Living With Self

by Tom Wacaster

Someone once said, “It is not the difficult passages that give the most problems.  It is, rather, those passages that I do understand, and which challenge me to make necessary changes in my life.”  One of those “simple” passages that is easy to understand but difficult to keep contains less than two dozen words:  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).  I fear that most of us have not yet learned the force of this demand upon our lives.  The late B.C. Goodpasture commented on this very passage:

“Of all the precepts relative to self, this is one of the most difficult to obey. A man does not deny himself when he merely gives that which he does not need or miss; a man does not deny himself when he refrains from doing that which he really does not care to do. One denies himself when he, like the poor widow, gives that which he needs and will miss; a man denies himself when he, like Moses, turns his back upon that which he likes to do, and that which he finds pleasurable and profitable in the doing. As clear and crisp as a gunshot on a still day, the words of the greatest of all teachers fall upon the ear: 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me'“ (Gospel Advocate, July 19, 1973, page 459).

It would seem that just about the time you think you have control of self, the monster sticks its head out of the box and you have to struggle with that inner man so as to master your emotions and overcome the temptations that come your way.  It seems to me that, Biblically speaking, there are four principles that are taught with regard to one's self.  Consider each of these.

First, you must know yourself:  your weaknesses, your strengths; your good points and your bad points.  Knowing our weaknesses we are in a better position to conquer them.  Knowing our strengths enables us to march forward with courage and determination.

Second, you must value yourself.  You are created in the image of God.  Quit feeling sorry for yourself.  That “Woe is me” attitude will never find the joy God intended you to have.  We are not suggesting an arrogant, haughty attitude toward self where God is excluded and human wisdom exalted.  We are created in the image of God.  Regardless of the agenda of the liberal left, the environmentalists, and the humanists, there is something unique about man.  Half a century of indoctrination in evolution and humanism has accomplished nothing more than the degrading of man and the disintegration of his morals.  

Third, it is essential that you deny yourself.  Learn to say “No” once in a while.  As much as that merchant would seek to convince you, “Go ahead! You deserve it!” there comes a point in the mad rush for things that the child of God has to step out of the race.  Jesus told us that a “man’s life  consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15b).   Jesus was not speaking of “the things” that are inherently wrong, but those things that, in and of themselves, were right, and even necessary.   It is not “things” that are wrong, but the love of things, and the attempt to amass those things that constitutes the danger.  Paul wrote, “But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9).   It has been said, “The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life.” 

Finally, we must consecrate our self.  This is something our society knows little about.   Webster defines this word ‘consecrate’:  “To make or declare to be sacred, by certain ceremonies or rites; to appropriate to sacred uses; to set apart, dedicate, or devote, to the service and worship of God.”  It is precisely because our affluent age has sought to amass wealth, and to surround themselves with things, that they have failed to consecrate themselves to a higher and nobler purpose.  I challenge you:  “Give yourself to a higher purpose than self.”  The ultimate consecration is, of course, dedication and commitment to God and His will in your life.  Some years ago I came across this little quote that addresses this precise point:

Most of the things we think create happiness, don’t.  We get caught in a spiral and life suddenly becomes a race to be won instead of a game to be played and enjoyed. Our focus on ‘success’ as society calls it, blurs our more important intangibles of life–our relationships and experiences.  The fear (and sad reality for many) is that we wake up 30 years from now, stressed, unhealthy and unfulfilled, wondering what on earth happened to those wonderful dreams we once dared to dream.  I’ll tell you what happened. We fell into the trap of being what others felt we should be as opposed to who we were meant to be. Other’s dreams became ours, only to realize they never mattered to us in the first place. We adopted the world’s definition of success instead of understanding and pursing our own” (Source and author lost).

So, friends, the battle is joined.  We have been given the armor.  The one great enemy we face is ourselves.  Once we have slain self, God will be exalted in our life, and the outcome will an eternal home with the Father.  I don't know who wrote the following, but it is certainly thought provoking, and with it I will close this week’s article:

(author unknown)

I sought from Socrates the sage,
Whose thoughts will live through every age,
A motto to direct my life,
A hero make me in my strife;
And Socrates said, 'Know Thyself.'

