The Imperishable Word

By Tom Wacaster

The chance of an asteroid or comet of any significant size hitting the earth in a single year is something like 1 in 300,000. Of course there are some astronomers who speak of a massive asteroid now on a collision course with earth, but they readily admit that the possibility of that "doomsday catastrophe" occurring is still pretty slim. After all, it is most difficult to be precise when said asteroid is not expected to arrive here until the year 2132. For the most part, scientists admit that this universe is very stable. So stable, in fact, that we still have to adjust our watches and chronometers every so often to bring man made time mechanisms into line with the universe. Until the Lord comes back to take us home and judge the world in righteousness, we can lay our head to rest each evening with the full assurance that tomorrow morning the sun will rise as normal, that the heavenly bodies will continue their orbits around the sun, and that winter, summer, fall, and spring will continue to come and go, all according to the divine laws that God set in motion more than 6,000 years ago. The ancients had the same confidence in a stable universe, so much so that if they wanted something that was sure and stable, they would look to the hills, or the mountains for that strength. This brings us to an interesting statement made by the Lord in Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Let an ordinary man make such a declaration and we might question his sanity. Nonetheless, there have been, and will continue to be those who have an exaggerated estimation of themselves, and they wear their pride like an ornament about their neck. The German philosopher Nietzsche was just such a man. He actually declared that he had given the deepest book to mankind and that he was the most independent spirit in Europe. I understand that Nietzsche ended his days in a mental asylum. Thomas Pain was so bold as to declare that his book, Age of Reason, would replace the Bible. Both of these men, and others like them, are nothing more than shooting stars that, for a brief moment, light up the dark skies of human philosophy, only to burn out as quickly as they come on the scene. In the end the only thing they achieve is to leave the masses questioning their sanity.

But Jesus of Nazareth? When we think of Jesus we think of the prophet's declaration that "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street" (Isa. 42:2). Jesus was not some kind of street barker, mounting the proverbial soap box to advance some social cause, or to right some injustice perpetrated on the masses by corrupt and carless politicians. It was not His assertiveness, but His quietness that caused even His enemies to declare, "Never man so spake" (John 7:46). He went forth preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and that message, which was given so quietly in a little out-of-the-way province of the Roman Empire, is still being preached in spite of all the efforts to still the pen and silence the voices of His followers. Every imaginable attempt has been made to destroy the word of God, but without success. The only kingdom that has weathered every attack, and repelled every attempt to breach its glorious gates, is the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Men have gathered their Goliaths, unsheathed their weapons, and with all the power they could muster in both word and deed, they have attacked the bulwarks of the faith, only to be defeated by the word of God - that same word that Jesus promised would last as long as this world would stand, and yea beyond that, into eternity itself. A.Z Conrad must have had the words of our Lord in mind when he penned the following:

There It Stands

Century follows century-There it stands.
Empires rise and fall and are forgotten-There it stands.
Dynasty succeeds dynasty-There it stands.
Kings are crowned and uncrowned-There it stands.
Emperors decree its extermination-There it stands.
Despised and torn to pieces-There it stands.
Storms of hate swirl about it-There it stands.
Atheists rail against it-There it stands.
Agnostics smile cynically-There it stands.
Profane prayerless punsters caricature it-There it stands.
Unbelief abandons it-There it stands.
Higher critics deny its claim to inspiration-There it stands.
Thunderbolts of wrath smite it-There it stands.
An anvil that has broken a million hammers-There it stands.
The flames are kindled about it-There it stands.
The arrows of hate are discharged against it-There it stands.
Radicalism rants and raves about it-There it stands.
Fogs of sophistry conceal it temporarily-There it stands.
The tooth of time gnaws but makes no dent in it-There it stands.
Infidels predict its abandonment-There it stands.
Modernism tries to explain it away-There it stands.
Laughed at by sycophants and scorned by scoffers-There it stands.
Free thinkers deride it-There it stands.
Devotees of folly denounce it-There it stands.
When childhood needs a standard of truth-There it stands.
Youth calls for a beacon light-There it stands.
Sorrow cries for consolation-There it stands.
Weakness searches for the sources of power-There it stands.
Old age calls for an upholding staff-There it stands.
The weary seek refuge and rest-There it stands.
The hungry soul calls for bread-There it stands.
The thirsty pilgrim yearns for refreshing water-There it stands
Do the overwhelmed cry for relief?-There it stands.
Do the lost seek salvation?-There it stands.

Every child of God can take comfort in the promise of our Lord as recorded in Matthew 24:35. Let us never forget that the "word of God liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower faileth; but the word of the Lord abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23-25).

Out Of Pocket


by Tom Wacaster

The HealthCare.gov website tells its visitors that until your deduction is met, you are responsible for all costs relating to doctor visits, hospital stays, or any other medical expense. In that context, “out of pocket” means all expenses not paid by someone else, come out of your pocket; hence, “out-of-pocket expenses.”

On the world wide web of information, a search for this three-word-phrase, “Out-of-pocket” produced some interesting results. I learned, for example, that a primarily American meaning of “out-of-pocket” means to “be unavailable.” That usage of the phrase dates back to 1908 where the words were used to speak of someone who was inaccessible, and thus “out of pocket.” The Oxford English Dictionary traces “out-of-pocket” (with the hyphens) when used as a noun or adjective to an 1885 law journal: “The plaintiffs incurred various out-of-pocket expenses.” Then there is the American Slang Dictionary (not to be confused with The Dictionary of American Slang), which defines “out-of-pocket” as “out from under someone’s control; not manageable.” One might say, “That guy is wild! Completely out of pocket!” Other similar uses of the word “pocket” might include: “To live in each other’s pockets” means to be a little too close, or to spend too much time together. Then there is the politician who is in someone’s pocket in order to line his own pocket with financial gain. My mama used to tell me that the quarter I got for allowance was “burning a hole in my pocket”; not literally, but figuratively, meaning that I was overly anxious to spend it.

Now that I have taken a cursory look at some of the various slang uses of the phrase “out-of-pocket,” let me get down to the reason for writing this article. I have been extremely busy moving from one house to another, the reason not being all that important. Along with my other responsibilities, my writing has suffered somewhat. What little time I could squeeze in for writing has been put toward completing the second volume of a two volume commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. So, I have truly been “out-of-pocket.” While it is true that I have had some expenses incurred in that move that are “out-of-pocket,” the entire ordeal has kept me “out-of-pocket” so far as my writing is concerned. I hope to do somewhat better in the weeks ahead; but then again, being “out-of-pocket” for one reason or the other is often beyond my control.

Being “out-of-pocket” is not all that bad. It gives us the opportunity for a little rest and relaxation. Unfortunately multitudes of lukewarm brethren have been “out-of-pocket” for longer than we can remember. They have neglected their attendance (Heb. 10:25), and failed to worship as they should (John 4:24). The longer they neglect their spiritual responsibilities, the greater the danger that they will reach that point where the heart grows cold and beyond reach of the Gospel. Those who have become negligent in their spiritual duties may have soothed their conscience in thinking that they are just temporarily “out-of-pocket,” while in reality they have placed themselves in a most precarious situation. Eventually the Judgment Day will arrive, and they will learn too late, that when it comes to that inevitable time when we will stand before God and give an account (2 Cor. 5:10) there will be no such thing as simply being “out-of-pocket.”