Monday, November 25, 2013


By Ron Bartanen

     “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  (The Apostle Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
     “We ought to make an effort to act on our first thoughts, and let our unspoken gratitude find expression.  Then there will be more sunshine in the world, and more power to work for what is good.”   (Albert Schweitzer)
     While our nation pauses this week to celebrate a day of thanksgiving, we realize there are many who would say they are thankful for a number of things, such as their homes, their jobs, their health, and especially their families, but they don’t know who to thank.  Thankfulness should be expressed by thanksgiving.  Someone once observed, “Pity the poor atheist.  He may feel thankful in his heart for his good fortunes, but he has no one to thank.”  Sad to say, there are also many who would not consider themselves to be atheists, but would fail to recognize the real source of all blessings—God.  They are much like the birds and squirrels who frequent our patio in search of seeds or crumbs which we have put at their disposal.  They have come to expect to find something to fill their needs, but most likely have no understanding as to the source of such provisions.
     When we lose sight of the One “from Whom all blessings flow,” we seek to live our lives independent of Him.  When that happens, all spins out of control.  It is as Paul expressed it in Romans 1:21: “Because, though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  In the verses that followed he described the darkness of idolatry and sexual debauchery.  The heart that realizes no dependence upon God is a heart that will take His blessings for granted and express no thankfulness toward the Creator and Sustainer of life.
When we put God out of our lives as a nation, the observance of Thanksgiving Day becomes no more than Turkey Day, a day for indulging ourselves.  God would have us to partake of His bountiful supply, and to truly celebrate Thanksgiving with true thanksgiving to God from our hearts.  May we heed Paul’s admonition: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

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


By Paul Meredith

     Genuine friendship is one of the deepest hungers of the human heart.  We innately seek out friends who have understanding, love and unwavering loyalty. True friendship is too rare and too precious to neglect, too infrequent to forget, and too sacred to carelessly cast away.
     Jeremy Taylor wrote, “By friendship you mean the greatest love, the greatest usefulness, the most open communication, the noblest sufferings, the severest truth, the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of minds of which brave men and women are capable.”  The value of friendship is truly tremendous.  Euripides said, “Life has no blessing like a prudent friend.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Fame is the senseless sunflower with gaudy crown of gold; but friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.”
     Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  A little later in the book of Proverbs we see a further parallel between a “friend” and a “brother”:  “There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (18:24).  This dramatic kinship imagery is employed in order to solicit a stirring of our emotions.  By comparing friendship to the powerful bond of blood brothers, the intensity of its significance is emphasized.  In other words, God wants us to realize how tremendously important friendship is in each of us.
     Let’s be sure to value our friends and let them know how much we appreciate them.  Also, let’s be sure to be faithful as friends and companions.  John 15:13-15 says, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  Are you a friend to Jesus?

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

The Time of My Departure is at Hand

By Steve Higginbotham

    Read carefully what the apostle Paul wrote when he realized the time of his departure from this life was at hand.  He said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
    That's what Paul said when he realized the time of his departure was at hand.  Now, what might we say if we learned the time of our departure is at hand?  Would we say things like...
    The time of my departure is at hand...I had better get my house in order.
    The time of my departure is at hand...I had better go mend some relationships.
    The time of my departure is at hand...I had better repent of some sin I've been committing.
    The time of my departure is at hand...I had better start going to church again.
    You get the idea.  When Paul realized his time of departure was at hand, he confidently affirmed that he had fought a good fight, finished the race, kept the faith, therefore he had a reward awaiting him.  May we so live our lives that when our time of departure comes, we're not found scrambling, trying to receive the reward for a race we were unwilling to run.  Give it some thought.

