Is Social Drinking Acceptable to God

April 22nd, 2013 by patrickmorrison

It seems more and more these days that those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ are seeking to justify the practice of social drinking. There can be no doubt that the consumption of alcohol is increasing and becoming more socially acceptable. There was a time when members of the body of Christ adamantly opposed the usage of alcoholic beverages in any amount. Now, it appears that many are “crawfishing” from such staunch opposition. We are told that it is ok to imbibe alcohol so long as one does not get drunk. We are told that since Jesus graced a wedding in Cana of Galilee with his presence where wine was being served (John 2), and whereat he turned water into wine when the wedding party was running short, then social drinking must be acceptable, having the approval of the Savior himself. Are we being prudish in raising objections to social drinking? Are we just behind the times? As Christians, we are not concerned with whether or not something is socially acceptable, for such does not determine our involvement or lack thereof. We are concerned about what the Bible teaches on this subject. We want to know if we have God’s approval for this, or any, practice. We want to know if this will harm, or help, our influence for good. What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol, and does it address the matter of social drinking?
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Be Ready To Give An Answer

April 14th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

We know that all Scripture comes from the very mouth of God (2 Tim.3:16-17), even to the selecting of the words that were written for our learning (1 Cor.2:13). The Almighty carefully chose those who would transmit His divine will to us as they were born along by the Holy Spirit, recording for us the precious, soul-saving word of God (2 Pet.1:20-21). In spite of the fact that God chose the words that these men were to write for posterity, it is interesting how He allowed the personalities of these inspired penmen to shine through at times. These were not mere automatons. God used their various backgrounds, educations, and characteristics to transmit His word and preserve it for all generations. Peter is one of those that God entrusted to record the Divine record. He is a great man of faith, but he was as flawed as any of us can be. I suppose Peter appeals to us so much because we see in him much of ourselves. God allowed Peter to write these words: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet.3:15, ESV). My, how Peter had grown by the time he penned these words! It must have been a very humbling experience to him to be instructed to write this charge, when Peter had failed so miserably early on in his life in living out this charge!

Peter was often impetuous in both word and deed. He meant well, but he didn’t always do well. It seems he was always prepared with an answer, though his answers were not always tempered with meekness and reverence. When Jesus was walking on the water, Peter requested that he be allowed to join his Lord (Matt.14:28). We admire his courage, and sympathize with his doubts. It wasn’t long until he was sinking and crying out for the Lord to save him. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James and John were in the presence of three of God’s greatest spokesmen—Moses, Elijah, and Jesus Christ. Peter, perhaps sensing that someone needed to do or say something, spoke up and said that they should build three tabernacles to honor these three men (Matt.17:4). The voice of the Father quickly admonished Peter to hear Jesus (vs.5). When the Savior predicted that all of his disciples would forsake him, Peter replied that though the others might deny their Lord, he would never act so cowardly (Matt.26:33). He was brash and bold in his declarations, but often he had to eat his words. Peter had learned to answer with gentleness and respect through some of these experiences.

While Peter was often brazen in speaking out, there were times when he failed to give a defense of his faith. Three times he was given the opportunity to declare himself a disciple of Jesus Christ, but in all three instances he denied his Lord and his faith (Matt.26:70, 72, 74)! While Peter was willing to draw the sword to defend the life of his Master (Matt.26:51), he was unwilling to give an answer to those who questioned his discipleship. I am grateful that Peter did not allow his failures to defeat him. Some fifty days later, Peter would stand before a crowd of likely hundreds of thousands (perhaps even millions) to boldly declare the risen Savior (Acts 2:23ff). Peter had learned by his own failings to be ready always to give an answer to those who ask of the hope that is in you, and to do so with meekness and fear. Hopefully we, like Peter, can mature in our faith so that we can faithfully carry out the charge to give an answer to all who ask us about our Lord Jesus!

– Patrick Morrison

Gospel Meeting April 7th-10th

March 25th, 2013 by webmaster

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The Old Rugged Cross

March 17th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

Anyone who knows me or is around me for any length of time knows that I enjoy singing. I love to sing. I love to listen to beautiful singing. I come from a family who enjoys singing. There is nothing more beautiful to me than hymns of praise sung to the glory of God. Whether these songs of praise are old or new, it matters not so long as the meaning of the songs is faithful to God’s word and brings Him honor and glory. One of my favorite hymns is “The Old Rugged Cross.” Few hymns more powerfully call to mind the cross of Calvary than does this classic. Read More »

God’s Star

March 10th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

Stardom has captured the attention of the hearts of young and old within our society. Hollywood glamorizes its heroes, making them seem larger than life. The movie stars, athletes, and musicians that are so often placed upon pedestals are many times some of the basest of characters. In spite of their moral deficiencies, they are lavished with fame, riches, and power, and are the envy of the masses who idolize them. We have bought into the hype. We pressure our children to be the next famous athlete, musician, or model, and we spare no expense in developing them into stars. Our children are being taught that success equates to popularity, riches, and control. When they are taught that these are the true measures of real living, and when we spend so much time lavishing praise and attention on media darlings, it should come as no surprise that these will be the ones our children esteem as heroes. We have become so star crazy that it matters not if our favorite screen personality, musician, or athlete is a drug addicted womanizer. We just want them to “succeed” in their chosen field.

God gives us a far different perspective about what a star really is. Jehovah has given us example after example in His word of those who are worthy of emulation and adulation. Men and women such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Sarah, Gideon, Deborah, and many others “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb.11:38) are true heroes. If we would spend more time with these great characters of faith, then perhaps our children would hold these up as their heroes. Wouldn’t it be great if our youth imbibed the faith of Abraham, the courage of David, the modesty of Vashti, the zeal of Peter, the love of John, the missionary fervor of Paul, the commitment of Ruth, the encouragement of Barnabas, the patience of Job, the giving attitude of the poor widow, the conviction of Daniel, the tender heart of Jeremiah, and the boldness of Nathan? Thank God for true heroes like these!

Very few achieve stardom as defined by the world. Fewer still become stars in the eyes of God. Our Father tells us what a true star really is: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan.12:3). Those who help to lead others in the way of righteousness are the true heroes in the eyes of Jehovah. You see, the real heroes today are the faithful elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers, missionaries, and all other faithful saints of God. Their names may never be up in lights on marquees, but they will shine as the stars of heaven forever. Their names may never be printed in a magazine or on a playbill, but their names will be forever recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. These may never enjoy the successes of riches, fame, and power, but these know that true success is living your life for God and going to heaven! If you want to be a star, be a star for God. Live for Him, and lead others to Him. Then you will be a real hero, a true star!

– Patrick Morrison

You Can Take It To The Grave

March 3rd, 2013 by patrickmorrison

Many times when speaking about the certainty of something coming to pass, or the truthfulness of words spoken by an individual, a person will say, “You can take that to the bank.” I suppose that banks have been known to safeguard what has been entrusted to them, and so this is considered a high compliment if someone is trustworthy in keeping their promises when we speak of “taking it to the bank.” Given the turmoil in our banking system in the last few years, especially as it stems from corporate greed and corruption, I am not so sure that I want to “take it to the bank.” Some would even go so far as to say an individual who is so faithful to keep words spoken to him in confidence that he/she will “take it to the grave.” While some may be content to take a secret to the grave, I would much rather take to my grave the confidence and assurance that the Psalmist describes in Psalm 16: “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psa.16:10-11). David did not view the grave as something to be feared or dreaded. He had all the confidence in the world that the God he served in his life would be with him even in death, and beyond! What gave David such great hope in death?

The PATH he had been shown gave David hope. God had made known to the king the path of life. In His infinite wisdom, the Almighty has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet.1:3). He has shown us what is good and what is required of us: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God (Mic.6:8). This path through life is clearly marked, for it is a “high-way” of holiness (Isa.35:8). Entering in upon this path is difficult, but the end results in life (Matt.7:13-14). I believe David had much more in mind than just the path God has shown us through this life. David was speaking of the grave in the previous verse, and then mentions that God had shown unto him the path of life. It seems that David was saying that even in death, God has made known the path that leads to everlasting life. While some believe that the idea of life beyond the grave and the resurrection are New Testament concepts, there must have been at least some understanding of it prior to the glorious resurrection of our Lord. Abraham was sure God would raise Isaac from the dead when he was called upon to offer his beloved son (Gen.22; Heb.11:17-19). The psalmist knew that the path of life led through the valley of the shadow of death, emerging in the bliss of eternal day!

The PRESENCE of God with him brought David hope. David knew that real joy in life could only be found in the continual presence of God. Those moments when he wandered from Jehovah’s presence brought immeasurable misery to David’s life. When we walk with God in life, we have every assurance that God will walk with us in death. The eternal presence of God belongs to those who have longed for the presence of God while here upon earth: “I have set the Lord always before me” (Psa.16:8).

The PLEASURES that Jehovah promised to the faithful brought David hope. The pleasures of sin are short-lived (Heb.11:25). The joys that the world offers are fleeting (1 John 2:15-17). The pleasures granted by a loving Father to his faithful children are unceasing. Truly, there is no good apart from the Lord (Psa.16:2, ESV). It is because of Him that we have a beautiful inheritance (Psa.16:6, ESV). The forevermore pleasures are reserved for those who have chosen the Lord as their portion (Psa.16:5).

– Patrick Morrison

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

February 24th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

The words above may sound like the ranting of a legalistic, pharisaical religionist who lacks understanding about the scope and magnificence of God’s amazing grace. However, I would be hesitant to label Samuel, the prophet of God, as such. You might recall the command of God given to king Saul, to completely destroy the Amalekites so that nothing remained (1 Sam.15:1-3). Saul marched the army of Israel into battle, gaining victory over Amalek by the mighty hand of God (1 Sam.15:7). Nonetheless, Saul spared the life of king Agag as well as the choicest of the animals and spoils of war (1 Sam.15:9). Jehovah sends word to Samuel to meet Saul in Gilgal. Upon encountering Samuel, Saul declares, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” (1 Sam.15:13). When the prophet of the Lord points out the noise of the animals that should have been slaughtered in the battle, Saul states that they had saved the very best that they may sacrifice them to God (1 Sam.15:14). As Samuel continues to point out Saul’s rebellion, the king maintains that he has obeyed the voice of Jehovah (1 Sam.15:20), and again he defends the actions of himself and the people by stating that they intend to offer the animals as a burnt offering to God (1 Sam.15:21). To these continued excuses Samuel states, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (1 Sam.15:22, ESV). Read More »

Let Love Prevail

February 17th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

It is that time of year again when the store shelves are filled with stuffed animals, candy, flowers, and heart-shaped trinkets of every sort. The air-waves are filled with advertisements from jewelry stores clamoring for the business of those seeking to “prove their love” to the one they cannot live without. Valentine’s Day has become more about commercialism than about expressions of love and devotion. It seems many are seeking to buy the attention and affection of the one they love, or make up for a lack of loving expression throughout the year by one grandiose exhibition. Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to buying flowers, cards, candy, jewelry, a nice dinner, or any such thing as a means of showing our love for one another. What I am opposed to is trying to substitute material things for true love. We can learn much from what our loving Father teaches us about the subject of love. Read More »

A Stranger Among Us

February 11th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

The Almighty created everything around us, from the world in which we live to the air we breathe (Gen.1:1). He is our Creator, though many in the world refuse to acknowledge Him as such. God has given to all life and breath, even our very being (Acts 17:25). Not only has He created us, but He also sustains our very existence. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb.1:2). Jehovah gives to us our daily needs (Matt.6:11), and daily loads us with benefits (Psa.68:19). While there are those who may deny His existence or who refuse to acknowledge Him, the evidences for His eternal power and Godhead are so obvious that man is without excuse for denying such (Rom.1:20)! It is sad that so many who owe their being to God will not even allow Him into their lives or even their thoughts!
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Come Before Winter

February 3rd, 2013 by patrickmorrison

As the curtain of his life was soon to draw to a close, Paul wrote to his son in the faith: “Give diligence to come before winter” (2 Tim.4:21). This stalwart saint was destined to live out the last moments of his life within the confines of a Roman prison, but such a fate could not and would not deter the apostle Paul from his eternal reward (vv.6-8). Why did he ask that Timothy come before winter? Perhaps it was more treacherous to journey by sea at that time of year. It seems also that Paul needed his cloak to help him through the cold Roman winter (vs.13). This might be the last time for the young preacher to see his father in the faith. The words of Paul served to encourage Timothy to take advantage of the opportunities before him

We would do well to heed Paul’s advice. Opportunities to glorify God and to do good to others abound, but we must seize them as they appear. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal.6:10). The Scriptures encourage us to redeem (or make wise use of) the time (Eph.6:15). Life is so very fleeting (Jas.4:14), and so, too, are opportunities to prepare ourselves for eternity. Some are in the spring of youth, or the summer of middle age, or the autumn of retirement years. Winter looms for all of us. It may gradually come our way, or it may be upon us before we realize it, but winter will come. Will we take advantage of the opportunities that come our way, or will we regret having let them slip through our hands? What opportunities should we seize before winter comes?

Obey the gospel before winter. If you haven’t yet rendered obedience to the will of God, please do so before it is eternally too late! Eternal separation from God awaits those who know Him not, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess.1:7-9). In almost every assembly of the saints there are those who know that they need to obey the gospel, but put it off for some reason or another. Perhaps they feel that they will have other opportunities, or that there will be a better time to give their lives to the Lord. Many remain “almost persuaded” (Acts 26:28), but almost is as close as they get. To be almost saved is to be totally lost.

Return to the Lord before winter. Some have obeyed the gospel only to turn back to the ways of the world. If this is your situation, won’t you be restored while you have the opportunity? How many enter eternity with every intention of coming back to God? Peter describes the situation of the one who has obeyed, but turned back to his former ways as being worse in the latter end than in the beginning (2 Pet.2:20-22). Don’t allow the allurements of this world to cause you to forsake your Lord (2 Tim.4:10)!

Tell someone about Jesus before winter. Are there friends or relatives that you would like to win to the Lord, but have yet to approach them about their souls? We often have the best of intentions about going to our loved ones and friends with the gospel, but we often allow things to interfere with our plans. It is our privilege and responsibility to go to them with the gospel (Mark 16:15; Eze.3:18-20). Won’t you tell them before the opportunity is lost?

– Patrick Morrison

Choose Life

January 27th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

Our nation has seen its share of triumphs as well as tragedies. There have been battles won and lost, both at home and abroad. There have been heinous crimes that have accounted for thousands upon thousands of unspeakable atrocities. Some of these seem to resonate longer and louder than others. Certainly our nation remembers December 7, 1941 as a “day that will live in infamy.” September 11, 2001 will forever be etched in the memories of those who witnessed the cowardly murder of thousands of innocents. How many remember January 22, 1973 as one of our nation’s darker moments? We just recently passed the 40 th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, a monumental decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that legalized abortion. Since that somber decree, over 55 million innocent lives have been slaughtered, and their blood cries out from the ground as a testimony to just how far we have ventured from God in this country. How many shed tears over these defenseless ones who have been butchered in the name of a woman’s right to choose? How many parades have been held in honor of these who have fallen by the death instruments of those who have given an oath to protect the sanctity of life? Almost imperceptibly the death toll rises with each passing day. The silent screams of millions of babies aborted and discarded as nothing more than globs of tissue fall upon deaf ears.

But God hears! You see, Jehovah is the giver of life (Gen.2:7). Jesus is the prince of life (Acts 3:15). God is the God of the living, not of the dead (Matt.22:32). The culture of death in which we live is not of God, but of the Devil. He is a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). That so many are enamored with death and the macabre is a reminder of the influence that Satan has had in our society. Until the death of Jesus upon the cross, our Adversary’s greatest weapon was the fear of death (Heb.2:14-15). It is sad, indeed, that many choose to give Satan that power over them! When a culture celebrates death under the guise of mercy (euthanasia) or progress (abortion), it clearly demonstrates that we have decided to make our stand with the Devil. God has placed before us life and death, blessing and cursing. He calls upon us to choose life (Deut.30:19). In so doing, we choose to stand with God, the author and sustainer of life. The Almighty despises hands that shed innocent blood (Prov.6:17). How much more innocent can an infant in the womb be? What some declare as a right, God calls murder. I have heard some wonder aloud why God hasn’t allowed us to find the cure for cancer, or AIDS, or other such diseases. Might it be that God placed that knowledge within one of these little ones that our nation has savagely butchered? God wants us to choose life. He wants us to have life in His Son (1 John 5:11). He wants us to live eternally with Him (John 3:16). Life, not death; blessing, not cursing: which will you choose?

Patrick Morrison

Authentic Christianity

January 20th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

We hear much these days about being authentic, genuine, sincere, especially as it pertains to our relationship with the Lord. While it is true that we must be genuine and sincere in our walk with Jesus, many are misapplying and misunderstanding what it means to be an authentic disciple. I realize there are those who have hijacked Christianity and have made it into nothing but an exercise in hypocrisy. I also realize that there are still many who are striving to be followers of Jesus, Christians in every sense of all that this appellation entails. Has it gotten so bad that we are now at the point that being a Christian is not sufficient? Now we have to designate ourselves as “authentic” Christians in order to differentiate ourselves from those who are disingenuous about their faith? We are told that being “authentic” with one’s faith means to “keep it real.” So now we have those who will string together any number of expletives, while in the same breath claiming that their goal in life is to influence people to come to Jesus. After all, they are being true to themselves, and the curse words are just part of who they are. We have spouses who think nothing of violating their wedding vows when difficulties arise and then sing “O, How I Love Jesus” without hesitation in the assembly. After all, God just wants them to be happy and all that matters is that they are sincere in their love for Him. We have those who now “worship” God in the bar as they imbibe their favorite intoxicant while listening to a religious message. After all, this is just the way they are and at least they aren’t being fake.

The Bible certainly teaches that we are to be genuine in our faith. “Let love be without hypocrisy” (Rom.12:9, ASV). “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet.1:22, ESV). “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim.1:5, ESV). “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love” (2 Cor.8:8, KJV). However, being authentic and sincere in our walk with the Lord has never been a license to continue in sin. Those who lay claim to being authentic often times are doing nothing more than cheapening the grace of God! Being an authentic Christian means that I have become dead to sin, and no longer seek to live therein. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein” (Rom.6:1-2). God gives grace so that we may come out of our sins, not so that we may continue in them! “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor.6:17). Authentic Christianity demands repentance, not rebellion; reformation, not rationalization. To claim to follow Christ, yet refuse to give up sin, is as disingenuous and hypocritical as you can get!

-Patrick Morrison

The Jewel of Modesty

January 13th, 2013 by patrickmorrison

Modesty is not given much consideration in our sex-saturated, flesh-on-parade, flaunt-it-if-you’ve-got-it (or even if you don’t) society. Most current fashions for women and girls consist of too short, too tight, too low cut offerings. My daughter is only ten years old, but is becoming increasingly more difficult to find modest clothing for her to wear. A friend of mine recently lamented about the difficulty he had finding appropriate clothing for his teenage daughter. In his words, all he could find in most places was “prostitute-wear.” While the search may be more time consuming than we would like, it is nonetheless imperative that we take the time to ensure that our wives and daughters are modestly clothed. It is said that Muhammad Ali encountered his daughters on one occasion in less than appropriate clothing. Mr. Ali then taught his daughters a very valuable lesson about their worth as a person. Here are his words, as recounted by one of his daughters: “When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day. My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.’ He looked at me with serious eyes. ‘Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too’” (From the book, More than a Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Presented through His Daughter’s Eyes, by Hana Ali).

Inspiration teaches us the value of modesty: “Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear–but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Pet.3:3-4, ESV). Fathers, we must teach our daughters that their worth is determined by what is within. Their beauty is not based upon the external qualities that so many deem important. Their value, their beauty, their worth is the inner person, which God has placed within them! Let us teach them the value of adorning the soul with godliness and good works. Young ladies, any young man worth your time will appreciate and admire you for what is within. To advertise by means of immodest clothing will only attract the impure and baser sort. In an immodest world, a woman (young or old) of modesty is a breath of fresh air. I thank God for godly women who model to the world the beauty of Jesus at work in their lives!

– Patrick Morrison

In The Shadow of His Wings

December 16th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

One of the most comforting thoughts in Scripture is the idea of living in the shadow of the wings of Almighty God. The image of a mother bird with wings outstretched to shield her chicks from danger and the elements is one with which most are familiar. The story is told of park rangers in Yellowstone surveying the charred landscape after lightning had ignited a rather large-scale forest fire. While walking through the ravaged remains of the once lush forest, a park ranger heard the sound of young birds chirping at the base of a tree. He followed the sound to find a mother bird facing the base of a large tree with wings outstretched, singed to death by the heat of the blaze. As the park ranger moved the deceased bird, he found a number of chicks that had survived the fire because of the sacrifice of the mother. Jesus drew upon this imagery as he looked out over the city of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt.22:37). God extends to all men the opportunity to dwell in the shadow of His wings. Just what do we find therein?

In the shadow of God’s wings we find AFFECTION. The psalmist wrote, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Psa.17:8). David’s prayer was that God might always set His affections upon His faithful children. Jehovah set His affection upon the sons of Jacob (Deut.32:10) so that through the blessed seed-line the Christ might come into the world to bless all men. Even when Israel and Judah rebelled against the goodness and mercy of the Almighty, He still looked upon them as the apple of His eye (Zech.2:8). Job asked, “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? And that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” (Job 7:17). While we are not deserving of God’s loving-favor, we are nonetheless grateful for it! The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous (1 Pet.3:12). Since He is faithful to keep us in His affection, shouldn’t we set our hearts upon Him? “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye” (Prov.7:2).

In the shadow of God’s wings we find PROTECTION. During a time of great duress and calamity, the psalmist poured out his soul: “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psa.57:1). In another place he would pen these words: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psa.91:4). We serve a God who will protect His children! He is our refuge and strength (Psa.46:1). We can turn to Him in the storms of life, knowing that He will safely carry us through. We sometimes sing, “Dear Lord, whate’re the storm may be, I’ll simply trust in thee.” Children of God have the assurance that He will be with us, even in the difficulties of life. There is comfort in knowing that the wings of Jehovah are outstretched over the lives of His children.

In the shadow of God’s wings we find time for REFLECTION. As the psalmist had opportunity to meditate upon God and His word, he declared, “My mouth shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (Psa.67:5-7). When we stop to consider all that God has done for us, how can we not be overwhelmed? Knowing that He loves me, provides for me, and protects me thrills my soul and fills me with gladness and gratitude. God is good to His people, and living in the shadow of His wings gives us time to pause and consider that goodness.

– Patrick Morrison

He Has Never Dropped A Call

December 9th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

Where would we be without cell phone technology? Within the span of about twenty years, cell phones have become an almost indispensible part of our everyday lives. Not too many years ago you were in the minority if you had a cell phone. These days, you are considered odd, out of date, or technologically challenged if you do not possess one. It seems we cannot live without them. Younger generations cannot fathom a time when there were no cell phones. Everywhere you go and almost everyone you see has a phone to their ear or in their hands. They have become so ingrained in our lives that evidently our own government considers a cell phone a right to which all should have access. There can be no doubt that cell phone technology has made some aspects of our lives easier. We have within our hands a map, entertainment in the form of movies and music, a calendar, an organizer, an alarm clock, a virtual wallet, a camera, a checkbook, and a host of other gizmos and gadgets all rolled into one. Many even have a Bible downloaded on their phones (I have a number of different versions that I can access at any given time). And to top it all off, you can even make calls and send text messages with them (We almost forgot that our cell phones will do this since we are so enraptured by all the other great things they will do!)! This convenience comes at a price. Not only do these smartphones cost money to operate and keep up, but the apps that we are so fond of sometimes cost money to use as well. Then there is the cost of constant stimulation and the havoc that causes to our bodies. Though a cell phone is a nice convenience, at times it can be a nuisance.

There are some lessons that we have learned over time with the use of this new technology. While cell phones can be wonderful, they can also be aggravating. Who among us hasn’t experience a dropped call while in the middle of a very important conversation? It seems that these dropped calls never occur at an opportune time. Maybe you have learned the painful and expensive lesson of roaming outside of your coverage area. While this is becoming less common with increased coverage areas, it is still a necessary concern. If you have ever had the misfortune of wandering outside of your coverage area and not realizing it, it was likely a very costly mistake. Then there is the idea that a cell phone does us no good if we are not using it. Why pay for all of the features and apps if you never use those things?

I am thankful that we have an open line to the throne of God (1 Pet.5:7). We can communicate with Him at any time and in any place (Psa.34:4; 66:19; 120:1). We have the assurance that as we pray according to His will that He will hear us (1 John 5:14). This line of communication is guaranteed, for God has never dropped a call (1 Pet.3:10-12). So long as we abide by the contract (our commitment to faithfully serve God each day), then we have the confidence that our prayers will be answered (1 John 3:22). We must make sure that we remain within the coverage area, for roaming away from the love, grace, and protection of God is a very costly thing, indeed (John 15:10; Jude 21; Gal.5:4)! As children of God, we must avail ourselves of every opportunity to call upon Him in prayer (1 Thess.5:17; Col.4:2). This line of communication does us no good if we are unwilling to use it! Why would Jesus pay such a tremendous price for a privilege that we use only sparingly, if at all? Let us call upon God while He is near (Isa.55:6). His line is always open, and He is longing to hear from you!

– Patrick Morrison

What Is Truth Worth To You?

December 2nd, 2012 by patrickmorrison

How much value do we place upon truth? I think most of us want others to deal with us in an honest, forthright manner. We don’t like to be lied to. We don’t appreciate dishonesty. We view with disdain those who would try to pull one over on us or who would seek to cover up something. I would suspect that if we were to poll those around us as to whether they were an honest or a dishonest person, the overwhelming majority would consider themselves to be trustworthy, truth-telling people. Yet, we also know that we are inundated with blatant falsehoods, pre-meditated cover-ups, and little white lies every day from almost every source imaginable. If people value honesty, and consider themselves to be honest, where then is all the lying and falsehood coming from? Might it be that, whether we realize it or not, we have failed to put a premium on truth? We find that the post-modern mindset is gaining a greater foothold in our society, deceiving millions into believing that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Many are selling out to being non-committal and nonconvicted. Truth is becoming an increasingly fleeting concept in our society, one that many are unwilling or unable to grasp.

Does truth exist? Does it really matter what we believe or what we practice or how we live our lives in accordance with our beliefs? If absolute truth does not exist, then doesn’t that mean that there is no such thing as error or falsehood? Who really wants to deal with the repercussions of such foolishness? Truth is real. Jesus teaches, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Truth is not a subjective standard that has been contrived by man. Instead, truth is an objective standard that has been given to us by a loving heavenly Father. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17 ESV). God’s word is our sole standard of what is right and what is wrong. We cannot trust human reasoning or wisdom, for we are fallible creatures of limited understanding. The wisdom of the world is foolishness with God (1 Cor.1:20). We cannot trust our feelings, for our feelings will fool us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer.17:9). The truth which emanates from God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb.6:18) is the only thing that can guide us safely through the trials and tribulations of this life. This truth is God’s only power to save man (Rom.1:16; James 1:21). So, what value do you place upon truth?

The Bible instructs us to, “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Prov.23:23). Many have sold out their dignity, their families, and even their souls for a moment of fleeting fame or fortune. Truth should be so precious to us that we would never for one moment consider giving it up! It is like a treasure hidden in a field, which, when a man finds it, he goes and sells all the he has, and then buys the field (Matt.13:44). The truth of God is like a precious pearl, that when a merchant uncovers it in the market place, goes and sells all that he has to obtain it (Matt.13:45- 46). Many will go to untold lengths to have the latest technology, to amass greater savings, to upgrade to newer, larger, faster possessions, few are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to lay hold on the truth that will set them free. We need to reorder our priorities. We need to value things that are truly valuable. The treasures of this world are fleeting at best (Matt.6:19-21), but the truth of God is eternal (1 Pet.1:25). Which are you investing in?

– Patrick Morrison

For What Are You Thankful?

November 25th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

It is that time of year again when our hearts and minds are turned to the thought of thanksgiving. We have opportunity to gather with friends and family to share a bountiful feast with those we love. We laugh, we reminisce, we may even shed tears for those who are no longer with us to celebrate this special time of year. Our nation has set aside this national day of remembrance and reflection. I am grateful that we live in a land wherein we take opportunity to count our blessings. Sadly, this may be the only time each year when many will stop to consider the abundance of things that we enjoy in this life. Many will not take opportunity to look to Him from Whom all blessings flow (James 1:17). Maybe you have a practice in your family where you go around the dinner table and state those things for which you are thankful. Wouldn’t it be great if we did this regularly? Wouldn’t it be great if our children heard us talk consistently about the many ways in which we are blessed rather than hearing us gripe and complain about the problems we face? As we gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving Day, for what are we thankful? Take the time today to count your blessings rather than your burdens. Enjoy the beauty of the flowers instead of noticing the weeds. Savor the moments of laughter and jocularity rather than being consumed with worry over trials and tribulations you may be facing (or may think you will be facing). What are some things for which we should be thankful?

We should be thankful for who God is and for what He does for us (1 Chron.29:11-13). To Him belong greatness, power, glory, victory, and majesty. All that is in the world belongs to Him (Psa.24:1). The Almighty is exalted above all, for there is none like Him. God, and God alone, can raise us up or bring us low. He can open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessings until there is no more room to receive them (Mal.3:10).

We should be thankful for the love and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Cor.15:57). It is through Jesus that we find deliverance from this body of sin and death (Rom.7:24-25). We are wretched, miserable sinners who deserve to die for our wickedness (Rom.3:23; 6:23). Yet, God, in His love and mercy, sent His Son to die for us (Rom.5:6-8). Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift (2 Cor.9:15)!

We should be thankful for the faithfulness and obedience of others who yield an influence in our lives. Paul never ceased to be thankful for the faith of his brethren throughout the world (Eph.1:16; Col.1:3; 1 Thess.1:9). Where would we be if others who loved us and cared about us had not been obedient to the gospel? Where would we be if they had not lived faithful lives in service to their Lord? Let us make mention of these often in our prayers, giving thanks for their faith (Rom.1:8; 1 Thess.2:13).

We should be thankful for the memories we have of our brethren and loved ones in the Lord. Paul stated, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil.1:3). I am grateful that God created us with the ability to remember. Take the time to fill your heart with fond memories of your loved ones and brethren in the Lord who have molded your life in a positive way.

We should be thankful for trials. I know that most of the time we do not consider it a blessing to suffer, but trials and tribulations can make us stronger. We are instructed to count it all joy when trials come upon us (James 1:2). These tests that life will bring can develop within us an endurance that will end in our salvation (Rom.5:1-4).

May we as children of God live each day with gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb.13:15). “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess.5:18).

– Patrick Morrison

The Revelation of God’s Wrath

November 18th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

We serve a great and awesome God! The Almighty is perfect in every attribute that He possesses. He is a merciful God (Deut.4:31). He is a gracious God (Jonah 4:2). He is a forgiving God (Eph.4:32). He is a longsuffering God (Exo.34:6). He is a benevolent God (James 1:17). He is a just God (Deut.32:4). He is an impartial God (Rom.3:11). We love to consider so many of these characteristics of God, and rightfully so. We should often reflect upon the character of our Creator and Sustainer. However, there is a side to God that many do not want to consider. We love the goodness of God, but we don’t like to contemplate the severity of God (Rom.11:22). We long for His mercy and His grace, but we do not even want to entertain the thought of the wrath of God. The wrath of God is as real and as much a part of God as is His forgiveness and benevolence (Eze.22:31).

There have been times throughout history when God has shown His wrath and disfavor toward rebellious and disobedient men. The universal flood of Noah’s day is a constant reminder of God’s hatred of sin (Gen.6:5). This outpouring of the wrath of God serves as a warning that the longsuffering of God can be exhausted. While God longs to be merciful, gracious, and forgiving, He cannot continue to allow sin to go unpunished. The fire and brimstone that rained down upon the cities of the plains (which cities included Sodom and Gomorrah) are a display of the wrath of the Almighty (Gen.19). God will not hold man innocent of trying to circumvent or change the Divine plan for marriage and the home (Gen.2:24). Those in the cities of the plains had given themselves over to unbridled, and ungodly, passions (Rom.1:21ff), and for this reason God’s wrath was poured out in such terrible fashion. The ten plagues brought upon the land of Egypt were an outpouring of righteous indignation against those who refused to acknowledge the one true and living God. The destruction of Jerusalem on numerous occasions (at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and at the hands of the Romans) were also reminders of the wrath of God against the wickedness and ungodliness of His own people! To these we could add many more examples from the Scriptures, but these suffice to show that God’s wrath is real.

As much as all of the above serve to show the reality and the awfulness of the wrath of God, these pale in comparison to the greatest show of the wrath of God—the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom.1:18). The full expression of His wrath is seen in the offering of His only begotten Son upon the cruel cross of Calvary. We often look to the cross and think of the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of God. Truly these ideas are reflected in the sacrificial death of Jesus. However, when we look to the cross of Jesus, we ought also to see God’s hatred of sin. While God so loved the world, God also so despised sin, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The One Who is of purer eyes than to behold sin (Hab.1:13) offered up His Son in our stead (Rom.8:31-32). The cross of Jesus is a constant reminder of God’s wrath poured out so that we might be free from our sins. As we look to the cross, may we learn to despise and hate sin, knowing that it was God’s hatred of sin that made the cross necessary for our salvation!

– Patrick Morrison

This World Is Not My Home

November 11th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

The natural world in which we are privileged to dwell is a constant reminder of the power and goodness of the Almighty. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork” (Psa.19:1). The splendor and majesty of the creative work of Jehovah is truly awe-inspiring. It is heartbreaking that so many will not acknowledge God as the Creator and Sustainer of all that we see in the natural world. The evidence of God’s existence is clearly seen through His creative power (Rom.1:18ff). One has to refuse the evidence to declare that God does not exist (Psa.14:1). In this world we are also surrounded by a variety of things vying for our attention. There are many good, wholesome events and activities that appeal to us. There are also an abundance of allurements that tempt us to sin. All of these can ensnare us, capturing our affections and attention that should be reserved for Him Who has made us. We need to be constantly reminded about the fleeting nature of temporal trinkets and treasures. While there are things about this world that enthrall us, entertain us, amaze us, and please us, there are still other things that disappoint us, discourage us, disillusion us, and defeat us. I am thankful that God through His word tells us that this world is not our home.

As Christians, we are but strangers and pilgrims in this world (1 Pet.2:11). We are instructed to pass the time of our sojourning here in reverence and respect for God (1 Pet.1:17). If we are pilgrims in this earth (Heb.11:13), then we must realize that this world and all that is in it does not constitute our permanent dwelling place. We are merely passing through on the way to our true home. “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” Christians have a far more precious citizenship than the community, state, or nation in which we physically dwell. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil.3:20). We know the adage well, “Home is where the heart is.” If heaven is truly our home, then our affections and attention will be attuned to such. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt.6:21). As pilgrims, we must not put down roots in this world. We cannot allow this world to so enrapture us that we tie our hopes and hearts to these fleeting things (Matt.6:19-20).

The kingdom to which we belong as Christians is a kingdom which cannot be shaken (Heb.13:28) or destroyed (Dan.2:44-45). All of the political upheaval and turmoil that we see and experience in this world should make us even more grateful for citizenship in a land where the King of kings rules, and where that rule will never change hands (Dan.7:13-14). In the spiritual kingdom of Christ, we are governed by a law that is perfect in every way (James 1:25). The law of our Lord will never change or be amended (Psa.119:89). Though the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is composed of imperfect people who live in an imperfect world, it is ruled over by a perfect and holy God. We long for the day when this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption (1 Cor.15:51ff). Until such time, we as Christians must endeavor to live godly lives in the midst of an ungodly world, that we might shine forth as lights to those in darkness (Phil.2:15). We march on despite disappointment and discouragement, for our hearts are in heaven!

– Patrick Morrison

Christianity in the Voting Booth

November 4th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

Our hearts and minds are attuned to the political landscape with the upcoming national elections of Tuesday, November 6, 2012. We should be ever grateful that we have been granted a privilege in this nation that many in the world do not enjoy. Countless numbers of men and women have died to protect the freedoms that we hold dear. Chief among these precious privileges and rights in our nation is the opportunity to vote for our elected officials. While many things in life do not offer us an equal playing field, the fact that our vote counts just as much as the wealthiest, the most educated, and the most powerful gives us a sense of empowerment and importance. The opportunity to cast our vote is one that none should take lightly. Generally speaking, politics and religion do not mix. What I mean is that issues such as defense spending, foreign policy, taxation (provided such policies do not target the poor and downtrodden unjustly), and similar such things have no place in the preaching of the gospel. However, there are some issues which not only deserve our attention, but demand our attention as children of God. Even though some consider issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and the legalization of alternative unions as political fodder, the truth is that these were moral issues long before they were brought into the realm of politics. While we are free to differ with one another regarding political issues, we must always submit to God’s will in regard to moral issues. With national elections just around the corner, does the Bible provide any guidance as to how we should vote?

The Scriptures declare that civil government is ordained of God (Rom.13:1ff). We are instructed to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake (1 Pet.2:13), with the understanding that even the laws of the land cannot be followed when doing so would cause us to violate the law of God (Acts 5:29). Christians should strive to live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. We are instructed to pray for those in positions of authority (1 Tim.2:1-2). Regardless of the character (or lack thereof) of those leading any nation, God still rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan.4:25) and will use them to accomplish His will. None of these truths give us any specifics regarding how we should cast our vote, but there are a number of principles that we must keep in mind when we go to the voting booth.

First, we must remember that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov.14:34). A nation that desires to be righteous must also desire that her leaders be righteous (Prov.29:4). God opposes rulers who support wickedness (Psa.2:2-3), and so should we.

Second, we must remember that we are stewards of every blessing God has entrusted into our care. As such, God has asked us to be faithful in this regard (1 Cor.4:2). Along with our health, wealth, family, time, etc., we have also been given the precious privilege of voting. We must not squander the opportunity nor should we use it unwisely!

Third, we must remember that we are not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph.5:11). As Christians, we must strive to live lives that are separate from evil. We are to walk in love (Eph.5:2) and in the light (1 John 1:7). We must be very careful that our actions (or lack of action) in no way condone the actions of those who promote evil. Can God’s people uphold the evils of abortion and homosexuality? Can we uphold those who support these practices? We do not have to engage in sin to be guilty of condoning it (2 John 9-11). Why should we help those who hate the Lord (Psa.139:21-22)?

Finally, we must remember that we are to glorify God in all that we do (1 Cor.10:31). Will the vote I cast glorify God? Will the vote I cast show that I am opposed to evil or that I instead condone evil? Will the vote that I cast show me to be a wise and faithful steward? Will the vote I cast help lead our nation closer to God, or will it move us further from the Source of truth and light? Consider these things as you prepare to exercise the great privilege of voting for our elected officials!

– Patrick Morrison

Called To Be Disciples

October 28th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

Jesus has issued the call for all to follow him (Matt.16:24). He is looking for devoted disciples, not simply casual observers. He wants a church full of those who long to be about his work, not just those who will fill a pew or add a mark to the attendance numbers. A disciple is one who is completely sold on his Master. He will honor his commitment to follow his Lord wherever that may lead. Being a disciple of Jesus is a serious matter. It is so serious that Jesus gave three reasons why one cannot be his disciple. If we love others more than we love him (Luke 14:26), if we love self more than we love him (14:27), and/or if we love the things of this world more than we love our Lord (14:33), then we cannot be a disciple of Jesus. What does it mean to be a disciple of the Lord? What is involved in the idea of discipleship?

A disciple is a STUDENT. Inherent in the word “disciple” is the idea of a pupil or learner. Here is one who not only wants to soak up as much as he can of the teachings of his Master, but he also wants to learn all that he can about the Master, too. A disciple of Jesus wants to know all that he can about his Lord AND about his teachings. We must ever be students of the word. Christianity is a taught religion. “They shall be all taught of God” (John 6:44-45). We are invited to learn of him (Matt.11:28-30). A true disciple is on a never-ending quest to know more about Jesus. That’s why we continue to grow in grace and in knowledge (2 Pet.3:18). Never lose the desire to learn (1 Pet.2:2), for when you do, you cease to be a disciple!

A disciple is a SHADOW. Jesus taught that in order to be his disciple, we must “come after [him]” (Matt.16:24). Discipleship is more than just learning; it is doing. We not only seek to learn about Jesus, but we also seek to live like Jesus. So we shadow his every move. We think as he thought. We talk as he talked. We walk as he walked (1 John 2:6). We follow his footsteps (1 Pet.2:21). A disciple seeks to lose himself in his Master (Rom.8:39; Phil.1:21). “We will follow the steps of Jesus, where e’re they go.”

A disciple is SELFLESS. A disciple must “deny himself” (Matt.16:24). We must give up everything that stands in our way of making a complete commitment to the Master. This solemn pledge must begin by denying ourselves. Our ultimate goal is that it may be no longer I, but Christ, that lives in me (Gal.2:20). If we are going to be like our Lord, then we must be willing to deny ourselves, just as he did for our good (Phil.2:6). A disciple will lose himself in the cause of his Master. He will eat, drink, and sleep the cause of his Lord!

A disciple is a SUFFERER. In order to be his disciple, we must “take up his cross” (Matt.16:24). Perhaps some have come to the conclusion that Jesus simply meant we have a burden to bear. But there is much more involved in bearing our crosses than simply bearing a burden. A cross was an instrument of suffering and death. Taking up our cross implies that we are willing to suffer for the cause of our Lord. But what is suffering to a dead man? We are dead to sin and dead to the world, that we may be alive unto God through Jesus Christ (Rom.6:11). A true disciple will suffer whatever may come in order to continue following his Master (Phil.3:10). It is through suffering that God can establish, strengthen, and settle us (1 Pet.5:10).

A disciple is STEADFAST. A devoted disciple is one who takes up his cross “daily” (Matt:16:24). It is not a one-day-a-week proposition to the disciple of Jesus. Living for Jesus means following him every minute of every hour of every day. We are to be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor.15:58). The race we run is about endurance. A true disciple will endure to the end (Matt.10:22).

– Patrick Morrison

The Fields Are White Unto Harvest

October 21st, 2012 by patrickmorrison

Jesus gave instructions to his disciples, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already unto harvest” (John 4:35). It is true that the farmer plants a crop, and by patient and persistent labor awaits the harvest that he prays and assumes will follow. The harvest is not immediate in the world of agriculture. However, Jesus taught his disciples that this is not so when we are speaking about planting the seed of the gospel. They were in the city of Samaria, and Jesus had just finished speaking to the woman at Jacob’s well. The seed that he planted on this occasion was already beginning to germinate, and would soon bring forth a harvest, almost immediately! Like the disciples, we sometimes fail to see the potential that exists around us. Someone once said, “You can’t count the number of apples in a seed.” We never know what good might be accomplished if we will but take the word to those who need to hear it. Let us allow the gospel to work (Isa.55:11; Rom.1:16)! While we must temper our expectations of immediate returns with the realization that sometimes the seed must germinate for long periods of time, this should not keep us from doing what we can to teach the precious message to those around us. Opportunities abound at every turn! It is not necessary to look to the far reaches of the globe to find those who need the good news.

At Sixth Avenue, we are excited to have a part in a new work. It may seem odd to those who are familiar with the religious landscape of this great state, but there are still mission fields in Alabama. Up until just a few months ago, the Lord’s church was active in every county in this state, except for Washington County. At one time there was an active, faithful congregation in Chatom, the county seat. However, that congregation eventually died out and closed its doors. Having been apprised of the situation and the opportunity to reestablish the Lord’s church in Washington County, the elders at Sixth Avenue set out to evangelize this area of the state. Thanks to the efforts of Gary and Shelby Taft, Wayne and Peggy Brown, and others from concerned congregations, the church once again opened its doors in the city of Chatom. The little congregation of God’s people has been meeting in a nice building in a great location since July, 2012. A light once extinguished has now been rekindled. There is now a great opportunity for the gospel to reach souls that otherwise may not have been reached! Currently House to House/ Heart to Heart is being sent to all who live in the city of Chatom. Members from Sixth Avenue are regularly going down to assist this new work (especially the Tafts and Browns). This just goes to show that the fields are white to harvest everywhere we look. Mission opportunities abound at home and abroad! We have opportunity to help this infant congregation in a variety of ways. If you are interested in any way, please speak to our elders, to Gary Taft, or to Wayne Brown about assisting in this mission field. Pray continuously for the efforts of this new congregation. To God be the glory!

– Patrick Morrison

The Living Word

October 14th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

There have been those who have charged that the Bible is nothing more than a dead letter, that it is devoid of any power to persuade or convict, that it is lifeless. Many assert that the Scriptures are meaningless without an operation of God upon the word or upon the student of the word to animate it and make it come alive. There is much said about the way that the Spirit of God is moving among people or helping to enlighten them in their understanding of the word of God. Are these allegations true? Is it the case that the word of God, the Bible, is nothing more than a dead letter, and that God has to act upon it in some mysterious (even miraculous) way in order for His word to speak to us today?

What is being missed in this discussion is the fact that God has already acted upon His word to make it living and active. Paul reminded Timothy that, “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God” (2 Tim.3:16). The word translated “inspiration” is from a compound Greek word which means “God-breathed.” That is, the word of God comes from the very mouth, or breath, of God. The breath of God caused the inanimate, clay-fashioned body of man to become a living, breathing soul (Gen.2:7). The Almighty gave life to man and life to His word in the same way: He breathed life into them both! God, by means of the Holy Spirit, gave life to His revealed will for man. Peter recorded, “For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet.1:21, ASV). The Holy Spirit is responsible for delivering the precious word of God to man! He carried these inspired writers along as they penned the word for posterity. It is, after all, the sword of the Spirit (Eph.6:17). No word from God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit is ever without life! Jesus stated, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Shouldn’t we expect that the Word would deliver a living, active, soul-saving message from the Father?

Those who were charged with faithfully recording the word of God were guided to write about the power of God’s revealed will. The Spirit Himself was using the hands of inspired men to point souls to God through the message of the gospel. He put power in the message so that men might be saved by hearing it and obeying it. These inspired penmen would never have charged that the word of God lacked power or that it was a dead letter. Quite to the contrary! James wrote, “Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21, ASV). Paul understood that the gospel message was powerful: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom.1:16). He understood that the power in the message was put there by a living God! The writer of Hebrews was also cognizant of the power of Scripture: “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb.4:12, ASV). The word of God is very much alive! The Spirit of God acted upon the word when He carried along those inspired writers. The word of life comes from the source of life. It will always have life within it, for the living God Who gave it shall never die! !

– Patrick Morrison

Keep On Running

October 7th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

Skoot and Kim Wilson, along with many others from all over the state, are slated to participate in an upcoming fundraiser called the Warrior Dash. This event requires that the participants run through mud, crawl under barbed-wire fencing, climb over certain obstacles, and many other such things that, when combined, make for a rather grueling activity. Kim is helping out a very worthy charity in her efforts, and her good husband, Skoot, is joining with her to provide moral support as they run this race together. Others will join in the race. Some will run the race to help raise awareness of various worthy causes. Some will run the race simply because they enjoy the challenge of a race like the Warrior Dash. My brother has participated in a couple of these recently, and is scheduled to take part in this upcoming race as well. He enjoys the challenge and the camaraderie of those who share this passion of running through these obstacle courses. I have never taken part in one as of yet, but I have been told that the runners encourage all of those who are taking part. It is not about winning; it is about finishing. Those who finish ahead of the pack will cheer the others on to the finish.

This got me to thinking about the race that we run as Christians. Numerous times in Scripture the life of the Christian is depicted as a race. This race is a race of endurance, not of speed. It is a race that requires us to navigate around, through, or over various obstacles that come our way in life. The key to this race is to keep running! “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor.9:24-27). Paul makes clear that we know the reason for running this race. We must run so that we may obtain a crown of life that will not fade away. It is difficult enough to run a race under ideal conditions. Life has a way of dealing us less than ideal circumstances. The race that we run will be filled with obstacles. Many will be discouraged by the pitfalls along the way. Some will grow weary from running the race. We must not give up! The heavenly throng of those who have already crossed the finish line is cheering us on, encouraging us to stay in the race until we have won the victory. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb.11:1). The Christian race becomes much more difficult to run when we refuse to lay aside any unnecessary baggage that will hinder our running. We must cast off the sin that bogs us down. We must loose ourselves from the shackles of discouragement, disappointment, and despair. This race does not belong to the fastest, or the strongest, or the most intelligent. This race belongs to those who by patient endurance remain in the race, those who refuse to give up no matter what obstacles may be in the path. Let it never be said of you, “Ye did run well” (Gal.5:7), for our race is not done. Stay in the race until the race is no more. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim.4:7). Keep on running!

– Patrick Morrison

What America Really Needs

September 30th, 2012 by patrickmorrison

As the time for the election of our nation’s highest office draws nearer, we hear more and more political rhetoric concerning what this country needs. We are then persuaded to choose one party or another, one platform or another that will provide those things that we are told that we need in order for this nation to be great. So what is it that will make America great? Is it a more robust economy? Is it a greater emphasis on defense spending? Is it lower taxes? Is it the creation of new jobs? Is it universal health-care? These seem to be the areas of focus in most presidential elections in our nation. Yet, these issues really miss the point. If America is to be a great nation, then we must seek after greatness as God defines it through His word, not as man defines it. Greatness from the vantage-point of Divinity comes when we are willing to humble ourselves and serve others (Matt.20:26; Luke 9:48). It is past time for all within this nation to fall to their knees in humility and penitence! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those who represent us in every level of government within this nation had the attitude of Jehoshaphat? As the people of Judah were starting to hear the approaching armies of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, king Jehoshaphat turned to Jehovah in prayer for the nation. As he concludes this prayer, he mentions three great truths that, if believed and applied, will make any nation great in the eyes of God.

First, Jehoshaphat says concerning Judah, “We have no might against this great company that comes against us” (2 Chron.20:12). Both Judah and Israel at times in each of their histories had gained some significant victories over their foes. Often, these triumphs came against enemies who had far superior numbers, weaponry, and training than did the people of God. Yet, God granted His people victory. America has a mighty military, the most advanced weaponry known to man, and the greatest training money can buy. Yet, for all of this, we must realize that as a nation we have no strength apart from God! With God as our helper, we have nothing to fear from man (Heb.13:5-6). But without God, we have everything to fear! When we remove God from the national picture, we no longer see a nation of great power and might. Instead, we see a nation plagued with fear, anxiety, and cowardice. Recognizing the fact that our strength comes from above will help make America great!

Second, Jehoshaphat observes, “Neither know we what to do” (2 Chron.20:12). Pride always leads to destruction, whether individually or collectively (Prov.16:18). The man (or nation) who believes himself to have achieved greatness through his own merits, wisdom, strength, cunning, etc., will eventually be humbled. Man is lost without God (Jer.10:23). We have enjoyed prosperity for so long in this nation that many think we have gotten it on our own. Like Israel of old, we need to be reminded of the source of our blessings and bounties (Deut.7:6-8; Josh.24:13; James 1:17). America can be great if we will realize that we can go nowhere and be nothing without God!

Finally, Jehoshaphat states, “Our eyes are upon you” (2 Chron.20:12). The king knew that Judah could never expect God’s blessings if she fixed her gaze upon self or the things of this world. A united nation had failed to enter into the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses for this very reason. The ten spies reported, “We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Num.13:33-34). Focusing on self led to failure. When we fix our eyes upon the Almighty, we can successfully navigate the challenges and pitfalls of this temporal existence (2 Cor.4:17-18). When we realize that our strength comes from above, and that we are nothing without help from above, where else would we look? America can be a great nation when we turn our eyes upon God!

– Patrick Morrison