PLUMBLINE -- Editor, Wayne Coats
Vol. 5 No. 2, September 2000
The sad part of the story was given when our Lord declared that the disciples would not be received or heard. In such cases he said, "...shake off the dust of your feet" (Matt. 10:14). It is a fact that every faithful Gospel preacher who has been in the service of the Master for any length of time, has met with rejection, ridicule, and ribaldry. Some of us know what it means to have doors slammed in our faces by rough and discourteous characters. I recall on one occasion when I knocked on doors practically all day long (and this is the truth so help me God), I was met by only one friendly, person. There was an unusual amount of hostility and I was told that such was due to the Jehovah's Witnesses having invaded the territory a short time before.
We do not anticipate a ready reception by the devil's crowd. Our Lord was despised and rejected of men (Isa. 53:3). It is enough for the disciple to be as his Lord. "The disciple is not above his master..." (Luke 6:40). These are times when the imps of Satan will demonstrate more respect, courtesy, and friendliness than some of the most holy, pious, and sainted people who swagger into the church buildings. I do not think Jesus was being a cynic when he warned, "woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26). "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake" (Luke 6:22). Our Lord was trying to tell his disciples that life could be extremely difficult for them.
We live in a world that is reeking with hostility, ignorance and arrogance. If one wants to avoid the darts of devilish creatures, one had better not take a firm stand for the truth. The fearful, squeamish, shaky, compromiser will test the wind before entering into a place. The true soldier will be concerned about the lost and will try to save them. It hurts in more ways than one to be rejected by one's own brethren.
Jesus knew that there would be those who would not receive the disciples and he said, "go out of that city, leave it, depart." Upon one occasion Jesus desired to go into a village of the Samaritans but, "...they did not receive him..." (Luke 9:52). "...And they went to another village" (Luke 9:56). Jesus would not go through the province of Samaria if they objected to his presence. He would walk all the way around the territory rather than be an imposition on those heathens.
Have you found similar conditions prevailing in our day? I thank my Lord that I have never been reduced to the matter of "job hunting" as a preacher. This seems to be the pattern of so many of the political preachers. They are "job hunting" in search of bigger salaries. Some "job hunt" because they do not have any common sense. They are "job hunting" because sound brethren refuse to sanction their stupidity as demonstrated when they swagger into the pulpit. Brethren better beware of the "job-hunter" predators.
When a brother preaches the truth in love and does everything within his power to advance the cause of Christ, it might be the case that such a person will be rejected. I would urge that faithful brother to, "...go to another village..." immediately (Luke 9:56). If my brethren will not hear me, if they refuse to receive me, if they reject my pleas and overtures and listen to some nut instead, then I certainly have no time to waste with such ilk and stripe. In such cases it is time to shake the dust off my feet. It is time to "go into another village." Do the sanctified Samaritans object to our departing? Of course not! With their contemptible blather they can laugh, snigger, scoff and scorn in their great success and almighty power in safeguarding the borders of Samaria. I learned long ago that it is impossible to take chicken manure and make chicken salad out of it. Such is the material with which we have to work at times.
This old world is too big for you and me to think that we have to take up residence in Samaria. Peace and tranquility is too precious to give away or barter for the yelping and grunts of hyenas or wolves. It is still the case that Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15). The apostle Paul wrote, "Beware of dogs..." (Phil. 3:2). There comes a time when we need to shake our feet and I do not refer to dancing.
The church is cursed with sowers of discord, rancid liberalism and job hunters who have no common sense. A note from a reader in a distant state inquires about leaving the congregation where the liberals have moved in and conquered. My advice is leave immediately if possible. We have no right to support liberal thugs, church splitters and moronic characters who would absolutely destroy the unity of God's people.
--Wayne Coats, Editor
The church of Christ was established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 2:2-3; Acts 2). This church would have a distinctive founder, builder, head, body, mission, plan of salvation, membership, worship, name, doctrine, and work (Isaiah 28:16; Eph. 2:20; Col. 1:18; Eph. 4:4; Mark 16:15; Acts 2:38,47; 11:26; John 4:24; Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 15:58). The church of Christ is the church of the New Testament.
Members of the body of Christ believe the Bible to be the verbally, inspired, inerrant, plenary, Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17); and believe the Bible to be the only authority in religious matters (Col. 3:17). Worship to God is accomplished in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
The organization of the church, as found in the New Testament, consists of Christ as head (Eph. 1:22-23); elders overseeing the local congregation (Heb. 13:17); deacons serving the physical needs of the church (1 Tim. 3:8-13); and evangelists and teachers who preach the word of God publicly and privately.
The church of Christ is all-sufficient! The New Testament provides no legislation for organizations larger or smaller than the New Testament church! As brother H. Leo Boles penned many years ago:
When each congregation fulfills its mission as God directs that it should, then each church has done the work of the Lord and there is no need for any other organization or plan of cooperation. Put all the congregations to work as God directs them to, and we have all the cooperation and organization that are needed. Anything other than this is perversion of the New Testament order. Some have maintained that cooperation implies organization. In fact, the slogan of the society brethren was: "No cooperation without organization." There was some truth in this as they viewed cooperation. Many so-called "loyal" brethren and churches do not see how they can cooperate without organizing something. Any cooperation that calls for any officer or any organization not mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures is the wrong kind of cooperation. All Scriptural cooperation uses the New Testament order of work and officers and leaves each congregation free under the fear of God to fulfill its own mission. Individual Christians and churches can do all that the Lord requires of them by maintaining the simple organization of the local church. Hence, there is no need for societies, constitutions, resolutions, presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, or any other office or officer which is not mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures. No machinery in the way of human organization is needed to preach the gospel to sinners or to edify the saints; no machinery is needed for the local congregation to fulfill its mission in the world. Each congregation can do its work with the simple agencies authorized in the New Testament Scriptures. Let each Christian fulfill his mission as a member of the church and each church fulfill its mission as the New Testament directs, and souls will be saved, saints edified, and God glorified (Gospel Advocate, Sept. 17, 1931).
Anything larger than, smaller than, or other than this is a failure. The divine wisdom of God was demonstrated in making each local church self-governing under Christ (Phil. 1:1). The church of Christ is the divine missionary society. Any missionary society larger or smaller than or different from the local congregation is unscriptural. This is not to say that churches cannot cooperate. The New Testament teaches that churches may cooperate in evangelism (Acts 11:21-22); churches may cooperate in benevolence (Acts 11:29-30); churches may cooperate in edification (Acts 11:23). This does not negate the right of the church of Christ to support orphan homes. An orphan home is just that: a home, not the church! Congregational autonomy does not effect churches cooperating. As Everett Ferguson points out:
This independence by the local church is often called 'congregational autonomy,' that is, self-governing congregations. Autonomy is not a wholly satisfactory word. In regard to faith and practice, the church is a monarchy, subject to its Lord. But in matters of opinion, expediency, and human judgment each church is an independent, self-governing unit, and in this sense autonomy is an appropriate word. But autonomy is not isolation. The early churches practiced a fullness of fellowship, cooperation, mutual assistance, and communication (The Church of Christ, A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today, p. 345).
