Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pieces of Tile or Pieces of Art?

Public Domain Image Courtesy of: Bing Images

Life is perspective.  Half full or half empty?  Evolution or creation?  Random or purposeful?  Tile or art?

Mosaics have intrigued me for some time.  Plain, boring and purposeless individual tiles become engaging, purposeful and definitional together.  A community of tiles, if you please.  Mosaics are an awful lot like life. 
Life, like a Mosaic, requires a creator, a vision and a purpose.  A random pile of tiles has no purpose, no message and no inspiration.  With the reach of the artists hand randomness becomes purpose and tile becomes art.  A single tile placed by the artist may for a time appear boring, out of place and questionable to the uninformed critic.  Before the completion of the finished Mosaic, individual tiles may seem so awkward, unappealing and disquieting as to call out for their own immediate removal and discarding.  The vast majority of these scattered tiles must be put in place before a vision of the finished product can be seen.  The most talented of artists image and message may be hidden until the last few tiles are inserted.  Such is life.  Some lives defy purpose and understanding until the very last tile is placed.  Remember Sampson?  The very last act of faith in his life defined his entire life.  His Mosaic was made with the tiles of sin, arrogance and defiance.  When the final tile was placed his life took on a brand new, eternal and faithful significance that lives forever.  [Hebrews 11.32 - 34]What beautiful art out of what such ugliness!

Ironically we are all interchangeable Mosaics.  Individual tiles represent people, events and experiences that over time paint a picture of a life.  You are a tile (or more) in my Mosaic and I am a tile (or more) in your Mosaic.  God is the artist.  As we near the end of our lives the people, events and experiences paint our life's picture plainly.  The finished artwork is then hung in the hallway of remembrance by those we leave behind.  Unlike mankind who  forgets very quickly the Mosaic of a life, God never forgets!  Not only does he long to have our Mosaic in His Heavenly Hallway, he continuously pays the highest prices ever for such art.  The Blood of Jesus Christ redeems broken Mosaics out of the trash heap behind Satan's house.  As we rise from the waters of baptism Jesus Christ restores, reassembles and remakes our broken Mosaics as our sins are remitted by His Blood.  Sons of disobedience become Sons of God.  What a beautiful Mosaic, redeemed, remitted and restored!

When I was in college I was on the road to perdition.  I was bitter, lonely and without purpose.  I had grown up in my most formative years without a father.  Dad died suddenly at age 46 when I was 14.  I reeled at his loss for years.  I made many poor choices and was a "chief among sinners," having no direction most of the time.  However, there was a tile in God's Hand of which I was unaware.  Among my peers I was without friends.  Among my professors and counselors not a one saw any good in me or even a potential for for Dr. Ron Bever.  During my 4 years of study only Dr. Bever took any kind of interest in me and my potential.  In fact, only he and his wife Doris ever had me in their home.  It all came as a shock to me.  He actually asked for my participation in a mission trip to Belize!  Me, non-descript me, became a missionary with Dr. Bever!  What an amazing tile in my Mosaic!  Even more amazing, two years later I was interested in a very pretty girl at church.  I began seeing her in January of 1976.  Just a few weeks later Dr. Bever asked me if I wanted to come over his place as he was having a number of young people over for a fellowship and devo one night.  Guess who was there?  You guessed right, my life long sweet heart of nearly 40 years now, my dear Nancy.  On December 23, 1976 we were married.  Who officiated?  Dr. Ron Bever, the indisposable tile in the Mosaic of my life.  God be praised!

If you are not a teacher, you can still teach by example.  If you are not a leader, you can still lead someone to a Bible study.  If you are not an elder you can still encourage a weaker brother or sister.  If you are not a deacon you can still serve another with the love of God.  If you are not a missionary, you can still pray for one, render kindnesses to one and support one.  Regardless of our talents, regardless of our perceived self worth and regardless of any other factors...we all can be tiles in the Mosaics of others as we all have the "fragrance of Christ."  [II Corinthians 2.14 - 17]  God is always looking for otherwise ugly tiles with which to make beautiful art!    

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Mortification (Murder) of Sin

“Be Salted with Fire & Sin No More”
“From Ulster Plantation to the Carolina’s with the Gospel!” *

Russell H. McCullough / Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 / - Date:  9 October 2016

Text: Mark 9.42 - 49
Thesis: The Wages of Sin is Death Forever in Hell

1           Introduction

A.   The 2 least favorite topics from God’s Word today are sin and hell.
B.  Illustration
C.    Hell is prepared for the sinner who causes disbelief in others
D.   Sin and hell are to be mortified as a matter of the most urgent priority in our lives.
1.      Read Colossians 3.1 - 15

2          Mortify the Sin of the Grasp – 9.43 - 44

A.   Cut off your hand that grasps sin so that your whole body will not be cast into hell.
1.      Philippians 2.5 - 7

3          Mortify the Sin of the Walk – 9.45

A.   Cutoff your foot that walks you into the way of sin so that your whole body will not be cast into hell.
1.      Psalms 1

4         Mortify the Sin of the Eye – 9.47 - 48

A.   Cut out your eye that casts sight upon that which is evil.
1.      Matthew 5.27 - 28

5          The Meaning of the Text in It’s Theological, Historical & Cultural Context:

A.   The salt of pain and suffering as we mortify sin in our lives will both purify and save us in the end through the blood of Jesus Christ
B.   The salt of pain and suffering as we mortify sin in our lives will bring peace with one another.

6         The Challenge of the Text for Christians Today

A.   Sin is our mortal enemy
B.   Sin is to be murdered in our lives
C.    The murder of sin will be painful and costly
D.   The pain and suffering we experience as we murder sin in our lives will ironically serve as salt that will preserve us in the day of our judgement
E.    Un-murdered sin will someday murder us.

7          “The Gospel Call” - "Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2.38 et al

·         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:
Ruins photo courtesy of:

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