Sunday, May 13, 2012


Saturday, May 12, 2012

RIDING THE RAILS - Maintaining balance

Trains, well more so, their tracks have always fascinated me. How an engine weighing tons and sometimes pulling tons and tons of cars behind it can travel on two parallel strips of very smooth steel is fascinating.

The train travels on a "gauge" - a 4-foot, eight-and-a-half inch width - which is the standard in the U.S. at least for most of its history. But what keeps the train traveling on its predetermined route is the inner lip on the train's drive wheels that presses equally to both sides of the two rails. And as long as that balance remains the train stays "on track."

Balance between two extremes is what keeps the train true even in curves and hills and descents...

So it is with preaching and the work of the gospel.... if one rails looses "gauge" there is shipwreck (or train wreck) ... doesn't matter which side looses gauge..... the result is the same. Wreck. Going left or right in safety, for the train, is when both rails maintain the gauge.

Balance is the first rule -- and the second and the third.

Every situation we face can be presented from the extremes.... but keeping the Biblical "gauge" in all things is not only good but imperative!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Drew a Line

I once drew a line in the sand,
I drew it straight and deep.
Then I wondered upon which side to stand;
Right or left? North or South? Ah, which shall I keep?

Though the line was mine and done by my hand,
I suddenly realized that a divide I must keep.
My world afore had had no dividing plan
Yet now I was forced upon a place to seek.

Not quickly to the left or right for I am not such a hasty man.
To go to one is to approve that certain place and cause the other to reek,
But which shall I choose and to which shall I eventually land?
What if afterwards a love of mine came from the other side of my line straight and deep?

Ah, the waters that roll and erase with foaming tide upon the sand
Are far from reaching my line that formed a divide that I now must keep
Regardless of what others may do the line I drew has caused me to stand
Where the right or left that was not there afore decides what I shall reap.

The stranger that passes by no doubt does not understand
Why I drew a line so straight and deep.
And sometimes I wonder about my line-drawing plan
But a man without a line so straight and deep is a man over which to weep.

So I drew a line in the sand so very straight and deep choose which side to take.

Pastor James Groce
jlg '09

God's Farmers

A Man to Till the Ground

“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.” - Gen 2:5

I happened upon a book recently titled, “An Edible History of Humanity.” The author, Tom Standage, began his work by writing how that man took several centuries to move from the “hunter/gatherer” type of existence to the “farmer.” As I read his assumptions about how that process took place I recalled how that in Genesis 2:5 the Bible had stated that in God’s process of creation there was a time before Adam when there was no cultivation of the land because “there was not a man to till the ground.”

So with the forming of Adam and God giving him breath there came into the world a “farmer.” Mister Standage was incorrect – because the “farmer” came before the “hunter/gatherer.”This fact, concerning Adam as a tiller of the soil, caused my mind to traipse across the ages and see God’s newly fashioned man plowing the earth from which he was created. This event is made clear in the farther verses of Genesis 2 where they tell us: “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. . . And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

The spiritual application of this situation presents an intriguing set of circumstances. First, the fact that Adam must “farm” (till) the very ground from which he owed his existence seems to shout the message of evangelization. Adam must seek to turn the ground into something productive – to not let it remain the grower of weeds but rather a source of productivity—through his labor and the “seeds” that God has supplied him with. The only method of turning the earth into something profitable for God was to work with it in order to make it a place for the good seed. (The parable of the sower comes also to mind).

Also we might envision how that only through careful husbandry is it possible to produce a very different plant from its worldly counterpart. The nurturing of corn, for instance, changed it dramatically from the wild Mexican grass that it derived from. The maize that grows into a full and large ear of corn was once only a small and wild grass with little “fruit.” But God’s farmer, Adam, tilled the ground and “dressed” it causing a transformation under God’s radiant sun and rich earth.Without farther elaboration, I think we can see how that God Who called us into the ministry desired a “man to till the ground.”