Some brethren have established organizations under the heading "work of the church of Christ" when in reality it is robbing the church of its work. Some organizations among brethren today are not under an eldership, and therefore, they are not bringing glory to Christ and His church, but rather to some man-made organization. History brings to light the American Christian Missionary Society and the present age features the Christian Jubilee Inc. and Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Inc., which represent man-made organizations that have been created beyond the organization of the church of Christ. Jubilee and Disaster Relief teach by example and by their very existence imply that the church is inadequate for its task and they deny God's declaration of the all-sufficiency of His church! The church is all-sufficient for salvation. The Bible teaches that we are saved by the grace of God (Eph. 2:5, 8-10). In order for man to get into the grace of God, he must do his part which is through faith (Eph. 2:8). The Bible plainly teaches that we must hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17). After hearing the word of God we must develop a working faith (Heb. 11:6; James 2:14-26; Mark 16:16). Then we are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30). The Scriptures then instruct us to confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:1-4; Gal. 3:27). By obeying the Gospel plan of salvation we have forgiveness of sins, membership in the church of Christ, and are made heirs to the blessings found in Jesus Christ. This makes us a Christian only and the only Christians! The church of Christ pleads for a return to New Testament Christianity. We speak where the Bible speaks and keep silent where it is silent, calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways. "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
316 4th Street
Paintsville, KY 41240
The rationalists and certain nautralists have been telling the world for a few generations that anything in the Bible which is contrary to reason cannot be true. The foolishness of this proposition can be seen in that the fellow who makes such a silly assertion will not abide by his thesis. How reasonable is electricity? Moreover, whose reason will be the criteria in determining the validity of Biblical events?
Shall we select someone with a dull-normal or lesser reasoning ability to tell us all of that which is not true? Why not? When it comes to determining what man will accept and reject from the word of God, one man's reason is just as good as that of some moron.
I have never seen, smelled, touched, tasted and heard the devil--insofar as I know. I have certainly been the brunt of his influence, tactics, darts and wiles from within and without the church.
One of the most successful spheres in which Satan can accomplish his diabolical purposes is among church members. Tell me not that this isn't so. Satan dared to enter the garden of Eden and work havoc in the garden of God. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan came also among them" (Job 1:6). Do you think satan has ceased coming with the sons of God when they come before the Lord? I suspect Sunday is his busiest day in our part of the world.
Is it not true that satan had ruined six of seven congregations in Asia (Rev. 2-3)? The devil tried to destroy Jesus (Matt. 4:1ff). Do we not realize that satan is "...the accuser of our brethren" (Rev. 12:10)? He is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8). He is our enemy (Rev. 20:2). He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He rules as the prince of the power of the air, of darkness; and the god of this world (John 12:31; Eph. 2:2; 6:12; 2 Cor. 4:4).
It was satan who filled the hearts of two members of the church to lie and be lost (Acts 5:3). It was satan who put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray the Son of God (John 13:2). When the seed is sowed, it is the devil which snatches the word away (Matt. 13:19). It is satan who sows tares (Matt. 13:39).
Satan has his devices and wiles which he uses to destroy us (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11). If we will permit, satan will take advantage of us (2 Cor. 2:11). He will blind our eyes (2 Cor. 4:4). He will corrupt our minds (2 Cor. 11:3). This will be accomplished by the devil transforming himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:4). He will hinder us (1 Thess. 2:18). The devil will use snares to capture us (1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26).
The Bible teaches us to put on the whole armour of God in order to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11). We must resist the devil (James 4:7). We must resist satan steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:8). It is possible for Christians to keep themselves (1 John 5:18). We can overcome satan (1 John 2:13).
I shudder to think of what it will be to suffer the eternal fires of hell. Brethren, there will be no reprieve, no way out, no ending of torment. There will be "...the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).
What possesses the minds of our preachers when they refuse to tell lost sinners about the fate of those who refuse to obey the Gospel? It may not cause people to feel good when they hear about "...that old serpent called the devil" (Rev. 12:9). Do you not think God wants us to know about him? If not, we should cut out of the Bible all those verses which tell us about the devil. Why not?
--Wayne Coats, Editor
Christians have heard and discussed the above caption ever since the post-apostolic age. Probably there were Christians during the early stages of the church that may have thought "if we could only get rid of Peter or Paul we could really flourish." The Bible, of course, is silent on this subject; however, it would be interesting to know how the early Christians felt about the preachers of their day. Preaching the gospel for three decades, followed by a permanent disability, has caused this writer to give serious reflection on this serious problem.
Preachers are a unique collection of people. Those who preach the unsearchable riches of Christ are perhaps the most criticized group upon the planet. Preachers should not "preach" unless they have an absolute passion to do so. A small "voice" does not call a preacher in the middle of the night to witness a vision, thus confirming his call to preach. The Gospel of Christ calls us all in the same manner (2 Thess. 2:14), whether in a public assembly or in a private setting, such as a home Bible study. Those, who want to preach the Gospel of Christ must have a compelling need or compulsion to preach and teach his fellow man about Christ.
Most Gospel preachers of this writer's acquaintance have been unselfish, sacrificed immensely, denied of adequate pay, including insurance and retirement plans and other fringe benefits. May we hasten to say that the financial remuneration and other benefits have improved in the last ten to fifteen years for preachers and their families? We trust and pray that this situation will improve, especially for those in difficult mission areas. An elder once said to this writer, "I am proud to say that we are the cheapest church in town when it comes to paying our preacher!" What a sad commentary concerning that congregation, but more than that, they were proud of it. The financial compensation and fringe benefits to the preacher and his family are vitally important. Giving the preacher and family unequivocal support from the church and in particular the elders' moral support is invaluable. Preachers do not preach because of kind and supporting words, yet such encouragement will recharge the battery when required. Much more could be done and should be done to keep preachers in the field doing the job that God has intended for them to do. Recently, this preacher received a questionnaire from a school of preaching in the northwest. They were trying to discover why preachers are leaving the pulpit for secular work; also, why is there such a turnover with ministers moving from place to place. This writer could never understand why one would say, "that preacher loves to move every year or so." Such a statement is insanity to think that moving a preacher and his family from place to place is a practice that we relish and enjoy. Preachers usually move for three reasons: 1) He has accomplished all that is possible and realizing his usefulness has diminished -- a move would be in the best interest of the preacher and the congregation. 2) If elders of the Lord's church permit false teaching and there is no resolution by the elders, then a move would be in order. 3) Occasionally the personality of the preacher, elders, deacons, or others in the congregation can stymie and thwart the work; accordingly after much deliberation and thought a move would be required. These are not easy decisions to make; in fact contemplating such a solution is quite painful for the preacher and his family. Jesus said, "all things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12). Preachers normally move into a city or community where they are total strangers. Practice the golden rule by treating the preacher and his family as you would want to be treated. Preachers and their families are on display twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The family in too many cases is on the receiving end of much criticism that has negative repercussions on the preacher and his work.
A preacher and his family moved to an excellent location where exceptional growth occurred. To accommodate the growth of the congregation it would require additional space to construct such an educational wing. Things were flourishing as more brethren were participating in the evangelistic programs of the church. Suddenly, the elders asked the preacher to meet with them following a Wednesday night service. The elders and preacher began talking when abruptly they gave a letter to the preacher without any warning or explanation. The letter stated that they no longer needed his services. The preacher desperately wanted to know why they were firing him, but the elders were unable to offer a single reason for such a decision. Standing within the foyer, the wife and daughter of the preacher was anxiously waiting to hear some explanation. The elders stunned the devastated family as the emotional preacher revealed to his wife and daughter the crushing news. The preacher confronted with this kind of announcement is not the first, nor the last minister that would have their family wrecked in such disarray. Unfortunately, the church of Christ at this given location would suffer enormous heartache over which they would not overcome. The elders have the authority to decide, but sensible consideration and the practice of the golden rule surely would give the preacher some reason for the dismissal. This decision has virtually caused the church to be only a shadow of what it had formerly been.
Many effective preachers take their work seriously and will deal with problems directly and promptly. Paul said, "Preach the word, be instant (urgent ASV) in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2). Some congregations whose members are always grumbling and complaining about the preacher, like, "He makes me feel guilty about my life," is a common occurrence. The New Testament makes it clear that preachers are to discharge and fulfill their duty without fail. He is striving to please God and not men/women (Gal. 1:10). The Gospel preacher must answer to God in judgment for the way he has handled the word of truth and how he discharged his duty. This humble servant has always recognized the eldership's authority and how they must rule the church within the guidelines of Holy Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The local congregation and her elders must realize that preachers are as different as the sand on the sea shore. Some are dynamic in the pulpit and can stir the hearts of men and women. Other preachers excel in the classroom and can teach a wonderful class, while others are very effective in going from house to house to teach home Bible studies. Some preachers are superb when visiting the sick and afflicted, while others are exceptional in conducting funerals and interacting well with the bereaved family. The parable of the talents in Matt. 25:14-30, shows that, as servants, we all have varied and different abilities that have their own peculiar value.
Some preachers are no doubt lazy, shiftless, and passive in their work as a local evangelist. The elders not only have the right, but the duty to rebuke their preacher. If he fails to comply with the reprimand, then he should be relieved of his duty. We are keenly aware of congregations who seem to feel that the preacher has a lifetime appointment, much like a Supreme Court justice. Conversely, congregations will dismiss their preacher because he is tackling serious issues that threaten, the spiritual welfare of the church he is serving. A preacher, an elder or deacon, may no longer meet the qualifications for that lofty work as authorized in the New Testament
On May 17, 2000, Jeff Walling, preacher for the Providence Road Church of Christ in Charlotte, North Carolina, appeared on the denominational program "Praise the Lord" which airs on Trinity Broadcast Network. Walling was the guest of Gary Oliver of Gary Oliver Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas. Other guests included a lady "pastor," a "Reverend" Tommy Tenney, and Jentezen Franklin ("pastor" for the Church of God). Instrumental music was used during the program.
The Bible clearly warns that we are not to have fellowship with those who teach error: "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: For he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 9-11). Contrary to what these verses teach, "Pastor Walling" (as he was called a number of times on the program) has demonstrated on several occasions his love for the fellowship of those who are in error.
Walling's appearance on this program should not surprise us, but it should cause us to speak out in righteous indignation because of the shame and reproach he brought on the precious body of Christ. He did this by fellowshipping those who teach and practice error and division. What is even worse is that parents and congregational leaders in the church all over the country will send their youth to hear Walling at Winterfest in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or some other location. Church leaders, don't be surprised when later in life your young people join themselves to denominations. Don't mourn over such when it happens--because you encouraged them to go hear such men as Jeff Walling who support denominationalism! Preachers and elders who encourage their young people to go hear such false teachers will have the Lord Jesus Christ to answer to on the day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).
False teachers constitute a threat to the purity and unity of the Lord's church. They must be refuted and exposed--not supported and encouraged!
--P.O. Box 147, Ooltewah, TN 37363
Selected from The N.E. Tarrant
Church of Christ bulletin
We have had innumerable opinion polls reported this year regarding the behavior of our president and what should be done about him (although no one I know has been polled). The first part of November, we took the only poll that counts--the vote--and it proved what many had been saying: that the American people no longer care about morality in their leaders. I had personally hoped for better. But why should I have?
In spite of the doctrine of democracy and majority rule in politics, in religion and morality the majority has nearly always been wrong. Even in a constitutional republic (such as ours is supposed to be), there are severe limits on the majority, and absolute rights that the minority is supposed to have (whether fashionable or not). Of course, such Amendments to the Constitution as the Ninth and Tenth have not been heard from in years.
In the Bible the entire human race was wrong in the Garden of Eden and fell from the favor of God. At the time of the Flood, we are told in Genesis 6:5, "And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." However, we are told that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and He saved Noah and seven others in the ark. The overwhelming majority was wrong. The great majority was wrong at the tower of Babel and so were scattered throughout the earth (Gen. 11).
