“A Good Name” – Ecclesiastes 7:1-5

January 29, 2015 Leave a comment

Life Is A Vapor

Today started out eerily similar to another January morning in 2012.  I received a text informing me that one of my elders at the Northwest church of Christ, Jim Manos, was at the hospital and not doing well at all.  All morning as I spoke with his wife and fellow saints at the hospital I couldn’t help but reflect on all of those I look up to within the Lord’s church.  So it is with these three things on my heart that I post this article I wrote three years ago.  First, I want to honor a man named Lloyd Atherton whom was a fellow preacher and a man whom I respected very much.  Secondly, to honor Jim Manos, who has since this morning fallen asleep in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20).    Thirdly, to remind each of us that our earthly life truly is “just a vapor” (James 4:14) and because of that we better be living for God instead for ourselves.  Wherever you live and whatever the circumstance, I hope this article will help encourage you to keep the faith and fight the good fight in Christ Jesus our Lord!

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2


January 2012

This week with the physical passing of our brother in Christ Lloyd P. Atherton I feel it is appropriate to both honor him as well as make time for self reflection.  This week 3 Biblical themes have been unshakeable from my mind.  The first comes from Ecclesiastes 7:1, A good name is better than a good ointment, And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth (NASB).  The words sister Atherton shared with me this week boldly speak to Lloyd’s character as she commented, “he was such a good man to me.”  Unfortunately, too many people pass from this body without living in such a way that one could dare to say they had “a good name.”  Ecclesiastes reminds us that all the earthly “stuff” one may gain in this life is seen as nothing in the sight of God compared to “a good name.”  Are we living in such a way that others around us and more importantly God would say we are deserving of “a good name?”  Let us honor our brother Lloyd by following in his footsteps and living for Christ.  Let us also reflect and correct any lifestyles that are becoming millstones (Matthew 18:6) in our walk with Christ.

The second Scripture that comes to my mind this week is Romans 10:11-1514How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’”  As brother Steinly stated Wednesday evening, as Christians we are daily fighting a battle against the evil one.  There are only two ways we can continue to fight and win.  First, study and use God’s word as our exclusive guide for battle against the flesh.  Second, continue to fight the battle linked together side by side engaged in warfare (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12).  With the passing of one of our fellow soldiers in Christ first we honor him.  We honor him by not allowing any holes in the battle line to stay un-mended.  We must fight for Christ!  We must pick up where saints before us laid down so that our souls remain pleasing to God as well as the next generation of souls who are to come.  We also reflect upon Romans 10:11-15 and ask ourselves are we ready to “bring good news?”  Lloyd certainly fulfilled his role for God by bringing the Gospel to the lost.  I pray that all of us will consider how we can fulfill the role of a preacher or a teacher of God’s saving words so that no one around us can say “they have not heard.”

The Third Scripture that resonates with me is Revelation 14:13.  “… Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ Yes, says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”  Family and friends are right to come to the “house of mourning” (Ecc. 7:2) to grieve the physical loss of a loved one.  But as Christians I pray time will give way to the joy and hope that the faithful are promised.  Let us honor Lloyd by allowing God’s eternal word to lift our spirits.  “Their deeds follow with them” certainly reminds us that his Godly lifestyle will not go without reward.  Though we mourn our loss let us remember as long as “we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6).  Let us also reflect on our lives and ask ourselves, who am I living for – the body or the Lord?

2 Timothy 2:11, “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him”.  The best way we can honor our brethren in Christ is to make it our goal to continue to hold to these truths and pass on Christ to the next generation.  Finally I ask, will you stand with this body of Christ and continue to honor all of the saints before us by “fighting the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12) and making sure you have “a good name?”  I pray through Christ you will!

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Categories: Death, Resurrection

What Shall I Consider While Taking The Lord’s Supper?

March 9, 2014 1 comment

Lord Supper Focused Worship Slide

Acts 20:7 gives all Christians everywhere the example of when to participate in commemorating the supper of our Lord, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…”.  In accordance to the Scriptures this local church partakes in the remembering of our Lord, Jesus, each first day of the week.  On this day we will devote more than our usual amount of time  to our Lord’s sacrifice for us.  The hope of the elders, and myself, is to help each of us consider the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice in our everyday lives.  I fear that for many Christians, the Lord Supper can become mundane  and lose the importance it deserves.  The commemoration, the recreation of the last supper of our Lord is not and should not ever be viewed or taken as just a tradition or ritual.  It is not a box that needs to be checked off each first day.  It is an honor to share in the “communion of the body of Christ” and “the communion of the blood of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16).  This word “communion” means “unity, a close relationship”.  That means that when we take the bread and the fruit of the vine each first day of the week we are coming into a union or closer relationship with our Lord and Savior.

I understand that things happen, distractions occur and our minds easily wander.  I also understand that some of us may not feel equipped with the understanding of what to think about during this time.  Please allow me to assist.  The following are 3 commands from Scripture that help us with what to focus on as we take the Lord’s Supper.

