A Dreaded Subject

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

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Death is so final! People are here—so here, so relevant in life. But, when they go—oh, how gone they are! Here one minute and gone the next; this is what life is. It happens so quickly—so instantly—that the shock of a loved-one’s departure is as much surrounding the speed of it as is the void forced upon us. Who is ever ready, truly ready, for a loved one to cross over into eternity? Sure, there are times when someone lingers with a debilitating sickness, leaving family members to think that their departure, whenever it happens, will be better, at least for the one suffering. But even in cases such as this, when death finally happens, the stability we daily feel receives tremendous shockwaves, leaving us at the very least with a feeling of awkwardness. For something so normal to life experience, there is nothing normal about death; so final—so life changing.

Just lately, several in our church family have lost loved ones in death. Some have lost fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and life-long friends. I have lost three friends in death over the last couple of weeks. I preached the funeral of a life-long friend and brother in Christ, James Rickard a week or so ago. I wish everybody knew “Rick!” He was an Alabama boy, and grew up within a few miles of my home in northwest Alabama. He was such a great Christian man. He was an elder in the congregation I left to come here several years ago. He was 94 years old when he died, and the picture of health right up until the end when he got sick with pneumonia, and just never pulled out of it.

I must tell this story about Rick. You know my love for Restoration History, and the plea for restoring New Testament Christianity in our present age. Rick had the same love. Our commonality was based on our mutual love for doing Bible things in Bible ways. Often we talking about the grand old preachers of yesteryear. Several years ago, in my research I came across a clipping out of the Birmingham News from 1926. The title of the article was, “Venerable Gentleman, 104, of Vina, Ala., Has Baptized 8,000.” The man’s name was John H. Dale (1822-1927), and the story went on to tell of how he was born in Ireland and moved to Illinois as a young lad, where he met, and was baptized by Barton W. Stone (1772-1844). Intriguing, right? Other than the obvious things like his age and the number of people he baptized, what hit me was that the article said this old fellow lived in Vina. After doing a little math, I realized that Rick was about six years old when this article was written, and he was from Vina. I called him immediately and asked if he had heard of this old gentleman. After a short pause on the phone, I heard him say, “Why, I have not heard that name in over 75 years!” He proceeded to tell me that as a little boy, “brother Dale,” as everyone called him, was an old, old man! He said that every time the doors were open brother Dale was at church, and that he remembered that he would always go and shake hands with that old preacher. After hearing this, I began telling folks at church that I shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of someone who was baptized by Barton W. Stone. Of course, I had to tell that story again at Rick’s funeral. My, how we will miss him!

A few days later, I received news that one of my childhood friends had died. His name was Barry Findlay. Barry was a Christian, and attended the Tara congregation where my father, Richard Harp, preaches. Barry was a few years older than me, but how fond are my memories of our youth, and the times we were very much in each other’s company. Sadly, I was unable to attend his funeral last Sunday, but I heard several of our friends were in attendance.

Then, Monday I received the news of another childhood friend who passed away suddenly on Sunday afternoon. Alan Nelson was supposed to be at the funeral for our friend Barry, but he was not there. People wondered why he was not there, since when news of Barry’s passing, Alan had called Barry’s mother to express his deep sympathy, and offered to do anything to help in her time of grief. He offered to cut her grass, get some groceries, or anything else she needed. Alan was like that—like all of the good-hearted kids who grew up together as members of the Forest Park church of Christ in the 1970s. Alan would have been at the funeral, but he was not. Later, we found out why. He was in the process of meeting his Maker while others were mourning the loss of another.

Oh, the transitory nature of life. My prayers are before the Father of lights, who is the giver of all good gifts, for those of our church family who have suffered loss over the last several days. Carmen Hodnett lost her father last week. Charlie and Janis Ruhl had a niece suffer death. Jeanette Woodall, Kay Baker and Helen Conolty all suffered the loss of a sister. Charlie Boyd had a brother-in-law die. Shelley Thomson experienced the loss of her mother. Shelby Horn had two cousins die within days of each other. Last Tuesday evening, Charbeth Mills experienced the sad loss of her father. Then, Thursday our world was turned upside down with the accidental death of our Canon Callender.

Why is it that the mention of the word “death” is so frightening to us? Is it the separation? The finality? Is it the fear of the unknown? Certainly, all of these play a role in promoting fear of death. But, death is a part of life. For the Christian, it holds a magnetic allure of anticipation. Knowing what will happen after, the opportunity to have a new body, an immortal one that will never need medical assistance. Never will there be decay. Knowing all that, Paul said, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55 ESV) These verses tell us that when the day comes of our departure, with all the dread we may have incurred about it throughout our lives, once it happens, the first thing we will think is, “Why, that was no big deal! There was no sting like everybody said it would be, only victory!!”

Death can hold promise of greater things. While it is not ours to determine who will or will not be there, heaven holds much attraction to us due to the earnest belief that obedience to God’s Word will bring about that end. Thus, we ascribe ourselves to this eventuality with anticipation of being forever more with God.

Thankful For Our Mothers

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

motherphotoweb         “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 113:9. God is good! His kindnesses toward mankind have been plentiful and enduring. Women have continued down through time to adorn history with its greatest leaders, its cruelest abusers, and everything in between. While time’s earliest mother failed miserably on several levels, its greatest mother delivered humanity’s Savior in a cattle barn. Good women have sought desperately down through the ages to have children and failed, while evil women who had no business whatsoever in bringing a child into the world have seemed to be able to pop children out like flies. While the poor choices of the first woman initiated intensity in pain to bring children into the world, countless millions have gladly endured such intense struggles that took them to the door of death, only to be able to sit and hold that precious child after it was born.


He Wants To Ask You For A Favor!

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

options art         Think for a few moments about favors. People ask for favors all the time. It is a part of life. So, why do people ask favors, and what causes those being asked to fulfill them? Now, before you answer this apparently simple question, think first of all about why people ask favors. The reasons are varied, but generally people ask favors when there is a need or lacking somewhere. For instance, if your neighbor calls and asks you for a ride to the grocery store because his car is being worked on, generally your response is to do the neighborly thing and take him to the store.

The Restoration Movement

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bookold Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. . .” Jeremiah 6:16.

         Since the year 2000, it has been my enjoyment and privilege to produce a website totally dedicated to the history of churches of Christ in the world. Some information that appears on the website involves international focus, and includes material about early church history and the period known as the European Reformation. But, the majority of the work on the website is about the work in North America, often referred to as the American Restoration Movement.

It's A Miracle!

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bible art         It has been my pleasure to see many remarkable sights in this world. Things that have been enacted in my presence have been nothing short of astounding and borderline unbelievable. Showmen, admittedly by slight of hand, have made things appear to be a certain way when in fact they were not. Once I saw David Copperfield make a jet disappear and then reappear. Seeing a person sawn in half on a stage and put back together falls in this category. People who disappear into thin air and reappear in another location nearby may seem beyond belief, but a magician’s art is masterful at such entertainment.

Minding Your Garden

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

 mind        What a storehouse the mind truly is! Its amazing capacity for grasping concepts is nothing short of mind-boggling. The ability to take a thought and store it in the mind upon an invisible shelf and to recall it at a millisecond’s notice is remarkable. How big would the mind be if every thought were physical? Why, your mind would literally be bigger than the universe simply because you just thought of the universe. How blessed we are that God has made it possible that every passing consideration is not physical, making it easy to store in the small, but ever so deep, recesses of the mind.

         What would your life be like if you acted upon all your thoughts? Perhaps many good citizens would be in jail! However, more would probably break out of jail if we did all that was in our minds. It is a fanciful thing to think that all of one’s acts could be acted upon, for it is impossible. But, such an idea does lend itself to thinking about what a powerful tool the mind really is.

How To Hack The Happiness Molecule

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

happiness webarticleAn office is a good place to find new things. From time to time, someone will slip new things to read or see in my office mailbox. A week or so ago, I came in on my usual Tuesday morning routine (my usual Monday when the other one is not), and when I looked into my box, someone (Thanks to whoever did!) had placed in my box a most interesting article by Paul J. Zak. You can read his credentials below, but to shorten it a good bit, he is a smart guy. Anyway, his research into human behavior is most refreshing, and some of the suggestions he makes are, well, out and out Biblical, though he does not claim it to be so. I have added his article here for your reading.

Sweet Logs In Bitter Water

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

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         Imagine for a moment that you are not a Christian. O.K., some reading this may not have to imagine this, but most folks who read this would have to imagine it. So, assuming that you are Christian, imagine for a moment that you are not. In fact, as long as we are imagining, picture having never heard of God in your lifetime. What if the only sense of God you understood was that God was in, well, things or people? What if your understanding of God was found in whatever you, or someone over you decided things to be? If this was the case, how might the Creator of the universe prove Himself to be true and worthy of trust?

Discovering - Theme 2014

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

Discovery2014 webWho discovered America? Now before you answer, “Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492,” stop and think about it a while.

It is so nice to live in a truly informed world! Yes, archaeologists have discovered Norse-type settlements in the northern part of Newfoundland that have led them to believe that Leif Erickson and his Vikings discovered America in 1000A.D. But before we get too conclusive with our investigation, let us not forget the Indians. No, not the Cleveland Indians or the Atlanta Braves! The Indians! Native Americans! When did Native Americans discover the northern continent? In reality, no one will ever truly know who was the earliest to come here.

What A Year!

Written by Scott Harp on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

servereview web2013 has been a most wonderful year. The Buford congregation of the Lord’s people has experienced some tremendous blessings. Some of our family members here have suffered setbacks, and may be even happy to see this year come to an end due to difficulties they have experienced. Before you write the year off entirely, think about some of the good things that happened that we sure do not want to forget.