Monday, October 28, 2013

“Rejoice In The Lord”

By Mac Deaver

    In Phil. 4:4 Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice.”  --But what are some circumstances that call forth the joy of which Paul speaks?
    We ought to rejoice in our salvation.  After the Ethiopian officer’s conversion, he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).  After the seventy returned from their mission, Jesus told them to rejoice that their names were written in heaven (Lk. 10:20).  If one’s sins are forgiven and his name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, he certainly ought to rejoice.
    We ought to rejoice as we realize that God is in control of world affairs.  Sometimes the catastrophic events throughout the world cause us all great concern.  But we must not despair, realizing that God is aware of all, and is in control of all.  (Rom. 13:1-4; Isaiah 6:1).  And even if we must suffer for right-doing, there is occasion for rejoicing (Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 2:20).
    We ought to rejoice in the knowledge that all will work out to the ultimate good of the faithful.  “And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  All things revolve around the good of the church.  Paul also said, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom….” (2 Tim. 4:18).
    Indeed, the Christian has every reason to rejoice in the Lord.

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Space Between

By Mark Adams

    Though I’ve gotten better over the years, I can be a tough person to travel with. I don’t like stopping or slowing down. If I’m traveling 70mph and have to stop for a 15-minute break, then that means in the time I spent stopping, I could have been a little over 17 miles closer to my destination. Plus, if the stop involves a drink, it may well mean I’ll have to stop again later, which means more time “lost” that keeps me from getting wherever I’m going. I’m definitely influenced by our fast-paced culture.
    Recently, I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ Surprised By Joy, which is a sort of spiritual autobiography of his life. He has caused me to rethink my travel strategies. His assessment of modern transportation is that it annihilates space, “One of the most glorious gifts we have been given.”
    He went on to say, “…a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from traveling ten. …If a man hates space … why not creep into his coffin at once? There is little enough space there.”
    It has always been God’s intent for us to enjoy his creation. Overwhelmed with the beauty of God’s handiwork, David exclaims in Psalm 8:9, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” So this week, why not go for a walk? If your routine is to walk, why not slow down and pay attention a little more?
    Wherever you are going, remember that this life is a journey that God intends you to experience with Him. You will reach your heavenly destination in God’s time, so for now, enjoy the space between.

- 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:

Try Giving Yourself Away

By Patrick Hogan

    In the late 1940s, David Dunn wrote a delightful little book by the above title. He determined that he would practice, as a hobby, the art of giving himself to other people. His goal was to do small, thoughtful deeds for others as he went about his daily activities. He found that while such kindnesses did not cost him very much in terms of money, time or effort, they brought great results.
    His kindnesses might range from a simple smile shared with a passerby, a word or note of appreciation, or a word of encouragement. He found that while such deeds brought an element of joy to the recipient, he was the one whose heart became filled with joy. In the chapter entitled "Bread Upon the Waters," he stated, "Doing what you can to make life more livable for other people makes your own life fuller. Friends multiply and good things come to you from every direction. The world has a way of balancing accounts with givers-away - provided their hands arn't outstretched for return favors."
    While Dunn's book is not specifically a religious volume, his practice of giving himself to others is based upon a principle expressed by Jesus Himself. In Acts 20:35, the apostle Paul stated, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
    Imagine the difference each of us could make in the lives of those we meet if we could become "givers-away."

- 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, October 21, 2013

What Will Matter

By Michael Josepheson

    Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to someone else.
    Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
    So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
    It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant. So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.
    What will matter is not your success but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
    What will matter is not your competence but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone. What will matter is not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
    Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.

- 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:

A Point About Judgment Day

By R.W. McAlister

    Will there be a Judgment Day, and if so, what will happen then? These are questions on the minds of many people, but sadly, not enough. It's a pity that more people aren't concerned with God's Judgment and what it means for their eternal destination.
    Many things could be said about this subject, but let’s focus upon just one: separation. Jesus says, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matt. 25:31-33). Yes, there will be Day of Judgment, and Jesus describes the eternal separation in which you and I will participate at that time.
    We understand something about separation. There are separations that occur from job opportunities and responsibilities that move family members away from each other. There are separations that occur because of military service, and when children leave for college. Their bedrooms are empty for the first time in 18 or so years. How do we comfort ourselves in times like these? How do parents console themselves when the nest first becomes empty while the child is away at college? They count the weeks until fall break or perhaps the Thanksgiving holiday when their child can come home. The prospect of a reunion is what makes the separation bearable.
    What about a memorial service? How many times have we all had to stand by at the funeral home while someone said “goodbye” to the dearest on earth to them? How do so many get through that? When faithful members of the Lord’s body pass on, the faithful friends & family can look into that cold casket and say, “I’ll see you on the morning of the resurrection!” The prospect of a reunion makes the separation easier. Even though the heartbreak is overwhelming in a situation like that, how comforting it is to contemplate that glad reunion!
    In contrast to this type of separation which can end in a happy reunion, there’s also a dreadful separation to which there can be no end and no reunion – that’s when God separates the sheep from the goats. That simply means that if you’re saved and your family is not, you will have seen them for the last time, and that’s one of the hardest things about coming to Christ for so many – coming to that realization. You’ll never see or hear from them again, because there’s a great gulf fixed between both halves of eternity (Luke 16:26).
    A father was dying, and he had two sons. One was a faithful Christian, the other one was not. To his Christian son, he said, “Goodnight, son” and to the other one he said, “Goodbye, son.”
    The unfaithful son picked up on that and asked his father, “Why did you tell my brother ‘goodnight,’ and me, ‘goodbye’?” The father answered, “Your brother is prepared to meet God, and one day, I’ll see him again, but you’re not a Christian and you’re not living right, so unless you repent and make your life right, I have to tell you ‘goodbye,’ because I’ll never see you again.” On that Final Day, we will say goodbye to our friends and family who are not part of God’s family.
    There will certainly be a Judgment Day, and as you stand at the Judgment Bar of God, you will participate in the eternal separation. Are you ready for that? On which side of eternity will you be – numbered among the sheep, or the goats? Give it some thought and make your life right with God if need be – before it’s too late.

 - R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:            

Are You Getting Ready?

By Ron Bartanen

     You’ve probably read or heard the following story before.  You may have even heard it from me, but it deserves repeating.
     Before the days of self-serve gas stations, a minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a busy holiday weekend.  The young attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him in front of the service station.
     When the attendant finally motioned him toward a vacant pump, the young man apologized, saying, “Brother Jones, I’m sorry about the delay.  It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”  The minister chuckled, replying, “I know just what you mean.  It’s the same in my business.”
    As people prepare for a trip, they may, as the time for departure draws nearer and nearer, fully intend to fill the tank well ahead of time.  However, in the heat of more immediate concerns, good intentions soon evaporate.  There seems to always be something else to do that, for some reason, seems more pressing.  The application is often made that all should prepare to die, but preparation is often neglected—not only to be taken care of at the last of one’s life, but even more frequently to never be made.  However, references in the Bible to preparation for death are few.
     The more frequent admonition in the New Testament is to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ.  Even though this event would not take place in the lifetime of His disciples, Jesus did not admonish them to “get ready to die.”  Instead, He urged them, “Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come….  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44).  When one knows of no life-threatening illness, one feels no compelling need to “get right with God,” feeling one still has plenty of time.  With the coming of the Lord, however, there is the need for constant readiness.
     The true disciple of Jesus will be watching and waiting—not for the undertaker, but for the upper-taker.  We are not to be caught unprepared.  Death is not something most look forward to with any degree of eagerness, but if you have been cleansed through the blood of Christ, surrendered to His will for your life, and “love His appearing,” you can look forward with anticipation to “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give (us) in that day” (2 Timothy 4:8).  With such faith and hope you will be able to say with the apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).  Are you getting ready?

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Friday, October 11, 2013

"The Outrage of Profanity"

By Bob Spurlin

    The dictionary defines "profanity" as "irreverence for God; impious, base, a profane act or utterance." Profane speech is typically language that involves taking God's name in vain, vile or vulgar, viciously degrading to others, or gutter in nature. The Bible regulates man's speech (Exodus 20: 7, James. 3: 10, Mt. 12: 36, 37).

1. The prevalence of profanity. According to some of the latest statistics, public profanity in America is up by 800 percent. One can expect to hear loud profanity in many public places; even those that attempt to provide a family atmosphere. Even women and children have been known to use profane language without shame or regard for others. A deceased relative used to say that one using profanity showed one of two things: (1) a lack of intelligence and limited vocabulary, or (2) a deliberate attempt to show ones lack of decency.

2. Common influences of profanity. The frequency of public and private obscenities comes to bear through many influences:

A. The entertainment industry deserves top billing in making shameful and corrupt speech more acceptable. Many movies once considered family oriented now contains vile, filthy, and cheap language. As people watch television, they become more desensitized to the language used. We have come a long way since "Gone with the Wind" in 1939. The turmoil over a four-letter word caused such upheaval that the movie almost failed to make it to the silver screen. The four-letter word used was a violation of God's principle of decency and virtue. Yet, today we see little restraint with the profanity used in the movie theaters of our nation.
B. The movement to promote filthy speech in America. According to the New York Times the three major television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) have pledged: "to restore their endangered audiences by putting more dirty words on the air. The networks have decided to fill their scripts with every crude word imaginable, including one considered to be on the extreme reaches of decorum." This is not a joke dear reader it is a movement. The author continues: "Aaron Sorkin of NBC is hoping his network will break with tradition and allow one of his characters to 'curse in a way that uses the Lord's name in vain.' A ground swell of righteous indignation should spring from our voices, letters, and e-mail, while shunning those sponsoring such programming.
C. Most stand-up comedians would be speechless if all profanity was removed from their scripts. The goal, seemingly, leads to levels of vulgar language to the point of simply wallowing in the gutter. Another reason for the driving force of immoral language is to corrupt man (Matt. 15: 15-20). Preachers should fill the pulpit with outrage on this mater. We must declare with moral clarity that which the God of heaven states as sinful. Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Bob Hope and others developed their comedic craft, a generation ago without the use of dirty and gutter language. Today, however, it is easier for comedians to get a laugh by using language befitting of human ears.
D. Reading certain material and magazines contributes to the negative influence as well.
3. God's word condemns profane language of all types. Notice the list found in Ephesians 5:4.

A. "Foolish talking,” "Jesting," compare "vain words" (vs. 6). Albert Barnes, the renowned commentator states: "This word…does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means talk, which is tasteless, senseless, stupid, and foolish; which does not teach, edify, profit, the idle chitchat, which is so common in the world" (Barnes on the New Testament Vol. 7, pg. 96, 97). Christians should make it their aim to use words that are sensible, sincere, and truthful. The word "jesting" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly refers to language that is easily turned to degraded speech and has a path that leads to shameful talk.
C. Speech involved in idleness or speaking against God (Mt. 12:36, 37, 24).
D. Language that curses man (James. 3: 9).
E. Common place oaths and euphemisms of all types (Mt. 5:34-37, James 5:12, proper oaths are not condemned, Heb. 6: 17, I Thess. 2: 10).
F. Language that blasphemes God and belittles man reveals the corrupt nature of the speaker and must be "put away" (Matt. 15: 20; Col. 3: 8; James. 3: 10-12).
4. Useless language must become replaced with good speech. Paul declares, "Let no corrupt communication” (speech) proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers" (Eph. 4: 29).

    Proper and scriptural language must come from the proper temperament resulting in pure speech (Col. 4: 6). Many do not like or appreciate the truth as the apostle Paul writes, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth" (Galatians 4:16).
    Conclusion: The Christian must develop the proper vocabulary. Such language involves the use of acceptable words to speak spiritual truths (2 Tim. 1: 13). The words we use at the work place, at play or at the meeting house where we worship reveals volumes about our personality and moral fiber. Remember, the words we use are a vehicle that reveals our character.

- 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 Fish Posters: Are Adults Listening?

By Barry Newton

    Posters depicting a school of fish swimming downstream while one lonely fish swims against the descending torrent adorn the halls of my son's middle school. These placards display a printed message as part of a values campaign. A series of posters decorate the school proclaiming the message in two forms: "What is right is not always popular" and "What is popular is not always right."
    Being aware of the critical importance for students to understand that decisions must be based upon a standard other than what everyone else is doing, the school administration has entered the fray of attempting to shape beliefs and values. They desire to instill the character of choosing what is right regardless of its popularity.
    We parents stand up and applaud such a message. But how closely are we listening? Are we tempted in some settings to go with the easy flow of popular pragmatics, rather than adhere to the higher path of truth?
    Motivated with the biblical mandate to evangelize, but armed with a pseudo-grace empowering a convenient, tamed and human-driven worship, the temptation to attract numbers by pandering to the desires of the unchurched can become a powerful force. Are these scribbled sentiments erupting from a stodgy curmudgeon who confuses a particular set of cultural religious traditions as being truth? Hardly!
    Rather, two positive principles should propel God's people forward. The first involves recognizing that priorities shape one's path and upon which value God places the greater priority. There can never be two masters, only one. Jesus never chose to pursue numbers at the cost of truth. The Son of God stood and watched as thousands walked away, rather than do whatever it might take to keep the crowds./1 He fished for those who would follow truth.
    The second principle entails hotly pursuing God's mission in God's way. Authentic discipleship is cross-based. Christians die to themselves that they might be conformed to God's will. Genuine discipleship does not naively assume God is pleased with our pursuit of a narcissistic religious experience claiming God as the object of worship.
    The fish poster is right. The question is, "Are we listening?"

- via Fishinger & Kenny Roads Church of Christ in Columbus, OH. Greg Tidwell serves as pulpit minster and he may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Test Your Potency

By Phil Sanders

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men" (Matthew 5:13).
    The salt used in Palestine came mostly from the Dead Sea, which is also sometimes called the Salt Sea (Genesis 14:3). One can find vast salt deposits around the edges of this body of water, which is 1,290 feet below sea level. Water that flows in has no place to go. The extreme heat in the area causes the water to evaporate and leave its deposits there. The evaporation of one cubic mile of sea water would leave approximately 140 million tons of salts, most of which would be sodium chloride, or common salt.
    Often the salt around this sea would get polluted by winds or people and animals walking on the surface of the salt. Polluted salt, then, was dug up with the purer kinds and sold in the markets. A customer getting polluted salt could do nothing with it except to throw it out. It was no good. It could not do what it was intended to do.
    Salt blesses foods by seasoning them. It brings out the taste in food. It also cleanses and preserves some foods.
    Where would country ham be without salt?
    How potent are you in your Christian life?
    Does anyone know you are a Christian? Some people are acquainted for years and yet do not know the other is a Christian.
    Does your life proclaim that the Lord matters to you? Can people see Christ living in you by the way you act, you dress, and you talk?
    Does anyone want the Christian life you have? If others look at the way you live, would they want the faith, joy and love you have? Does anyone imitate you?
    Do you have a light people need? If people you know needed spiritual help, would they come to you for it?
    You are the salt of the earth! Be salty!

- Taken from Forthright Magazine, Wednesday, April 6, 2005; 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: