My Personal Christian Blog

Thanks for sliding into my blog site. This blog bog is a spin-off from my website at Call me a Night Owl, as my full-time mission and hobby are jabbering from midnight until 8 a.m.ish with chatter bugs across the world. Hoot, hoot! Being a retired newspaper guy and a Curious George, I've written and assembled a whack of stuff that I hope you'll find interesting and thought-provoking. Check out the Stories bar on the right side, below, for all my articles - from my web site and this blog.

March 24, 2014

Sandwiches and Salvation

By Paul Tatham

Few South Floridians will forget August, 1992. 

That month a compact but devastatingly powerful hurricane called Andrew buzz-sawed its way ashore south of Miami.

More like a large tornado, Andrew was the second-most powerful hurricane to make U.S. landfall last century. Entire neighborhoods in South Florida were leveled. The town of Homestead was essentially erased from the map.

The Christian school where I served, 60 miles north of Miami, called an emergency administrative huddle to determine our response to the calamity. We sent out an APB to parents, asking for donations and workers willing to load relief trucks.

The response was overwhelming. Parents rallied to the cause and trucks quickly filled with canned food, bottled water, diapers, flashlight batteries, propane canisters, medical supplies, and anything else we thought dazed victims would need. Supplies were then assembled into “CARE packages” for easy delivery.

As we were mapping out the details of the effort, I remember suggesting to my fellow administrators that we enclose a gospel tract with each package. I had been rereading the familiar John 4 account of the woman at the well, where Jesus ministered to her physical thirst but focused on her more vital spiritual need for “living water.” Since it was our usual practice to include a little plug for God in similar past drives, the suggestion was quickly adopted.

It was our prayer, of course, that some of the recipients of those packages would read the tract and, perhaps learning of God’s simple offer of salvation for the first time, open their heart to the Savior. Only Heaven will reveal the outcome.

But in a slew of similar acts of kindness in which I have participated over the years, I am sad to say that that has not been the norm. They ministered solely to physical needs. We believers are quite good about “sharing the love of Christ” in material ways, but when it comes to sharing the gospel, we often fumble the ball. We’re great at handing out sandwiches but not so great at handing out the vastly more important good news of salvation.

Now the old adage is true: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Shoving a gospel leaflet in someone’s face without coupling it with some act of kindness is not the best approach. We need to include a sandwich with salvation. But often the “spiritual” part of our efforts is missing entirely, and I wonder just how much good they actually do.

This is what I appreciate about the indigenous ministries assisted by Christian Aid Mission: they always include spiritual with material aid. While many of the projects and missions call for material resources, the sharing of Christ is always front and center. Christian Aid has a 60-year history of taking great care that the indigenous ministries they supply have the sharing of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection as an essential part of the effort.

The gospel is what distinguishes the Church from good, charitable organizations; without the hope of eternal life Christ offers, eternal benefit for the recipient is diminished or extinguished. As Jesus once asked His disciples, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Is ministering to the physical needs of a lost and dying world important? Absolutely. Will such good works attract people to our Savior? Certainly. But, often only if we help them make the connection.

*Paul Tatham is a retired Christian educator living in Orlando, FL., and a Christian Aid ministry partner

March 19, 2014


By Paul Tatham                                                                                                   

Before my father died at age 92, I asked him what his favorite Bible story was.

Having been in full-time Christian work since he was saved at age 16, he had an enviable grasp of God’s Word. He had always leaned toward the Old Testament, so predictably his response was from the “left half” of the Bible—a story in II Kings 6-7 about four lepers.

Although I didn’t ask him, I knew why it was his favorite. The account had a poignant, soul-winning application, and Dad had an uncanny ability to wring any gospel relevance from any Scripture passage. He almost always closed his sermons with a moving appeal to bow at the cross “before it is eternally too late.”

The 2 Kings narrative is a riveting tale. It chronicles a frightful episode in the life of four lepers who eked out a living by begging outside the gates of Samaria. Today, we would refer to them by the less offensive term “homeless.” Capital of the northern ten tribes of Israel, Samaria was under siege by Syria, Israel’s perennial enemy and a thorn in their side to this day.

To put the account in context, Syria was later swallowed up by the much mightier Assyrian Empire, the same empire that carried out a three-year siege of the same city and thereby succeeded in taking into captivity the entire northern kingdom. Unlike the Assyrians, however, the Syrians’ earlier attempt to starve Samaria into submission failed.

But they came close. 2 Kings 6-7 gives the grisly details. The Syrian army had surrounded the city, blockading all traffic in and out. The resulting famine was so dire that the emaciated Samarians were reduced to eating donkey heads, bird dung, and even their own children.

The lepers, discussing their plight amongst themselves, reasoned that they would soon die. Either as a result of starvation, their disease, or the Syrians themselves, their fate was sealed. So, they debated, why not simply surrender to the Syrians?

Perhaps the Syrians would have mercy on them and at least feed them one last meal before their execution. They had nothing to lose. As they approached the Syrian camp, perhaps waving a white flag, the lepers encountered not one Syrian soldier to whom they could surrender.

To their dismay, they soon realized that all of the Syrian forces had fled! God had spooked them into flight by causing them to hear a great noise that they perceived to be that of the Hittites and Egyptians, coming to Israel’s rescue. The lepers couldn’t believe their good fortune and scurried from tent to tent gorging on food left behind by the Syrians.

But suddenly it hit them — they had just left an entire city that was on the brink of collapse, with hundreds dying daily, and they were keeping the good news all to themselves. As if everyone’s lives depended upon it — and it certainly did — the lepers raced back to the city and averted certain disaster.

Like the lepers, we Christians have also discovered the good news. The question is, are we now willing to share it? After all, as the great Sri Lankan theologian D.T. Niles put it, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

March 16, 2014


By Harold Smith

If salvation is by grace alone and not by works, could not a person who claims to be a Christian live any old way after they are “saved”? Uh, not exactly.

Salvation is defined in Ephesians 2:8-9 as being by grace (on God's part) and faith (on our part) ALONE and "not of works lest any man should boast."

Ephesians 2: 10 says, "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”  Notice that we are saved unto goods works, not by good works. Good works are evidence of our salvation.

Grace alone saves, but grace is never alone. Salvation is not by works, BUT IT DOES WORK.

We have too many professing Christians who have a salvation that DOES NOT WORK. They cannot say like Paul in I Corinthians 15:10, "I am what I am BY THE GRACE OF GOD."

Salvation is like a person who has a plumbing problem. They know nothing about plumbing. They are absolutely incapable of fixing it, but they know a plumber who they believe can fix it.

Their confidence in him is so high that through their faith in him they call him to fix it. They do not have the ability to help the plumber fix the problem. They leave it all to him. When the plumber is finished the work, their faith in what he completed produces complete belief.

We all have a sin problem. Our lives are all messed up. We cannot straighten things out. We are absolutely helpless (Romans 5:6). We must call in the Savior and trust in Him to do what we cannot do for ourselves.

He comes in and our life begins to work right. He is able to save to the uttermost, says Hebrews 7:25. Like the plumber, the Saviour comes in and our life works begins to work, or bear fruit.

Titus 3:8 says, “...that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."

Titus 2: 11-12 says, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation ... teaches us to denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly...."

If you have a salvation that does not work, it is NOT true salvation. A true Christian will break from habitually sin and be changed.

March 2, 2014

Catholicism versus the Bible

A point-by-point comparison: Excerpted from The Gospel According to Rome

By James McCarthy

The Roman Catholic Church Wrongly Teaches That:

1. Justification is a transformation of the soul in which original sin is removed and sanctifying grace infused [1987-1995].
2. Initial justification is by means of baptism [1262-1274].
3. Adults must prepare for justification through faith and good works [1247-1249].
4. The justified are in themselves beautiful and holy in God's sight [1992, 1999-2000, 2024].
5. Justification is furthered by sacraments and good works [1212, 1392, 2010].
6. Justification is lost through mortal sin [1033, 1855, 1874].

7. Catholics guilty of mortal sin are justified again through the sacrament of penance [980, 1446].
8. Salvation from the eternal consequences of sin is a lifelong process [161-162, 1254-1255].
9. Salvation is attained by cooperating with grace through faith, good works, and participation in the sacraments [183, 1129, 1815, 2002].
10. Faith is belief in God and the firm acceptance of all that the Church proposes for belief [181-182, 1814].
11. Sanctifying grace is a quality of the soul, a supernatural disposition that perfects the soul [1999-2000].
12. The sacraments are necessary channels for the continual infusion of grace. They bestow grace in virtue of the rite performed [1127-1129].
13. Grace is merited by good works [2010, 2027].
14. Venial sins do not incur eternal punishment [1855, 1863].

15. Serious sins must be confessed to a priest [1456-1457].
16. The priest forgives sin as a judge [1442, 1461].
17. When the guilt of sin is forgiven, temporal punishment remains [1472-1473].
18. Acts of penance make satisfaction for the temporal punishment of sin [1434, 1459-1460].
19. Indulgences dispensed by the Church for acts of piety release sinners from temporal punishment [1471-1473].

20. Purgatory is necessary to atone for sin and cleanse the soul [1030-1031].
21. Poor souls suffering in purgatory can be helped by those alive on earth offering up prayers, good works, and the sacrifice of the Mass [1032, 1371, 1479].
22. No one can know if he will attain to eternal life [1036, 2005].
23. Eternal life is a merited reward [1821, 2010].
24. The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation [846].

The Bible Teaches:

1. Justification is an act of God in which He declares a sinner to be righteous in His sight, having forgiven his sins and imputed to him God's own righteousness (Romans 3:21-4:8).
2. Justification is by faith alone (Romans 3:28).
3. God justifies ungodly sinners who believe (Romans 4:5). Good works are the result of salvation, not the cause (Ephesians 2:8-10).
4. The justified are in Christ holy and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:1-14).
5. Justification is the imputation of the perfect righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, the believer has been made complete (Colossians 2:10).
6. Justification cannot be lost. Those whom God justifies will be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8, 9).
7. There is no second justification. Those whom God justifies He also will glorify (Romans 8:30).

8. Salvation from the eternal consequences of sin is an instantaneous and secure act of God coinciding with justification (Romans 5:9).
9. Salvation is attained by grace through faith apart from works (Eph 2:8, 9). Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation (Eph 2:10).
10. Saving faith is the entrusting of oneself to Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:8-17).
11. Grace is the undeserved favor of God (Ephesians 1:7, 8).
12. The child of God is the constant object of the Father's grace (Romans 5:1, 2).
13. Grace is a free gift (Romans 11:6).
14. Every sin is punishable by eternal death (Romans 6:23).
15. Sin is to be confessed directly to God (Ezra 10:11).

16. No one can forgive sin but God alone (Mark 2:7).
17. When God forgives sin, He completely forgives (Colossians 2:13; Isaiah 43:25).
18. Jesus made perfect satisfaction for all sins (1 John 2:1, 2).
19. Jesus releases believers from their sins by His blood (Revelations 1:5).
20. Purgatory does not exist. Jesus made purification for sins on the cross (Hebrews 1:3).

21. Those who sleep in Christ need no help. To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
22. The believer can know that he has eternal life by the Word of God (1 John 5:13).
23. Eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23).
24. There is salvation in no one but the Lord Jesus Christ. "For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).