Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014


If you have watched any of the news media over the past month, there has been so much publicized about how President Obama does not intend to (nor does he want to) put “boots on the ground” while attempting to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Rather than calling it “war,” they began to refer to it as a “very significant counterterrorism operation.” This president wants to have his legacy as the President who would end all wars, so he is reluctant to fight. One has to ask how all this plays out as far as our national security.

This idea has far reaching effects into our society than just our national security. This type of mentality plays out every day in our lives, even as Christians. This has not just national security implications, but also eternal security implications for us.

Where are we when it comes to putting “boots on the ground?” Have we committed to such action? Or do we stand by watching while Satan has his evil way with the world around. Maybe, our neighbors? Maybe, our friends? Maybe, our family members? Maybe, the complete stranger who never saw him coming? While Satan is “seeking whom he may destroy,” (1 Pet. 5:8), we are told to “be vigilant, be watchful.” What implications and questions do this verse have?
  1. Being “vigilant” means to be carefully observant or attentive, on the lookout for possible danger. I am to be on the lookout for possible danger. I am to observe what is going on around me being attentive to those things harmful. Does this mean that I do nothing when I see the danger? How little action is too little action? When there is a fire, how little action is too little? Do I do nothing? Am I to think, “Oh well, someone else will come along and take care of it?” 
  2. Being “watchful” means to be engaged in or accustomed to close observation. The secondary definition according to WordWeb is “experiencing or accompanied by sleeplessness or being awake.” It is sometimes used as a synonym of vigilant. But, in this case, it encapsulates the idea of my being wide-awake, as if an insomniac, observing, watching, and carefully observing the evil around us. Again, does this mean that I only watch, or is there an implication of a responsibility inherent within my watching. How do I respond? What am I to do? 
  3. In both words, the idea is that as Christians, we should know and be full aware that the devil is “seeking us.” In other words, he’s bringing the fight to us.  
Not only does the apostle Peter remind us of our responsibility, but the apostle Paul also:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6:10-18 is clearly implying (v. 11-12) that we are at war with the devil whether we want it or not. As Christian, then, we must be prepared by way of the defensive armor mentioned in the above passage. But, we are also given the offensive weapon of the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  All this is made available to us so that as Paul mentions four times that we may be able “to stand…to withstand…having done all to stand.”

I pray that as Christians, we realize that not having “boots on the ground” is an ideology found in the political arena. It is not a phrase found in the Christian’s vocabulary, because our Lord commissioned us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16, KJV). Christ has in fact, already, as Commander-in-Chief (Heb. 2:10; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23) put “boots on the ground”; we are called disciples of Christ.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

(Matthew 19:3-9)

The Pharisees asked this question of Jesus. Our Lord gave the following answer: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
The Pharisees then raised another question: “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” Here is the Lord’s answer to their second question: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

Note the following:
  1. Jesus did not say that this is such a controversial subject; my elders* have requested that I not preach or talk about it.
  2. Jesus did not say, “I’ve been studying this subject for years and have not decided what the will of the Lord is on the subject.”
  3. Instead, Jesus gave a clear, concise, unmistakable and scriptural answer to the question.

We should learn to do the same! Let the Bible answer those questions. God has preserved His Word to do just that, to teach, correct, rebuke and guide our ways (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). Therefore, as Jesus explained, the only thing other than death, which will release one from his wife, so that he may be married again, is fornication, an illicit sexual act (Matthew 19:9 KJV).
~Wayne Rodgers

*For clarity, this is used as an example. My elders have never hindered the truth in any way of being taught at the Gulf Breeze church of Christ. Unfortunately, there have certainly been plenty of instances where preachers have been forbidden to preach the truth when it comes to Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Starts making plans for next fall, NOW! Everyone should go to Polishing The Pulpit. Yea, I know that it says, “pulpit,” but that is because of where and how it started twenty years ago. It started with a few preachers swapping sermons, and in it’s earliest years classes were geared toward preachers. But now, it has grown to a point of over 3,500 attendees this week, and it is no longer just for preachers. For the past several years, they have added a Spiritual Renewal Weekend for those who cannot attend during the week.

There are classes for elders, deacons, ladies, teen girls, teen boys, members, teens (both boys & girls), pre-teen, and even young children’s VBS style classes.

There are classes on a variety of subjects this year dealing with textual studies, Hebrew and Greek language studies, marriage and family classes, classes for college age on faithfulness, classes on the use of technology in services, websites, Bible apps, etc., topical studies on the Holy Spirit, evangelism, mission work, Millennialism, sexual issues, pornography, homosexuality, prayer, Christian evidences. There was a period of prayer on behalf of America.  There was even a “mock-debate.” There are over 180 speakers this year, as well.

Each night, there are “late-night” PTP activities for the Teens. Often, you can hear them outside with the mountains as a backdrop blending their voices in praise to God singing beautiful songs.

Sunday morning worship and each evening’s keynote speakers draw the largest of crowds together in a huge Event Hall and even overflow rooms where there are over 3,500 Christian voices blended together singing sweet praises to our God. This is a great atmosphere for fellowship, camaraderie, digging deeper-type of studies, and even resources for books, mission works, clothing, etc.

There is something for everybody at this Spiritual Workshop.  Many thanks to the Jacksonville church of Christ, Jacksonville, AL for its oversight of PTP. May God continue to be glorified through this great work of the Lord’s church.

~Wayne Rodgers

Thursday, August 7, 2014


by Wayne Rodgers

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. As they lay down for the night, Holmes said, "Watson, look up and tell me what you see."  Watson said, "I see millions and millions of stars."

Holmes asked, "And what does that tell you?"

Watson replied, "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and rather insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.  So, what does it tells you, Holmes?"

Holmes answered simply, "Somebody stole our tent!" (this was found in Glad Tidings of Good Things Vol. 32 - published by Jacksonville church of Christ, Jacksonville, AL)

Don't overlook the obvious!

We do a good job teaching the plan of salvation, teaching that one must hear God's Word producing faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:17; John 8:24), repenting of sin (Luke 13:3), confessing faith before men (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) = salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:20-21).

We do a good job teaching about worship "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24) and those acts of worship authorized by the New Testament like singing (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19), giving (1 Cor. 16:1-2), praying (1 Thes. 5:17), partaking of the Lord's Supper (Mt. 26:26-28), and preaching of God's Word (2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 20:7).

While doing a good job doing this kind of teaching, sometimes we overlook those things which are right in front of us!

Often in efforts to teach this sound Bible teaching, we have overlooked that people are hurting or that people are in need. These folks who have some physical needs or maybe emotional needs like a little extra love, support, encouragement, etc.

There have been those who have been converted to Christ through this type of benevolent outreach, but it's not just a program of service; it's a way of life.  Consider the following verses:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10)
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:1-2)
"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20)
We have to keep in mind why we were created (made Christians)... "unto good works." We have to remember to help those "overtaken in a fault." We have to help those who have "erred from the truth." Again, while we have done a good job teaching some essential matters, we have overlooked how many need to see that we care about them.  The old adage is still truth that "people do not care what you know unless they know you care." In Luke 15, Jesus spoke of some things that were lost (sheep, coin, boys). In the matter of the sheep, the shepherd obviously knowing that one of his sheep were lost, he took off in search of it. 

Do not overlook the obvious! Let's do what we can to help those around us with their needs.  So many have been won to Christ by good works, benevolent deeds, kind and encouraging words, etc.  By overlooking the obvious, we may actually shut the door of opportunity to teach those essential matters.

One other side that should be mentioned, as well. It happens often that we are busy even doing good works, helping others, etc. when we have an issue that needs to be tended.  Jesus covered this in Matthew 7:1ff.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


by Ted Brooks 
Every crewmember on the ship has a function. If a command is misinterpreted, if a sail becomes fouled or isn’t reefed properly, if a line parts because it wasn’t properly spliced or not properly tended, or if a block fails because it isn’t cared for, results can be disastrous. But if the lookout is sharp enough to spot the right landmarks, if the navigator is skilled and can determine the ships’ precise location, if the deck crew properly executes the captains commands, if the ship is in proper shape and responds to the crew, if the sails are trimmed properly, if the rudder responds to the helmsman, if the captain is familiar with how the ship performs and can direct the ships maneuvers in just the right way at just the right time, the ship remains safely in the channel. Every task is critical, each in its own way and each in its own moment. Not everyone can be captain.  But every man is essential, and when each man performs well and as a team, supporting and strengthening each other, the ship performs and moves almost like a living extension of the crew executing the will of the captain. The apostle Paul is much more succinct than I when he describes the same concept applied to the church.
“All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body: so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:11,12). And again, in Romans 12:4-5, “For as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office: so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
A ships company functions because they acknowledge and readily accept their assigned function. So it is with members of the churches of Christ from the first century until now; we embrace our functions as part of the whole body, which is the church (Eph. 1:20-21).  In other words, “Now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body” (1 Cor. 12: 18-20).
Regardless of the talent or skill we possess, we cannot effectively apply that skill to our daily work unless we are committed. We have to be willing or we will not function to the best of our ability whether that be handling a line, furling a sail … teaching a bible class, leading songs, assisting those in need, or spreading God’s word to those we meet. We have to believe in what we do! The sailor needs to believe in his ability enough to leave the shore and strike out into the deep. His quest must be bigger than his fears. And he must believe in success in order to support his shipmates when the chips are down. As Christians we must have faith that our search for God’s purpose in our lives will make us what we need to be, and take us where we need to go, and bringing us about when we need to be there. We must believe that “everyone that asketh, recieveth; and he that seeketh, findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Mt. 7:8). As a sailor has faith in the sea bringing him home, So our faith buoys us …because “without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb. 11:6)
A ship’s crew succeeds not just because it’s skilled, but also because it is disciplined. Discipline means a specific job performed a specific way. There is a standard procedure and standard of performance so results are repeatable and can be relied on by others beside you. As Christians we rely on the Bible as our standard and have confidence that if we study faithfully, examine carefully, and respond faithfully, God will use us to His ends. We believe that “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10) and that God presented our operations manual in His way and for our strict adherence so that we would achieve consistent results. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man of God may be perfect(mature, complete), throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Therefore, we must learn to do things God’s way…”Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)  A disciplined crew is not easily diverted from the task at hand by division, insubordination, disobedience or mutiny, which might lead to failure for many or all. These same problems can affect us as individual Christians and as a church family. In chapter 3 of his Second Epistle, Peter warns:” some things are hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.  Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (v. 16-17).
And as shipmates support one another in times of hardship because they are drawn together by trial and adversity, by common goals, and common foes, so we as Christian brothers and sisters exhort one another, support one another, protect and correct one another that we may be stronger singly and severally and all together stand into port for rest and restoration.
‘If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ….but let every man prove his own work, then he shall have rejoicing in himself alone, not in another.’ (Gal. 6:1ff) and again from Hebrews 10:23-24, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much more, as ye see the day approaching.
No mission was successful unless the crew, trained, fortified, and unified, looked to the captain as one trusted to lead them through hardship, through dangers, through troubled waters and winding straits and through the narrow gate. In days of old, the ships master or captain had to work his way up from the scullery, through the mess deck, through the gun deck, through the main deck, into the rigging, onto the helm and finally before the mast on the foredeck where he stood as the most experienced and proven man on the ship.  He stood as reassurance and example to the crew because he had been where they were and had faced the same challenges they did. They therefore placed their lives in his hands who demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice his life for theirs. Likewise we as Christians place our hearts, souls, and hopes for eternal salvation in the hands of the Son of the Living God… “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross” (Phil. 2: 6-8).
So, we see that Christ is our Captain, or in Paul’s words, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.  For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:9-10).
Finally, every ship on the sea has a mission, a purpose, which it must fulfil.  If we continue to press the analogy of the ship to the church, our mission is Search and Rescue. To rescue lost souls from the trouble seas of worldliness, false religion, aggressive atheism, or casual disobedience.  We do this by example; we demonstrate Christian principles to those around us.  We must “let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.” (Mat5:16)  As example to others, we must “sanctify the Lord God in our hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1Pet3:15)
May God grant us the strength to aid the rescue of those we can granting us fair winds and following seas. Ready yourselves to meet the Captain of our Salvation by obeying Him (Heb. 5:8-9).  Jesus said, “believe that I am He…” (John 8:24), repent of sin (Luke 13:3), confess Him before men (Mt. 10:32-33), and be baptized “to wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16).  May we continue then faithfully serving the Captain (Rev. 2:10; Mt. 10:22).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


by Ted Brooks

I have often wondered what the first sailor thought when he realized that he had sailed or rowed beyond the horizon and lost sight of land (and whether he ever did it again after that). But sooner or later, men developed sufficient abilities and knowledge of the sea and the associated coastlines to be able to venture far from land with the expectation of safely returning. Maps and charts were drawn, and tools were devised which enabled mariners to determine with some degree of reliability where they were based on the sun, moon, and stars. Prominent landmarks were charted as waypoints and beacons to fix their position along the way. Soon men learned to line up landmarks to determine safe lines of approach and departure to and from a harbor. Fires and flags were eventually employed as navigation aids, and polished reflectors were developed to increase visibility from a distance.
This brings to my mind Christ’s words in Matthew 5:14-15 “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick and it giveth light to all.”
Using sounding lines, they were able to determine safe approaches to harbors and the shallow obstructed waters to avoid. As information was collected it was incorporated into charts, which in primitive form were not always reliable and constantly having to be revised. New charts were carefully compared for similarity and differences, which had to be resolved. Failure to keep properly updated charts invited disaster. This process of constant comparison and resolution also characterizes the church, and Luke addressed the Bereans’ careful study and harmonizing of the scriptures, when he wrote “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Did I mention pirates earlier? Sometimes pirates did not need to attack ships at sea. They simply employed deceptive lighting to lure ships onto the rocks and shoals so they could scavenge the wreckage.  Particularly in times of war or political unrest or when law enforcement or military protection was unavailable, ships’ masters had to be alert to this deception. Some of us may remember the coastal blackout strategy employed during the World War II to confound enemy warships prowling near our shores.
In our Christian walk, we must avoid falling prey to false teachers and false religions who in Peter’s words “privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Pet. 2:1-2).
In the times of the Roman Empire, ships either relied on sail power to carry them where they went, or oars to propel them. Large ships known as galleys or triremes were designed to be rowed by crews of men pulling scores of large oars to drive them through the water. Whichever method was used ships were always beset by wind, waves, and tides. It took knowledge, training, constant effort, and courage to face the unknown and to overcome hazards and obstacles along the way to safely make port. It took the ability to know where you were at all times and know where you were going. It took skill and courage to ride out the fierce storms, which sprang up suddenly or to avoid them when possible and then determine how far off course you had been carried.  It is not difficult to see this example in the metaphor used by Paul to the Ephesians in Chapter four when he entreated “That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

To be lost at sea meant loosing valuable time, straying into hostile waters, or running low on provisions. Worse, yet, it could mean loss of ship and crew.  It took knowledge of landmarks and inshore regions to determine if you were approaching the mouth of the channel or a blind inlet where you could end up aground. There were no GPS, no radar, and no radio positioning; Just faith, courage, a seaman’s eye, careful training, preparation and teamwork…lots and lots of teamwork.

Monday, August 4, 2014


by Ted Brooks

One of the many wonders of the Bible and immutable testimony to its ‘God breathed’ nature is its appeal and revelation to so many diverse in culture, background, life experience, etc. Through prose, simile, metaphor, allegory and illustration God’s message has been conveyed to us on many different levels.

In biblical times, ships were a primary means of commerce, communication, transportation, and provision throughout the known world. Nations with the best merchant fleets, naval military fleets, and fishing fleets were the most profoundly influential in the expanding civilization. It should be no surprise that to those who plied the Mediterranean and its associated waterways in pursuit of livelihood, key passages of the Bible spoke in unique tones that resonate in our hearts even today. I would hope to convey to you a mariner’s understanding of a few key passages of the Bible, and to draw parallels between ships and their crew, and the church family and its members.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13,14). And again as restated in (Luke 13:14) “Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able.”
Strait means narrow…to a mariner a strait (s-t-r-a-i-t) is a narrow passage between two larger
Satellite view of the Strait of Gibraltar
copyright, NASA
bodies of water such as between two lakes, two seas, or a sea and an ocean. For example, The Strait of Gibraltar, The Bosporus or Turkish Strait, the Dardanelles, Black Sea Strait, or the Straits of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman near Saudi Arabia.
A strait is not straight. A strait is usually a tortuous, confined passage, often bordered by shoals or shallows sometimes additionally obstructed by wrecks of vessels less fortunate or more careless. Currents are normally exaggerated and sea levels change with the tides alternately exposing and concealing the dangers.  Sea state and situation changes quickly and constant vigilance is critical. Because these straits typically join larger seaways they form natural chokepoints, which figure prominently in naval strategy, law enforcement, and pirate activity. If a ship is to transit these regions, the crew must be prepared for not just fixed navigation hazards but also bad sea state, hostile weather, and potentially hostile ships as well. 
A strait gate is a narrow gate…and though a gate in this sense is often construed as an opening in a wall that can typically be closed, to a seaman, a gate, or Seagate is the entrance to a harbor or port. How secure that harbor is often depends on how narrow or strait that gate is. A closed harbor is protected from storms and sea waves, which can damage ships and the seaport itself. A narrow sea gate is more readily closed and defended against the raging sea or against sea marauders than an otherwise open or exposed inlet or harbor. The opening in the barrier is typically at the deepest point in the harbor entrance usually formed by river runoff into the sea and referred to as a channel. A channel is often bordered by flats or shallows on either side referred to as shoals. Often the channel meanders across the approach and often it shifts over time. Constant care is required to ensure it is clearly marked to prevent ships from missing or leaving the channel and running aground entering or leaving port.
The term “way,” to the mariner, refers to the sea path accepted as safe for navigation through a region or to a location. To a seafarer the broad way is only safe far away from the shore where a navigator can rely on good water under the keel. Knowing where you are is critical to your arrival at destination. The closer to port you get, the more dangerous and deceptive the broad way gets and the more critical it becomes to know how to stay in the channel or “narrow way.” Any mariner need only look at a navigation chart and observe the submerged wreckage and obstructions marked thereon to realize this.
Our walk with Christ is not easy, and it only begins at baptism. All along the way, we can be drawn away by distraction and diversions often not recognized until we have lost our way. Then we risk becoming another lost soul or another spiritual wreck on the chart. Just as the “strait gate” and “narrow way” are the only way to enter safe harbor, so it is with the way we choose in our Christian walk.  And, just as it would be unwise to enter the port of Alexandria when the cargo was intended for the port of Haifa…Not only is the way we choose critical but the destination...only the right port will offer us success in our effort.

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of us all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)

image: courtesy of