What Happened To The "R"?

by Tom Wacaster

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for our weekly bulletin entitled “Excuses and Explanations.”  In that bulletin I quoted a reliable source for an adequate explanation as to the diversity between a Texan’s southern draw and a northerner’s challenging dialect of the English language.  I provide a quote of what I wrote then to set the background for this week’s column:  "The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant.  If omitted in one place, they turn up in another.  When a Bostonian 'pahks his cah,' the lost R's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to 'warsh' his car and invest in 'erl' wells."  

A few of you pointed out that my Sunday evening slide presentation had a major flaw in its spelling—not just once, but on every slide that had the same heading.   I had intended to use the words of our Lord, “You have heard that it was said by them of old.”  But the “R” migrated to who knows where, and the quote read “You have head that it was said.”   The reason for the repeated misspelled word is attributed to the marvelous “cut and paste” ability of computer software.  So the mistake was perpetuated because of an original mistake and my inability to catch the mistake before making subsequent slides.   Some of you got tickled, though I could not, from my perspective understand why so many of you were smiling like you were. 

We all make spelling mistakes from time to time.  Here are a few that I came across in my research for this article:  A sign on a high school marque during “Literacy Improvement Week” read: “Laeping to Literacy.”  A learning center in Georgia placed a sign in front of the property.  It was improperly titled:  “Chalenger Learning Center.”  Another school had the sign at the street crossing spelled “Shcool  Crossing.”   Spelling errors are always embarrassing. Just how embarrassing depends upon the nature and location of that spelling mistake. A spelling mistake on a large sign is a pretty big deal. When that sign is advertising the services of a school, it's an even bigger deal. And when the word that has been incorrectly spelled is 'grammar'... well, that's about as embarrassing as it gets.   No wonder the school officials were embarrassed when at a Kansas City school the sign out front read: “Christian Brothers’ Grammer School.”  One more, and then I’ll move on.  A news reporter was covering a public event honoring Martin Luther King, and happened to take a picture of two women carrying signs alluding to Mr. King’s famous statement, “I have a dream.”  One sign read, “I have a draem”; the other “I have a deram.” 

Now back to my spelling blunder.  I take consolation in the fact that I am not the only one who makes spelling mistakes.   It seems, however, that not only do I make my fair share, I seem to excel  on occasions.   The first book I published was a little 250 page book, “Studies in Galatians.”  I was so proud the day I picked up the 1,000 copies just hot off the press.   I immediately opened one of the boxes, took out a book, and flipped open the book to examine the quality of the product.  The first thing I saw was a spelling error!  And I was not even looking for spelling errors.   How embarrassing!   Since most of us make mistakes on spelling from time to time, I thought I might make just a few observations and lessons we might learn from just such an occasion.

First, we should be manly enough to admit our mistakes when pointed out.   It would have been foolish to simply dismiss the accusations that I had misspelled a word in my slide presentation with a wave of the hand and arrogantly proclaim: “Mistake?  Who me?  Make a mistake?”  Yet there are multitudes who, when embarrassed by their mistakes, refuse to take the blame.  It seems that politicians and college professors are among the worst.  A close runner up are the environmentalists who simply refuse to entertain the idea that their global warming theories might just be a mistake.   Spelling mistakes, and even a misguided position one might take on global warming might not have devastating consequences, but the humility necessary to bring one to repentance could spell the difference between where one will spend eternity.    

Second, if you make a mistake it proves that you are human.   We have all heard about the man who claimed he only made one mistake in life and that was the time he mistakenly thought he had been wrong but as it turned out he was right.   “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).   Refusal to admit occasional sin is an indication of the absence of truth. 

Third, repentance is the key that unlocks the pathway to correction.   Repentance is simply a change of action based upon a change of mind.   Biblical repentance is always preceded by godly sorrow (2 Cor.  10).   An occasional misspelled word may not call for “godly sorrow,” unless of course the misspelled word in some way led to more serious consequences.    On the other hand, mistakes when it comes to one’s relationship to God are serious and the only avenue for correcting a severed relationship with God comes through repentance.

Finally, we should be grateful to those who take the time to help us recognize and recover from sin.  The brother who is willing to risk your friendship to point out error in your life is a true brother indeed.   “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness: looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).  He who is courageous enough to point out your sin is simply doing what God commanded him to do.  Personally, I am thankful when a brother points out my sin, for I know when he does that that he cares for my soul.  

My spell check did not catch my mistake last Sunday evening.  So I guess I can blame it on the machine, our crazy language, and my inattention to what I was doing.  Oh, one more thing.  At least I know you were paying attention; that beets  beats an audience whose eyes are open but whose mind is asleep!

~~~~~

The apostle Paul asked the brethren on one occasion to bear with him in his foolishness; not that he was really acting foolish, but that in their minds they thought he was, and he simply took that and ran with it.   The English language is quite astonishing, and not only do we have words that, when misspelled, are overlooked by the spell checker, but oft times a word that  sounds like the word you want, but is actually spelled differently, will escape the spell check detection.  Here is an amusing anecdote regarding the English language.  I have omitted some of the quote due to space limitations, but I think you get the picture: 


We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
The one fowl is a goose but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may fiund a lone mouse, or a whole set of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why should not the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural wouldn't be hose.
And the plural of cat is cats and not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say Mother, we never say Methren,

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim.

So English, I fancy you will all agree,
Is the funniest language you ever did see. 

~~~~~~





An Open and Shut Case

by Tom Wacaster
  
Mystery writers produce plots that, more often than not, revolve around some heinous crime such as murder. Some of the more successful fictional sleuths include such notable characters as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Peroit, Mark Slone, Colombo, and Jessica Fletcher. Real live detectives (and even the fictional ones) enjoy cases that are “open and shut.” That means the evidence is so simple, so obvious and so abundant as to make the case exceptionally easy to solve. I enjoy watching Colombo for the simple reason that when the police first arrive on the scene the murder appears to be an “open and shut case.” Of course Colombo “doth not think so,” and hence, the unfolding of the story as the apparently inept Lieutenant goes about solving the mystery. We sometimes use the same terminology to express the simplicity of a problem. “It’s an open and shut case!” But I want to use these five words to help us focus on a passage in God’s word that has nothing at all to do with the work of a sleuth. Consider these words of our Lord as recorded in the book of Revelation: “To the church at Philadelphia write: These things saith he…that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth” (Rev. 3:7). We can only surmise what prompted these words to the Christians living in the city of “brotherly love” – saints who had faithfully kept the word; who did not deny the name of Christ. In the first century the church endured some of the most severe persecution in the history of Christianity. These Christians may have been tempted to capitulate on the basis that the battle was not going well for the church; that the door of opportunity was not there; that no one would listen. Perhaps the church had ceased to grow as it should, and rather than compromise the truth for the sake of “numbers,” these faithful disciples stayed the course. Jesus reminds them that it is He Who opens the doors of opportunity and it is He Who shuts those doors. This truth was demonstrated with ancient Israel when, upon failing to enter the Promised Land by faith, the door was closed and that disobedient generation could not reopen that door, try as they may. 

Whatever the situation in Philadelphia our Lord reminded them that He has the “key of David.” It is He who has the power to open doors; not Rome; not the synagogue of Satan; not the enemies of the church. When once our Lord opens a door, none can shut; and once He has shut the door, none can open. He opens the door of opportunity for His churches; He opens the heart through the teaching and preaching of the gospel; He opens a door of admission into His church, laying down the terms of entrance and fellowship. He also shuts the door, when He pleases. He shuts the door of opportunity and the door of utterance, and leaves obstinate sinners shut up in the hardness of their hearts; He shuts the door of fellowship against unbelievers and profane persons; He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish virgins who have slept away their day of grace; He shuts the door against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident they may be.

There are dark clouds on the horizon! Where the bright light of freedom once shined, the dark clouds of error and sin are now blocking and blinding the eyes of men. Right is now called wrong; sin is glorified and honored. It seems as if the liberal leaders of our land are going about to get their wicked deeds “on the books” and written into law so as to suppress, intimidate, and incarcerate those who would dare speak out against the sins of homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, fornication, and marriage and divorce. The door into the hearts of men is being shut; the gospel rejected; God’s love requited. You and I may be tempted to think that the “unholy trinity” of Congress, the White House, and the Judicial branch of government are closing the doors to our liberty; that the wicked leaders of our generation have successfully silenced the gospel. But when I read these words of Jesus to the saints in Philadelphia I am reminded that all the governments of the world cannot close the doors unless our God permits it! I know not what is in store for this nation, but I fear that our Lord is closing the doors in our country much as He did in Russia in the last century; as He has in Muslim countries around the world; as He has in China, and other places where men have determined in their own mind that we will not bow to the King of kings. We dare not capitulate in the face of adversity. Stay the course brethren; keep your faith in God. And should our God decide to take these freedoms from us, to bring upon this land a famine of the word, to allow our Bibles to be banned, and the truth evil spoken of, let us not forget that our God will accomplish His purpose and He will be glorified. Let come what may, never forget that it is, as our title suggests, “an open and shut case.”

Some Things That May Surprise You About The Church Of Christ

(Author not known: Passed along to us by Jerry Blount)

1. You may be surprised that everyone in the assembly is invited to participate in the singing portion of the worship services. We have no choirs, special groups or solos. We use no pianos, drums, organs or guitars, etc. All music is a capella (vocal) as the New Testament indicates it was in the apostolic days (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Do you know the meaning of “Accapella”?  It is an Italian word that means literally “like the church.”

Accapella singing is singing “like the church.”

Contrary to what you may have heard, the singing is good singing, soul stirring and encouraging!

2. You may be surprised that visitors are NOT requested to make a contribution. Local members contribute on the first day of the week, each and every week. This is done without demand in the form of “tithes” or “assessments.” Free-will giving on the basis of other New Testament principles is impressed as the plan of scriptural giving No cake sales, church fetês, raffles, or other money raising schemes are used! We do not appeal for, or beg from those outside the Lord’s own family. All contributions, if the Lord’s Will is respected, are freely given. We do not appeal for, or beg from those outside the Lord’s own family. All contributions, if the Lord’s Will is respected, are freely given.

3. If you visit with us on any Lord's Day (the “first day of the week”), you may be surprised to find that we commemorate the death of Christ by partaking of the Lord's supper, which was instituted by Christ and commanded and taught by Paul, the Apostle (Matt. 26:26-29;1 Cor. 11:23-26). In the first century, “upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Therefore, since every week has a first day, it follows that the Lord's death must be commemorated every week! Not once every six months, or only on “Easter Sunday”!

4. You may be surprised that no hyper-emotional appeals are made. You will not be urged to act or move in response to the invitation of the Lord until you have sufficient knowledge of the Truth, to serve as a basis for your faith (John 20:30-31; Acts 16:32).

5. It may surprise you that most Christians attend every assembly of the church because they want to, enjoy it, know it is commanded and because they realize that assembling to worship is vital to their spiritual growth and service to God (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:25).

6. You may be surprised to know that we have no man-made prayer book, no church-authorized discipline, manual or creed and no ritualistic worship (2 Tim. 3:16-17 & 4:1-4).

7. You may be surprised at the manner of our services. You will not hear shouting, screaming or any other manifestation of unbridled emotions. No one will fall out in a faint, roll around on the floor or speak in “unknown” tongues. You will see that the admonition of the apostle Paul that all things “be done decently and in order,” is sincerely observed (1 Cor. 14:40).

8. You may be surprised that the service is NOT conducted by a man claiming to be a part of a special priesthood. Since the Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest and all Christians now make up a general priesthood and can themselves approach God and offer their prayers and sacrifices, it should be evident that no special earthly priesthood is necessary today (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Heb. 4:14-16).

9. It may surprise you that the church of Christ has neither earthly headquarters nor an earthly head. Even though With virtually all denominations have earthly headquarters. Christ alone is head of His body and the church’s headquarters is in heaven, where Christ now sits and rules with ALL authority (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23; Phil. 3:20-21).

10. Contrary to what you may have heard, you may be surprised to know that the church of Christ is not intent on condemning everyone to Hell, but invites all to come to our Lord in obedient faith, in faithful service and worship and in Godly living, that one may enjoy the benefits of His grace and strive for the hope of eternal life (Tit. 2:11-12; 1 John 2:25).

11. Finally, you may be surprised to learn that the Lord’s church is neither Catholic, Protestant, sectarian nor denominational. The Lord’s church in the first century was obviously none of these.

If we are correct in our claim that we follow His Word alone (admitting that not all “churches of Christ” can honestly make this claim) and in every way seek to be simple New Testament Christians, then we are the same as it was in the first century. Being of the same head, doctrine and practice results in being the same body the Lord purchased or built and therefore antedates both Catholicism and all Protestant denominations (Acts 20:28; Matt. 16:18).

We greatly desire the unity for which Jesus prayed, but, we believe that scriptural unity is found only in Christ (John 17:20-21).

Both Catholicism and denominational sectarianism stands opposed to this unity. We stand upon the Word of our Lord alone, respecting His authority in everything and speaking only as He directs us if we “all be one” in Christ as He so fervently prayed (Matt. 28:18; 1 Peter 4:11).

Please attend our services and see for yourself!

Give Me One Soul


by Tom Wacaster



In the early years of my preaching I filed most of my material in folders with subject labels attached to each one, and then placed them in a file cabinet in alphabetical order.  With the coming of the computer age most of my filing is entered into my database filing system, providing the location of what I have read, quotes, illustrations, and so forth.  The advantages of the computer over simplified paper filing is the subject for another time.   In the mid 80’s my son encouraged me to start learning to use computers.  My response at that time was, “Computers are just not practical for preachers.”  I have eaten those words many times.   But I digress, so let me get back to the subject at hand. 



I determined late last year that in this new year (2014) I would focus on evangelism, personal work, the lost, et al. so as to help all of us become more “soul conscious.”  I have two file folders that address this subject matter.  One of these is labeled “Evangelism,” the other “Personal Work.”  When I lay these flat on my desk one on top of the other the stack would be almost three inches tall.   In addition to preaching on evangelism and personal work this year, I thought it might be good to provide our readers with some printed material along that line.   To stir my thinking on this brisk, cold early March morning, I thumbed through the mountain of material I have on the subject.  I noticed as I flipped through, that not only have I filed away numerous articles on personal work and evangelism, but that through the years I have preached some two dozen sermons on the subject (and some of those more than once).  The bulletins that come through the mail and cross my desk quite frequently touch on the great need to reach the lost.  Workshops, gospel meetings, cottage classes, new books, tracts, etc. are all geared toward saving souls.  And so it seems to me that our realization of the need for evangelism is very acute.  We know people are lost without Christ.  We know that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  We know that if men are to be won to Christ it will take our efforts and united talents.  There seems to be the deep longing within every congregation I have worked with to “do something.”  People are just not satisfied with “keeping house.”  This is as it should be.



The slow numerical growth among churches of Christ over the last half century is disheartening.  The problem is not methodology. The open Bible studies, film strips, video tapes, correspondence courses, etc. have been proven to be very effective tools for teaching the lost.  Each individual must adapt whatever method might best suit his teaching abilities. Obviously, I have one particular tool which I consider most effective, but I am not shackled to that one method of teaching.  Whatever tool you might use, just make sure that it meets the need in the most effective way.  



Now the question: With the desire to see the church grow, and the abundance of methods of personal work and the tools at our disposal, why are we not baptizing more souls into Christ?  Those who have done research tell us that the last couple of decades has seen a decline in effective personal evangelism on the local level.  According to statistics, it takes 100 members of the Lord's church to reach one soul for Christ in one year.  This does not include our own children.  Thus, on the average, a congregation of 200 can only expect to baptize 2 people in one year's time.   We have the tools, the awareness of the lost-ness of humanity, and the desire to see the body grow.   Where, then, lies the deficiency?  To excuse the lack of growth on the disinterest of those around us is not an adequate answer.  It may contribute to the problem, but it is not the soul cause of the downturn in numerical growth.  I think the problem lies in our conviction.  The early church, though driven from their homes, their cities, and even their families, still “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).  Perhaps our greatest problem is to be found in the “things” that surround us.  It might be that we have developed a “come-and-get-it” mentality, and think that if we preach the truth, hold to the pattern of sound doctrine, and keep our own house in order that folks will flock to the building for teaching.  Or it could be that we are comfortable in a “non-confrontational” setting.  “Don't make waves!”   Maybe what we need is another great persecution to scatter us abroad!   One thing I know for sure.  The words of that popular song ought to be on our lips and in our hearts: “Lead me to some soul today, oh teach me Lord just what to say!  Friends of mine are lost in sin, and cannot find their way.  Few there are who seem to care; few there are who pray.  Melt my heart and fill my life. Give me one soul today!”