- Steve Higginbotham preaches for the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Forgiveness Requires Judgment

By Gerald Cowan

    The Sunday School teacher asked, “What do you have to do before you can be forgiven?” Good question!  You would probably expect the  answer to be, repent, right? Before you can be forgiven you must repent. There’s good scripture evidence for such an answer. But a little boy answered, “Before you can be forgiven you have to sin.” Now that is profound!  If there is no sin, no mistake, no wrong-doing, there is nothing to forgive.
    Two of the most misunderstood aspects of our relationship with each other are closely related: judgment and forgiveness.  We often emphasize the need for proper discipline in the church – the instruction, correction, edification, and exhortation by which we become, and help others to become, valid and faithful disciples of Christ. Judgment is implicit in the words used to describe the disciple and the process of discipleship. Judgment requires measurement, evaluation and validation, all of which serve both a negative and positive purpose and can render a verdict of either good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable.
    Some insist that we are to avoid all judgment, but we cannot actually do so. We must determine whether a thing, person, or activity is good or bad so that we will know how to respond or relate to it (1 Thess. 5:21-22, Rom. 12:9, and Mt. 7:1-20). All things must be judged as good or bad, right or wrong. It is wrong – it is a sin – to refuse to make judgments, evaluations, and determinations about any thing, person, or action. We are commanded to judge, but it must be righteous judgment (John 7:24), based on the standard of God’s word and not just upon human law, opinion, or personal preference.
    When we ask for forgiveness, whether from God or man, it is a judgment against ourselves – we are admitting that something is wrong, that we have somehow violated a rule of propriety, committed some offense against the one from who we seek forgiveness.  When we  agree to forgive  another person it is a judgment against the person – we are stating  that something is wrong,  there has been a violation, something improper has been done to us by the person (Luke 17:1-3). Yes, repentance is necessary for true forgiveness – you can’t really forgive something one refuses to confess or repent. You may be willing to forgive, and you must actually forgive, when confession and repentance are forthcoming. You may actually say, and mean it sincerely, that you do forgive the person even without repentance. But it necessarily implies a judgment against the person, implicit belief that the person is guilty.
    Scripture is clear enough about the way to give and receive forgiveness. Knowledge of sin in your own life (self-judgment leads to knowledge of guilt) requires confession to the one sinned against, an implied correction, and a request for forgiveness from the person (Mt. 5:23). Forgiveness granted by that person is an acknowledgment of your sin and a resolution of your guilt. When you judge another person to have sinned against you, go and accuse him in person. If necessary take witnesses who can verify and reinforce the accusation (Mt. 18:15-20). Hopefully, the one you accuse will confess and repent, and you can forgive him. Whenever one is accused of sin by another, if it is true the sinner’s obligation is to repent and receive forgiveness, be thus reconciled and restored to fellowship.
    When another person falls into error or sin sin – is overtaken in a fault – any spiritual person who knows of it should seek to restore the sinner, looking carefully to himself and his own spiritual condition (Gal. 6:1-2). Salvation means converting the sinner from the error of his ways (James 5:19-20). Please note that judgment is involved, that judgment leads to accusation, and hopefully accusation leads to repentance, correction, forgiveness, and restoration. Those whose sins are public may be rebuked and corrected publicly. False teachers and gossips must be marked and silenced (Rom. 16:17, Titus 1:9-11).
    The church and all faithful Christians must share the attitude of God toward sin.  There is no doubt that what God wants to do is forgive and save the sinner. That is why Christ was given to die, as a sacrifice for sin  (Rom. 5:6-8). God’s forgiveness is not automatic, nor can ours be. Forgiveness is a highly conditional matter. The attitude and response of the guilty person can determine whether or not he will be or even can be forgiven. But there is another very important matter: the attitude and response of the one sinned against can determine whether or not his own sins will be forgiven.
    What have we learned? That forgiveness implies the reality of sin. Recognizing sin is judgment. Judgment validates and necessitates accusation. If there is no sin (that too is a judgment) there is nothing to forgive. If there is sin, certain steps must be taken to get forgiveness.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

Monday, November 18, 2013

What Irritates You?

By John Gipson

   Are you irritable?
   Irritable, as the word is generally used, is regarded as a defect of character.  We tend to think of it as that nervous tendency to explode on the smallest provocation.  As overgrown babies our prestige, comfort and “rights”—any invasion of these brings a howling which can be heard in the next county.
   Make your own private list of what irritates you: driving behind a car going thirty miles an hour when the speed limit is fifty-five; having a flight canceled and sitting in the airport until the next day; going to the emergency room and having to wait hours to see a doctor; getting the wrong order from Burger King—why these things are enough “to exasperate a saint.”   (Continued next column)
   As bad as “irritability” sounds, it can be a noble thing.  Take the case of the apostle Paul in Athens : “His soul was irritated at the sight of the idols” (Acts 17:16, Moffatt).  This sight of ruin and degradation stirred his whole being.
   Have we retained a capacity for moral indignation? In my reading I ran across a satirical quatrain which may describe the danger which faces many of us:
“St. Francis of Assisi
Was incapable of taking things easy;
That is one of the advances
We have made upon St. Francis.”
   It’s sad when we don’t get irritated or stirred by anything—when wrongs are all about us and we show the fine placidity of a cabbage.

- via Windsong Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Windsong Church of Christ in Little Rock, AR. John Gipson, a longtime minister for the Sixth and Izard congregation (now the Windsong Church of Christ) serves as one of the congregation's elders. Visit their website at


By Joe Chesser

    Several years ago we moved to a new community.  We found a house we liked very much.  In fact, it was my wife’s dream house (and still is).  Not only was the house perfect, the location was also perfect, complete with a magnificent view of mountains and valleys.  However, we were disappointed to find out that some of the local people didn’t think so highly of that particular area and the people who lived there.  They gave that area the judgmental name of “Snob-Knob.” We definitely changed that perception.
    I suppose some people consider being called “snobbish” a compliment. Some people are purposefully “high and mighty” and “arrogant.”  Many of the British books and movies portray the upper class of the 18th and 19th centuries of promoting and practicing malicious condescension and arrogant disdain for those not born of their class. But unfortunately, snobbishness rears its ugly head in other cultures and eras, even in 21st century America.  And even more tragic is when these pompous attitudes towards others invade the Lord’s church!  
    You’ve seen it.  Those of you who are old enough to remember the bus ministry days, you’ve seen it. Those of you who have lived in racially diverse areas, you’ve seen it. Those of you who have lived in university towns, you’ve seen it.  Haughtiness can be found everywhere and over just about everything: wealth, education, politics, society, race, age, place of birth, sports teams, job descriptions, automobiles, clothing, hair color, stature, skills, experiences, food choices, speech, beards, marriage, church doctrines, song leading, iphones, video games, mission trips, teeth, houses, yards, deer hunting, ….
    It’s one thing for people of the world, people without the influence of Jesus in their lives to become arrogant and puffed up over such things, but when the people of God do so it is unacceptable.  There is absolutely no place for one Christian to view himself as better or others as lower.  In Christ there is no upper class or lower class.  No matter where we were when we became a Christian, we were all lower than Christ.  But when we were raised up from baptism, we were all equally given new life, being united with him (Romans 6:3-5). Once we are in Christ, there are to be no distinctions between people (Galatians 3:26-29). Sure, we have our individuality as members of the body of Christ.  We have different talents and abilities to use in service to God, but there is no place for pride.  All the parts should have equal concern for each other (1 Cor. 12:25).  In fact, instead of having the attitude of selfish arrogance, Christians are to have just the opposite attitude: “… in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4).
     What changes in the church would take place if we were all to start practicing this one principle of Christ? What would it do to gossip?  What would it do to division?  What would it do to jealousy and competition?  How would it improve our relationships, our families and our appearance to the community?  How would it affect our souls?

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


By David R. Ferguson

    When I was a child I used to love to walk to the pond that sat back in the woods about a half mile east of our house and watch the dragonflies hovering about in abundance during the long summer days. They really seemed to love that pond, as did the many bullfrogs who inhabited its shores, most likely drawn by the great number of dragonflies. And one of the things I really enjoyed to do in what to me at that time was assuredly a magical spot, was to pick up a small rock or pebble and throw it into the middle of the pond when the water was completely still, mirroring the azure blue sky above, and watch as the ripples from where the rock broke the calm, smooth surface of the water expanded and slowly moved outward in an ever-increasingly wider circle all the way to the surrounding shoreline. It was not uncommon for those dragonflies to change the course of their flight as the ripples neared them, or cause a bullfrog to leap into the water who had hitherto been content to stay where he was – until the rippling water disturbed him. I was too young to put it into words at that time, but what I was learning from nature itself about those ripples was the lesson of cause and effect. It was that rock I had thrown into the water which caused those ripples to flow outward, affecting things far from where that rock initially hit, even the behavior of dragonflies and bullfrogs.
    I know why it was today that thoughts of that pond and those rocks, dragonflies and bullfrogs came so vividly into my remembrance, for this morning I attended the funeral of a man who was 93 years old when he passed away. If one continued walking another half mile or so east from that little pond, one would come to the house where this man lived with his family. Although it is quite an achievement for a man to live this long, there is nothing particularly unusual about a man living to be 93 years old. But what makes this man noteworthy is the fact that he was even alive at all. You see, this man was born prematurely. He was not expected to survive, let alone thrive. His birth certificate is incomplete because the doctors were so convinced he would not make it they did not bother to complete the form. He was so tiny when he was born he was kept in a shoebox in the oven during the day to keep him warm and in a drawer in that shoebox next to his mother at night.
    That baby refused to die, and he grew up to live until he reached the ripe old age of 93. Along the way he went to school. He served in the military during WWII in the Pacific, retrieving water daily for his fellow soldiers in his unit as his jeep was splayed with bullet holes from Japanese pilots. He worked as a hired hand for area farmers and he was a self-taught mechanic. He then met and fell in love with a young woman. And with this love of his life at his side until she passed away two years ago, this man fathered 13 children, who in turn produced 30 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren. All of these people, and everyone else who came into contact with him during his time here on Earth, are the ripples left behind from the life of this man. One of them serves today as a gospel preacher, leading countless other souls to salvation in Jesus Christ.
    I am sure many people wondered why it was that God through His grace chose to spare the life of that premature baby all those long 93 years ago. But He did so with a lesson to teach us, and it is this: No man is an island, and what we do in this life matters. It affects countless others. Therefore, do the work for the Lord now “as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4 [NAS]).

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

Always Try To Fall Forward

By Gerald Cowan

    Most people like the return to Standard Time (first Sunday in November) because they get back an hour of sleep lost when Daylight Saving Time started (back in March). There’s a little saying that helps one remember which way to set his clock when the time changes: Spring forward and fall back.
    There’s another saying that deserves to be better known: Whenever you fall, try to fall forward. Don’t give up and quit just because you’ve failed or made a mistake. Learn from it. Get up and try again, and keep on going in the right direction. You are not a failure as long as you get up one more time than you fall down.
    Look at some Bible examples. One might think Moses would have been justified had he given up. He had a really bad crime (murder) on his record. He had a physical handicap (slow of speech), a lack of patience and a bad temper. But he didn’t give up. The people might never have got out of Egypt if Moses had quit. Joshua might have said, “We failed to enter the promised land once, and we’ve wandered around for 40 years. I quit!” But he didn’t. Think of what could have happened had he done so. Joseph could have been forgiven for quitting, or for trying to even the score with those who had hurt him. Mean brothers sold him into slavery and lied to his father – nearly broke the old man’s heart. His boss’s wife lied about him when he tried to stay straight and honorable, and had him thrown in jail. A fellow prisoner forgot to mention him when he got out, and that increased Joseph’s time in prison. When he rose above all that and his brothers came to get help  Joseph kept right on helping.   Many are glad he did. Daniel, after being enslaved and having been tossed into a den of lions, might have said, “I think everyone’s against me. The king is trying to kill me. They don’t even want me to pray! I give up. I quit.” But he didn’t. Do you dare to be a Daniel?  David could have given up after passion, selfishness, and pride got him involved in adultery and murder. The one who had once been a man after God’s own heart ended up on God’s hit list. But he took his lumps, returned to the Lord and became Israel’s greatest king, in the line that produced the Christ. Peter might have thought, “After what I’ve said and done, what’s the use? Count me out. I quit!” But he didn’t. The cause of Christ is surely blessed and enhanced because Peter stayed with it. Paul, a one-time blasphemer of Christ and murderer of Christians, could have said, “I can’t undo what I’ve done – I don’t deserve to be saved by Christ. I can’t accept a second chance from God.” Instead he accepted defeat at the hand of Christ and gave himself fully to him as Lord. His suffering at the hands of jealous enemies was second only to that of Jesus himself. Paul became, in many ways, the greatest and most productive of all apostles – probably second only to Jesus himself in Christianity.
    No. These men did not quit. Failure was only a part of the process. Hard knocks from others were often not deserved, but failure and mistreatment taught them lessons that can only be learned the hard way, from experience. But it meant they knew something they would not have known otherwise. Their lives are proof that defeat, failure, and mistreatment can help one to fall forward – maybe we can say to fail forward – to fall in the direction God wants us to go, to fall facing toward success and still determined to reach it.
    I appreciate Galatians 6:9."In due time we shall reap if we do not faint." Eventually we will win if we do not give up. It teaches that each of us must keep on doing what is right and good, both for ourselves and others. In due time we will have the reward of well-doing – if we do not give up and quit.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola Church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

Monday, November 11, 2013

Easy Isn’t Always Best

By Don Loftis

     The media is filled with products which promise great results for minimal efforts. We are told that we can lose 20 pounds without any exercise and can eat all the foods we want, if we take one little “miracle pill” a day. We can make $100,000 a year by working only 10 hours a week, if we join a popular on-line business group.
     A lot of folks must feel the same way about their religious involvement. They desire all the spiritual blessings (forgiveness, peace, fellowship, hope, etc.), as long as they can drop in to worship once a month and give their $50 a year. They want to be spiritual giants tomorrow without giving up any of the pleasures of the world today.
     Jesus warned His listeners, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt. 7:13-14). Later He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Lk. 9:23). Paul understood the true price tag of loyalty to Jesus and passed that message along to a young preacher named Timothy by stating, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” ( II Tim. 3:12).
     It is difficult to swim upstream, but Christians are called to challenge and resist the evil within culture. The Lord shapes our lives more through adversity and temptation than prosperity (James 1:2-4). Bargain religion is destined to fail, because Jesus demands more. Remember, we were redeemed not with cheap grace but with the blood of the Son of God.

- 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:

The Lighthouse of Love

By David R. Ferguson

    Many lonely sailors have been cheered by the flashing signal from Minot's Ledge Lighthouse off the coast of Scituate, Massachusetts. The signal that flashes intermittently spells out the words "I love you" in nautical code. Several years ago the Coast Guard decided to replace the old equipment. They announced that for technical reasons the new machines would not be able to flash the "I love you" message any longer. The public, however, protested, and the Coast Guard relented. The old equipment remains and continues to send its message of love to the ships out at sea.
    This is a great story with an even greater message, but the greatest message you can ever hear is this: "God loves you.” The message that should be on the lips of every Christian as they move about amongst their friends and acquaintances is, “God loves you.” The Bible says “God is love” (1 John 4:8). That we are loved by God is a fact that all people need to know. Let us take a few moments now and listen as the Apostle John, the beloved Apostle, drives this point home.

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12 [ESV])

    When we read these words penned by John we gain a remarkable insight into the very character of God. Love is Who He is! Love is a fundamental quality of God. In fact, it is so fundamental to the character of God that without love God would not exist. And the alternative is equally as true. God is love, which means that love is God. Love would not exist without God being and existing!
    When I read this story of Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse I cannot help but be reminded of God and His love for mankind because not only does the word of God define our Lord as a God Who is love, it also tells us He is light. John tells us in 1 John 1:5 [ESV], “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” So just as that lighthouse of love off the coast of Massachusetts has been sending forth its beam of love and guiding countless sailors through many a dark and turbulent night out at sea, God’s word sheds His light and His love upon all of mankind, leading us through the turbulent waters of sin, sorrow and dismay, and into the salvation of His Son, Jesus Christ.

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

The Prince of Peace

By Bill Brandstatter

     Jesus was referred to in the Bible as the Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6) What does the word “peace” mean Biblically? Was Jesus the person to end all wars and stop all conflicts?
     When I look at peace, I also think about the current situation in the Middle East in Syria and in Egypt. Of course, religiously, I think about Jesus the great Prince of Peace who brought division into the religious world of His day. (Mt. 10:34) Let us look at some things that must be done so that peace in any area can be achieved. These items could apply to peace in the home, country, heart, or any place where peace is desired.
     First, there must be the right disposition. A person who doesn’t want peace is not going to agree to anything that will promote it. Christians should surely have a disposition toward peace. Paul admonished, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) A person who is always concerned about his way will never feel real peace.
     Second, there must be the right desire. Obviously this point is forever connected to the first. Christians ought to not only desire peace but seek it and pursue it. (1 Pet. 3:11) We must pursue the avenues of peace whenever possible. (Rom. 12:18)
     Third, there must be the proper design. The word “design” is used here to mean purpose. If a person just makes a show of peace to please someone, that peace will not last. The kind of peace Jesus can give is nothing like the peace the world may offer. (John 14:27) Some may seek certain avenues such as drugs, alcohol, or other illicit means in order to get peace, yet those are all the wrong avenues. A husband who stops drinking or running around just to shut up his nagging wife is doing so for the wrong reason. Peace must be for the right reason and from the right motive.
     The peace that God gives passes our understanding; (Phil. 4:7) but, in order to have this peace that passes understanding I must be faithful to God. I must understand that my purpose in life is to glorify God. (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) God did not put me here just to enjoy life and to be comfortable. I am to serve him. (Rom. 12:1) In doing this I can enjoy a peace that the world does not know, but that all Christians know and enjoy. (Rev. 14:13) I must first become a Christian like Jesus wants me to. He stated, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16) Then I must live a faithful life. (Rev. 2:10) When death comes, I will then have a special peace, a rest for my soul. (Rev. 14:13).

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

Don't Overlook The Obvious

By Larry Pasley

    “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. As they lay down for the night, Holmes said, ‘Watson, look up and tell me what you see.’ Watson said, ‘I see millions and millions of stars.’
    Holmes asked, ‘And what does that tell you?’   Watson replied, ‘Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you Holmes?’   Holmes answered simply, ‘Somebody stole our tent.’”
    People are bad about overlooking the obvious in religion also. The religious world is full of people who have studied the bible all their life and yet missed key points in God’s teachings.
    Almost every book of the New Testament has statements that show that the doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved” is false and yet many in the religious world have overlooked the obvious. Heb. 6:4-6
    The necessity of baptism in becoming a Christian is prevalent throughout the New Testament and yet many still claim that it has nothing to do with salvation. They are overlooking the obvious. Mk. 16:16
    The connection of obedience to our salvation is also dominant in the scriptures but many still hold to the doctrine of “Faith Only”, overlooking the obvious. Jas. 2:24
    Still others teach as doctrine the traditions and teachings of men, never recognizing the difference. They overlook the obvious. Mat. 15:8
    May we not fall into the trap of overlooking the obvious in our desire to live our lives pleasing to God.

- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Christian Barber

    There was a barber that thought he should share his faith with his customers more than he had been doing lately.  So the next morning when the sun came up and the barber got up out of bed, he said, “Today I am going to witness to the first man that walks through my door.”
    Soon after he opened his shop the first man came in and said, “I want a shave.”  The barber said, “Sure, just sit in the seat and I’ll be with you in a moment.”  The barber went in the back and prayed a quick desperate prayer, saying, “God, the first customer came in and I’m going to share my faith with him.  So give me the wisdom to know just the right thing to say to him.  Amen.”
    Then quickly the barber came out with his razor knife in one hand and a Bible in the other, while saying, “Good morning, sir.  I have a question for you.  Are you ready to die?”

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

Random Quotes On Motherhood

"A suburban mother's role is to deliver children - obstetrically once and by car forever after." - Peter De Vries.
"Mothering is a very absorbing occupation when little people in a household multiply, and how well a woman handles those demands depends on her sense of personhood." -Gladys M. Hunt.
"Let France have good mothers and she will have good sons." - Napoleon Bonaparte
"What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way to the coffin." Henry Ward Beecher.
"All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln
"There are few jobs, if any, that carry as much significance as that of being a mother." - Dick Innes
"When a woman is twenty, a child deforms her; when he is thirty, he preserves her; and when forty he makes her young again." - Leon Blum
"The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and in a sense tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother's side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent." - Erich Fromm
"It is . . . sometimes easier to head an institute for the study of child guidance than it is to turn one brat into a decent human being." - Joseph Wood Krutch
"The mother who listens to all the unfunny 'knock-knock' jokes and the vivid description of the student who threw up in the lunchroom is the same mother who will be listening as her teenager tells her about his classmates who are trying marijuana and going to motels." - Sandra Humphrey
"One of the easiest traps for a mother to fall into is that of over-caring for her family to the exclusion of outsiders. To take care of your family is, in itself, a good thing. But it falls far short of God's love, because it can quickly become an exclusive kind of love." - Eugenia Price.
". . . many in today's world are attempting to communicate that having children, being a wife and mother can never lead to fulfillment. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures and it runs counter to God's principles." - Gene Getz
"Children turn into people. They speak rationally if aloofly, lecture you on your manners, condescend to teach you about eclectic criticism, and incline to get married. And there you are, left with all that learning you have so painfully accumulated in twenty-odd years and with no more progeny on whom to lavish it." - Phyllis McGinley
"A woman, who creates and sustains a home, and under whose hands children grow up to be strong and pure men and women, is a creator second only to God." - Helen Hunt Jackson.
"When we soberly face the demands of motherhood, we may well be driven to despair or evasion, nonetheless the creative urge is undeniably there." - Elaine Stedman

- All About Families; via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City Church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family.  To learn more consult the congregation's website:


By Lance Cordle

    My recent experience in working with the administration and other workers at a local performing arts center has caused me to think about the concepts of restriction and access. 99% of the time that I visit that building, I am an average person, either paying a price to enter, or given very limited privileges as a visitor to offices. However, as a representative of those who rented the facilities, I was given broad access to many areas and resources of the building. I found myself in rooms and corridors that I normally would not have. I even discovered an open door that I could enter that not too many people knew about as they were entering the front doors.
    My work with computers also leads me to another perspective of access on which to meditate. Sometimes when I am working online, I will attempt enter a part of a website and a warning flashes to the screen: “Access Denied!” For whatever reason, I do not have the authority to enter that particular part of the website. I must respect that and move on to other parts that I can enter.
    Both of these illustrations help me in scriptural application. I read in Scripture of the blood of Christ that was shed for me and can cleanse me from my sin (Hebrews 9:23-28; 1 John 1:7). However, that blood is not cleansing everyone today, even though it is for everyone. Therefore, there must be access given to us so that we might be cleansed by it. Paul was told to “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Later, Paul wrote that we are “baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3, 4), and he was speaking of the death of Jesus. It is logical to see that the point of access into the blood of Christ is the baptism of a person into Christ. That blood, once accessed, provides the payment of the debt for our sins (Romans 6:23) and the cleansing power for past and future sins (1 John 1:7).
    In addition to the initial access mentioned above, the blood of Christ gives us access to the throne room of God! How great a privilege it is for us to know that we can approach God freely and at any time with a request that we may have. The words of Hebrews 4:16 encourage us: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
    How about you? Can you confidently affirm that you have entered Christ by way of being baptized into Christ and his death, thereby gaining access to his blood? Can you confidently bow your head in prayer and know that God will hear you and help you?

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: