The a capella pattern

Advocates for a capella (or non-instrumental) music in worship frequently turn to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Neither of these prohibits instruments in so many words; rather, they describe the actions of worshipful, thankful hearts as they address their Father to offer Him praise. That said, these and every other passage in the New Testament that refer to music in the assembly mentions and emphasizes singing. Instruments are not mentioned at all.

This constitutes a pattern.

Read More

A few words on baptism

I could go on and on indefinitely regarding my brother in Christ and fellow Bible student Jesse Winn — particularly regarding some of the specific issues he raised recently regarding the things he has come to “believe” about faith in Jesus.  If anyone would like to discuss a particular point of interest with which I have not fully dealt, I will be more than happy to do so in a different forum.  I believe I have made my general points I have made about differences of doctrine within the body of Christ and how to deal with them.  I will limit my specific points regarding such differences to one specific: baptism.

Read More

Control

If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.  That is a very profound truth (unfortunately, not original to me) regarding political correctness in particular and whining in general.  We convince ourselves that the problem is “out there” and  therefore someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility.  In truth, though, the problem — at least, the one relevant to the current circumstance — is “in here.”  Our own personal weaknesses, our own personal insecurities, our own personal failures.

Read More

A few words about erring brethren

One of the oddest parts of my brief exchange with Bro. Jesse Winn, to which I have made considerable reference over the last few weeks, was something he said about me personally.  In my experience, “about me personally” is a prepositional phrase that is hardly ever a good thing in the context of brethren debating doctrinal differences.  But this was an exception.

Read More

A few words about authority

In this space last week, I made you aware of my brief exchange with Bro. Jesse Winn, whose website article entitled “The Church of Christ: Some Thoughts on Change” has gotten a bit of play lately.  The article features 30 statements, each of then beginning with “I believe.”  They represent his current thinking on a variety of subjects ranging from church music to congregational oversight to the resurrection.  I do not have the inclination to respond fully to any of these points, let alone all of them. But I would like to address the tone of the article as a whole, and perhaps touch on a few specific points along the way.

 

Read More

Allergy

A young girl ate a cookie.  And now she is dead.

It happened right here in Florida, just last month.  She was at a friend’s house.  The cookie had peanut butter in it.  She went into anaphylactic shock.  Her parents administered two EpiPens.  It was all for naught. She died about an hour later.

The story I read said she “accidentally” ate the cookie.  I have eaten many cookies in my day, and (without trying to sound dismissive) that is pretty much impossible.  She ate the cookie on purpose.  She ate peanuts,  and died, on accident.

Read More

Improvement

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”  The point, I think, is that we should strive to be getting better all the time, rather than sitting around waiting for a magic pill that will get us to the finish line instantaneously.

Read More

My e-mail exchange with Bro. Jesse Winn

I include here a full record of the initial exchange of e-mails between Bro. Jesse Winn and myself with regard to his article, "The Church of Christ: Some Thoughts on Change," and my response, "A Few Words About Change." Follow the links to find the articles in question. I appreciate Bro. Winn's attitude, and I hope to further our discussion in the future.

Read More

A few words about "change"

A Facebook “preachers” group that I somehow became attached to (you social media types know how easily that can happen) brought a preacher in Tuscumbia, Alabama, named Jesse Winn to my attention. After e-mailing Bro. Winn and exchanging a few thoughts and pleasantries, I decided (with his permission) to include his name and a link to the article in question. You can find the article here. I encourage you to read his article with the same prayer, spirit and consideration I ask when you read mine. The gist of his article was this (his emphasis):

I believe that, generally speaking, as a movement, we (the churches of Christ) need to be less afraid of change when necessary and more willing to question things.

Read More

Opportunity

So, I mention a restaurant in the area that serves good food, and I am flooded with reader feedback!  Everyone likes to hear about a new place to eat, I guess.  That’s not surprising, though.  We all eat, and we all prefer (all things being equal) to eat food we like.  So why not jump at a new opportunity?

If only I could use that little snippet of life as an idea for an article …

Read More

Why?

I am fascinated by the “Why” of things.  The “What” is usually more important, but it is also usually self-evident.  I don’t need people to explain the “What” in most instances.  I ask my children, “What are you doing?” all the time, but usually I know already — either nothing at all, something that makes no sense, or something that is taking the place of what they are supposed to be doing.  In other words, it’s a “Why” question in disguise.

Read More

Free life advice from a cheapskate

My propensity for frugality is not a secret.  So when I saw an article online about the biggest cheapskates ever, I had to read it.  You know me.  Always looking for ideas.

Paying for a muffin out of the tip jar.  OK, that’s not cheap; that’s thievery.  I oppose that. Driving all over town to find gas two cents cheaper?  That’s penny wise and pound foolish.  But washing out jars to use as drinking glasses?  Saving soy sauce packets?  What’s wrong with that?

An interesting side note: Lots of the cheapskates mentioned in the article were rich.  Their friends seemed to think that was an indication of a character flaw, and perhaps it was.  On the other hand, is it possible that their cheapskate ways had something to do with them having a lot of money in the bank?  Seems at least possible.

Plenty of people are willing to envy the success of others while thinking themselves morally superior to them for avoiding the measures that made the others successful.  That’s perverse.  The reason people underachieve is that they refuse to make sacrifices in the short term.  They want to have their cake and eat it too — and lose weight in the process!

If you don’t want to stoop over to pick up a penny, that’s perfectly justifiable.  You don’t owe me an explanation.  But don’t resent me for picking it up and then ask me to borrow a penny an hour later. 

I say all that to say this: my life, all in all, is pretty fantastic.  Much of that is because I have been spared some of the indignities and pain that plague the lives of others, including other Christians.  And yes, some of that “just turned out that way” — attribute that as you like, whether to God’s blessings, my parents’ influence, or simply being in the right place at the right time.  But it’s not all just the luck of the draw, the roll of the dice, the whim of fate.  Much if not most of my fortunate circumstances are a result of deliberate choices I made along the way. 

In short, I worked hard to get this lucky.  I found a good wife because I worked at it.  I reared godly children because I worked at it.  I made and maintained friendships because I worked at it.  I grew my faith because I worked at it.  Not all of my circumstances were of my choosing.  But plenty of them were.

This is not meant to brag.  This is meant to inspire.  You are not a prisoner of fate.  Perhaps you cannot control your destiny, but you can certainly direct it.  If you want to marry well, you first set your eyes on your values system.  Seek a Proverbs 31:10-31 kind of woman — or be that kind of woman yourself.  Seek a man who thinks “provide for his own” (1 Timothy 5:8) means more than making a lot of money — or be that kind of man yourself.  If you want godly children, be a godly person.  If you are blessed with children, show them what it is to live under God’s authority.  Show them with the “rod of discipline” if necessary (Proverbs 22:15).  If you want closer relationships, make them!  Go the extra mile in doing so (Matthew 5:41).  Each of us is under obligation to love his neighbor; no one is issued a “sit on your couch and wait” exemption as far as I can tell.

The hidden glory of this plan, God’s plan, is that it succeeds even when it “fails.”  In a worst-case scenario, you are left as a better Christian, more grounded in your faith, more prepared for heaven, but not in the precise circumstances you would have chosen.  Could it be better?  Obviously.  Will it get better?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  In any case, your situation, whatever it may be, is  not only one you can learn to live with, but also one you can learn to rejoice in (Philippians 4:4) and find contentment in (Philippians 4:11). 

God has given you that power in Jesus.  Don’t squander it by sitting by idly, hoping to get struck by the lightning of good fortune.  

Restaurant

We tried a new restaurant the other evening.  We all disliked pretty much everything.  The place looked like your grandmother’s house — that is, if you are in your 80s and your grandmother was a sharecropper.  The paneling on the walls was ugly.  The décor (if you would even call it that) was worse.  The location was inconvenient.  The menus were cheap.  (Ironically, the prices were expensive.)

The food, however, was outstanding.  Interesting.  Attractive.  Tasty.  The worst thing I could say about it was that there was too much of it.  We will be back.

Read More

Would an idiot do that?

One of the speakers at my nephew’s recent graduation quoted Dwight Schrute, a character from The Office (because no one on television has said anything worth quoting in the last ten years).  Dwight said, “Whenever I’m about to do something, I ask myself, ‘Would an idiot do that?’’  And if they would, I do not do that thing.” 

As simple and irrefutable as that logic is, I can’t help thinking it is needful in our day and time. 

Read More

Let's get serious about Jesus

In the late spring of 1994, as I rooted on the Houston Rockets on the way of the first of two “Thank you, Michael Jordan, for trying to play baseball” world championships, most of the world was watching another sport.  The World Cup had come to America.  (That’s a big soccer tournament, in case you were unaware.)  And the American home crowd got a thrill when the Yanks pulled off an upset victory over traditional power Colombia.  The 2-1 win was helped along when Colombian defender Andres Escobar scored an “own goal,” giving a point to the Americans and effectively eliminating Colombia from the tournament.

In related news, Andres Escobar was shot and killed in his hometown of Medallin a few days later. 

Read More

Flashy

There is a barber shop in India where they will set your hair on fire.  On purpose, I mean.  People ask for it.  They douse your hair with fragrance to retard the smell of smoke (as if that were the main objection).  Then they blowtorch you.  The top of your head ignites.  Flames shoot up, maybe six or eight inches.  Then the barber just sits back there and combs and cuts, combs and cuts, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

Read More