God chose one man, Abraham and his seed, out of the majority of the earth, and separated him from the rest of mankind. The rest of the Old Testament is the story of Abraham's seed and the many times they went back from their separation unto God into the vast majority of the world and the many times God punished them for their unfaithfulness.
God finally brought his Son into the world and the majority rejected Him and crucified Him. "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not" (John 1:10-11). His apostles, according to tradition, all died violent deaths in the preaching of the Gospel, save John. The church was received by some and rejected by most. When it began to be widely accepted in the fourth century, it was no longer the church of Jesus Christ, but the apostate church. For more than 1,000 years the church went into eclipse as far as this world was concerned. When truth awoke, error was already awake and far ahead. Denominationalism, infidelity, and worldliness had been well established in this world by the time of the Restoration Movement and were in the great majority.
Christ taught that His people would always be in the minority. "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).
So it is today. In religion, who has the truth, the majority or the minority? Who is faithful to the Lord, the majority or the minority? In morality, who takes right and wrong seriously, the majority or the minority? Who is concerned about the killing of the unborn and the partially born, the majority or the minority? Who is concerned about the killing of the old, the sick, and the useless, the majority or the minority? Who is concerned about the rapid spread of gambling in our society and the financing of public works through encouragement of games of chance, the majority or the minority? Who is concerned about the taking of drugs for recreational purposes (including alcohol), the majority or the minority?
The mistake I have made, and that others may have made, is in thinking it was ever different. Since when has it been different? It has never been different and it never will be different. Let us stop fooling ourselves. This world is not our home and this includes this society and culture. Our task is to preach and teach the Gospel and lead the few souls who will hear Him to the Lord.
5307 Vista Court
San Antonio, TX 78247
Tis interesting that the bulletin from Rubel Shelly's church states, "help us contact students who may be interested in being involved here at Woodmont Hills...send us their names and send them to us." You may rest assured that every Lipscomb student will be recruited to join the Shelly Church along with all of those who already march to the cadence of Shelly. Many parents do not intend to learn what is happening at Lipscomb. They seemingly do not care.
Our readers will recall how Doug Varnado who preached at the Hendersonville Community cultic church exited Lipscomb University when he sought to introduce the "infamous box" (instrumental music) into the worship of his church. He was either fired or resigned. The report surfaced that he was fired. Poor Doug! Comes now a report from the church bulletin of Rubel Shelly's church that John York will "...join the staff in a preaching role to augment our total teaching ministry." John "teaches on the full-time faculty at David Lipscomb University." With some Lipscomb professors serving as elders at Shelly's Church and professors John York and Mark Black preaching and teaching at Shelly's Church along with all those other people from Lipscomb who attend Shelly's Church, there is no question that the University has sold out to the devil's crowd. Some supporters of Lipscomb are so blind that they would have trouble seeing the sun at mid-day.
Shelly is having his way without opposition from scarcely any quarter in and around Nashville. Tis strange that Varnado had to go, whereas the Shelly family can be encouraged and supported by the Lipscomb family. Liberals never make any sense.
Another heartbreaking bit of news has arrived detailing the death of two more of my dear friends.
Brother Thomas Warren was buried two weeks ago after a long, lingering, series of physical problems. Many will recall years ago when brother Warren had heart surgery and an entire brotherhood joined together in prayer for him. Those were days when heart surgery seemed far more serious than present difficulties appear to be, but there comes a time when the physical body completely wears out.
We cannot tell the great good which our dear brother accomplished as a speaker, preacher, debater, and writer. He leaves behind a legacy for which every faithful member of the church can be thankful.
Brother Warren was my friend. I distinctly remember on one occasion when I thought he stretched the facts quite a bit. I had been assigned a very difficult subject (to me) to speak about, explain and refute during a lectureship. I burned mid-night oil in my library as well as the University Library. I had plenty of time to do my research and memorize the points to present. I never could understand why a preacher would need to read his speech or be glued to a tablet of notes when he had two, three, or more months to learn his piece.
