May 4, 2003


In Mark 4:1-9 Jesus had told the parable of the sower. "But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, 'To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.'"

There were two basic reasons Jesus spoke in parables: (1) To make His Message plain to those who wanted to know and heed it, and (2) To make it obscure to those who were not open to its truth. See the parallel passage in Matt. 13:11-17. For Jesus' real disciples, the parables served as illustrations to help His meanings come alive and become embedded in their memories. It was sometimes necessary for them to ask Jesus to explain His illustrations, but any real disciple is more than willing to do so. And thus they came to know His truths.

On the other hand, His enemies seldom saw any more significance in Jesus' parables than the ramblings of a story teller. They had little or no interest in His message and little patience for His stories. When they missed His point, they usually went away unenlightened and unfulfilled because they did not care enough to ask Him to elaborate or explain. They were not interested enough in His lessons to try to understand them. They were not seeking the forgiveness of their sins -- and they would not find it. 

Jesus' enemies would soon seek to have Him crucified. He was willing and fully intended to die as a sacrifice for human sin, but to arouse His enemies too soon would hinder Him in other matters that must be accomplished first. This was another reason He did not go to great lengths to make His meanings clear to those who were not interested in heeding His messages.

Jesus applied the words of Isa. 6:9-10 to those in His audience. Matthew shows that He concluded His explanation by saying to His disciples, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men de sired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.' (Matthew 13:17).

--Clarence R. Johnson


There was once an 11-year-old who went fishing every chance he got from the dock at his family's cabin on an island in the middle of a New Hampshire lake. On the day before bass season opened, he and his father were fishing early in the evening, catching sunfish and perch with worms. Then he tied on a small silver lure and practiced casting. The lure struck the water and caused colored ripples in the sunset, then silver ripples as the moon rose over the lake.

When his pole doubled over, he knew something huge was on the other end. His father watched with admiration as the boy skillfully worked the fish alongside the dock. Finally he very gingerly lifted the exhausted fish from the water. It was the largest one he had ever seen, but it was a bass.

The boy and his father looked at the handsome fish, gills playing back and forth in the moonlight. The father lit a match and looked at his watch. It was 10 p.m. -- two hours before the season opened. He looked at the fish, then at the boy. "You'll have to put it back, son," he said.

"Dad!" cried the boy. "There will be other fish," said his father. "Not as big as this one," cried the boy. He looked around the lake. No other fishermen or boats were anywhere around in the moonlight. He looked again at his father. Even though no one had seen them, nor could anyone ever know what time he caught the fish, the boy could tell by the clarity of his father's voice that the decision was not negotiable. He slowly worked the hook out of the lip of the huge bass, and lowered it into the black water. The creature swished its powerful body and disappeared. The boy suspected that he would never again see such a great fish.

That was 34 years ago. Today the boy is a successful architect in New York City. His father's cabin is still there on the lake. He takes his own son and daughters fishing from the same dock. And he was right. He has never again caught such a magnificent fish as the one he landed that night long ago. But he does see that same fish...again and again...every time he comes up against a question of ethics. For, as his father taught him, ethics are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of ethics that is difficult.

--author unknown, from Only The Good News, Macedonia, GA


The Bible describes life as fragile like the vapor from a tea pot, which is here for a second then gone the next (James 4:13-15, Psalms 144:4). Mankind has a habit of getting so caught up in all this world has to offer that he just feels life will last for a long time. But the word of God teaches such isn't the case, for man is only a step from death (1 Samuel 20:3). No one is promised the next five seconds, though we may think we are (Luke 12:13-31). Just imagine the person who was walking down the street and was killed by a stray bullet. The question is "did that person think he had the next five seconds?" I say he did, however one can easily see how death can take that all away (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15, Psalms 146:3-4).
Last weekend's explosion of the space shuttle hit hard into the minds of many that death is out there and could come at any second to anyone (2 Samuel 14:14). Those astronauts were only about 15 minutes from touching down in central Florida and then the shuttle blew up, canceling all the thoughts and intentions of those astronauts along with their loved ones on the ground. Death didn't end it for those people on the shuttle, and neither will it for any of us for after death comes the Judgment Day (Hebrews 9:27). On that day, all men will stand before the Creator and give account for every deed done, every thought planned, and every word said (Romans 14:9-12, 1 Corithians 4:5, Hebrews 4:13, Eccl. 12:14). 

--James Baker, Mt. Airy church, Philadelphia, PA


I usually get up early and begin the morning by reading the news. The above headline caught my attention and I began to read the brief account. The statue was in the final stages of the six years it took to build it when it suddenly fell and killed two of the men working on it along with a passer by - several others were injured when the 108-ft. statue collapsed backwards. Local villagers had raised $417,000 to construct it and the local, temple priest said, "This is a bad omen." 

Several thoughts immediately came to mind. One was, "Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them…" (Exodus 20:4-5). Another was, "To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? Such as lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, they hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear it upon the shoulder, they carry it, and set it in his place, and it standeth, from its place shall it not remove: yea, one may cry unto it, yet can it not answer, nor save him out of his trouble," (Isaiah 46:5-7; cf. 44:9-17). 

Men made this statue. It was an expensive god. But there was no power in it. It could not speak nor move itself. In fact, this god was so impotent that it could not even keep itself from falling and crushing the very people who made it. So, why would men worship this kind of god? 

-- Jim R. Everett, Cedar Park, Texas, bulletin


The above quotation is from a brochure sent out to "Youth Director" at a congregation. The billing pictures and names the following: "MICHAEL W SMITH THIRD DAY with very special guest MAX LUCADO"

This so-called "WORSHIP" is to take place in Memphis. TN, Nov. 3, 2002, at The Pyramid. "Advance Ticket Price $26.25. Door $28.25."

Addressed to "Dear Group Leader," in part is the following: "Mark your calendars and plan to attend a night of worship unlike any other you have ever experienced! The Come Together & Worship Tour is coming to Memphis on Sunday, November 3rd at The Pyramid. For one night. on one stage, three of Christian entertainment's largest names join forces to present the Gospel in a fresh and powerful way!

"...Don't miss this opportunity to not only hear two of today's top musical acts but also to hear the inspired words of a best selling Christian author. Third Day. Michael W. Smith, and Max Lucado, all on one stage…"

Someone asked me if I thought members of the church would attend the above event. As hard as it was to answer this question, in keeping with my conscience I had to answer. "Most likely." Brethren, whether we like it or not, whether or not it disturbs us - This is what a portion of the Lord's church is coming to. The "Gospel" and "Worship" are words of little or no meaning.

The very idea that the above activities would be classed as "Worship" and the "Gospel" is as erroneous as anything could be. And, what about "the inspired words" of Max Lucado. As used in this context, how presumptuous and how misleading! "False words" would be more apt.

What a shame and disgrace it is that Max Lucado has been associated with the Lord's church! What a shame and disgrace it is that some follow such a false teacher and "enemy of the cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18).

--Walter W. Pigg, Banner of Truth, Sept. 2002.



May 9-11

Exton, PA

Colly Caldwell

May 16-18

Bethlehem, PA

John Focht


Clarence R. Johnson
Phone: (717) 361-6212

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John 4:24