Sunday, May 29, 2016

Your Mission...Should You to Decide to Accept It



“Your Mission…Should You Choose to Accept It…”



“From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *

Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210
www.archdale.org / gospelcall.blogspot.com - Date:  05.28.2016

Text: Mark 8.1 - 9
Thesis:  Being first compassionate and thankful, we then can be sent away by Jesus.

1           Introduction

A. “Good morning, Mr. Phelps.  Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it is to ….  As always should any member of your IMF force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds.  Good luck, Jim.”
B.  Being sent on a mission is often fraught with danger, uncertainty and the possibility of failure.
C.  Work, preparation and risk are required for the mission.
D. ARE WE READY TO ACCEPT?
E. Mark is all about action!
             1) Action is described by VERBS.
                       a. The action verbs in this passage:
                                 * Have
                                 * Gave
                                 * Sent

2          JESUS HAD COMPASSION – 8.1 - 3

A.   In order to have compassion like Christ one must pray for it
1. (Jas 1:5 - 8)  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
B. In order to have compassion like Christ one must observe others for good
1. (Mat 25:34 – 40)  Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?   And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?  And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
C.  In order to have compassion like Christ we must draw a true and righteous comparison.
1. Compassion is the opposite of vanity, arrogance, pride, haughtiness and condescension.
a. INSTEAD OF LOOKING DOWN YOUR NOSE AT YOUR NEIGHBOR, LOOK UP YOUR NOSE TO OUR SAVIOR ON THE CROSS.

3          JESUS GAVE THANKS – 8.4 – 7


A.   In order to be thankful like Jesus we must pray for it
1.      Prayer for Christ was more than a recital, it was a continuous conversation.
2.     Prayer for us should be the rule, not the exception
B.   In order to be thankful like Jesus we must pray as individuals
1. (Col 3:15)  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
      C. In order to be thankful like Jesus we must pray collectively
2. (Col 3.16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

4         JESUS SENT THEM AWAY – 8.8 - 9

A.   In order to be sent away by Christ on our mission we must understand the prime directive of being sent away:
1. (Mic 6:8)  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
                       a. We must do justice
1) Dr. King’s plea of “judgement on the content of character” is justice
2) “Doing justice” is treating everyone the same, the “same” being your very best
                       b. We must love kindness
1) (Col 3:11 - 13)  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

5          The Meaning of the Text

A. Individually and collectively, we have been sent on a mission
B. In order to accept that mission we must first be compassionate
C. In order to accept that mission we must be thankful

6         The Challenge of the Text

A. Will we “accept the mission?”
B. Will I be compassionate?
C. Will I be thankful?

7          “The Gospel Call”


·         My fifth great uncle was Hugh Gaston who was rector at the Ballywillan Presbyterian Church (pictured above left) in County Antrim, Ulster Plantation (Northern Ireland) and wrote the most dangerous book of his time; Gaston’s Collections.  It allowed “the ploughman to know more Bible than his clergyman.”  Hugh fled to South Carolina where he died prematurely of the measles.  He is buried just one hour south of Charlotte in Chester County, S.C. in “Burnt Meeting House Cemetery.”   Uncle Hugh continues to inspire my ministry to this very day.  You can read more about Uncle Hugh here: http://www.ballywillanpci.org/rev-hugh-gaston
Ruins photo courtesy of: ballywillanpci.org.

·         On Friday night, August 5, 2016 Russ will dramatically portray the life and times of his 5th Great grandfather, John “Justice” Gaston entitled; “A Patriot of the Revolution.” A portion of the event will cover also the life and times of his brother, Hugh Gaston.  The event will take place at the Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 at 7 p.m.   The public is invited to this free presentation.

Friday, May 27, 2016

"How Would You Like Your Change?"

Image: From the Public Domain via Bing Images

We've all heard that question time and again at the grocery store, the gas station and the restaurant,  "How would you like your change?"  We have several choices when money exchanges hands.  "How would you like your change?" is not a threatening question...UNLESS...we are talking about changing the church of our Lord Jesus Christ!  There are two kinds of "change" when we speak of the "faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."  One kind of change is good, moral and beneficial.  The other is evil, immoral and detrimental.

