Friday, June 2, 2023

Hidden Nuggets

By David R. Ferguson


    Years ago, Carey and I took a vacation to Colorado. We stopped along the way to spend some time admiring the view before us as a stream cascaded down the mountainside. Colorado is arguably one of the most beautiful spots on God’s Earth, and the vista was breathtakingly spectacular! As we walked along the way taking in the wonders of God’s creation before us, I stumbled over a rock that was in my path. I picked it up and took it with us, and it was only later that I discovered that within that rock were some hidden nuggets of gold.

    Sometimes when we read the Bible we tend to gloss over certain sections, deeming them to be of little value to us. Yes, we can see the big picture of God’s love spread out before us, but sometimes we stumble over portions that are right before our feet. But even in those portions of Scripture we initially deem tiresome and tedious can be found some hidden gold nuggets of immense value to those who love the Lord.

    Take, for example, the following written by the Apostle Paul. In Philippians 2:25-30 [RSV] Paul writes, “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy; and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete your service to me.”

    The members of the congregation in Philippi were deeply concerned about the Apostle Paul while he was in custody and awaiting trial in Rome. Out of tremendous appreciation for his work of bringing them the gospel, they sent Paul a gift to support him. They chose one of their faithful members to take their gift to Paul. His name was Epaphroditus. This man not only served as a messenger from his congregation, but he also stayed with Paul to help him. Day after day, Epaphroditus took care of Paul’s needs. While unselfishly offering his service, Epaphroditus fell ill. The nature of his sickness isn’t revealed, but it was so serious that it brought him to the brink of death. The people in the Philippian congregation heard about the crisis, and concern filled their hearts for their dear Christian friend. Paul decided to give up his personal servant whom he deeply appreciated and send him home. His Christian friends and family would rejoice to have him back in good health. Jesus’ love is the basis for us to demonstrate loving concern for others, too.

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: or

Good Ol’ Boys

By Clifton Angel


    As a Georgia native and automotive enthusiast who enjoys comedy without modern vulgarity, this writer recalls fond moments of watching Bo and Luke climb through the windows of their 1969 Dodge Charger and blast down the dirt roads of “Hazzard County.” The 1979 sitcom is a classic, and its theme song is catchy and recognizable to many. It is my understanding that Waylon Jennings penned “Just the good ol’ boys” specifically for the show, “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

    Now, let us be challenged. Bo, Luke, and their family were not good. They would probably “give you the shirt off their back,” show respect to the elderly, help someone in need, and not steal from you. These are good qualities which find their roots in God’s principles of goodness; however, they do not make a person wholly good. The Dukes were “in trouble with the law” for illegal manufacture and transportation of moonshine.

    According to God, consumption of intoxicating beverages is not good. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1; cf. 23:29–35). Paul wrote, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Peter said:

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead (1 Peter 4:3–5).

    I do not recall if Bo and Luke are ever depicted as consuming alcohol; however, they were “makin’ their way” off of the consumption of intoxicating beverages.

    Furthermore, despite their government’s corruption—with which God also would not be pleased (cf. Prov. 14:34; Rom. 13:3–4)—the Dukes’ endeavors were “just a little bit more than the law will allow.” According to God, despising, disrespecting, and disregarding those in authority is not good.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God (1 Pet. 2:13–15a; cf. 2:15b–17; Rom. 13:1–7; 1 Tim. 2:1–7).

    By comparison, classics like “The Dukes of Hazzard” contain far less vulgarity than a great amount of modern offerings [the 2005 film—based on the show—is entirely vulgar]. How often, though, is our depiction of “good” people defined by the world’s standards, rather than God’s standards? How much of our society’s degradation can be attributed to being loose on said standards? Where do we draw the line? When do we let God draw the line?

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Men Who Lead

By Ron Thomas


    All those who lead the congregation of the Lord in worship services are to be men who live holy lives. In Leviticus 10, the Lord struck down the sons of Aaron because, in part, they did not regard the Lord as holy as they should have. Notice: “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD has said: “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified”’” (10:3, ESV). The word “sanctified” in the ESV is “holy” in the NASB. Consider what this means for those of us living today. The sons of Aaron (and Aaron himself) presented themselves to the Lord under the direction of the Law of Moses, as Moses gave them instructions. Moses spoke on behalf of the Lord. Thus, when the sons of Aaron offered “strange fire” they offered that which was not authorized by the Lord.

    This meant their approach to the Lord was all wrong. The New English Translation has a “translator’s note” wherein they say, “The infraction may have involved any of the following or a combination thereof: (1) using coals from someplace other than the burnt offering altar, (2) using the wrong kind of incense, (3) performing an incense offering at an unprescribed time.”

    Whatever the precise problem was, the fact is the Lord looked upon what they did as not regarding Him as holy, thinking they could do as they wanted. This is nothing short of arrogance and the Lord responded with force toward them.

    My focus in bringing this to your attention is on the word holy in our worship services. Under the old Law, in Leviticus 9 and 10, the Lord focused on the holiness of those who serve Him, how they must make a distinction between the holy and ordinary (10:10). When we serve the Lord each Lord’s Day morning / evening, how do we approach Him? Do we approach Him in a cavalier manner, thinking to ourselves “The Lord knows my heart” so what I say or do is not as important as how I think / feel? Ask Aaron’s sons about that!

    When we approach the Lord, our lives need to reflect holiness. We have no option in this matter and, more importantly, we should entertain no other option. What this means in a local congregation setting is this: serving the Lord as one leads the congregation is not a right for “baptized males” but a privilege and a serious responsibility. Failing to understand this moves us in the direction of Nadab and Abihu. So, when we sing, let us take seriously the responsibility of having songs of praise that convey an accurate teaching of Scripture. This also means the song leader does not gather a bunch of songs just before services because he had no time before to get prepared. Imagine the preacher doing that.

    When one leads in prayer, let that prayer reflect the heart, and not one who needs to fill a time slot because we always have a prayer after the second song. Additionally, under no circumstance is the closing of the prayer to be a trite “in Jesus’ name, amen” as if one is traveling on the racetrack in Indianapolis!

    When we participate in the Lord's Supper, let us not be distracted by non-sacred things, such as playing with children, looking at our electronic devices, getting up from one’s seat to the bathroom. Intended or not, these are disrespectful to the Lord. Instead, let us insist on revering the sacredness of the occasion; let the heart reflect the seriousness of what we’re doing.

    Each male who stands before the Lord’s people also stands before the Lord. You may not feel as if you are holy, but if you love the Lord, obey His will, and seek to serve Him – you are. 

- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at

The Power of “No”

By Lance Cordle


    Like many people, I read the news headlines and follow interesting stories. Recently, two events caught my attention. The contexts of these stories do not involve situations or activities in which I would choose to participate. However, they illustrate the very powerful potential of a choice we all make at many times in our lives.

    In early April, 2023, the news broke that a large international brewing company sought to make more money by partnering with a popular social media influencer. Big news, right? A company tries to expand its business base by appealing to a certain segment of the population. That is what business does. The bottom line is the bottom line. Only this time, the company had picked someone whose lifestyle and story conflicted with the beliefs of millions of its other customers. Those other customers reacted in a way customers have the right to react: they stopped buying the product. It is estimated that the company lost billions of dollars because the offended customers rejected the promotional activities of the company (i.e., they said, “No”). Say what you will about the controversy and about the company recovering the losses, the people realized their power and exercised it.

    In late April, 2023, Jerry Springer died. He was a lawyer, mayor, television anchor, but best known as a talk show host of the 1980’s and ‘90’s. But his talk show set a (low) standard of content for years to come. He brought in people whose lives were filled with bad and sinful choices. They were then put on display in order to give people topics for discussion. The show caused many people to worry about our country (and rightly so). However, Jerry Springer said that he knew many people did not like the show and disagreed with its presentation. So, he said, people had the remote in their hands and they could change the channel (i.e., they could say “No”). Unfortunately, not enough people did, because it stayed on for a long time—but, the power was there.

    Long before business schemes and television shows, God knew the power of saying “No.” He told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Eight of the “Ten Commandments,” contained the concept of “You shall not” (Exodus 20:3-17). When Jesus faced the temptations of Satan, two of his three answers contained the words, “shall not” (Matthew 4:1-10).

    We know the power of “No”—Let’s use it!

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

Caring Enough to Correct

By Brian Mitchell


    One of the key factors that has led the church to neglect the study and practice of discipline is the downward spiral in practicing discipline in our society as a whole. As a society: we don’t practice self-discipline, we don’t practice family discipline, we don’t discipline some criminals and we don’t discipline the government. We just don’t practice discipline as we should in hardly any area of life. Thus, it should not come as any big surprise that we don’t practice discipline in the church.

    Why must we not neglect church discipline? Because it allows sin to encroach upon the church—weeds in garden. Because we disobey God when we do. Because we give the world reason to criticize the church when we don’t care enough about our brethren. And because when we do we allow the opportunity for those persisting in sin to get to the point where they can no longer be brought to repentance. This is just a few of the reasons why the church cannot neglect the practice of discipline.

    There are basically 2 kinds of discipline. In the broad sense discipline has reference to far more than just a punitive (punishment) action taken by one party against another. Discipline is “training which corrects, molds, strengthens, or perfects; punishment, chastisement.” Thus, discipline includes positive teaching and instruction as well as punishment, all of which is aimed at bringing about a positive change.

    First there is Preventive Discipline. This is teaching and instruction given for the express purpose of preventing people from sinning in the first place. This is one of the primary purposes of the Word of God—2 Tim.3:16-17. It is in this kind of discipline that preachers and elders take center stage—this is their job. Preachers are to first and foremost preach the Word so that people will know what God desires of them and what He does not desire of them—2 Tim.4:1-5.

    Elders are to shepherd the flock, feed the flock, set a proper example, and watch out for people’s souls—Acts 20:28, 1 Pet.5:2, 1 Tim.5:17, Heb.13:17. Preachers and elders who are not constantly devoted to the proclaiming of God’s Word to the people they work with, so that they will know how they ought to conduct their lives, are not doing their work and will give an account for it.

    The second form of discipline is known as Punitive Discipline (Chastisement). This is action taken after sin has been committed, for the good of the one sinning, and for the purpose of preventing any further sin—2 Cor.2:6-8. Punitive discipline is the last resort option for those who continue to persist in a lifestyle of sin. It is this discipline that must be practiced by the church as a whole or else it loses its effectiveness.

    It is this kind of discipline that we will be primarily dealing with over the course of the next few lessons. So discipline is both preventive (trying to prevent sin before the fact) and punitive in nature (chastising after the fact). As we will see, both are necessary if the church is to be healthy and effective.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Sunday, May 21, 2023

God’s Word is Beyond Wonderful!

By Edd Sterchi


In Psalm 19:7-11, we can read of some of the incredible aspects of God’s



The law of the Lord is perfect, [a]converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the 
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

1) It is from the LORD – God has given us His holy word.

2) It is perfect – there are no errors or flaws in it whatsoever.

3) It brings the words of salvation – in it we can learn how to be saved.

4) It is sure – it is fixed and will never change.

5) It brings wisdom – it helps us to be of sound mind.

6) It is right – it will never lead us down the wrong path.

7) It brings joy – it can delight our hearts to the fullest extent.

8) It is pure – it is unpolluted from the influence of the world.

9) It brings enlightenment – it puts everything into proper perspective.

10) It is clean – it is uncontaminated from men’s opinions.

11) It is eternal – it will never perish or fade away.

12) It is true – there is not even a hint of falsehood in it.

13) It is righteous – and it is where we learn how to live righteously.

14) It is precious – the treasures found in it are priceless.

15) It is sweet – it tastes wonderful to our soul.

16) It is instructional – it warns us of the consequence of not obeying it.

17) It is rewarding – it reveals blessings that come from following it.

    Maybe we should spend a little (or a lot) more time in it. What do you think?

- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Fled For Refuge

By Joe Slater


    The God we serve keeps His promises! Due to His holy nature, it is impossible for Him to lie. Yet, to help us in our weakness, He not only promised to bless the world through the seed of Abraham, but swore with an oath that He would keep His promise. Therefore, “We may have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).

    These words call to mind at least two Old Testament practices with which the original readers of Hebrews would have been familiar. First, fleeing for refuge takes us to Numbers 35 where six cities were appointed as safe zones where a person who had killed another should flee. There he would receive a fair trial. If guilty of murder, he would be executed; but if the killing was justified or accidental, the avenger of blood couldn’t harm him. Nevertheless, the manslayer would have to remain inside the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest.

    Sinners flee to God for refuge through Christ, and the Lord adds the saved to the church (Acts 2:47). Jesus is our High Priest forever (Hebrews 6:20). He will never die! Therefore, we must remain faithful within the body of Christ (the church) as long as we live.

    “Laying hold” of the hope set before us reminds us of another practice: laying hold of the horns of the altar. Solomon’s brother, Adonijah, and later the army captain, Joab, did so as a place of presumed safety. Unfortunately for them, both were guilty and therefore were executed.

    Rather than running to an altar, we lay hold of the hope we have in Christ. Hebrews 6:19-20 compares this hope to an anchor firmly secured in the presence of Christ in Heaven itself. Hope keeps us from being blown off course, as it were, by the trials and temptations we face.

    Stay in the city of refuge! Rejoice in your certain hope!

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: