Archive for June, 2007

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Cecil Hook 11.24.1918 – 6.1.2007

June 30, 2007

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(Vic, Lea, and Cecil)

Cecil Hook, a champion of grace and unity, has gone to his reward. He will be greatly missed by those who loved and respected him through the years. Though we had never met face to face, I counted Cecil a friend and a brother. Like the change that many of us have gone through, Cecil went from legalism to grace. His ministry has been an encouragement to so many. The following is an interview with Cecil by Fred Peatross.

Cecil Hook was born in Fort Worth, Texas on November 24, 1918. He was raised on a cotton farm at Rochester, Texas, during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days. After graduating from Abilene Christian College in 1941, Cecil began full-time preaching in eastern New Mexico and Sundown, Texas.

Cecil has also served churches in Port Neches, Fort Worth, and Dallas in Texas.

As the years of his ministry progressed, Cecil became increasingly aware of the many misdirections. His conviction to be honest with himself forced him to make drastic adjustments to his teachings. Sharing these new concepts from the pulpit brought thrilling responses from some, but others soon aroused unbearable opposition. By the time of his retirement, he had begun to write and publish his efforts of redirection. Cecil found that thousands of others were questioning traditional beliefs and practices. Cecil says, “God has made exciting use of my unskilled efforts, and he has brought many wonderful people into partnership with me in this ministry.”

(Click here for the rest of the interview)

(For Cecil Web Site and writings click here.)

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I Talked To An Old Friend Today

June 22, 2007

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I talked to an old friend today. (He is much older than when this picture was taken) LOL. It has been more than 25 years since I last saw him or spoke to him. That last time we were at the funeral of one of our students that had drown trying to rescue his son from the same fate. We had parted ways when the school that he directed and at which I taught closed. The school had first been his dream and later had become mine. We watched it be destroyed by negative legalism and the vocal cries of a handful who clamored for the way we have always done things. He went back to Florida and I to Tennessee, and just lost contact.So much has happened in both our lives since we last spoke, but today was much like picking up that last conversation where we left off. I can’t explain why it has taken this long to once again be in communication. I just know that today I feel more complete now that we have.

In past articles I have written about the key people that God brought into my life at just the right time. Nolan was one of those people. Barb and I had returned from our mission field in Germany. It had not been our choice. Our support base had collapsed and we had no idea what we would do next. We had spent one year in Germany and planned a minimum of 4 more, but that was not to be. Because of a mutual friend we received a call to consider teaching full time with the International School of Evangelism in Pontiac, Michigan. I knew from that first visit that this was an answer to prayer. The next three years would be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling years in my life. I often said back then that I planned to go to heaven from Pontiac. If you knew how much I disliked cold weather, you would really appreciate that statement.

Often when we watch our dreams die, a part of us dies with them. I think that happened to us. How did it all play out in God’s great scheme of things? I don’t know, but that is on my list of questions for when I get home. As I reflect today, I praise God for those years and those relationships. Many of those men trained during that time are still winning souls for the Kingdom to this day. They have raised families that are now missionaries to other lands.

Here is a student body picture from back then.

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Amazing Grace

June 21, 2007

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Last nights lesson about the thief on the cross went well. One of the Elders remarked to me after the service that we need to have a lot of lessons on grace to offset the years of legalism we all grew up with. He is right! You hear a lot today about dysfunctional families. Well there are dysfunctional churches as well. And it takes the same kind of repetitive teaching for churches that it does for families to over come years of the wrong kind of indoctrination. Even if we have progressed to the point of accepting that we are saved by grace, many still believe they only stay saved by their works or their faithfulness. But we need grace here too! It is not about our faithfulness, but His! I love Paul’s words to Timothy, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (II Tim. 2:13). God knows we will never fully overcome; He only expects us to engage in the struggle. And yes I am aware of Rev 2:10 that tells us to be faithful unto death, but you and I both know that at its best that faithfulness will be imperfect and in need of Grace.

Results from a Life Way Research study of teenagers says that out of the 69 percent of teens who strongly or somewhat agree they will go to heaven because Jesus Christ died for their sins, 60 percent also agree that they will go to heaven because they are religious and 60 percent also agree they will go to heaven because they are kind to others.. That leaves approximately 28 percent of American teenagers who are trusting only in Jesus Christ as their means to get to heaven. The teens are learning this from someone, it may just be us. We must be careful to place the right emphasis on grace and it’s role in our salvation.

There was not enough time to cover all that I would have like to in this lesson. For example right up to the ascension the disciples that had been with Jesus for over three years still did not understand the nature of the Kingdom, but the thief seems to have grasp its spiritual and eternal nature, at least to some degree.

I would have also enjoyed diging a little deeper into the thief’s statement, “this man has done nothing wrong”. That is a powerful statement when you consider he was condemned by the court, mocked by the High Priest, the mob, the soldiers and the other thief.

Finally, the reply of Jesus to the thief’s request, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”, begs to tell of the relationship that Jesus seeks to have with each of us. You with me, that is what the father seeks to create through the death of His son.

Yes grace is amazing. It is full and free. It reaches you and me.

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The Thief On The Cross

June 20, 2007

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The story of the thief on the cross, as it has come to be known, is such a powerful testimony to the wonderful grace of God. While there were two crucified with Jesus we only remember the one because of the change that takes place as he hangs suspended between heaven and earth, oddly enough, about to leave the one for the other, escorted to paradise by the Lord Himself.

As I was doing research on this topic for tonight’s lessons at Madison I did a Google search and I was amazed to find that the vast majority of links that were brought up were lessons being taught by ministers of my tribe. My amazement quickly turned to sadness as I saw that link after link dealt with the necessity of Baptism for salvation and how this conversion was an exception rather than the rule. Over and over again, link after link and little or no emphasis on the wonderful grace of Jesus. Is Grace not the lesson! Is that not why this wonderful story is in the scripture?

There is something in our human nature that causes us to not like the thief. An outlaw hell-bent and hung out to dry one minute, and is paradise bound with an escort by the very son of God the next. With His dying breath Jesus pardons an outlaw who would have zero opportunity for spiritual growth or be able to do one work of gratitude. Hands and feet that might have been used in service to Christ are now fastened to a cross. A tongue that might have been used to praise His name now cleaves to the roof of his mouth from thirst. He had nothing to offer, absolutely nothing to offer.

The world tells us we deserve praise when we are good. We are not comfortable when someone does a good deed for us, until we can find a way to repay. We pride our self’s on being a people who “pull themselves up by their boot straps.” Like the cartoon of the two Pharisees arguing when one says,” We get our salvation the old fashion way, we earn it.” Or have you heard some well meaning person say at a funeral about the diseased, “If she doesn’t make it to heaven, there is no hope for any of us,” as if doing enough good gets our ticket punched.

The only choice that this dieing thief had was to trust by faith. He had no time, no opportunity, so he sought the only thing left…mercy. And he finds out that was all he needed. Oh the wonderful grace of Jesus.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph. 2:4-9.

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I’m Back!…Sort of.

June 18, 2007

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Well I am a year older since my last post. I never intended to be away from this blog for such a long period of time, but life seems to get in the way of our own personal wishes. That’s why you hear the phrase so often, “That’s life!”.

Let me catch you up a bit. We made our move from Westmoreland to Hendersonville and we are now out of boxes and enjoying our new home. Having literally everything with in five to ten minutes of where we live is an experience we have not enjoyed for over fifteen years. The last two places we lived were isolated and rural. While there are many blessings to living in the city, there are also the draw backs of traffic, and….well that is about all I can think of. The timing of the move could not have been better with the escalating cost of gasoline. Barb and I both were filling up about every three days, now Barb can go a week and a half on a tank of gas. Being close to Madison has made our involvement with the church much easier. This was one of the major reasons for the move in the first place. Other blessings include a small yard to mow. Instead of three and a half hours, it is about 30 minutes. We have trash pick up twice a week. Before we had to handle it ourselves. Hospital, Doctors and shopping is all only about 5 minutes away.

I am out of the office and on the road again in sales, which has limited my time to blog. In my previous office position there were long periods of time where I sat a waited for the phone to ring. That afforded me a lot of time to read and write. Now my day consists of numerous sales calls and fairly long hours each day. This new schedule has not only limited my writing time, but also my time to read and keep up with my favorite blogs. So if you don’t see me commenting at your sites , it is not a lack of interest, just the lack of time.

I have added a new blog to my blog roll. Be sure to check out Jewels Gems. Julie is one of our praise team members at Madison. Also check out Carl Wades excellent article entitled, “My Dad’s Gold Boot”.

Until next time, God Bless!