Richard Mansel

Writer, Preacher, Historian and Bookworm

The Minimums

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by Richard Mansel

They’re sitting in church pews on Sunday mornings, participating in worship to varying degrees. They’ve likely arrived late or at the last second. When the service is over, they will leave immediately, speaking to as few people as possible.

Accordingly, very few people in the congregation know them. By choice, they are largely invisible.

They are an intriguing group that needs a connection to the congregation, yet they’re not looking for one. They compromise a subset called the Minimums.

The Minimums are people who, whether consciously or subconsciously, have decided that there is a level in the Christian life at which God will be pleased and will have to save them. They think they have attained that level and do not wish to move any further.

Why would they? Is salvation not enough?

To the Minimums, there are different levels of Christians. Some are super-motivated to do more for the Lord. They Motivated want to attend all the worship services of the Church and all the activities, for some strange reason.

The Motivated are just Type A personalities who can’t sit still. They just wish the Motivated would stop pestering them about becoming one of them!

They already have salvation, so why should they miss their favorite program on television? They don’t need a guilt trip from some Bible verses. Everyone has his or her own truth anyway.

The Minimums think they understand true Christianity. Jesus wanted them to believe in him, have their sins washed away and live a moral life, and that was all. He did not want them to be nerds or super-Christians who never had any fun.

Their social status is very important and some Christianity gives them some respectability. However, their friends don’t want Bible-thumpers around.

The Motivated always talk about God’s grace and that salvation only comes because of Christ, not because of their efforts. They needed a Savior who could wash away their sins. His blood justifies them so they could have access to God.

The Motivated even think that when they become Christians they must change their lives so they will glorify Christ in everything. They’re always badgering the Minimums about their language and clothing, as if that mattered to God. They’re in worship aren’t they? No need to get carried away.

The Minimums feel fine with what they are doing. One hour a week of religion is enough for anybody. After all, they take communion and give a dollar or two. What more could be asked of them?

The Minimums know that avoiding hell is what the Christian life is all about. If the Motivated wanted to go on about how striving for heaven was more important than simply trying not to go to hell, that was fine. The Minimums can shake their heads and be polite.

The Minimums don’t need a Church family. They already have friends. Let the loners find a family. They just had to satisfy God for the week so they can go back to their lives.

The Motivated can have the rest because they, well, might be fanatics. Who needs that?

Guest Editorial: The Single Minister

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[Editor's Note: About 20 years ago at one of my first try-outs as a graduate of the Master of Ministry program at Freed-Hardeman University, I was told that a congregation would hire me if I were married. You don't forget such moments and ever since then, I have been an advocate for men who are single being allowed into the ministry. Stan Mitchell does an excellent job arguing for that very thing. Please take notice of his message.]

by Stan Mitchell

“For a man to remain a bachelor, he must either keep a cool head, or cold feet.”

Barnabas, Jeremiah, Paul, Jesus Christ. What do these men have in common? They were single ministers. Bachelors who served the Lord.

It fascinates me how resistant the church is today to the idea of a single man in the ministry. I don’t know how many church members say, “We prefer our preacher to be married.” That single preacher probably prefers to be married, too.

I am heartbroken to say I can name numerous men who have given up their dream of preaching because churches will not hire a man who is single. Is this any way to further the kingdom?

The New Testament tells us that elders are to be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). It says no such thing about a preacher’s wife.

Some suggest a single preacher may “have trouble with the women of the congregation.” Really? Isn’t that a question of character, not marital status? Have you ever known a married man to fancy himself a big hit with the ladies? Hire a man of character, regardless of his marital status.

Others suggest a single man is not mature. Folks, some of the most immature people I have ever known are married.

Still others suggest the wife can be involved in women’s activities. First, this places an unfair and unbiblical burden on preachers’ wives. The Bible says as much about the preacher’s wife as it does about the Hunger Games trilogy. (That was a joke; the Bible says nothing about the ubiquitous movie phenomenon).

The single preacher can minister to an increasingly growing demographic group in our churches, namely, single Christians. These people’s souls are just as valuable as the souls of married people. What is more, a singles group properly motivated can be one of the church’s greatest, most evangelistic assets.

Most startlingly important of all: We have placed a rule on our churches that the Bible never does. When we deny single ministers the opportunity to serve, brethren, we are being unscriptural!

Single women, too, can serve (under biblical conditions, naturally). They served both Paul and the Lord. Why not now?

Paul thought being single was an advantage in ministry.

“The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:22,23).

Jesus declared there was an honored place for the single, those who have chosen to be single “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12).

Brethren, it’s time someone said something about this! We are limiting ourselves as a fellowship when we shut these good people out of service. On the mission field, single people can serve without the limitations of a married man; in our pulpits they can serve with distinction, just as preachers in Bible times did.

The Lord’s kingdom has been hurt by our blinders, our prejudice against single people. Let me be blunt and urgent. It needs to stop!

Have you tried using a minister who is single? Before you dismiss the idea, keep in mind the time he can give to the task, the concentration he can place on it. Or simply do this. When considering a man for ministry, look at his qualifications, his experience, his character. Leave his marital status to the Facebook page.

What Is a Proselyte?

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I. INTRODUCTION
A. We hear it in lessons or classes, yet how many of us know what it is and why it matters?

B. The more we know about the Bible and God’s plan, the more we appreciate His wisdom and work

II. WHAT IS A PROSELYTE?

A. The word “proselyte” is Greek, meaning to make a convert.

B. The word for proselyte was first used in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Often, the Hebrew word “ger,” meaning a “sojourner” or an “immigrant” was translated by the Greek word for proselyte. In time, the first meaning was dropped completely. [1] Read more…

Sermon on the Role of Elders

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This is from a lectureship at the Church of Christ in Hinesville, Georgia in August of 2013. Being a lectureship, this is longer than a regular sermon.

I was asked to speak on the Role of Elders. We can get caught up in the minutia of the qualifications and miss the larger picture.

When we step back and see what kind of man God wants in leadership, we develop a healthier understanding of the true intent behind the qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). Like most everything else in the New Testament, the secret lies in the perpetual struggle between the fleshly and the spiritual (Romans 12:1-2).

The audio of the sermon.

Interesting Reading for History Buffs

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As a student of history, I want to share some stories that I find interesting. Hope you enjoy them. You’ll find articles about Archaeology, the Civil War, World Wars One and Two, Naval history and English history.

1. A photographic history of President Abraham Lincoln.

2. A letter from a soldier in World War One was recently found and delivered 98 years after it was written. 

3. Archaeologists discover the remains of 21 Germans preserved in World War One shelter

4. The Confederate sub, the H.L. Hunley, became the first sub to sink an enemy ship.

5. A photographic gallery of the Gettysburg battlefield in winter.

6. Coffee Houses in 17th Century England

7. The Declaration of Independence Desk Created by Thomas Jefferson

8. The USS Essex Sails Around Cape Horn and into History

9. A 13th Century map of England and Scotland

10. The Death of the Apache Warrior, Geronimo 

11. The Mausoleum of Roman Emperor Augustus 

12. The Riddle of Aztec Dog Burials

13. Archaeologists in South Carolina race to uncover a Civil War Prison

14. Red Cross Workers were Suspected of being spies by Germans in Second World War

15. What did ancient Brits eat? 

16. Roman era school found in Egypt

17. How big were Ptolemy’s African War Elephants? 

How to Talk to People with Chronic Illnesses

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by Richard Mansel

People don’t know how to handle things that are different from their own life experiences. They may treat such things with dismissal or derision. However, neither are healthy alternatives when dealing with the human heart.

People with chronic illnesses battle obstacles on a daily basis. Obviously, their health captivates much of their attention and energy. They simply want to be normal. Yet, they usually find themselves alone in a crowded room.

However, a healthy person may see such constant focus as unseemly. The more sympathetic may be embarrassed or uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say or do, and they just wish the situation would go away.

Read more…

Trust Luke’s Inspired Account

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by Richard Mansel

In the book of Acts, we find a remarkable account of history. Not only is Acts inspired from the mind of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), it’s recorded by a very capable, attentive and skilled historian. We can trust the message from his pen.

Despite the veracity of the Word, people still smugly doubt Luke’s account. From our modern perspective, we look down at ancient people and discount their abilities and intellect as primitive and juvenile.

However,  when we study the accomplishments of antiquity, we cannot come away with anything but awe at their capabilities. We’re still helpless in our technologically superior age to grasp the true gift of invention among these so-called barbarians.

When ancient people had indoor plumbing and Americans were still in outhouses a few decades ago, we’re foolish to say a word against our forefathers. As our new buildings crumble, we glance at the timeless pyramids and hide our face in embarrassment.

Yet, in our enlightened age, we persevere in our childishness.

Read more…

Paul’s Amazing Voyage

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This thrilling story surpasses the greatest literature ever written because it’s completely true. A mass murderer finds himself both redeemed and hunted. No matter how much good he does, his past haunts him. Yet, he’s fearless against impossible forces.

Saul, who would become Paul, is a monster ravaging the Church (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-2). His bloodthirsty mission sends him to Damascus, where Saul stands with bloody hands before the only one who can remove the stain on his soul (1 John 1:7).

Saul is brought to his senses and to salvation by the light on the road to Damascus and the arrival of Ananias (Acts 9:3-9; 22:16).

Saul becomes Paul and is soon a force for the gospel. Paul worked under the shadow of an appointment that could not be forsaken if he remained obedient to God. Paul had to share the gospel message before kings (Acts 9:15).

Just like so many legends of literature, Paul is falsely accused and faces death at the hands of a crazed mob (Acts 21:26-36). Saved by a Roman officer, Paul winds through the justice system, appearing before Felix, Festus and King Agrippa (Acts 25-26).

Carrying out God’s plan, Paul, Luke and Aristarchus board a ship to Rome and a hearing before Caesar (Acts 27:1-2).

Luke’s lengthy recitation of Paul’s voyage to Rome was once criticized before advances in knowledge led to the begrudging realization that Luke had likely produced the greatest maritime document in the ancient world.

Little is known about ancient sailing and this story is a landmark in the field, even today. Luke’s reputation as a historian continues to soar as we learn more about the Mediterranean and the sailing methods of the day.

The exhilarating story captivates the imagination as we breathe the air, roll with the waves and feel the fear in their hearts. Facing an enormous storm that exceeded the abilities of human knowledge and skill, God saved them and continued his gospel plan (Acts 27:22-25).

Anyone who discounts this story fails to understand the gravity of the redemptive plan of God. Moreover, it makes clear the inadequacy of man and savage nature of God’s creation.

Only in God’s hands can we possibly survive the storms that rage in our lives every day. Let us cling to our Savior, so we can arrive safely on shore (Revelation 20:11-15).

Archaeology and Ancient History

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As a student of ancient history, I’m always on the hunt for juicy morsels that will aid in my studies. That led me to curate a page on Scoop.It in the area of Ancient History and Archaeology. I invite you to visit my page and catch up with the latest finds in the field. I have nearly 200 stories there already.

My main interests lie in discoveries in the Bible Lands, the Roman Empire and region of the Mediterranean Sea.

The World Still Hates Truth

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The first amendment to the United States Constitution says:

”Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.”

However, as homosexuality and abortion are praised in the media, opposing voices are labeled as deviants and fools.

Public speech is no longer free as the founders intended. Efforts are under way to silence Christians from sharing what the Bible says. But this is really nothing new to God’s people. We have faced these challenges before.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The Apostles were told to stop preaching Jesus, and they replied, ”We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

  • Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego stood up to the authorities and refused to stop praying to God (Daniel 3:8-18; 6:10-23).
  • Paul faced a mob in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-30) and another in Jerusalem (Acts 21:26-40).
  • Paul was stoned in Lystra (Acts 14:8-20) and faced a shipwreck in Acts 27.

Centuries later, we’re still facing the same powerful spiritual enemy (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Paul faced death on numerous occasions, but he refused to stand down against sin (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). He would not be cowed. In the last recorded chapter of his writings, he said to remain firm in the Word and face the afflictions that will come (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

God has not “given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

With courage and resolve, we must be willing to give everything up to stand firm for God’s Word. He is watching and weighing our responses to the pressures of a pagan society.

Will we pass the test?

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