The Golden Rule

“I keep the Golden Rule,” said the financial planner over breakfast, “though I don’t go to church. Never did.”

What do you say to a person like that? Certainly a person who keeps the Golden Rule is following the teachings of Christ. Perhaps the man really is a Christian. Just what kind of Christian is a Golden-Rule-keeper?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” a man asked Jesus one day.

Jesus answered this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:34-38, NIV).

So the very most important, greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to love God with your total being. To deeply revere God, to serve Him, to honor Him with worship, to seek to learn more about Him, to teach your children about Him, and to care so much about Him that to hear someone using His name as a swear word would be utterly offensive. A pretty tall order.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day thought they were pretty good at loving God, but they failed miserably at loving other people. So Jesus didn’t stop there. “And the second is like it,” He continued. “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (vss. 39-40, NIV).

The Golden Rule–“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”–explains how to put into practice Jesus’ second most important commandment. That’s the commandment my breakfast companion focused on. I must say in his defense, that I’ve known so-called Christians who said they loved God, but their words and actions showed they cared solely about themselves. Much less actually love other people. One of the chief reasons our faith has gotten a bad reputation is that nominal Christians act unloving in a thousand ways.

Now let me ask you this: can a person be a Christian if he neglects Jesus’ most important commandment, to love God? Not really. That’s like saying, “I’m a good employee. I work four hours a day,” when your employer expects you to be there for eight hours. In the same way, you can’t be a Christian if you won’t love God.

When I was a boy, an elderly lady asked me in a quavery voice, “Sonny, do you love the Lord?” I didn’t know what to say. I guess I was confusing the emotional feeling of love with trust, obedience, and faithfulness. It’s wonderful when our feelings and our actions coincide–and they can. But our love for God is discovered more by our behavior than our changeable emotional state.

I heard it put this way once. “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Good question. Perfection isn’t what I’m talking about. Nobody’s perfect, least of all sincere Christians. But direction, orientation.

A commitment to follow Christ is just that, a commitment based on some degree of faith that He is the divine Son of God and that He was raised from the dead. Commitment begins the relationship; the feelings generally follow later on. (Though, I must tell you, there are some days I do not feel very in love with God at all.)

Let’s sit down again at the breakfast table and sum this up. Does keeping the Golden Rule make you a Christian? Not in itself, no more than owning a bare V6 engine makes you a car owner. You have to love God, too.

How? you ask. The best way I know is to learn all you can about Jesus. You’ll find that He is the most compelling, and at the same time the most freeing, Person in all history. As you get acquainted with Jesus, you’ll come to know God. As you learn to follow Jesus with your heart and being, you’ll be keeping the first and most important commandment, to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

What a shame it would be to stand before God on judgment day and give him your little speech: “I followed the Golden Rule.”

“Honestly,” God might ask, “Couldn’t you have cared even a little bit about Me?”

The Cure for the Troubled Heart

Written by my friend Gene Taylor

“‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.'” (John 14:1-4)

A troubled heart can be found in anyone, even the Christian. There are many reasons for one’s heart to be troubled — separation from or death of a loved one, the unfaithfulness of a friend, a feeling of insecurity, a lack of understanding, personal problems, sin, etc. What is the Christian to do when his heart becomes troubled? He must look to Jesus and the comfort He can give.

It has been said that only those who have known sorrow are able to give comfort. Isaiah 53:3 refers to Jesus as “a Man of sorrows.” Thus, acquainted with sorrow Himself, He can soothe the hearts of His disciples when they become sorrowful and troubled.

The fourteenth chapter of the gospel of John provides dramatic evidence of that fact. Jesus recognized how troubled His apostles would be by His death so in that passage He spoke words of comfort to them. In those same words we, His disciples today, are able to find the cure for our troubled hearts.