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” 1Co 3:6-9


Thursday, March 05, 2009


What is “false doctrine?” At first glance, this question appears to be easily answered. False doctrine is the opposite of true doctrine. Now, that is a correct answer—but there is more that is demanded of such a question. For instance, if a man teaches something that is incorrect because of a mistaken concept of, let’s say, the gathering of the animals into the ark—by saying that ALL the animals were in pairs, by twos only (when it is clear that there are two divisions of the groups-by twos and by sevens.) But the point of this is—is the man that is unlearned, for the moment, teaches “by twos only” a false teacher? He is in error but is the “false teacher” label truly deserved? Is this preacher an anti-Christ?

I think that we shall see that there are degrees and nuances for those that are correct on salvific points and err in some way in other non-salvific doctrines. Even though there may exist a measure of error in some non-salvific teachings (of which we might all be surprised to learn that we ALL fall into such a group -- yes sir, I am certain there are points in which we all err) it does not make that teacher one that is inspired by demons. However, there are those teachers that are demon-inspired and teach “doctrines of devils.” These teachers ALWAYS broach salvific doctrine. These are the ones Paul addressed as “preaching another gospel, which is not another.” These teachers are false teachers—These doctrines, and many others like them, are doctrines of demons, and those that are used in such a way are truly false teachers—they are anti-Christ in nature. Also doctrines taught that lead men to destruction, such as worldly acceptance, are doctrines of destruction because they led men astray—“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord…”

When we look into 1 Cor. 3: 10-17

we see a clear distinction of the differences in teachers:1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 1Co 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 1Co 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 1Co 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

(1) There are the teachers who build with gold, silver and precious stones.
(2) There are the teachers who build with wood, hay, and stubble.
(3) Then there are the teachers who destroy the temple of God.

The first teacher, his lesson, is using true doctrine and stands the test. The second teacher’s lesson has used improper (incorrect) material, or at least some of his material was incorrect, that will not stand the test—this teacher has erred somewhat in his lesson. The last teacher is a continual destroyer and is destroyed himself—this teacher is a true false teacher in that he teaches doctrines of devils that destroy men (a false salvation).

The bottom line is; IF the doctrine taught is in error and that error causes the destruction of a soul then that doctrine is false—and is taught by a false teacher. IF the doctrine taught has certain inaccuracies unknowingly to the teacher but was not a destroyer of souls and that teacher teaches true salvific doctrines then that teacher is a “mistaken teacher” and not a true “false teacher” as those which receive the wrath of God.We, of course, do not condone even “mistaken teachers” yet we ALL have been mistaken teachers and will be again—we should, however, seek doctrinal purity with our whole heart. We as preachers need not only to preach and teach but also to receive preaching and teaching from others-there is safety in an honorable and instructive brotherhood.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Calvary - Then, Now & Forever

Hebrews 13:8

I think that one must consider the several unique perspectives of Calvary in order to get a full orbed view of the Divine Work of God.From God's perspective Calvary has always been a "finished" work. "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Calvary in the Logos was predetermined, prearranged, premeditated and preemptive in the Mind of God. It was another one of those actions that only God can speak of as "things that are not (as to time) as though they were (already done in the plan of God as to His Will)." From man's perspective it was an unfolding drama of the Work of God. The past, present and future all had their play in the events. Man, as he is propelled along by time, was either touched by Calvary as to history or as to reality or as to a future event. The arms of the cross reach into all tenses. "In the fullness of time" is from man's perspective.

The Acts 2:38 message is the only way whereby Calvary becomes a living reality.Therefore the Cross is and always has been a "done deal" but was also a prophetic event of the future while it was also a "current event" and it was also a "historical" event. Calvary though historical is still contemporary because it IS; Calvary is an ever flowing power that keeps pace with every generation and never diminishes nor wanes. It is a living force brought about by the death of a Sinless Sacrifice. Calvary lives because death cannot relegate it to the pages of history only; Calvary defies time because it is eternal.Calvary, is-was-and shall be; it is an event before its time and of its time and without time. It is the stellar miracle of eternity. No wonder the preaching of the cross IS the power of God!


