Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Life Lessons

• Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
• Your job won’t take care of you when you’re sick. Your friends and parents will, so stay in touch.
• Make peace with your past, so it won’t mess up the present.
• If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
• Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; eat off the good china. Today is special and you are not promised tomorrow.
• No one is in charge of your happiness but you, always choose life.
• Your children only get one childhood.
• No matter how you feel...get up, get dressed, and show up.
• Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.


Attending church services regularly is like making a path through the forest ~ the more often you use it, the less obstruction you find in the way.

- via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY. Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at:

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus” - Seeing Jesus in His Eyes

By Bryan McAlister

With each passing week, more and more faces become familiar, more names come with familiar recognition, and the routines and activities become, well...familiar. Through our experiences we learn vital life lessons, both positive and negative. Some of the lessons have served as reminders of what not to do. Most of the lessons learned have come from the school of life experiences, which prayerfully, if applied properly, will help cultivate wisdom. Please do not misunderstand, these words do not adopt the notion that all has been learned, but rather merely reflect a scratching of the surface.

Familiar, that is a pleasant thought to begin to come to one’s life, when everything has been new. Familiar, that is one aspect of Christian living, to which we all need to aspire. Paul spoke of familiarity in these terms, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that Day” (II Timothy 1:12). With Peter, his familiarity, was with the knowledge of seeing Jesus, “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy, inexpressible and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). To the Hebrew writer, the familiarity of Jesus was seen in his awareness of a High Priest who can sympathize (Heb 4:14).

Familiarity is not always expressed in words, but also in terms of actions and lifestyle. There were “certain Greeks” who came for the Passover Feast in John 12. During this time, the message and news of one name Lazarus being brought back to life, was circulating through the multitudes. These Greeks wanted to meet Jesus, the one responsible for this miracle. Thus, they sought out those who were familiar with Jesus to ask, “We wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21). When by our actions and lives, people can identify that we know Jesus, we have shown the impact of a relationship with the Savior. By our lifestyle as Christians, others should see the familiar look of the Savior in us.

We have been so richly blessed. We have the identity of our Savior clearly described for us, in order that we might imitate Him (I Cor 11:1). We have the presence of the church that we might find encouragement and support from those of “like precious faith” (II Peter 1:1). We have a sympathizing High Priest (Heb 4:14), we have a “house not made with hands” (II Cor 5:1), we have a Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9). We have, we have, and we have. Of all that we possess, do we possess the familiarity of these blessings and promises in our lives? Do we trust their presence, their promise, and their power for us? In trusting these promises, and possessing all these blessings, are you living the familiar life of one redeemed by the blood of the lamb? Has seeing Jesus been a daily pursuit, or a casual glance? When you consider the opportunities to seek Jesus or seek fulfillment in the world, which one wins most often? In living your life for the sake of Jesus, others will see what His influence can do for you. Jesus gives the assurance, “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (John 12:26). But friend, take this note of caution and encouragement, do not wait or even insist that people ask you first about Jesus, before you tell them. If they do ask, consider it a blessing, for you have lived as you should live, it is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1). But do not insist they ask you about Jesus. Be the first to tell them, be the first to show them, be the first to make Jesus a familiar, and found for the sake of their soul!

- Bryan McAlister preaches for the Centerville church of Christ, in Centerville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


By Patrick Hogan

The arrival of the first snow fall of the season (though it was only a little snow mixed with sleet) has produced a variety of reactions I folks. To some, snow produces negative thoughts. To some it brings very excited and positive thoughts (“No school!!).

A fairly heavy snow, pure and white, can hide an otherwise unsightly landscape, lending beauty to the less than lovely. Looking at a freshly fallen snow, I find it hard to imagine anything that might be whiter.

When we have the privilege of seeing a new snow we should be reminded of two passages of scripture. Psalm 51:7 records David’s request as he repented of his sin, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Isaiah 1:18 records God’s invitation and promise: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Thought your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

Regardless of how bad our sins may be, through Jesus we can experience forgiveness. We can “be whiter than snow.”

The next time you see a blanket of snow covering everything, let it be a reminder of this glorious thought.

- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO. He may be contacted through the church's website at

Monday, December 20, 2010


A single point: The Message depends on messengers.

I believe in writers and books and other such forms of communication but very few people come to God in Jesus Christ apart from actual contact with an actual person or persons in whom the message is embodied. Certainly that’s how it was in the early days when faith in Jesus raced through Palestine and out into the regions beyond (see Acts 11:19-20). It’s true that it was the Message about Jesus that people gladly and often gallantly embraced, being baptized into his name, but the Message didn’t come to them in letters—it came to them in messengers, in actual people; it was a people-embodied Message.

A fine man with no gospel to tell is sub-Christian. A fine man with merely moral advice and right values is sub-Christian. The gospel that raced through Palestine wasn’t just a lot of nice people saying nice things, you understand; it was nice people with a Message about Jesus!

The ancient Jewish council members had moral values as real as Peter’s and they could quote the Old Testament texts as well as the Galileans, but it was when Peter and John stood up, proclaiming an astonishing Message about the recently crucified, but now very much alive, Jesus of Nazareth, that the fire broke outl There they stood, formerly fear-filled and now defying the Supreme Court of the Israelite people. Two months earlier the apostolic group had scattered to save their lives, and now they thanked God for the privilege of suffering for the name of Jesus and telling the distressed jurists (Acts 4:19-20), “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard!” --Tydings, Kemp church bulletin

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Do Yourself No Harm!

By Barry C. Poyner

More people in the US die from suicide than homicide. Approximately 30,000 people each year commit suicide compared to 16,000 that are murdered. You should be more afraid of yourself than an unnamed killer! Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24, especially young white males where suicide is seen as a solution to stress, confusion, and depression. In the last 20 years the largest increase in suicide rates occurred among Americans 65 and older, especially those divorced or widowed, with men accounting for 84% of all suicides in this category. We may be living longer, but not necessarily better. It takes a man, it takes a woman—and I’m persuaded God’s man and God’s woman—to be faithful until death, to trust God’s timing.

The Philippian jailer (Acts 16:23-34) could have ended his life, but was stopped by the Apostle Paul. “Do yourself no harm, we are all here.” And that’s true today, we’re here to help you. The Roman penalty for letting capital offense prisoners escape was death. The keeper was ready to take his life. Asleep earlier when Paul and Silas were singing and preaching, he asked what to do, and followed through. God can forgive you from attempting suicide and from other destructive sin patterns in your life.

Sadly many people are more afraid of living than they are dying! Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). He gave us the church as a support group and family to help us. He does not spare us from persecution, troubles, illnesses. He does give us a perspective that looks beyond the physical realm and a way to cope that the ungodly do not have.

There are 5 cases of suicide in the Bible. Each case is sad. King Saul at one time had everything, but he spared King Agag and left God’s plan. God determined to remove him as king. Rather than accepting his punishment, Saul clung to power. His vain attempts to retain power made him paranoid (distressed spirit), make rash promises, turn to attempted murder, and even to witchcraft. In the end, badly-wounded Saul asked his armor bearer to assist him in death. The armor bearer declined, so Saul fell on a sword, and the armor bearer died similarly (1 Chron. 10). He died without God and without hope.

Ahithophel was a counselor of King David, but sided with Absalom’s rebellion. He counseled Absalom to violate David’s concubines and demonstrate his power in a despicable act (2 Samuel 16:21-23). Ahithophel further advised an immediate pursuit of David. When he saw the strategic maneuver to capture David had been forfeited, he resigned himself to ultimate defeat. He calmly put his house in order and hanged himself (2 Sam. 17:23). Suicide, like rebellion, is a selfish act. Ahithophel was a pragmatist, concerned only with his own career, and not God’s plans.

The kings of north Israel were ruthless idol worshipers. Zimri illustrates that those that live by the sword die by the sword. He had killed Elah the son of Baasha. Then as soon as he could, killed all the descendents of Baasha. Zimri was to rule North Israel for one week! His rule was rejected by the people, and Omri was authorized to apprehend him. When Zimri saw his doom was in sight, he burned his palace and himself (1 Kings 16: 15-20). He died without God and committed suicide to escape the judgment of man.

Judas is the 5th case of suicide. One of the 12 apostles, Judas served as treasurer. He was critical of ointment poured on Jesus, and his love for money led him to steal (John 12:4-6). This same love for money led him to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16). Greed was his downfall. When he saw that Jesus was condemned, he became remorseful, recognized his money as blood money, threw it at the Jewish leaders, then hanged himself (Matt. 27:1-9; Acts 1:17-18). Judas had remorse, but it was a worldly despair. He was sorry for his betrayal, but did not turn back to God. Godly sorrow turns to repentance, not despair (2 Cor. 7:8-11).

The word “suicide” does not appear in the Bible. God’s value on life makes it unthinkable. It is forbidden under the commandment not to murder. Is it unforgivable? In these cases, it does seem so. One may have moments to repent after the act, and illness may impair judgment that God will overlook. But why take a risk and forfeit life to come? As Jesus resisted the temptation to hurl himself from the temple pinnacle, he answered, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Matt. 4:5-7).

Some argue that Samson committed suicide in Judges 16:29-30. However, suicide is a selfish act. Samson died as a military hero having destroyed more in the end and is listed among the faithful (Heb. 11:32). Others have even suggested that Jesus committed suicide by knowingly going to the cross. Such is a misunderstanding. He heroically gave his life—willingly and sacrificially.

People may legitimately long for death and not be suicidal. Those to be punished may long for it (Rev. 9:6; Jer. 8:3). Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Job (Job 3), and Jonah (4:8) longed for death when in dire situations. Simeon felt his life was complete and thought he could now die (Luke 2:29). Paul knew that to die was to gain (Phil. 1:20-23). But none of these godly people sought to end life.

Circumstances can put us in tailspins, and we may be tempted to sin by ending life. The jailer could have ended his life, but he heeded God’s word. Allow your sorrow to turn to repentance. Participate in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection to gain the ultimate victory. Do yourself no harm!

- Barry C. Poyner serves as an elder for the Church of Christ in Kirksville, MO. He may be contacted through their website,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Ordinary Shepherds

According to Alfred Edersheim, these men tended a special flock of sheep at ...

"Migdal Eder, the watch tower of the flock. For here was the station where shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrifices in the Temple...It seems of deepest significance, almost like the fulfillment of type, that those shepherds who first heard tidings of the Savior's birth, who listened to angels' praises, were watching flocks destined to be offered as sacrifice in the Temple...

"We can understand the wonderful impression made on those in the courts of the Temple, as, while they selected their sacrifices, the shepherds told the devout of the speedy fulfillment of all these types in what they had themselves seen...Thus the shepherds would be the most effectual heralds of the Messiah in the Temple, and both Simeon and Anna be prepared for the time when the infant Savior would be presented in the sanctuary" ( Sketches of Jewish Social Life, pgs. 80-81).

Along with the shepherds, another group of men brings the news of Jesus' birth, but in this instance, to the courts of Judea. These men, known as the Magi, are high-level dignitaries from another land.

Imagine the anticipation, not just of a birth, but eternity coming down into the world! (Our thanks to whoever sent this to me. I try to give credit, but the source got lost in the transfer by "copy and paste.")

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Holiday Temptation

The following was e-mailed to me from friends in Indiana. While it is humorous, as we face the temptation to overindulge over the holidays we should let it remind us that "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own" (1 Corinthians 6:19). As Christians, let us respect and care for these temples.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and populated the earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives. Then using God's great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Krispy Crème Donuts. And Satan said, "You want chocolate with that?" And Man said, "Yes!" and Woman said, "and as long as you're at it, add some sprinkles." And they gained ten pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat and sugar from the cane and combined them. And woman went from size 6 to size 14. And God said, "Try my fresh green salad," and Satan presented Thousand-island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, "I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them." And Satan brought forth deep fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it "Angel Food Cake," and said, "It is good." Satan then created chocolate cake and named it "Devil's Food."

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald's and its 99-cent double cheeseburger, and then said, "You want fries with that?" And man replied, "Yes! and super-size them!" And Satan said, "It is good." And Man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery. Then Satan created HMOs.

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, December 6, 2010


By Joe Chesser

Practice makes perfect! That’s why professional sports teams have their training camps. That’s why gymnasts and ice skaters work on their routines over and over and over again. That’s why training seminars have role playing. That’s why musicians practice hours each day. To be the best you can be at any given endeavor requires lots and lots of practice. This also includes Christian living.

God expects us to practice our faith. There is no short cut or any other way to grow to Christian maturity. The danger of not putting into practice what we learn from Jesus is that we will not develop beyond the baby stage. That’s what the writer of Hebrews was concerned about (Hebrews 5:12-14). These people had been Christians long enough (some up to 30 years) for them to be teaching others. But instead, they still needed to be fed milk. The mature, he tells them, are capable of eating solid food and are constantly putting into practice what they are learning. Food and exercise. It’s not complicated, but it is necessary for becoming the best you can be as a Christian. Living for Christ should become the customary, routine, way of life. When you see a Christian who is weak or sickly, you can count on the source of their problem being connected somehow to what they are feeding on and/or how they are using what they have learned. So, it’s critical to routinely feed on the word of God and to routinely practice what you learn.

But don’t let the routine become the goal. That’s what the Pharisees did. They studied the word of God thoroughly. They knew it backwards and forwards. And they were extremely concerned about applying the word of God so precisely that their routines became their faith. How they developed, defined and defended their faith became, for them, more important that what God actually said (see Matthew 15:3-9). It got so bad that their routines, their traditions, boxed them in. They couldn’t do what God wanted them to do because their routines became their goal in life. What should have been a means to an end actually became the end itself. Because of that they actually ceased walking with God. Jesus called them hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, snakes and vipers (Matthew 23)!! They had, over time, allowed the applications of the principles of God to supersede the word itself. They were no longer open to spiritual growth for themselves or for anyone else. Since they had it figured out, anyone who differed with them about their routines was wrong.

So, on the one hand we need to routinely put into practice what we learn from the word of God. Growing to spiritual maturity demands that. But on the other hand, we cannot allow how we practice God’s word to become more important than the word itself.

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Failed Resolutions

By Alan Smith

At the beginning of a New Year, a high school principal decided to post his teachers' New Year's resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining. "Why weren't my resolutions posted?" She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk.

As he read her resolutions he was astounded. This teacher's first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year.

It has been said that "nothing is certain but death and taxes." Perhaps we should add one more thing to that list of certainties -- the breaking of New Year's resolutions! Looking back on 2008, you may be one of the fortunate ones who accomplished exactly what you hoped to accomplish during the year. But, if you're like most of us, you didn't read all the way through the Bible like you intended to, you quit smoking but only for a while then picked up the habit again, or you lost a few pounds only to put them back on again when your diet failed. After experiencing this failure year after year, a person tends to say to himself, "What's the use? Why even bother to try to make these changes?"

As an old Chinese proverb puts it, though, "Failure is not falling down. Failure is not getting back up." Or as the Japanese put it, "Fall down seven times, get up eight." If there are areas of your life that you've tried to improve and failed, let this this be the month that you try again. And if you fail this month, get up and try again next month. Learn from your mistakes and become stronger. God does not turn his back on the Christian who fails (if you question that, you need only look at the story of Peter's denial of Christ). However, He cannot help the Christian who refuses to try any longer.

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hearts, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded....Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:7-8,10)

If you have made a resolution to develop a habit that will bring you closer to God or a resolution to get rid of a habit that is pulling you away from God, may God bless you with the strength to accomplish your goal. And, if you should stumble on your journey, may He pick you up and dust you off so that you can continue on the long journey of becoming like Christ.

Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Thanksgiving Poem

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!


By Micheal Dubina

Each day of life that dawns for me
Is dearer than it used to be
And I am more content, each day,
To live each hour a better way;
I want for less - and ask for less -
Of all that life proclaims is best
And find my greatest need, each day,
Is just to worship God and pray.

I'm getting old and very tired
Of chasing dreams that youth inspired,
And tired of chasing after goals
That lack rewards for heart and soul;
Today - I only strive to find
A simple peace of heart and mind
And try to make each dawning day
A bond of love to Heaven's way.

- Micheal Dubina; Submitted by Mark McWhorter. Mark may be contacted at

Gratitude Quote

"Gratitude is not a spiritual or moral dessert which we may take or push away according to the whims of the moment, and in either case without material consequences. Gratitude is the very bread and meat of spiritual and moral health, individually and collectively. What was the seed of disintegration that corrupted the heart of the ancient world beyond the point of divine remedy...? What was it but ingratitude?"

- Noel Smith

Monday, November 22, 2010


Outside my window, a new day I see,
And only I can determine what kind of day it will be.
It can be busy and sunny, laughing and gay,
Or boring and cold, unhappy and gray.
For my own state of mind is the determining key,
For I am only the person I let myself be.
I can be thoughtful and do all I can to help,
Or be selfish and just think of myself.
I can enjoy what I do and make it seem fun,
Or gripe and complain and make it hard on someone.
I can be patient with those who may not understand
Or belittle and hurt them as much as I can.
But I have faith in the Lord and believe when I say
I personally intend to make the best of each day.

- Author Unknown; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Thanksgiving Poem

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Thanksgiving Poem

By Alexander Pope

Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain.

The First Thanksgiving

By Arthur Guiterman,

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.

Thinking and Thanksgiving

By Bob Spurlin

Almost every culture in the world has held celebrations of thanks for a plentiful harvest. The American Thanksgiving holiday began as a feast of thanksgiving in the early days of the American colonies almost four hundred years ago.

In 1620, the Pilgrims settled in what is now the state of Massachusetts. Their first winter in the New World was difficult. They had arrived too late to grow many crops, and without fresh food, half the colony died from disease. The following spring the Indians taught them how to grow corn (maize), and other crops as well. Autumn descended on them in 1621, and bountiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins were harvested. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so a feast was planned. They invited the local Indian chief and 90 Indians to join them in a celebration of Thanksgiving. The Indians brought deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. To this first Thanksgiving, the Indians had even brought popcorn.

The U.S. Congress in 1941 established the fourth Thursday of November as the official time when Thanksgiving would be celebrated. President Roosevelt signed this bill into U.S. law on November 26th of that year, and Americans continue to this day in celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Christians must always have the spirit of thanksgiving and possessing this characteristic is not only expected, but the teachings of Holy Writ compel it.

We all have our special memories of Thanksgiving with family members, children, and grandchildren coming home to enjoy the warm embrace of loved ones. We think of the beautiful baked turkey, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, and all the trimmings epitomizing the ideal Thanksgiving. Americans, according to surveys, reveal they consume more food and put on more calories during the Thanksgiving holiday than any other time of the year. The consumption of food is not the issue of this article; but rather the emphasis we place on this special holiday to the exclusion of those needing our help. THINKING AND THANKSGIVING should be our mantra when it comes to:

THE ATTENTION WE GIVE THE SICK AND SHUT-INS. Thinking about the shut-in, or sick person alone without a meal, and no one to care for him/her should stir a responsive chord within all of us (Mt. 25:34-40). David said, "For the needy shall not be forgotten, the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever" (Psalm 9:18). The needy, and the poor, whose expectation is from the Lord, are never forgotten. The care of those sick and shut-in restricted to their homes or a nursing home - assisted living facility needs our compassion and attention. Many of these persons were stalwart Christians, who have dedicated their lives to building up the church of the Lord. They remain valuable, worthwhile, and deserving of our time. For nine of the last ten years I have lived the life of a shut-in, and know firsthand of the unique problems this group has in managing the trials they face.

The admonition by James "To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," includes the orphans, widows-widowers, and also the sick and shut-in. The Christian admonition to visit suggests "supply or care for those in need." Those confined to home suffer loneliness, isolation, and often neglect compelling active Christians to fill this void. Good fortune has smiled on this shut-in with a devoted wife-caregiver, attentive family, and others that have reached out to lend their support. Sadly, this is not the general rule for many shut-ins as many are forgotten. The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us; we would urge you to consider the sick and shut-in by spending a few moments of your time to give them cheer and support.

GIVE ATTENTION TO THOSE LIVING WITHOUT THE BASIC NECESSITIES OF LIFE. We have seen the news reports of those living in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Many have suffered the loss of their homes in the fraction of a few seconds. My good friend, Mark Lance, minister of the Chalmette church of Christ, Chalmette, LA (suburb of New Orleans) lost their home, all their belongings and the church building where Christians met for study and worship. Virtually all of their membership is displaced, but their strong faith and heads held high, combined with a caring brotherhood will help them through this tragedy. Katrina and other devastating storms quickly transformed the lives of thousands on the gulf coast to rubble. Many have lost all their physical possessions with the blink of an eye. Families losing their homes and material things cannot compare with the loss of a husband, wife, or child. News accounts tell us that many remain missing as countless children have vanished during this explosion of "Mother Natures" wrath.

Coming to the help of those, as described above, brings out the best in the human spirit. Seeing Christians give assistance with their checkbook, and with personal items going to those losing everything speaks volumes of their concern. The king in Proverbs 31 is making a case for the worthy woman, and states: "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:20). This is truly a woman of charity giving aid and comfort to the poor, unfortunate, and destitute. She knows that in every gift coming from God calls for us to give back to those in need.

We are all bountifully blessed by the Creator meaning we must respond in kind. Paul writes, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). This is an ancient principle going back to the earliest of time. The expression of the apostle clearly suggests, when a man sows little he must expect to reap little. Conversely, if we sow liberally we would expect to reap bountifully. Beloved, as the Thanksgiving season approaches, let us reach out to those in our communities, neighborhoods, and elsewhere to give attention to those in need of the most basic necessities of life.

GIVE ATTENTION TO THOSE SPIRITUALLY MALNOURISHED. In our area many charities including civic clubs, food banks, and TV outlets will challenge those to bring food and drop off the items at a convenient location, and those malnourished and hungry will have a sumptuous meal on Thanksgiving Day.

Giving food to the physically malnourished is a worthy goal and we commend this activity. However, giving attention to the spiritually hungry far exceeds the physical. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness . . ." (Mt. 5:6). Jesus uses two of the most expressive words in all the human experience, "hunger and thirst." Hunger and thirst are terms signifying great desire. It would be difficult to find two words that convey the attitude we should have in obtaining the righteousness of God. These occur daily and when discontinued for any length of time certain distress and calamity will surely come. Just imagine going days or weeks without food and drink? Peter writes, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:1). Newborns have a natural instinct, a yearning, or longing after to sustain their lives. They know that only mother's milk can supply the nourishment that sustaining their young lives.

My experience as a gospel preacher has caused me to wonder if we had the same desire for the Word of God, as we do for a sumptuous meal at the finest restaurant. Which bothers you most, missing Bible study and worship, or missing that favorite meal? What bothers you most, missing Bible study and worship, or your favorite football game, or athletic event? What bothers you most, missing Bible study and worship, or a fishing-hunting trip? These questions put into perspective our attitude toward spiritual things.

Countless souls in our community, neighborhood, and down the street is malnourished when it comes to receiving proper spiritual food. We would not consider taking spoiled food from the garbage can, and feeding it to those never having a proper meal. Fundamentally, we must bring them the gospel in its purest form leading each soul to the "bread of life" (John 6:35, 6:48). The spiritually malnourished must learn the basics of hearing the word (Rom. 10:17; believing in Christ as Lord (John 8:24; Heb. 11:6); repenting (changing of one's heart and life) of sin (Luke. 13:3; Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9); confessing Christ as Lord (Rom. 10:10; and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16).

THINKING AND THANKSGIVING go hand and glove as we look around seeing those in need, and with compassionate hearts supply to those acutely in need. These are three areas that need our rapt attention. So, as we sit down to eat that wonderful Thanksgiving meal with our loved ones, ponder those that are in need by showing our concern and thoughtfulness. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers.

- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. Bob can be contacted through his website, (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today and Every Day

By Diana Sue Lindley

I want so much to please You, Lord,
In all I do and say,
In all my ways acknowledge You,
Today and every day.
You've blessed me in so many ways,
Too numerous to tell,
That just the mention of Your name
Reminds me all is well.
You've walked with me through valleys dim;
Together we've climbed the hills,
And all along the rocky roads,
You walk beside me still.

Through all the storms, You've sheltered me;
In my hunger, I was fed.
You've come to be my resting place
At the end of daily tread.
I know that I could ne'er repay
The blessings You impart,
But, too, I know that all You ask
Is the offering of my heart ...
So, for today and every day,
I trust my life will show
How much I want to please You,
For Lord, I love You so.

- Diana Sue Lindley; Submitted by Mark McWhorter. Mark may be contacted at


l. “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend” . . . . Lincoln.
2. Encourage young man, Help a man see how he can be a success in life.
3. Try to get a man to tell you what is his greatest ambition in life. Help him raise his sights.
4. If anyone has inspired you, or helped you in any way, don’t keep is a secret. Tell him about it.
5. Ask a man: “How did you happen to get started in this business? Then, be a good listener.

- Author Unknown

Monday, November 8, 2010

What You Preach

The first sermon preached on Sunday is not by the pulpit minister, but by YOU! Let's look at and think about a few of the sermons you preach by your demeanor and attitude.

What You Preach
1) YOU preach a message of Good Cheer when you say "Good Morning" to those you meet.
2) YOU preach a message of "Welcome, We have room for you!" when you slide down the pew in-stead of forcing others to squeeze in front of you.
3) YOU preach a message of Hope and Joy when you sing enthusiastically during the song service.
4) YOU preach a message of Respect for God and His Word when you listen attentively, follow in your Bible and take notes during the sermon.
5) YOU preach a message of Hope when you rev-erently partake of the Lord's Supper.
6) YOU preach a message of Faith when you pur-posely give of your means.
7) YOU preach a message of Love when you smile, say hello, introduce yourself to guests and invite them to return.

Many messages are preached before the preacher stands in the pulpit. If they are "preached" with the right attitude of heart, then the message the preacher presents from the pulpit will be much bet-ter received.

Come each service and "preach your sermon" --- it has eternal significance! . ◘

- via the Lake Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. Shane Robinson preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted through their website at

"Precious Memories”

By Kyle Moses

“And I’m proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I’m free;
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.
And I’ll proudly stand up
Next to him to defend her still today,
‘cause there ain’t no doubt I love this Land:
God bless the U.S.A.!”
-Lee Greenwood

Tomorrow is the national day of memory for those who fought in all of our wars and died defending our freedoms while bringing freedoms to others.

Memorial Day is generally remembered as the first day that the public swimming pool opens, that the summer holidays begin, or when we can gather with friends and families and grill hotdogs and hamburgers. I encourage you to take a little time tomorrow, yea even every day, to thank our God for the freedoms that He afforded us to enjoy as Americans.

Lee Greenwood’s song brings to my memory all of the wars that have been fought for our freedoms as Americans. When I hear it, I cannot help but be thankful for our fallen heroes. How precious are the memories of all our soldiers who fell in hopes of bringing a better life for their home land.

God bless America.

- Kyle Moses; via the weekly bulletin of the church of Christ in Mathis, Texas. Justin Guess serves as the pulpit minister for the congregation. You may visit their website at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Return to Fundamentals

By Bob Spurlin

Recently I enjoyed an interesting conversation with a brother and former elder in the church. We mutually agreed that our communities and society at large is becoming morally bankrupt. Many factors have contributed to such a coarsening of morals in our neighborhoods, not the least of which is a failure of the church to reaffirm the basic fundamentals of the Bible. As a child of the 50s and 60s the basic fundamentals of right and wrong were articulated with clarity. We see these basic truths slipping away when we fail to keep these principles deeply rooted before the church, family, and our communities. In far too many neighborhoods, and in the church we see have seen the absolute standards of right and wrong lowered before our eyes.

Observe the following basic principles that need serious consideration for our time: (1) A belief in the existence in God; (2) A belief in the inspiration of the Bible; (3) A belief in the authority of the scriptures; (4) A revival of the home as God mandates; (5) A clear understanding of sin and its consequences; (6) A belief in the undenominational nature of the church of Christ. These are elementary, simple, and fundamental points that have been neglected far too long.

We would not want to omit the fundamentals of mathematics, English, history, and science in the education of our children. These subjects are basic and primary to the instruction of all students. Likewise a return to the basic fundamentals of the Bible will bring us to an understanding of God’s will.

- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. Bob can be contacted through his website, (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).

The Value of Teachers

By Alan Smith

There is a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner.

The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor.

The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years.

The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions.

The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked the part of someone who would be honored as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence.

The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: "You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!"

It was James who wrote, "Brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers." (James 3:1, GOD'S WORD). He points out that teachers will be judged more severely. He could just as easily have said that teachers have a greater responsibility, a greater challenge, a greater opportunity to affect the lives of people in a negative way. It is impossible to teach without using words, and with greater use of words comes a greater danger that the words will do harm.

But thanks be to God that there are those who face that challenge and assume that responsibility and make a diligent effort to use their words as an opportunity to affect the lives of people in a positive way. Those of you who are teachers -- who can begin to measure the tremendous effect that you are having in the lives of the children (and adults) in your classrooms? You may not see the results of your efforts for years. In fact, you may never get to see the results. But you do make a difference.

Those of you who are schoolteachers are teaching not only the basics of education, but you are teaching values and character. Those of you who are Bible class teachers are filling the minds and hearts of our children with stories of faith that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Those of you who are preachers are strengthening the family of God and bringing salvation to the lost.

So, my hat is off to all of you who are teachers because you make a difference!

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach." (Romans 12:6-7)

Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Visit From the Preacher

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, suddenly stopped coming to church. After a few weeks, the preacher decided to visit. He found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for the preacher’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The preacher made himself at home, but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the preacher arose from his chair, took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it on one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire we no more. Soon it was cold and lifeless.

The preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the preacher reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit, and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

We live in a world today which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken. What silent message would God have you share with someone today?

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

- Cybersalt Digest; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Is the Bible a Dead Book?

By Gerald Cowan

A non-scientific, unofficial, random street poll several years ago asked these five questions of persons who declared themselves to be under the age of 30 years.
- Do you believe in the literal God of the Bible? 90% said NO.
- Do you believe the Bible is literally true and relevant for modern man? 90% said NO.
- Do you believe that man has an immortal spirit and will live forever? 90% said NO.
- Do you believe in a literal heaven and hell, as taught in the Bible? 90% said NO.
- Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Most said NO, but – here is something very significant – many who said NO to the first four questions said YES to this last one!

This reveals something of the unhealthy attitude toward the Bible, even among professing Christians, and the predictable effects it has on the practice of the Christian religion. Modern man seems to go through a predictable cycle: A period of intense interest in religion and a zeal to know God is followed by a "cooling" and eventually reverses to a period of intense anti-religious feeling which focuses instead on personal freedom and rejection of div ine authority. We seem to be in the anti-religious, freedom-seeking phase in our country today.

At least in religion ours seems to be a "wayward and unfocused generation – an untoward generation" (Acts 2:40) – without direction or realizable goals. It is a "lost generation." Even overtly religious people seek freedom to "do it my own way." They want to worship the God of their choice in the way of their choice, and specify the results of their choice.

Who is to blame for the current situation, that is, for the aimless selfish wandering of the current generation? The outgoing generation (sometimes still called "the establishment") must certainly share the blame. They have not shown the upcoming generation that the God of the Bible is real and believable, and that all are truly accountable to Him. They have not demonstrated a faith that can be lived by – they have not been faithful to what they claim to believe. They are "worldly" – they have not rejected the world. They have not shared the gospel – perhaps they are convinced of its importance. They haven't been concerned enough about the lost. The current generation is suffering the effects of the attitudes and actions of past generations. But the present generation also shares in the guilt because evidence of God is available to all, and the believability of God is demonstrated for all. One who accepts20less than the truth will be held individually responsible by God (2 Thess. 2:11-12, Rom. 1:18-20).

What is the lesson for us now? We must not be victims of the past if we are able to improve the situation now. We cannot change the past, but we can change what we are doing in the present. If we understand the impact our attitudes and actions upon the next generation, surely we will make the needed changes.

– (NOTE: written as a sermon introduction); Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trials of Abraham’s Faith

By George W. DeHoff (Deceased)

Abraham is one of the greatest men who ever lived on earth. His life is discussed more completely and more fully than any other character in the Bible except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He was born in the Ur of the Chaldees near the north end of the Persian Gulf. It seems he was born when his father was 130 years old (Gen. 11:26, 32; 12:4; Acts 7:2-4). At the age of 75, he was called to leave his home and to go out to a new land. He was about 80 when he rescued Lot and met Melchizedek. He was 86 when Ishmael was born, 99 when Sodom was destroyed, and 100 when Isaac was born. When Abraham was 137 years old Sarah died. He was 160 when Jacob was born and he died at the age of 175—115 years before Jacob’s migration into Egypt.

When God called Abraham, He did not give him a reason for leaving his home—He did make certain promises to Abraham. He promised him that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan, that they should become a great nation and that through them all nations of the world would be blessed. This promise (Gen. 12:2-3; 22:18) is the foundation of the Scheme of Redemption. God first called Abraham in Ur (Acts 7:2-4; Gen. 11:31). He called him again when Abraham was in Haran (12:1-4). He called him again in Shechem (12:7) and in Bethel (13:14-17), twice in Hebron (15:5, 18; 17:1-8). This promise was repeated to Isaac (26:3-4) and also to Jacob (28:13-14; 35:11-12; 46:3-4).

Abraham was a believer in one God. He lived in a world of idolatry. His countrymen were idolaters. His father was an idolater (Jos. 24:2). From a youth, he believed in one God. God trusted in Abraham. He selected Abraham to be the founder of a new nation of people who would worship the true God and from whom the Christ would come. Haran was about 600 miles northwest of Ur and nearly 400 miles northeast of Canaan. This was Abraham’s first stopping place. He set out from Ur in search of a land where he could build a free nation. He did not know where he was going; God was leading him (Gen. 12:4-9; Heb. 11:8). Haran was already a well-settled region with roads to Babylon, Syria, Egypt, etc., along which caravans and armies constantly marched. After the death of Terah, his father, Abraham, under the call of God, moved on. Shechem was his first stopping place in Canaan. This is the center of the land in a lovely vale between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Soon he located at Bethel, 20 miles south of Shechem and 10 miles north of Jerusalem. This is one of the highest points in Canaan and gives a magnificent view in every direction. Abraham spent some time in Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20).

After returning to the land, he magnanimously gave Lot his choice of all the Land. Lot foolishly chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Abraham chose Hebron in the hill country of Palestine (Gen. 13).

Abraham, with 318 men of his own and some help by neighbors, made a midnight surprise attack on four famous Babylonian kings. He defeated their small armies (Gen. 14). One of these kings “Amraphael” is commonly identified as Hammurabi, the most famous of early Babylonian kings.

Abraham met Melchizedek (14:18-20) who was the king and priest of Salem (Jerusalem). Melchizedek, so far as his priesthood was concerned, was without father or mother, beginning of days or end of time. He was a type of Christ (Psa. 110; Heb. 5-7). God renewed His promises to Abraham in Genesis chapters 15, 16, and 17. Abraham is called the “friend of God” and “the father of the faithful.” All Christians are of the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29).

Abraham’s faith was tested by:
(1) Separation. God called him to go to a new home (Gen. 12:1-9; Acts 7:1-4).
(2) Famine (Gen. 12:1-20).
(3) Riches (Gen. 13).
(4) Power (Gen. 14).
(5) Delay. Waited many years for the birth of Isaac and the fulfillment of the promise which God had made to him.

Through all of these tests, Abraham was faithful to God. God blessed him. He reached the end of the journey looking forward to the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The trials of Abraham’s faith are the very same trials which most Christians have today.

- George W. DeHoff (Deceased); via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website:

Until Shiloh Come (Gen. 49:10)

By Gene Rowe, Jr.

Near the end of his life Jacob called his twelve sons together for the purpose of blessing them, and informing them of their future in life. (Gen. 49:1-2) The most significant of all blessings was bestowed upon Judah in the fact that "the sceptre would not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until SHILOH come." (Gen. 49:10)

The word "Shiloh" means tranquil, Messiah, peacemaker, and "the one to whom it belongs." Isaiah prophesied Christ's role as Messiah in Isaiah 61:1-3, which was fulfilled in Luke 4:16-19. Isaiah also prophesied concerning Christ being the "prince of peace," in Isaiah 9:6, which was fulfilled at the birth of Christ in Luke 2:14, also him being described as "our peace," in Ephesians 2:13-14.

Christ's kingship and dominion is also prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14, Ezekiel 21:25-27, and Zechariah 6:12-13, which was fulfilled after the resurrection of Christ, and the beginning of his kingdom in Matthew 28:18, Acts 2:36, and Ephesians 1:19-23.

One fact that remains undeniable is that Christ came from the tribe of Judah as told in Hebrews 7:14, and Revelation 5:5. The sceptre and the staff as mentioned by Jacob represented authority and royal power. In Jewish culture, the staff was placed between the feet of dignitairies to symbalize their power, and the sceptre carried by a king was an emblem of authority.

Jesus Christ is the only one who can provide true peace, and he is the only one qualified to be the lawgiver. Christ also is the only one that can gather all nations of individuals together. (Matt. 11:28-30; John 10:16 ; Ephesians 1:11-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 4:10-12)

Recognize and acknowledge his authority and power, and OBEY HIM! (Hebrews 5:8-9)

- Gene Rowe, Jr. is the minister of the church of Christ (Westward Ave.), Texas City, Texas. He may be contacted at

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Final Authority

QUESTION: Who or what should be the final authority regarding the most important issues of life?

ANSWER: This is an excellent question. To answer it one must first seek to identify the important issues of life. The Bible gives us a knowledge of the existence of God, creation, Jesus Christ, salvation, heaven and hell. It gives us a knowledge of God's will for us (Eph. 5:17). The Word of God frees us from sin and all its evil consequences which reach out to grab and destroy us. It frees us from the power of sin (Col. 1:13-14). It frees us from the pollution of sin, that is, guilt and fear (2 Tim. 1:7). It frees us from the pleasure of sin (Heb. 10:25). It frees us from the old man of sin (Rom. 6:3-4). It offers us heaven where we will be free from the presence of all sin. The Bible tells man of his origin, his purpose of existence, and his destiny (Gen. 1:1; Eccl. 12:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:10). The Bible is the only book that deals sufficiently with the subject of death (Gen. 2:17; Gen. 3:1-6, 19; Rom. 5:12; 6:23).

The same book which answers these significant questions also teaches that God pleased when men seek authority only from Him in His word with reference to salvation, Christianity and religion. This is the case since, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God is displeased when men either add to or subtract from His word (see Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6 & Rev. 22:18-19). Men must not tamper with God's written revelation from Heaven. In every age since the beginning of the world, God has required men to recognize His authority. To those who lived under the Law of Moses, it is written, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29). In the New Testament Age in which we now live, God's inspired word commands, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col. 3:17). Therefore, men today must have a book, chapter and verse from the New Testament of Christ for whatever they teach or practice with regard to salvation. We are to abide in the doctrine of Christ if we expect to have a saving relationship with God the Father (2 John 9). In view of this fact, someone who respected Bible authority once stated, "Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." Another correctly stated, "In the Bible there are facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be enjoyed." These statements are in harmony with the teaching of Colossians 3:17.

Accepting God's standard of truth by which we live and seek eternity with God, we must reject the false standards which men seek to impose upon us today. Some of these faulty, unauthorized standards are: feelings, human wisdom, conscience only, dreams, personal experiences, false traditions, and false "gospels." In place of giving priority to feelings, study (2 Tim. 2:15); in place of human wisdom, get God's wisdom (I Cor. 1:18-25); in place of the conscience only, educate your conscience by the word of God (Acts 9:1-2; 23:1; John 8:31-32); in place of so-called modern-day miraculous dreams, accept only the meaning of the recorded miraculous dreams of certain ones in the first century (Acts 2:17; I Cor. 13:8-10); in place of personal experiences, let us appreciate the testimony of the Lord (Rev. 1:9; 6:9); in place of false gospels, let us accept the one and only gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-9).

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). May we let Christ be the authority in our lives today by hearing, believing and obeying His teaching. In so doing, we may expect Him to receive us at the last day, taking us into heaven where we shall live eternally in joy and peace (read John 14:1-3).

- Gary L. Grizzell, Cookeville, TN; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website:

God Spoke To YOU (Matt. 22:31,32)

By Douglas Hoff

Does God communicate with people today? The answer may surprise some people but it is an emphatic YES! It is not a matter of IF but HOW. Most Bible readers know humans can pray to God. Certainly this is part of the communication process but it is only one half. When God answer prayers there is no verbal message. Answered prayer is not the other half of the communication between God and man.

So, how does God communicate to man today? The writer of Hebrews recorded, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, {2} has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Heb. 1:1,2; NKJV). In the Old Testament period God used prophets to convey His message to mankind. The New Testament message was initially transmitted to man by Jesus teaching in his earthly ministry. We have the words of Christ recorded in the scriptures so God can "speak" His word to us.

There are several examples in the New Testament where the writer affirms that God speaks through His word. Consider Matthew 22:31,32 (NKJV) - "But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, {32} 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?" The words Jesus quoted are written in the Old Testament yet He affirms God spoke through them to the Sadducees of the first century. Another example is found in Hebrews 12:5 - "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him." In both cases God is pictured as speaking to people through His written word. Remember that the next time you read the Bible.

- Douglas Hoff; via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL Visit their website as

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Be Still and Know!
By Ben Thompson

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). In our world of secular craziness, we need to read these words and ponder them very carefully.

* When the world just doesn't seem to make any sense, be still and know that Jesus is the truth and He will bring sanity to a sometimes insane existence (John 1:14).

* When it seems that everyone has turned against us, be still and know that the Lord promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6).

* When the storms of life (both physical and emotional) are raging about us, be still and know that God will be our shelter in any storm that the devil can throw at us (Romans 8:35-39).

* When the future looks dark and dim, be still and know that God is already there, and there is nothing that He doesn't know or can't handle (Psalm 139).

What a wonderful God we serve. Brethren, let us try to remember these things when life gets dark and dreary; when the days seem empty and long, when all seems to fail about us: Be still and know!

- Ben Thompson; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.

Five Truths Taught By Cornelius

By Mark Ray

Cornelius is a rather mysterious character in the Bible. He appears in only one chapter, Acts 10, but his life and actions teach us many spiritual truths. Notice five lessons learned from the story of Cornelius. First, we learn that sincerity is not enough to please God. Cornelius was a devout man who feared God, gave alms to the poor and prayed always, yet he still had to obey the gospel in order to become a Christian (Acts 10:48). God does not desire us to be only a good person, he expects us to be a sanctified person. We must realize that sincere people are lost unless they obey the gospel of Christ.

Second, we learn that we have an obligation to teach others the gospel. Peter was uncomfortable on his rooftop praying, but the Lord had work for him to do. Each of us should be busy doing the Lord’s work. Even if it means going places and doing things that make us personally feel uncomfortable.

Third, all people deserve the gospel. Doubtless, Peter had grown up hearing that only Jews were worthy of being children of God. Yet God worked to change his mind. Notice how God worked on Peter: He shared that the gospel was for all men (Mark 16:15); he himself had said by inspiration in his sermon on Pentecost that the gospel was for all the people of the world (Acts 2:39); he had a series of three visions which taught him that all things created by God were holy and not to be called common (Acts 10:15); he learned that God had even spoken to the Gentile Cornelius (Acts 10:31); and fifth, God filled the Gentiles with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:48).

A fourth lesson we learn from Cornelius is that he desired to hear all things commanded by God (Acts 10:33). In our buffet and convenience culture, many are under the impression that we can take the good and leave behind what we find unacceptable. Yet the Bible teaches us that half-obedience is the same as open rebellion. Naaman (2 Kings 5:12) learned that he had to obey God fully to receive his cleansing. We must obey the entire gospel today if we expect the rewards of Christianity.

The final lesson learned from the story of Cornelius is that we must follow wherever God leads. For Peter, going and eating with Gentiles was far beyond anything that he had probably imagined doing. Yet it was something he did because God commanded him to do it. While God does not speak to us today through visions, he does speak to us through his Word, the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. We must humble ourselves to the will of God and obey the teachings of the Bible. Cornelius is a man who serves as a good example for us today. Let us live in a way where we can share eternity in heaven with him.

- Mark Ray, via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Somebody Must be Sick

By Harry Middleton

Physical ailments seem to be impossible to eradicate. About the time medical science produces a cure for a disease, another takes its place.

That which is true physically seems to be true spiritually. About the time a specific spiritual malady is corrected, members of the church seem to "come down" with another spiritual ailment (1 Cor. 11:29-30).

Physical sickness is sometimes produced by what has been eaten. What we eat spiritually will also make us sick spiritually unless we are very careful. Spiritual food that is contaminiated with denominational error will give one spiritual food poisoning. Too much denominational theology with too little of God's Word will produce spiritual sickness. From what is seen, heard, and read today, there must be a great amount of sickness in the church of our Lord.

Somebody must be sick to declare that the biggest problem in America today is the problem of racial prejudice.

Somebody must be sick to engage in Bible chair work for the church of Christ and not be positive about his faith in the virgin birth of Christ.

Somebody must be sick to have published in a daily newspaper a sermonette in which it is declared that God has children in other religious organizations than the church of Christ.

Somebody must be sick to teach that social drinking is a matter of Christian liberty.

Somebody must be sick to teach that the five acts of Christian worship: singing, prayer, teaching, the Lord's Supper, and the contribution; are matters of tradition rather than matters of faith.

Somebody must be sick to suggest that we meet denominationalism half-way, and that we engage in a program of compromise in order to have religious unity with religious error.

Spiritual sickness seems to be prevalent among some members of the church of Christ, especially those who are caught up in a movement of liberalizing and modernizing the church, and the docrinte of the New Testament. Many of those who are sick are as those who have gone before, "sick unto death." Many of them will recover from their spiritual illnesses and will be able to become useful servants of the Lord. But, they must accept and apply the prescription of the Great Physician.

- Harry Middleton works with the Lebanon Road church of Christ in Nashville, TN. Adam Faughn serves as the pulpit minister for the congregation, and he may be contacted through the congregation’s website at:

Where Could I Go?

By Ron Thomas

The sentiment of “where can I go?” is an important question that each of us must ask and answer. Peter asked and answered it (John 6:68-69*). It is important that we do the same. Contrast this song** of praise to the Lord with those who live and die in this world.following that which cannot save. On “Huckabee” one evening (Fox News, 11-28-09) there was a segment on the role music plays in the lives of our military personnel as they are in high stress situations. We all can appreciate that. We know the role it plays in our lives without the high-stress situations they face. The kind of music listened to does not compare, however, with the joy of the heart toward God when salvation resides deep within. Because of His salvation, what is it that we give to the Lord? That which we offer to the Lord is to be our very best—and our best is to be the totality of our persons (Romans 12:1-2).

*John 6:68-69—“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

**Chorus to the song, “Where Could I Go?”:

“Where could I go,
O where could I go,
Seeking a refuge for my soul?
Needing a friend to save me in the end,
Where could I go but to the Lord?”

- Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Should You See?

By Tom Moore

There is a story of a beggar who was sitting across the street from an artist’s studio. The artist saw him and thought he would make an interesting portrait study. So, from a distance he painted the defeated man whose shoulders drooped, and whose eyes were downcast and sad. When he was finished, he took the portrait over to the beggar so he could look at it. “Who is that?” the beggar questioned. The painting bore a slight resemblance to himself, but in the painting before him he saw a person of dignity, with squared shoulders and bright uplifted eyes, almost handsome. He asked the artist, “Is that me? I don’t look like that.” But the artist replied, “But that is the person I see in you.”

Hidden in all of us is potential. We have the ability to perform great accomplishments and opportunities to make a difference. But our greatest potential of all is described by John: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3). There is the amazing potential in all to be called the sons of God and to be like Jesus. We can approach this spiritual potential through our obedience to the commands of God (Heb. 5:9). Perhaps you see failure—but God sees potential! What should you see?

- Tom Moore preaches for the Avenue T church of Christ in Temple, TX. Tom is also one of the editors of “Seek Ye First,” a free quarterly gospel journal. He may be contacted through the congregation’s website: