Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fifty Years and Counting - a Tribute to George Carman

This post was written by Kaye Kiser. I asked if I could share it. George and Hilda have been friends to Tanya and me ever since we first met. They have touched many lives, both here and around the world.

On May 15, 2016, Dr. George Carman celebrated his 50th anniversary of preaching the gospel throughout the world! The Keller church of Christ, where George is currently a member, was privileged to hear him preach on this momentous occasion!  Following the sermon, the elders presented George  with a reprint of the Gutenberg Bible in honor of his lifelong, and oftentimes dangerous, service. It must also be mentioned that throughout his entire career, his wife, Hilda, was at his side providing support, encouragement, and service!

He has a bachelor degree in Biblical Studies from Sunset International Bible Institute (SIBI) and his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctor of Divinity degrees in Biblical studies from Theological University of America.   He is also a certified satellite school administrator, founding the Keller School of Biblical Studies (KSBS) at the Keller congregation and serving as administrator for their first six years, retiring from the position just last year.  George has either taught or overseen preacher training schools for over 15 years.  He served for 8 years establishing and organizing preacher training schools in Asia as a Regional Dean for Asia for the Sunset International Bible Institute (SIBI).  

George preached his first official sermon on May 15, 1966 in Tucumcari, New Mexico, where he grew up. For the next few months, he preached at various congregations in New Mexico until August when he moved to Lubbock, Texas to begin his formal training in ministry at the Sunset School of Preaching (currently known as Sunset International Bible Institute or SIBI). While attending school, he began his first preaching position, serving as minister for the congregation in Estelline, Texas, a small community outside Lubbock.  He served in this position from 1966-1968. Upon completion of his training with Sunset, he was hired by the 12th Street congregation in Seagraves, Texas where he served until 1970. 

George’s missionary work began in 1970 when he and his family moved to Thailand.  Next, he took a brief missionary position in Columbiana, Ohio from 1973-74, returning to Thailand until 1977.  From 2003 to 2009, George worked for Sunset International Bible Institute (SIBI) establishing satellite school of preaching in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and South Korea, establishing ten schools in total.  His last missionary post was in the Northeastern United States.

Throughout his 50 years in ministry, George served as a pulpit minister in Texas, Arkansas, and New Mexico for a total of 24 years and as a missionary throughout Asia and the United States for a total of 26 years.  George has left an unprecedented mark on the brotherhood through his missionary work, establishing schools of preaching, published writings, and serving at various congregations.  The churches of Christ have truly been blessed by this great evangelist's example and teaching!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Galatians 6 – Observation Questions

As you read and study Galatians 6, consider these questions.

What’s the biggest thing that you’ve ever caught?

What’s the biggest thing that’s ever caught you?

What’s the biggest thing that you’ve ever set free?

How, when, and why might a Christian become caught in a trespass?

What does it mean to be “spiritual?”

How effective are we at restoring those who are caught in a trespass? Discuss.

Rather than acting to restore such a one, what do people sometimes do instead?

What responses might be easy or common when we see a brother caught in sin? Why?

In order to bear one another’s burdens, we must …

What kinds of burdens can / must we help each other bear?

Why do we sometimes fail to bear one another’s burdens?

Are we commanded to examine and evaluate our own individual work?

How might we go about that?

Why is self-examination so important … difficult … valuable?

Why is it so tempting to critique another person’s work instead of our own?

In what sense must each person bear his or her own load?

What does the Scripture teach about individual responsibility?

What are some “good things” that the person being taught is to share with the teacher?

Discuss the law of sowing and reaping. Give examples.

What does one reap from the flesh? What does one reap from the Spirit?

What three seeds could you plant today that would bring the greatest harvest eternally?

Why do Christians sometimes lose heart or grow weary in doing good?

Why should we do good to all people, even the lost?

Why should we do good especially to the household of the faith?

What does it mean that we boast in the cross of Christ?

In what sense are we crucified to the world, and the world to us?

What is the “Israel of God?” Is that the church?

