by Charles (Chuck) Robey
(Trussville, AL USA)

Image what it would be like if we had no road signs with which to interact. No informational signs, signs of entertainment, and signs of our favorite eating establishments, along with the all-important signs of warning that alert us of possible road and traffic dangers.

So, what is the objective of such signs? Simply put they are to inform, to advise, and to help us move on our way. The parallel is God's Word, the Bible.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16-17)

Once when vacationing in the Smoky mountains, my family experienced what it was like it be lost. Oh, we weren't really lost, we just didn't know how to find a particular tourist attraction. We wandered about, spending precious vacation time, attempting to find our way there. There were no specific signs of direction and no locals for us to ask for help. Finally, I tucked away my ego, and asked for directions.

Thus was born this fictional blog. I encourage you to study the various Scripture passages as you move through this blog, and read about this nice "Old Time Religion" church, simply tucked away in the wilderness of life. Amen!

"Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals foods, which have never benefited those who participated in them. (Hebrews 13:7-8)

I am really discouraged. Being a Bible college professor has its ups and downs. And today happens to fall into the down syndrome pattern.

Think I'll lie down on my man cave couch and slip into one of my short trouble-free catnaps. Then, I'll visit my favorite little country church, the First Encounter Community Church. It's an equitable name, for such a spiritual congregation. Ever since my very first encounter there, I've always felt right at home, and the church's doctrine has always fit my spiritual needs.

Well, my snooze turned into another of my frightful, anxiety dreams. For some strange reason, I suddenly found myself wondering down an isolated road, an extremely lonely road that took on the appearance of not having had much traffic. There were no information signs to help nor any other advertised assistance was available. And where's the church signs, where's the church. I was so ready for worship. "Well, what am I to do?" I thought rather frantically.

Nonetheless, I'll just chance it and walk on a bit further. Maybe I'll come to some sort of civilization. So I walked what seemed to be a lifetime with no such luck. Being tired and a bit thirsty and finding a large shady rock by a nice flowing stream of water, I decided to take a drink and sit and rest awhile, just to purely think a bit.

That's when the scenery changed. Coming down the road was an unusual stranger. He was dressed from head to toe in hunting garb. Instead of the traditional hunting gear and rifle, he was only carrying a big travel bag.

"Can I help you my son?" he inquired.

"Now, how on earth could this stranger help? Can he instantly produce the needed road signs? Oh well, I'll give it a try, what do I have to lose?", I thought to myself.

"Why, yes you can, kind sir. Something's happened to all the county road signs, those giving directions. Even the private First Encounter Community Church directional signs are gone. I'm lost in these wilds, not knowing which way to turn in the thick of this wilderness," I answered aloud. "I happen to be on my way to the First Encounter Community Church, to attend a Bible study brunch, and must have gotten lost. I've been there a thousand times before. Nonetheless, without those trusted road signs, I'm really lost."

"You see, when I get down or discouraged, I pay this little country church a visit. It's just like biblical therapy being there. The people are so friendly and the atmosphere seems to be right out of the halls of glory land. Why I've even heard it said that God's Spirit actually physically lives there, an earthly touch of the first church," I concluded

"OK," he said, "let's just sit here on this nice, big, shady rock and talk a spell. Being you are an accomplished religion professor, and since you are well-versed in Scripture, I'm sure our conversation will be quite meaningful."

I'm certainly glad you feel at home in that little church," he went on. "Why is that, may I ask? You see, sad to say, not many churches of today have such a religious mindset about Spiritual doctrine. And you briefly mentioned the first church, what exactly did you mean by that, my son?"

"Well sir, one need only read about the early church, and its people, as (Acts 2:41-47) tells us all about these first Christians. May I share this Scripture with you?' I replied, pulling my New Testament from my pocket.

"We find this early church's people joined the church as they became believers and were baptized. (Acts 2:41) They were continually devoted to the apostles' doctrine and the fellowship of the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). They saw many spiritual signs and wonders take place. (Acts 2:43) They had all things in common. (Acts 2:44) They shared their wealth with each other, as needed. (Acts 2:45) They worshiped daily and gladly fellowshipped with each other. (Acts 2:46) And they offered praise as they saw many new believers join the church. (Acts 2:47) There you have it, kind sir, this is what one refers to as "The Old Time Religion." It's the type of religion this little county church has developed."

"And you may also call me an Old Time Religion dinosaur. I guess I enjoy the fellowship of this First Encounter Community Church for like the first church in Jerusalem, we all think alike and worship alike. They aren't afraid to let the Spirit lead the service, shouting Amen and Hallelujah and raising holy hands in praise, as the Spirit leads. Why, they'll even occasionally kneel by their pew seat in prayer. And above all, the members all will actually speak to you, not just in church, but also out in the community. And not because they have to for political reasons, but because they love each other and are led to. If only my church would follow such action," I concluded.

"That's a good sermon, my son, preach on. But what about the rumor that God's Spirit actually physically lives in this little church?" asked the hunter.

Again, pulling out my little New Testament, I being to read (I Cor. 3:16) At that point he began following me in a number of additional Scripture passages, affirming the presence of the Holy Spirit.

"He convicts of sin (John 16:8)" "He comforts us (John 16:7)"
"He teaches us (John 14:26)" "He guides us into truth (John 16:13)"
"He empowers us (Acts 1:8)" "He fills us (Eph. 5:18)"

"And yes, He lives in churches as well. Though you cannot physically see His presence there, you can surely see the effects and the results of Him being there. Do you happen to know that, dear kind sir?" I questioned further.

"And do you I realize, sir, that it's possible for you to be unaware that God's Holy Spirit can to live within you the minute you are saved. (John 14:16-17) Although you may have heard this truth, you may not understand His duty within you," I went on.

"I could go on, kind sir, but you get the picture. Sir. sir, where did you go? We've not finished our conversation yet." Looking around, this nice gentleman was nowhere in sight. And left in his place, by some sort of miracle, or maybe divine direction, was one of the First Encounter Church's Sunday bulletins.

Well, was I religiously hoodwinked, or what? Nonetheless, it was a good conversation. I trust this nice church pastor was uplifted, as was I. Just maybe he was so blessed, realizing not only what his little country church means to me spiritually, but what the Old Time Religion is still all about.

Then, by another miracle I happened to awake out of my sleep just in time to attend the First Encounter Community Church Bible study brunch. And oh yes, I was greeted by the pastor displaying a big wide grin Amen!

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