To know myself did not suffice,
To make me useful, pure and wise;
I sought Aurelius, good and great,
Wise ruler of the Roman state;
And Aurelius said, 'Control Thyself.'

O, Nazarene, Thou who didst give
Thy life that man might live,
What message dost thou leave for me,
That I may truly follow Thee?
The Savior said, 'Deny Thyself.'

What Happened To The "R"?

by Tom Wacaster

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for our weekly bulletin entitled “Excuses and Explanations.”  In that bulletin I quoted a reliable source for an adequate explanation as to the diversity between a Texan’s southern draw and a northerner’s challenging dialect of the English language.  I provide a quote of what I wrote then to set the background for this week’s column:  "The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant.  If omitted in one place, they turn up in another.  When a Bostonian 'pahks his cah,' the lost R's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to 'warsh' his car and invest in 'erl' wells."  

A few of you pointed out that my Sunday evening slide presentation had a major flaw in its spelling—not just once, but on every slide that had the same heading.   I had intended to use the words of our Lord, “You have heard that it was said by them of old.”  But the “R” migrated to who knows where, and the quote read “You have head that it was said.”   The reason for the repeated misspelled word is attributed to the marvelous “cut and paste” ability of computer software.  So the mistake was perpetuated because of an original mistake and my inability to catch the mistake before making subsequent slides.   Some of you got tickled, though I could not, from my perspective understand why so many of you were smiling like you were. 

We all make spelling mistakes from time to time.  Here are a few that I came across in my research for this article:  A sign on a high school marque during “Literacy Improvement Week” read: “Laeping to Literacy.”  A learning center in Georgia placed a sign in front of the property.  It was improperly titled:  “Chalenger Learning Center.”  Another school had the sign at the street crossing spelled “Shcool  Crossing.”   Spelling errors are always embarrassing. Just how embarrassing depends upon the nature and location of that spelling mistake. A spelling mistake on a large sign is a pretty big deal. When that sign is advertising the services of a school, it's an even bigger deal. And when the word that has been incorrectly spelled is 'grammar'... well, that's about as embarrassing as it gets.   No wonder the school officials were embarrassed when at a Kansas City school the sign out front read: “Christian Brothers’ Grammer School.”  One more, and then I’ll move on.  A news reporter was covering a public event honoring Martin Luther King, and happened to take a picture of two women carrying signs alluding to Mr. King’s famous statement, “I have a dream.”  One sign read, “I have a draem”; the other “I have a deram.” 

Now back to my spelling blunder.  I take consolation in the fact that I am not the only one who makes spelling mistakes.   It seems, however, that not only do I make my fair share, I seem to excel  on occasions.   The first book I published was a little 250 page book, “Studies in Galatians.”  I was so proud the day I picked up the 1,000 copies just hot off the press.   I immediately opened one of the boxes, took out a book, and flipped open the book to examine the quality of the product.  The first thing I saw was a spelling error!  And I was not even looking for spelling errors.   How embarrassing!   Since most of us make mistakes on spelling from time to time, I thought I might make just a few observations and lessons we might learn from just such an occasion.

First, we should be manly enough to admit our mistakes when pointed out.   It would have been foolish to simply dismiss the accusations that I had misspelled a word in my slide presentation with a wave of the hand and arrogantly proclaim: “Mistake?  Who me?  Make a mistake?”  Yet there are multitudes who, when embarrassed by their mistakes, refuse to take the blame.  It seems that politicians and college professors are among the worst.  A close runner up are the environmentalists who simply refuse to entertain the idea that their global warming theories might just be a mistake.   Spelling mistakes, and even a misguided position one might take on global warming might not have devastating consequences, but the humility necessary to bring one to repentance could spell the difference between where one will spend eternity.    

Second, if you make a mistake it proves that you are human.   We have all heard about the man who claimed he only made one mistake in life and that was the time he mistakenly thought he had been wrong but as it turned out he was right.   “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).   Refusal to admit occasional sin is an indication of the absence of truth. 

