Thursday, December 27, 2012

More on Errors

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

I don’t like errors, especially the ones that I make. But I have learned to find little errors amusing.Recently I’ve seen the following in newspapers:

• “Milllions” looks funny with the third “l.”

• An article on flooding in Indonesia shouldn’t be headlined, “Floods in India.”

• The mast of “Section C” shouldn’t tell you to look for articles in “Section D” when there is no “Section D.”

I heard a sportscaster read about a player “returning back” to his former team. “Returning” takes care of “back.” I heard a friend ask of someone, “Where is he at?” “Where is he?” works just fine. It’s a bit like the cowboy who said of his hopelessly injured horse, “I shot him dead and killed him.” Twice evidently, and that’s hard to do. In my first draft of this article, I typed “fiend” rather than friend when quoting Proverbs 27:17 in the last paragraph! And I don’t even like the concept of frenemies.

Working with a university and being married to an English teacher, I’m trained to notice errors. That’s not really a problem unless I begin to enjoy noticing them. It’s even OK to help people correct errors, provided that I work on my own first (Matthew 7:1-6) and keep my attitude and motives right (Galatians 6:1-2).

It has been well said, “Only the dead make no errors.” In one sense, errors are evidence of effort. We’d rather make—and correct—errors than to let fear keep us from trying. The infamous “one talent man” of Matthew 25 didn’t fare so well.

Errors provide opportunity for the devil. He will tempt us to pride and defensiveness when others notice our mistakes. He’ll tempt us toward lies and excuses. He’ll invite us to impugn the motives of good people who try to help us improve.

Errors also provide opportunity for the Lord. He corrects/chastens everyone whom He loves (Hebrews 12:3-11). He does so “for our profit.” He does so to move us toward righteousness. And, often, He uses the people around us to point out our need to improve. It wouldn’t be wise to oppose someone who is doing the Lord’s work.

When you try to help me improve, I hope I’ll know that—by your tone and your wisdom (Proverbs 15:1). When you try to help me improve, I hope I’ll appreciate that—and say so—not just with words, but also by doing better. Isn’t that the point of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”? Friends help friends improve. It’s spiritually and relationally unwise and off-putting to be difficult to correct (Proverbs 12:15, 15:12, and 17:10). May the Lord bless us to remember that we all need all the help that the Lord sends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Protected by the Wisdom of God

Good Humor

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking’” (Proverbs 26:18-19).

Perhaps you heard of the Australian radio personalities who impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles as they called a London hospital to inquire about the health of the Duchess of York. When I heard the recording, even I thought that anyone would recognize them as fakes. But a nurse didn’t, she gave them a bit of information that should have remained private, and a few days later the nurse took her own life.

Now, the radio show is cancelled. I presume that the radio personalities are or soon will be unemployed. Their careers may be over. To their credit, they have issued tearful apologies explaining that they meant no harm and never expected the prank to go this far. And I’m willing to believe them. There’s not a hint of a reason to believe that they thought this prank would have such tragic consequences. But they are forever linked to those consequences.

This brings to mind the famous statement of Deuteronomy 10:13 about the commandments and statues of the Lord “which I command you today for your good.” We are so blessed to be protected by the wisdom of God as we keep His word.

We never know how fragile another person might be, but we won’t be tempted to press that person if we follow Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:39-40, Ephesians, 4:29, and Philippians 2:3-4. Each of those passages would protect us from exposing another person to danger.

We never know when a “joke” based in deception will backfire, but we know Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” We know this was written to Christians about the treatment of fellow Christians, but we also know that we shouldn’t lie period.

I love good humor—humor that doesn’t endanger others, humor that doesn’t diminish others. I hate evil humor—humor that causes pain, stress, or embarrassment; humor that opens doors for the devil. God has always known the danger and the difference. How blessed we are to access and appreciate His wisdom.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Positive Enabling

Be Blessed to Bless Them

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

We often hear about the negative side of enabling. There’s a huge amount of literature of codependency that warns against making it easy for people to continue self-destructive behavior. The dangers are acute and pervasive.

Positive enabling is a blessed concept. Some describe it as setting people up for success. There’s a wonderful example in 1 Chronicles 22.

David accepted God’s decision that he would not be allowed to build the temple (22:7-8). Though God owed no explanation, He graciously provided one. David was a man of war. The temple of God would be built by a man of peace.

David chose to welcome the fact that his son would be allowed to build God’s temple (22:9-10). No jealously. No bitterness. No competition. David recognized and accepted God’s blessing.

David chose to help his son in every way that he could, and he found many ways. • He appointed skilled masons to hew stones (22:1). • He prepared iron, bronze, and wood for the construction (22:3-4). • He directly charged Solomon to build an excellent house for the Lord (22:5-6). • He asked God to give his son wisdom and understanding (22:12). • He reminded Solomon that God’s favor depended on Solomon’s faithfulness (22:12). • He commanded the leaders and the workmen to help Solomon (22:17-18). • He reminded everyone of God’s gift of peace and rest (22:18). • He urged all to serve by setting their hearts and souls to seek the Lord (22:19).

David set Solomon up for success. He positively enabled his son. He recognized that Solomon’s task was great. He knew that Solomon was young and inexperienced (22:5). Without undermining or demeaning, David took practical steps to bless his son.

David sets a strong example for us. When others are doing right to the glory of God, we’re blessed to bless them. As we contribute to and encourage their good works, we maximize God’s blessing for all. What a joy to set our hearts and souls to seek the Lord and to build one another up in the name of the Lord.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spiritual Perspective


Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

“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” (Romans 12:2).

God knew about reframing before the word was coined. God has always known both the limitations and the possibilities of human thinking. We can get stuck in an errant perspective. Stubbornness, laziness, or ignorance can leave us trapped in bad thinking. But on our better days, we don’t stay stuck. Thoughtfulness, humility, and the word of God move us to think, re-think, and grow.

On the bad days, people seem purposefully dense and aggravating. It’s as if they choose to peeve us. Our first though might be, “Oh no, not again. Why does this have to happen to me?” On our better days, we reframe. We choose to think from a spiritual perspective. We try to imitate the attitude of Christ.

While some might choose to grieve us, most people don’t give us that much thought. The lady who turned across us on the four-lane wasn’t attacking us. Perhaps she under-estimated the distance or our speed. Perhaps she doesn’t see well. Perhaps she wanted a new car and thought the first step was to kill the old one. Whatever the case, she didn’t even know us.

The first thought is to take offense. She could have killed us. We could have killed her. I’ve never wanted a new car enough to wreck an old one. Upon reflection, thank the Lord that the old car has good brakes. Thank the Lord we noticed her poor driving be-fore we got too close. Thank the Lord we missed her. I can even thank the Lord that in this case, she was the bad driver and I was the good one. No need to blame or scold. No need to take personal offence. Reframe biblically. Choose to think with kindness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm Grateful

In Everything Give Thanks

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

  • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” (Philippians 4:6). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I’m grateful to be able to travel for Thanksgiving. Grateful that Laura’s parents and my parents are still here and still glad to see us. As grateful as I was to go, I’m just as grateful to be home from the recent mission trip. I’m grateful to be off that very nice and confining airplane. I’m grateful to be able to go to work. I’m grateful to work around good people who are blessing the kingdom of God (Colossians 3:23-24). I’m grateful to live in the USA and in Alabama. Breaks my heart to read about some who want to secede from the Union. I’d much rather stay and work to improve things. I’m grateful that I’m not as smart as those who have pronounced the imminent doom of our nation based on Romans 1:18-32 and 2 Chronicles 6-7. I know and believe Numbers 32:23 and Proverbs 14:34. I also believe wondrous grace of Genesis 18:16-33. I’m grateful to know old brethren who have endured much and still love the Lord more than anything. I’m grateful to know young brethren who are investing stunning energy and talent in the Lord’s service. I’m grateful to know growing brethren of every age, who take 2 Peter 1:5-11 to heart. I’m grateful to know challenging brethren who remind me that I don’t have every answer—more than that, who remind me that I don’t even know every question. I’m grateful to know Jesus Christ through the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-17), and for everyone who keeps helping me learn. I’m grateful to be here on God’s earth. And I’m grateful that we won’t be staying here (John 14:1-6). I look forward to being nothing but eternally grateful. --Bill
  • Monday, February 6, 2012

    The Aged Saint

    Thoughts for the Aged Saint

    Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

    • Luke 2:25-38, God’s promise and kindness to aged Simeon and Anna.
    • Acts 2:16-21, quoting Joel 2:28-32. God foretold that old men as well as young men (and men as well as women) would have a part in His unfolding plan of salvation.
    • The fact that Moses was 80 before returning to Egypt to deliver the people. You don’t get too old to lead, serve, work for God.
    • 1 Peter 5:5 with Leviticus 19:32 and Proverbs 16:31. The old deserve the respect of the young.
    • Isaiah 46:3-4. The God who carries us and protects us when we’re young, does the same for us in our old age. He doesn’t forget or forsake.
    • Genesis 24:2, which servant did Abraham choose to find a wife for Isaac? “The oldest, who ruled over all that he had.” Why? Job 12:12, when things are right, “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days comes understanding.”

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Christian Service

    2011 Christian Service

    Heritage Christian University remains rooted in educating students for real-world ministry. Our faculty members not only hold academic credentials, but they are actively involved in ministry to the glory of God. Below, you will find the complete Christian service numbers for 2011.

    Total Responses

    • Baptisms: 158
    • Restorations: 150
    • Prayer Requests: 1334

    Total Activities

    • Sermons Preached: 1685
    • Classes Taught: 2351
    • Led Singing: 732
    • Personal Studies: 582
    • Correspondence Studies: 364
    • Visits Made: 2153
    • Benevolent Activities: 4670
    • Cards/Notes Sent: 2833
    • Youth Activities: 607
    • Articles Published: 488
    • Church/Community Service: 544
    • Counseling Others: 348

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    The Book of Hebrews

    Introduction to the Book of Hebrews

    Written by George Goldman

    The book of Hebrews is often classed with Romans and Revelation as one of the three most difficult books in the Bible. This book, the letters of John, the gospels, and Acts are the only books in the New Testament with no name attached.

    Since it is an anonymous book almost everyone mentioned in the New Testament has been nominated as its author. Martin Luther suggested Apollos; Clement of Alexandria suggested Luke as the translator; Tertullian nominated Barnabus; and others suggest Paul. Harnack believed the letter is anonymous because a woman wrote it. He nominated Priscilla. Many agree with Origen who said, “God alone knows who wrote Hebrews.”

    The date of the book seems to be after many of the eyewitnesses to Christ have died (Heb. 2:3-4). Readers are encouraged to remember the former days (Heb. 10:32). Their first leaders were dead (Heb. 13:7-9 ASV). New leaders had arisen to take their place and exercise oversight (Heb. 13:17, 24). The word used here means to lead or guide (Mt. 2:6; Lk. 22:26; Acts 7:10; 14:12; 15:22).

    The book of Hebrews demands an accurate knowledge of the Old Testament, especially a knowledge of the Hebrew sacrificial system. It is addressed to people familiar with the Old Testament. One must first understand the five books of Moses in order to understand Hebrews.

    The theme of the book is the supremacy of Christ. The first seven chapters deal with that theme. Christ is greater than the angels (Heb. 1:4-14). Christ is greater than Moses and Joshua (Heb. 3:1 – 4:13). Christ is greater than the Levitical priesthood (Heb. 4:14 – 7:28). Priests were to come from the tribe of Levi; Christ came from the tribe of the priesthood of Melchizedek (Heb. 7 cf. Gen. 14). Melchizedek appeared on the scene without “father or mother;” that is without the proper credentials for priestly service. So also Christ could be a priest without being of the Levitical priesthood.

    The next three chapters emphasize the abolishment of the Mosaic law and its replacement with the New Covenant of Christ (Heb. 8 – 10).

    The last three chapters give the practical and faithful living required of disciples of the Lord. This kind of living includes a life of suffering. The heroes of faith include Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and countless more “who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Heb. 11:33f). Chapter 12 tells of the suffering of Christ and the final victory of his immovable kingdom. Chapter 13 deals with the present scene in the first century. They should be thankful to God, kind to their fellowman, and loyal to their leaders.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    The Book of Philemon

    Introduction to the Book of Philemon

    George Goldman

    Along with Colossians, Philippians, the letter to Philemon is one of Paul’s letters from prison. it was written from Rome (59 - 61 A.D.) (Philemon 9, 10 – 13). Philemon was a member of the church and a master of slaves. Paul’s letter gives us inspired insight into the slavery system.

    It is addressed to Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church in your house. The early Christian community was organized around the home. No doubt many churches were started in the homes of early Christians. There is no evidence of church buildings before the third century. The first traces of special houses for worship occur in Tertullian. He speaks of going to church. Clement of Alexandria uses the double meaning of the word church. About 230 A.D., the Emperor Alexander Severus granted Christians the right to a place in Rome to worship God. Around 250 A.D. Roman court records have a case involving a church building confiscated during the Decian persecution. The remains of the oldest church buildings is at Europas. Rome is supposed to have had forty church buildings by the 4th century.

    The letter concerns Onesimus, a slave who, after robbing his master (Phile. 19) absconded to Rome, where he came into contact with Paul. We have no way of knowing how or why Onesimus visited Paul in prison. However, Paul converts him and sends him back to his master. Evidently actions taken before you become a Christian still count.

    This letter brings the whole problem of slavery before us. There is no denunciation of Philemon’s right to hold slaves. Yet there is one significant phrase that transforms the master-slave relationship. Onesimus is returning no longer as a slave but as a beloved brother (Phile. 16). His emancipation is hinted at (Phile. 21).

    In the Roman Empire there were about 60 million slaves. Papyrus letters offered rewards for the return of slaves or for information regarding their whereabouts. Plato in effect said that a slave was a motorized hoe that could reproduce. Aristole held that certain men by nature were meant to be slaves to serve the higher class of men. During the American Civil War Paul’s letter to Philemon became an almost insurmountable obstacle to the abolitionists. Many religious groups, discounting their wise leaders advice, divided because they made slave-holding a test of fellowship.