Monday, March 26, 2012

The Foolishness of God

By David R. Ferguson
    “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  What a very profound statement that is indeed! From the very beginning when Adam and Eve ignored God’s warnings not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and they did so anyway, mankind has felt we were far wiser and knew so much more than our Creator Who made us! What contemptible arrogance is that held by mankind! David, although a man who knew sin, was wise enough to recognize his own shortcomings and his deep need for salvation.  It is no wonder David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  David wrote in Psalm 69:5 [RSV], “O God, Thou knowest my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from Thee.”  David also recognizes the Source of his forgiveness.  He said, “The Lord is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock, in Whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Horn of my salvation, my Stronghold and my refuge, my Savior” (2 Samuel 22:2-3, RSV).
    Mankind is not only foolish in believing they have no sin; they are also foolish in believing they are worthy of salvation, as if they have earned this gift from God.  There is nothing that can make us worthy of forgiveness.  It is a true gift to those who are needy.  Do what we will, whether visit the sick, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, or sleep on a bed of nails, our righteousness outside of Christ is described as being nothing more than waving a filthy rag in frot of the face of God.  “We have all become like one who is unclean and all our righteous deeds re like a polluted garment.  We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6, RSV).  But washed in the blood of Jesus, we become clothed in His holy garments.  (Galatians 3:27)

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Through the Cracks

By Jim Faughn
     A number of years ago, we spent the night with a family who lived in a very unusual house. Although the family lived in Tennessee, much of the house was a reconstructed log house that had been taken apart in Kentucky and reassembled in the Nashville area. To be sure, a lot had been added to the original house, and it had been updated a great deal. This house was in a very nice neighborhood and was far from being a shack.
     However, the owners had decided to leave much of the interior of the original house as it had been. I guess they thought it added “personality” to the house. I can still remember some of the light from downstairs filtering through the cracks in the floor of our second story bedroom.
     My memory is not good enough to remember how large the cracks in the floor were. I do not know if a coin or something else of value could have fallen through one of those cracks. I guess it wouldn’t have mattered a great deal if such a thing had occurred, though. Whatever fell through a crack on the second story could have been retrieved on the first floor (which had been redone in such a way that there were no cracks in the floor).
     I am aware of the fact that there have been times when something of value has fallen through the cracks in a house or some other building. At times, the loss is not noticed during the lifetime of the people who lived there. At other times, the loss may be noticed, but steps may never be taken to find whatever it was that was lost. The object lost was not of sufficient value to merit much effort.
     I am also well aware of the fact that something of far greater value than any material thing all too often falls through the cracks somewhere else. While the value is immeasurable, very little, if any, effort at retrieval is made.
     Is it not the case that immortal souls sometimes “fall through the cracks” in local congregations?
     Attendance patterns become sporadic; involvement wanes; and/or other things are warning signs. Before long (and before many know it), somebody has fallen through the cracks and is lost.
     What should be done? What is often not done?
     Will elders, preachers, and others “…who are spiritual…restore him in a spirit of gentleness…” (Gal. 6:1)? Will we make the kind of diligent search made by the woman in our Lord’s parable who lost something valuable in her house (cf. Luke 15:8)? Will we really just go on with our lives either not caring about or not noticing the loss?
     While you think about your answer to those questions, take moment to think about a few other things ---
The length of eternity
The value of every soul
The “Golden Rule” (What would you want somebody to do if you were the one falling through the cracks?)
Your responsibility as a child of God to the other members of His family.

