Taking the Word to the World

Archive for August, 2012

A Lesson From The Trees

Our association with others can either lift us up or pull us down. Let us learn a lesson from the trees. The world’s largest tree (and one of the world’s oldest) is the Coast Redwood (of California). It grows from a seed that is no larger than the one from a tomato. It rises like a skyscraper (tall, towering building) to 367 feet (122 m). These trees can live for more than two thousand years.

These natural giants have an attention-grabbing root system. (Trees are held in place by anchoring organs called “roots.” Roots grow constantly. We are to be rooted in the Word of God.)

The roots of the redwood only go down 10-13 feet deep (3-4 m) before they spread 60-80 feet (20-27 m). How can such a tall tree with such a shallow root system withstand the wind? The roots often entangle with neighboring trees. This provides for greater stability. The trees grow close together and gain strength from being a forest. Through growing together and networking with other members of the body, we have the strength of the combined body. We become stronger through our association with each other. We also become grounded and settled in God’s Word.

“Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Don’t let anyone lead you stray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking…” (Colossians 2:7-8, NLT).

You now have a hint of the down side to these close relationships. Because the roots are entangled or fused together, it is conceivable that when disease strikes, it can spread throughout the common root system, as is common with the oak tree. The root systems of oak trees within fifty feet of each other can become grafted together. If one tree becomes infected, the disease can easily move from tree to tree.

“It takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been troubling and confusing you” (Galatians 5:9-10, NLT).

Our association with others can build us up, or pull us down. It has often been said that if you show me your associates, I can tell you a lot about your personal character. We are like those we hang around.

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Steer Away From the Drift

The church in the Book of Acts spread like a blazing fire. Persecution could not stop it. The church was vibrant, active, and powerful. Great signs and wonders were performed. Its members were strong, loved God and His truth, and shared it with everyone. You would have suspected that the church would have continued in its greatness. It did not. It slipped from being a bright light into what has been termed the Dark Ages. Paul prophesied this would happen in Acts 20:29.

History has a way of repeating itself. Vance Havner said, “All we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” It does not have to be like that. History is a willing teacher if we are eager students. We can avoid the pitfalls that crippled previous generations.

We must be careful we do not become like the men Paul met at Athens. They were “very religious” and “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21, NIV).

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8, NIV).

How can we steer away from drifting?

Arnold Cook in Historical Drift said, “Steer right to go straight. According to aerodynamic experts, when a propeller-driven airplane takes off, it naturally veers to the left unless it is steered to the right. Based on my observations of evangelical institutions and leaders over the past half-century, it appears to me that the same principle applies. The only way to keep on a straight path is to keep turning to the right. The prevailing winds of doctrine blow against us, and if we are to resist them then we must have a firm grip on the wheel of the good ship evangelicalism and steer it to the right.”

1. Face reality.

Where are you? How far have you moved/drifted from where you should be? If necessary, repent!

“Those who live in the past are blind in one eye. Those who never consult the past are blind in both eyes.” (Arnold Cook)

2. Know your direction.

Have a vision for the future. Chart the course by having firm direction. Make decisions now concerning tomorrow. Stick with your core values, and beliefs.

Cook said, “Those who have most powerfully and permanently influenced their generation have been the ‘seers’—men who have seen more and farther than others.”

He adds that this becomes the lonely side of spiritual leadership. Often it translates into going with the minority report, e.g., Joshua and Caleb. No leadership style breeds historical drift better than consensus—going with the flow of compromise. Stephen was willing to take a costly stand for truth. Noah was another man of God that was willing to stand alone.

The trend today is that there are no absolutes—no one is wrong, and everyone is right. The denominational world pulls us toward tolerance. The prevailing viewpoint is everyone should be united.

C. H. Spurgeon once said, “I am quite sure that the best way to promote union is to promote truth. It will not do for us to be all united together by yielding to one another’s mistakes.”

Philip Melanchton said, “In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”

What does this mean to us? We should be united when it comes to the essential, major doctrines of the Word of God. We should always speak the truth in love.

3. Stand firm for truth. Stay on guard.

G. K. Chesterton once said, “Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself the question, ‘Why was it there in the first place?’”

The National Geographic magazine (July 1985) made this interesting statement that could serve as a potent reminder to the church, “They opened up the doors of the world, but they closed up the heavens forever.”

Dr. Ralph Winter, founder of the U. S. Center of World Mission, said, “I would rather fail in that which will ultimately succeed than to succeed in that which will ultimately fail.”

“Preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance… Correct and rebuke your people when they need it, encourage them to do right, and all the time be feeding them patiently with God’s Word. For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will…follow their own misguided ideas” (2 Timothy 4:2-4, TLB).

4. Be committed:

  • To love and maintain unity among ministers and leaders (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1; John 13:44-45).
  • To respect protocol and ethics (1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17).
  • To pray and fast (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • To be guided by the Word and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13, 16; Job 23:12).
  • To personal ministerial assessment (2 Timothy 1:6; 4:5; Acts 26:16-18; Acts 9:2).
  • To develop spiritually for effective ministerial leadership (Philippians 3:13-14; Luke 2:52).
  • To emphasis on evangelism and church planting (Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 19:19-20).
  • To maintain discipline and cooperation (1 Timothy 5:19-20; 3:10).

5. Be courageous in your leadership.

Cook wrote, “Although drift is inevitable in all social structures, including religious organizations, it can be curbed and even reversed through renewal and wise, godly and courageous leadership.”

Take a stand for righteousness and truth in your leadership. Lead the way. Others will follow.

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Checklist on Crooked and Straight Preachers

Crooked preachers:

  • Miss the mark.
  • Swerve from truth.
  • Undermine faith.
  • Answer useless questions.
  • Corrupt God’s Word.
  • Make a trade peddling a weakened Word.
  • Mix the impure with pure.
  • Shortchange the message.
  • Promote truth decay.
  • Turn families away from the right way.
  • Distort the Word.
  • Handle God’s Word deceitfully.
  • Fly on the winds of every doctrine.

Straight Preachers:

  • Preach the Word.
  • Declare the whole counsel of God.
  • Guard the truth.
  • Teach doctrine.
  • Continue in the apostle’s doctrine.
  • Speak truth in love.
  • Keep nothing back.
  • Charge others to teach no other doctrine.

There is a famine in the land (Amos 8:11). People are looking for truth. Can they count on you? Will you be a crooked preacher or a truth preacher? Reform is needed. The choice is yours; the end results are without comparison.

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It’s Time for a Pulpit Reformation

Adrian Rogers said (as quoted in Famine in the Land by Steven Lawson), “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling truth than to be loved for telling a lie…It’s better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude.”

He went on to say, “If a reformation is to come to the church, it must be preceded by a reformation of the pulpit. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church…Too many preachers today bear more resemblance to entertainers than expositors, stand-up comics rather than knee-shaking servants. God-fearing, awe-struck men in pulpits remain the need of the hour.”

C. H. Spurgeon said, “And, oh, beloved, there is one thing that I dread above all others—lest I should ever handle the Word of God so as to persuade some of you that you are saved when you are not.”

“Truth is fallen in the street” (Isaiah 59:14). It’s time for a pulpit reformation!

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He Needed the Rest of the Story!

“Apollos, a wonderful Bible teacher and preacher, had just arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. While he was in Egypt, someone had told him about John the Baptist and what John had said about Jesus, but that is all he knew. He had never heard the rest of the story! So he was preaching boldly and enthusiastically in the synagogue . . . Priscilla and Aquila were there and heard him—and it was a powerful sermon. Afterwards they met with him and explained . . . ” (Acts 18:24-25, LB).


Characteristics of Apollos

  • An educated (learned) man. Academic knowledge is not enough.
  • Eloquent in speech.
  • Mighty in the Scripture. He was dynamic in his preaching. He was well acquainted with the Old Testament law and the prophets. Note that the New Testament never records any other preacher as “mighty in the Scriptures.”
  • Instructed in the way of the Lord.
  • Fervent in spirit. He had the zeal and desire to spread the truth. He was on fire for God. The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says, “He burned to impart to others the truth he had himself received.”
  • Taught diligently the things of the Lord. He was a hard worker.
  • Well versed in Scripture. However, his message and understanding was incomplete.
  • A bold man.

“Like many preachers what Apollos said was quite true. What he left out demonstrated his inadequate understanding of Christian truth.” (Holman New Testament Commentary—Acts; General Editor—Max Anders, Author—Kenneth O. Gangel)

He needed the rest of the story.

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Baby Raised From the Dead – Parents Baptized

The following is a testimony from Terry McIntyre, AIMer to the Fiji Islands

The baby pictured below was born on June 12, 2012 and was immediately hooked up to machines, struggling to live. Shortly thereafter, the baby died, was taken off the machines, and was taken by the unsaved parents to the mortuary. However, a lady from one of our UPCI churches by the name of Sis. Rita was there. She asked these parents if she could pray for them and the baby. As she prayed, life came back into the baby. The baby is now six weeks old and doing fine.

The General Secretary of the UPCI of Fiji, Pastor Isireli, from their area (Nausori) started teaching the parents a Bible study. Today (Thursday, August 2 at noon), when they came to the Headquarters and Bible school complex, they wanted to have the baby dedicated. Pastor Isireli asked me if I would do it. I didn’t have my Bible with me or planned to do this, but we are instructed in the Word to “Be instant in season and out of season,” so I conducted this dedication and God moved in a wonderful way. When I was finished, both of these parents began to pray, and to make a long story short, I ended up baptizing both of them in Jesus’ name. PRAISE GOD!

Folks have been getting baptized just about every day of the week here and some late at night. Many have received the Holy Ghost and been refilled. Besides this, there have been other notable miracles to take place. We are excited to be here in the perfect will of God.

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Cautious of the Cliff

I believe in being cutting-edge! Finding modern ways to express the old path; that is cutting-edge and culturally relevant biblically. I want to be liberal enough to use new ways and conservative enough to stick with God’s solid, specific path.

Changing apostolic doctrine to accommodate the times is dangerous and not merely on the edge; it’s totally over it.  It is unwise, senseless, ill-advised, and thoughtless. That’s not cutting-edge. That’s a cliff-hanger, at best.

I need to share a secret. It’s personal. It’s frightening. But, after all, blogs are meant to be revealing and personal. Blogs are like one’s personal diary in cyberspace. Let me get to the point. I’m terrified of heights. No cliff-hanging, diving off a mountain into the ocean, tight-rope walking, for me. None! Zilch! Ferris wheels are out of the picture. I’m not going up in the arch in St. Louis. I used to be terrified of walking across the bridge or those see-through glass-looking floors on the third floor of the mall. I’ve overcome my fear by simply staying away from what makes me fearful. Hopefully that makes me an overcomer.

In a spiritual sense I’m even more fearful of falling off some spiritual cliff. My heavenly flight will happen so fast I won’t even realize it. Anyways, I will be changed in a twinkling of an eye, and my fear of heights will be zapped for eternity.

It’s not the fear of going up that is dreadful. It’s the fear of abandoning truth for a lie that causes me and those that hear me to go down, down, down; if you know what I mean!

A wealthy lady interviewed three men for a driving position. She asked “How close can you get to the edge of the cliff without falling off?”

First guy: “Twelve inches.”

Second guy: “Six inches”

Third guy: “I’ll stay as far from the cliff as I can.”

He got the job.

Mark Wilson said, “When staying close to the cliff appeals more to us than staying close to Christ, we are trying to manage sin. Spiritual victory is never found along the fuzzy edges of compromise. God calls us to steer clear of the cliff altogether.”

False teachers are not only close to the cliff, they have fallen of the cliff.

My advice for one and all: Be cautious of the cliff!

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