“What is the role of ushers in the church?”


THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries


A church usher is a person who helps ensure a smoothly running church service and who ministers to people in a variety of practical ways. The specific responsibilities of an usher vary with the church, but his duties usually include greeting people as they arrive for the service, assisting people with special needs, and collecting the offering. Some churches provide a pin or name tag of some kind to easily identify their ushers.

Before the church service starts, the ushers will often have the responsibility to check the thermostat, check the restrooms, make sure the hymnals are placed correctly, and prepare the bulletins for distribution. As the churchgoers arrive, the ushers will act as doorkeepers, greeting each person with a smile, shaking hands, and handing out bulletins. They are also available to answer visitors’ questions and extend extra help in seating those who need the assistance. Often, the ushers will…

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“What does the Bible say about anointing oil?”


THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries


Anointing oil, mentioned 20 times in Scripture, was used in the Old Testament for pouring on the head of the High Priest and his descendants and sprinkling the Tabernacle and its furnishings to mark them as holy and set apart to the Lord (Exodus 25:6; Leviticus 8:30; Numbers 4:16). Three times it is called the “holy, anointing oil” and the Jews were strictly forbidden from reproducing it for personal use (Exodus 30:32-33). The recipe for anointing oil is found in Exodus 30:23-24 and contained myrrh, cinnamon and other natural ingredients. There is no indication that the oil or the ingredients had any supernatural power. Rather, the strictness of the guidelines for creating the oil was a test of the obedience of the Israelites and a demonstration of the absolute holiness of God.

Only four New Testament passages refer to the practice of anointing with oil and none of them offer an…

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“Does God still speak to us today?”


 

First, it is clear God has spoken on many occasions. He revealed Himself audibly to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), Noah (Genesis 6:13-21), Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), and many others. So, God can speak to people, even audibly, if He desires.

But does God still speak to us today? Yes, He does so in a variety of ways. First, God has revealed Himself through the created world: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3). This form of revelation is obvious to all people, yet is not as direct as the written Word of God.

Second, God speaks through the Bible. Second Timothy 3:15-16 notes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Scripture comes from God and is therefore one clear way in which God speaks to people today.

Second Peter 1:20-21 likewise notes, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Bible is the perfect standard for determining what God has said, knowing His character, and evaluating other messages that claim to be from God.

In addition to the created world and the Word, God has also communicated in other ways throughout history. The Bible reveals that God has spoken through lots (Proverb 16:33; Acts 1:21-26), urim and thummim (Exodus 28:30), dreams (Genesis 20:3), visions (Isaiah 6:1Acts 11:3), angels (Daniel 9:20-21), prophets, events (such as in Micah 6:5), and Jesus (John 1:14).

God can and certainly does speak to people today in some of the ways mentioned in the Bible. However, some words of caution: First, anything God communicates to us will be consistent with what He has already revealed in the Bible. God is perfect, and He will not convey something that contradicts the perfect revelation He has already given.

Second, God often affirms His revelation through the wise counsel of other believers. When other godly people are involved in our lives, they can encourage us to pursue what God is leading us to do. Praise God for the gift of exhortation/encouragement (Romans 12:8).

Third, we must exercise caution when others claim God has spoken to them. The Bible says many “false prophets” will come who speak in the name of God (2 Peter 2:1). As a result, we are called to “test” to see if these people are truly speaking according to what God has revealed (1 John 4:1). Scripture says that those who claim to teach in Christ’s name will affirm that Jesus physically came to earth, died, and rose again (1 John 4:2-3). Those who hold to unorthodox teaching regarding the essentials of the faith cannot be trusted when they claim to speak for God.

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GRIN AND SHARE IT: “The Baptist Cowboy”


THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries

Baptist Cowboy

A cowboy walks into a bar in Texas, orders three mugs of Bud
and sits in the back room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn.
When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders
three more.

The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, “You know,
a mug goes flat after I draw it, it would taste better if you bought
one at a time.”

The cowboy replies, “Well, you see, I have two brothers. One
is in Australia, the other is in Dublin, and I’m in Texas. When we
all left home, we promised that we’d drink this way to remember
the days we drank together. So I drink one for each of my
brothers and one for myself.”

The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it
there. The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always

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“Should we have a Christmas Tree?”


THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries


 The modern custom of a Christmas tree does not come from any form of paganism. There is no evidence of any pagan religion decorating a special holiday tree for their mid-winter festivals, although the Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a festival called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. The first Christmas tree was decorated by Protestant Christians in 16th-century Germany. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early German traditions, and the custom most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio.

There is nothing in the Bible that either commands or prohibits Christmas…

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“How can we be happy in Heaven if all of our loved ones are not there?”


THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries


It’s hard to imagine that we can be happy in heaven if we have an awareness that those we loved on earth are not present. We do know that when we arrive in Heaven, we will not have anything to be saddened by. Revelation 21:4 tells us, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Missing our loved ones would presumably fall under the category of pain or mourning. Perhaps we will have no knowledge or remembrance of them at all. Perhaps we will have come to see things from a heavenly perspective and will understand why our loved ones not being there somehow glorifies God and will rejoice. We do know that we will finally see everything from God’s perspective, something which is impossible now. “Now all we…

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Are any black people mentioned in the Bible?


 The Bible does not specifically identify any person as being black-skinned. The Bible also does not specifically identify any person as being white-skinned. The vast majority of the Bible took place in the Middle East, in and around Israel. Neither “black” nor “white” people are common in these regions. The vast majority of the people in the Bible were “Semitic,” light to dark brown in complexion. Ultimately, it does not matter what skin color the people in the Bible had. Skin color is meaningless in the message of the Bible. We all need to take our eyes off of the skin and focus on the soul.

Some scholars guess that Moses’ wife Zipporah might have been black since she was a Cushite (Numbers 12:1). Cush is an ancient name for an area of Africa. The Shulammite may have been black (Song of Solomon 1:5), although the context indicates that her skin was dark due to being out in the sun. Some propose that Bathsheba (2 Samuel 113) was black. Some believe that the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1) was black. The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:37 was likely black. Ethiopians are mentioned about 40 times in the Bible, and the Prophet Jeremiah asked, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin …” (Jeremiah 13:23). “Simeon called Niger” in Acts 12:1 may have been black. The Bible, though, does not specifically say that any of these people were black.

Most Bible teachers believe that black people are descendants of Noah’s son Ham (Genesis 10:13-20), but we cannot be sure since the Bible does not specifically say. Why aren’t there more black people in the Bible? The vast majority of events in the Bible took place in the land of Israel. Although black people were common in many regions nearby Israel, Israel has never been an area where many black people have settled.

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