Category Archives: Memory

What Do You Do With An Old Year?

In a few short days, this year will be put down in the books. The deeds you have done will be recorded in God’s book of remembrance and they all, but for one exception, cannot be erased. It is truly amazing, almost to the point of being breathtaking, how time seems to fly, especially as you get older! When you are young, you think you have forever, but as you get older time seems to speed up. Because of that, you may have many years under your belt. But what good is an old year anyway? What can you do with it?

First, I suggest, you can be thankful for it. Many people did not make it through last year. The odds are, you probably know someone very close to you who did not make it through the end of the year. The wise man said, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). James, likewise, says we know not what shall be on the morrow (James 4:13-16). We don’t have the promise of tomorrow; this night our souls might be required of us (Luke 12:20). Our own experience should teach us this. As we are thankful in everything, let us not forget to give thanks for the passing year (I Thess. 5:18).

Another very important thing we can do with the old year is to learn from it. We know that sacred history was written for our learning (I Cor. 10:6,11; Rom. 15:4). Our own history can also be instructive as we face the new year, if we are willing to learn it’s lessons. The old saying is, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Only a fool would refuse to learn from experience (Prov. 1:5-9). The new year will be far more pleasant for us if we allow ourselves to learn from the old.

In the third place, while we should learn from the past, we should also learn to forget some of the past. Paul wrote that in his efforts to live the Christian life, he tried diligently to forget those things which are behind and to press forward to those things which are before (Phil. 3:13). The emphasis should be upon things eternal. Some people live in the past, which, in and of itself is not a bad thing. But living in the past to the exclusion of the here and now and of the future can be detrimental. The children of Israel looked back to Egypt and lot’s wife looked back to Sodom. Lest s not make the same mistake. Jesus said no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). In order to plow a straight line, we cannot look back, but we must look to the Author and Finisher of our Faith (Heb. 12:1,2).

In the fourth place, however, I would suggest remembering the good times you enjoyed and the blessings you received this past year. Paul said that we should think on whatsoever things were true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). If you enjoyed a special moment with family or friends, cherish it. The time may come when you will not have those opportunities. Paul said he affectionately called to remembrance the unfeigned faith which dwelt in Timothy’s mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5). These moments we make together here in this life are the real treasures that are lasting!

Fifth, accept what you have done in the past year but don’t let it define you. If you have failed in some way in the past in your life or in your service to the Lord, come to terms with it. Peter had denied the Lord. Paul persecuted and killed Christians. Many New Testament Christians had previously engaged in the things of this world–adultery, fornication, effeminacy, thievery, drunkenness, etc.–but they had changed. Paul said “such were some of you” (I Cor. 6:9-11). They did not deny that they had done some these things, but they were not going to let those things define who they were. Jesus said if there were hindrances in the past, we should deal with them and move on (Matt. 5:23,24).

I mentioned earlier that all our deeds are recorded in God’s book of remembrance and cannot be removed, albeit with one exception. Our past can be removed if we submit ourselves to God’s will and accept His offer of pardon. Then, and only then, will He remove our record from His book of remembrance. He promises that when we obey His will, then our sins and our iniquities will He remember no more (Heb. 8:12). If we as Christians sin, the record of that transgression will be permanently removed if we confess our sins (I John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22). It is only in Christ that we truly can start anew. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

We come to the close of another year. Be thankful for it and use it to make the next year an even better one. It is my prayer that this year was a good one for you. If you have suffered in some way, I pray that you might find comfort in the days ahead. May the next year find you receiving abundant blessings from God.

Eric L. Padgett

A Great Man Fallen This Day

It was with great sorrow that we received the news that brother Garland Elkins passed from this life on Friday, October 28, 2016. Because he dad such a profound impact not only on me, but also on the brotherhood, I feel compelled to mention a few things in his memory. Brother Elkins was a prolific writer, dedicated editor, capable debater, sound Gospel preacher and faithful child of God. The value of his work in the kingdom of God is inestimable.