Much of what we call change is indeed good.  In times past there were slave owners who called themselves "Christians."  Today there are none.  In times past, as Dr. Martin Luther King once observed, "Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America."  No longer!  The church of Christ welcomes all congregants. (See for yourself this coming Lord's Day @ 10 a.m. at the Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210)  In times past many men would congregate in front of our church buildings between Bible study and worship and smoke.  Today, such is a thing of the past. These are all examples of "change," GOOD change!

The Bible often refers to this "good change" as "repentance."  Repentance literally means to "change ones mind."  Christians repented of slavery, repented of racism and repented of tobacco abuse.  In this sense, Christians must always be ready to repent.  We must, as we are taught by the Word of God, be eager to repent of any evil that remains in us.  This is why John urges us in I John 1.9 - 10: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us."  (ESV)

Sadly, there is another kind of "change" that has devastated the church of Christ in recent years.  It is called many things; existentialism, post-modernism, emergence, progressiveism and liberalism.  For this post we will refer to this kind of change as "existential" change.  "Existential Change" is change that is manufactured artificially to destroy the past (and everything associated with it) and to reconstruct a new and "exciting" future in the model of Darwinian Philosophy.  "Existential change" has several components:
  1. "Existential change" is based on multiple meaning of Scripture individually interpreted.
  2. "Existential change" is artificially constructed with new imaginary "realities," 
  3. "Existential change" employs a new definition of truth found in contradiction rather than revelation, 
  4. "Existential change" has a new view of truth; that truth is evolutionary and is ever changing.  It is neither permanent nor static. 
"Existential change" has many fathers so to speak, though Satan ultimately is the father of all error. Satan's primary lying attribute is chaos and confusion.  (I Corinthians 14.33; James 3.16)   Satan has used many to promote chaos and confusion.  In the coming weeks we will, on this blog, examine this theme; "Change - The Fathers of Chaos."  These "change fathers" are Origen of Alexandria, Thomas Aquinas, Soren Kierkegaard and Charles Darwin.

Doubt the extent and seriousness of chaos, confusion and existential change within the churches of Christ?  The following quote in the June, 2016 issue of the The Christian Chronicle will dispel all such doubts:
"In general, churches rooted in and practicing 20th century church models are not doing well in our 21st culture,"said Granberg [Stan Granberg of Kairos Church Planting and according to the Chronicle, "associated with churches of Christ."] a former missionary to Kenya who is supported by the Southwest Church of Christ in Jonesboro, AR.  Unlike most Churches of Christ, about 60 percent of Kairos church plants use instrumental music in worship.  "Most of our younger generations do not accept the theological support we have used for a cappella," Granberg said.  Moreover, some Kairos church plants allow women to pray and read Scriptures during public assembly, he acknowledged. Every generation must reevaluate what practices may hinder others from turning to God, said Tod Vogt, executive director of Texas-based Mission Alive, another church-planting ministry associated with Churches of Christ. "Changing the name, adding instruments and allowing women broader roles are not the most significant changes the North American church needs to make to engage the culture," Vogt said.  "If so, churches doing these things would be far more effective than they are." (1)

Happily, the Christian Chronicle quotes then extensively from bro. Dale Jenkins who refutes these dangerous assertions in the following section of the article.

By the way, I explore all of this in great detail in my book Emerging Towards Apostasy available from amazon.com and other sources.

https://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Towards-Apostasy-Post-Modern-Evangelical-ebook/dp/B00GAVFB3E/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464372842&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=Russ+McCllough

(1) "Coming Soon: Worship At The Movie Theater," The Christian Chronicle, article by Bobby Ross Jr. pages 8 and 9, June, 2016.

Monday, May 23, 2016

"Why Abraham?"



NOTE: This is the first in a new "mini series" on "The Faith of Abraham."  We are currently preaching through Romans.  Paul continuously refers back to Abraham and his faithfulness.  To better grasp the many truths regarding Abraham, we are taking this detour before returning to Romans. These sermons are given on Sunday evenings at the Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 at 6 p.m.  The public is always invited.  No collections will be taken.

"Why Abraham?"  Perhaps a question you never asked.  It is, however, a question we must grapple with to truly understand God's plan of salvation.  In short we have Abraham as our "spiritual father in the faith" because God selected this singular man for a singular purpose.  That singular purpose was to for Abraham to serve as a vehicle "through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed."  The eternally urgent need for the salvation of man was made manifest at an ancient ziggurat called Babel.  The "call of Abraham" began at Babel though Abraham was yet to be born!

We find the inspired historical account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.1 - 9.  Though the account takes but little space, it is one of those critical moments in salvational history.  It seems that the "whole earth had one language and the same words."  (ESV rendering)  The concept of language(s) plural was the most foreign of concepts to these post-deluvians.  They spoke the language (whatever that language was we don't know) of Adam and Noah.  There had never been even a second language since the beginning of time.  That was about to change.  The people of Genesis 11 had one language, one vocabulary, one accent land one dialect.  Even their "sayings" and "slang" were the same.  In other words, 100% communication between every living person on earth at the time.  Literally the passage reads; "All of their lip one and words one."  (per the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer 2 Textus Receptus).

Who were these people and where did they come from?  The people of Genesis 11 are all direct descendants of Noah and this 3 sons.  When the flood abated they found themselves on the mountains of Ararat (in modern day northeastern Turkey near the Russian border.)  Not being suitable for supporting large numbers of people the family gradually migrated east and southeast until they found a very suitable home, the land of Shinar.  Most translations say that the people migrated "from the east," the original word can also be translated "eastward."  This latter translation is used in the ASV, the JPS and the NIV.  Contextually this second rendering better suits the context.

Shinar is what today we refer to as Sumeria.  Roughly located in the modern day Bagdad, Iraq area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Shinar was environmentally much different than we know it today.  Instead of an aired wasteland, Shinar was lush, green and well watered.  It was also flat, making it ideal for raising cattle, sheep and goats.  The bottom line, the seemingly never ending migration ended.  They had found a most suitable place to settle down in.  Settled they did!  They had quit migrating, the apparent Will of God since the Great Flood.

Instead of tents and even mud bricks dried out in the sun, the people of Babel went all out for permanence in the tower and the city they built.  Baking their bricks in oven and using a form of asphalt for mortar, they oozed permanence and stability.  Later similar structures that housed the image of the god "Marduk" were called "Esagia(s)" which roughly translated is "the building whose top is in heaven."(1)  The Tower of Babel was the largest, most elaborate and most expensive structure made on earth up to this moment in time!

Why would these people go to such efforts, time and expense to build such a mega-structure "whose top is in heaven?"  The Scripture lists 4 reasons: 1) They wanted a city "for themselves."  2) They wanted their city to have a tower "with it's top in the heavens." (ESV rendering)  3) They wanted to make a name for themselves.  4) They wanted insurance against any future migration.  Why would they sets these things up as their goals?

The ancients, as do many still today, believed that the higher ones worship to the gods were in terms of elevation, the closer one became to god.  This is why God continually commands the Israelites to "destroy all the high places."  That being said, "IF" one could go high enough, one could literally "break into heaven itself," with or without God's permission!  Once there they could, by virtue of the now shared presence, claim "equality with God" (see Genesis 3.5), thereby truly "making a name for themselves."  (ESV rendering)  Not only that, they could insure against total destruction from any future world wide floods.  These all taken together come together to mold the primary reason for all of this!

The primary reason for all of this is that they wanted to resist and rebel against God's "prime directory" for their day and time.  In Genesis 9.1b God commands Noah (by extension Noah AND his descendants) the following: "...Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth."  (ESV rendering)  That command meant continual migration as far as to the "ends of the earth."  They had found the perfect home and wanted more than anything to stay.  In order to stay they had to find a way to protect themselves from the Wrath of God as they rebelled against the Will of God.  By building a tower "with it's top in the heavens" they thought they had accomplished their goal  They could not have been more wrong!

When God saw what man was doing at Babel He took action after going down to inspect the situation for Himself.  The Godhead consulted with Himself and concluded 4 things: 1) They are one people (united without and against God).  2) They all had one language (100% communication ability among the rebels).  3) This "is only the beginning of what they will do."  (ESV rendering)  4) "...And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them."  (ESV rendering)  God had a plan of action!

God immediately moves to do two things to make sure His Will is carried out by mankind, willingly or unwillingly.  1) He confused their language, 2) He rendered all communication between different language groups useless, 3) He "dispersed them from there over the face of the whole earth."  (ESV rendering.  4) He forced them to abandon the entire project.  This is how all the people groups of the entire world came to be.  Each language group found each other in the ensuing confusion, moved away from Babel and eventually moved to every corner of the globe.

What is our takeaway from all this ancient pre-history?  Simply put, God here opts to intervene into human history as opposed to again destroy the human race (save Noah and his family).  He moves to intercede for man with a Savior.  In order for the Savior to come into the world, He must form a people group by which to accomplish this.  In order to form a people group for Himself, He must first have a progenitor.  That singular person that He would call?  Father Abraham!  Through Abraham all the nations of the earth are blessed!

(1) Davis, John J. (Paradise to Prison - Studies in Genesis, Salem, Wisconsin. Sheffield Publishing Company, 1975, 1998.  pg. 146 quoting D. J. Wiseman, "Babel" in J. D. Douglas, ed., New Bible Dictionary, pg. 116.   

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Why Abraham?"

Hearing, Speaking and Disobedience



“Hearing, Speaking & Disobedience”

“From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *

Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210
www.archdale.org / gospelcall.blogspot.com - Date: 23 May 2016

Text: Mark 7.31 - 37
Thesis:  Obedience requires more than hearing, speaking and enthusiasm.

1           Introduction

A. Jesus and His disciples finally achieve privacy and seclusion for rest and teaching.  This journey may have lasted up to 2 months.
B. They encounter no one from the time of the Syrophoenician woman in Tyre until they encounter the deaf and speech impeded man in the Decapolis.
C. Seclusion was made possible by the journey deep inside the realm of the Gentiles where no on knew Jesus.
D. Roman Israel looked very different than biblical Israel.  The entire region was known to them as IUDAEA.
             1) Idumea, Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, Phoenicia, Gaulantitis,
                 The Decapolis, Peraea and Nabatea
             2) In totality, the entire area was roughly 95 by 125 miles.
E. “The Decapolis” was a totally Roman / Gentile region made up of ten cities, hence the name:
             1) Damascus, Canatha, Dion, Raphana, Gadara, Hippos,  
                  Pella, Gerasa, Scythopolis  and Philadelphia

2          The Encounter – 7.31 - 34

A. According to Matthews account, Jesus encounters large crowds once more as He re-enters southeast Galilee
B. Just who brought this man to Jesus is not stated
C. The original language suggests that his deafness was a direct cause of his “stammering.”  In other words, his condition was likely caused by some kind of disease or accident that took away his hearing and consequently his ability to speak coherently.
D. His friends knew well of Jesus’ power and methods
E. They begged him to lay His hands on their friend as he could not speak for himself
F. Jesus takes him away privately because He does not at this time wish to create even more sensation regarding His healing power as is confirmed later in vs. 36.
G. The purpose of Jesus’ actions in vs. 33 is vague at best.  We just don’t know for sure why He did what He did.  Numerous explanations abound but Edmund Heibert’s observation appears plausible – Jesus uses targeted touching to communicate to the man what He is about to do for him – heal his ears and his tongue.
H. Jesus’ love and compassion is quite evident by the fact that He literally “groans” out loud at the man’s plight – absolute uselessness in that day and time because of his limitations.
I. Jesus orders the healing in Aramaic, the daily language of the people.  This is why Mark gives the translation to his Roman and Gentile audience.

3          The Healing – 7.35

A. His ears were opened!
B. His tongue was released!
C. He spoke plainly!

4         The Command – 7.36 - 37

A.  Jesus tells them all not to tell anyone
B. The more He insisted, the “more excessively” they proclaimed it!
             1) The more Jesus commands, the more they do the
                    opposite.
C. They were “astonished beyond measure”
             1) Literally; “over excessively they were astonished!”
D. “He has done all things well!”
             1) Literally; “ideally all things He has done!”
             2) He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak

5          The Meaning of the Text

A. The man heard
B. The man spoke
C. The man & his companions heard the command of Christ
D. The man & his companions ignored the command of Christ
E. The more instruction from the Lord the more they did the opposite

6         The Challenge of the Text

A. We must seek Christ as he did
B. We must hear the commands of Christ as he did
C. We must OBEY the commands of Christ as he did NOT
D. James 1.22 - 24

7          “The Gospel Call”





·         *  My fifth great uncle was Hugh Gaston who was rector at the Ballywillan Presbyterian Church (pictured above left) in County Antrim, Ulster Plantation (Northern Ireland) and wrote the most dangerous book of his time; Gaston’s Collections.  It allowed “the ploughman to know more Bible than his clergyman.”  Hugh fled to South Carolina where he died prematurely of the measles.  He is buried just one hour south of Charlotte in Chester County, S.C. in “Burnt Meeting House Cemetery.”   Uncle Hugh continues to inspire my ministry to this very day.  You can read more about Uncle Hugh here: http://www.ballywillanpci.org/rev-hugh-gaston
Ruins photo courtesy of: ballywillanpci.org.


·       *   On Friday night, August 5, 2016 Russ will dramatically portray the life and times of his 5th Great grandfather, John “Justice” Gaston entitled; “A Patriot of the Revolution.” A portion of the event will cover also the life and times of his brother, Hugh Gaston.  The event will take place at the Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 at 7 p.m.   The public is invited to this free presentation.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reflection, Acceptance and Deliverance!



“Reflection, Acceptance and Deliverance”
From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *




Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210
www.archdale.org / gospelcall.blogspot.com - Date: 15 May 2016

Text: Mark 7.24 - 30
Thesis: What at first appears harsh may just be Grace in disguise!

1           Introduction

A.   What we learn from Matthews account in 15.21 – 28
1.      His leaving was purposeful, he and disciples needed seclusion
a.    Mark 6.32 – 24
b.    Mark 6.45
c.     Mark 6.53 – 55
2.     The woman he meets is a Canaanite
3.    The woman is crying
4.    At first Christ did not respond to her pleas
5.    The disciples begged Christ to send her away
6.    His first response was apparently terse; “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
7.     In addition to falling prostrate she knelt before Him and implored; “Lord, help me!”
8.    He lauded her.  “O woman great is your faith!  Be it done for you as you desire.”
9.    This is a good example as to why we should examine all parallel passages.
B.   This event is the opposite of the healing of Jairus’ daughter
1.      Father – Mother
2.     Jew – Gentile
3.    Powerful – Weak
4.    Israel – Phoenicia
C.    Tyre and Sidon were significant because they were part of the Israel’s inheritance that was never taken

2          Reflection: 7.24 - 26

A. He did not come to the District to minister but to rest
B. He did not want anyone to know he was there but he was being followed.
C. JESUS COULD NOT BE HIDDEN!
D. Her seeking Him out was an act of desperation, women did not act in this way in this culture.
E. This woman is the ultimate outcast in her extant circumstances
                   1. Female
                   2. Greek
                   3. Syrian
                   4. Phoenician
                   5. Canaanite
                   6. Un-invited
                   7. Nuisance to others

3          Acceptance : 7.27 - 28

A.  Many a skeptic takes this passage to “prove” that Jesus uses racial profiling and makes racist assertions.
B.  Not so!  The word translated “dogs” is the original kunaria which literally means “puppies.”
             1. In New Testament times there were some good and some bad references to dogs.
             2. Packs of wild dogs were prevalent.  They were visous and a real threat to people who had to protect themselves.  Such a pack licked up Jezebel’s blood in the street.
             3. However, dogs were domesticated and valuable to the shepherd.
             4. Finally, as in this passage, puppies were often allowed in the home as a way to keep the floor clean during and after meals and were sort of quasit pets for the children.
C.  Jesus is not racial profiling here, He is noting that fact that the Gospel is to be spread first to the House of Israel before is spread to the Gentiles.
D. He is NOT equating Gentiles with dogs, He simply asserts the plan of God to offer salvation first to the Jew.
E.  Refusing to take offence, the woman gladly accepts the premise and is grateful to accept the “crumbs of healing” from the Savior.

4         Delivery: 7.29 - 30

A.   The woman’s faith and acceptance of the message is rewarded
B. Jesus commends her
C. The daughter is healed

5          The Meaning of the Text

A.  Jesus sets His evangelistic priorities
B.  Jews first
C.  Gentiles second
D. Everyone eventually
E. That which first appears harsh may just be Grace in disguise!

6         The Challenge of the Text

A. There is no district to which Jesus won’t go
B. Jesus is in your district
C. Who or what you are is no concern for Jesus
D. Crying to Jesus about our demons is a good thing
             1. A broken and contrite heart
E. We are the puppies and He’s still spreading the Gospel to us

7          “The Gospel Call” - “And now why do you wait?  Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the Name of the Lord.”


·         My fifth great uncle was Hugh Gaston who was rector at the Ballywillan Presbyterian Church (pictured above left) in County Antrim, Ulster Plantation (Northern Ireland) and wrote the most dangerous book of his time; Gaston’s Collections.  It allowed “the ploughman to know more Bible than his clergyman.”  Hugh fled to South Carolina where he died prematurely of the measles.  He is buried just one hour south of Charlotte in Chester County, S.C. in “Burnt Meeting House Cemetery.”   Uncle Hugh continues to inspire my ministry to this very day.  You can read more about Uncle Hugh here: http://www.ballywillanpci.org/rev-hugh-gaston
Ruins photo courtesy of: ballywillanpci.org.


Monday, May 9, 2016

There Really Is A Divine Spark!


"Every man I believe that God has given a Divine spark of soul."                    
Joshua Chamberlain (1)

Before the darkness of Darwin descended upon America, people often spoke of the "Divine spark."  People truly believed that God created and sustained all things including each and every individual, that "man was created in the image of God."  Despite Darwin, people of faith have continued to believe and assert this until this very moment in history.  Now, science has swerved into agreement with the Bible!  When life begins there really is...a spark! A "divine spark," if you please.

Michael Gullien, in his recently (February 9, 2016) published book; Amazing Truths: How Science and the Bible Agree, explores this and other similar phenomenon.   On May 1 Gullien wrote an op-ed piece for Fox News.com entitled; "The Spark of Life: Science and the Bible Meet Again."  Both the book and the article are well worth the read.

Gullien states that Northwestern University researchers have discovered that at the very moment of conception technically known as the "recombination and re-coupling," a burst of light is produced...the "Divine spark."  This outburst of light is produced by zinc compounds present exploding as the sperm and the egg cells collide, ignite and combine into a living and individual human embryo.  Body and soul thus unite for all time and eternity!  In a very real way, this "Divine spark," replicates the very Creation itself..."And God said; "Let there be light, and there was light" of Genesis 1.3.  Light was created and pre existed all other forms of light as the sun, moon and stars.  These were created AFTER the Light.  The physical residue of the creation of light is still visible to this very day!  Gullien observes:
...an incomprehensible outburst of light accompanied the creation of hydrogen and helium, the first atoms of the embryonic cosmos.  To this day, the dim afterglow of that seminal light -the so called cosmic microwave background- is visible to certain kinds of powerful telescopes.
The Bible does not just describe God in "like" images of light, it says that the very essence of God IS Light!  "God IS Light and in Him is no darkness at all." - (I John 1.5)  Not only that, the Bible teaches that humans can access this Divine Light.  The Psalmist states; "For with Thee is the Fountain of life: in Thy Light shall we see light." - (Psalms 36.9)    This Light provides man with the only guidance through this life that is always viable.  "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." - (Psalms 119.105)  The access?  The WORD Himself, Jesus Christ, who declared unilaterally; "..I Am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." - (John 8.12)  "(John the Baptist) was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  (Jesus Christ) was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." - (John 1.8 - 9)

Jesus Christ is the Light, the Light is the Word and the Word contains what every human needs...salvation.  "Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls." - (James 1.21)  "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"  And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - (Acts 2.37 - 38)

God reveals His Light in many and various ways, shouting at us as it were, "I want to save you and bring you into My Light!"  As Gullien so eloquently states;

"Like the Bible, therefore, science now agrees that whenever we interact with light, we interact with something that is at once in this world, but not of this world.  Chief among these Divine-like encounters are those instances when light makes abrupt, attention-getting appearances.  Like a moment of creation when something truly special suddenly comes into existence that wasn't there before - be it a human embryo, a star, or an entire universe."

(1) Joshua Chamberlain (1828 - 1914) was a hero of the American Civil War.  Before the war he studied Congregationalist theology for 3 years before being named Professor of Modern Languages at Bowdoin College.  Amazingly he was fluent in nine languages!  He skills were so numerous that he taught every subject in the curriculum except mathematics and science.  When the war broke out he was named commander of the 20th Maine.  At Gettysburg he and his command held the Union left against multiple assaults from Gen. Longstreet on 2 July 1863, saving the entire army from being flanked.  He was wounded some 5 times during the war and rose to the rank of general.  He was present with Grant at Appomattox when the war ended.  Later he became the governor of Maine.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Who Am I...Really?"

“From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *

Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210
www.archdale.org / gospelcall.blogspot.com - Date: 1 May 2016

YouTube VIDEO SERMON LINK:


Text: Mark 7.14 - 23
Thesis: Defilement is a matter of the heart not of diet, the fruit of my lips defines who I am…really.

1           Introduction

A.   Jesus engages the crowds at Gennesaret – 6.53 – 56
1. The crowd at the front, the Pharisees at the rear
B. The Pharisees confront Jesus regarding their traditions – 7.1 – 8
             1. The Pharisees at the front, the crowd at the rear
C. Jesus makes plain the hypocrisy of the Pharisees – 7.9 – 13
             1. The Pharisees at the front, the crowd at the rear
D. Jesus re-engages the crowds – 7.14 – 16
             1. The crowd at the front, the Pharisees at the rear
E. Jesus 3 – Pharisees – 0!
             1. He destroys their tradition
             2. He exposes their hypocrisy
             3. He lays waste their faith in their own “righteousness”
             4. He re-engages the sinner

2          Jesus Calls Upon the Crowd to HEAR and UNDERSTAND – 7.14

A. Jesus keeps calling!
B. Jesus does not call them to see, experience or feel ANYTHING
C. Jesus DOES call them to HEAR and UNDERSTAND a MESSAGE
             1. Romans 10.14 – 17
                       a. NOTE: Hearing and OBEDIENCE are totally linked!

3          The Message: 7.15 - 16

A. Nothing outside a person defiles him
B. What comes out of a person defiles him
C. Jesus exposes the Pharisees doctrine as FALSE
             1. Jesus, with just one sentence, turns an entire body of   
                  doctrine on its ear!
a.    The old order is destroyed
b.    The new order is revealed

4         Question, Rebuke and Explanation – 7.17 - 23

A. The question – 7.17
B. The rebuke – 7.18 – 19
             1. Marks comment in vs. 19 is consistent with Peter’s
                Experience and revelation of Acts 10.
B.   The explanation – 7.20 – 23
1.      The internal inventory will proceed to the loading dock!
2.     Here’s some quotes from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, March 13, 2012:
a.    “Slips of the tongue are almost inevitable. For every 1,000 words spoken, we make one or two errors. Considering that the average pace of speech is 150 words a minute, a slip is bound to occur about once every seven minutes of continuous talk. Each day, most of us make somewhere between 7 and 22 verbal slips.”
b.    "Nice to beat you," smiles a woman when she meets the ex-girlfriend of her husband. A dinner guest thanks his host "for the hostility."
3.    “For as one that hath reckoned within himself, so is he…” – Proverbs 3.27a (Jewish Publication Society Bible)
a.    No matter how one may try not to, he will eventually speak what is really in his heart:
1)     One given to coarseness will one day laugh at a dirty joke.
2)    One given to jealousy will one day spread gossip about her adversary
3)   One given to pornography will one day be seen looking at it
4)   One given to profanity will one day be heard cursing
5)   One given to pettiness will one day betray a friend
6)   One given to superiority will one day ridicule his friend in the presence of others
4.    Our words and our deeds eventually reveal who we REALLY are.
a.    Evil thoughts
b.    Fornication
c.     Theft
d.    Murder
e.    Adultery
f.      Coveting
g.    Wickedness
h.    Deceit
i.       Sensuality
j.       Envy
k.    Slander
l.       Pride
m.  Foolishness (Impudence) – From the Latin “impudens” – “in shame.”  STRONGS says;
“Senselessness, egotism, recklessness.”

5          The Meaning of the Text

A.   We can’t be doubleminded people
1.      James 1.5 -8
2.     James 4.7 – 10
3.    James 3.6 – 12
4.    Revelation 3.14 - 16

6         The Challenge of the Text

A. Know who you are
B. Look daily into the mirror of God’s Word
C. Fight duplicity every day and in every way
D. Don’t concern yourself with other peoples duplicity
E. Understand that un-dealt with duplicity leads to doublemindedness which leads to hypocrisy which leads to apostasy which leads to damnation

7          “The Gospel Call”





·         My fifth great uncle was Hugh Gaston who was rector at the Ballywillan Presbyterian Church (pictured above left) in County Antrim, Ulster Plantation (Northern Ireland) and wrote the most dangerous book of his time; Gaston’s Collections.  It allowed “the ploughman to know more Bible than his clergyman.”  Hugh fled to South Carolina where he died prematurely of the measles.  He is buried just one  hour south of Charlotte in Chester County, S.C. in “Burnt Meeting House Cemetery.”   Uncle Hugh continues to inspire my ministry to this very day.  You can read more about Uncle Hugh here: http://www.ballywillanpci.org/rev-hugh-gaston

Ruins photo courtesy of: ballywillanpci.org.

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