More gold from Cecil May Jr. “Preacher Talk”


The Spring 2018 issue of “Preacher Talk” is out and there is more gold from Brother May in an article entitled, “Just Be There.” Many preachers ask what they should say when a member loses a loved one. Bro. May has the best answer.

“Job’s three friends were a comfort to him for a full week. They were silent, but there (Job 2:13). When they spoke they were ‘worthless physicians,’ (Job 13:4) and ‘miserable comforters,’ (Job 16:2).

A little girl was adopted as a grandchild by a couple next door. The wife died, and the girl went next door and sat outside with the old man for a couple of hours. When she came home, her mother asked, ‘What did you say to him?’ ‘Nothing, the girl said. ‘I just sat with him and helped him cry.’

When death or other tragedies occur, often there are no appropriate words to say. To be of genuine comfort, just be there.”

There are gems of gold in short lines like these!

 

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Preachers needn’t bore when writing


Four of the first articles in a church publication I read recently began with a preposition. Three of them started with “in.”

Just because we are preachers doesn’t mean we must write poorly. We ought to get better at editing, too.

Writers may compose their articles that way, so readers will think they are scholarly. Actually, it’s just dull. In one of the pieces, the first three paragraphs began with a preposition. My reaction was yawning.

Writers need to capture the attention of a reader. That can’t be done with a preposition. It might sound scholarly to write that way, but it’s really boring.

Am I saying you can’t start a sentence with a preposition? No, I’m just pointing out that if a writer wants to catch a reader’s attention do it with a subject and predicate and not with a weak word like “in” or “with.”

The best thing a writer can do is to edit his or her own article before sending it to an editor. Writers should ask themselves if the article captured attention or if it sounds dry and uninteresting. Editors should demand better of writers than dry, boring items. Editors should ask writers to give them something interesting and not something boring.

Short pieces are better, too. My friend Randal Matheny, who edits “Forthright Magazine,” has a motto: it’s “Be Pithy.” That’s good advice. Few readers are going to read an article that is more than 300 words.

 

God is a white man?


A researcher with the University of North Carolina has released a study that says many people think of God as a white man, according to http://www.nbcnews.com.

“I think it’s because for millennia Christians have been led to think of God as male and white,” Professor Kurt Gray told NBC. “It’s changing a little now, but the church hierarchies are still mostly male and mostly white. In the Catholic Church, for example, the Pope is male and the priests are still only male.”

This misconception exists because people like to think that God is human. He isn’t. Jesus said, “God is spirit,” (John 4:24a). God is a spiritual being and is not human. He has no eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands, or fingers as humans do. In fact, we do not know what God looks like because no human being alive on the earth has ever seen him (1 John 4:12).

Why do many people believe God has human features? It may be a misunderstanding of a passage in Genesis which says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,'” (Genesis 1:26a NASB). Since God is speaking of a spiritual likeness, he is not speaking of a physical resemblance, but a spiritual one. Man’s resemblance to God is an immortal soul he received from God.

Of course, there are many false conceptions of God that mankind has (and will continue to have). Why? Because many people base their ideas of God on their own thinking instead of shaping them according to the inspired word of God, the Bible, which they either won’t read or mistakenly apply.

Good Items from Cecil May


Bro. Cecil May publishes “Preacher Talk,” and there is almost always more than one great thing in the little paper. For his Winter 2018 publication, Brother May wrote the following:

Present Situation: “Status Quo” is Latin for “the mess we’re in.”

Ever felt like Moses: A longtime small-town preacher went to the train station every afternoon to watch the daily train pass through. Someone asked, “What is it about the daily train that fascinates you so much that every day you watch it go through??

The preacher responded, “It is the only good thing that ever goes through this town that I don’t have to push.”

Small-town preachers (like me) can commiserate.

No Secrecy


Roman Catholicism developed an interesting practice to produce revenue.

Priests sold “indulgences” which allowed people to commit a sin. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” described an indulgence as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saint.”

Understand that? Well, neither do I. Obfuscation seemed to be part and parcel of religion for many, many years. It seemed to me like a way to commit any sin you wish if you just have the paid permission of a priest to do so.

Jesus, in Mark 4:21-22 made a common sense statement. He asked if it was the usual practice to light a lamp and set it under a bed. Of course, it wasn’t! That kind of thing is just stupid. The light needs to be placed on a lampstand so it can provide its light unimpeded. The truth will be seen, but also will the sin. Nothing is done in a vacuum.

In verse 22, he said the human-loved practice of trying to obfuscate the truth will never succeed. Nothing will ever remain a secret, Jesus said. Count on all those so-called hidden things in your life to become known by all.

There is no such thing as a permitted sin. The Bible teaches that sin is a transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) and that sin brings a punishment (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). The only avoidance of the punishment of spiritual death is forgiveness and is predicated on repentance and obedience (Luke 13:3; Matthew 28:18-20).

A simple, valid argument for God’s existence


Young people are being tested in our naturalistic philosophical atmosphere. They are being led away from their belief in the existence of God by a fairy tale called evolution. Is there a sound, valid argument for God’s existence?

Yes. Here it is:

  1. God created all things or evolution is true. (This is called a strong disjunction. Both cannot be true.)
  2. Creation implies there is a God.
  3. Evolution implies only two possibilities: either humans are born from apes, or apes are transforming into humans.
  4. Humans are not born from apes. No example of this has ever been proven.
  5. Humans are not transformed from apes. No example of macro-evolution has ever been documented.
  6. Evolution, therefore, cannot be true.
  7. Creation, therefore, is true.
  8. Therefore, God exists.

The argument is true and the premises are valid, which means the argument stands on its face and must be accepted as logically proven fact.

This argument was published in the 1970s by Thomas B. Warren during a debate with Dr. Antony Flew, the prominent 20th Century philosopher. As a result of this debate, Flew gave up his proposition, “I know there is no God,” and became an agnostic (or one who does not know if there is a God). Later, Flew admitted belief in a Supreme Being.

There is no logical alternative to this argument. In addition, there are other proofs for the existence of God in the argument for design, the Teleological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Aesthetic Argument, the Moral Argument and the Cosmological argument.

Evolution is false on its face. It cannot be proven, only alleged. I challenge any evolutionist to refute this argument or present a logical argument that PROVES evolution is true. No evolutionist alive can. Period.

 

Thinkers


Choices are important. But choices are a product of what we think. If our thinking is ordered by God and his word, then we will have lives ordered and ruled by God. If our thinking is influenced by the world and by the evil that is in the world, then our lives will be disorderly and finally ruined.

The apostle Paul told his young friend Timothy what God’s word was designed to do. He wrote, “But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith,” (1 Timothy 1:5 NET).

William Barclay, in his commentary of 1 Timothy 1:5 wrote there was “a picture of those who are true Christian thinkers,” in this passage. Christian thinkers, Barclay wrote, base their thinking on faith. Faith comes from hearing God’s word and doing it (Romans 10:17). Faithful Christians understand the value of God’s commandments because that is their primary thought process. King David wrote, “With all my heart I seek you. Do not allow me to stray from your commands! In my heart I store up your words so I might not sin against you,” (Psalm 119:10-11 NET).

Barclay continued by observing the Christian is “motivated by love.” Paul said the goal of the commandment (or instruction) is love from a pure heart. If everything I do is motivated by love, my thinking will be ordered accordingly. My ability to live without resorting to sin is practically assured. Certainly, I’ll never be perfect, but I will have come a long, long way toward becoming more like Jesus!

Let’s not forget the value of a good conscience trained by the word of God. That good conscience is like armor plating in the tempest of a world filled with temptation and sin. Learning God’s word can keep us from falling victim to the tempter’s wiles (Ephesians 6:11).

Last, but certainly not least, is a sincere faith. This is not faked faith. It is not hypocrisy. It is a life lived in sincere devotion to God and his word. Remember, David wrote, “With all my heart I seek you.” This is faith unfeigned. Devotion is not one of the world’s favorite things. In fact, if the current political scenario has shown us anything, it is that devotion to the truth and to right has been discontinued for lies and hypocrisy. The one who orders his thinking in accordance with 1 Timothy 1:5 will find life on earth rewarding and eternal life much more desirable.