The Comfort of Faith (v. 1)

Faith is the foundation of true comfort. Faith frees one from sin, makes him pleasing to God, allows him to overcome sin and the world, and causes him to always remember that God will never forsake him (John 8:24; Heb. 11:6; 1 Sam. 12:22). If faith is great enough, one can accomplish or overcome all things (Phil. 4:13; Matt. 21:18-22). What a comforting thought that is for all the faithful.

The Comfort of Hope (vv. 2-3)

Hope in Christ is the comfort and anchor of the soul (Col. 1:27; 1 Tim. 1:1; Heb. 6:19-20). Apart from Christ, in the world, there is no hope (Eph. 2:12). And in hell, all hope will be left behind. The hope of better things should comfort the Christian in adverse times (1 Thes. 4:13-18).

The Comfort of Understanding (vv. 4-6)

The Christian can understand God. Jesus has given him a plain way to the Father and made complete provision for him to understand it. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide men into all truth and to reveal the mystery of the Christ. He is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).

The Comfort of Prayer (vv. 13-14)

The Christian who is lonely or whose heart is heavy should follow the example of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and Stephen and pray (Luke 18:1; 1 Thes. 5:17; Jas. 5:16). It is an aid in time of trouble.

The Comfort of Love (vv. 20-25)

How comforting it should be to the Christian to know that he is the object of divine love. That love is great (1 John 3:1) and will never fail (Rom. 8:35-39).

The Comfort of the Holy Spirit (v. 26)

The comforting words of the Holy Spirit teach the Christian all that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3) and thoroughly equip him for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The Comfort of Peace (v. 27)

Those who are justified have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). They are in a kingdom of joy and peace (Rom. 14:17). They produce the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22). The peace they have passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).


The next time your heart is troubled, look to Jesus. He provides comfort in all the above ways to those who allow Him to guide their lives.

Thanks so much to the Fort Walton Beach Tree Service for sponsoring my blog.

The Blessings of Prayer

The Blessings of Prayer

One of the greatest blessings a child of God has is prayer, the right to communicate with God. Anyone who is striving to do the will of the Lord will have an active prayer life.

Give Yourself to Prayer

In several New Testament passages the Christian is urged to give time, to prayer. In Luke 18, Jesus taught a parable to demonstrate that people “always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). The apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:8, encouraged men in every place to pray. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Christians are commanded to “Pray without ceasing.”

To “pray without ceasing” is not to have some incessant babbling on your lips but to have the attitude of mind to regularly and frequently pray. It means to have a willingness to talk to God — to share burdens, to confess sins and to pray for strength and courage.

Many Neglect to Pray

Even though many commands and encouragements to pray are contained in Scripture, sometimes children of God neglect this glorious privilege. It is only at worship assemblies or in times of trouble, sickness or need that some who claim to be Christians even give thought to prayer. Why the neglect?

Many reasons could be given which are too lengthy and varied to explore in this short article, so instead we will just consider one. Neglect of prayer usually indicates neglect in other phases of one’s life as a child of God. The mind of such a person is often on worldly things. Prayer, which can so easily be put off, is postponed then forgotten.

A hymn often sung asks, “Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?” Did you? Or were other things on your mind? If you did not think to pray, you let a great opportunity escape which can never be recovered. You should have at least thanked God for the new day and the breath of life that is in your body that enables you to experience and enjoy it.

Things for Which to Pray

Some may be hesitant to pray as often as they should because they do not know the things for which they should pray. If they were to properly study the Bible, they would know those things for which they should pray because it reveals them.

According to Scripture, included in those things for which the Christian should pray are:

  • Those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
  • The Lord’s will to be done (Matthew 6:10)
  • Daily bread (Matthew 6:11)
  • Forgiveness of sin (Matthew 6:12)
  • Kings and all who are in high places (1 Timothy 2:2)
  • All men (1 Timothy 2:1)
  • That you enter not into temptation (Matthew 26:41)
  • If you are suffering (James 5:13)
  • The sick (James 5:14-15)

Why the Emphasis on Prayer?

Why emphasize prayer? James 5:16 gives the answer: “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” It works! 1 Peter 3:11-12 states that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayers.” He hears and answers in accordance with His will if the Christian prays in faith (James 1:6).


Make your life a life of prayer. If you are going to be truly like Jesus, it will be. Jesus was a man of prayer. He recognized its vital role. Often in His life on earth, He prayed. John 17 contains His prayer for His disciples. Matthew 26 has His prayer in the garden prior to His capture. He also spent time teaching His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:5-15). Be a faithful Christian. Be Christ-like. Be a prayerful person.

Thanks so much to Fort Walton Beach Fencing Company for sponsoring my blog.

Mothers: The Heart of the Family

Mothers: The Heart of the Family

by Gene Taylor

Nations rise and fall, empires prosper or crumble and men are stirred to great accomplishments or driven to shameful failure often because of the influence of a wife or mother. The wise poet has properly said, “The hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world.”

For most women, motherhood is a great privilege, a crowning joy and a sublime fulfillment. Perhaps the greatest privilege of motherhood is that of sharing and giving. No one shares and gives as a mother does. She shares her body with another in order to conceive. She shares it again with her unborn child. Then she shares her time, energy and talent with it after it is born in order to meet its needs and cause it to grow and develop. But most of all, she shares her heart and her love as she weeps, laughs, sorrows and rejoices with her child through the months and years of infancy, adolescence and youth and adulthood.

Motherhood, while being a great privilege, also involves obligation. No task on earth requires more dedication, greater skill or fuller commitment. Her responsibilities demand devotion to the highest ideals and patient perseverance over long years of time. Her task is formidable because there is no human obligation that is less adaptable to substitution than motherhood. You can substitute for the teacher, policeman, governor and almost anyone else but no one has found an adequate substitute for a mother’s love.

The greatest writers and speakers of the ages have tried to capture the fullness of motherhood but all have failed to maximize it. Only in Scripture do we see the blessedness of a good mother fully described. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:28–31).

Happy and blessed is the home and the children of a loving mother — one devoted to her husband, children and the Lord. Let us thank God if our home is so blessed.

Thanks so much to the Brandon Fence Company for sponsoring my blog.

“As Bondservants of Christ…”

“As Bondservants of Christ…”

“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…” (Ephesians 6:5-6)

Ephesians 6:5-6 encourages Christians to work for men as if they were working for the Lord. In stating how they are to work for others, this passages relates how Christians can be pleasing servants in the Lord’s sight: “doing the will of God from the heart.”


The servant of Christ is to be active, i.e., he is to be doing what God would have him do. Idleness and inactivity are condemned in the Bible. Consider the parable of the talents and how the “one talent” man was severely condemned for his sloth (Matt. 25:24-30). In the same chapter, in the parable of the virgins, the five virgins who had actively failed to prepare for the bridegroom’s return were called “foolish” (Matt. 25:1-13). James, by inspiration, said that Christians are to be “doers of the word” and “not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22-25). He also stated that “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:26).

On the other hand, Scripture always encourages “doing.” Paul told Christians to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Ephesians 2:10 says the child of God is “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Doing the will of God demonstrates one’s faith: “I will show you my faith by my works” (Jas. 2:18).

“The Will of God…”

Sadly, much religious activity done in the world today is not doing God’s will. But no religious activity honors God if it is not authorized by God (Lev. 10:1).

Heaven awaits those who “do the will of the Father” (Matt. 7:21-23). Those who are wise are those who hear and obey the words of the Lord (Matt. 7:24-27). Jesus asked the question, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). One cannot properly wear the name of Christ and recognize Him as Lord and Master without seeking to do the will of the Father.

“From the Heart…”

In religion, it is important to do that which is right. But even doing right things is wrong when done with the wrong attitude. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemned the doing of charitable deeds, praying, and fasting — all proper in and of themselves — when done with the wrong attitude: “to be seen of men” (Matt. 6:1-2, 5, 16). In Acts 5, Ananias and his wife Sapphira were condemned, not because they gave of their possessions to aid the needy, but because they did it hypocritically, trying to leave the false impression that they were giving all while they held back a portion for themselves (vv. 1-11).

When one contributes of His means to support the work of the Lord he is doing the will of God (1 Cor. 16:1-2). However, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says that if he does it with an improper attitude — giving “grudgingly” and “of necessity” — he sins even though outwardly he is doing what God commanded. Why? Because it is not enough to have the truth and go through the motions of doing it. One must do that which is right “from the heart.”

The word “heart” in our text is from the Greek word Psuche and is often rendered “life” or “soul.” This suggests that the whole soul of a person and all the faculties of it are involved in serving the Lord. One must serve Him whole-heartedly and without reservations of any sort.

When you think about it, the principle stated in Ephesians 6:5-6 — doing whatever you do heartily as to the Lord and not to men — forms the basis of all acceptable service. When such a heart does not characterize us and our service to the Lord, we serve in vain.


On the job, whatever it may be, work in a manner that is consistent with your profession to be a servant of Christ. And in the Lord’s vineyard, be that active servant that the Lord wants you to be — one, who out of appreciation and love, gives himself whole-heartedly to Him.

Character Building

Character Building

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

The above text presents every person in one of two classes: wise or foolish builders. In it, Jesus is encouraging those who had heard His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount to apply them in their lives — not to be “forgetful hearers” (Jas. 1:22).

Each of us is to be involved in that building process by applying the principles of Scripture to our thoughts and conduct, conforming to the will of God in all things — even “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). This process is described in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The renewed mind one is to have is “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5) which is revealed in the New Testament Scriptures (Heb. 1:1-2). When one allows the gospel to mold and renew his mind, a transformation occurs. He begins to take on the qualities of character that it sets forth that children of God should have. Every Christian must build such a character (2 Pet. 3:18).

We are not speaking of one’s reputation. Reputation is what others think you are but character is the person you really are.

There are many standards people in the world use to develop and build character but for the Christian the only correct standard is that which is revealed in the inspired word of God.

Jesus: Our Perfect Standard

There are many outstanding traits that Jesus possessed that would be good for all of us to have as part of our basic character. As a child, He was subject to His parents (Luke 2:51; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). He was about His Father’s business at an early age, i.e., He was interested in spiritual things while just a youth (Luke 2:49; Eccl. 12:1). He lived, not selfishly, but for others (Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:4). He accomplished God’s will in His life (John 6:38). He left an example that all believers can follow (1 Pet. 2:21).

In this article, though, we want to look at His development that is related in Luke 2:52. The four areas in which Jesus grew that are revealed in that passage — wisdom, stature, favor with men, and favor with God — are those areas we must emphasize as we look to our own lives and conduct.

Wisdom. To advance in wisdom is to grow intellectually or mentally. Wisdom is “the quality of being wise; the power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding.” Wisdom’s importance is emphasized by Solomon in Proverbs 3:13-26. While one should give attention, especially when young, to his education, he should “give diligence” (2 Tim. 2:15) to gain knowledge of the Bible. A good understanding of its teachings is far more valuable than an education at the finest academic institutions our nation affords.

Stature. To advance in stature is to develop physically. Jesus developed a strong, healthy body. Our bodies are to be instruments of our service (Rom. 12:1; 6:12-13) and temples of God (1 Cor. 6:18-20). There are three essentials to building a strong body: eat proper food, exercise moderately (1 Tim. 4:8) and keep it free from diseases.

Favor with Man. This is to develop socially. It has to do with human beings living together as a group in a situation which requires they have dealings with one another. Man is created a social being: to live one with the other. It is not in man’s nature to live alone (Gen. 2:18). He is to be a gregarious being. We need to learn to love people. It makes it easy to live with them. Jesus associated with all kinds of people — publicans, sinners, Samaritans — because He loved them (John 3:16). Jesus always tried to influence those with whom He associated to be better people setting the proper example of behavior before them.