After I had presented my piece, brother Warren got up and declaimed, "I know a scholar when I hear one and brother Coats is a scholar among us." Other kind words were expressed but I just thought brother Warren meant well. Anyway, I wished my wife could have heard him.
I can truly say that not soon, and probably never will, the likes of Thomas Warren be among the faithful.
One of the dearest friends I have ever had, was mowing the grass in his front yard last week when a truck jumped the curb and ran across the yard killing brother Wayne Crawley instantly. This is heartbreaking to me. Brother Crawley was so deeply concerned about the crass liberalism and compromise which creeps into the church. He would call me often and also write me, usually asking about some Bible question or church problem.
Whenever a lectureship would be held in middle Tennessee, brother Crawley would always find time to attend and his attention and interest was so very evident. He always had such kind expressions which he uttered relative to the Plumbline, and how many subscriptions he obtained, I have no earthly idea. It really hurts me to think of so many of my friends crossing over the borders of time, but with faith and hope, ere long I shall join that endless march. Truly, "we are going down the valley one by one."
I keep working on the book, "The Garden of Nuts." I describe events, episodes and situations which have happened because of a bunch of cranks, nuts, fools and blind guides. I suspect you might be aware of a few nuts in your area: preachers, elders, deacons, ministers--and such forth. Send me the information--no names please. I do not have the strength to argue with idiots, nor do I have time to waste with such ill-bred characters. That the church is chock full of nuts nationwide is a fact which should not be denied.
In a previous issue of the Plumbline, we mentioned the malcontented misfit who left the Adams Ave. congregation in Lebanon, Tennessee, when the elders refused to kow-tow to his utter stupidity. He came down to the Villages congregation and brainwashed some four or five men and convinced them to agree with him in his fool-hearty notions.
A few Sundays ago, the sower of discord went up to the Powell's Grove congregation and placed membership. I do wonder what the little handful of people at the Villages church are thinking, now that they have lost their almighty referee. It is certainly true that "you cannot tell some people anything." Sawdust is a poor substitute for brains.
The writer of Proverbs said, "Answer not a fool according to his folly." There are some fools too crass and absurd for one to waste precious time or energy dealing with, then there are some fools who need to be answered (Prov. 26:5).
A good and faithful brother informs me that while attending a recent lectureship, he learned that the Villages preacher in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., stated that he was "job hunting." After locating with a congregation in Lousiana (after six months he was "job hunting"), he went to Texas and after staying with a congregation some six months he was "job hunting." Without checking into the background of the fellow, a few men in the Villages congregation hired the man. Members immediately began to leave. What had once been a completely happy, working, united congregation is now a disgrace to the cause of Christ. I speak the truth and lie not.
It was also learned that "brother Coats has elevated the position of trustees to that of elders." Such is a misrepresentation of facts, contrary to what I have believed and taught relative to the work of faithful elders. Such a brazen lie will not be accepted by my friends and if I have enemies, I couldn't care less what they think.
The elders have the responsibility to "watch for your souls" (Heb. 13:17). We all know that elders can sometimes lead the flock astray. It is certainly the case that "the men of the church can destroy a congregation especially when dim-wit preachers play politics with those who sow discord among brethren (Prov. 6:19).
Did you hear about the job hunting preacher who wrote the brethren and said, "I don't guess you brethren know nobody what wants nobody to preach fer them nowhur don't you?" The last I heard, he was still job hunting.
Have you read Ephesians 2:21 lately? The passage deals with the whole body being "fitly framed together." One "job hunting" preacher kept reading the verse and each time he would say, "filthy framed." Such is the practice of some among us.
Then there was the preacher who always ended his prayers, "...in the name of thine only forgotten son." Another preacher spoke at length about the ten vig-ins. I heard his spiel.