Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rev. Lacy Williams (1923-2010)

This past Sunday, my stepfather and the author of this blog, Pastor Lacy Williams, went home to be with the Lord after a short illness. I am posting his obituary below. Our family desires that his blog be left in place so that anyone may access his past essays. From time to time, additional essays that Lacy wrote may be posted here in the future. On behalf of the family, I'd like to ask for prayer for Lacy's wife, Lurea, and his children during these difficult days. We are thankful to the Lord for the blessing that Lacy has been to many during his more than 50 years of ministry.

Joel Griffith
Freeport, IL

Rev. Lacy A. Williams, 86, of Freeport (Red Oak), IL, died October 3, 2010, at Provena St. Joseph Center in Freeport, IL. Lacy was born December 15, 1923, in Rainelle, WV, the second of eight children. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the Navy for five years.
He then attended Freed-Hardeman College, Henderson, TN, from 1951-1954, where he became deeply interested in the Bible.

Lacy’s strong faith in Christ became the foundation of his ministry, which lasted for more than 50 years. Lacy pastored churches in West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, New York, California and Missouri. He retired in 2000 after serving for several years as pastor of the Church of God in Forrest, Illinois. As he would often say, “I have a deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ and His Word.”

During the last 15 years of his life, Lacy learned to use the computer, published two books, maintained an online blog, “The True Believer,” and published a weekly series of e-mail essays also entitled “The True Believer.”

Lacy is survived by his wife, May Lurea, and his children, Sharon Sellers, Dianne Hershman, Donna Bean and David (Marcy) Williams, and their mother, Betty Lilly Williams. He is also survived by step- children Carol Garrison, Vicki (Barry) Collinson and Joel Griffith, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, his brother Lovell
(Erma) Williams, and many loving relatives.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, October 7, 2010, at the Moreland Funeral Home, 55 E. Schrock Road, Westerville, Ohio.
Visitation will be at the funeral home Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, friends who wish may contribute in memory of Lacy to the youth ministry at Park Hills Evangelical Free Church, 2525 W. Stephenson Street, Freeport, Illinois, 61032. Contributions may also be made to Provena St. Joseph Center in Freeport, Illinois

Saturday, May 22, 2010

11. Christ‘s Witnesses (5:6 – 21)

Christ’s Witnesses Testify

6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7For there are three that testify:
8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this that He has testified concerning His Son.
10The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.
11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

Summary: The water, the blood, the Holy Spirit and the hearts of the true believers all testify that Jesus is the Son of God and that He has brought us eternal life. Jesus is more than a historical person; He is the embodiment of deity.

That You May Know

13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life.
21Little children, guard yourselves from idols – (and from the testimony of men, v.9

Summary: Christ assures true believers that we have eternal life, and in this assurance we may know that God will hear our requests and will also give life to those for whom we pray, providing they have not committed a “sin unto death” (an unpardonable sin). For these we are not asked to pray because such sinners either cannot or will not repent. All unrighteousness is sin but all sins do not carry a permanent death penalty; they can be forgiven. The true believers, those who are born of God, do not sin, i. e. they do not perpetual sins — they are sanctified and holy instead. Being in this state, the evil one does not touch them. The whole world is under the power of the evil one but true believers are of God. Christ has come and has given us understanding. Therefore, we must keep ourselves from idols (those objects that hold our attention and keep us from Christ.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

John's Letters

10. Faith and Knowledge

Can a Christian be certain of his standing with God? Faith grows to become assurance. “The main elements in ‘faith’ ... are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation of truth, e.g., 2 Thess. 2:11-12; (2) a personal surrender to Him, John 1:12; (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender, 2 Cor. 5:7.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). John assures us that when we are in the Will of God we know that the things we experience by faith are true. The following quotations are from the letters of John.

l. We know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments (I John 2:3).

2. We know because we have been anointed by the Holy One (2:20).

3. We know the truth (2:21).

4. We know that when Christ appears we shall be like Him (3:2).

5. We know that Jesus appeared to take away our sins (3:5).

6. We know hat we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren... (3:14).

7. We know that when we love in truth, we are of the truth and our hearts will assure us before God (3:19).

8. We know that in whatever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and will assure us (3:l8, l9).

9. We know that when our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God (3:21).

10. We know by the Holy Spirit that when we keep His commandments we abide in Him and He in us (3:24).

l1. We know the Spirit of God by this: ever spirit that confesses that Jesus came in the flesh is of God (3:24).

12. We know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error because those who are of God hear us (4:6).

l3. We know that Christ dwells in us and we in Him because He has given us His Spirit (4:13).

14. We know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments (5:2).

15. We know that we have eternal life (5:13).

16. We know that He hears us and will grant the requests that we ask of Him (5:15).

17. We know that no one who is born of God sins (Greek, continually sin) but Christ keeps him and the evil one does not touch him (5:18).

18. We know that we are of God and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (5:19).

19. We know that the Son of God has come, and that He has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true and be in Him (5:20).

You will rejoice and be glad when your faith matures into knowledge.

Friday, May 7, 2010

9. Overcoming the World

1 John 5: 1-5

1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

I need not relate how wayward and wicked the world is. Everyone knows this, except those who are too blind to see and too dead to feel. I choose rather to ask you to reflect on the blindness and indifference you see about you and ask that you examine your heart and life and your relationship with Christ. If there is anything between you and your Lord that hinders your full enjoyment of life, now is the time to realize it and get it off of your mind and shoulders. John tells us how to do this; he calls it “overcoming the world.”

If you are a true believer in Christ, you have experienced the new birth and are a child of God. If you love God the Father for His goodness and grace, you are sure to love His Son also. And with this divine love in your heart, you will love your brothers and sisters in God’s family. In this love it is easy to obey the Father’s commands because they are not burdensome. Observe how others struggle with the commands of God. Many spend their entire lives in guilt and fear.

If God’s commandments become burdensome to you, this is a strong indication that there is something lacking on your part of the relationship. How vain and pretentious it is for one to talk about his love for God and show a lack of love for his brothers and sisters. If you love God you will surely love your brothers and sisters in His family. We have the best Father ever; don’t you think we should love Him and love one another as He loves us? If you have a problem loving and showing it, others will see that you have not yet overcome the world. Look around you and observe what people say and do; this will indicate whether they are children of God or people of the world. Others will judge you by the same standard.

The Old Testament Law commanded those under it to “Love the Lord your God;” the New Testament is full of assurance that God loves us, and that “We love because He first loved us.” We love not just God but our spiritual siblings and everyone because God showed us the meaning of love by loving us.

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. “Everybody who's talkin' ‘bout heaven ain’t a goin’ there.” Are you a true believer? Do you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you believe that His death satisfied the condemnation of God upon your sins? And that His resurrection is your assurance that you will also be raised to meet Him when He comes? “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Observe the following truisms in this reading.
1. If one believes in Jesus Christ, he is born of God.
2. Whoever loves the Father loves His children also.
3. We know that we love one another when we obey our Father command to do.
4. Our Father’s commandments are not burdensome to those who love Him and His other children.
5. Just as God’s commandments are not burdensome, neither is the world – once it has been overcome.
6. How will others know that we as brothers and sisters are the children of God if we don’t show then by the way we live? Perhaps our love for them will be their invitation into the family.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

8. Surprise by Love – No 2

I appreciate the favorable response I received from last week’s, “Surprised by Love” essay. There is much more that should be written about my love epiphany – my confrontation by the love of God – my surprise. In this essay I will fill in some of the gaps in my testimony to this experience. But first, I hasten to say that no one should spend his life chasing experiences; “Cast your burdens upon the Lord.” “Draw near to the throne of God with boldness.” Don’t envy the experiences of others.

On the plane in our return trip from Florida to Indians, after I had discovered that God loves Lacy Williams, I started talking about my dad who had been dead for 15 years. I didn’t understand why he came to mind or why I felt such love for him. Dad and I were not very close. Although he was a fine Christian man, I don’t recall him ever telling me he loved me. Instead, I learned years later, that he told mother that I was his “strange son.” On the other hand, I don’t remember telling him that I loved him. I know we loved one another; we were just unable to express it. But at this moment I felt a deep affection for him and wanted very much to talk with him and to share what I was experiencing. (You don’t want to wait until its fifteen years too late to tell your father you love him, so do it now ! Do it while he is able to hear you. It will mean the world to him and give him an opening to express his love for you.)

After a while I remembered a verse from I John, “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). I loved my father as I had never loved him before because, for the first time, I experienced God’s love for me! I know this statement to be true because, for the first time, I also felt a strange affection for everyone. I began expressing my feelings and showing my love for others in ways I had not done before. And I was rewarded with statements and gestures of affection that I wasn’t accustomed to receiving. We love our fathers, mothers, siblings, eve n our enemies, because God first loved us. What a surprise! What a life changing experience!

The following is humorous and full of joy. On Saturday when I was in the church building by myself, I started walking around the auditorium practicing my sermon aloud, as I often did. I related our trip, our blessings and the incident on the plane. When I came to the Book marker and the statement, “God loves Lacy Williams,” I was suddenly filled with joy. I laughed, I cried and I praised God for His grace and deliverance. This was the culmination of my epiphany, which I shared with my congregation the next day.

John Wesley said of his disciples who had experienced this sanctifying change, “Scarcely one third of them maintain their experience.” Of course we can’t be up on the mountain all the time, but we can remember that the God of the mountain is still God in the valley, the God of the good times is still God in the bad times, and the God of the day is still God in the night.” And we can always remember our mountain top experiences and thank God for them.

Finally, don’t be discouraged or intimidated by those who have had experiences that you haven’t had. You can’t know how much they have prayed or how long they have waited for God’s love to break through. If you don’t have an out of this world experience to relate, just tell others what the Lord has done for you. Rest in what you have and praise Him for it and He will give you more.

My Faith Has Found A Resting Place -- Words by Eliza Hewitt, music by Andre Gretry

My faith has found a resting place—
Not in device or creed:
I trust the ever living One—
His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves—
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him—
He’ll never cast me out.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

7. Surprised by Love

I John 4:7- 21

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
13By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
14We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
17By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
19 We love, because He first loved us.
20If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

It’s not enough to learn about God’s love; you must experience it. Like an epiphany, (“a moment of sudden and great revelation”) God’s love will open your mind and heart and possess your being. Have you ever had this experience? Henry Drummond, in his famous sermon, “The Greatest thing in the World,” gives an excellent example of this experience.

While a little boy was dying and his family was standing around his bed, thinking that he was in a coma, an elderly man laid his hand on him and said softly, “God loves you son.” Hearing this, the boy sprang up in bed and said, “God loves me! God loves me!” There was life in this realization. And this was the boy’s epiphany.

After preaching the love of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit for years, I questioned whether I had received the Holy Spirit and whether I actually knew that God loved me. I preached a series of sermons on God and determined to know Him better. Just after this series, Lurea and I were invited to attend a conference on the Holy Spirit in Orlando, FL. I went with great anticipation, feeling certain that I would receive a special blessing. Nothing happened suddenly but I was aware that things were happening that were leading me in the right direction. I bought a new Bible and rededicated myself to a new study. The man at the book store put my name on it in gold, and while doing so stamped my name on a Happy Face book marker, causing it to read, “Smile, God loves you Lacy Williams.” In the plane on our way home Lurea pointed this out to me, and like the boy in the above incident, I said, “God loves Lacy Williams! God loves Lacy Williams!” That was my epiphany, although I didn’t realize it fully until later.

On Saturday I was in my church preparing Sunday’s sermon. I would share my experiences with my church. After announcing that we would not have Sunday school because I needed some extra time for my message, I preached for an hour. My people were aware that I had been with Jesus, and they were moved also. One woman said aloud, “I want what Lacy has.” I had never experienced the help I had that day in preaching a sermon. On this day in my life my epiphany was realized. Although emotions rise and fall, I have never questioned the power of the Holy Spirit or the Love of God that I experienced thirty years ago.

Nothing one might experience in life is more precious than being surprised by God’s love, to know without doubt that one has received the Holy Spirit and that God loves him. I am praying for everyone on my contact list that this essay will bless you as I have been blessed.

part 2 to follow

Friday, April 16, 2010

God's Children Love One Another

I John

3:1- 24
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
5You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
7Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him;
Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him
20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
23And this is His commandment that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
24 one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

From this Scripture learn:
1. We are children of God.
2. When Christ appears we will be like Him.
3. In this hope we are purifying ourselves to meet Him.
4. As we abide in Him we cannot abide in sin.
5. As we practice righteousness we are righteous. “No one who is born of God practices sin.”
6. As brothers and sisters in God’s family we should love one another.
7. In our love for one another we have passed from death to life.
8. As Jesus gave His life for us, we should be willing to give our lives for one another.
9. Our love is shown by our deeds; “love is “active good will.”
10 We know that Christ abides in us by the Holy Spirit He has given us.
11 As we live in a way that pleases God, our hearts do not condemn us and our prayers are answered.