What kind of “brand-marks” for Christ could be seen on Paul’s body?

What sorts of “brand-marks” today might prove that we are genuine disciples of Jesus Christ?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Transgendered? No U-Turn for LaVern

For many years while I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, I would hear the familiar voice of “U-Turn LaVern.” She was the radio traffic reporter, notifying her listeners of auto accidents and offering alternative routes. I never saw her face or met her in person, but I always liked her style and her fitting nickname, “U-Turn LaVern.”
Little did I know then of the major gender crisis that had gone on in her life. Through junior high and into high school, LaVern wished she had been born a boy. She did boy stuff and had no interest in more typically feminine activities. And she grew into a very large woman.
In her own words:
I Wished I Had Been Born a Boy
“Probably until I was well into junior high and maybe even high school I was fairly convinced God had simply mixed me up with John Mark, the name my parents had selected if I had been born male.
 “You see, I am over six feet tall and very large framed. I wear a size thirteen shoe. My hands are as large as any man my height. I was always told I had a pretty face but because of my height I was able to carry a lot of extra weight without looking fat and the fullness on my frame tended to make me look less pretty and just attractive. Still I never felt pretty or much less feminine.
“So for many years I wondered. Did God make a mistake?
“Life was very difficult at times and the scars of adolescent taunts, a very low self-esteem and deep, deep loneliness took its toll for many years but that was the journey God had for me.
“I am so thankful I was not approached by anyone that might have worked to convince me I was not what God made me to be and I wonder often, what if?
“I suppose it was probably easier to be a ‘tomboy’ rather than a ‘girlie’ or ‘sissy’ guy but maybe not. Just like the guys opposite me, I was having trouble finding comfort in what God made me to be.
“It’s a journey I am thankful was accompanied by parents, peers and mentors that taught me God does not make mistakes.”
Lavern is now in her 50s. Married over 26 years, she is a mother of four.
Think about it. If LaVern were growing up today, secularists would likely urge her to explore her gender identity and to consider a change. With her doubts about being female, her desire to be male, and her low self-image, she might have been drawn to become trans-gendered.
Instead she believed what Moses wrote in Gen 1:26-27 and Jesus affirmed in Matt 19:1-9. It is God the Creator who makes a person male or female. He does not make mistakes.
So LaVern chose to make the most out of being what God made her to be: a woman! As a result, now in her 50s, she has been married well over twenty-five years and is the mother of four.
Did LaVern make the U-turn? She did not!
As a result, she has found joy in God’s creation and design.
She goes on to write:
“I am so thankful my path was exactly as it was.
“I am so thankful that eventually it was a path that led me to a man, my husband, that filled the deep loneliness with a love so complete I can’t imagine life without him.
“I am still a tomboy. I struggle to identify with many of the women in my life.
“I had a conversation with a co-worker just last year. I was concerned about my inability to connect with a couple of the women I was working with. I told him I could not understand why they seemed to not like me, why they almost seemed uncomfortable around me. His response still makes me laugh. He said, ‘Well LaVern, you’re basically a dude! You’re intimidating.’
“So still, as basically a dude, I am completely and fully a girl, a woman.
“Fully and completely comfortable with who and what God made me to be.
“I still detest dressing like a woman. I hate dresses and frills.
“I spend as much time as possible in my favorite muck boots and weathered tattered clothes working outside, getting as dirty as possible.
“I love working with my hands till they are rough and worn.
“I’m proud my hands look like hands that work, not like a man but like a woman.
“A woman that may be a bit rough around the edges but make no mistake, still one-hundred percent woman.
“The woman God made me to be.
“Perfect but flawed.
“And praying without ceasing for those still on the journey to find peace and understanding of their own flawed perfection and the perfect plan God has for them.”
Thank you, “U-Turn LaVern,” for showing us that some U-turns are the wrong turns, and for reminding us that God’s path is always right.


Now I Sit Me Down in School

This anonymous piece has been attributed to various sources, typically a teenager in a school somewhere. Because the Lord’s Prayer is not allowed in most U.S. public schools any more, a student reportedly wrote the following.

