Going straight to the Cross
 

Name Calling

by Stan Mitchell

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene ii, line 43).

Remember the country song about a "Boy Named Sue"? Names matter! If you don't think so, then why didn't you name your daughter "Jezebel"? Or your son "Judas"? We used to say that we should call Bible things by Bible names. This is still important. In spiritual matters, if you attach a non-Biblical name to something we do, chances are you are describing a non-Biblical phenomenon.

Thus we call the church by names only found in the Bible. The "churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16), the "church of God" (Acts 20:28) and any other name the Bible calls the church is a name we can wear with pride and gratitude. Any name for the church found in scripture describes a Biblical reality; any name not found in scripture must describe something not found in scripture.

Phrases such as "Accept Jesus as your personal savior," (was he previously an impersonal savior?), "The sinner's Prayer" and "Look forward to the Rapture" are not found in scripture. Whatever these terms describe, they don't describe a Bible truth. They must surely describe something more, or something less than the Bible describes. And that would be to describe too much, or too little.

"I warn everyone who hears the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. If anyone takes away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life, and in the holy city, which are described in this book" (Revelation 22:18,19).

Names have always been important to God, from the time he named the first man "Adam," to the time he will read our names from the Book of life. On that day, the name God chooses to call me will be very, very important.

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Accountability

by Stan Mitchell

One of the buzz words heard around religious circles these days is "accountability." Apparently the idea is that a group of Christians get together, and "hold each other accountable" for their actions. They urge each other to study the Bible, pray, stay off the bottle -- whatever it is that the other needs.

I believe that as a church we should be concerned about each other, and that when a brother is falling away we should do what we can to restore him: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

Paul seems to be saying, "Help your erring brother, but do it with great care, do it humbly, recognizing your own weakness, and only when it is warranted." I would like to remind us that there is another word that should be added to the phrase "accountability." It is the word "personal," forming the phrase "personal accountability."

"So then each of us will give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10).

"For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son --both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18:4).

It is all too human for us to spot the weakness of others, and all too easy to forget that we each bear an awesome responsibility before God ourselves.

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"Say it ain't so, Sammy!"

by Stan Mitchell

When Chicago Cub superstar Sammy Sosa's bat shattered into pieces of wood and, well, cork, the baseball universe tilted south. Sosa, who is not only a great home run hitter, but a perennial good guy, had cheated! How many home runs were hit with an illegal bat? All of them? Any of them?

The official rulers of Major League Baseball, Section 6.06, paragraph D state: "A batter is out for illegal action when: He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire's judgement, has been altered or tampered with in such a way as to improve the distance factor or cause an unusual reaction on the baseball."

I want you to note something startling. The word "cork" is not used. The rules of baseball do not list the gamut of possible ways a player might alter the bat to his advantage. Technology advances constantly, and it would be impossible to actually name all of the possibilities. It should be enough to state the principle: Don't alter the bat. Get your home runs by using coordination, sweet timing, and strength, not by cheating. Perhaps you recognize, in this everyday event, an argument from silence? This is not the world of theology; this is no arcane, inconspicious, complex theological argument. It's baseball. But somehow everybody understands that an altered bat means any alterations, whether specified or not.

I hope Sammy just made this mistake once. But if he was cheating for some time, he should, well, "put a cork in it!" (The cheating, that is, not the bat!) It sounds a little like the words of the Lord Jesus: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book" (Revelation 22:18).

You see, this is not a principle some preacher dreamed up; it is something we understand to be true in every walk of life. No if's, and's or bats.

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Tamper Resistant

by Stan Mitchell

"A man who commits adultery lacks judgement; whoever does so destroys himself" (Proverbs 6:32).

A mother and her young son returned from the grocery store and began putting the groceries up. The boy took the packet of Animal Crackers, opened them up, and began to lay each animal out on the table. "What are you doing," his mother asked.

"The box says you can't eat these crackers until the seal is broken," the little boy replied. "I'm looking for the seal."

Here is a message especially for our young people. There are some things that should never be opened until the time is right. One of those is indulging in sex before marriage. God created humans with a desire that is strong, natural, and wonderful, if it is enjoyed in the correct relationship, the one where the act of sex is accompanied by the proper amount of commitment and love.

In our society there are many, many young people who wish to posses the privilege of sex without the responsibility of marriage. The wise man urges us not to "lust in our heart after" the beauty of the wayward woman (Proverbs 6:26). He warns us that if we "scoop fire into" our laps we will get burned (Proverbs 6:27). Sex is God's gift to the married couple; sex is the married couple's gift to each other. It is designed to be an expression of love that is uniquely shared with no one else!

But when we tamper with the seal, when we open it before its time, we have cheapened something wonderful and God-given. It is tarnished, diminished.

Young people, don't you want to offer that very special gift to your beloved at marriage? Don't you, deep down, want to offer that to the love of your life? Don't tamper with the seal until the right time!

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Sunday in Pretoria

by Stan Mitchell

"God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).

One bright Sunday morning, a church in Pretoria, South Africa, had a visitor. He was a mild-looking man in his mid-twenties, a lawyer with wire-rimmed glasses. But he wasn't impressed with what he saw. He recalls seeing church members dozing in worship, and he wondered how serious they were about Christianity.

"They were not an assembly of devout souls," he writes in his autobiography. "They appeared rather to be worldly-minded people, going to church for recreation and in conformity to custom."

What is stunning is not only how true this evaluation was, but also how widespread. Frankly, it baffles me how casually Christians take worship. I wonder how those who make fun of the "Five acts of worship" concept would feel about the following worship activities: balancing the checkbook; discussing the weekend's events with a neighbor; transitioning from a momentary doze to outright, open-mouthed, coma.

And despite the jokes about the level of interest the sermon might deserve, the real problem is our abysmal lack of respect for what is taking place.

Here we are in audience with the one great God, an encounter like none other. The regularity of our doing so should not diminish the power of its impact. We might never get an appointment with the President or a film star, but we can meet with the ruler of all the earth any time! Nothing you do this week will be more important than worship. Nothing. By the way, would you like to know who the scholarly lawyer was who went to church one Sunday in South Africa? His name was Mohandas K. Gandhi, who would later liberate a billion souls from British Colonialism in what is now India and Pakistan. How would the world have changed if Gandhi had become a Christian?

Not only did that church miss an opportunity to convince a great man of the truth of Christ. They did something much more serious. They demonstrated a lack of respect for the God they worshipped!

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Forthright Magazine continues, more dynamic than ever! We have groups created for FMag on Facebook and the Churches of Christ Network. Announcement blog is up and going on Preachers Files. Email lists about FMag and FPress are available both on Yahoo and GoogleGroups. And, to top it all off, we're twittering for both on Twitter.com.
by randal @ 1/20/09, 11:55 AM

How to Make Sure That Your Judgment Is Flawless


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This evening read John 5:24--47 How to Make Sure That Your Judgment Is Flawless Yes, it is popular to say that we are not supposed to judge, but the truth is we all make judgments about many things daily. Otherwise, we would never succeed in life. The real question is what is our guide for judging. Why can we not simply follow the example of our Master and Lord? He said, 30 "I can of Myself ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:08 AM

Do You Ever Feel Like Just a Name?


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This morning read First Chronicles 1--3 Do You Ever Feel Like Just a Name? Think on the manner, in which the Book of First Chronicles begins, 1 Adam, Seth, Enosh (1 Chr. 1:1). In this way begins the longest genealogy in the Bible. The names continue to the end of the ninth chapter! Were these just names? Adam; who is he? You know there is more in the Bible than the mere mention of his name in ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:05 AM
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by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This evening read John 5:1--23 Jesus healed a man. Praise God! However, Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. Uh oh. Some people were ready to kill Jesus for this perceived violation of the Sabbath Law. 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath (Joh. 5:16). Jesus did a good thing. Yet, people criticized Him severely for it. And they were not people ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:03 AM

They Were His Servants


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This morning read Second Kings 24 and 25 They Were His Servants As the writer of Second Kings explains whom the Lord sent against Judah, the writer said that this was 2 ...according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servants the prophets (2 Kin. 24:2). Those great men we have honored for centuries were nothing more than servants of the Lord God. What does that make us? Do you do something ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 5:01 AM
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by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This evening read John 4:30--54 The disciples went into a town to buy food while Jesus remained out of the town. There He engaged a woman in conversation. When the disciples returned, here is what happened, 31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." 32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know" (Joh. 4:31, 32). As you read the Gospel According to John, watch ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 4:59 AM

Having a Tender Heart


by Don Ruhl Read the Bible in a Year This morning read Second Kings 22 and 23 Having a Tender Heart When Josiah heard the word of God for the first time, he tore his clothes, knowing of the wrath that was upon Jerusalem for the idolatry of his forefathers. Therefore, he sent messengers to a prophetess to inquire of the Lord. He did have a message for Josiah. God said through the prophetess, 19 "...because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before ... more ...
by diane amberg @ 5/18/05, 4:56 AM
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