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Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Perspective on Evangelism in the New Testament

By Hardie Logan
     It is often stated, “To be like Jesus, one will do evangelism”. And all too often I hear the emphasis for church growth is put upon the people instead of allowing God to give the increase as He wills (Acts 2:47). But when I read the New Testament, I do not find where Jesus went to the Gentiles to evangelize. In fact, the nearest I find to it is where Jesus met the woman at the well who was a Samarian (John 4:9-24). Even with the woman, it might be argued that she might be the Jew married to a Gentile. Another issue arises with Matthew 15:24, “ But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
     The purpose of Jesus was to seek and save the lost of the house of Israel, i.e. the lost Jews. He was not sent to evangelize the Gentiles and thus we do not find any record of Him evangelizing the Gentiles. So to be like Jesus, one would actually spend time seeking the lost sheep of the “house of Israel today”, which is the church.
     Next, take the writings of Paul. All 13 books, well 14 if Hebrews is included, were written to the church or about how to live in the kingdom of God, the church. Basically, evangelism, as people normally teach it, is not the basic teachings of these books. Bring in the books of Peter, Jude, James and this thought still rings true. The teachings of the books are basically about how to live in the Kingdom of God, which is the church.
     Even the book of Revelation gets involved in this. In chapters 2 and 3, where the seven churches of Asia are talked about, not once do we see that Jesus chastised those churches for not evangelizing. Instead what we do see is that they were chastised for the way they were living.
     Yet out of all this, we continue to hear more preaching about what we do than about what we believe. Evangelize, Evangelize, Evangelize. And yet in many of our congregations, they are dying from within, not from a lack of evangelizing. Just think about the generation of kids that we do not have now.
     Take a look at Ephesians 4:11-16. Could this be the key to real sustainable church growth? Could it be the kind of church growth that our Lord wants from us? Could it be that we are to have responsibility for being our “brother’s keeper” in helping our brother grow to be useful to the church?
     The purpose of elders, deacons, teachers, and such may be to help others to find their talent and then help them to develop that talent so they are a useful part of the body. Ephesians 4:16 puts it into perspective…”from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

- Hardie Logan preaches for the Marshfield church of Christ, in Marshfield, WI.  He may be contacted at
xnman01@gmail.com

Do You Really Want To Go To Heaven?

By Edd Knight
     That may strike you as a ridiculous question, but before you answer, consider these things. Jesus has endorsed heaven as the most desirable place to be after this life. For most Christians the word of Jesus is the ultimate recommendation. But what do you think it will really be like? A desirable place to Jesus Christ might actually be a little uncomfortable for some professed Christians. The Bible is not really explicit or detailed about the activities that will take place in heaven.
     Some envision heaven as a place of rest, an eternal spit and whittle club where they recline in the shade of a tree and visit nostalgically with old friends. Now, the real problem with that line of thought is that the idle Christian will probably not make it to the heavenly rest, and God would surely not force the energetic Christian to sit in the shade and drift off into eternal boredom. So surely there will be some activities to engage in. If you really speculate on heavenly activities, it may cause you to wonder if it is where you really want to go.
     Do you have trouble getting to church services a couple of times a week? Does it seem a bit too much? Suppose you get to heaven and they have  worship assemblies every day. How would you like that? Are you irritated when your preacher goes beyond the time you have allotted to him? Can you visualize spending eternity in heaven with that long-winded guy, and having him preach to you every day? Do you not care to sing praises to God in excess of the customary three songs – and “no new or difficult songs” ever to be sung? All that singing and praising and worshipping of God in heaven might be too much of a stretch for your soul. Do you find fellowship activities boring and time consuming, something that keeps you from doing your own thing on your own schedule? In heaven God’s servants will serve Him. Do you resent having assigned work to do?
     The list of questions could go on and on, but probably the severest test would be getting to heaven and finding people there that in your judgment have no right to be there. Are you willing to take a chance on that?
     Do you really want to go to heaven? Maybe considering the only other  alternative destination (it is called hell) will help you make up your mind. But if you really want to be in heaven, it greatly behooves you to prepare for that eventuality now. It is not a choice you can make when life ends – you will not be given a preview of heaven and hell at that time and allowed to decide which one you really want. The choice has to be made while you live. Actually there is only one choice for you to make. If you do not choose heaven and prepare yourself for it, then the default choice of the only alternative to heaven is automatic.
     Of course, if you love Christ, the church – the people and the activities of the church – you are ready for heaven and all it portends.

