Articles published in 2001 

Below is a summary of articles written by Elder Neil Phelan for the Malvern newspaper. They are numbered according to publication order. To see the complete article simply click the title. You can also jump to other newspaper article collections using the menu on the left or search for words in the Google search engine. Soon we will complete a topics page, to help you find articles that way. 

#114 THE 3 O'S OF GOD


Everyone knows that the fundamentals of our secular education involve three basic subjects: reading, writing and arithmetic.  A basic understanding of these principles provides a solid platform for most every other subject.  Concerning God, there are three fundamental attributes of His divine person from which we may build a solid platform for our doctrine and practice.  These are: Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Omniscience.      


Omnipresence means that God is everywhere present and nowhere absent.  It means that God not only exists eternally, it also means that He occupies every facet of time and space. I recently read the story of a little boy who showed a great interest and knowledge in the things of God.  Several of the men of the church decided they would get together and ask the little boy some questions and offer him a reward if he could answer them properly.  They asked him, "Where would you say God is right now?  If you give the correct answer we…



"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…..O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"- Romans 7:15,24,25

Have you ever tried to live up to the law only to find that you can't?  Have you found yourself trying to get good enough to merit the blessings of heaven only to realize that if you were given a thousand lifetimes you could never get to a place that you could say, "I have attained, I am ready to stand before the judge of all the earth."  As hard as you try, there are still doubts, fears, struggles and frustrations within.  If this is your case, you have great reason to rejoice for this is where the apostle Paul finds himself in Romans 7 as he describes "The Christian's Inner Conflict."                                         


Over one-hundred years ago, Spurgeon said, "Conflict is the principle part of Christianity…



"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it"-Matthew 13:45-46

While there are many blessings to be enjoyed in the Lord's kingdom, there is one treasure that sets it apart from all others and that is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Though many would suggest that our depth of spirituality is dependent upon our particular creed, doctrine, rituals, or the name on the sign in front of our place of worship, Jesus paints quite a different picture.  Jesus shows us by a word picture of Himself that the primary focus of the kingdom of God is not all of those things.  Rather, It involves a relationship; a valuable relationship; a relationship that will cost us something yet provides us riches that we could never imagine.  He is he 'pearl of great price'.


In 1905, a man by the name of Kokichi Mikimoto…



"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight"-Luke 10:21

Though we may search the scriptures diligently, there will be few occasions we find the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief in the posture of rejoicing.  As the beautiful rainbow pierces the dark sky between two storms, Christ's rejoicing colors the darkness of the wrath to come that hovers around Him.  A delightful, yet rare occasion.  I am sure the Father rejoiced to see the smile upon His Son's face, the beloved Son He would soon bruise for the sins of His people.  Let us rejoice with Him!                              


When Jesus rejoices we have reason to rejoice as well.  For us to join Him we must see what His spiritual eye perceived.  If you will notice, Jesus is thanking the…



"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight"-Luke 10:21

Last week we discovered the "wise and prudent" that Jesus here condemns to be those people who have no interest in Christ or His cross.  At first, this seems like a paradox.  We are to preach the cross, yet there are those we may encounter that will declare the nucleus of our message as "foolishness".  Many questions arise in our hearts as, I am sure, it did in the hearts of those to whom Jesus spoke.  Are we not to preach the cross?  How does one become a "babe" that Jesus here elevates above the wise and prudent and thanks the Father for?   And what is a "babe" anyway?  What should our position be concerning evangelism?  Is God fair to do such a thing?

First and foremost, we must recognize the sovereignty of…

#119 Rejoicing with Christ (part 3) 


"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight"-Luke 10:21

Last week we concluded our article by asking how a person comes to know God and His Son and what is the difference between those to whom He has been revealed.  We hear many things of Jesus Christ today.  Though some will deny that He actually existed, presenting His person as a myth, others recognize that if by no other reason, history bears His mark in the sands of time so they casually pass Jesus off as a wise philosopher or some good man. Even Jesus posed the question to His own disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?"  Even then, many answers were given, "John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets."  O.K., even then, seeing His physical person, witnessing His miracles, hearing His…



"Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not;"-Psalm71:18a

We take our text today from the 71st division of the Psalms, referred to by many as "The Prayer of the Aged Believer".  Much is said today about the youth, yet, in the midst of tutoring our young we can make the grave mistake of forgetting the backbone of our churches, those faithful ones who have witnessed many seasons in God's house: the "old and grayheaded." 