Favor with God. This is the spiritual development that ought to characterize every child of God. The importance and value of the soul is seen in Matthew 16:26 where it is shown to be of greater value that all the amassed wealth to be found in the world. Basically, the essentials for spiritual development are the same as those for physical growth: proper food, exercise and freedom from disease. The correct spiritual food is the Bible (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet. 2:1-2). Spiritual exercise is the application of the word of God to one’s life which results in proper character development and worthwhile service to the Lord and others. Freedom from disease is being pure and “unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27) by keeping one’s lusts in check.

Helps In Character Building

As the New Testament reveals Jesus Christ to be the perfect standard by which to measure our character and personal growth and development, it also offers some guidelines which will help all of us mold our characters into what our God would have them to be.

Learn Self-Discipline. Learn to say “no” to self, friends, evil ways, bad habits, etc. Jesus taught self-denial (Matt. 16:24). The apostle Peter taught that “self-control” is to be added to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). A lack of self-discipline is one sure sign of immaturity.

Be Unselfish. Selfishness, the seat of all sins and wrongdoing, is having too much concern with one’s own welfare. It is illustrated in Scripture by both Lot (Gen. 13:8-13) and the rich fool (Luke 12:16-20). It is impossible to make a right decision and be selfish. Moses, in choosing to lead the children of Israel, acted selflessly (Heb. 11:24-26), while, on the other hand, Lot, acting in a purely selfish manner, made a terrible choice which led to tragic consequences (Gen. 13:8ff). Someone has suggested that a good rule to follow is “God first, others second and self third.”

Use Proper Discrimination. Be able to see the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, when there is one. Judge a thing not only by what it is but also by what it will eventually lead to if it is followed to its end — such as social drinking. Additionally, do not choose for the present but the future. The patriarch Lot chose for the present while Moses chose for the future.

Have Convictions. Develop strong beliefs on all important issues. Convictions, whether right or wrong, create respect. No one respects a person who is “wishy-washy.” Stand with your convictions even if you must stand alone. Consider the apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:16) and Jesus (Mark 14:50). Do not be afraid to express your conviction. Consider how the prophet Daniel boldly stated his convictions while a captive in Babylon (Dan. 1).

Form Good Habits. A habit is a thing done often and hence, usually done easily. It is a practice, custom or act that is acquired and becomes automatic. There are two kinds of habits — good and bad. Form good habits in life and abstain from the bad ones.

Be and Do Your Best. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl. 9:10). Consider Joseph — he always did his best whether he found himself as a slave, prisoner or governor.

Learn to Think for Yourself. Do not be a slave to another’s thinking, especially in religion. The importance of thinking properly is stated in Proverbs 23:7: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Therefore, control your thinking. “Bring every thought in captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5; cf. Phil. 4:8).

Use Pure Speech. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). Learn how to communicate. A lack of communication causes many problems. Express yourself properly and well. Do not use filthy or profane language (Eph. 4:29). Profanity is scorned by all right-thinking people. In reality, it is a sign of stupidity. The tongue may be hard to control (Jas. 3:1-12) but it can be and must be controlled.

Behave Properly. “Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). This teaching is primarily aimed at youth since the apostle Paul told Timothy to conduct himself properly so that no one would “despise his youth.” Young people need to behave properly in the home by respecting parents (Eph. 6:1), in school by respecting the rules and teachers, and in public by conforming to established rules. Those who are older need to set the example for the young and be consistent — not requiring of young people what they do not require of themselves. A good rule for all when it comes to behavior is do not do anything you would not want to be doing when Jesus comes.

Be Definite in Aim and Purpose. God created everything for a definite purpose — even you. Be purposeful in living. Do not just drift through life just taking it as it comes. Have an aim in life. Establish proper goals and work hard to reach them. Be determined but not stubborn. Of course, as a Christian, your life is filled with purpose. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). Never forget that your ultimate goal is heaven. That will help you keep focused in living each day in the proper manner.

Build a Home. Whatever your situation in relation to physical family, do what you can to make it what God would have it to be. If you are a child still living at home with your parents, conduct yourself respectfully. Obey their rules, listen to their advice, seek their guidance. If you are contemplating marriage, choose a companion who not only loves you but also loves God. If you are already someone’s spouse, apply the teachings of Scripture to that relationship. Husbands, love your wives (Eph. 5:25). Wives, be subject unto your husbands (Eph. 5:22) and love them (Titus 2:4). If you are a parent, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Often, happiness in this life and the eternal destiny of one’s soul in the life to come is in large part determined by relationships in the physical family. Your true character is tested by how you act and react toward family.

Be a Christian. A Christian is a person who wears the name of the Lord. It shows he belongs to Jesus and that he is living in accordance with His will. Do not claim to be a Christian if you are not willing to conform your life — your thoughts and actions — to the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).


We started this article by citing Jesus’ statement at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:24-27) in which He emphasized the need for His hearers to base their lives on His teachings if they were going to be successful. He said to do otherwise is foolish. Build your life on the teachings of Jesus. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” (1 Peter 2:21).

Add to Your Faith

Add to Your Faith

When one becomes a child of God, he is born again spiritually (John 3:1-5) becoming a spiritual babe who is to grow (1 Pet. 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:18). One grows spiritually by feeding upon the word of God (Acts 20:32), developing a spiritual appetite in order to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6).

2 Peter 1:5-11 tells of the necessity and nature of such growth. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“Virtue” is the determination to do right. “Knowledge” is knowledge of God’s word because it is the only source which tells what is right. “Self control” is the application of that knowledge in your life using it to govern your thoughts and actions. “Perseverance” is remaining steadfast to the Lord and His cause. “Godliness” is being like God, as He would have you to be. “Brotherly kindness” is tender affection toward brethren in Christ. “Love” is devotion to God, Christ, and your fellowman which is expressed in obedience to God and service to man.

If you are to be fruitful in your service to Christ, these things must abound in your life. If you lack them, you are blind as to what your life in Christ should be.

Lessons Learned from My Dad

A Tribute to My Father, Homer Taylor, 1916-1998

Lessons Learned from My Dad

Written by my friend Gene Taylor

It is difficult to find a proper way to express all that my father has meant to me and to offer a fitting tribute to him which might be profitable to share with others. In the past two weeks I have had many thoughts and memories of him flood my mind but most of them are of a personal nature which, while I find them interesting and enjoyable to reflect upon, they may be of little profit to you.

How do you, in a couple of pages, summarize the life of one who has meant so much to you — the one who taught you to walk; talk; hit a nail, a baseball and a running back; shave; drive a car; respect the law, girls and yourself; and love and obey the Lord? The best way I can think of is to share with you some of the most valuable things he taught me.

Homer Taylor was the youngest child of Bruce W. and Della Taylor. He was born in a small house in the foothills of the Appalachians in southeastern Ohio on September 7, 1916. Growing up on a farm, he developed a love for the country that never deserted him even though he spent most of his adult life living and working in a metropolitan area.

His father died when Homer was only ten years old. He went to live with his oldest sister and her husband in Barberton, Ohio. It was there, after graduating from high school and being hired at the local chemical plant, that he met a young woman who captured his heart — my mother, Connie Crabtree. They were married on September 19, 1937. Three sons were born to them. I am the youngest.

Homer worked at that chemical plant for 38 years, retiring in 1975. He and mother enjoyed his retirement until the cancer that eventually ended his life began to cause his health to deteriorate.

He had a good full life. He lived what many would call a simple life. But along the way he impacted a lot of people. Let me tell you of his influence in my life and some of the lessons I learned from him.

The Importance of Work

The work ethic that I have, I learned from my Dad. On many occasions, when other people would gladly miss going to work, Dad would go. I have seen him clear our entire street of knee-deep snow so he could get the car out and go to work. I have seen him very sick, yet he would somehow pull himself out of bed and go to work. While in his forties he suffered back problems so severe that in order to get out of a chair he had to drop to his knees and pull himself up using a cane. Yet, though he had a very physically demanding job, he missed very little work. Nobody had to teach him to “work as unto the Lord” (Eph. 6:6-7), his integrity caused him to do it without prompting.

The Importance of Family

Having lost his own father at an early age, my Dad always stressed family. He always felt a keen responsibility to provide as best he could.

As youngsters, we were not rich but we never went hungry. We wore a lot of “hand-me-downs” but we always got new clothes before he and mother did. As a matter of fact, I am amazed at how much we had on Dad’s pay. He was a great money manager. Though never more than a factory worker, we had nice homes and new cars and he never financed a car, always paying cash.

His concern for family was not just for us. It extended to all his family. He provided for both of my grandmothers when they were on fixed incomes. He took care of his brother on an almost full-time basis, never taking any money from him, for the last two years my uncle lived. The examples could go on.

Loyalty and Fidelity in Marriage

Mother and Dad were married nearly 61 years. In all that time, he remained faithful to her in all ways. Just a few weeks ago, Mother related a conversation they had had recently. After 60 years of marriage, he told her that from the moment he saw her he loved her and that he never gave thought to anyone else. There were differences in those 60 years, as there is in any marriage, but no thought was ever given to divorce or separation. He had given both his love and his word and he stood by them. The marriage law of God had great meaning to him.

A High Regard for Truth

Even before he became a Christian, Dad valued truth. I think that is one of the reasons he quickly obeyed the gospel when he learned it.

One of the most exemplary facts about Dad was that I, the rest of my family, and all those who knew him, never knew him to tell a lie or misrepresent anyone or anything. I wish I could say the same for myself but I can’t. Probably very few could. You may not have liked what he had to say, but you knew it was the truth.

A Love for the Lord and His Church

After he had obeyed the gospel and been added to the church, he served the Lord in many ways. For example, when the Barberton congregation built its present building, he voluntarily worked hundreds, if not thousands of hours, doing the finishing work on it.

He set the example for us that whenever the church building doors were open, we were there. He and mother took us to the many gospel meetings which were held in the area. It did not matter whether we had homework or a social activity of some kind, we were going to the meeting because that is where he knew we should be.

He could not abide hypocrites. If some one were “two-faced,” as he described them, it would not be long before he would take them to task.

He knew the Bible. He never taught it much publicly but he knew and understood its teachings. And I believe he did his best to try to live by it and get us to do the same.

I am glad I was blessed to have him as my Dad and a part of my life for 50 years. I look forward to the day I can see him — standing by his Savior and welcoming me home once again.

Character Matters

Character Matters

Written by my friend Gene Taylor

Many people are willing to take a chance on others never discovering their wrongdoings. Many of these, however, are caught and punished for their misdeeds. Others get by with evil works because they are able to fool people all the days of their lives.

Others refrain from doing things which are wrong because they know society does not approve of those things. They are afraid to take the chance of being discovered in their evil schemes by the public. As the standards that are acceptable to the majority vary, though, so will the standards of such people. Just think of what is practiced now in the way of immorality that does not even cause an eyebrow to be raised that would have provoked the strongest kind of censure just a few years ago. One who allows society to establish his standards will never be anything but an advocate of the status quo.

Still others who would be willing to take the chance of doing many things which are evil even though they might be apprehended by society are deterred by a fear of God. Anyone who has any knowledge of the Bible knows that it reveals that all sin will be found out and judged (Eccl. 12:14; 2 Cor. 5: 10). Numbers 32:23 states, “…and be sure your sin will find you out.” Hebrews 4:13 speaks of the same thought when it says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Those who refrain from doing that which is wrong because they know it would displease the Lord are to be commended. However, God desires more than fear. Surely the person who has trained himself to follow the Lord’s will ought to realize that he should do those things that are right because they are right. The religion of Christ does not encourage people to do all they think they can “get by with.” Rather it teaches that those who are the Lord’s disciples are to become good in their hearts (Matt. 15:18–20). Jesus shows the heart to be the wellspring of actions: evil proceeds from the heart (Mark 7:20–23), so should goodness. God has commanded those who desire to be His children to change their hearts (Rom. 12:1–2) and to become godly in their manner of life. God said, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16).

As disciples, our goal ought not to be abstaining from evil only because we are afraid of punishment but rather to be holy even as God is. James 1:13 cites the supreme goodness of God: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” Verse 14 shows that temptation comes because of lust, inordinate desire, which entices one to sin. God is so completely good that evil is not an enticement to Him, He is not even tempted by it. Since temptation comes because one is drawn by his own desires toward that which entices, then the impossibility for God to be tempted must mean He has no desire for anything that is evil.

Can you think of something you once practiced which was sinful but that you have now discarded? If so, you are becoming more like God. How great to be able to reach a state where you have no desire to sin.

Just how far have you gone toward real goodness? What do you do when you think no one is looking? What would you do if you could hide your deeds from the Lord? Surely honest answers to these questions will help each of us evaluate ourselves properly. Our answers will enable us to see the progress we have made as a Christian and to realize more fully that our own goodness is very meager and that great challenges are before us and, with deep humility of our own unworthiness, that we must seek God’s abundant love and grace to help us be the kind of people we ought to be, the kind He would have us be. The secret to good character is a converted heart.

“All Things Are Yours”

“All Things Are Yours”

“Therefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come — all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (I Cor. 3:21-23). Do you ever sit and think about all the wonderful blessings you have as a Christian? Do you stop to remember all the blessings and other good things God has sent your way?

Most of us spend too many waking hours thinking about the problems we have, bills we must pay and day to day frustrations. We focus on what we lack instead of what we have. We not only dwell on our own imperfections but also on the imperfections of others.

It may be that much of the preaching we hear, mine included, is responsible for such negative thinking. It is natural for a preacher to direct his comments against those things which need to be improved. If we are not careful, though, our total emphasis can become negative. Such is regrettable. We should be thinking of the good that is about us — the encouraging achievements of the past, the great blessing of the present and the great potential of the future. It is a marvelous thing to be a Christian! The above text jumps out at us with this fact. It is an optimistic passage that when read should send you on your way with a song in your heart and a prayer of thanksgiving on your lips. Consider what it teaches about the blessings of a Christian.

Paul, Apollos, Cephas

Why would Paul say that he and these two other men were theirs? The Corinthians had begun to call themselves after the man who had baptized them (1:11-12). To wear a man’s name meant to belong to that man. But they did not belong to their teachers. They belonged to Christ. Their teachers, preachers and leaders belonged to them.

We do not belong to preachers and elders. They belong to us. Their place is to serve and they have been provided for our spiritual good. They are ours!

World, Life, Death

The world is ours. Sometimes it seems the world is passing us by without paying the slightest bit of attention. Consider the teaching of Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Who possesses the good life? The worldly revelers? Christians are the only ones who know what life is about (Eccl. 12:13; 2:1–11). Our present life, and its fullness, is a gift from God (John 10:10).

In one way, death belongs to all because “it is appointed for men to die once” (Heb. 9:27). But it belongs to the Christian in the sense that he does not have to fear it (I Cor. 15:55; Psa. 23:4). To the Christian, death is not a loss but a gain (Phil. 1:21-23). It is a way in which the faithful are blessed (Rev. 14:13).

Things Present, Things to Come

As to things present, consider Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” God’s child is always in His tender care (Matt. 6:25–34).

In the matter of things to come, we have a splendid future if we center our lives on Christ. The future blessings which will be given to faithful Christians are incredible (Rom. 8:18-19; I Pet. 1:3-9).

You Are Christ’s, And Christ Is God’s

The future belongs to us only because we belong to Christ. It is because we have embraced those truths which He came to teach that we can have such confidence in our future. Without Christ, and we have nothing to anticipate but despair.

The future belongs to Christ and His disciples because He is God’s. When we belong to Him, our future is as secure as His (Rom. 8:17).