Remembering Ron Hamilton

If you read the title of this post and say “who?”, this paragraph will serve as a brief introduction (you can find more on the web). Ron Hamilton was known as “Patch the Pirate” and created more than 40 adventures emphasizing some area of Christian character. He was called Patch the Pirate because when he was 27, he lost an eye and decided to wear a patch. Kids at his church began calling him Patch the Pirate; the name stuck, and a ministry was born that God used and blessed.

In 2017, he announced that he had dementia; on Wed, 19 April 2023, he went to be with his Lord about whom he composed and sang all of his life. His wife, Shelly had a Facebook page and posted information about her life caring for her husband. The posts are filled with the grace of God.

I only saw/met him once, many years ago, but I remember it because God used Ron Hamilton (and his father-in-law, Frank Garlock) to do a work in my life. I think the year was 1981 (it may have been 1982, but I think it was 1981). I was in college, and I was the only college student attending the church I went to. The youth department people kindly allowed me to do things with the youth group. In the spring, they went to a youth conference at which Frank Garlock and Ron Hamilton were speaking about music.

God’s timing is always perfect; I really needed that conference at that time, and God used both of the speakers to convict me about my music listening.

I remember Ron Hamilton giving his testimony; he spoke about going to the eye doctor, who found something in his eye. They needed to do some surgery, and I remember him saying that the doctor told him that he would either wake up with a spot removed or without an eye. Those were pretty extreme options! He discovered that they had to remove his eye, as I noted above. If I remember correctly, it was while he was recovering that he learned his wife was expecting their first child. He wrote the song “Rejoice in the Lord” as a result of this time; I remember him singing it at the conference.

Another thing I’m impressed with is how Ron’s wife, Shelly, handled the transition to his wife: she had already done some composing under her maiden name (Shelly Garlock). When she and Ron married, she used Shelly Garlock Hamilton for a few years, and then was just Shelly Hamilton. It is a small thing, but I was impressed by it.

I am grateful to God that I was able to go and for what God did for me in that long-ago conference.

Rejoice in the Lord, Ron… and may the God of all comfort pour out His grace on Shelly.

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When the Pastor is Wrong

These thoughts come from a message that I was watching / listening to; as usual, the person preaching it is unimportant – the purpose here is not to take shots at people, but to discuss ideas.

It was stated that one should “stand with” one’s pastor “even if you think he’s wrong“.

To be charitable, this could have been a slip of the tongue, but I don’ think so because I’ve heard almost that exact phrase multiple times.

There is a huge difference between disagreeing with what he is doing and thinking he is wrong. Being wrong means that he is doing something, well, wrong – something that violates the Scriptures, either explicitly or in principle. While one can also be wrong by breaking the laws of the land, (that’s involved enough to have a separate entry; we are talking about just and reasonable laws that do not violate Scripture).

Disagreement merely means that two people don’t agree about something that is not covered in Scripture; it is possibly personal preference. There are many such things: the times of the services, the color of carpets or paint; hymnals that are used – there is a huge list here. You can certainly give your opinion, but once the pastor has decided, that’s the end of it; he is ultimately responsible, so, by all means, stand with him in such times.

Before I go on, I should point out that, contrary to what some people think, the pastor is human (can you believe it!!?) He is a sinner saved by grace. He will have areas of strength, and areas of weakness, just as all men do. Some people treat the pastor as an infallible man in all of his pronouncements. Only God is perfection; we human beings fall far short. The pastor will make mistakes; a humble man may use these as times of teaching; a proud man attempts to hide the mistake, trying to convince the members that he has no flaws.

On to “wrong” things: Even with “wrong”, there are certainly different levels of “wrong”; most of us have used the “wrong” word – perhaps these should be called “mistakes” or “wrongs that are unintentional”. As an example, I’ve heard various speakers confuse Noah, Moses, and Abraham — these are wrong, but they are generally minor matters, if they are just incidental slips. It doesn’t bother me if a preacher says in passing that Moses built the ark; however, it DOES bother me if that is a man point of the message.

So, leaving mistakes (or unintentional wrongs) aside, when you think the pastor is doing something wrong, you need to get it resolved. Go to him and explain and listen. Remember that the pastor, by virtue of his office, should always be treated with respect. Having said that, I can think of four possible outcomes: First, he will admit that he was wrong and plan to correct it (this is, of course, most gratifying to anyone: to discover he was right). Second, you may learn that you were wrong – that’s fine; you’ve grown and learned. Third, it may turn out that the matter is one of disagreement instead of right and wrong (disagreements were discussed above). Fourth (which hopefully is rare), no agreement is reached. In this case, it may be better to separate instead of continuing to support something you think is wrong.

We see Biblical examples of the first and second when Paul confronted Peter, discussed in Galatians 2. We also see an example of the fourth when Paul and Barnabas separated in Acts 15. I’m not sure about the third one – those may be causes when one party says “the Lord judge between thee and me”.

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Long time

I just checked this web site, and was disappointed to find that I haven’t written anything since November. I need to work at writing something more frequently. It’s not that I lack material; the real issue is that I am busy with the daily vocabulary blog, and so this tends to get pushed back.

However, I ran across something that I’d like to write about, so I hope to have something posted later today.

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Growth Process

Mark 4:27-28 are part of a parable depicting the mysteries of growth. In the farm world, a single kernel of corn germinates, grows up into a tall stalk, which typically has one or two ears; each ear has between 800 and 1200 kernels. Wow! That’s quite a return!

No less amazing is the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart (the ground). When a person is  converted, the Holy Spirit begins a transforming progress that occurs as the Lord Jesus Christ described it in this passage.

First, when the seed germinates, life begins; there is a change, but an outsider cannot see it. So, too, when one is saved, there is a change; there is new life, but it may not be apparent to others.

Second, the “blade” appears relatively soon. It is a small thing, but it is evidence of growth. Similarly, with the Holy Spirit of God residing with the person, there is some change that others can see. It may be a small thing, but it is something. Generally, blades may not be noticed by the casual observer, but one looking for it can spot it.

Third, the “ear” occurs – this is evidence of more to come; the plant is well beyond the “blade” stage. This stage is pretty well evident to everyone. So, too, in the believer’s life; the believer has grown quite a bit, and the change is noticeable.

Finally, there is is the “full corn” – this is the fruit. This is a stage in which the believer is bearing fruit, which honors and glorifies God.

This growing process takes time; in believers, each may grow at different rates. Let us not compare ourselves to others, but do what we can to be fruitful to God.

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Lessons from Romans (wisdom)

To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. (Romans 16:27)

The above is the last verse of the last chapter of the book of Romans.

My curiosity was caught by the phrase “only wise”… I don’t know why, but for as long as I can remember, I always thought that this was a phrase that meant “alone”. But it doesn’t… like many things in the Bible, it means what is says: that God has true wisdom.

Over the years, I’ve heard multiple preachers define “wisdom”; it is usually tied to knowledge, such as “the practical use of knowledge” or “the proper use of knowledge” (I like the latter one).

However, in looking up the phrase “only wise”, I saw that the root idea behind the word for wisdom is “clear” or “clarity”… and that just really impressed me. It felt like when one crests a hill or rounds a corner, and sees far more stretching out in front of one.

I love this idea: that God can see clearly all the way out to eternity. We, on the other hand, are like extremely near-sighted people, or people dwelling in a thick fog: we can barely see beyond ourselves, and what we can see isn’t completely clear.

Such is the wisdom that God possesses; little wonder that glory is due Him!

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Approved unto God

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

I think this verse is fairly well known; it is the basis of the children’s AWANA program (AWANA stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed). [I worked with the AWANA program a long time ago]

This verse was recently brought to my attention at church, and part of this article comes from observations made by others. I am enthused about some of the truths that this verse holds, and I wanted to share thoughts about it.

None of us enjoy being ashamed, but we do enjoy approval: here, we are encouraged to seek the approval of God. It is so easy to skip over little phrases like this, but it is paramount that we seek the approval of God… not so much the approval of parents, or pastor, or friends, or school authorities, but of God. If we will seek God’s approval, and the authority is also seeking God’s approval, the authority will approve what we do. It is easy to say this, but it is so common to fall short here. (Q: “Why do you dress like that?” or “Why do you listen to that music?” A1: “My parents make me.” A2: “My church has these rules {or standards}” A3: “Bro BigName doesn’t have a problem with it”). If these are true answers, then we have not bothered to seek the approval of God, and are letting others do the work for us. The command is to study for ourselves; we don’t need to automatically reject what others say, but we must study for ourselves and become convinced that “this” (whatever “this” is) has God’s approval. A better answer to the question is “Because it honors God”; or, if you like a longer answer “Because I am convinced from my study of God’s word that it is approved by Him”.

Now we have the goal: to became approved unto God. How do we accomplish this goal? In a word, “study”. Study is not just reading or not just reading slowly. Studying is engaging the mind: pausing or stopping to consider what we read.

We know from this verse what happens when we don’t study… we could (and probably will) become “ashamed”.

Finally, there is the requirement that God’s word (“the word of truth”) be rightly divided… properly understood and interpreted — there are a lot of material on this subject, and is way beyond the scope of today’s thought.


As an example (and I may have used this before), let us do a quick “study” on hair length. Does God have anything to say about this subject? Yes; in fact, God has something to say about everything – there are passages in the Bible that talk about “in everything” and “whatsoever ye do”. Having said that, He gives more detail about some areas.

It is clear from a quick look at 1 Cor 11 that God desires men to have shorter hair than women. But there is more: the Bible tells us that the woman’s hair is given to her for a “covering”. Thus, it is also clear that a woman’s hair should be covering something that is not covered by the shorter hair on men. So, we can rule out the scalp, since that is covered by both. Eyes, nose, and mouth can be excluded for obvious reasons, leaving us with ears and/or neck. Thus, we can conclude that God would have women’s neck and/or ears by covered by hair, and men should not be.

That’s as far as I’m going with this example… perhaps further study could reveal more; I once heard a man teach that the basis of the word “covering” implied “down the side”, which, if true, would give weight to covering the ears. However, to use this article’s wording, from my own study of the Scriptures, I am not convinced.

Happy studying!

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Praying too much

This post came from my reaction to a comment about prayer on Facebook: “we cannot pray too much”.

Comments such as that one challenge me and I start to think about them and look at them from multiple angles… and I have to say that I don’t agree with the statement.

I do believe that I could pray more and better, and I suspect that is true for many Christians, but that is not what was said. Let us consider:


We read about him in Numbers 22; he prayed about Balak’s request; God told him “no”; and he refused Balak’s messengers. But then Balak sent more important people and offered more money. God had already answered; Balaam should not have prayed again, and yet he did. This would seem to be a clear case where someone “prayed too much”.


In Exodus 4:13, Moses prayed and asked God to send someone else, and God’s wrath was kindled at him. This is another example of someone “praying too much”. Like Balaam, this case is one where one is praying against the clearly revealed will of God.


In the giving-credit-where-credit-is-due, I have to give my wife credit for thinking of this one… In Joshua 7, Joshua is praying about the military failure of the town of Ai when God instructed him to stop praying (Joshua 7:10)… Joshua had prayed too much.

I believe there are other instances in which instructs His messengers to not pray for something; if such instructions are ignored, that would be another case of praying too much.

I think it seems clear that one can pray too much; perhaps a more accurate statement would be that “we don’t pray enough”.

Just some thoughts…

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Lessons from Romans (What matters)

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Rom 14:17)

This verse has been on my mind for the last few days; I believe that there is a great truth here that could change a one’s life if one would make it the foundation of one’s being.

Let’s begin by putting this verse in context; Romans 14 is dealing with issues that are not covered in Scripture. Specifically mentioned are eating meat (or not eating meat), and whether one observes special days [holy days or holidays] (or not).

As an aside, many people think that the “meat” listed here is meat that had been offered to idols, but the Holy Spirit does not use the word “idol” anywhere in this chapter. It may be that such is the case, but we need to be careful when we make assumptions about Scripture. In I Corinthians, there is a specific question about meat offered to idols, and that may have influenced the thinking about this passage.

This verse under consideration has a great reminder of where to focus our attention, and there are a couple of ways we can be in error.

The first way is an outward view; a constant or frequent examination of the lives of others to see if they are “measuring up” to what we think they should be doing. Oh, we are so holy! We would not watch what they are watching; we would not allow our children to watch what they allow their children to watch; we would not read what he is reading! We think the colors she is wearing may be a bit worldly! We don’t have a television; clearly, those that do are not as spiritual.

NO! We are to honor and glorify Jesus Christ with our lives – but we are not the judge of other people. Yes, we are not to be worldly, the Bible commands us, but it is for each believer to evaluate his actions in the light of Scripture while seeking enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. It is not our job to create lists of “worldly” activities and pass these along to every professing Christian we meet. Christianity is a relationship, not a list of things to “do” and “not do”. Let us work on our righteousness and work at being peaceful and showing forth the joy produced by the Holy Spirit.

Remember, we are NOT talking about things that the Bible is clearly against – see, for one list, the “works of the flesh” in Gal 5:19-21.

The second error is an inward view… we are obsessed with ourselves and our actions. I’ve met people like this (and you probably have, too) – they live in almost fear that somehow and in some way they are doing something wrong. These people seem to live under a burden of trying to “measure up”; the last thing you think about regarding them is “peace and joy”.

A help for these people is to seek an honest answer to “measure up to whom?” If it is some other human being – your boss, someone you are trying to impress, or your pastor, then perhaps such a person’s focus needs to change to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light – it is not so with the burdens of man. Some may give the spiritual-sounding answer “God”… but He knows our frame, that we are dust. Even the very best person’s works are still “filthy rags” in God’s sight. He loves you, even though you fail. Success is not His standard, but did you try to please Him? He is well-pleased with such things. Again, we need to remember that His way is a relationship, not merely a list of things to do or to avoid doing.

As in so very many things, it is a heart matter – are we trying to please Him? If so, don’t obsess over how well or poorly you did. Let us take our eyes off of “meat and drink” and focus on righteousness and joy and peace!

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Lessons from Romans (Confession)

I apologize that I haven’t written as often as I intended to; I started a word-of-the-day blog, and that and a few other things have been taking up a lot of time. It’s not really that I have been short of material; it’s just that between thinking about sharing something here, and actually writing it, there is usually a delay, and often, things crowd in and it doesn’t get written.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (Rom 14:11)

I wanted to write about the word “confess”; we often associate it with confession of sin – possibly because of the influence of the Catholic church with “going to confession” and confessing one’s sins to a priest. But the root word of confession here is more about giving honor and glory.

If you think about it, however, confession is both — on man’s side, we are confessing our sins; telling God about the things we have done that are wrong. But on God’s side, confessing our sins implicitly says that His law is good and right; and that He is Holy and Just. It does bring glory to Him — and this is the idea in Joshua 7:19 (And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.)

Of course, not all confession is of sin – we can confess that God is Holy and Just and Right without listing sins we have committed.

Just a thought!

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Lessons from Romans (olive tree)

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Rom 11:17).

I’ve read the above verse several times, but I didn’t understand the full blessing of it until I happened to read about the phrase “wild olive tree”; I had previously assumed this referred to an olive tree growing out in the wild instead of planted on purpose in someone’s garden.

However, such is not the case; the wild olive is, apparently, a different species than the cultivated olive tree. The wild olive tree has thorns and, if it bears fruit at all, bears “imperfect”, “inedible”, and “useless” fruit.

Isn’t this a wonderful picture of salvation and reclamation by our wonderful God!

Before salvation found in Jesus Christ, we were thorny, bearing no useful fruit. But afterwards – we become grafted to Him, Who is called the Root and the True Vine. With a quickened spirit and partaking of the good nutrition of the Root, we can bring forth fruit to the glory of God.

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