Monday, August 11, 2014

A Faithful Man, Who Can Find?

By R. W. McAlister

     Proverbs 20:6 asks a very sobering question...“But a faithful man - who can find?” If ever there was a day when our world needed faithful men, today is the day! 
     Listen, men - our world needs us today more than ever. Our world needs us to be Godly men. Your wife needs you to be a Godly man. Your children need you to be a Godly man. The church needs you to be a Godly man. Your business needs you to be a Godly man. Your community and your nation need you to be a Godly man. The whole world needs more men behaving Godly! 
     If families are going to survive in the 21st century, men will have to stop behaving badly and start behaving Godly. We’ve heard it said, and rightly so, “As the family goes, so goes society.” Take that back one step further, “As men go, so goes the family.” 
     Psalm 112 tells us exactly where the whole process has to begin. Verse 1, “Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.” This gets right to the root of the problem for most men. Too many men don’t have a healthy fear of God. Too many men don’t find great delight in His commands. The happy man is he that fears the Lord. He’s the kind who takes pleasure in his duty. He that fears the Lord, as a Father, with the disposition of a child, not of a slave, delights greatly in his commandments, is well pleased with them and with the equity and goodness of them. 
     Men, do you realize God has given you the responsibility of spiritual leadership in your family and in the church (Eph. 5:23; I Tim. 2:12)? Do you realize someday you’re going to give an account back to God of how you lived your life, and how you led your family spiritually (Romans 14:12)? Men, we have to assume our family responsibilities. We’ve got to be men of God and behave Godly because our souls and the souls of others precious to us depend on it so much!   

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

Why I Believe…

By Robert E. Guinn

     Faith and belief are constantly used to justify one's religious practice and/or conduct.  Yet that justification makes no sense if that faith is not a personal faith.  So, what does it mean for faith to be personal? 
     For faith to be personal it must be more than a mere acceptance or acknowledgement of supposed facts.  It is deeper than simply having an answer for a Bible question.  Personally developed, faith can properly answer the question, "Why do you believe?"  Not just supplying reasons to believe, but answering the question, "What truly persuades you to be a Christian?" or "Why are you convinced?"  This answer should go deeper than the "I feel" responses and be more confident than "I think" statements.  So, why do I believe?  I am glad you asked.
     I believe there is a God.  When I consider Newton's Third Law, the Law of Bio- genesis,  and the First Law of Thermodynamics, I find the Big Bang and Evolutionary theories contradicting fundamental laws of science and the natural world.  I believe that the universe was created by a supernatural being known as God.  I see design, engineering, and craftsmanship in our natural world.  We look at a motorized vehicle and know that due to its complexity it was designed, engineered, and crafted by someone or something.  In like manner, a small leaf from one tree is more complex than that automobile.  I believe in a super-natural, all-powerful Creator.
     I believe in the Bible.  The most reliable documents from antiquity, based on manuscript evidence, are the Sacred Scriptures we call the New Testament documents.  In a span of over two thousand years both the Old and New Testaments were penned.  At least forty different humans, from various walks of life, were involved in its recording.  Though supposed contradictions exist, I have yet to see one that cannot be adequately explained.  Though its origin is found in antiquity, the Bible itself is not antiquated.  The Bible has proven to be timeless and relevant to our present age with proper study and application.  The Bible possesses the fingerprints of Divine origin.  I believe that the Bible is the inspired inerrant Word of God.
     I believe in Christ.  The Bible is not the only ancient document that mentions Jesus as a real historical figure.  Still, the New Testament, being the most reliable ancient document from manuscript evidence, clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is the son of God (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).  He willingly allowed himself to be murdered by crucifixion (Luke 22-23), as a sinless sacrifice (Hebrews 4:15), for the sins of those willing to submit to His will (John 3:16, 36;  Hebrews 5:9).  Being raised to life again, he proved there is hope for life after this one (1 Corinthians 15; Romans 8).  I believe in the risen, crucified Savior of my soul.
If I truly believe in these three faith statements, then my life should be in a constant state of transformation (Romans 12).  No longer living for self but living for Christ (Romans 3). My belief should compel me to action, being grateful for God's salvation (James 1-2).
Do you believe?  Why do you believe?

- Robert Guinn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

A Direct Influence

By Ron Thomas

   If from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and one can be known by the quality of the fruit produced, then it is reasonable to conclude that both the words spoken and the deeds done are indicative of the person’s heart.  People are able to see this and judge.  People of maturity can understand this, but people full of sin (or self) are quick to point out that one—especially one guilty of sinful behavior.  It is interesting that these are the same people who look upon the Lord and faithfully proclaim they would NEVER deny Him, but their lives have denial written all over them.  The deeds we do, the words we speak, and the thoughts we think reflect correctly on (or against) the Lord’s influence on our lives.

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

At Your House

By Wendell Winkler

     Will priorities be established in your children when…
• You are early for their ballgame, but late for worship? 
• You check on their homework regularly, but never check on their Bible class lessons? 
• You won’t let them miss school even though they don’t want to go, but let them miss church worship services? 
• You won’t let them stay up late on school nights, but let them stay up late on Saturday night. 
• You will serve as room mother at their school or volunteer at school, but will not help with classes, activities, programs which involve spiritual matters? 
• You attend open house at their school, but do not visit their class room of Bible school, or even know where their class meets? 
• You support, attend, or even participate in their sports activities (baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, etc.) but regularly miss activities involving the church? 
• You never (almost never) miss meeting with the civic or social club of which you are a member, but frequently miss worship services? 
• You go to work even though you do not feel like it, but stay home on Sunday in the same condition? 

- via The Contender, the weekly bulletin published by the Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, KY.  Kevin Williams preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the church's website:

Monday, August 4, 2014

If There's A God...

By Steve Higginbotham

     Have you heard the story about a very militant, atheistic professor who made it a point in his class to belittle the faith of those who believed in God.  After spending nearly a semester of ridiculing Christianity, he felt rather confident to sarcastically ask, "Are there any believers in God in this class?"  He didn't expect anyone to respond, but one young man did.  He said, "Yes, I'm a believer in God."
     The professor reveled in the thought of making a fool of this young man, so he stood before the class, looked up toward the ceiling with outstretched arms and said, "If there's an all powerful God out there, I challenge you to strike me dead right now!"  A hush fell over the classroom for a moment, then the professor arrogantly smirked and said, "See, if your God exists why am I still standing here?  This is proof that your God doesn't exist."
     Very calmly, the young man said, "No professor, this isn't proof that my God doesn't exist.  However it is proof of something.  It's proof that the God I serve is a merciful God."
     "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God...'" (Psalm 14:1).

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

How to Live for Christ

By Robert H. Martin
* Do good to all people no matter what they do to you (Galatians 6:10). Christ is our example of doing good (Acts 10:38).  We must follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). 
* Bless and love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Christ was hated, mocked, spat upon, beaten...yet He prayed, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34).  When we do this, we have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). 
* Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick (Matthew 25:34-36). Christ went about helping the downhearted (Matthew 9:35).  By us doing this (especially to the brethren), it is the same as us doing it to Christ (Matthew 25:40). 
* Count others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).  This is truly being Christ-like.  When we do this, we are serving as Christ did selflessly (John 13:4-5). 
* Put the kingdom (church) first in all things (Matthew 6:33). Jesus died for the church (Acts 20:28); we need to live for it.  Put Christ's body above all earthy things.

  This is Christianity.  Do these things with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  Be steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
- Robert H. Martin (adapted); - via the weekly bulletin of the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. Edd Sterchi preaches for the congregation and he may be contacted at


The Superman Syndrome

By Austin Johnson

     Have you ever felt the need to be Superman?  I am not talking about a weird desire to dress up in a blue and red spandex suit (although I would understand).  I am talking about feeling the need to do everything yourself.  You see a need and are too scared to ask others to do it.  You are incredibly busy but you do not think anyone else should have to sacrifice so you add the responsibility to your list.  You know what I am talking about.  Let’s call it the Superman Syndrome.  I believe this feeling is very real and sometimes very detrimental to our physical and spiritual health.  There are three comments about the Superman Syndrome I would like to share: 
     #1 If you deal with Superman Syndrome, it is time to relax and trust others.  I have dealt with this syndrome many times before.  Acts 2:44 says “And all who believed were together…”  Let’s restore that principle of being together and helping one another out.   
     #2 Many people are struggling with Superman Syndrome, so be proactive and help them out.  1 Corinthians 1:10 says “be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”  We all need to focus on the mission of the church— seeking and saving the lost.  We live every day among people who are lost in sin and destined for eternal destruction.  We MUST seek them out and plant seeds of truth, righteousness, and love in their hearts.  So be proactive and seek opportunities to help others; i.e. Neighborhood Kids Ministry, leading in worship at the nursing home on Sunday mornings, learning to run the A/V equipment, mow lawns, play cards with the Golden Agers on Tuesdays, teach a Bible class, mentor a child, or invite a friend to worship to name a few.  
     #3 It requires a church.  Christ created his church to exist in community.  That principle is clearly seen through 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”  Our job, being Christ’s church, requires more than one individual or even a group of small individuals.  It requires a church.  So ask yourself today, what am I doing for Christ’s body?  Be active.  Be involved.  And in all things, bring glory to God.     

- Austin Johnson serves as youth minister for the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Don’t Believe Everything!

By Lance Cordle
     I recently received a letter in the mail that promised me a large sum of money. It was sent by air mail. It was written on official-looking stationery and bore an official-looking stamp. It bore the logo and name of an attorney. It said that I had been appointed trustee, executor and beneficiary of a woman’s estate. It said that I could use the money for my personal needs as well as for my ministry. It also said that all I had to begin this process was to respond via email and give them my phone number. 
     Before going any farther, I have a question: Do you think I am going to respond to this letter? If you do, you must think I am very gullible. I will not respond because of the following.:
• Though I have not received a hard-copy letter quite like this, I have seen  letters like it sent via email. 
• It is from a foreign country, from some “law firm” about which I have no knowledge.
• It is about a person, with which I have had no relationship. 
• The stamp is not an official, “raised-letter” stamp, but a copy, with very unofficial language on it. 
• There is the very impersonal address: “Attention Beneficiary.” 
• It proposes an exorbitant amount of money ($5,000, 000) to me and my ministry. 
     As you might have guessed this is almost certainly an attempt to retrieve personal information from me in order to steal my identity. I think most people would agree with me and would not take  the chance and respond.  
     However, some of the people who might not respond to such a “phishing” attempt, might follow a religious teacher who does some of the same types of things. That teacher may use the Bible to teach a false doctrine. That teacher may propose something as appealing as $5,000,000—eternal life (or at least, great happiness in this life). That teacher may “package”  his false message in persuasive words and a well-spoken presentation. That teacher may “prove” his points by emotional appeal and popular opinion. That teacher may give you permission to live or worship in a way you believe to be wrong. (Read Galatians 1:6-9.)  That teacher may tell you that your previous teachers were old-fashioned and unenlightened. 
     The way to avoid such deception is to test the message and the sender. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but  test  the spirits to  see whether   they come from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, ESV).  There is an old saying: “If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”    

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Faithful in Little or Much

By Winfred Clark

     You have often heard people say what they would do “if.” If they had a million dollars they would give. If they had ability they would do this or that. That is, they say they would. Have you ever stopped to ask what these same people are doing with what they already have? That is a good indication of what they would do with more. That is exactly what Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).
     1. Faithfulness knows no difference in the matter of duty. If we have an obligation to God we must be faithful whether we consider it small or large. The size of the thing done is not the thing that matters. Surely we all recognize the great good done by great gospel preachers among us. We surely ought to be thankful for them and applaud their efforts in preaching the truth. Such men as Guy N. Woods, Willard Collins and Gus Nichols have done a world of good in their work of preaching. May their tribe increase. Each of us can remember one or more efforts of these men that resulted in great good for the cause of Christ. They truly have been faithful in what we would call great.
     What of those behind the scenes who have prayed for preachers and held up their hands as they preached and taught. One could think of a number of good folks that have opened their homes and hearts to these good men to allow them rest and refreshment for the task they had. These were just as faithful in the matters of hospitality as the preachers were in preaching. But each did what they had the ability and opportunity to do.
     2. Faithfulness is sometimes more difficult in small things than in the large. There is often not the stimulation to do the small, unnoticed thing. Often the crowd is there to give a verbal boost to the large thing but that which is small is seldom seen or known. It therefore demands real dedication. Think a moment of Paul and Dorcas. One was in the public eye, the other was known by a small group. One demanded individual initiative where the other would have the encouragement of associates.
     Don't we find this principle in attending a large gathering? It is easy, as a rule, to go where the crowd goes. On the other hand, more is demanded when we come to some mid-week services where there are only a few. We have to do more on the individual basis.
     3. Faithfulness in the little will lead to faithfulness in the much. The person who is careful about details will take care of the whole. I heard one man say, “If God gives a small ball to bounce, then do it and the reward will be a larger one.” If Paul had failed to do the things he was told in Damascus to do, he would never have the opportunity to do some things he did.
     Men that were faithful with limited means in the 30s and 40s are the men who have been and are the giants among us today. Men who wouldn’t work with what they had, have no opportunities to do so now.

- 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:

Be Still and Know!

By Ben Thompson

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
     In our world of secular craziness, we need to read these words and ponder them very carefully.
* When the world just doesn't seem to make any sense, be still and know that Jesus is the truth and He will bring sanity to a sometimes insane existence (John 1:14).
* When it seems that everyone has turned against us, be still and know that the Lord promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6).
* When the storms of life (both physical and emotional) are raging about us, be still and know that God will be our shelter in any storm that the devil can throw at us (Romans 8:35-39).
* When the future looks dark and dim, be still and know that God is already there, and there is nothing that He doesn't know or can't handle (Psalm 139).
     What a wonderful God we serve.  Brethren, let us try to remember these things when life gets dark and dreary; when the days seem empty and long, when all seems to fail about us: Be still and know!    

- via the weekly bulletin of the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. Edd Sterchi preaches for the congregation and he may be contacted at

The Sins of Samson

By Travis L. Quertermous

     Samson was a real-life super-hero, an ancient Israelite Superman. Many people are familiar with his superhuman exploits, about how Samson killed a lion with his bare hands, single-handedly destroyed a thousand-man Philistine army with no weapon other than the jawbone of a donkey, and about how he was a one-man wrecking crew that demolished a Philistine temple. If you would like to read it for yourself in the Bible, Samson's story is found in the Book of Judges 13-16.
     But just as Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite, Samson had his weakness too. No, it was not his treacherous lover Delilah nor was it the most famous hair-cut in history which she gave him. The source of Samson's strength was not his long hair, but his faith in God symbolized by his long hair. Samson forgot the source of his strength was God, not himself. When his pride led him to abandon his faith in God, God abandoned Samson to his fate.
     Samson's kryptionite was a lack of self-control. As strong as he was, Samson never learned to control his temper, his lusts, or his pride. His lack of self-control ruined his marriage, damaged his reputation, and limited his usefulness to God. Proverbs 16:32 says, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." That was certainly true of Samson, but it let not be said of us.

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the Church of Christ in Dexter, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chiseled in Stone

By Terry Livingston and David A. Sargent

    The 8th century B.C. religious leader Isaiah is a very prominent figure in the Old Testament.  Four kings – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah – ruled Judah during the period in which Isaiah served as prophet and spiritual guide to his people.  It was Isaiah who advised King Hezekiah that the invasion by Sennacherib and his Assyrian Army would not lead to the downfall of Jerusalem, and that Sennacherib would not enter the City.  He is also the author of the well-known book of Isaiah, including the prophetic chapter 53 concerning the life of the Messiah Jesus Christ.   Due to his accurate foreshadowing of Jesus in his writings, Isaiah is sometimes referred to as the “Messianic Prophet.”
    In the third chapter of the book of Isaiah, he gives another foreshadowing.   Here a vivid description is given of the fall of Judah.   Isaiah 3:25-26 states “Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle.  The gates of Zion will lament and mourn; destitute, she will sit on the ground.”
    In the year 70 A.D., four legions of Romans led by future emperor Titus surrounded Jerusalem and lay siege to the city and sacked it, including the beloved Second Temple.  Josephus records the earlier scene as adorned and pleasant, but the aftermath as a “melancholy thing for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country in every way.”
    To commemorate the accomplishment of his son and the Roman forces, the emperor Vespasian commissioned coins to be minted.  Below is shown one such coin in which he has depicted Judah as a Jewess in attitude of defeat and mourning, seated destitute beneath a palm tree, being overseen by a conquering soldier.  The caption reads “IVDEA CAPTA” (Judea Captured).  While Vespasian, as Roman emperor, would have little reason to validate the prophecy of Isaiah, his coinage etches in refined stone the truth of Isaiah’s prophecy.
    Interestingly, the Great Scroll of the Book of Isaiah, with the prophecies of Jesus and Judah, has been carbon-dated by the University of Arizona and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and was given calibrated dates well before 100 B.C. *
    The eternal truth of God’s word -- His inspired Word, the Bible -- is “etched in stone.”
    Now observe what Isaiah said the Messiah would do for YOU and ME:

“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.  5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6

This is EXACTLY what Jesus did for you and for me when He died on the cross for our sins.
We can accept the salvation from sin for which Jesus died by placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized(immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).
    There are myriads of evidences of the truthfulness of God’s Word.  And it is true: He will save you IF you will respond to Him on His terms.
    Won’t YOU?

- 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:

* References:   www.Vcoins.comwww.Biblehistory.comThe Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus

The Anchor of Our Souls

By Ron Bartanen

     As a ship would need an anchor to prevent it from being driven by the wind and waves onto a rugged, rock-infested shore and destroyed, without exception we all need an anchor for our lives to keep us from the storms of life that would destroy us.  Our faith in Christ is just such an anchor—and especially we would view the resurrection of Christ in this regard.  While all religions have their revered founders and gurus, all are powerless against the winds of time that would drive us onto the shores of God’s judgment.  Only Christianity has a founder who died for our sins and been raised from the dead.  Death is not the ultimate conqueror.  Though even Jesus, in death, willingly gave up His spirit into the Father’s hands, yet, as a verse in one of our hymns declares, “Death could not keep his prey.”  He arose in triumph over death, and holds within His hands “the keys of hell (hades) and of death” (Rev. 1:18).  Ours is not a dead savior, but the Living One.  Without the assurance of a living Savior, we would be at the mercy of all that is spiritually destructive to our souls.  We would not even be assured of who Jesus is—the Son of God.  After all, anyone could make the claim.  Of Jesus alone can it be said that He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” (Romans 1:4).  We know who He is because of His resurrection.
     Without His resurrection we would have no assurance of our own.  Death would be the great ultimate destroyer.  But because He was raised, we, too, will be raised.  In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul linked our resurrection to His, saying, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins.  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead” (15:17-20).  Hebrews 6:19-20a compares His resurrection to the believer’s anchor, declaring, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”  This hope is secure—“within the veil,” that is, beyond the veil of death into heaven itself, where the risen Christ has entered as the “forerunner”, preparing the way for our resurrection.  Our eternal welfare is established only in the crucified, risen and glorified Son of God.
     The greatest question we could ask is: Is your faith anchored and made secure in Christ.  Have you accepted Him, who, by the grace of God, “tasted death for every man?” (Hebrews 2:9)  Have you identified yourself with Him in being “buried with Him in baptism” and raised with Him to walk “in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).  Is it your hope to continue that walk till you share in “the likeness of His resurrection” (6:5)?—to share His glory?

- 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 Race of a Lifetime

By Ron Adams

     Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
     The art of running has come a long way over the centuries. Better training techniques and equipment have been perfected. Improved gear and shoes have lowered times dramatically. The physical, emotional and psychological aspects of coaching have become very sophisticated. All of this has aided athletes in their performance. Yet, with all the help, the individual must run the race to win.
     There has been much progress made in helping people gain knowledge of God’s word (the handbook for running the Race of a Lifetime). First, there was the printing press with moveable type, which made mass production of the Bible feasible. Next came typesetting machines and high speed printing presses that lowered the cost of Bibles to the point where even the poorest soul could afford a copy of the Holy Scriptures. Countless books have been written to aid in the study of the Bible. Numerous classes have been held, and are being held, to help the individual gain the knowledge of God’s Word.
     Living for Christ is a whole lot like running. Bible, books, and training classes are only aids which help us prepare for the Race of a Lifetime. Nothing can take the place of individual participation. While teams may win track meets, it is the individual who wins the race. This is also true in the Race of a Lifetime. There is no prize awarded to those who are members of a church full of winners. No individual can claim credit for what “we” did unless he or she was an active participant.
     In every race there are rules which must be complied with. It’s same in the Race of a Lifetime. When one competes as an Christian, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5
     The Race of a Lifetime is won or lost individually. This is not so say we can’t or shouldn’t help one another. But each person is responsible for working out their own salvation. The blame for failure cannot be placed on others no more than a coach can be blamed for a runner’s poor performance. Pathetic performance on the track, or in the Lord’s church, can usually be chalked up to one or more of the following: (1) inadequate training, (2) little dedication, (3) lack of desire, (4) lack of self-discipline, (5) becoming encumbered with the things of this world, (6) quitting before finishing, and such like. Our performance in this Race of a Lifetime is determined by our willingness to do whatever it takes to be a winner. Therefore, with the Lord’s help, run in such a way so as to gain the prize!
     Be a winner in The Race of a Lifetime!
     Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

- F.Y.C. is a monthly publication by Ron Adams. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

People and Challenges

By Lance Cordle

• Why is that so many people take the challenge to run in a marathon, but won’t enter the race of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)?
• Why is it that so many people develop the skill of self control to engage in an athletic contest, but fail to develop that skill when it comes to their spiritual life (1 Corinthians 9:27)
• Why is it that so many people can read for hours in books that are difficult to read as well as interpret, yet neglect reading the Bible,  which was in- tended to be read and understood (Ephesians 3:4; 2 Timothy 3:15)?
• Why is it that so many people can take individuals they have hired and mold and shape them with wisdom an understanding in a workplace, but fail miserably in raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)?
• Why is it that so many people want to take on extra responsibility in    community service projects and social clubs, but have little or no desire to be involved in the work of God and his people (Titus 2:14)?
• Why is it that so many people are willing to sacrifice years of their lives to stay with one company and yet are ready to walk away (within a few  years) from the one person they chose to spend their life with (Genesis 2:24)?
• Why is it that so many people spend great amounts of time to figure out puzzles and mysteries presented to them on a recreational level or on a professional level, and yet turn away from Jesus because they come to a “hard saying” (John 6:60) or something within the Christian life they con- sider too difficult?
• Why is it that so many people live with inconsistent behavior from friends, family and even themselves on a daily basis, yet leave a congregation or, the Lord himself, because of “hypocrites in the church” (James 2:7)?
• Why is that so many people are willing to sacrifice their health and physical well-being to engage in habits and behavior that only bring    fleeting happiness, but are unwilling to be mistreated or misunderstood on behalf of God and his people (Hebrews 11:25-26)?
• Why is it that so many people are willing to lay down their life for a friend  but not willing to live/die for Jesus (John 15:15; Romans 5:7)?      

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


By John Gipson
   If I read the signs of the times correctly, we consider tolerance to be the greatest sin imaginable.  Tolerance, on the other hand, has been exalted to the chief of all virtues.  And woe to that person who would speak out against any religion or claim that Christ is the only way to the Father.  Such intolerance!
   Forgive me if I have the sneaking suspicion that there are those who are willing to tolerate everything because they believenothing. If everything is innocuous, toleration is easy
   Apparently the only exception the tolerant are willing to make is intolerance to those whom they perceive to be intolerant.  In that case, no quarter will be given and toleration vanishes.
   But what if Caballero was right when he said, “Error tolerates, truth condemns.”?
   What if Jesus was speaking the truth when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by me”? Where is your toleration now?

   Preachers would do well to heed the words of Elizabeth Achtemcier: “As preacher, your job is to preach the text, not apologize for it.”  And that goes for all of us who seek to share the gospel of Christ.

- John Gipson, Little Rock, Ark, 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:

Relevant, Revealed, or Both?

By Jim Faughn 

   Every once in a while I drive by a sign identifying a particular place as The Relevant Church.  When I saw that, my first thought was fairly negative.  My thoughts went something like this:
             "That's what is wrong in the religious climate of our day.  Everybody is trying to be relevant.  In the process, they're trying to be everything to everybody.  They've lost all respect for the Bible, its authority, and for the church revealed in it.  We need to quit trying to please everybody.  We need to focus on pleasing our Lord and being a part of His church which is revealed in His Word." 
Well, my thoughts may not have been that well defined, but I think you get the point.  I'm more than a little disturbed by some of the things taking place under the umbrella of Christianity. 
    After reflecting on this, however, I've begun to wonder if this has to be one of those either-or propositions.  Do we have to select either a church that is relevant for people today or a church that is revealed in the pages of the New Testament?  Could it be the case that the relevant church is, in fact, the revealed church?  Could the revealed church also actually be the relevant church? 
    After some reflection, I've come to the (obvious) conclusion that the answer to those last two questions is a resounding, "Yes." 
    Please consider some of the reasons why I firmly believe that the revealed church is the relevant church:
* The church revealed in the New Testament was built by, and is owned by, Jesus (cf. Matt. 16:18). Since "Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)," that would make His church perpetually relevant.
* Jesus said that "...the truth will set you free" (John 8:32, ESV).  In 1 Timothy 3:15, the church is depicted as "...a pillar and buttress of truth."  It seems to me that this would make the revealed church just as relevant today as it was when those inspired words were written.  It is of interest to notice that, in this verse, the church is described by this language;  "...the church of the living God..."  Unless we are going to subscribe to the "God is dead" theory, we must acknowledge that the church is still relevant.
* Since it is the case that the blood of Jesus purchased the church (cf. Acts 20:28), I would not presume to make the case that His sacrifice is not still relevant today.
* Are people still being saved today?  If they are (and they are), they are added to the same church to which the people were added on the day of Pentecost (cf.  Acts 2:47).  That sure sounds relevant to me.
* We are informed that Jesus is the head of the church revealed in the New Testament (cf. Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:18).  He will continue to fulfill that responsibility until "...the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power" (1 Cor. 15:24).  Does that not say something to us about the church's relevance for as long as the world stands? 
    I am one who believes that the truth is usually between extremes.  If an organization has abandoned or ignored God's revelation in an attempt to broaden its appeal, it really has no right to properly claim to be a church.  At the same time, the church cannot be relegated to words on the pages of a book we may not have picked up in years (if ever).    It would behoove those of us who truly care about our own souls and the souls of those around us to point people to the church revealed in scripture and show them how it is, indeed, relevant in their lives today.  

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Unused Sword

By Bill Williams

    A part of the conversation between Jesus and His disciples at the final Passover feast centered around swords. In Luke 22:35-38, we read; “And He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ‘No, nothing.’ And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’”
    There is a change in the ministry. They had walked around in relative peace, but with the final entrance into Jerusalem, the hostility was rising. But was Jesus condoning violence among His followers? The disciples brought two swords forward and Jesus claimed that they were enough to fulfill what was written about Him in Isaiah. Two swords to start a rebellion against the Jewish leaders and the Roman oppressors? This seems unlikely. Later that evening…
   So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” … Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:4-11)”
    The approach of the soldiers with Judas heralded the betrayal, arrest and execution of Jesus. When they arrived, Jesus confronted them powerfully and Peter, misunderstanding his Lord’s intent, takes out his sword to fight. But his actions were halted by none other than Jesus. He healed the enemy soldier and told Peter to put the sword away, it was not needed. Fulfilling God’s will did not require swords. So Peter ran away.
    But what about that second sword? Who had it? What happened to them? Scripture doesn’t say.
    However, we have “a sword”. Injustice runs rampant. We are betrayed by friends. We may be treated poorly by those around us. And in those moments, we have a choice to make; to make war or allow God to reign. The disciple with the second sword, when seeing the cost Jesus was willing to make, lay his sword aside and let Jesus do what He came to do. What choice will you make?

- Bill Williams preaches for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Our Children's' Heritage

By Bryan McAlister

    Creating a heritage for our children is essential. As parents, many are working toward the future with the welfare of our children in mind. It is a noble act to make provision for one’s family. In fact, for those who fail to provide for their families, they are rebuked sharply by the word of God; “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8). The word provide as used by Paul in this passage, means to “take thought beforehand.” There are more things in this world that our families, that our children need, beyond the physical things of life. Our children, to truly be blessed by what we give them, need to know how to obey the Lord.
    Solomon learned many lessons about obedience to God through the “school of hard knocks.” He knew what it was like to forsake the Lord and turn away from obediently following him (I Kings 11:4). Solomon’s father had failed in his relationships with his sons in the past, but with Solomon, he tried to instruct him and lead him in a better way (II Samuel 18:33; I Kings 2:2-3). Solomon no doubt had carried the burden of guilt and regret, and to his son, he offered urgent words of warning, “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands” (Proverbs 3:1). As parents, as fathers, we should be storing up a heritage and an inheritance in our families and in the lives of our children, what it means to obey the Lord.
    We can truly be distracted through looking for and seeking out problems in the Lord’s church. It can be a drain on our hearts emotionally and spiritually if all we know about the church and the brotherhood world over are problems, controversies, and conflicts among the brethren. Letting this drive our purpose and perception of the church can be dangerous. However, denying that there are problems or those who would want to change the church is equally dangerous (Acts 20:28). Responsibility to the Lord, His blood bought church, and His truth, dictate we purpose our steps to follow only His (I Peter 2:22-23). No small part of that responsibility means that we teach our children about the Savior’s sacrifice for the church, His purpose for the church, and His identity of the church.
   Will our children know how to teach others of the impact of sin and the separation it creates between man and God? Will our children learn the way out of sin is not through a recited prayer or mere verbal request for Jesus to enter our lives? Will our children teach others that salvation is found through obedient faith, including belief, repentance, confession, and water baptism? Will our children worship God in spirit and truth, and understanding, free from any intervention of man? Solomon provides the answer. I hope you know, if we keep God’s law in our hearts as parents, and instruct our children, lovingly, consistently, and conscientiously, our children can anticipate, “length of days and long life and peace” (Proverbs 3:2).

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

Is It Really Possible?

By David Anguish

     What a tough place for a person with principles to live! There are people here from everywhere. All have brought their beliefs, values, and vices. Some endorse higher standards, in some cases even belief in the Judeo-Christian God. But, their voices are hard to hear in the clatter of a culture immersed in pluralism. 
     A Christian seeking to win people to Christ faces a daunting task that must begin with education before it can attempt persuasion. When meeting someone who doesn’t follow Jesus, he must learn to which of some fifty or sixty worldviews he will need to respond. 
     Teaching people in this society to correctly worship God is yet another daunting task. It is a world in which it is not at all uncommon to hear of religious ceremonies that are more wild party than homage to the holy. For instance, one group is known to feature wild dancing, free flowing adult beverages, and music that comes closer to that of some of our chart-topping bands in its style than to “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Some of its rites are also compatible with an active red-light district. That’s not hard to find either, thriving as it does, not in a specially zoned part of town, but on the main thoroughfare.
     Assuming a disciple can get a hearing, persuade others to follow Jesus, and get a church going, helping it become spiritually mature is yet another challenge. The beliefs, values, and virtues taught by Jesus are just so different. Libertine habits are part of the converts’ cultural DNA. The anything-goes way of life they recently have left pulls at them to return. How can one possibly think he will succeed in leading them to seek the purity called for by Christ?
     Family values are a special problem. This is a world where husbands do as they want, when they want. Wives need a man for pragmatic reasons, but respect him? You can’t be serious. And then there’s the challenge of getting through to the young people who are coming of age in a world where so many voices advocate more liberty than they’re going to hear endorsed at church.
     What’s a believer to do? Keep the faith, trusting God to help him live up to his holy calling even in a world like this. Will it work? Well, Paul thought so — in first century Ephesus (Eph. 4:1-6:9). Because, you see, that is the place I’ve just described. Think about it.     

- David Anguish preaches for Church of Christ at Southwind, Memphis, TN.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, June 30, 2014


By Bill Brandstatte

    My wife and I enjoy watching a television program where a young lady restores old houses. She says she restores them “to their former glory.”  We today need to restore the church to its former glory. When the Lord comes back He wants the church to be glorious. (Eph. 5:27)  Paul wrote, “To Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:21)  What about the church today?  Does it look like what it did in the glorious days of the New Testament?  Let us consider some ways to restore the church to its former glory. 
    We need to get back to the name and identity of the church as the New Testament records. There are thousands of churches across our great land. These all have a variety of names, and have different teachings and ways of worship.  The early church bore the name of Christ. It was glorious because, He was its head.  All that was done was to glorify Him. In Eph. 1:22, 23, Paul declares that Jesus is the head of the body, His church. Then in Eph. 4:4, 5 Paul states there is one body.  Paul wrote that there should be no divisions. (1 Cor. 1:10) He taught and ordained the same thing in every church he visited. (1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 7:17) 
    Does this kind of unity exist today? Does the name the church wears really make a difference? In New Testament times the name pointed to God and Christ.  Often it was identified by location. 
    For example, Paul wrote to the “church of God which is at Corinth”. (1 Cor. 1:2). Paul mentions in Rom. 16:16; “The churches of Christ salute you.” The early church never wore the name of a man (Jn. 20:28). We see an amazing unity in passages that identify the church with God and Christ. 
    In Acts 20:28, the church is referred to as the “church of God”.  This passage also tells us that the church was purchased with the blood of Jesus. When He died, the church got its start.  Jesus was God before He was in the manger.  (Jn. 1:1)  He was also God when He came.  (Matt. 1:23)  He stated in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.” Thomas confessed Jesus as, “My Lord, and My God”.  (Jn. 20:28)  We see an amazing unity in passages that identify the church with God and Christ. The Lord wants His church to be glorious. Let’s do all we can to make it that way. 

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


By Edd Sterchi

“Father, Give me a heart that is true to You...
 ...a heart that will bring my body to VBS every night.
...a heart that will put a smile on my face as I walk through the doorways.
...a heart that will help vibrate my vocal chords in song to You.
...a heart that will not let me be at peace until my mouth invites someone to come with me.
...a heart that will encourage my hands to be patting encouragement on others’ backs.
...a heart that will prompt my feet to be busy helping and doing whatever is needed.
...a heart that will open my ears to hear and heed the wonderful lessons that will be presented.
...a heart that will cause my eyes to be ever vigilant—for that one special opportunity.
...a heart that will motivate my knees to bend in prayer often.
...a heart that will remind me to ever be “beating” for Jesus.  with my heart I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen” 

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted at

See the Man Praying

By Bill Williams

 … But God
           In stories that are told, whether by books, movies, etc., a common thread of the storyline is: introduction of characters, developing the personalities of the characters, a problem arises, the situation degrades, a solution comes at great cost and a resolution of some sort is made known.
           This is a picture of our life and our hope. When we begin to relate with the characters, we associate their troubles with our own. We want them to succeed and have a “happy ending” because that is our hope.
           The Bible tells the story of God and His dealings with humanity. God creates perfection. Man, given a choice, chooses the evil (which is the exact story repeated over and over again in all of our lives). Then, God promises a solution and begins to work throughout history presenting the solution. This solution comes in the form of His Son, Jesus. The effects of this Solution reaches down through history promising a resolution. Paul phrases the story like this: “ And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-7).”
           We chose death. We choose death. We choose our own way and that is the problem. This problem only gets worse.  We work according to the Devil’s will and our lust. We become, even though we might not acknowledge it, children of wrath.
           At this point, the most beautiful two words arise. But God. We failed, but God… God, in His love, with His mercy, from the overflowing richness of who He is, gave us a solution. Jesus Christ. He made us alive in Him. He also gave us a hope for the ages to come. God’s kindness did this for us.
           When you are distressed, when you are lost, when you feel alone, remember: the world has abused you, your choices led you astray, But God gives life and hope.

- Bill Williams preaches for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


     One bleak day in February, 1822, a young theological student sat in his room at Andover Seminary.  Samuel Francis Smith was going over a sheaf of German songs for children, given him by a friend, the composer Lowell Mason.  Sunset shadows crept into the room and Smith was tired from a strenuous day of study.  He was relieved to spend a few relaxed moments going over his friend’s music.  As he hummed over one after another, one struck his fancy.  He glanced at the words at the bottom of the page, and his knowledge of German told him that the words were patriotic, but they did not appeal to him.  He decided to write his own words.  He searched around on his desk until he found a scrap of paper about 5 or 6 inches long and two and one half inches wide.  On this, as he tapped out the rhythm of the music, he began to write:

“My country, ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring!

-Selected; 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:


I am the flag of the United states of America.  I was born on June 14, 1777 in Philadelphia.  There the Continental Congress adopted my stars and stripes as the national flag.

My thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, with a union of thirteen white stars on a field of blue represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind.  Today fifty stars signal from my union—one for each of the fifty sovereign states in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever known.

My colors symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of my country.

My red stripes proclaim the fearless courage and integrity of American men and women and the self-sacrifice and devotion of American fathers and mothers.

My white stripes stand for liberty and equality for all.

My blue is the blue of heaven, loyalty, and faith.

I am the flag.  I symbolize all that is uplifting and good about our country.

-Selected and edited; 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:

A New Name

By Alan Smith

    Someone has come up with the following list of words which don't exist, but should:
AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks' trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.
CARPERPETUATION (kar' pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.
DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt') v. To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow 'remove' all the germs.
LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the 'illegal' side.
PEPPIER (pehp ee ay') n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.
PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
PUPKUS (pup' kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.
TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.
    Some of those words could possibly be useful, but there is another word which doesn't yet exist that I'm even more excited about.  Jesus wrote to the church in Pergamos (one of the seven churches of Asia Minor):
    "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." (Rev. 2:17)
    What will that new name be?  We can only speculate.  All I know is that it is a word reserved for God's children who faithfully persevere the trials that this life has to offer.  Eternal fellowship with God and His family, the tree of life, worship with the redeemed of all ages, AND a new name to go with your new life!  What more could we ask?  What more could we want?  There are wonderful things that lie ahead for God's children.  Keep that in mind the next time you are struggling to get through the difficulties that this life has brought your way.
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at