Lessons I Learned From A Jury Summons

by Tom Wacaster

Over the years I have received a number of "invitations" to appear at the local county courthouse for possible selection and service as a juror.  Those who have been so selected know that with those summons comes some kind of leaflet describing duties, expectations, and certain regulations that must be followed throughout the process of being selected and/or serving on a jury.  Someone once suggested that all of life is a learning process.  Here are some lessons learned from my most recent jury summons.

First, a civilized people still recognize the value of properly administered justice. Life is not always fair.  The innocent are often wronged, and the guilty too often go free.  In his book, A Nation of Victims, Charles Sykes related the following:  An FBI agent embezzled two thousand dollars from the government, and then lost the whole amount in one afternoon of gambling in Atlantic City.  He was fired but won reinstatement after a court ruled that his affinity for gambling with other people's money was a "handicap." He was protected under the federal law.  In another incident, a young man in Framingham, Massachusetts steals a car from a parking lot and is killed while driving it.  His family sues the proprietor of the parking lot for failing to take steps to prevent such thefts.   Admittedly there are injustices in our society.  But I am thankful that we still have a system that says the accused are innocent until proven guilty.  Occasionally justice is not properly administered.  In that case we can rest assured that there is a day coming in which absolute and impartial justice will be administered to everyone who has ever lived.  In the words of Samuel Johnson: "Since the common events of the present life happen alike to the good and the bad, it follows from the justice of the Supreme Being that there must be another state of existence in which a just retribution shall be made."

Second, those summoned to jury duty are not excused except on a limited basis.  There are, in fact, only four reasons for being excused from service.  (1) You are not a citizen of the U.S.; (2) You do not reside in Harris County; (3) You are under 18 years of age; and (4) You have been convicted of a felony or any type of theft. Interestingly, the summons says that "job-related excuses are not accepted..."  Someone has said that excuses are nothing more than a lie in devil's clothing.  Throughout my quarter century of preaching I have heard a number of "excuses" for failure to serve in the Master's Kingdom.  Like our civil counterpart, service is expected, excuses notwithstanding.

Third, punctuality is a must when you are summoned to jury service.  Failure to appear "on time" can result "in criminal penalties."  Once selected to serve on a jury, you must be present for the proceedings.  You cannot come and go as you wish.  Why do you suppose there are such demands on you as a juror?  It is because of the seriousness of the business at hand.  Can we not see the same need when it comes to meeting our spiritual obligations.  In every congregation there are the proverbial "late-comers" to Bible classes and worship services.  Tardiness, in most cases, is due to laziness and/or lack of consideration for others.  The same could be said for the constant commotion that exists in our worship service when we shuffle in and out of the auditorium for the most trivial of reasons.  Could it be that we have not yet come to grasp the seriousness of what we are doing when we are called to Bible class and worship? 

Fourth, jurors are expected to "dress the part."  The leaflet states in no uncertain terms: "Jury service is serious business and you should dress accordingly."  Most folks that appear in court are dressed in some of their finest clothes. T-shirts, tank-tops, sloppy clothing that is tattered and torn, are not appropriate.  Why is it, brethren, that we seem to think that we can appear before God Almighty in casual, sloppy attire, when such is neither appropriate nor acceptable in the courtrooms of our land?  Why is it that common sense dictates a certain type of clothing when it comes to courtroom service, funerals, etc., but we seem to think that any-ol-rag will do for worship services unto the Almighty?  Again, could it be that we do not perceive of our summons to worship the Almighty as something that is as serious as appearing before a judge in a civil courtroom? 

Finally, all prospective jurors are encouraged to "come prepared." Careful consideration should be given to bringing those things necessary to the task at hand. The clear message of the Bible is precisely the same: "Come prepared."  When it comes our time to appear before the Great "I Am," nothing less will do.  You and I are given a lifetime to properly prepare for the greatest summons we will ever receive: that of appearing at the judgment bar of Jehovah God.  

Leaders And Ordinary Members

by Tom Wacaster

The Lord designed His church so as to provide capable and qualified leadership.  That's why the Holy Spirit set forth the qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9).  While leaders are important, we must not overlook the fact that a congregation needs its "ordinary members" in order to function.  The five talent man is a blessing to the Lord's church.  But so is the one talent man.  Those who serve as elders, providing they serve well, are to be counted worthy of "double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching" (1 Timothy 5:16).  In view of Paul's admonition that we "Render...honor to whom honor" is due (Rom. 13:7), it is important that we not forget the value that the "ordinary member" plays in the function and growth of the church.  All too often this "ordinary member" perceives of himself as unimportant at best, and a "non-entity" at worst.  That kind of attitude is self defeating.  It will lead to apathy and indifference, rob one of his zeal, and bring the work of the Lord's church to a screeching halt if it is allowed to spread throughout the congregation.  From time to time we express our appreciation to those of you who work behind the scenes.  In many instances we do not even realize the work you do and the influence you render for the cause of Christ. But be assured that God knows your labors, and that's all that counts anyway.  Your reward will be great in heaven.  I do not know who wrote the following poem, but it certainly expresses my sentiments and the value of those of you who are "ordinary members.

"An Ordinary Member"

"Just an ordinary member
Of the church," I heard him say,
But you'd always find him present,
Even on a rainy day.
He had a hearty hand clasp
For the stranger in the aisle,
And a friend who was in trouble
Found sunshine in his smile.
When the sermon helped him
He told the preacher so,
And when he needed comfort,
He let the preacher know.
He always gave so freely
And tried to do his share,
In all the ordinary tasks
For which some have no care.
His talents were not many
But his love for God was true.
His prayers were not in public,
But he prayed for me and you.
"An Ordinary Member"?
I think that I would say,
He was EXtraordinary
In a humble sort of way.

A great big thanks to those of you who help in so many ways.  Rest assured your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).  May your number increase.

What Jesus Borrowed

by Tom Wacaster

In the thirty-three years that our Lord sojourned upon this earth, He never once demonstrated a single shred of materialistic desire.  I doubt seriously that He ever scanned the Jerusalem Daily News to see whether the stock market was up or down, called His bank to see how His investments were doing, or worried as to how much inflation might be eating away at His little "nest egg" tucked away in some shady corner of His humble abode.  For you see, He possessed none of these.  On no occasion do we find that He carried with Him one single farthing.  When He was asked about paying tribute to Caesar, His disciples had to bring Him the penny, for He was penniless.  His only "purse" was the mouth of a fish that Peter caught, and when they parted His garments they did not discover any coin or notes.  On one occasion his disciples encouraged Him to eat, but He said unto them, "I have meat to eat that ye know not..My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work" (John 4:32, 34), and warned all of us, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rush doth consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rush doth consume, and where thieves do not break through and steal" (Matt. 6:19-20).  He not only preached that message, but lived that message to its fullest extent.  Our Lord never owned any property, never built a house, never laid by in store, never had a passbook savings account, never organized a “garage sell,” and never placed an ounce of importance on what one might possess in this life.  When His life was finished and His course completed, the only thing He could call His own was stripped from His sinless body and gambled away at the foot of the cross by the Roman soldiers while their Master and Creator hung on the cross close by.  Having no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58), He found His rest in the homes of those who were gracious enough to provide His daily sustenance, and grant Him a place of repose when the day was done.  

Today Fortune 500 would rank our Lord a failure; Forbes Magazine would not waste paper and ink to mention His name; and few, if any who are enamored with this world's material things would consider His words worth their attention.  This they have demonstrated by their rejection of things spiritual in exchange for the glitter of the world.  But history will attest that the greatest man that ever walked the face of this earth (if we dare call Him a "man") was the most contented, and the most influential individual who has ever lived.   What He needed, the Father supplied; what His heavenly Father did not provide, our Lord did not need.  Would that our affluent society would learn that lesson today.   He depended upon others to be used as tools in the Father’s hand to minister to His need.  From the cradle to the grave, never did a man live in such poverty, deprive himself of the things of this world, or depend upon others for his physical well being, as did Jesus of Nazareth.  Though He may have borrowed those things He needed from time to time, those who were gracious to "loan" unto Him what they possessed soon learned that their "investment" returned mighty dividends that could not be measured in monetary value.  What makes our Lord’s poverty even more astonishing is that He chose to live that way.  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).   When we consider the life of Jesus we stand amazed at His complete denial of self.   He gave up the riches of heaven, came to this earth, took upon Himself the form of a man, and truly demonstrated where the true riches are to be found.  I for one am glad that He borrowed those things He needed in this life.   In so doing He demonstrated the undeniable truth that it is not things that are important, but one’s relationship with the Father in heaven.  I do not know who penned the following, but it is certainly thought provoking, and a fitting conclusion to this week’s article:

They borrowed a bed to lay his head
When Christ the Lord came down;
They borrowed the ass in the mountain pass
For him to ride to town;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

He borrowed the bread when the crowd He fed
On the grassy mountainside;
He borrowed the dish of broken fish
With which he was satisfied;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

He borrowed the ship in which to sit
To teach the multitude;
He borrowed a nest in which to rest -
He had never a home so rude;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

He borrowed a room on his way to the tomb
The Passover Lamb to eat;
They borrowed a cave for him a grave;
They borrowed a winding sheet;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!


Every month reminds us that time stands still for no one.   By the time one month is firmly in place and we have passed the “hump day” for that month (the 15th), our schedules start filling up for the next 30 or 31 days.   Meanwhile we remind ourselves of what we “intend” to get done sometime in the future. “Tomorrow” is a day in our mind, but never once does it appear on a calendar.   The sacred writers remind us that “today” is the only day we are promised; beyond that we have no assurance.  A few weeks back the following appeared in one of the bulletins I receive. 

Begin Today  

Dream not too much of what you’ll do tomorrow,
How well you’ll work perhaps another year;
Tomorrow’s chance you do not need to borrow;
Today is  here.

Boast not too much of mountains you will master,
The while you linger in the vale below;
To dream is well, but plodding brings us faster
To where we go.

Talk not too much about some new endeavor
You mean to make a little later on;
Who idles now will idle on
Till life is gone.

Swear not some day to break some habit’s fetter,
When this old year is dead and passed away;
If you have need of living wiser, better,
Begin today.

Sermons For Sunday:
AM:  “Wealth and Righteousness”
PM: “Doctrine About Satan”