Why didn't God come immediately after the fall of Adam? That question has been asked many times. But scriptures such as contained in Gal 4 give a hint to the answer:Gal 4:4-5 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.Fulness of time: A time when all the prophecies would center on Him, and when there could be no doubt about their fulfillment. A time predicted so far before the event as to make it impossible to be mere human conjecture.Fulness of time: After the passage of thousands of years in order to prove to man that man could NEVER redeem himself. All such attempts miserably failed. Men were "without God and without hope" in their own devices. Only God could affect a salvation that would truly redeem!Fulness of time: The law could only testify to the failure of man and condemn him so Jesus Christ was "made under the law" to "redeem them that were under the law." He came into the system of condemnation--yet was not condemned Himself in oder to rescue those that were condemned. "Yet without sin." to die for those that were IN sin.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Hatfield & McCoy Syndrome

In West Virginia-Kentucky backcountry along the Tug Fork River, lived two families (that turned into warring clans) in the late 1800’s. The first recorded instance of violence in the famous feuding, as legends go, occurred after a dispute about the ownership of a hog. It became, after much feuding over this and that, that the mere mention of “Hatfield” to a McCoy brought instant angst as likewise did the mere mention of “McCoy” did to a Hatfield.

No matter how “right” a statement might have been if the statement in any way spoke other than evil of the opposing clan it was rejected and belittled. The glasses that the McCoys wore were always Hatfield-colored and the spectacles of the Hatfields were always McCoy-colored. This warped perspective blinded the wearer to any good within the other clan—even the children.

I tremble to think that sometimes I may have slipped on a pair of some colored glasses that rather than aids my sight actually blinds me. I read the words in Revelation imploring the Ladocieans to buy eye-salve that they might see and realize how easy it is to think that we see when, in fact, we are blind.

Perspective is everything—someone has said. Indeed, the perspective we need is one far above the walls of flesh and prejudices of men; far above my friends and my enemies as well—the God-eye-view is what we need to pray fervently for! Are there certain “KEY WORDS” that trigger blindness in us? Do we allow an enemy to blind us of the good about him? Do we let our puny human emotions of pride prevent us from clear sight? Does “our clan” prevent us from seeing rightly “their clan?”

“How do you see?” Asked Jesus to the man that just received his sight. “I see men as trees walking.” He replied. And Jesus touched him again—and he saw all men clearly. I, for one, need God to touch my eyes—again—so that I can see all men clearly.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Real Paradox

Proverbs 26:4-5 -- A real paradox.

The first clause: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.”
The second clause: “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit”

These two proverbial statements, which appear to be at odds, are found side-by-side. Do they contradict one another? No, they do not. Their placement denotes design, not disorder. These verses call for caution in responding to the “fool.” The term "fool" here denotes one who is spiritually senseless--an individual who is willfully spiritually blinded.

"Answer"—which means that the fool has made a statement that was intended to elicit some response. Note that not all circumstances are equal in nature. Therefore, there are times to answer an opponent, and there are times when he ought to be ignored. And the wise preacher must know when to do one or the other.

Recall the question --“By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Rather than answering their questions directly—because they were not honest inquiries—the Lord asked: “Was John’s baptism from heaven or from men?” To which they replied: “We don’t know,” for they carefully calculated the problem of the question--if they denied the validity of John’s baptism, they would be in trouble with the people—who believed in John’s ministry. And if they admitted the truth of John’s baptism, they would be asked: “Why did you not believe him?” So Jesus told them He would NOT answer according to their folly.
Also notice that when Herod interrogated Jesus with “many words.” Jesus “answered him nothing."

God's preachers will time and again have to make decisions about with whom, and how much time, is to be expended in responding to those who oppose the truth. Separating the “dogs” and “hogs” from the others is no easy chore sometimes. A prayer for wisdom in making the appropriate response, or non-response, to those with whom the preacher must deal with daily is greatly needed.