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

Two Perspectives on Giving

By Kevin Williams      “So, you’re preaching about giving?” “Now you’ve
quit preaching and gone to meddling.” “The church
is always asking for money.” “You know that when
you preach on giving the offering goes DOWN!”
     Yes, preachers have heard these types of comments
for many years when preaching about giving in the
church. It may be that you have actually said
something like this (or thought it) when I have
preached on the subject in the past. Let me
encourage you to think about giving in two
perspectives before this morning’s sermon.
    Perspective #1: What preaching on giving is not.
⇒ Preaching on giving is not about embarrassing you about your contribution to the Lord.
⇒ Preaching on giving is not about trying to make you feel bad about what you give.
⇒ Preaching on giving is not about pressuring you into doing something that you really do not want to do.
⇒ Preaching on giving is not about meddling into your affairs.
⇒ Preaching on giving is not about an increase or decrease in a congregation’s number board.
⇒ Preaching on giving is not really about asking for money at all (though many think it is).
     Perspective #2: What preaching on giving is.
⇒ Preaching on giving is about helping us to realize a greater level of happiness in this life (2 Cor. 8.2; 9.7).
⇒ Preaching on giving is about helping us to look within ourselves to see if we are truly making a full commitment to the Lord (2 Cor. 8.11; 13.5).
⇒ Preaching on giving is about encouraging us to reach a greater level of generosity for the Lord (2 Cor. 8.5; 9.6).
⇒ Preaching on giving is about helping us to see if our hearts are in the right place (2 Cor. 9.7; Mat. 6.19-21).
⇒ Preaching on giving is about our showing a response to the love that God has for us (2 Cor. 9.15; Psa. 116.12).
     Many times a response that preachers hear after
their sermon is “You really stepped on my toes.” I assure you that if that is your reaction after this morning’s lesson, then I have missed by about 4 feet. Preaching about giving is aimed at the heart, not at the toes! It would benefit each of us to read the passages above and think seriously about our giving to the Lord.

- Kevin Williams preaches for the Walnut Grove church of Christ in Benton, KY.  He may be contacted through the church's website: 

Tell The World

By Roger D. Campbell
     In June 1989, a remarkable, unforgettable series of events took place in Beijing, China. In a special place known as Tiananmen Square, thousands of college-aged Chinese people and others had come together in protest of some of the policies of Mainland China. Their gathering and apparent unwillingness to back down caught the attention of the world. News agencies from around the world came to cover this major news event. In the end, what at one time appeared to some outsiders to have the potential to lead to something good, concluded with heart-wrenching tragedy. Government officials sent in military units that gunned down large numbers of protesters. Early reports estimated the number of civilians killed to be in the thousands. Later the number was reduced to several hundred. More than likely, no one will ever know the exact figure.
     Many of us who closely watched the unfolding of events in Tiananmen Square will never be able to forget those images that we saw via television. Those protesters that survived the slaughter do not want the world to forget what took place there, either. Some time after those happenings, a Chinese man by the name of Liu Bin Yan wrote a book entitled “Tell the World.” He wanted the message to get out about what so many saw and experienced in the weeks, days, and hours that led up to the horrible tragedy of Tiananmen Square in June 1989. He wanted the whole world to hear their side of the story. As one student in Tiananmen Square put it on June 4, 1989, “You must tell the world what is happening. Otherwise, all this counts for nothing.”
     “Tell the World” – Is that not what Jesus, in a nutshell, told His apostles to do, when He told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person? (Mark 16:15). Brethren, we must arise and “Tell the World,” not only of the tragedy of the slaying of an innocent man on a cross outside of old Jerusalem, but also that the One Who was crucified there is the sinless Son of the living God, and through Him redemption is available to every sinner of every nation! Yes, we must be about our Father’s business and “Tell the World.” If we don’t, who will? If we don't, how can we stand before our Lord, knowing that we have failed to carry out our number one mission?
     According to Jesus’ “Great Commission,” He wants His people to preach. Yet, preaching is not enough. We must not only preach, but also see to it that we preach in many places. But, preaching in many places is still not sufficient. Preaching on every one of the seven continents is needed, but that does not suffice. Preaching in every country on every continent is a great start, yet that still is not what the Lord told us to do. No, He told us to preach to every person of every place in the whole world. Now that is one big job to undertake! If the Lord instructed us to do it, then we know that with His help we can get the job done. Let us arise and go forth to “Tell the World.”

- Roger D. Campbell, Cleveland, 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: 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gloom and Despair

By C. M. Callan
     The popular TV show “Hee Haw” made this short song famous.  “Gloom despair and agony on me, deep dark depression excessive misery.  If it was not for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.”  Do those words seem to fit better than they once did?  Has it become easy to get caught up in the dooms-day predictors on TV and in the newspaper?  Do you lay awake at night wondering what is going to happen next?  I am afraid that many people now think that Satan is going to win, because there is so much evil in this world.  We almost get to the point of Elijah, “I am the only one left”? (1 Kings 19:10)
      If you were to try to make a list of all the problems we now face, you might find you do not have enough paper.  The list ranges from “adultery” to “zombies” and touches every aspect of our human existence.  It appears that the one thing the human race is good at doing is finding new ways to be displeasing to our Creator.
      Getting caught up in these ever pressing problems can be a severe load for many to carry.  Especially this is true with those that are young in their faith, often finding that the pressures of this world are just too much to maintain a proper relationship with God.  This often is a factor in the development of depression.  The constant emotional battle that is raging in our brain finally breaks the nervous system down and depression is a result.  Depression interferes with our relationships, our productivity, our senses of well-being and can of course have a disastrous ending in suicide.
      Read with me Galatians 1:4-5 (ERV).  “Jesus gave himself for our sins to free us from this evil world we live in.  This is what God our Father wanted.  The glory belongs to God forever and ever.”  Yes, Jesus came to this world to save us from the forces of evil.  If we truly believe this, what does God think when we wring our hands and walk the floor and spend endless nights without sleep, because we are faced with the evil of this world?  Where is our faith?
      We may be reduced to eating raw carrots out of our own garden, using firewood to keep warm and suffering without proper medical attention, but we should have no worry because Jesus has freed us from all these adversities.  Remember his invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV))  What a glorious invitation!
      We are wasting time and opportunity when we sit around and complain, “Woe is me”.  Christ does not invite us to a “pity party”.  He invites us to life, an abundant life.  I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10 NIV).
      If you are depressed over the world situation, now is the time to change your focus.  Exhibit Christ in everything you do, start saving the world right where you are.  When you fully put on Christ in your life there is no room for “gloom and despair”.  Come let us all enjoy the “peace that transcends all understanding.”  (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

- C. M.Callan serves as an elder of the church of Christ in Rotan, TX. He may be contacted at

Design Demands a Designer

By Mike Johnson

     John Gribbon wrote in the May 1981 issue of Science Digest, p. 309, “The Anthropic Principle says that our universe seems to be tailor-made for us because people like us can only evolve in this kind of universe.” He has identified one of the evidentiary paths to belief in God—the argument from design, that is every design (tailor-made) demands a designer (tailor).
     I have never had a tailor-made suit. A suit like that would require me to go to someone who would take many different measurements to fit it to me just perfectly. I suppose then I or the seamstress could even design the style and colors to highlight all my best features. With such a suit, I would be (in the language of my youth) stylin’!
     So, why can’t I just lay out one of my other suits designed for me by J.C. Penney and awake the next morning to find a perfectly tailored suit evolved from the former one? Most of us know why that will never happen. It does not happen!
     However, evolutionists hold to their precious principle that all of life has evolved from former, lower states through millions of years. They argue that the process of evolution takes an extreme amount of time and it is not fair to expect an old suit to turn into a tailored one overnight.
     Evolutionists say that the earth is 4 or 5 billion years old. They also say that mankind is a relative newcomer to this planet having started their evolution about 2 million years ago. Remember, they say humans evolved from a lower form—ape.
     Now, here is my question. If this process began 2 million years ago and we still have apes on the planet, why are there not apes reaching the point of human evolution all the time? Should there not be apes standing up in zoos, realizing their humanity, and demanding their freedom? If not, why not? What stopped the process of evolution once it began? The same thing would hold true for all the forms of evolution that are claimed. Surely
     Darwinian evolution can still be observed happening somewhere! Or . . . Maybe it is a convenient lie perpetrated by people who don’t want to believe in one designer—God! Surely that is not the reason, is it?

- Mike Johnson; 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:

No Charge

By Shirley Ceasar
     Our little boy came up to his mother in the kitchen one evening while she was fixing supper, and he handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. After his mom dried her hands on an apron, she read it, and this is what it said:
  • For cutting the grass $5.00
  • For cleaning my room this week $1.00
  • For going to the store for you .50
  • Baby-sitting my kid brother for you while you went shopping .25
  • Taking out the garbage $1.00
  • For getting a good report card $5.00
  • For cleaning up and raking the yard $2.00
  • Total Owed: $14.75
     Well, I'll tell you, his mother looked at him standing there expectantly, and boy, could I see the memories flashing through her mind. So she picked up the pen, turned over the paper he'd written on, and this is what she wrote:
  • For the nine months I carried you while you grew inside me, No Charge.
  • For all the nights I've sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you, No Charge.
  • For all the trying times, and all the tears you've caused through the years, No Charge.
  • When you add it all up, the cost of my love is, No Charge.
  • For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead, No Charge.
  • For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose, there's No Charge, Son.
And when you add it all up, the full cost of real love is No Charge.
      Well, friends, when our son finished reading what his mother had written, there were great big old tears in his eyes, and he looked straight up at his mother and said, "Mom, I sure do love you." And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote : "PAID IN FULL."

- "No Charge" was written by Gospel singer Shirley Ceasar. Submitted by James C. Guy, Canal Heights church of Christ, in Demopolis, Alabama.  He may be contacted at
THE BIBLE SAYS website at:

Monday, March 12, 2012


By Earl B. Claud
     Authority is needed in the home, school, sporting events, government and in religion. The authority or rules that govern each of these is sometimes challenged by man.
     Let us now study about authority in religion.
     Our Lord was asked, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority” (Matt. 21:23b)? Jesus points out that authority is either from heaven or men (Matt. 21:25). Authority is “power to require and receive submission; the right to expect obedience; superiority derived from a status that carries with it the right to command and give final decisions.” We hear of men appealing to a higher court and finally to the Supreme Court. But where do we appeal in religion? “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). All things must be approved by him in the church (Col. 1:18; 3:17; Eph. 1:22,23). When we read the Bible, we are reading God’s word and not that of man (2 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 3;3-5; Gal. 1:11,12; 1 Thess. 2:13; Acts 20:27).
     The Bible teaches we are under the Law of Christ and not the Law of Moses (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14; Heb. 3:1-7; 8:1-13). But some men say not so. Will we accept men or God? The Bible teaches a simple plan of salvation. We are commanded to hear, believe, repent, confess Christ and be baptized for the remission of sins (Rom. 10:14,17; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10; Acts 22:16). But man disagrees. One says “grace only,” while another says “faith only” and another something else. Who shall we believe?
     The words of Christ will judge us in the end (John 12:48). What argument can we give to Christ to justify our following the doctrine of men (Matt. 7:7-11)? May we have the courage to follow Jesus (1 Peter 1:21).

- Earl B. Claud; via the
Nile Street Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL; R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Will History Repeat?

     One of the most widely read books of all time is “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Written in 1788 by Edward Gibbon, it sets forth five basic reasons why that great civilization withered and died.
These were:
1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis for human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes;  the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure;  sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
4. The building of great Armaments when the real enemy was within, the decay of individual responsibility.
5. The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.
     The oft-heard warning that “history repeats itself” has an ominous meaning in the light of the above.

- Selected; 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:

"The Legacy We Leave Behind"

By Bob Spurlin
     No one can deny the brevity of life. Thus the legacy we leave behind is of vital importance. Many are concerned about their real estate holdings, stocks, bonds, and other securities they will leave behind (Matthew. 16:26). I have seen family members argue profusely over "how much" they will receive from their relative's estate. Covetous hearts usually come into view during such occasions (I Timothy. 6:10-11, Romans. 8:6). Jesus emphasized the greater value of spiritual things in the following statement from His Sermon on the Mount, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth doth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also (Matthew. 6:19-21).
     What will be the legacy we leave behind? Let's consider some specific things that will provide a positive legacy to our loved ones:
     A GOOD NAME - The single most important possession we have is our good name. The wise man Solomon said, "A good name is rather to be chosen than riches" (Proverbs 22:1). This writer grew up in a small community in north Alabama. It was a place where everyone knew one another. Few people in our secular society would be identified as a "walking Bible," but such was the case with James F. Dean. My maternal grandfather, J.F. Dean, passed away in 1980. Still today people continue to acknowledge the good name and integrity of my grandfather.
     Preserving and maintaining a good name that will be left for succeeding generations should be a top priority. What will our name represent and how important will it be to the church, community and our family after we have left this world? Our name should symbolize honesty, integrity and devotion to the cause of Christ (Philippians 2:5, 2:9-10). The name Christian represents living a life in word and deed that reflects the image of Christ. What a true complement to the believers at Antioch when Luke wrote, "And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
     Dear reader, the legacy of a good name will mean more than all the rubies, sapphires, and diamonds that could be accumulated in one hundred life times (Matthew 16:26).
     A GOOD STEWARD - The legacy we leave behind should show that the riches of this world were not the obsession of our time and energy. A.M. Burton, founder of the Life & Causality Insurance Company, Nashville, Tennessee, was an incredibly talented and gifted Christian man. This well-known man was able to amass great wealth, and yet he was recognized for his support of many worthwhile endeavors.
     As good stewards, we must show our children the value of a dollar, and to make sure it does not become their god (Luke 12:16-21). We live in a welfare state of "free hand-outs." It is not an exaggeration to say that state and federal governments actually lend encouragement to those who choose to live a life of idleness. Just imagine a society promoting, and encouraging generations to continue having children out of wedlock, and never comprehend the value and importance of work. This kind of life is not conducive to building self-esteem or living a productive life. In the early church some new Christians felt the church at Thessalonica owed them a hand out, and the apostle quickly put things into perspective. Paul writes, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, if a man will not work, neither let him eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). It is clear from verse 11 that such lazy individuals were identified as disorderly, and if they continued to live in such a disorderly way that fellowship would be withdrawn (2 Thessalonians 3:6). A day's work for a day's pay should be the formula for right living. Being good stewards of our material wealth will have much to do by enhancing our daily lives.
     A LIFE GUIDED BY THE GOLDEN RULE (Matthew 7:12). Implementing this rule would literally revolutionize the world if all would live by its holy directive (better employees, employers, husbands, wives, elders, preachers, and membership). To live by the iron rule suggests, "might makes right," which is to get what you can regardless if it hurts others and should be repudiated. Criminals and thieves live by this rule and reject the will of others (Lk. 10:30-37).
     Our aim should be to treat others, as you would want them to treat you (I Peter 2:21-24). One application involves turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). The apostle Paul taught that evil should be substituted with good (Romans 12:20-21). Applying this exhortation will mean that we will "heap coals of fire upon their head." Those who practice the golden rule are commanded to be honest and genuine (Matthew 5:37; Colossians 3:23). This is a worthy legacy to leave our children and grandchildren.
     OUR LEGACY - A LIFE OF FAITHFULNESS (Rev. 2:10). Perhaps the most treasured gift we can leave behind is "a life of faithfulness." We look at men like Abraham, Abel, Noah, Moses, Peter and Paul as faithful (Heb. 11). Though dead, yet they speak volumes about a faithful life to almighty God. Faithfulness begins with our fundamental obedience to the gospel. Hearing the gospel preached (Rom. 10:17); believing the message that Jesus is the Christ (John 8:24); repent of all our past sins (Acts 17:30); confess Christ as God’s only begotten son (Rom. 10:10); and baptism "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).
     The one thing I want to leave my family, when life is completed, is a memory of a life that was dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:13-14). What legacy will you leave behind? Far too many worry about the stocks and bonds they will leave behind. Others are concerned if their children will waste or squander their inheritance (Mt. 6:9-21).
     Our legacy should not be an addiction to materialism, but to spiritual things that will enable us to live throughout eternity (Mt. 16:26). What legacy will you leave behind? If your life has drifted from God’s way then our destination will be a disappointment. Why not consult your spiritual road map to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).

- 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).

Different But United

By Bill Brandstatter
     The recent Republican presidential debate showed difference but equality.
     Each candidate had his/her own slant on the way things ought to be done, but they were all united in the belief that we need a new president.
     Many in the religious world believe in unity in diversity. Some believe denominations are okay. Diversity is the name of the game in many circles.
     Some might say that all the diverse religious groups that claim to follow Christ are all part of the church of Christ.
     The Bible talks about being different but equal. The Bible speaks of just one church. Christ is the head of that one church. He built it and it should bear His name. (Mt. 16:18) It is referred to as “His body.” (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18) Just as Christ only had one body while on earth, He still has only one spiritual body. (Eph. 4:4)
     Christ prayed for unity of all believers. He said, “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” (John 17:21)
     The apostle Paul pleaded, “That there be no divisions among you, that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor. 1:10)
     There was just one church in New Testament times. There were different congregations in various locations. They talked and practiced the same thing. (1 Cor.4:17; 7:17) That obviously is not the case today.
     Each member was different from the other members. So the apostle Paul reminded the church, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12)
     There was unity of believers in practice and belief, but each member was different. Let us today get back to the simple unity of the New Testament church. God will be pleased.

– Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

What We Have in Christ and Could Not Have Without Him

1. True peace in a hostile world.
The Lord’s peace is more than the absence of conflict. Eph. 2:14-22, John 14:27

2. Security in an unstable world.
The one who holds the world together can hold us together too, if we let him. Heb. 1:2, Col. 1:17

3. Hope in fear and uncertainty.
Nothing has failed or will fail of what Jesus promised. Phil. 4:13, Heb. 13:5-6

4. Salvation from the results of sin.
Forgiveness is the only remedy for the spiritual consequences of sin. Rom. 6:23, Gal. 6:7-8, Col. 1:14

5. Eternal life in heaven with God.
John 3:16, John 11:23-26, John 14:1-6, 1 John 2:25

With Jesus we have everything we really need for this life and the life to come. Without him we have nothing and we are nothing.

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola church of Christ, Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at

Be A Builder

By Joe Chesser
    My brother-in-law is building a new house. Unfortunately, it is taking longer than he expected.  He’s doing most of the work himself, even though he’s not what you would call an experienced carpenter (he is more experienced now than he was this time last year).  He had some health issues that set him back at a critical time, and he took time to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica. Even so, progress is being made.
    He knew building a house would be neither quick nor easy.  At almost every step of the way it seems that something new had to be learned and some obstacle had to be overcome.  He never seemed to have quite enough material he needed for that day’s project.  And yet, he continues to build.  He has a goal, and regardless of what it takes, he is determined to reach that goal.  He knew there would be a lot he would have to learn.  He knew there would be some things he would have to change. He knew it would take a lot of time just planning the next step. Even for experienced contractors, building something worthwhile requires serious planning and effort.  But for builders, the end result is worth the effort.
     Building a life, a marriage, or a church is never as easy as tearing one apart. Anyone can be a destroyer.  It doesn’t take much planning or time.  Destroyers don’t care about what things end up looking like or how it might affect others.  Destroying doesn’t require order or process.  If you want to destroy, just whack away.  It’s easy to destroy someone’s life with a single slanderous accusation.  A selfish agenda can rip a marriage or church wide apart almost overnight.  But if you want to be a builder, you have to give it careful thought and patient effort, all the while keeping your eye on your objective. You never build anything worthwhile by accident.
    What are you doing to build your relationship with God?  Growing to maturity will not happen quickly or easily (like building a house by yourself).  There will be setbacks and difficulties, but like Paul, we must press on to the goal (Phil. 3:12-14). Yet, we must have a goal in mind. Drifters are not builders.  Make a plan to build!
     The same thing can be said about building your marriage or the church. There’s not much positive that can be said about a stagnant marriage or a listless church.  The Lord is calling you to be a builder.  Don’t be lazy.  Don’t sit back and hope someone else will take the initiative to be the builder.  If both the husband and the wife are building the marriage, it will soar!  If all the members of the church are working to strengthen the faith and increase numbers of the congregation, Satan will be powerless to hold you back.
    I know my brother-in-law will finish his house.  I also believe you can finish what you are building if you are faithful to your task.  Just keep making progress.

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

Monday, March 5, 2012

Deck of Cards

By Kevin Rayner
     It was quiet that day, the guns and the mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn't been heard.
     The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the holiest day of the week.
     As he was sitting there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk.
     Just then an army sergeant came in and said, "Why aren't you with the rest of the platoon?"
     The soldier replied, "I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord."
     The sergeant said, "Looks to me like you're going to play cards." The soldier said, "No, sir. You see, since we are not allowed to have Bibles or other spiritual books in this country,
     I've decided to talk to the Lord by studying this deck of cards."
     The sergeant asked in disbelief, "How will you do that?"
     "You see the Ace, Sergeant? It reminds me that there is only one God.
The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.
The Three represents the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The Four stands for the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Five is for the five virgins there were ten but only five of them were glorified.
The Six is for the six days it took God to create the Heavens and Earth.
The Seven is for the day God rested after making His Creation.
The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives -- the eight people God spared from the flood that destroyed the Earth.
The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten, but nine never thanked Him.
The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone.
The Jack is a reminder of Satan, one of God's first angels, but he got kicked out of heaven for his sly and wicked ways and is now the joker of eternal hell.
The Queen stands for the Virgin Mary.
The King stands for Jesus, for he is the King of all kings.
When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year.
There are a total of 52 cards in a deck; each is a week - 52 weeks in a year.
The four suits represent the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.
Each suit has thirteen cards -- there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter.
    So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for."
    The sergeant just stood there. After a minute, with tears in his eyes and pain in his heart, he said, "Soldier, can I borrow that deck of cards?"
     Please let this be a reminder and take time to pray for all of our soldiers who are being sent away, putting their lives on the line fighting.
     Prayer for the Military.
     Please keep the wheel rolling. It will only take a few seconds of your time, but it'll be worth it to read on.... Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands.
     Protect them. Bless them and their families.
     I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
    When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our servicemen and women all around the world.

- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Highland church of Christ, Tecumseh, OK.  He may be contacted through the congregation’s website: 

A King Who Sold Out

By Patrick Hogan
     Do you remember a man named Ahab? He was the seventh king of Israel following the division of the kingdom. Perhaps you remember his charming wife, Jezebel. 1 Kings 21:25-26, gives a startling commentary on Ahab's reign as king. "There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He did very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel." This assessment of Ahab is more amazing when one considers the evil record left by his father, Omri. Until Ahab reigned Omri had the distinction of having done "more evil than all who were before him." (1 Kings 16:25) I Kings chapter 21also reveals that Elijah told Ahab, "you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord," and then described the judgment God would bring upon Ahab and his family for the evil they had done.
     The description, "sold himself to do what was evil" is a chilling thought. Whatever it may entail, it at least means that Ahab sold out to evil. Rather than following the guidance of the Lord and thereby being a blessing to his family and his nation, Ahab chose to go his own way and to pursue evil. This choice ultimately led to his death, the deaths of the members of his family, and the infamous reputations that they left behind. Furthermore, their evil influence affected people for generations to come.
     While circumstances are quite different today than in Ahab's specific situation, it is still possible for one to sell himself do to evil. While certain actions may appear to be the wise or fulfilling choices to make, if those actions are contrary to God's will, they lead us down the road to selling out to evil. Matthew 16:26 asks the probing question, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Let's carefully consider the choices we make, realizing that our choices do make a difference.

- 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

Do angels drive white Jaguar’s?

By Rick Woodall
     I enjoy getting out on the lawnmower and getting some sunshine in my face. After all, I took care of 600 acres at a Christian institution for a little while.  It’s very rewarding just to sit back with a cold glass of water and look around and hear the birds singing and smelling the fresh cut grass. These moments are very peaceful.  This past week was different. With all kinds of weather related things happenings, the earthquake out East, the stress of wondering if Dad and Mom were alright, an armed robbery just one street over from where we live, one’s mind begins to wonder.  Well. I cleaned all the bad stuff out and was just about to back the lawnmower through the side doors of the church garage when a beautiful white Jaguar pulled up quickly right next to me in this isolated part of the church property.  A guy jumps out and shakes my hand and said “are you the preacher?”
     Now I know that the angel of death does not drive a white Jaguar.  There was another guy in the front seat passenger side. He looked like no one you would want to mess with.  So the tall fellow that shook my hand told me he was from Mississippi and his car had broke down and it took all that he had to fix it. He was in need of money.
     We make it a policy not give money to people and do not keep it in the church building at all.  I told him all I had was six dollars in my billfold.  I said that is all I can do. So, I took it out and placed it in his hand trying not to show my fear.  He said; “thank you Sir” and jumped in his beautiful Jaguar and drove off.  I did notice as they were leaving that he did have Mississippi plates.
     I finished putting the lawnmower away and after I locked the garage I stood there in the parking lot and took a deep breath.  I was thinking how friendly these two guys were and laughing within myself for feeling so much fear at the time they pulled up to me. One scripture came to my mind.
     “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”  - Hebrews 13:2
     Do angels drive white Jaguar’s?  Are they residing in Mississippi?  I don’t know but one thing’s  for sure.  The fear I felt was real and it is a shame we have to fear our fellow man in the times we are living in.
  My prayer is that these two were for real and honestly needed my help.
  I know my heart was right by what I did. I gave them my all at that moment.  They did tell me they liked by Detroit Pistons cap I was wearing as he got back in his car.
     “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear ; do not be frightened."
     But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17

- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address:


By H. Norman Wright      WHEN TWO PEOPLE get married, they have expectations how the relationship should work...
      Often the unspoken assumption is that "my spouse will meet me halfway."  Sometimes it's called the "50/50 Plan."  When the husband and wife operate on this plan, it's easy for it to spread to other members of the family.
      The 50/50 Plan says, "You do your part, and I'll do mine."  It sounds logical, but couples who use it may be surprised.
      A young man saw an elderly couple sitting down to lunch at McDonald's.  He noticed that they had ordered one meal and an extra drink cup.  As he watched, the gentleman carefully divided the hamburger in half, then counted out the fries, one for him, one for her, until each had half of them.  Then he poured half of the soft drink into the extra cup and set that in front of his wife.  The old man then began to eat, and his wife sate watching, with her hands folded in her lap.  The young man decided to ask it they would allow him to purchase another meal for them so that they didn't have to split theirs.
      The old gentleman said, "Oh, no.  We've been married for 50 years, and everything has always been and will be shared 50/50."
      The young man then asked the wife if she was going to eat, and she replied, "Not yet.  It's his turn with the teeth..."
      The problem with most 50/50 arrangements is that giving is based on merit and performance.  There's a focus more on what the other person is giving than on what we are giving.
      Think about the type of love God gives you.  No matter what we do, He gives us 100 percent.
      There's a better plan.  It's called the "100/100 Plan."  Give 100 percent no matter what your spouse does.  It really does work...

- H. Norman Wright, "50/50 or 100/100?", Before You Say "I Do" Devotional, 105-106; Mike Benson edits an on-line devotional entitled KneEmail.  To subscribe, send ANY message to:  Mike may be contacted