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That’s no offense; it’s a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God’s name is prohibited by the State.

We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They’ve outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the unwed daddy, our Senior King.
It’s “inappropriate” to teach right from wrong,
We’re taught that such “judgments” do not belong.

We can get free tools for birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It’s scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot, my soul please take!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What’s in Your Wallet?

He was arguably the greatest basketball coach of all time, whether at the college or professional level. He broke all kinds of records. He led the UCLA Bruins to ten national titles in twelve years, including seven consecutive championships. His players at one point won 88 games in a row, and he was chosen as the national coach of the year six times.
As you may know, he was John Wooden. He died in 2010, just a few months shy of his 100th birthday. Wooden believed that, before you could lead anyone else, you had to lead yourself. His personal principles empowered him to have the great influence he exerted, both on and off the court. No matter your field, whether ministry, business, or sports, you would do well to study the life and character of John Wooden.
What made the difference in his life was an item that he kept in his wallet.
It was a piece of paper that Wooden's father gave him when he was only twelve. Tattered and worn, it was his constant companion and source of guiding principles. Here’s how it read:
Be true to yourself.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Help others.
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
Make friendship a fine art.
Build shelter against a rainy day.
Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.
For 87 years, until he was 99 years old plus, this creed molded Coach Wooden’s life.
In addition, he believed that happiness comes from making and keeping nine promises:
1. Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness and prosperity as often as possible.
2. Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special that you value.
3. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best in yourself and others.
4. Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
5. Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
6. Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.
7. Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.
8. Promise to give so much time improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
9. Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit trouble to press on you.
If the Apostle Paul had owned a wallet, what would he have kept in it? What were his guiding principles, his compass points, his fundamental beliefs? Here is a passage that gives us a clear sense of the road map that he followed, and the one that must be ours as well.
Phil 3:8–14 (NASB95)
8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What’s in your wallet?
Cory Collins

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Life's Journey - Guest Post from Jim Parrow

This post was written by our brother and friend Jim Parrow, who presented it recently to the Keller church of Christ. Jim is not only a fine man; he is a native New Yorker and a very capable speaker. Thank you, brother! Note: this post appears unedited, just as Jim gave it.

What was started after the French had given up on a project they began in 1881 and was restarted by John Findlay Wallace in 1904, then handed off to John Frank Stevens in 1905, completed under George Washington Goethals between 1905 -1914?
48 miles long
110 feet wide
37 feet deep
Displaced 211 million cubic yards of earth
Took 10 years to build – Once the US took over the project
Cost $375 Million dollars and 25,000 lives 1881 -1914
Connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean
Connected through the 164 SQ MILE manmade GATUN lake
Now used by more than 15,000 ships per year
Construction was through very dense jungle
Swarming with venomous snakes, insects, and spiders
Exposing workers to mosquitos carrying Malaria and Yellow fever and a host of tropical diseases.
Workers were dying at the rate of 200 per month.
The project required the construction of housing, cafeterias, hotels, water systems, sewage systems, repair shops, warehouses, and a railway ALL IN ADDITION TO THE Project itself.
Years of arguments, disputes, claims, counter claims, accusations and a flood of criticism overwhelmed all the Engineers in Charge but especially Col Goethals. He never let the obstacles or criticism sway him from the completing the monumental and very difficult task before him.
Oh yes - the project is known as the Panama Canal
Helped to shorten a war that the critics could not have foreseen in 1914
while enhancing world trade and reducing a 67 day journey to 8 hours.
We can turn to Genesis 5:32 through 10:1 and find another overwhelming project that was put before a man to accomplish facing odds and challenges we cannot comprehend, and at the time, unlike the Panama Canal, for no apparent reason to every ones understanding, except of course for Noah. Do ya think Noah would be criticized???
At the age of 500, he was assigned his civilization saving task. I’m only 69 and I already have lower back problems, hurt when I carry in the groceries, along with a host of other issues, so I can’t begin to imagine what Noah must have felt like at his age doing such tremendous manual labor, let alone the mental challenges he would face.
Vs 5 of Gen 6 tells us “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
In Vs 7 he went on to say – “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created and with them the animals, birds, and creatures that move along the ground” – but Vs 8Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord”.
Ch 6 vs 9 / Ch 7 vs 4 outlines the specific instructions of WHAT he was to build, HOW he was to build it, WHAT would be permitted to go into it, and HOW he would need to provide for the survival of the precious cargo and VS 5 tells us Noah “DID ALL THE LORD HAD COMMANDED HIM”!
At 600 years of age the floodwaters came. Noah, his wife , Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives entered the ark and after 150 days, God sent a wind Ch 8 vs 1and “the water receded”.
On the 601st year on the 2nd month on the 27th day the land was once again dry and God told Noah to come out of the ark. Ch 8 vs 13-15
Ch 9 then goes on to tell us about God’s covenant with Noah and via the rainbow in the sky declares unto Noah God will never flood the earth again.
Noah lived to see God’s plan move forward until at the age of 950 years he died. Noah never allowed the difficulty of the task, or his obvious critics to sway him from him completeing his God’s task – God’s Way.
We know that George Goethals lived with 10 years of critics who kept telling him he was a fool, the project could never be done, it was not worth the time and money and lives, and on and on.
We do not read the specific of the Critics that must have berated Noah as he and his family followed God’s commands, but I believe it is logical to believe that building a huge boat in the middle of dry land with no water in sight could not have been accomplished without a century of criticism and ridicule.
Those who do not know God will always criticize those who do and though we live in the world we must refuse to be a part of the world.
2 Peter 2:5 – goes right back to Noah – “And spared not the world, but saved Noah the eighth person, A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.”
1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, if any man love the world, the love of the Father IS NOT IN HIM
John 15:19 – “If ye were of the world the world would love his own: BUT because ye are not of the world, I have chosen you out of the world , therefore the world hates you
In our schools, our jobs, our athletic teams, our business dealings our neighborhoods, our political system, the world will tempt you to cheat, steal, gossip, backstab, lie, fulfill the desires of the flesh, hate, seek revenge or look the other way when someone else does, OR FACE THE RIDUCULE, CONTEMPT AND REJECTION OF THOSE WHO DO! They may be your Boss, Co-Worker, Neighbor, Class mate, your closest friend or even a family member. The Devil does not give up! He will not stop trying to tempt you to “go along to get along”. Even when you don’t, others will claim that you do.
Matthew 11:19 claims Jesus was a glutton, a wino, friend of sinners
Mark        14:64 claims Jesus spoke blasphemy
John          8:48 - 52 that Jesus was possessed by the devil
As Children of the Almighty and Everlasting God we MUST heed the words of Romans 12:2Be not conformed to the world, but be ye transformed [Metamorphose – Metamorphosis – change from one thing into something else] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God
Like a Spiritual Panama Canal – We must make our own spiritual journey from the Kingdom of the World to the Kingdom of Almighty God through a world full of even more challenges and dangers than Goethals faced.
Like Noah we must enter into our own Spiritual Ark to carry us through the crashing waves, and stormy seas that are all around us here on earth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 assures us that “. . .if any man be IN Christ [Our Spiritual Ark] he is a new creature. The Old Things [like life on earth before the flood] are passed away, behold ALL things become new [like Mankind after God directed Noah to leave the Ark.]
If you need help to face your critics, to face the challenges before you, this making your life difficult and effecting your walk with the lord, we are all here for you. These are challenges common to us all and no one in this family of God will judge you because you have fallen and need help to get back up and make yourself right with the Lord.
If we can lift you up and lighten your load
As we sing # 394 “What Will You Do with Jesus” Ask yourself - What will “I” do with Jesus? Will “I” enter in to His Ark of Salvation so “I” can make my Journey to Eternal Life Safe in His Care?
If we can help you in any way 
Come forward now as we stand and sing!   

Saturday, May 07, 2016

By Grace Through Faith - WHEN?

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
It’s the greatest news ever! God saves lost people — as His free gift. We sinners cannot deliver ourselves, and we cannot earn God’s favor by works. No one can boast of having paid even the least part of the cost of everlasting life.
Many people who love God, attend church services, and hear sermons week after week, treasure these precious words – “by grace through faith.” They know that salvation is based on God’s generosity and that it is received through personal faith.
However, let's ask an important question. When does that happen?
The question before us now is not what saves us – that’s grace – or even how – that’s faith. Our question is when. When is one saved by grace through faith?
Before we see the Bible’s answer, let’s review all of Ephesians 2. It basically tells us three things: what we were, what God did, and who we are now as a result. Let's note this series twice.
Eph 2:1-3      What we were
Eph 2:4-9      What God did
Eph 2:10       What we are now
Then a second time:
Eph 2:11-12   What we were
Eph 2:13-18   What God did
Eph 2:19-22   What we are now
It is emphatically clear that we once were dead in our own sins, disobedient, following our own desires, and deserving of God’s wrath. We were separate from Christ, having no hope, without God, in the world, far from God. We were totally helpless.
It is equally clear that God, rich in mercy and love, made dead sinners alive and raised them with Christ, and even seated them with Christ in heavenly places.
The power is in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His blood purchased our forgiveness and paid our debt. His resurrection guaranteed and confirmed that victory.
Because of what He did for us, we can become God’s workmanship. Strangers once lost in sin can be transformed into fellow citizens in God’s family with all the saints! We can serve, and grow, and worship, as part of His church!
Now let’s go back to our question. When is a person saved by grace through faith?
A gift must be received. There has to be a point at which it changes hands from the giver to the recipient. What is that point of time, when it comes to being saved? When is a lost, dead sinner made alive with Christ and raised with Christ?
Ephesians 2 does not answer that question. It just does not. It tells us the why, the who, and the what of salvation, but not the when. Of course, this letter was written to those who already knew when they were saved, and they did not need to be told.
Perhaps you have heard that the “when” is the moment that one prays the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer,” or makes a “decision for Christ,” or “asks Christ into one’s heart.” Perhaps you were told that Ephesians 2 teaches these things. It does not. In fact, these popular responses to the gospel are not found anywhere in the Bible. They were invented by men who overlooked or rejected the Bible's own perfectly clear teaching.
To find the Bible’s answer, not ours, we must look for a parallel passage that tells us when one is saved by grace through faith.
We do not have to go far to find it.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians is something of a “sister letter” to Ephesians. Both are written during the same time, when Paul is in prison in Rome. Both are addressed to mainly Gentile churches in Asia Minor. Both cover many similar themes and use identical phrases.
Ephesians 2 speaks of being dead in trespasses and these Gentiles having been uncircumcised.
So does Colossians.
Ephesians 2 says we are saved by the blood of Christ through faith.
So does Colossians.
Ephesians 2 says we are made alive and raised with Christ.
So does Colossians.
The difference is that Colossians tells us very specifically when.
With an open Bible and an open mind, setting aside for a moment whatever you may have been taught before, read for yourself what the Word of God teaches.
Colossians 2:11 … and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.
According to this Scripture, when is a person saved by grace through faith? When is a dead sinner buried, raised with Christ, and made alive? Now we know. We have seen it for ourselves. It is so simple and so clear.
Here it is again, in the book of Romans:
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Salvation is a gift, purchased by Christ, and free for the taking.  Yet it must be accepted as God’s Word teaches.
Perhaps you, like many others, “received Christ” in some other way, through a “sinner’s prayer” or a “decision for Christ.” Then, at some later point, you were perhaps baptized, but not as a dead, lost sinner who wanted to be buried and then raised to new life.
Now that you know what the Bible actually teaches about the “when,” will you follow it? Do you want to be saved by grace through faith, God’s way?
Questions? Please ask! God bless you.
Cory Collins
Keller church of Christ