|Today marks the 100th one of these email/blog devotionals and commentaries I have written. A few of you have read most, if not all of them. Others, maybe a few along the way. I do hope they have encouraged you to think, to read scripture, to pray and to honor the Lord.
Time prohibits the longer incubation of some of these ideas. I do try to be accurate with my memories and comments, but I can certainly see how having an editor could be helpful.
I now have a new appreciation for those who write newspaper articles, editorials, and blogs, against a deadline. And my contribution is read by a very friendly and forgiving audience. While those writers may enjoy the same, they also have their share of unsympathetic, critical and even hostile readers.
One of my favorite writers often gives updates on his dog which he calls “Dingo.” I think my writing would be much better if I had a dog, but evidently, Kathy is satisfied with my writing as it is. She hasn’t warmed to the idea of a dog yet.
Another writer I like cannot help but be cynical and sarcastic. I laugh out loud at his offhanded comments, but I’m smart enough to know that some of you would not warm to me doing it.
There are two pastors who always capture my attention. Both are with the Lord today. One was long before my time. Charles Hadden Spurgeon was the pastor of London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle until his death in1892. In case you were wondering, he is the one before my time. I have a collection of his sermons in my library and hundreds of others sermons in digital format.
The other pastor who I still read today is W.A. Criswell. He pastored the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas for over 50 years. For a time, he was my pastor. He died in 2002.
Both Spurgeon and Criswell would preach a sermon, and a transcription of the sermon (and is Criswell’s case a recording) would be published. Both would pen commentaries and other works, but the mass of their writings were the transcriptions of their sermons.
Criswell would often remark that his sermons had to be edited for print because of the errors that might occur in extemporaneous preaching. Criswell had two degrees from Baylor University. I recall one was in English Literature. He would quote entire poems and often referred to the works of old. But reading so many of his sermons, I have discovered even he, in the heat of delivering a sermon would confuse a character or mention a wrong reference. Still, it is absolutely amazing how his spoken words, when put to print, read so well.
Before I was to preach my first sermon after I began to feel called to be a preacher, my pastor allowed me to use his library. I picked up a book by Spurgeon because I had heard preachers reference him so often. I found myself devouring his writing. I sometimes will pull out a volume to look up how he dealt with a particular word or verse and before you know it, I have read several chapters. He is just that good.
And, so you read these little emails I admit, I’m no Spurgeon or Criswell. I’m just McLaughlin. But, I do hope in some way they have been helpful to you.
Read this (daily Bible reading):
11 Then Herod, with his soldiers, treated Him with contempt, mocked Him, dressed Him in a brilliant robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Herod and Pilate became friends. Previously, they had been hostile toward each other.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You have brought me this man as one who subverts the people. But in fact, after examining Him in your presence, I have found no grounds to charge this man with those things you accuse Him of. 15 Neither has Herod, because he sent Him back to us. Clearly, He has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will have Him whipped and then release Him.” 17 [For according to the festival he had to release someone to them.]
18 Then they all cried out together, “Take this man away! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (He had been thrown into prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)
20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify! Crucify Him!”
22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What has this man done wrong? I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore, I will have Him whipped and then release Him.”
23 But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And their voices won out. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand 25 and released the one they were asking for, who had been thrown into prison for rebellion and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.
26 As they led Him away, they seized Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, and laid the cross on him to carry behind Jesus. 27 A large crowd of people followed Him, including women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. 29 Look, the days are coming when they will say, ‘The women without children, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed, are fortunate!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with Him. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] And they divided His clothes and cast lots.
35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine 37 and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”
38 An inscription was above Him:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”
40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”
43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
One prayer to pray with the rest of us.
Lord, thank you for the authors and scholars and pastors and teachers that have helped me to know You better.
Today’s assignment, should you choose to accept it.
Pick up a book, go to the library or go online and read from some of the great writers of the past and of our day.