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Repairing the Walls and Rebuilding the Gates

What with all the social misfits walking into churches and shooting innocent people in recent years, many churches have wisely opted to arm, train and prepare, as much as possible, in order to combat the possibility of such an event. As both a US Military veteran and a veteran police officer I openly commend and applaud anyone who takes seriously proactive precautions to defend themselves. I believe schools, day care centers, Churches and such places should, out of decency, be ‘off the table’ for targets even for a depraved madman.

Unfortunately events of late have demonstrated with stark reality that churches, schools, malls, concerts, theaters – nothing is safe. No big surprise there in light of Supreme Court rulings concerning prayer, schools, abortion and such. One societal degradation after another. One social, moral and spiritual defilement seems only to lay a foundation for the next and for most of us it seems the America we grew up in is under attack. As if some charlatan were trying to replace it with one where patriotism, decency, moral sensibility, backbone and courage are extinct. In months past I have spoken with a few who questioned churches preparing to defend those inside [which coincidentally includes infants, children, women, the elderly]. To such I say “we’ve put in smoke detectors, fire alarms and emergency exits to prepare for potential hazards. A systematic approach to preparedness, defense and training are much the same”. We’ve insured our vehicles in case of wrecks, our buildings in case of flood or storms – just in case something terrible happens. Shall we prepare for a storm outside and not for one inside?

As the minister of God, pastor of the church and one familiar with taking up arms under the flag of our country; I applaud those who arm themselves and train to respond to such as would harm a child, an elderly one…or other defenseless one, be it in a church, a school, or a grocery store. Our country has ever met tyranny with arms. In the Bible, cities had walls, gates and heavy doors, armed defenders, armed patrols…all ordained of God. King David, a type of Christ, went about with a sword which he used frequently. In fact the Lord Jesus Christ himself said in Luke 22:36 reads “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one”. Why? Because sometimes wicked people try to do wickedness upon those who cannot stop them.
My own view is that I had rather see a church defend its defenseless ones and suffer the criticisms of men than to refuse to do so and live with the resultant horrors and inconsolable conscience thereafter. Like farmers preparing a field for planting and yet trusting God for the harvest, or fisherman lowering their nets for a catch, but trusting the catch to God – so too must we all prepare the horse for the battle but trust the outcome thereof to our Great King.

Cremation or Burial…What Does the Bible Say?

Because of the financially trying times we live in I have had quite a few people ask me about Cremation vs Burial. What does the Bible say? What should I do? Is there any guidance in the scripture on this subject? I am always reluctant to answer, but only out of a desire not to hurt someone who has already made this mistake. The Bible gives some very clear and plain guidance on how to “put away our dead”. The average Cremation with a family gathering and urn runs around $1200 or less while a burial will cost between $7000 and $10,000 depending upon particulars.

However, despite the exorbitant cost of a simple funeral, Cremation is not a Christian practice. For starters in the Old Testament we find many verses where the dead were ‘buried’. God commanded the dead to be buried. In Deuteronomy 21 for example, God himself ‘buried’ Moses. I think for me personally that makes clear enough the example God gave us. God punished Moab for “cremating” the king of Edom. In Joshua 7:25, 2 Samuel 23:7 and 2nd Kings 23:7 God’s people burned the dead to show contempt. In the New Testament our Lord Jesus Christ was buried, not burned – another overwhelming example. Burial after death depicts a very important spiritual truth – until one has been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) they cannot be ‘dead to self’ and follow that ‘death to self’ in the spiritual burial of baptism. Not only this but at physical death – the deceased is either destined for heaven or for ‘burning in hell’ depending upon what they’ve chosen to do with Jesus. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” and Colossians 2:12 says, “Buried with Him in baptism”. Burial is a part of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Read and notice verse 4 “And that He was buried, and that He arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures”. We find then of course the phrase often repeated “buried with his fathers” in scripture.
When I am asked for advice concerning what the Bible says on this matter, my advice is to follow God’s example and bury your dead. What if it is too late and you have already had a loved one Cremated? That is of no difficulty with God. He can transform ashes and dust into a glorified body. The same is true for those consumed by wild animals. God will raise all the bodies of His children, no matter what their manner of death or disposal and will fashion them, “like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” Philippians 3:21
Cremation should not be practiced by Christians. I urge you to pray & obey the Bible!

Some of Those Daily Benefits of Salvation!

As the new Christian studies the word of God they are inevitably drawn to the various topics that accompany their “salvation” {Notice that I did NOT say that accompanies their ‘water’ baptism} but their ‘salvation’ [their new birth, their new man, their new creature in Christ]. *Note that to study aright and understand as an adult; you have realized the monumental difference between the spiritual baptism by Grace through Faith in the blood of the Lamb of God which is figuratively depicted by the outward testimony (in other words by the water baptism). That outward demonstration of the inward event is not the event itself but as the Holy Ghost said “the like figure” of that inward baptism.

This saving faith is accompanied by tremendous blessings and benefits: Paul spoke much on these blessings in his letters (Epistles). For example in Romans he taught that JUSTFICATION has two elements ONE OF WHICH IS The Forgiveness of sin which includes the REMOVAL of the guilt & of the punishment of sin. SECOND IS THE Imputation of the Righteousness of His Lamb, His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and the RESTORATION of God’s favor. [See Psalm 32:2, Rom 3:24 and Gal 2:16]. These “rewards” as Paul called them in Romans 4:4 also benefit us in that ‘Our Iniquities Are Forgiven! Our Sins are Covered and Our Father no longer imputes our sins to us but rather, He imputes the righteousness of Christ to us! Glory!

As David, a type of Christ, said “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” Romans 4:8. This “imputation of righteousness” then we find is a benefit of being “justified by faith” and includes our having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). How exciting it is for not only the new Christian as they find and learn these sweet comforts in the Bible – but also for those of us who have been ‘standing on the promises of God’ these many years hence. How tearful is it to learn and come to the understanding that we all, before we trusted Christ (not the baptismal pool) were the enemies of Almighty God – and that it took the death of God’s own and only begotten Son (paying our condemnation) to reconcile that insurmountable debt! But oh what rejoicing and redemption is to be found in the resurrected life His Son provides us by His own resurrection [See Romans 5:10].

The Christian then, who has finally looked with new eyes at the old book, has begun to spiritually see old truths. Thus when you ask them “when did you get saved” they don’t try to remember when they got dunked in water; they go in their mind to that moment God imputed life changing righteousness to them by grace through faith!

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

One of the only places where the Christian is plainly and directly told to “study the word” is now and has always been under attack. It is a huge and vitally important direction to study the bible and it’s found in 2nd Timothy 2:15 {Consequently I am sure many of you won’t find it at all surprising that men & devils, modern ‘versions’, textual criticism and so-called scholars have done their best to omit it, delete it, pervert it, mishandle it, distort it or reword it ad nausea}

Let’s see what it actually says in ‘the real bible’ – by which I mean of course the AV 1611 – “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. WOW!! What a mountain of doctrine and guidance for the Christian life! It’s no wonder that so many have tried for hundreds of years to distort this verse; for of a certainty if more people (including preachers) would “study the word” many fake churches & ‘denominations’ would soon go out of business.
By the way ‘rightly dividing the word’ and getting your doctrine straightened out has never wrongly divided the brethren [2nd Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15; 1st Timothy 1:3, 4:1, 2nd Timothy 4:2-4]. Next notice that the verse says by studying you can meet God’s approval – which means that by failure to study and ‘rightly divide’ or understand the word of God you can incur God’s disapproval! The obvious fact being there stated is that someone who fails to study inevitably fails to understand, comprehend, apply and live out “sound doctrine” in their lives and as such they fail to demonstrate to those around them that ‘form of doctrine which was delivered unto’ them [Romans 6:17].

Now we know that as the night draws near in these last days that fewer and fewer are actually studying and I know some of you, like me, are dumbfounded how someone can claim to be a Christian and yet seem uninterested in ‘shewing themselves approved unto God’.
Note also that the goal for the Christian is to be a ‘workman’ for the Lord. A workman in the lives they touch. A worker of the Lord in the life of their spouse, their children and their circle of friends.

Also notice that failing to study in order to ‘rightly divide the word’ leads inescapably to being ashamed before God. I don’t know about you but I already have enough things to be ashamed of and have no desire to add to this long list. Charles H Spurgeon (who was called the prince of preachers) said some great things with which I agree heartily {apart from his notorious blundering on the subject of Calvinism and the so-called ‘doctrines of grace’} in effort to encourage young preachers to study, once said ‘God already has enough biblically ignorant men and women making fools of themselves’; he doesn’t need you to join their ranks.

As for me I already have much to be ashamed of so I do not wish to add biblical ignorance and failure to rightly divide the word to the list. What a fool is that man or woman who knows more about fishing, building, farming or games and movies but almost nothing when it comes to the scriptures.

Man What a Deal

Matthew 27:15-26 tells us about a terrible ‘trade off’. I doubt anyone reading this article could deny that at some point they’ve been involved in a ‘trade deal’. You know, where you trade one thing to get something else. And too I’d venture that anyone who has done a ‘trade deal’, has as they say “gotten the short end of the stick”. Those among you who by God’s grace and mercy have spent time in the scriptures are familiar with Barabbas (by all accounts a murderer, criminal, riotous and loathsome character) but if not I urge you to read Luke chapter 23 and John chapter 18 before going further. What a great deal huh? The shouting crowd Satan had fanned to flame are actually demanding a wretched, lying cut-throat mongrel named Barabbas in exchange for the Precious Son of the Living God! It’s beyond comprehension. What a deal Satan conned them into making.
But can I tell you “Barabbas comes in many forms today” and people everywhere are calling for Christ to be murdered and kept out of their lives and for Barabbas to be released into it instead. I know a young couple who have three precious small children. They know the children are watching and learning from the decisions of the parents. Nonetheless they refuse to be in church choosing instead to watch television and go fishing etc. In effect they choose their Barabbas and cast out Christ from their life. They may as well teach their kids to shout “Away with this Christ…give us Barabbas instead”! You’ve probably seen many a young man or woman who foolishly traded their purity & chastity FOR defilement & shame.

What a terrible scene to imagine – the angry faces, the whispering Pharisees, the seditious plotting, the shouting of the mob – demanding that Pilot crucify Jesus! I can imagine Pilot standing there with dismay and shock on his face. Think about it…how far has a people sunk when a lost Roman “prefect” or Governor [who has been the cruel instrument of Herod in the region] is the only voice of sanity among them?! What vile whispering has Satan worked in the hearts of people both then and now that they would gladly trade off whatever decency and blessing they must in order to have their sin at any cost?

NO! Are there none left who will shout “Give us Christ”! A long time ago my Father chose to give me the power to choose to believe {John 1:11-12} and I too made the choice to become one of the sons of God! I urge you – don’t trade your real Bible for a counterfeit, don’t trade church for drama team, dance and band, don’t trade the Son of the Living God for some Barabbas of your own choosing. Some should paint on the side of their bass boat “SS Barabbas”. Some should change their horse’s name to Barabbas. Some should write across their television screen “Barabbas”. Oh I urge you Christian…today is a new day – choose carefully whom you will turn loose in your life.

When You’ve Been Pushed Too Far

That amazing record of the world that God gave us [The Bible] tells us the incredible story of a great strong-man named Sampson {Judges 14-16}. This fella was like a real life superhero who could have easily picked up and carried a full size car up a hill. He had often used his great strength to whip up on the enemies of God. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have the brains to match his strength and before you finish reading the story of Sampson & Delilah you kind of wonder if the poor guy was ‘right in the head’.

Sampson liked those cheap looking Jezebel type women *(you know the ones, clothes too revealing, too tight, too much war paint on their face and eyes). He met one named Delilah and fell for her. His enemies saw this weakness and used it against him. They bribed Delilah with a lot of cash to find out why Sampson was so super-strong and how they could whip him. So she immediately began pressing Sampson for the secret of his strength and the Bible says she literally nagged the guy to death [Judges 16:16].
She pestered Sampson day and night without end to tell her his secret. Time and again he lied to her and time and again she sprung traps on him. As you read the story in Judges Ch 16 you find that Delilah troubled Sampson 1. Morally 2. Psychologically 3. Physically 4. Emotionally and 5.. Spiritually. In the end Sampson just buckled under the pressure and told her what the secret of his great strength was.
The famous Paul Harvey used to finish his great radio program by telling “…the rest of the story”; but in this case the ‘rest of the story is dreadful and it ends badly’. Sampson is captured with his head in Delilah’s lap. He is tormented, tortured, imprisoned and the subject of mockery. That’s just exactly Satan’s plan for lost people…torture, pain, suffering, betrayal and spiritual destruction.
However in the life of the Christian, Satan’s plan is demonstrated here in Sampson’s life with spiritual ruin. There are multiple reasons, I think, why Sampson told Delilah his secret, but one of the reasons is that she wore him down with her constant nagging and attacking. Satan uses this same strategy sometimes. He hits you on multiple fronts in rapid succession. He doesn’t give you time to recover from one blow before he hits with you another. Sound familiar? Like someone was plotting against and setting traps for you? The devil does that to people as well…he pushes you, tempts you, pressures you and attacks you; sometimes physically, sometimes morally, sometimes psychologically…
through family, spouse, friends, co-workers. He is ever trying to break you and push you over the edge and away from God. Ultimately Satan’s goal is to lead a Christian into Spiritual ruin and mockery.
If I could have spoken to Sampson before his death there is much I would say, but part of it would be “It doesn’t have to end this way! Come back to God!”

The Danger of the Plastic Baby Jesus in the Yard

 

All over the world and especially all over America this week there are little manger scenes on display in Cities and Towns and court squares and front yards. Some are wooden, some are plastic, some even have lights and you plug them in and they light up. Some even have live animals and actors to play the part. To be frank I like them all and I find it rewarding that so many people still have the backbone to display a manger scene no matter who whines about it. Unfortunately however after the “Christmas season” is over the lighted manger scene will be unplugged and boxed back up along with the donkey, the lamb, the wise men and plastic Joseph and Mary. They’ll all be put back in the basement or attic (many will store them right beside the plastic Santa) to be forgotten for another year. Many untold millions love Christmas, and with good reason I might add – it is after all the day we’ve dedicated to a celebration of God’s own Son stepping out of heaven and into a human body that he might redeem man from the curse & penalty of sin. I understand the premise behind the plastic manger scenes. But there is a “danger in the manger scene” and it is this: The Lord Jesus hasn’t been ‘away in a manger’ for over 2000 years! Now he has a crown on His head and He doesn’t sleep! Sadly many know only that plastic plug in Jesus. The one who makes no demands and has nothing to say. He just lays there in the fake manger being adored by his plastic parents, wise men and animals. That’s sadly just exactly the kind of Jesus many want. One whom they can stuff back in the box and stick back in the basement or attic the rest of the year. He’s not unlike the blow up Santa; just another ornament to decorate an empty life with. Plastic plug in baby Jesus and blow up Santa will sit quietly out in the shed with the plastic witch & plastic Easter bunny and make no demands year after year. You can do as you please with little plastic Jesus, but I wish I could warn all of the world! The real Jesus went on to Calvary where He paid the penalty of death for YOU! The real Jesus was buried in a tomb and after 3 days He rose from the dead FOR YOU. If you’ve been saved by the blood of the Lamb the manger is just the beginning! The real Jesus will live all year in your heart sitting upon the throne. Yes the manger is a tender reminder of the love of our God IF you’ve met the risen Saviour. But if you haven’t, that plastic baby Jesus might just as well be a plastic statue of you. I don’t really care what people do with plastic baby Jesus, but I would to God that they would put the real one in their heart before it is eternally too late. Come worship the great King with us at Calvary Baptist Church. (903)729-5924. 703 Gillespie Rd, Palestine, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Not Be Told

Some years ago I was preaching in a jail in Tennessee to a handful of men, most of whom had been in tears throughout the sermon and afterwards one asked to speak with me privately. He told me how he’d ruined his life with booze & drugs and of how he had really ‘messed up this time’. I told him about the Lord Jesus Christ [the Life-Changing miracle worker] and prayed with him. A few days later this same man’s long-term ‘fiancé’ called me and asked if she could meet with me regarding the sermon her fiancé had mentioned from the jail service I’d held. Later, when I met with her, she told me of the charges she too was facing and wanted to know if there was yet hope. She described having been raised by loving parents but said she couldn’t stand their rules. They were ‘strict and uncompromising’. Her father was demanding and her mother unreasonable she said. She hadn’t spoken to them in over two years. She told me of how she’d left home under wrong circumstances, gotten into drugs which had cost her a good marriage and two teen children (whom her parents were raising). She cried and told me she hadn’t seen her kids and had no relationship with them. She’d had a string of run-ins with the police and multiple failed relationships. At the moment she had a whole new set of charges pending ahead of her. She was being abused, a constant victim of domestic violence, etc. I asked her if she couldn’t simply call her parents whom I was sure would be thrilled to help (John 15:11-24). Her answer? NO! My father demands I dress a certain way, behave a certain way, talk a certain way and dictates the places I can go and who I can socialize with and be friends with. Nearly shouting by this point she said, I REFUSE TO BE TOLD WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO! Gently I asked her “even if that refusal has ruined your relationship with your parents [whose demands and standards were there for her protection], and has cost you a marriage? Even if that refusal has robbed you of your children and has destroyed your relationship with them? As she went on describing her outrage at all they who had tried to keep her from the life she’d chosen I felt a great pity for her. Sunken eyed, hollow cheeks and unkempt hair – It made me angry again at the old devil who had turned her against her family and even her own children. Even faced with the terrible consequences of her rebellion and pride she still couldn’t see what it has done to her. As I sat there listening to her I imagined her shackled like Charles Dickens fictional character Jacob Marley with great heavy chains of rebellion forged link by link and lock by lock. A great ponderous iron ball dragging along behind her. That’s where many people are in these last days! They’ve not realized that some rules are good and some standards are loving. This is Pastor Malcolm Harrison inviting you to bring a Bible and join us at Calvary Baptist Church in Palestine. We have services at normal church times as well as Sunday school for all ages.

 

 

 

No Man Could Bind Him, No, Not with Chains!

Some of you bible believers may recognize this phrase “And no man could bind him, no, not with chains” from Mark chapter 5. There we are told the account of the “Devil Possessed man of Gadara”. If you’ve not read it lately I encourage you to do at this point before proceeding. There is so much to consider in this piece of scripture but for sake of time let me point out that this poor devil possessed soul was living in the graveyard…cutting himself with stones. That is how Satan rewards his followers…self-loathing…self-hatred…self-injury! As is clear from the text, the people there had many times hunted the poor soul down and captured him. They’d many times bound him, certainly they’d tried ropes at first…and then when those had failed to hold him they’d even resorted to using chains to try to restrain him. Yet in his rage and fits   and If you know your Bible you may recognize that phrase “And no man could bind him, no, not with chains” as a quote from the New Testament, Mark chapter 5 Some years ago during a tent revival meeting a woman came up to the preacher and said “my twenty four year old sister is coming Sunday preacher, please pray that God would grant her repentance unto salvation”. Sure enough the sister came and the preacher (a friend of mine) preached a Holy Ghost anointed sermon that filled the altars with lost and backslidden souls that night. The young woman too raised her hand admitting before God that she knew she was not saved and that she was being convicted of God. Yet when the invitation time came she remained in her chair and despite much prayer, she refused to come forward and take Christ as her Lord. That Sunday night after the meeting she told the preacher “I can’t come tomorrow night but I’ll be back Tuesday night”. Despite his urging she wouldn’t accept Christ that night; she said “perhaps I will Tuesday night”. The next night she was talking to a friend on the phone while she sat on the couch with her little three year old daughter in her lap. During the call, her friend tearfully said “she just quit talking and I heard the phone hit the floor…I called her name over and over but she didn’t answer”. Later the three year old came into the other room where her grandfather was napping and said “Paw-Paw I’m done playing with mommy in the floor but she won’t get up”. He went into the room and found his daughter lying on the floor unresponsive and not breathing. The Coroner said in his autopsy report {cause of death unknown}, he said, ‘there’s nothing wrong with her’. 2 Corinthians 6:2 warns [For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation]. Revelation 3:20 tells us God said “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” If she had known that her appointed time [Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment] was mere hours away I believe that young lady would have ran to that altar and begged the great King of Kings to impute his righteousness unto her [Romans 4:7-8; Ephesians 2:8-9]. I believe she’d have called out saying “God, be merciful unto me a sinner” [Luke 18:13]. Sir, mam, when did you come under conviction, call out in repentant faith and open the door to your heart for a merciful God to come in? Hell is filled with people that were going to “get saved later”. We here at Calvary beg you not to put it off one moment longer. Malcolm Harrison is the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church 903-729-5924 703 Gillespie Rd on the Loop across from Pizza Hut. Visit us on the web at Calvarybcpalestine.com. On Facebook Calvary Baptist Church of Palestine.

 

 

 

 

Come As You Are, Leave As You Came

I suppose I’ve been asked 100 times by now “pastor, is your church a come as you are church?” That’s an interesting question. In Mark 5 we’re told about a man possessed by devils, living in the tombs (graveyard), cutting himself with rocks and running wild. We are told he cried & wailed and no one could chain him or capture him for long. Can you imagine that being your son or daughter? Can you imagine those heartbroken parents going out with lanterns hoping to see their son; to see if he’s still alive, to see if he’s been hurt badly and what his condition is, hoping to see their devil possessed son and inside hoping they wouldn’t see him because it hurt too much. Can you imagine that young man covered with his own blood, naked, wild eyed, wounds all over which he inflicted on himself, running wild and living in the graveyard among the tombs? But when Jesus came that devil possessed son ran to him, fell flat before him and worshipped him [Mark 5:1-20]. Notice that Jesus didn’t say “hey pal…go clean up your act and then come back. He didn’t say “go get a shave and a haircut and change clothes and then come see me”. No…we must all come as we are (unclean, lost, sinful and needing a Saviour). Would I tell those parents No…your son can’t come to church until he puts on a tie and coat. Would I tell them their poor devil possessed son must remain in the tombs and not come to church and learn of Jesus until he gets his act cleaned up? No… his only hope is Jesus! His only chance is Jesus! He MUST COME as he is! I will not tell them their poor lost son is not fit for our pretty church pews and our carpeted floors. BUT NOTICE SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT “COME AS YOU ARE”: AFTER the man in Mark 5 was changed by Jesus he went, got dressed, quit carrying on and was sitting listening to Jesus! He, like so many Jesus met, were drastically and permanently changed in every way. The Son of the Living God never left anyone the same! He never leaves anyone the same. He changes you drastically inside and out! You must come as you are yes! BUT YOU CANNOT STAY AS YOU CAME! Jesus changes everything! Read [II Corinthians 5:17]. Sadly today many have this “NO CHANGE” mentality and they’ve even created some so-called ‘churches’ that specialize in a ‘come as you are’ Churchianity where you can come as you are, stay as you please and leave as you came. They want mercy, grace and Jesus so long as He doesn’t tell them how to live, dress, behave or think. So many want God but not on His terms. The devil possessed man [Mark 5] was ready to let God change it all. If you’re ready for God to change your life HE WILL.

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