I have spent many hours listening to brother Elkins in meetings and in lectureships and when ever I had the opportunity. Some years ago, I spoke with him on several occasions when he held meetings where I attended, discussed doctrinal and brotherhood issues while eating with him or driving him to his hotel, and generally picked his brain whenever possible. I will forever be indebted to him for his wonderful Christian example and for the truth I learned from him.

Four things impressed me about brother Elkins. The first was his love of the scriptures. As a new Christian, I had heard others quote the scriptures before, but not the way brother Elkins quoted them, nor so prolifically. No matter what the issue was, brother Elkins would quote the scriptures. I remember when Brother Elkins was on the Donahue program, Phil Donahue sarcastically quipped, “I’m gonna guarantee you the minister’s got a section of scripture that covers that in the Bible.” But brother Elkins, with what little time he was given, unflappably quoted the scriptures and spoke the truth. Truly, the word of Christ dwelt in him richly (Col. 3:16).

Second, he was a very kind person. His presentation was always with meekness, yet firmness. When he spoke about an issue with me that I had inquired about, though he knew the truth about it, he would say something to the effect, “Don’t you think that’s right?” He didn’t need my affirmation, but he was trying to gently nudge me in the right direction. He often humorously observed about certain individuals, “Some people are so disagreeable, even their stomachs disagree with them.” He followed Paul’s teaching, “Let your speech be always with grace” (Col. 4:6).

Third, he was dedicated to the Lord’s work in saving souls. I remember in one lesson he recalled how he was with another Christian and he saw a member of their congregation who had become unfaithful. He told the brother that was with him that if they had the opportunity, they would have to encourage that person to return to the Lord. It just so happens that they all got on the same elevator with other people, yet he spoke softly but clearly, and urged this unfaithful child of God to return back to the Lord. He was always trying to convert the sinner from the error of his ways and save a soul from death (James 5:19,20).

The fourth thing that stood out about brother Elkins to me was his energy. He was always going somewhere to preach or else coming from somewhere having preached. He was forty years older than I was but he had much more energy and purpose. I remember one year at the Spiritual Sword lectureship that the atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair was in Memphis on a radio talk show in town, and he encouraged others to call her and challenge her. I don’t remember if he did or not, but if he had the time, I am sure he would have tried. On another occasion he stayed late after the lectureship was over playing tapes of some false teacher for others to be informed. He epitomized Paul’s direction to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).

A couple of years ago I wrote about brother Elkins (and other preachers who influenced me) in an article entitled Honor to whom Honor. “Brother Garland Elkins has also had a profound impact upon me. I can listen to brother Elkins preach for hour on end and never grow tired. His nimble recollection of scripture and his meek but forceful presentation of the truth and defense of it are a pattern for me in my preaching, though I fall far short of his example. His lessons are filled with book, chapter and verse preaching and quotation of scripture, but they also contain the occasional anecdote that brings the point home. He has a great sense of humor, as well. I remember on one occasion in Kentucky when he was encouraging others to attend the Spiritual Sword lectureship, he said “You want to go to heaven, don’t you!” Every young preacher ought to listen to his sermons and learn from them.”

I always checked to see if brother Elkins opened my newsletter. I was proud to know that he, with some other beloved brethren, received and looked at this newsletter. He always did until some time ago and I wondered then if he perhaps didn’t like it.  But I later learned that his health was poor and that this was the reason why.  When Abner fell at the hands of Joab and Abishai, David stated: “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (II Samuel 3:38). And so it is today that a great man is fallen this day in Israel. Brother Elkins will be missed in the years to come. We need more men like him to stand for the truth and defeat error. May God bless and comfort his family in their time of mourning.

Eric L. Padgett

Back-up Your Info In Your DNA!

The January 23 issue of Nature reported that some information–in this instance all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, a photograph of a building, two science articles, and an mp3 clip of a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech–had been stored in a short strand of DNA. The resultant DNA was just a barely visible speck on the bottom of a small test tube. The scientists who brought about this experiment tout it as a possible means of storing massive amounts of information in the future for long periods of time.

However, scientists already knew about the nature of genetic information stored in DNA and creationists have long pointed to this as evidence that there is an intelligence behind it’s design, only to have evolutionists ridicule the idea. Now that scientists have managed to store non-genetic data in DNA it is even more obvious that information creation and storage require intelligence.

According to the article, it took over two weeks to read the information encoded in the DNA and cost $10,000 using the best technology known to man. To store the world’s existing data would cost more money than is even available on our planet! Yet DNA is read every minute of the day with ease in living things and the evolutionists expect us to believe this just happened by natural selection without any intelligence behind it.

If, later, someone were to sequence a strand of DNA and find a book of Shakespeare or an audio file or an image embedded in the DNA, would anyone think that this just happened by natural selection? Wouldn’t this be even greater evidence of intelligence and design than finding a watch on a beach, an illustration offered by William Paley back in 1802? And yet, the genetic material in DNA is even greater than any work of Shakespeare or photo or human speech. These genes produced the minds that create these works of art.

The authors also propose that in a decade, when technology has much improved, this might become a way to store information for long periods of time without decay. Normal digital storage media quickly become obsolete (remember 8-Track tapes and cassettes?) and degrade over time. It is said, however, DNA lasts much longer.

It is interesting that in the  article on the subject, reference was made to Woolly Mammoth DNA being preserved for “tens of thousands of years.” However no reference was made to dinosaur DNA being found in T-Rex fossils. This was not mentioned perhaps because scientists also know it is not possible for DNA to last for 65 million years. Yet, according to Dr. Mary Schweitzer “material consistent with DNA” has been found in dinosaur fossils of that age. This caused quite a stir when announced. However, undaunted, Evolutionists never even considered re-thinking their view of when dinosaurs lived but, instead, changed their view of how long DNA could survive even though the experimental evidence is against it!

Nevertheless, while man-made digital tape degrades and is limited, God’s storage methods are permanent and unlimited.  That is especially true of God’s revealed word.  It will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).

But the bottom line is DNA is information that God stored in our cells to build our physical bodies. Anyone of normal intelligence would be impressed with both the design and intelligence exhibited not only in our bodies but in the world itself.

Eric L. Padgett

Do Not Forget

This weekend in America we remember and honor those who have given their lives for our freedom.  I am personally grateful for the men who gave their lives in defense of this country, especially my uncle, whom I never met, who died in the Battle of the Bulge.  They are heroes and deserve to be remembered.  Officially we observe the final Monday of May as Memorial Day, but many of us also remember this weekend all those who have gone on before us.  It is both fitting and proper that we should remember them because they mean so much to us.

But our minds are really amazing machines.  We can remember obscure events from our childhood but can’t remember where we put the keys!  There are some things which we would like to forget but can’t, and there are other things which we try to remember but can’t.  As Christians, we sometimes forget some very important things which we really should remember.  Here are a few things God wants us to remember.

First, He wants us to remember Him.  “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Eccles. 12:1).  The world has purposely forgotten God, because they don’t want to retain Him in their knowledge (Rom. 1:28).  Forgetting God makes sin much easier.  As Christian we must always remember God and put Him first (Matt. 6:33; I Pet. 3:15).

Second, we should remember from where we came (Eph. 2:11-13).  Paul encouraged the brethren at Ephesus to remember that they were once Gentiles in the flesh, having no hope, without God and in the world.  It is important to remember just how far we have traveled down this sometimes lonely road.  Some people become rich, successful and famous in life and forget their roots, but God wants us to appreciate all that He has done for us and how much we have accomplished.  Once we were the servants of sin but now we are free from the bondage of sin (Rom. 6:16-18).

Third, we should remember the apostles (Heb. 13:7).  Just as many soldiers died to give us the freedoms we enjoy here in America (though many of these freedoms are being taken away from us day by day), the apostles gave their lives to deliver the gospel to the world.  We should never forget their devotion but should consider and follow the example of their faith.  These men were martyred for the Cause of Christ.  They loved the Lord and His word more than their own lives.  Remembering them encourages us to also stand as they stood.

Fourth, we should remember the Lord’s death till He comes again (I Cor. 11:23-30).  Jesus specifically instituted the Lord’s Supper to commemorate His death (Matt. 26:26-30).  This is the one thing which the Lord instituted which is to be done every first day of every week (Acts 20:7).  It should be a solemn period of worship in which we reflect upon the meaning of the death of Christ.  When it is turned into a feast or frivolous affair, we jeopardize our souls (I Cor. 11:27,28).

Finally, we should remember that the servant is not greater than his Lord (John 15:20).  Jesus said if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  Christians should count it a privilege to suffer for the Cause of Christ (Acts 5:41).  Most today do not want to make waves or to upset the delicate balance of “peace.”  But if we stand for the Truth, then we will make waves and we will suffer persecution.  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12).

May we always remember God’s will in our lives.

Eric L. Padgett

Memorizing God’s Word

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

The heart is the very center of man, the deepest part, which involves our thoughts, our feelings and our volition (I Pet. 1:22; Prov. 4:23; Matt. 5:8; Heb. 4:12; etc.). It is the part of man to which God appeals when He speaks to us through His revealed will (Acts 2:37). This intimate core of our being is the part of us in which God’s word is to find a permanent, undisturbed lodging.

God’s word is to be hidden in our hearts. Just as baby Moses was hidden from Pharaoh or as the two Hebrew spies were hidden by Rahab, so God’s word is to be hidden in our hearts (Ex. 2:2; Josh 2:4). It is to be hidden from the reach of satan who will gladly snatch it out of our hearts that it cannot influence us any longer (Luke 8:5,12). It is to be so deeply rooted that no weeds can choke it out (Luke 8:7,14). It is to be meditated upon daily (Psalm 1:1-3). It should ever be our delight and our counselor (Psalm 119:24; Rom. 7:22).

Some people can recite quite from memory a letter or a statement from loved ones now removed from their presence. Each word is like a beautiful note and all notes together like a beautiful melody. These words are so easily remembered because that person touched their heart. They remember not the words of the grocer nor the orations of public officials but they remember those simple, unremarkable words which reached their heart because that is where that person lived–in their hearts.

How much more should the word of God so impact our lives so that it is ever on our tongues and our meditation all the day long? We must let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16). Timothy knew the Scriptures from a child, instilled in him by his precious mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5; 3:14-17). What a precious jewel it is when a family, united in love, studies God’s word together.

It is said of Thomas Campbell that:

“The holy oracles were not only always on the table, but daily in the hands of his family, children, and servants. They were read in the family every morning; a portion was memorized every day, and recited every evening. They were, again and again, reviewed and recited at special intervals; whole epistles were committed to memory, and repeated especially on Lord’s day evenings. Thus the Divine word became, as it were, incorporated with the minds of his household.

‘Attending church,’ or ‘going to meeting,’ as it happened to be called, was, in his family, a rather grave and serious matter. Every member of the family, child or servant, that attended church, “went to meeting” with the understanding that he or she was to give an account of what was spoken; not only of the text or topic, as it was called, but also a sort of synopsis of the discourse. In fact, this review was a miniature of the sermon or lecture, as it happened to be called.” (Alexander Campbell, Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell, together with a Brief Memoir of Mrs. Jane Campbell (Cincinnati: H. S. Bosworth, 1861), 265-267.)

Oh, that the word of God were so adored today by those professing faith in Christ. If it were, there would be no unwanted efforts to memorize it, just as one does not set out to memorize a letter by a loved one. It cannot help but be remembered, when it is in the heart. This is what God wants of us.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest (Hebrews 8:10-11).

Does the Word of God abide in your heart?

Eric L. Padgett