"Momma, What Are These?"

by Tom Wacaster

Occasionally I stop at the local Good Will to drop something off and while there I take a few minutes to peruse the books they have on display. Most of what lines the shelves of the “book department” at Good Will is either out of date (terribly out of date), or the books don’t contain anything of interest to me. I never found a lot of sense in purchasing a manual on Microsoft Windows 94 some two decades after that operating system went by the wayside. If you still own an old Windows 94 computer and are needing some brushing up on that particular operating system, and just can’t find any help on line, you might try making a quick trip down to the local Good Will and check in their “book department.”  This is not to say that my book shopping at Good Will has never been fruitful. I have, on occasion, come across some good books at the Good Will. But my experience has been that Half-Priced-Books is a better place to find good used books.

It has been at least twenty years since the following occurred, but it seems like only yesterday. On that particular occasion I had found a book that I wanted to purchase, and as I headed for the check out counter I passed several boxes filled to the brim with old 45 r.p.m. records (those are the records with the large hole in the center, usually containing one single from the artist on each side). There was a young lad about five years of age who, looking into this large box of old records, asked his mother, “Momma, what are these plastic disks with holes in them?” No answer was forthcoming. Perhaps his mother did not know; in fact I don’t think she had any idea what those little “plastic disks” were.  I paused for a moment to flip through some of those old records, and as I did I wondered to myself how long it would be before those old 45’s became as extinct as the even older 78 r.p.m.’s (those were the thick records with the tiny hole in the center). If technology continues its present pace of changes and upgrades the day will come when the very mention of 45 r.p.m. ’s will conjure up memories of a bygone era, or even worse, conjure up no memories at all.

It has probably been thirty years or more since the Statler Brothers wrote and produced a song reflecting upon the “good ole’ days” of the 50’s and 60’s. It was titled, ‘Do You Remember These?’ The song contains a veritable “catalogue of nostalgia.” Harold Statler once commented with regard to that song, “We’re always collecting old films, comics, memorabilia. We’re always asking each other, ‘Do you remember this? Do you remember that?’ That’s how we came up with the song just from our everyday conversations. We could have gone on forever. As it was, we had to cut out half of it because it was too long.”  For those who are at least as old as I am, see if any of these items in that song conjure up memories of the past:  “Saturday morning serials, chapters one through fifteen;  fly paper, penny loafers, lucky strike three; flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, ‘Pepsi please’; cigar bands on  your hand, your Daddy’s socks rolled down.”  Or what about:  “Aviator caps with flaps that button down; movie stars on Dixie Cup tops; nickers to your knees [that one is even before my time]; peddle pushers, and duck tail hair; Howdy Doody, and tootie-fruitie; Cracker Jack prize, fender skirts, double root-beer floats; Ah, do you remember these?”

Most of the things listed in that old Statler Brothers’ song have long since vanished.  This generation knows little of those things mentioned in the song for two reasons: (1) they became outmoded and outdated; (2) the memory of those things was not passed along to the next generation. Herein lies the point we want to make.  The Lord’s church is older than any of those old 45’s, or those things about which the Statler Brothers sang. Every generation has the sacred obligation of perpetuating the truths of God’s word to the next generation. That old story will never be outmoded or outdated. It may be forgotten by some, but it will always be relevant and up to date. Not everyone in our country is aware of the truths that many of us were taught when we were a child. We are increasingly confronted with questions, the answers to which we often take for granted: “Who is this ‘God’ you talk about?” “What is this book you call the Bible?” “What do you mean by ‘the undenominational nature of the church,’ or this thing you call ‘the church of Christ?” “Why don’t you use instrumental music in your worship?” The same applies to the moral standard that characterized our beloved nation only a half century ago. The younger generation has forgotten the values of our parents and grandparents for the simple reason that (1) Christianity has been criticized as being outmoded, out of date and non-relevant, and (2) some have failed to keep in memory those eternal truths passed along to them by others.

It has often been said, “Apostasy is only one generation away.” I fear that the day may come when I hear some child in a Good Will store come across a copy of the Bible and ask his mother, “Momma, what is this book?” But what I fear even more is that when that question is asked by an inquiring child, his mother will not know how to answer. 

Calling Bible Things By Bible Names
by Tom Wacaster

Words serve as a vehicle of communication. Similarly, ideas have consequences and ideas are communicated in words. In view of the fact that God, by inspiration, selected the very words by which to communicate to us spiritual truths (1 Cor. 2:13, ASV), one would think men would respect the words God selected to name and designate our  religious activities.  Unfortunately this is not the case.   Not only have men changed Biblical terminology to suit their own way of thinking, they have invented new words to convey new ideas introduced into their man-made religions. Lets take just one example. The inspired writer Luke tells us that the “disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). We are also instructed to “glorify God in this name” (1 Pet. 4:16). When God selected the name Christian He did so to the exclusion of all other “names.” Prophetically, God said that his people would be called by a new name” (Isa 62:2).  Notice the singularity of designation; it is NAME, not NAMES. We can, by divine authority, refer to ourselves as “Christians.” Beyond that, there is no authority, either by example, command or inference. But ask the average man concerning his religious affiliation and he will either hyphenate and/or eliminate the name Christian in his answer. Wherein is the authority? When asked “What church do you attend?” more often than not you will hear some reference to a word or term that is completely foreign to the New Testament. Again, wherein is the authority? In view of the fact that we are to “hold fast the form of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13), perhaps the religious leaders of this land owe us some answer for the new vocabulary they have injected into God’s divine word. For some reason I don’t think such an explanation will be forthcoming.

The Wisdom of Our King Depicted In The Beatitudes

By Tom Wacaster

When the Queen of Sheba heard of the wisdom of Solomon, it is said by the sacred writer that “she came to prove him with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1); and come she did! “She came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (verse 2). Her entourage must have been a spectacle to behold. It is doubtful that anything was spared to make her journey comfortable and her interview with Solomon profitable. Upon her arrival she was granted an appointment with King Solomon, and it is said that “there was not any thing hid from the king which he told her not” (verse 3). Upon the completion of that meeting with Solomon she said, “It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me” (1 Kings 10:6-7). And then she added this most remarkable observation: “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, that stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom” (verse 8).

Fast forward to a mountain side in Galilee, where “a greater than Solomon” (Matt. 12:42) sat down and taught the disciples and the multitude that surrounded Him. If the sayings of Solomon manifested the wisdom of a mortal king over a physical kingdom, how much more do the sayings of Jesus declare Him to be “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). It is fitting that the Son of David would begin this Sermon On The Mount with the same word used by the Queen of Sheba to describe the effect of Solomon’s wisdom on the people of Israel: “Blessed”! The first one-hundred-forty words from the lips of our Savior (in English) not only provide us with heavenly advice for a joyful and happy life here upon this earth, they also set the background for the remainder of this sermon, and point us to the majesty of Jesus the Christ. To borrow a phrase from the Queen of Sheba, “And, behold, the half” has not been told.

In slightly more than a half dozen “beatitudes,” Jesus unleashes heavenly wisdom for those who would find true happiness. His sayings are not politically correct, they do not cater to the physical part of man, and they run contrary to the thinking of every generation of men that have walked the face of this earth. How can someone be happy when they are poor? Where is the joy in mourning? How can the meek inherit anything, especially the earth? Why should men hunger and thirst for something they cannot see with the physical eye or hold in the palm of their hands? Who ever heard of refusing to seek revenge, and instead be merciful toward those who do us harm? Of what value is purity of heart? After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, filled with “evil men and imposters” who shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Wherein is the value of making peace when those about us promote only hatred and violence? How can a person find contentment when he is being falsely accused and reproached for the cause of Christ?

Keep in mind that our Lord paved the way for us. He blazed the trail as the “author (literally, ‘captain,’ or ‘trailblazer,’ TW) and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He manifested each and every one of these beatitudes (with perhaps the only exception being His mourning over sins committed) to perfection, “one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Being “poor in spirit,” it is said that “he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:7-8). When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passion Week, “this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, Meek, and riding upon an ass, And upon a coal the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:4-5). His entire life was a demonstration of what it means to “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” showing compassion and mercy to those in sin and in need of redemption. His heart is the epitome of purity, having never once entertained an evil thought or committing some vile deed. He was, to say the least, the Great Peacemaker, reconciling man to God and bringing about a peace of mind and calm assurance for everyone who would take His yoke upon them and thereby “find rest” for their weary souls (Matt. 11:28-30). His godly life caused Him to endure every form of reproach imaginable, culminating in a horrible death upon the cross thereby securing our salvation.

Read again each of these eight beatitudes and see if you don’t see a portrait of our King that will cause the heart to swell with deep appreciation and love for He Who gave Himself for our sins. Let men talk of earthly kings that have come and gone, and then let them look at Christ with an honest and open mind, and in view of the overwhelming evidence, bow in grateful submission to our King. The words of Napoleon Bonaparte bear repeating:

I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. You speak of Caesar, of Alexander, of their conquests, and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers, but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with an army faithful, entirely devoted to his memory? My armies have forgotten me even while living. Can you conceive of Caesar as the eternal emperor of the Roman Senate, and, from the depth of his mausoleum, governing an empire, watching over the destinies of Rome?  Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love; and, at this hour, millions would die for him (original source not known).

If the beatitudes were all that men might read of the Sermon on the Mound, they would be the better for it. Yet “the half hath not been told,” and as we continue our study of these chapters in Matthew, our life cannot help but be enriched and our allegiance to our King the stronger.

I received the following article by the late G.K. Wallace. I thought it worth sharing with your readers:

Old Folks
In the vigor of youth, we despised danger. Now our caution increases year by year. With many, life’s problem is preventing being idle. We are anxious about a continual existence. Winter is on our heads, but spring is in our hearts. Roses and violets smell just as they did forty years ago. Our minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go in a quiet peace like a clock in a thunderstorm.

The events of life flow on as usual. It has been well said that the “fuller the current, the more noiselessly it flows.” Time passes swiftly—months and years are so much alike that we hardly notice. Victor Hugo said, “Forty is the old age of youth: fifty is the youth of old age.” It may be better to be seventy or eighty years young and not forty years old.

If we would stay young in heart we must keep the mind active. Read, read, and read. The man who is mentally active does not grow old like the one who never thinks. The mind, like muscles, needs exercise. Chapirl said: “An aged Christian, with snow on his head, may remind us that those points of earth are whitest which are nearest Heaven.” David wrote: The days of our years are threescore and ten. Or even by reason of strength fourscore years…. For it is soon gone, and we fly away…. So teach us to number our days that we may get us a heart of wisdom (Psa. 90:10, 12).