Third, repentance is the key that unlocks the pathway to correction.   Repentance is simply a change of action based upon a change of mind.   Biblical repentance is always preceded by godly sorrow (2 Cor.  10).   An occasional misspelled word may not call for “godly sorrow,” unless of course the misspelled word in some way led to more serious consequences.    On the other hand, mistakes when it comes to one’s relationship to God are serious and the only avenue for correcting a severed relationship with God comes through repentance.

Finally, we should be grateful to those who take the time to help us recognize and recover from sin.  The brother who is willing to risk your friendship to point out error in your life is a true brother indeed.   “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness: looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).  He who is courageous enough to point out your sin is simply doing what God commanded him to do.  Personally, I am thankful when a brother points out my sin, for I know when he does that that he cares for my soul.  

My spell check did not catch my mistake last Sunday evening.  So I guess I can blame it on the machine, our crazy language, and my inattention to what I was doing.  Oh, one more thing.  At least I know you were paying attention; that beets  beats an audience whose eyes are open but whose mind is asleep!


The apostle Paul asked the brethren on one occasion to bear with him in his foolishness; not that he was really acting foolish, but that in their minds they thought he was, and he simply took that and ran with it.   The English language is quite astonishing, and not only do we have words that, when misspelled, are overlooked by the spell checker, but oft times a word that  sounds like the word you want, but is actually spelled differently, will escape the spell check detection.  Here is an amusing anecdote regarding the English language.  I have omitted some of the quote due to space limitations, but I think you get the picture: 

We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
The one fowl is a goose but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may fiund a lone mouse, or a whole set of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why should not the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural wouldn't be hose.
And the plural of cat is cats and not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say Mother, we never say Methren,

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim.

So English, I fancy you will all agree,
Is the funniest language you ever did see. 

With What Measure

by Tom Wacaster

Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom; for with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38).   There are some interesting lessons here.

First, we cannot out give God!   We give, and God sees to it we are given unto.  In addition, what God gives is "pressed down, shaken together, and running over."  When you get a box of cereal at the store the manufacturer informs you that "some settling of contents may have occurred."  Sure enough, you open it and the box is half empty. That, my friends, is "shaken down," but it is not "running over."  God will fill your cup till it "over runs," even after having been shaken down!

Second, the things "men" give to us are actually provided by God.  The atheist may say, "I worked hard, I labored, I sowed, I reaped!  I have provided my blessings; not God!"  But what does the atheist use in order to plant the seed and reap the harvest?  He must have the seed, fertile ground, rain and sunshine - all given by God.  The means by which the atheist or unbeliever acquires the necessities of life is no different than that of the obedient child of God.  The former ignores God's benevolent hand behind it all, the later believes that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (Jas. 1:17).

Third, it should be noted that Jesus did NOT say, "With what type you give, so shall it be given unto you again."  Some contend that if we give monetarily to the Lord, He will in turn make us rich.  That is never promised in the Scriptures.  It may be that God will provide us with abundance of material things - as He has so done to those of us who enjoy the standard of living we now enjoy.   Genuine wealth, however, cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents.  It can only be measured in currency that is spiritual, namely eternal life and eventually a home in heaven with our Father Who has blessed us in so many ways.

Fourth, God will give to us according to what measure we give to others.  If we are greedy and selfish, giving little to others in the way of assistance and encouragement, God will use that same "measure" to give back to us.  Have you ever wondered why it is that some people are constantly struggling with life, finances, emotions, to name but a few areas in which they have difficulty?   Is it possible that life seems to have "passed them by" because, like the rich man in Luke 16, they have passed others by along life's pathway? 

Finally, we learn that our God is a beneficent God!  He is not stingy, nor does He reprimand us when we ask His blessings.  A most beautiful passage in this regard has to do with God's gracious bestowal of wisdom to those who ask.  But within that passage we see a wonderful trait of our God that few realize:  "But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to  him"  (Jas. 1:5, emphasis mine, TW). 

This article is not really an article having to do with our contribution, though certainly the principles apply.  This article is really an attempt to help us recognize the wonderful God Whom we serve, and His desire to give to His children those things they need - and in many instances those things they don't NEED but that make life enjoyable!