- Edd, Knight; 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 Geraldcowan1931@aol.com 

Promoting Unity

By Winfred Clark

    We hear of and see a number of things being promoted today. Some are good and some not so good. Some are scriptural and others are not. One, however, is really impressed as he reads the Galatian letter to see that Paul surely promoted unity among his brethren.
    I do not guess anybody would think he would promote unity on anything less than a Bible basis. But Paul wanted these brethren to know what real unity was. Take a look at this. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). So there is no question about the fact of unity. They occupy the position of unity in Christ and Paul wants to do all he can to protect the unity they have. How then, will Paul seek to promote unity? What will an apostle’s approach be to such a vital matter?
    For one thing, Paul would help them see the price of division. Listen as he says, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (5:15). That sounds to me like Paul is saying they can self-destruct or destroy one another. Like two violent and vicious animals who cut and claw one another until both are disabled beyond recovery. Paul wants his brethren to see that their inward division was too high a price to pay.
    One sees this sort of thing in some divorces. Both parties go into court with the intent to destroy the character and good name of the other. When they emerge from the conflicts both are decimated. The children are left bewildered and confused and are caught between their hearts and heads. Respect for and confidence in the parents is shaken and shattered. That is the price one pays for division.
    But what could prevent such division? Well, in the first place, one could never allow himself or herself to act like an animal. Such conduct is manifest in the works of the flesh (5:19-21). But if we give way to the flesh it is obvious we are not led by the teaching of the Spirit. We will take the carnal approach and that means we are no different than the man of the world.
    However, we can solve the problem of the fellowship of the saints by promoting the fruit of the Spirit in the saints. Where this is found you have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control (5:22-23).
    How would you like to be in a situation where only those kinds of folks were found? You say, I would love to be there. That is exactly what every congregation of the Lord’s people is supposed to be, no more and no less.
    Such would surely promote peace.

- Winfred Clark; 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: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tell Them Anyway

By Rick Woodall

    What should be the deciding factor in determining whether the Good News of the Gospel should be silenced? Is there a proper moment in history that we need to postpone proclaiming the truth? I recall a scripture when religious leaders of the day were becoming more than concerned about the activities of the Apostles in the book of Acts.
    “Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." – Acts 5:17-20
    It was a time of primary concern.  The high priest and the associates were burning in envy because the current events. These followers of Christ were presenting a new message to the people.  It was an announcement of hope.  This message was not a halfhearted proclamation. It was the full message that well defined a new life of the likes no one had ever heard of before.  The Gospel could be observed in the lives of Gods messengers. Even officially authorized custody could not stop the persistent doctrine of truth.
    My gift reminds me that in today’s world the “Good News” remains bad news to several that will not respect the authority of the scriptures. Here is some wonderful advice.
    “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
     But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”  - 2 Tim 4:2-5
    The message is still a new objective for many. The Gospel is still promising a new life. Since that is the case many are yet trying to influence individuals in other directions. Before you get too bored let the scriptures speak.
    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” - Heb 13:8-9
    The message is the same. The adversary is still pulling misleading tricks out of his bag that include suspicion, envy and doubt. We need to keep telling the people the full message of this new life.
    “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. – 1 Pet 5:8-9

- 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:  http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/


The Fear of Change

By Raymond Glendinning
    No one likes change!  I remember finding the first gray hair on my head; I couldn't get it pulled out quick enough.  Now if I were to pull the gray, I would be bald!  Time not only calls for, but demands change.  If all that changed was the color of my hair, then I could live with that, but as you know that is not all that changes.  I'm not as slim as I used to be, not as fast on my feet (or my mind) as I used to be, and those ten minutes (reviving) naps, now turn into hours.  The 1:00 a.m. bedtime hour now sounds better at 11:00 p.m.  Of course I could react to all this change by becoming a member of the "mid-life crisis" club, but that still doesn't solve the problem.  To make it, I just have to accept change.  That does not mean I have to like it, but since it is outside my control I will just have to learn to live with it.
    In the church there are changes taking place.  I am not talking or considering changes that seem to be doctrinal.  I am talking about the cosmetic changes.  You see, it is not within anyone's power to change the doctrine.  That is God's business and if He wants it altered that's fine.  But since it says in His word His ways are unchangeable, I don't expect His plan for man's salvation to be changed on dot!  However, methods are changing.
    Church buildings are not what they used to be (remember the days of no air conditioning, or even worse, remember the days of two-hour services).  Church meetings have changed.  Remember the times we had two-week (that is as far back as I go) gospel meetings?  Now we read of churches having one-day meetings, some of which are on Sundays which really doesn't make it much of a special occasion.  They just give the preacher the day off, and bring in a special speaker for the day.  Some of the songs we sing are different from what we are used to, and some even put them on overhead projectors instead of using songbooks.
    People today don't dress up the way they used to to go to church (remember those special Sunday clothes?).  Preaching also has changed.  Some preachers have got away not from book, chapter and verse, but the way they use book, chapter and verse.  Instead of using numerous texts that people left not remembering, some preachers now use a handful of texts, but they explain them in such a way they play on your spirit the rest of the week.  Leadership within the church has changed.  Elderships have moved from being a board of directors to being shepherds, and caring for the welfare of God's people.
    How do we react to all this change?  There are some who go into "this is all new, and we have never done this before" crisis.  They get all upset and dig their heels in, also challenging someone to drag them into modern times.  They seem to forget that they at one time were the agents of change.  We may not like all the changes we are beginning to see, some even make us uncomfortable, but the fact is change is inevitable!  Methods of proclaiming the unchanging gospel have, and always will go through periods of change.  I, like you, have witnessed methods that overstepped the boundaries laid down by God, and they have flourished for a while, but then because a Source of life were not in them, they died their death.  Let us all give God the credit for "snuffing" out the methods that do not meet with His approval.  He is still in control!  Let us also realize that change does not mean one is on the slippery slope of apostasy.  I have heard it said many times that "all this changes is leading the church astray."
    Have the changes that you have made over the years led the church astray?  Why then make the judgment on others who have just continued what you and others before you begun?  Surely they love the Lord and His church as much as anyone before them, or why else would they have stayed with it?  The only thing threatened by the change of methods in proclaiming God's word is our traditions and our comfort zones, and in the scheme of eternal things they don't amount to a "hill of beans."  If we have book, chapter and verse, then speak up and speak out in opposition to the changes that are not scriptural. But, then, if we only have "well, I don't like it," be like me with my gray hair and realize, having it beats the alternative of not living long enough to go gray, or just going bald!  Change beats death! 

- via the online newsletter, Seed, "sent on occasion to ministers, church workers, and others articles, illustrations, and other aids for bulletins, sermons, Bible class lessons, or personal study." Visit
http://biblesays.faithsite.com/content.asp?CID=91556



Monday, July 16, 2012

Dependency

By David Shannon

We often sing the beautiful hymn, “I need thee every hour.” The song was written by Annie S. Hawks. She was a young mother of 37 who was overcome with a feeling of closeness one day while doing her daily household chores of motherhood. She knew she needed God at all times. Late in life she stated she didn’t know how true the words were until she had fallen under the shadow of great loss. She knew again, she needed Him every hour.

     I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come o Thee. I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby; Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain; Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will; And Thy rich promises in me fulfill. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son. Do you really believe you need God every hour?
     Many wouldn’t dream of living without their technology. Many are convinced they need it every day and even every hour. Have you seen the look on someone’s face when the suggestion is offered to do without TV for a week or tell a cell phone or internet addict to do without these items for a week? Encourage a PDA junkie to withdraw for a week. The point isn’t that they are wrong; simply think of the dependency we have on these things. Now ask the question, “Are we dependent on God?” The other day I received the following e-mail:
     I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phones? What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it? What if we flipped through it several times a day? What if we used it to receive messages from the text? What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it? What if we gave it to kids as gifts? What if we used it as we traveled? What if we used it in case of an emergency?
     We need the Lord every moment. Do we know it? The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1).

- David Shannon; 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

Oh the B-I-B-L-E

By Michael Johnson
     Most of us have sung this song for all of our lives. Bible classes and Vacation Bible Schools were the primary places we sang it. We still sing it today. We sing it most days at Little Hands Preschool. I always follow it by asking how many books are in the Bible? How many books are in the New Testament? How many books are in the Old Testament? It is refreshing to know how many of them are retaining those numbers.
     We are blessed with Bible teachers who really are Bible teachers. The Bible has been at the center of our education ministry. It begins in the infant class as the teachers pass around a Bible to those infants who are aided to touch it with their hands. By song and action, these little ones learn early the value of the Bible. We have even heard that sometimes the first word of some is Bible.
     This Bible emphasis continues through our adult classes where dedicated teachers glean great lessons steeped in Scripture. They are guided well by the team that plans and assigns the various topics. Truly, the Bible is the center of our education ministry. We “read and study and then obey, the B-I-B-L-E.”
     The authority of the Bible is the foundation upon which all of this is built. We hold to the view that whatever God permits, licenses, or authorizes is what we are going to practice and teach. If we have no authority for a teaching or a practice, then we do not and will not engage it. We “stand alone on the word of God, the BI-B-L-E.”
     Psalm 119 is a song of David about his view of the word of God. He declared that it was “…a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (verse 105) Only 8 verses out of 176 do not contain one of these words: precepts, law, ordinances, word, commandments, statute, judgments, or testimony. The Bible is our only eternal guide for life. Let us continue to teach our precious young ones and all the rest of us this valuable lesson.

- Michael 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

“Division Must Come”

By David Lipscomb
     Division in the churches is painful. It wrings the heart with anguish. But God asked, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). This is a strong declaration that they cannot. It is true as applied to both God and man. Can you walk with God unless you agree with Him? He claims to be the Lord, the only Ruler of the universe. Can you walk with Him while you insist on making laws and changing His order? It also applied to man. Can two walk together when one insists on going another way?
     Often, those we love must force us to the choice as to whether we will cling to God or go with them. If we love God better than we love them, we will cling to God and His ways. If division must come, let it come along the lines of love and loyalty to God. If we separate from others and do not walk with God, another separation must come. Separation after separation must come until the lines of cleavage run with the line of loyalty to God. Until division along this line is reached, divisions must continue and multiply. As soon as, and not until, divisions along this line is reached, the union with God and those true to Him will be permanent.
     God is directing these things and does all things well. All we have to do is to stand true and firm to God and His word all along the line, and leave results with Him. We can do nothing else. We are poor and foolish and weak; God is wise and strong. Our only hope is to walk with and be true to God in all things. "For there must be also heresies (divisions) among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" (1 Corinthians 11:19). Divisions must come until we are all willing to be led by God.

- Via the weekly bulletin of the Coldwater church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. Clifton Angel serves as their preacher and he may be contacted through that congregation's website:
http://www.coldwatercofc.com/

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It’s Not About Me!

By Joe Chesser
            We live in a society that basically believes, “It’s all about me.”  Almost every message that advertisers use promotes “me.”  Check them out and see if I’m right.  Pamper yourself.  Please yourself.  Protect yourself.
            No wonder so many marriages are breaking up.  No wonder so many people are having a difficult time at work.  No wonder there’s so much crime and overcrowded prisons.  No wonder there’s so much mud-slinging in politics.  No wonder there’s so much road rage.  No wonder children are so difficult to control.  No wonder there are so many lawsuits.  No wonder there are so many people crying that their rights have been violated.  No wonder there are so many churches being split.
            One of God’s irrefutable laws says that whatever you sow, you reap.  We are seeing the vivid results of sowing the seeds of self-centeredness, and it’s not pretty.
            However, God’s law of sowing and reaping works both ways.  If we actively sow seeds of selflessness and service to others we will definitely reap a different harvest.  What we see in Jesus, and what actually cost him is life, is that God is not happy with self-centeredness in any realm of human existence: not in the home, not in the workplace, not in the church.  So, Jesus repeatedly taught us that Christianity is not about “me,” it’s about others.

            The greatest command is to love God (not self).  Mark 12:29-30
            The next greatest is to love our neighbors (not self)   Mark 12:31
            We are to die to ourselves   Luke 9:23
            We are to bless those who persecute us Romans 12:14
            We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition    Philippians 2:3
            We are to consider others better than ourselves Philippians 2:3

            As much as we are bombarded by advertisers, politicians, educators, and even clergy to “look out for #1,” it will be difficult to believe and practice the teachings of Jesus that it’s “not about you.”  But we must.
            Yet, here’s the blessing.  When we learn to do things the way Jesus taught and lived, we learn that putting others first is the best thing we can do for ourselves.  There’s nothing on earth to compare to becoming like Jesus!

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

Praise God with the Heart, or Man-made, Mechanical Instruments?

By Tim Childs
    A mechanical instrument is an inanimate object. Since it is non-living, it is therefore unable to comprehend any messages from its maker. It does not entertain any rational thoughts to communicate to its maker. A mechanical instrument never expresses appreciation to its maker for making it in the first place, or to its owner for taking good care of it. It has no spirit with which to convey gratitude for its owner cleaning it, or protecting it from bad weather, or from abuse by a pet or small child.
    The members of our body are to be used faithfully as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13). While God wonderfully created man [not only physically, but also spiritually (in his own image)], including his heart and his lips whereby he may praise God, every mechanical instrument is inferior simply from the standpoint it is man made. God is able to use the instruments he has made and sanctified for his service, i.e. our hearts and tongues (our composite being). "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Hebrews 13:15).
    In worship man communicates messages from his spirit to God who is the infinite Spirit. These messages must convey our deep humility and submission to his Divine authority. God is God. I am not God. God is not a man, and so his thoughts and ways transcend our own. God has communicated through command and approved example what he expects of his people who follow Christ. Christians are not at liberty to tinker and play with what he has called for. With respect to music, according to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, the only instrument to be employed in Christian worship is a grateful heart in tune and in step with him.
    In the exclusive employment of vocal music, we are in the blessed company of Jesus who sang with his disciples, the Apostles who sang with the first Christians, and the church (being guided by the Holy Spirit/given all things pertaining to life and godliness) that Jesus established throughout the Roman empire.
    One might listen to an organ, or a full orchestra play all day and he would never hear the first intelligible thought. He would never learn anything about God, Jesus, his Son, the Holy Spirit, the church, or about faithful Christian living and service. One would never be edified in the biblical sense, nor encouraged to patient steadfastness in the Lord. He would never be reminded of the home for which we long and how beautiful heaven must be. Therefore, we will be content to “sing with the spirit,” and “the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

- Tim Childs preaches for the Hillcrest church of Christ in Baldwyn, MS.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.thelordsway.com/hillcrestms

Enjoying The Heavenly Places in Christ

By Larry Miles

     In Ephesians 1:3 Paul wrote these words,  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”  The Christian is a heavenly person.  He is not “of this world.”  Philippians 3:20 tells us that we are “citizens of heaven.”
     What does this mean to the Christian? It means that we do not let the things of this world, which are anti-God, dictate how we live.  We have been called out of a kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus (Col. 1:2-14).  The Word of God is our constitution, especially the New Testament.  We find in its pages how to live and act as “citizens of heaven,” and enjoy all the blessings in Christ!
     Jesus said that He came to give us the abundant life.  We should desire all that the Godhead has for us.  Paul told the Colossians that we should “seek the things that are above.”  We must, therefore, strive to conduct our lives with a heavenly emphasis.  We need to renew our minds spiritually.
     We have received these spiritual blessings so that we can praise God! The Lord has promised to equip us for service so that we can reach the lost and strengthen the saved.  These blessings that we have as “citizens of heaven” are to help us grow daily in “the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
     We cannot live the Christian life by ourselves.  We need the help of the Lord at all times.  Satan is out there “as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  Because of that, we need the assurance that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
     Christians should seek everything God has for us so that we can be equipped to live for Him, always learning from the Word of God, and being active in His service while we look forward to the time when the Lord returns for His Church to take us home to the full reality of the Heavenly kingdom.
     While we have been promised all the blessings today, one day we will enjoy them on a higher scale when we see Him face to face.  If we avail ourselves of all that He has for us and use the blessings to bring glory to Him, we will let our light shine for Him.

- Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and publishes "Larry's Lines" several times a week. Copyright 2009. Visit his website: http://larryslines.com/ 


Shipwrecked!

By Ricky Butts and David A. Sargent
     On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship, hit rocks off the coast of island Giglio when it was brought too near to the shore by the captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino. The captain claims he was instructed to venture near the shore in the move called a ‘salute’ by a manager of the ship’s owner.  However, Costa Crociere’s chief executive, Pier Luigi Foschi, put back the blame on the captain claiming that Schettino did not have the approval to change the course and was going too fast at 16 knots to be so close to shore.
     “A ‘salute’ — or ‘sail-by’ as it's also known — loosely refers to taking a cruise ship closer to shore to give passengers and/or land-based onlookers a thrilling view,” explains Chris Gray Faust.  This “salute” turned out to be no thrill at all – the death toll is currently at 15, with 24 people still missing, including seven that have not yet been identified – not to mention the loss of the ship itself.
     Schettino told magistrates that his Costa superiors had insisted on the move, which took Concordia within 150 meters of Giglio, to please passengers and attract publicity, reported Reuters.  Foschi has asserted that Schettino's diversion, which led to the sinking of the ship, was "unauthorized, unapproved and unknown to Costa."
     According to another cruise line, Princess Cruises, “salutes” or “sail-bys” are against policy.  Media relations manager, Karen Candy, stated: “There is a voyage plan that is briefed to Deck and Technical Officers several days before the transit… It is not deviated from to get closer to land or to greet residents." *
     When the Costa Concordia deviated from its course, it brought tragic – even fatal – results.
     The Bible warns: “There is a way that SEEMS right to a man, But its end is the way of DEATH” (Proverbs 14:12).
     But you and I are guilty all-too-often of deviating from the course in order to “salute” and engage in some selfish, sinful desire.  James 1:13-14 describes the process of venturing dangerously close and then into sin and the penalty: DEATH!  We sin and consequently “shipwreck” our lives!
     But God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to come to our rescue!  Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we might be saved from sin and have eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).
     In order to accept God’s offer of salvation and life through Jesus, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
     Having made wrong choices in the past and thus placed yourself on a “sinking ship,” won’t YOU “take hold” of the Savior’s offer through your trusting obedience?

- Ricky Butts and David A. Sargent; David A. Sargent, minister for the church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled
Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* Information gleaned from: “How common are cruise ship 'salutes?'” By Chris Gray Faust, Cruise Critic contributor. http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/26/10237611-how-common-are-cruise-ship-salutes 


Success

The road to success is always under construction,
Few people travel the road to success without a puncture or two.
Life is not so much a matter of position as of disposition.
The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.
A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice.
The best vitamin for making friends:  B1
Nobody raises his own reputation by lowering others.
He who throws mud loses ground.
A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Lost time is never found again.
One thing you can't recycle is wasted time.                                                
Some people develop eye strain looking for trouble.
A hard thing about business is minding your own.
Triumph is just “UMPH” Added to try.
Success comes to those who make it happen, not those who let happen.
Frogs have it easy, they eat what bugs them.
Children need more models than critics.
The pursuit of happiness is the chase of a lifetime.
If the going gets easy you may be going downhill.
Don't let yesterday use up today.
The future is purchased by the present.
Ideas won't work unless you do.
Jumping to conclusions can be a bad exercise.
A ship in harbor is safe but that is not what ships are built for.
A turtle makes progress when it sticks its neck out.
Failure is the path of lest persistence.
Hard work is the yeast that raises the dough.
Patience is counting down without blasting off.
Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.
Some folks won't look up until they are flat on their backs.
If you want your dreams to come true, don't oversleep.
Friend: one who knows all about you and likes you just the same.
Make friends before you need them.
Money talks and often just says, "Good-by".
Birds have bills too and they keep on singing.
Forbidden fruit is responsible for many a bad jam.
God's retirement plan is out of this world.
A good example is the best sermon.
The Ten Commandments are not multiple choice.
Minds are like parachutes, they function only when open.
No man knows less than the man who knows all.
It’s nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.
Live as you wish your kids would.
Swallowing your pride seldom leads to indigestion.
Past failures are guideposts for future success.
One lacks courage to start has already finished.
A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.
If others have sinned, you need not mention it.
When looking for faults use a mirror not a telescope.
We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.
The greatest of all faults is to imagine you have none.
There is no right way to do a wrong thing.
It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.
He who forgives ends the quarrel.
Having a sharp tongue can cut your own throat.
Smile, it takes only 13 muscles, a frown takes 64.
Of all the things you wear your expression is the most important.
Kindness: a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Heaviest thing to carry, a grudge.
Everyone has 20/20 hindsight.
A bad conscience has a very good memory.
The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.
The best way to cheer yourself up is the cheer somebody else up.
You have to choose happiness, it doesn't choose you.
Failure to prepare, we prepare to fail.
Don't learn safety rules simply by accident,
A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.
Break a bad habit, drop it.
Feed your faith and doubt will starve to death.
If you're going in the wrong direction, God allows U turns.
Success is ... more attitudes than aptitude.
Your favorite attitude should be gratitude.
A friend walks in when everyone else walks out.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Two-thirds of promotion is motion.
One thing you can give and still keep - is your word.
Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.
Success comes in cans, failure comes in can't.
Well done, is better then well said.
The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.
After all is said and done, more is said than done.
You are rich according to what you are, not according to what you have.
Your interest should be in your future, you're going to spend the rest of your life there.
Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Be like a postage stamp, stick to one thing till you get there.
Anger is a letter short of danger.
Men give away nothing so freely as their advice.
Positive thinking is better than negative.
Kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.
If you don't care where you're going, any road will get you there.
Put your goals in writing, if you can't put it on a sheet of paper you probably can't do it..
The best way to determine what motivates people, ask them.
Not doing more than average is what keeps the average down.
There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.
Where you come form isn't as important as where you are going.
Be yourself, who else is better qualified. 


There's No Comparison!


Man-made Religion Says:                    The New Testament Says:
"One way is as good as another."        There is only one way (John 14:6)
"One faith is as good as another."       There is only one faith. (Eph. 4:5)
"One church is as good as another.      There is only one church. (Matt. 16:18)
"We are all going to the same place."  Not everyone religious will be saved. (Matt. 7:21)


Jesus has a question for those practicing man-made religions:

"...why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)


- Selected; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org


Watchmen! Stand Upon Your Stations

Watchmen! stand upon your stations;
Blow the trumpet loud and long;
Preach the Gospel to the nations,
Warn the just away from wrong.
See the day is breaking;
See foundations shaking,
When ramparts rise, be strong,
When ramparts rise, be strong!

Watchmen! greet the nearing glory
Of the great Messiah's reign!
Tell the risen Savior's story,
Tell it once and o'er again;
See His love revealing,
See the nations' healing:
New life among the slain,
New life among the slain!

This poem is an adaptation of song lyrics from the
1800s. Do you think I have a right to attach my
name to it? Get the goods on the original lyrics
here, compare the two, and tell me what you think:
http://wp.me/pbYlo-PN

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: . When reprinting this
material, please include the following:
Copyright (c) 2012 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or
attributions. 


Getting Organized

By Douglas Mallock

There may be nothing wrong with you,

The way you live, the work you do,
But I can very plainly see
Exactly what is wrong with me.
It isn’t that I’m indolent
Or dodging duty by intent;
I work as hard as anyone,
And yet I get so little done,
The morning goes, the noon is here,
Before I know. The night is near,
And all around me, I regret,
Are things I haven’t finished yet.
If I could just get organized!
I oftentimes have realized
Not all that matters is the man;
The man must also have a plan.

With you, there may be nothing wrong.

But here’s my trouble right along;
I do the things that don’t amount
To very much, of no account,
That really seems important though
And let a lot of matters go.
I nibble this, I nibble that,
But never finish what I’m at.
I work as hard as anyone does,
And yet, I get so little done,
I’d do so much you’d be surprised,
It I could just get organized!


A Wise Saying

By C. M.Callan

     I have a friend that told me about one of his uncles.  It seems as if every time the family got together, you could count on him making this statement to all that would listen.  “There are only two things that are important in this life; church and family, nothing else matters.”
     Some might argue that it should be “God and family,” and I understand the reasoning behind that.   However does not “church” include God?  Yes, the first commandment is to love God, but you cannot love God if you are not a part of His divine church. (I John 1: 3-6).  So then church does include God and also fellow believers.  God welcomed us into His family when we were reborn in baptism.  What a glorious family, with Christ our elder brother who sits on the throne with God and all the saints that have gone before leading the way, we should all feel the security of the love of other Christians and give God the praise.
    Christ reminds us that we need to put the kingdom (church) before every thing else, including family.  (Luke 14:26-27)  But, this does not mean that Christ thought family was unimportant.  Christ even made preparation for his mother’s care as he was being crucified on the cross.  Every command of God regarding marriage and family was apparently given to strengthen the family unit.  God condemns those who commit adultery, and God says divorce is wrong, because it destroys the family unit. From the very beginning of time God promoted the family as a sacred institution. (Genesis 2:24)
    The sad thing is, as a nation we have rejected both ideas.  Our government has thrown God out of every building they have the power to do so.  It has now become the accepted norm by many, that living together without marriage is ok and that sex is just something you do if you feel like it, no matter who it is with.  Have we lost our mind?  Satan is laughing all the way to hell and back.
    I think my friend’s uncle was right on target.  We need more people shouting this and living it.  It starts by putting God back into our families and then in our community and then the nation.
    PS:  It is strange that when many of the people that have rejected God and family, get in trouble, the first person they turn to is God followed by family!

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