1)      Remember the Sacrifice & Debt Paid On Your Behalf (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

2)      Examine Yourself (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

3)      See It As Your Proclamation of The Lord’s Death (1 Corinthians 11:26)

1 Corinthians 11:29 says, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” (NASB)  Not only this morning, but every first day of the week let us focus our whole hearts, souls and minds to the death of Christ.  Woe to the one that treats this remembrance as a routine part of their worship.  The entire reason we come together on the first day is because of Jesus’ sacrifice (Colossians 1:14).  The whole reason we have hope of eternal life is because Jesus shed His blood(Ephesians 2:13).  The entire reason God forgives our sins is because Jesus blood blotted out our sins (Hebrews 9:12).  Today and every first day may we make sure we are rightly judging the body of Christ.  Let us meditate on Jesus, who He is, why He came to earth, the life that He lived and the death He endured for our forgiveness and salvation.  Jesus should mean everything to us but not only today during this moment, but every day we are blessed to have breath of life.

This morning it is my prayer that each of us will begin to show a greater respect for the supper of our Lord.   His supper should be our communion with Him.  It should be our acknowledgment that we have no hope without Him, and that because of His sacrifice we have the Father’s mercy and grace.  May these things help you consider your proper mindset while you take of the Lord’s Supper.

(Originally published in the Pleasant Plains church of Christ 02.23.2014 bulletin)

Categories: Lord's Supper

May You Never Look At A Fallen Leaf The Same Again…

October 29, 2013 3 comments

fall-intro

The fall season is one of my favorite times of the calendar year.  It signals a time for children and teens to return to school, a new year for your favorite football team, lower temperatures and a morning crisp to the air, harvesting of apples, just about all things pumpkin at my local Dunkin’ Donuts and my favorite… the breathtaking views of a canopy of leaves in orange, yellow, purple and reds.

Today I noticed that leaves are beginning to show their beauty of colors here in West Tennessee.  As I looked upon one tree in particular I thought to myself, what an awesome God we serve.  Even when God created something to go dormant for a season, He decided to allow the process to be a blessing for our eyes.  Then I thought about  how much a Christian’s life is just like a tree who sheds it’s leaves.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

As Christians we are like the trees God has created, but not like the tree of the fall.  We are like trees of the spring!  If you are in Christ your old leaves, old man or self of sin (Romans 6:6), have fallen from you in the waters of baptism and you are now a new tree, or “new creature,” in Christ.

Let me ask you a question.  Have you ever seen your neighbor rake up the fallen leaves or have you been the one who labored removing the old leaves?  Have you ever seen a neighbor or have you ever tried placing those fallen leaves back on the tree from which they fell?  Sounds silly, right!  Of course that sounds absurd.  Once we remove the fallen leaves from our yards we either burn them, cut them up or have them hauled away, never to be seen again.  Sounds like the logical thing to do with leaves that the tree no longer needs.

Since our logical minds are at work answering questions, let’s try answering one more.  If you are a Christian who has repented of sins and has been baptized, have you properly removed your old “leaves” (sins) from your life?  Or are you still picking them out of the waters of baptism and nailing them back to your new creation Christ has created in you?

Friends, Paul wrote in Romans 6:1-6 that a disciple of Christ should not continue in the same sins that “fell off” during your baptism.  In verse 4 Paul writes, “…as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  Verse 6 says “…our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin“.  The next time we consider taking up a sin and placing it back on our souls (the “new creature” in Christ), please consider the trees of the fall season.  No one in their right mind would pick up the fallen leaves and place them back on a tree that will create new leaves in the spring.  Nor should we as Christians pick up our “old self” and place it back onto the “new creature” Christ has created in us through salvation.

Which Bible Should I Use?

October 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Which Bible Should I Use

As a preacher I am often asked the question, “What Bible Do You Use?”  Inevitably the conversation will at some point turn to the next question, “Is There Really A Difference” or “Does It Really Matter?”  After a great deal of personal study on this topic my answer is, yes, yes it does matter!  Unfortunately, many today who are seeking the truth of God lack knowledge about all of the different versions that are offered today.  For example, in regards to a poll taken about Bible translation among students at a religious college the author wrote – “they (college students) begin with the premise that all modern translations are equally accurate as renditions of the original text, and that the only basis for preferring one over another is the criterion of readability” (Choosing a Bible, Ryken, pg.5).  Let’s take a look at the differences in translations that are offered today to see if the only difference is truly just “readability.”  My hope is that this will help you make a more educated decision on what translation you choose to read and study from.  Continue Reading…

Categories: The Bible

The Best Test Of Your Faith… Your Love

September 23, 2013 2 comments

real love_std_t_nv

 

1 John 3:11 states, “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,“.  There are many things that are easy in life.  Some of these for you may be, showing your love to God, praying to God, worshiping God, loving your spouse and children, loving your best friends and family, or having love for your spiritual family in Christ.  However, life gets a little more challenging when disputes or disagreements arise within one of these earthly relationships.  This is understandable, after all Jesus knew we may struggle with loving those whom we perceive as “the enemy” (Matthew 5:43-48).

Disputes or disagreements between our own brothers and sisters in Christ are likely to happen, after all we are human.  But as children of God we are called to be different.  We are called to not hold grudges, to not backbite, to not tear down a fellow child of God.  It is often easier to remain angry than to say two simple words, “I’m sorry.”

Let us consider more of 1 John chapter 3 together.  1 John 3:14a “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”  The key phrase John writes here is “we have passed from death to life“.  How do we as Christians know that we have indeed passed from spiritual death to spiritual life?  1 John 3:14 helps us answer the question, “because we love the brethren“.  Have you passed the best test of your faith – your love for others, especially your fellow saints in Christ?  Jesus says we will be judged according to the fruit we produce in this life (Matthew 7:15-20).

The importance of passing this test of love for each other is conveyed in the following verses.  1 John 3:14b – 15, “He who does not love his brother abides in death, 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”  As children of God may we remember the important things in life.  What is important is that we “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.(Matthew 22:37-38)  We often get caught up in the unimportant such as: who is right, who holds the power over another, who has wronged us.  Let us remember 3 things to help us pass our test of love for one another.

1) Jesus “laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

2)…let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

3)And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” (1 John 3:19)

Jesus the Christ is the gold standard of love.  Everything you will ever need to know about what love looks like can be found in Jesus.  Next time we feel the temptation to be angry or hold a grudge against another child of God, may we consider Jesus’ example of love when He allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross for our sins.  Each local church will only be able to reach the lost if they are working under the authority of God and showing genuine love for one another.  Let each of us ensure our love is passing the test for God!

Categories: Love, The Church

God’s Unending Love

September 11, 2013 Leave a comment

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February 14 is a day we call Valentine’s Day.  We use this day to proclaim our love for our friends and spouses.  Some go to great lengths to shower their loved one with presents and/or surprise events.  (Though secretly this writer knows it is all just a big social ploy to spend money on the one you should have been showing love to already without a day to force you into it!)  We use these appointed days to show our love to each other because if truth be told, we do not show the proper respect and love to one another as we should.  Our love often has an addendum such as “you only make me happy when…” or “I would love you more if…”  Thankfully God will never ask us to superficially change who we are to receive His love, only who we live for!

Romans 8:37-39, “37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASB)  Consider if God’s love was as “on and off” as ours can be.  Where do you think we would stand in His sight, saved or completely drenched in sin?

Thankfully God doesn’t see us as blonde or brunette, pretty or ugly, short or tall, rich or poor.  God only sees one created “in His own image” (Gen. 1:27).  Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8: 39).  Friends may we take comfort that God will never stop loving us.  It doesn’t matter how much you have sinned, He loves you.  It doesn’t matter how bad you disgraced His commands this week, He loves you.  In fact He loves the sinner so much that “He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).

But salvation doesn’t come to everyone whom God loves. Salvation only comes to those who will receive the Lord’s discipline and will repent from sin and be baptized (Rev. 3:19; Acts 2:38).  Praise our almighty God that He is patient with us and does not judge us on outer appearances and earthly status.  He loves us every day and in every way no matter how others see us.  If you want to give back the unending love your creator gives to you than heed the words of Jesus for your daily life, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).  Let our love for God be seen in all we do and let us not allow our love for Him ever become cold.

Adam S. Pogue

“Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish”

September 3, 2013 Leave a comment

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From the time I began to play baseball and soccer as a child until the time I played football and tennis in high school; I heard a reoccurring command from my parents, “don’t start what you can’t finish.”  This of course was to keep me from starting a sport and trying to quit in the middle of a season.  The older I get the more I appreciate having this life principle instilled in me.  What started out as a principle to apply to sports and generally not being a quitter, I now see as an everyday application to our Christian lives.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are reminded, “…you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  As Christians, reflect on this instruction from God.  I encourage you to say to yourself, “don’t start what you can’t finish!”  As children of God who have been washed clean of our sins (Ephesians 2:1-10) we must remember that we are called to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1).  In other words we better not start introducing sins into our lives we know we cannot continue doing without falling out of favor with God.

I fear fellow Christians that we often try to see how close we can get to the fire without getting burned.  1 Cor. 10:12-13 reminds us “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”  God tells us to not even introduce sin into our lives, He tells us to flee from sin and draw near to Him (James 4:8).  So why do we so often think we can dabble in sin or just be around it and not sin?  We should consider how weak our fleshly desires are and remember what our eternal goal is.  If your eternal goal is to stand in the glory of Almighty God why start what you can’t finish?

The next time you are in a struggle between your faith and the temptations of this world I encourage you to consider 2 Cor. 5:15, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  Not a single one of us will ever be perfect in our fight against temptation and sin.  However, as we strive to walk in the light of God, let us remember our savior Jesus and everything that He sacrificed so that we could be forgiven of our sins.  Brothers and sisters in Christ if we want to have a home in heaven we better not start a sin we know we cannot finish!

Categories: Christian Living