I'll close with a pointed, but humorous illustration:   A baker living in a village not far from Quebec bought his butter from a neighboring farmer.  One day he became suspicious that the butter was not a full one pound weight, and decided he would investigate the matter.  For several days he weighed the butter, and discovered the rolls of butter the famer brought were short the designated amount.  This so angered him that he had the farmer arrested.  "I assume you have weights," said the judge.  "No sir," replied the farmer."  "How do you manage to weigh the butter that you sell?"  "That's easily explained, Your Honor," said the farmer.  "When the baker began buying his butter from me, I thought I 'd get my bread from him. It is the same one pound loaf which he brings me that I've been using as a weight for the butter I sell him." 

Some Things That May Surprise You About The Church of Christ!

(Author Unknown)

1. You may be surprised that everyone in the assembly is invited to participate in the singing portion of the worship services. We have no choirs, special groups or solos. We use no pianos, drums, organs or guitars, etc. All music is a capella (vocal) as the New Testament indicates it was in the apostolic days (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Do you know the meaning of “Accapella”?  It is an Italian word that means literally “like the church.”

Accapella singing is singing “like the church.”

Contrary to what you may have heard, the singing is good singing, soul stirring and encouraging!

2. You may be surprised that visitors are NOT requested to make a contribution. Local members contribute on the first day of the week, each and every week. This is done without demand in the form of “tithes” or “assessments.” Free-will giving on the basis of other New Testament principles is impressed as the plan of scriptural giving No cake sales, church fetês, raffles, or other money raising schemes are used! We do not appeal for, or beg from those outside the Lord’s own family. All contributions, if the Lord’s Will is respected, are freely given. We do not appeal for, or beg from those outside the Lord’s own family. All contributions, if the Lord’s Will is respected, are freely given.

3. If you visit with us on any Lord's Day (the “first day of the week”), you may be surprised to find that we commemorate the death of Christ by partaking of the Lord's supper, which was instituted by Christ and commanded and taught by Paul, the Apostle (Matt. 26:26-29;1 Cor. 11:23-26). In the first century, “upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Therefore, since every week has a first day, it follows that the Lord's death must be commemorated every week! Not once every six months, or only on “Easter Sunday”!

4. You may be surprised that no hyper-emotional appeals are made. You will not be urged to act or move in response to the invitation of the Lord until you have sufficient knowledge of the Truth, to serve as a basis for your faith (John 20:30-31; Acts 16:32).

5. It may surprise you that most Christians attend every assembly of the church because they want to, enjoy it, know it is commanded and because they realize that assembling to worship is vital to their spiritual growth and service to God (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:25).

6. You may be surprised to know that we have no man-made prayer book, no church-authorized discipline, manual or creed and no ritualistic worship (2 Tim. 3:16-17 & 4:1-4).

7. You may be surprised at the manner of our services. You will not hear shouting, screaming or any other manifestation of unbridled emotions. No one will fall out in a faint, roll around on the floor or speak in “unknown” tongues. You will see that the admonition of the apostle Paul that all things “be done decently and in order,” is sincerely observed (1 Cor. 14:40).

8. You may be surprised that the service is NOT conducted by a man claiming to be a part of a special priesthood. Since the Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest and all Christians now make up a general priesthood and can themselves approach God and offer their prayers and sacrifices, it should be evident that no special earthly priesthood is necessary today (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Heb. 4:14-16).

9. It may surprise you that the church of Christ has neither earthly headquarters nor an earthly head. Even though With virtually all denominations have earthly headquarters. Christ alone is head of His body and the church’s headquarters is in heaven, where Christ now sits and rules with ALL authority (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23; Phil. 3:20-21).

10. Contrary to what you may have heard, you may be surprised to know that the church of Christ is not intent on condemning everyone to Hell, but invites all to come to our Lord in obedient faith, in faithful service and worship and in Godly living, that one may enjoy the benefits of His grace and strive for the hope of eternal life (Tit. 2:11-12; 1 John 2:25).

11. Finally, you may be surprised to learn that the Lord’s church is neither Catholic, Protestant, sectarian nor denominational. The Lord’s church in the first century was obviously none of these.

If we are correct in our claim that we follow His Word alone (admitting that not all “churches of Christ” can honestly make this claim) and in every way seek to be simple New Testament Christians, then we are the same as it was in the first century. Being of the same head, doctrine and practice results in being the same body the Lord purchased or built and therefore antedates both Catholicism and all Protestant denominations (Acts 20:28; Matt. 16:18).

We greatly desire the unity for which Jesus prayed, but, we believe that scriptural unity is found only in Christ (John 17:20-21).

Both Catholicism and denominational sectarianism stands opposed to this unity. We stand upon the Word of our Lord alone, respecting His authority in everything and speaking only as He directs us if we “all be one” in Christ as He so fervently prayed (Matt. 28:18; 1 Peter 4:11).

Please attend our services and see for yourself!

Voices From The Past

by Tom Wacaster

In 1940 brother Granville Tyler wrote the following words:  "It is as important for gospel preachers to stand uncompromisingly against error as it is for them to stand for truth."    Some of those who would lead the church into denominationalism identify themselves as modern apostates by the things they DO NOT say as much, if not more, than what they DO say (though we do not suggest for a moment that blatant error is not taught at all).  When preachers and teachers do not teach the distinctive nature of the Lord's church, they are guilty by default of failing to proclaim the whole counsel of God.  We are warned that it is just as serious to "take away" from the word of God as it is to "add to" that word (Revelation 22:18-19).   Any proclamation or practice that would leave a wrong impression regarding the nature of the Lord's church is sinful, and falls short of preaching and teaching "all" that our Lord commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  

There is an ever increasing practice among many of our brethren to seek fellowship and participation with the denominations.  This is taking the form of joint worship assemblies, unity meetings, joint prayer services, etc.   All such practices compromise the distinctive nature of the church, and leave the impression that one way is just as good as another, that unity can be had in the face of doctrinal differences, or that God hears the prayers of those in error as He does the prayers of those who are His children.  E.G. Sewell was once ased, "Will you give your views on the church of Christ uniting with the Methodists, Cumberland Presbyterians and Baptists?"  He responded thusly:  "The disciples of Christ cannot afford to enter into any sort of compact or connection with denominations that will recognize them as being all right in their names, their claims and practices, without imposing upon and dishonoring in some measure the word of God, which does not name or recognize any of them as such. That they all teach and practice some things that are in the Bible, we presume no one will deny; but that they all teach and practice some things that are not in the Bible is equally certain. This being true, disciples of Christ cannot make an indiscriminate compact with them in anything that will recognize them as all right when they do not believe they are... Christians must be frank and conscientious before God in all things; and when they really think others are wrong in any matter involving the plain word of the Lord, they ought to say so, and enter into no compact that will silently ignore errors and act as if they were not errors, and thus involve themselves  in the errors of others by publicly recognizing them as right in the sight of God and men" (Questions Answered, pages 700-700).   

We recognize that brother Sewell's comments are those of an uninspired man, but we also believe they are based upon, and adequately express the sentiments of inspired Scripture:  "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Romans 16:17).  "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11).  Why in the world one of our "sister" congregations would even entertain the idea of sponsoring an interdenominational, "community wide men's prayer group" is beyond comprehension, especially in light of heaven's adomnition that we turn away from, avoid, and reprove those in error.  I ask point blank: Do we think for a moment that God will answer the prayers of those who are in error?  "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination" (Proverbs 28:9).   

Do we no longer believe the scriptures?  Are the prayers of those who are in error, and who deceive the multitudes as effective as the prayers of the righteous?  Or, perhaps it is the case, that some no longer believe in the distinctive, undenominational nature of the Lord's church?  Perhaps it is the case that some believe there are Christians in all of the denominations and that "one church is as good as another."  Have we arrived at the point in time that we think joining with the forces of error is the road that we should travel?   I fear that this is the case in view of the continual increase in such practices as those mentioned above.   With every ounce of energy that is in me, I plead with those who love the truth, and who love and respect the Lord's church, and in view of all that is holy and right in the sight of God, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).  How long will ye halt betweeen two opinions?  If what we have been taught is true, and if those great and courageous soldiers of the cross who so valiantly fought and sacrificed to bring us to this present point in time were correct, then let us not render their labors vain.   

Those who would seek to turn again to the beggerly elements of this world, and turn again to the error out of which our forefathers sought to escape,  I plead with you to repent, and turn again, and do the first works.  Therein is the only hope for victory in Christ and ultimate life in His name.

Give Me One Soul Today

by Tom Wacaster

In the early years of my preaching I filed most of my material in folders with subject labels attached to each one, and then placed them in a file cabinet in alphabetical order.  With the coming of the computer age most of my filing is entered into my database filing system, providing the location of what I have read, quotes, illustrations, and so forth.  The advantages of the computer over simplified paper filing is the subject for another time.   In the mid 80’s my son encouraged me to start learning to use computers.  My response at that time was, “Computers are just not practical for preachers.”  I have eaten those words many times.   But I digress, so let me get back to the subject at hand. 

I determined late last year that in this new year (2014) I would focus on evangelism, personal work, the lost, et al. so as to help all of us become more “soul conscious.”  I have two file folders that address this subject matter.  One of these is labeled “Evangelism,” the other “Personal Work.”  When I lay these flat on my desk one on top of the other the stack would be almost three inches tall.   In addition to preaching on evangelism and personal work this year, I thought it might be good to provide our readers with some printed material along that line.   To stir my thinking on this brisk, cold early March morning, I thumbed through the mountain of material I have on the subject.  I noticed as I flipped through, that not only have I filed away numerous articles on personal work and evangelism, but that through the years I have preached some two dozen sermons on the subject (and some of those more than once).  The bulletins that come through the mail and cross my desk quite frequently touch on the great need to reach the lost.  Workshops, gospel meetings, cottage classes, new books, tracts, etc. are all geared toward saving souls.  And so it seems to me that our realization of the need for evangelism is very acute.  We know people are lost without Christ.  We know that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  We know that if men are to be won to Christ it will take our efforts and united talents.  There seems to be the deep longing within every congregation I have worked with to “do something.”  People are just not satisfied with “keeping house.”  This is as it should be.

The slow numerical growth among churches of Christ over the last half century is disheartening.  The problem is not methodology. The open Bible studies, film strips, video tapes, correspondence courses, etc. have been proven to be very effective tools for teaching the lost.  Each individual must adapt whatever method might best suit his teaching abilities. Obviously, I have one particular tool which I consider most effective, but I am not shackled to that one method of teaching.  Whatever tool you might use, just make sure that it meets the need in the most effective way.  

Now the question: With the desire to see the church grow, and the abundance of methods of personal work and the tools at our disposal, why are we not baptizing more souls into Christ?  Those who have done research tell us that the last couple of decades has seen a decline in effective personal evangelism on the local level.  According to statistics, it takes 100 members of the Lord's church to reach one soul for Christ in one year.  This does not include our own children.  Thus, on the average, a congregation of 200 can only expect to baptize 2 people in one year's time.   We have the tools, the awareness of the lost-ness of humanity, and the desire to see the body grow.   Where, then, lies the deficiency?  To excuse the lack of growth on the disinterest of those around us is not an adequate answer.  It may contribute to the problem, but it is not the soul cause of the downturn in numerical growth.  I think the problem lies in our conviction.  The early church, though driven from their homes, their cities, and even their families, still “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).  Perhaps our greatest problem is to be found in the “things” that surround us.  It might be that we have developed a “come-and-get-it” mentality, and think that if we preach the truth, hold to the pattern of sound doctrine, and keep our own house in order that folks will flock to the building for teaching.  Or it could be that we are comfortable in a “non-confrontational” setting.  “Don't make waves!”   Maybe what we need is another great persecution to scatter us abroad!   One thing I know for sure.  The words of that popular song ought to be on our lips and in our hearts: “Lead me to some soul today, oh teach me Lord just what to say!  Friends of mine are lost in sin, and cannot find their way.  Few there are who seem to care; few there are who pray.  Melt my heart and fill my life. Give me one soul today!”