 2007

How Surprising!

Jesus spent some time talking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Those who worshiped the Lord with us yesterday will be familiar with the story in John 4. There is a fascinating phrase that we never got to in our study yesterday. It is in verse 27, where we read that the disciples, upon returning and finding Jesus talking with this woman "were surprised to find him talking with a woman."

We learned yesterday that it was, indeed, surprising for a Rabbi to talk with a woman, and especially a woman of Samaria. So at first glance we can understand the reaction of the disciples when they first saw the scene.

But what's really surprising is that Jesus would be willing to talk to any of us! They didn't seem surprised when He stooped to speak with them, but it was just as astounding that He would do so, as that He would speak to a woman of Samaria!

We are all unworthy of the love and attention God lavishes on us. And yet He does. Praise Him for that, today.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Pray for the Pastor

Brothers, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:25)

A selfish request, this morning - pray for your pastor. Always and often. He needs your prayers every day.

Years ago a great preacher named Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote a devotional book called "Morning and Evening". This book is available in many forms today, and is even available for free on the internet.

Here is part of today's entry, written by Spurgeon years ago, but still so needed today:
This one morning in the year we reserved to remind each reader of the importance of praying for ministers, and we earnestly implore every Christian household to heed this request first uttered by Paul and now repeated by us. Brothers, our work is solemnly momentous, involving good or ill to thousands; we deal with souls for God on eternal business, and our word is either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. A very heavy responsibility rests upon us, and it will be no small mercy if at the last we be found clear of the blood of all men.
Will you pray for your pastor today?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Weekend Happenings!

This weekend we have opportunities to worship the Lord, serve the Lord, and enjoy the Lord's people! On Saturday, at 10:00, you can join us as we help serve meals to the homeless and disadvantaged at the Haven of Rest in Akron. On Sunday at 10:30, you can join us in worshiping Him in our regular Lord's Day worship service, and then at 1:00 on Sunday, you can enjoy the fellowship of God's people as the Timothy Club meets to play golf at Paradise Lakes Golf Course.

I believe we are little short on volunteers this week for the Haven of Rest, so may I encourage you to join us for this service time? The work is not difficult, and the rewards are great. "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble." (Psalm 41:1 KJV) Should you decide to help with this, here are the directions to the Haven of Rest from Randolph. Those coming from other areas will be able to use these same directions, I think.

  1. Take Route 76 west, and then Route 8 north.
  2. Exit at the Perkins exit, and turn LEFT.
  3. Travel 2 blocks to UNION and turn LEFT.
  4. Travel 1 block to PARK and turn RIGHT.
  5. Travel 1 block to PROSPECT and turn LEFT.
  6. Travel 1/2 block to JOURNAL ALLEY and turn RIGHT.
  7. Turn LEFT into the parking lot. From this parking lot you should be able to see the Food Service Door. There is a buzzer at that door. Ring the buzzer and somebody will let you in.
We need to be there right at 10:00. We do not need to be earlier than that.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Safe in His Hand

Dr. David Jeremiah shared the following in his daily devotional today:

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28)

The scene is usually a cliff, a waterfall, a window ledge, or some other precipice - a fall from which would result in certain death. One person is over the precipice, kept from falling only by holding to the outstretched hand of another. Three things can happen to the one hanging over the edge: the grip is unintentionally broken due to a failure in strength, the grip is released intentionally due to malevolence, or the person is pulled to safety due to the strength of the rescuer.

One of the strongest images of the believer's eternal security in Christ was painted by the Savior's own words: "Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." Too often, Christian's feel that eternal security depends on their strength, their faithfulness, their perseverance - their ability to hold on to the Savior's hand. The opposite is actually the truth: It is Christ's strength, Christ's faithfulness, Christ's perseverance - Christ's ability to hold on to the believer's hand - that keeps the Christian eternally secure.

When you wonder if you have been faithful enough, hold out your hand, and picture it enveloped in the strong hand of Christ.

Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? (C. S. Lewis)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

God Bless America

God bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the oceans
White with foam.
God bless America, my home sweet home.
God bless America, my home sweet home.

Remember, as you celebrate American's independence today, what a blessing God has given us to live in this free land. Paul Sweeney said it well when he said, "How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy." We are so blessed to live here.

Did you know that the Bible says some things about government?

  • It says that governments are blessed when they are based on God - " Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 KJV)
  • It says that Christians are to respect and obey the government, because we know that God alone puts governments into power. (Difficult thought for some Americans to accept. We like to think we vote people into power, but the Bible says God makes that decision.) "Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God." (Romans 13:1 NLT)
  • It also says that we need to pray for our nation. "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

Will you join me today in praying for this nation of ours? More and more freedoms are taken away from us every day, and there may come a day when we are no longer free. But today, we are free to pray. So let's do so. Pray for America, land that we all love.

Off with your hat, as the flag goes by!
And let the heart have its say;
you're man enough for a tear in your eye
that you will not wipe away.
~Henry Cuyler Bunner

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dirty Cups

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

My favorite song of all time. So simply true, and yet so profound. Everything you need to know is in that song. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you.

This morning I read Matthew 23. I encourage you to read it sometime today. In this chapter Jesus spends some time talking about the Pharisees. And it's hard to "feel the love" in His words about these people. He did love them, but He surely didn't love their behavior. He described them as:

... people who "say, and do not." (Matthew 23:3)
... people who do their works "to be seen of men." (Matthew 23:5)
... people who are "hypocrites" (Matthew 23:14)

He said over and over, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (vs. 14,15,16,23,27,29)

There are many today who could be described as Pharisees. Put simply, a Pharisee is somebody with an outward form of religion that is not a result of real inward change. They are professors, but not possessors.

Jesus gives some wonderful truth in this chapter about how to avoid being a Pharisee. "You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy-full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too." (Matthew 23:25-26 NLT) Think about the last time you washed dishes by hand. You don't worry too much about the outside of a cup when washing it, do you? You concentrate on the inside, and as you wash that, the outside just takes care of itself - it's clean, and you didn't need to do much with it.

So with we human beings. If we concentrate on the inside - our relationship and walk with God, it will affect the outside. We'll be cleaned up both in and out.

Is the inside of the cup clean, my friend? Here is the first step in making sure it is.