 It seems to be a universal thought among the young that the hoary head has it all together, they have no problems; no struggles; no worries; no fears; and no confusion of face.  Yet, the psalmist presets to us the truth of the matter: when natural strength is waning, when the nest is empty, when pipe dreams are past, when the looking glass is less kind to features, when friends are dispersed into their various places, when many loved ones have passed on to the other shore, the companionship of God is needed more than…



Many are the answers that a father must give.  Some are difficult.  Some will challenge us to find "acceptable words" that will not only instruct, but will convict the conscience as well.  I was recently blessed to hear a father give a heartrending answer to a well beloved son who asked his dad the following question: "Dad, what is so wrong with tattoos and body piercing."  Here was his reply.

"Son, you know that I love you.  You are special gift from God.  You are made in the image of God(Genesis 1:27).  There never has been, nor will there ever be another person just like you.  You are a very handsome boy.  There will never be another person that looks just like you.  Your soul is unique.  This gives you a unique personality that is different and diverse from any person who will ever live.  God has given you have a good mind.  Millions of people do not have that.  You have a healthy body, you are able to enjoy many activities.  Many people do not have a body like…



"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"-1 Peter 1:3 

Many years ago, a battle was fought, the greatest battle that has ever occurred since the world began.  The captain of one army evaluated his enemy, a great opposing force.  He looked at his own army and knew there was no chance for his army to win.  It would be like sending little children to fight giants or matching swords and spears against a nuclear arsenal. So, one day, unknown to his own troops, he marched off to battle and faced the enemy alone.  Though he was just one warrior, the enemy used every diabolical device in their arsenal.  They knew the death of this great champion would mean certain victory for them. As expected, the warrior was killed.  As his body was laid to rest the enemy smiled, considering the millions of captured souls that would become their…

#123 The Spiritual Leader of the Home


"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD"-JOSHUA24:15 

It was the week before Father's day that my mind was turned to the scriptures in search of a text appropriate for a Father's day discourse.  Joshua's words, "As for me and my house", seemed to echo in my soul as I began to consider the implications of these words for Father's day, 2001.  Like a clap of thunder the pinnacle of Joshua's expression came down on me; the focal point of all that he said emerged into this one short sentence: the primary responsibility of a father is to be the spiritual leader of the home.

Not too long ago, a survey was conducted of over 700 high school students asking their thoughts on the ten most desirable qualities of a father.  At the…



"Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer"-Psalm 4:1

Distress can come in many ways.  The last part of that word is stress.  Pressure, worries, fears, disappointments, heartaches sickness and fear have always been the soul hunters of God's people throughout the ages.  Some come from our own sin and neglect.  Others are the byproduct of a depraved society.  Surely, these are not new.  David had experienced his portion in the land of the living.  His pen speaks of present and past experiences of distress.  Yet his pen is not one of surrender.  It paints a vivid picture of hope and encouragement…..even in times of distress.  As he considered his present plight and called upon God to hear his complaint a former experience came to light.  As he spoke, God sent him a kind reminder of a miraculous event that occurred the last time he approached the most High in such a state: He…



"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"-Romans 8:38,39

It is a great blessing for Christians to know and understand the eternal love that God has for His people.  Surely this was Paul's opinion as he gave the church at Rome a long list of impossibilities that might cause one to think that God had quit loving them.  If the great apostle was "persuaded" that God's love for His people is eternal, that it could never be severed, should we not be persuaded as well?  Just look at the list that Paul has given us.

"Neither death"…..No matter how one might die, God's love can not be altered.  I read an ancient story about the persecution of the early Christians.  One of the evil designs of their enemies was to torture the Christian until they were in such…

#126 "No Answer"


"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer"-John 19:8,9.  No answer seems to be a hard answer as Pilate desperately seeks the true identity of the Son of God.  Yet, no answer is given.  Some might say, "If the eternal destiny of Pilate was based upon an immediate decision for Christ, surely Jesus missed an excellent opportunity to change this man's life forever by declaring at the top of His holy lungs: I am the Son of God; I am King of Kings: I am the Creator of all worlds; I am the Savior; and etc. and etc."  Yet, Jesus gave him no answer; passed out no tracts; nor called upon this man to make a decision.  It has been two-thousand years since Jesus had this encounter with Pilate.  Much has been forgotten and confused as to why Jesus came and how salvation was really accomplished.  Just look at what the Pharisees and the Saducees had done to the…



This week, we witnessed the most horrific act of terrorism this country has ever known, the destruction of the World Trade Center and the an attempt to destroy the Pentagon and who knows what other targets.  Even in our little town, it seemed like pandemonium as people raced to the gas stations in fear of what tomorrow might bring.  In the midst of chaos it is a great comfort for us to remember that Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father and is still in control of all things.  In the panic of it all I observed something very interesting: people on CNN were actually talking about prayer and God!  As we read the scriptures, it was catastrophe that, many times, brought God's people back to Him and many times their first act was prayer.

It was Paul that reminded Timothy of the importance of prayer for the leaders of lands: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and



It has been over a week since the tragic events transpired in New York and Washington.  Many questions are before the eyes of America today.  Why?  Will it happen again?  If so, where?  What should we do about it?  How should we do it?  To how many should we do it to?  Why did God allow it?  Were the people in the towers greater sinners than others?  From liberals to conservatives, from country to country, even from the core of America we seem to have conflicting signals to many of these questions.  Yet, what we really need to know is what God thinks about it all; what is He saying to us; what is God's perspective?


C.S. Lewis wrote something like this, "God whispers to us through prosperity and he screams at us through pain".  Though the Old Testament has been labeled by modernists as a book of fables and legends, it was by affliction and pain that God brought His people back to Him.  From the great flood to the invasion of the enemies of…

#129 "PERSPECTIVE" (Part 2)


Last week, we tried to focus our attention upon God in the midst of our terrors: what is His perspective of it all? It would be easy for us to go back to business as usual.  After all, the stock market is coming back, petroleum prices and interest rates are down and the horrors of September, 11th are becoming one of those well remembered scars that have marred the pages of history as they interrupted our busy schedules.  But for me, the voice was too loud, too close and the cry too urgent to pass by without a solemn inquiry from the most High:  is there something amiss in our great nation?  Am I a part of it?    


Suppose if you will, that the tragedies of September 11 occurred every day in America.  Suppose approximately 6,000 innocent people died in our country… every day.   According to statistics, in 1990, 4,383 infants were put to death in the sanctity of their mother's wombs every day.  Today, the figure is even…

#130 Perspective (part 3)


Last Wednesday morning, I was eating breakfast at Oak Terrace Tea Room, when a sweet sister approached me with Bible in hand.  "I am reading from Lamentations today", she said.  "It reminds me of our nation".  This sister saw more than many see today.  Though we would not confuse God's kingdom with this great country, we must confess that there are many parallels between the weeping prophet's words to Israel of old and what is happening in our nation today.  Our enemy is not without.  It is not people from other countries who laugh at us and our God.  Our enemy is within.  It is the erosion of Biblical values that honor God and His Son.  As God gently removes His restraining grace His is saying, "Come back to Me".  Jeremiah saw it.  He preached, he pleaded with God's people.  Yet, that is not what they wanted to hear.  They threw the faithful prophet into a pit.  He wept.


So, what should we, as individuals do?  We might say, "I am just one…



"And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth….And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth…..And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan"-Genesis 23:3,7,19

I know Abraham was loath to leave the cave at Machpelah where his precious Sarah was buried.  Many were the years of their pilgrimage together as husband and wife.  Sarah was the mother of his beloved son, Isaac, and had been his faithful companion in days of prosperity and great adversities.  It was here that their earthly pilgrimage had ended, and for now, Abraham must say goodbye to his faithful helpmeet.  Yet, in the midst of Abraham's great loss, the Holy Ghost has been faithful to record solemn words of encouragement for others who would walk this way, leaving the precious remains of their loved one in caves, cemeteries and…



"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross"-Philippians 2:8

Of all the Christian graces that are pleasing to our heavenly Father, humility would be found at the top of the list.  Much is written about the subject in scripture, yet it is the grace that is hardest for us to attain.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of humility.  During this great time of distress in our nation I am sure that President Bush has looked at the figures of Lincoln and Washington and pondered the question, "What would they do now".  In the simple affairs of every day life the Christian looks at the captain of their salvation and weighs every thought and action with "What would He do now".

Humility is Not Weakness

To the Greeks and the Romans humility was a form of weakness, a moral flaw or a glitch in the character of real men and women.  Perhaps that is the reason that Jesus gave us so many lessons on humility. …



"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem"-Luke 9:5

Our Lord led a very focused life.  His purpose was always before Him.  Even as a child He would say, "I must be about my Father's business."  He came to redeem His people from their sins and nothing moved Him from His purpose till the atonement was made and the captives set free.  To be focused means that we have a goal in life, a God honoring purpose and that we are moving towards that purpose in a determined way.  As our Lord's face was "stedfastly set to go to Jerusalem" to die upon a cross for our sins, let us set our face before our calling and lead a focused life as well.

Is it not difficult for us all to remained focused upon our responsibilities in life?  Whether it is our jobs or our families, we can be sure the devil will use all his power to distract and divert our attention from those things that are not only pleasing to our heavenly…



"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied"-1Peter 1:2


When the Apostle Peter explained election, he did not begin with the sinner, he began with God.  Peter uses the word "foreknowledge" as he explains election.  That means that God foreknew His people before they knew Him; before they were born.  That was before there were any denominational barriers, rules of decorum, church covenants and articles of faith.  This takes us back to the beginning of our election: to God Himself.  Surely, the bible has a lot of pieces to fit together.  But like the jigsaw puzzle, start with an easy corner piece and all the other pieces will fall into place.  Election is our corner piece, a beginning piece.  It makes other scriptures fall into place.  By this we understand when we were chosen, "According as he…



"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth"-1 Timothy 3:15

Truth is a rare commodity in the modern marketplace.  Whether we speak of history, religion, politics, science, or even medicine we will find conflicting sentiments.  When we finally find some answers that are supported by substantial evidence we find peace in our hearts, for our search is over and the problem at hand is solved.  There is a place of peace, a place for spiritual searching to end, that place is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The "pillar and ground" are the supporting foundation and beams.  The church did not make the truth, it supports the truth that God reveals in His word.  If any truth exists today concerning God and His people, it will be found in the church.

Today, we see the evidence of an unchurched society. …



As you enter the door of my study at Harmony Church, you will find a plaque that displays the wise words of Solomon:"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones"-Proverbs 17:22.  This is one of my favorite scriptures because it reminds me of an attitude, a posture that should be displayed in the house of God, and among God's people in general. It reminds me of what people around me need, even when I do not feel merry myself and that this medicine needs to be dispensed in abundance because it is good for God's people. Consider with me "Good Medicine".

  Every leader must have a merry heart.  Who wants to follow a sour puss.  A sour, negative leader will produce followers of the same gender.  Sure, we all have down times, times of struggle, times of loss and tragedy, yet there should always be enough "good medicine" around to lift our spirits and guide us through those dark days.  How would our nation feel today if President Bush went…



As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday it is good that we give thanks to God for our many blessings.  In the days of the Old Testament, lovers and worshipers of God gave thanks by offering up the firstfruits of their crops to Him that blessed their harvest.  Today, let us offer up the "fruit" of our lips as we pause to thank the Lord for the bounty of another day.  

"Giving thanks" is a mental attitude.  By the writings of the apostles we are encouraged to catch it and keep it by practicing it.  Our holiday suggests it to a nation.  Not only does giving thanks render praise unto the giver of every good and perfect gift, it is healthy to the soul.  "Giving thanks" focuses our minds on the positive areas of our lives and keeps us from dwelling on the negative.  In the days of the apostles, the warrior prepared himself for battle by putting on strap, a girdle, that helped to hold their posture as they wielded the sword in battle.  By giving thanks, we do much the same as…



Jabez was "more honourable than his brethren".  As we read the words of his prayer In 1 Chronicles, 4, we gain a glimpse of his honor.  We feel to know much about the man, his character and his vision from the words that ascended from his lips as he approached the most High.  Among those we find a noble petition: "Keep me from evil."  

It is wise to ask the Lord to keep us from evil.  Without the hand of God we are no match for Satan.  He will sift us as wheat and bring much pain into our lives.  Is it not evil that causes so much pain in our world?  That was the reason of Jabez's petition: "that it might not grieve me".  The request might at first seem selfish.  It seems as though Jabez would protect only his own honor and conscience from grief.  Yet, we see more to his words than a selfish request.  Jabez knew that evil in his life would not only wound his own conscience, but also inflict pain upon the people around him, people that he loved.  Children, family,…



Last week, as I was sitting on my deer stand, I enjoyed one of those rare displays of God's beautiful creation.  As I gazed across the cut-over there were millions of downy white seeds floating across the opening.  For three hours, this spectacle gave the appearance of gigantic snowflakes as the warm southern wind lifted the seeds from their stalks and sent them spiraling northward to land in some remote corner of the woods and fields.  The setting sun shone through my entertainment adding the final touches to the backdrop of God's beautiful picture.  This was something that I knew I could not put in my pocket and carry home.  A camera could not capture it and I doubt a movie screen could hold it.  As I enjoyed the splendor I thought of God's wisdom as the earth was re-seeded in this way for just one species of plant.  As each seed parachuted its way to earth and found its own particular nesting place I thought of Romans 8:28-30, "And we know that all things work together…



Look inside a home and find the child that is obedient, willing to help out around the house and respectful to the parent and there you will find a beautiful grace which we would call maturity.  Go to the classroom and observe, note the children that are attentive, eager to learn and respectful of their teacher and you will find maturity.  Visit the workplace, see those that are busy with their daily routines, find those that are diligent in their tasks, cheerful, considerate of others around them, interested in doing a good job and you will once again find the gentle grace of maturity.  In God's house you will find the same grace.  There we refer to it as "spiritual maturity".

Spiritual maturity is what pastors love to see.  That is why they labor.  They love to take people from unchuched, to the casual attendee, to the regular attendee, to the baptized member, to the devoted member, to the devoted ministering member.  When we minister to others, even if it is…



It is at this time of year that many hearts are turned to the birth of Christ.  Tokens of love are passed from heart to heart as we enjoy the season of giving.  As we grow older, we learn that the greatest joy of this season is seeing others enjoy whatever we have chosen as our person love token.  Giving is one of the greatest examples of discipleship.  The Bible depicts giving as ministering to others.  A hand to touch the lonely, a smile to warm the heart, a kind word, a cup of coffee, a morsel of food for the needy are all found in the list of ministering to others.  What joy Jesus must have experienced as He gave to others.  It is for this reason that He came, to minister to others: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"-Mark 10:45.  

Ministering to the needs of others is the greatest sacrifice one may make, yet it is the most rewarding.  Many times, the smile on the givers face is…



Recently, a child shared a burden with his mother and she encouraged him to give it to the Lord.  The reply was, "Isn't that too small to bring before God".  To the child, God was so awesome, so important, so great and powerful, that surely this little matter could be of little concern to Him.  To the great encouragement of the child, Peter's words were explained: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you"-I Peter 5:7.  They were explained like this.

First, the word "all" was explained: "My child, every one of us struggle with the same feelings as you have.  We all have difficulty believing that Jesus cares for all of the troubles of all of His people.  It seems too much for any One person to know or handle.  Yet, we must see Him as God.  Each of us need to approach Him as the only child He knows or cares for.  Not only that, but we must always remember that the word 'all' is inclusive.  It is a blanket that covers all distractions of the soul: small,…

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