Monday, December 28, 2009
I have been reading in church bulletins about resolutions. It seems that January 1st is the time most people make an effort to improve. I find nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, if it helps, do it! However, instead of trying to list all the things we need to make, and items we need to leave off, why not try a simple resolution. I read where one preacher said he would make the following promise for the New Year.
- I will go nowhere I couldn’t take Jesus.
- I will say nothing I wouldn’t want Him to hear.
- I will do nothing I wouldn’t want Him to see.
I think this about covers it for me, at least. How about you?
- J. R. Chism, Lamesa, TX (Bulletin Digest); via The Reminder, the weekly bulletin of the church of Christ in Dexter, MO. Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted at email@example.com or through the church’s website: http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/, MO
Monday, December 21, 2009
'Tis Season the Season
The holiday season has officially begun. How do you feel about the holidays this year? For many Americans, this holiday season will not as extravagant as it was for them in years past (at least this is what the media is saying). With the current economic situation, many families have “cut back” on their spending. May I suggest to you that this can be a good thing! We can focus so much on the newest gadgets, clothes, etc., that we fail to see the true blessings of life.
It can be difficult to explain to our children that “money does not grow on trees,” but this holiday season may be a great time to teach your children that “The best things in life are free.” We begin by showing them family is important (Eph.5:22-6:4), giving is better than receiving (Acts 20:35), and how we should be thankful to God for everything (Col.3:16).
Consider what the apostle Paul said to the church at Thessalonica at the close of his epistle to them: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV). You mean we should always be joyful, pray constantly, and give thanks no matter what situation we may find ourselves in? Yes!!!
Remember, true love cannot be bought, and true happiness cannot be found in material things. It is only in Christ that true blessings are found (Eph.1:3). As Christians, we must realize the true blessings of life. While we may have to “do without” from time to time, we will always have Jesus; He promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb.13:5).
Tis the season to be thankful!
- Shane Robinson, preaches for the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through their website at http://www.lakehillschurchofchrist.org/
Monday, December 14, 2009
The Real Santa Claus
By Travis L. Quertermous
Nicholas was born to wealthy Christian parents in the ancient Greek city of Myra in the late third century A.D. His parents died while he was a child, but they had raised him to be a devout Christian. Nicholas spent the rest of his life and the wealth he had inherited taking care of the poor and needy, especially the children, often enduring terrible persecution from the Roman authorities. Nicholas was appointed a bishop in the church at Myra and the Roman Catholic Church later canonized him as “St. Nicholas,” Many myths about Nicholas grew up around him after his death so that the historical children’s gift-giver “St. Nicholas” ultimately evolved into the legendary Santa Claus.
Nicholas epitomized the Bible’s teaching on giving. For example, the apostle Paul once said, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). Let us remember that the holiday season is about giving, not getting; about generosity, not greediness; and that it is not limited to Christmastime.
- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO. He may be contacted at email@example.com or through the church’s website: http://www.dexterchurchofchrist.com/
Monday, December 7, 2009
What Do You Tell Your Children?
Have you ever thought about the implications of what you tell your children? Careless words, thoughtless remarks, biased opinions, harsh criticisms, and cynical statements all have the potential to seriously damage a child’s future well being.
On the other hand, words of encouragement, expressions of support, praise for a job well done, and other forms of positive reinforcement have the potential of enhancing a child’s development.
Think about some of the things parents say to their children:
- “You’re no good.”
- “You’re mean—bad to the bone.”
- “You’re never going to amount to anything.”
- “You’re dumb.”
- “You never do anything right.”
On the other hand, think about some of the things children hear when they grow up with positive reinforcement:
- “You’re a blessing from God.”
- “You’re a good boy (or girl).”
- “You’re going to do something great some day.”
- “You’re learning.”
- “It didn’t turn out right this time; you’ll get it next time.”
Parents underrate the power of their words. They think little Johnny will let carelessly spoken words pass from his hearing without any long-term effect. One put-down probably doesn’t cause a great deal of damage; but if that becomes a pattern, Johnny may decide that he’s hopelessly ensnared in a psychological trap that wipes out any opportunity for personal achievement. Some children feel so worthless they later turn to drugs, illicit sex, and criminal behavior.
Parents who understand the power of words, know their children are going to grow up in a negative world. They also know that it takes several positive reinforcement statements to counteract the negative impact of just one verbal slam. If little Mary grows up believing that she is loveable and capable, She has a much better chance of becoming a happy and productive member of society.. F. Scott Fitzgerald was right on target when he said, “You can stroke people with words.”
- Norman and Ann Bales, 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Monday, November 30, 2009
Two Very Different Holidays
By Alan Smith
I heard about a teacher who asked the children in her class about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. She thought it might be effective to inch toward its meaning by having them playfully correct some wrong ideas.
"Now let me think," she began. "Thanksgiving. That's the day when we think about all the stuff we have. And how we want more things than anybody else has. And how we don't care about anybody but ourselves. And . . ."
"No!" the preschool kids were starting to chorus! "No-o-o!"
Then one little guy in the middle of the pack looked up and chirped, "That's not Thanksgiving, Miss Michelle. That's Christmas!"
As we begin the transition in this country from Thanksgiving to Christmas, there does indeed seem to be a world of difference in the way these two holidays are viewed. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays left which has not been ruined by commercialism. It is still a relatively "pure" time of giving thanks to God for our bountiful blessings. Christmas, on the other hand…….
What should be a time when we are able to take great joy in giving to others (for "it is more blessed to give than to receive", Acts 20:35) and a time to remember the great gift that God has given us through Jesus Christ, has (for many) turned instead to a stressful, hectic time when we are focused on ourselves and our wants.
Allow me to make a suggestion based on an ancient Jewish practice. The Jews had a day set aside, like our day of Thanksgiving, to remember how God had blessed them as a nation and taken care of them in their darkest hour. Purim was a day of "gladness and feasting…and for sending presents to one another." (Esther 9:19).
However, there was one major difference in their practice and ours (though there shouldn't be). Their thanksgiving resulted in gift giving, but not just to friends and family. They had a practice of "sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor." (Esther 9:22).
This holiday season (indeed in our daily life) let's sieze every opportunity to give thanks to God for how He has blessed us. We need to remember that with blessings come responsibilities -- and we have a responsibility to use our blessings to God's glory. In the weeks ahead, may you truly know the joy of using your blessings not merely to make your family happy, but to share with others around you who are in need.
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
How To Survive The Holidays
By Jeff Archey
“He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:4-7).
Through God our Father, we see the value of parental wisdom. His word speaks unto us as His children and we know He loves us (1 John 4:19; John 3:16; Hebrews 12:5-11). We are able to grow in knowledge—the learning and the wisdom—the “how to” in order to adapt and apply. He has given us “…all things that pertain to life and godliness…” and “…exceeding great and precious promises…” that we can partake of (2 Peter 1:3).
Of course, the title of this article is quite strange at first glance, but in reality there are those that just wish to “get through” this holiday season. This is a time of year where folks generally seem happier and peaceful, but, it is not the case for some. Let us consider some of the “how to” God’s Word grants us in dealing with the following.
“HOW DO YOU PUT UP WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE HARD TO PUT UP WITH?”
Families vary…some relatives you love to be around, some you don’t because of faith, life in general or common interests. Some family you never hear from during the year, but at the holidays it is like you’ve “just got” to get together with them…and you wonder what the fuss is? And, we come away from family gatherings aggravated and frustrated. What to do?
1. Shine as a Christian regardless where we are and remember our light must shine (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:16), so keep the proper example.
2. Set differences aside. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Chances are they're feeling the effects of being around you, too.
3. Schedule minimum time. If things are such a struggle, do only as much as you can. Grant a minimum amount of time or “make an appearance” and move on.
4. Simply refuse. Yes, this is difficult, but consider 1 Corinthians 15:33 and 2 Corinthians 6:14. This may be the choice that aims towards reconciliation. There may be those times that you have to simply refuse an invitation due to its nature. Always do so firmly, but gracefully.
“HOW DO YOU HAVE ANY JOY IN A HOLIDAY WHEN YOU ARE MISSING SOMEONE YOU LOVE?”
This is probably the number one challenge with this time of year. I think of families whose loved ones are away in Iraq or Afghanistan and of course there are those who have lost a loved one in the past year. I recall an article about a lady who went through a divorce earlier in the year and when she got out her ornaments and decorations, she broke down uncontrollably because the happy memories of her husband and what they did each year at this time came to mind. What to do?
1. “Abba, Father…” Think of the prayer of our Lord in the garden (Mark 14:32-42) and how He poured out Himself with such agony! We, too, must pour out the heart in fervent, ardent prayer to our Father and cry unto him as His child. God will provide and this day will pass, too.
2. Allow the time to remember those that are away from you. I recall a beautiful story of three grand-daughters who would always receive a box of covered cherries each from their grandmother. After their grandmother passed, I encouraged them to purchase a box of cherries each year and find the time to sit down, enjoy the cherries and think and talk of their grandmother. Sure, tears come, but smiles follow! Rainbows will follow rain.
3. Acknowledge what the one you miss would want you to do. Of course, they would want you to make the best of your holiday.
4. Afford yourself the opportunity to enjoy the moment with something new…or start a new “tradition.” Some find travel helpful; some spend time with friends that they see more than family. Whatever it might be, a new door of opportunity will open for you.
- via the Lake Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. Shane Robinson, preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted at email@example.com or through their website at http://www.lakehillschurchofchrist.org/
Monday, November 16, 2009
After all the former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and then began eyeing each other’s cups.”
Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.
Enjoy your coffee. Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.
–CyberSalt Digest; via SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - firstname.lastname@example.org You may also visit their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
Monday, November 9, 2009
The Art of Happiness
You can’t pursue happiness and catch it. Happiness comes upon you unaware while you are helping others. As the Hindu said, “Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo! Thine own has reached the shore.”
Happiness does not depend upon a full pocketbook, but a mind full of thoughts that are rich and heart full of rich emotions.
Happiness does not depend upon what happens outside of you but on the inside of you; it is measured by the spirit in which you meet the problems of life.
Happiness is a state of mind. Lincoln once said, “We are as happy as we make up our minds to be.” Happiness doesn’t come from doing what we like to do, but from liking what we have to do. Happiness comes from putting our hearts into our work and doing it with joy and enthusiasm. It does not come from doing easy work, but it is the afterglow of satisfaction that comes from the achievement of a difficult task that demands our best.
Happiness grows of harmonious relationships with others based on attitude of good will, tolerance, understanding and love. It comes from keeping constructively busy.
Happiness is found in little things: a baby’s smile, a letter from a friend, a kind word, the beauty of nature.
The master secret of happiness is to meet the challenge of each new day with serene faith that “all things work together for good to them that love God” and to prove our love for good to them that love God” and to prove our love for God as we give help and encouragement to our fellowman.
- Unknown; via the Lebanon Road church of Christ’s weekly bulletin. Adam Faughn serves as the pulpit minister for the Nashville, TN congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation’s website at: http://www.lebanonroadchurchofchrist.org
Monday, November 2, 2009
Coping With the Holidays
The following material may be helpful to you in recognizing and dealing with what is commonly referred to as “the holiday blues.” With exception to references to alcohol, the lists are as they appear on the website: www.nicholls.edu/counsleing/newsletters.coping-with-the-holidays/
Factors contributing to the “holiday blues:
· Increased stress
· Unrealistic expectations
· Family issues
· Changes in daily routines
· Not having enough money
· Spending more than you can afford
· Shopping, cooking, parties
· Too much food
· Weight gain
· House guests
Symptoms of “holiday blues”
· Sleep problems
· Appetite change/weight loss or gain
· Excessive feelings of guilt
· Difficulty in concentration
· Decreased interest in usually pleasurable activities
Some basic coping strategies:
· Live the basics of good health—eat right, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly
· Set realistic goals and expectations
· Let go of the past
· Try something new
· Set aside differences
· Enjoy free holiday activities
· Do something for someone else
· Spend time with supportive people
· Find time for yourself
· Focus on what you have instead of what you do not have.
Remember, the “holiday blues” are usually a normal response to a stress filled time of year and are usually short-lived, subsiding after the holidays are over and routines are resumed
— 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Sunday, November 1, 2009
If Only You Knew What I Have Done
By Debbie Preuss
Lord, if only You knew what I have done
You wouldn't offer the grace of Your Son
The things I've done wrong in my life
That fill my very soul with strife
The "secret sins" that I have hid
Ever since I was just a kid
If You knew all, You wouldn't want me
To spend time with You for eternity
How could You love me if You knew all
If You'd seen me slip, if You'd seen me fall
My child, I've seen all that you've done
That WHY I offer the grace of My Son
The things you've done that caused such strife
Are gone, a part of your former life
I've forgiven and forgotten every one
Because you come to Me through My Son
I saw all the "secret sins" you've hid
But I still want you to be My kid
My unconditional love is for you
Not because of what you say or do
But because you've come, cleansed by My Son
You have become to Me, a chosen one
My child I love you and I've seen it all
Now I'm here to pick you up when you fall
I want you now, to soar free
And we'll be together for eternity
Monday, October 26, 2009
SIN: A Before and After Picture
By Darrell Powell
The following are some thought-provoking characteristics of sin, before and after it has been committed.
Before sin: I hear temptation whispering in my ears, gently beckoning me to give in (James 1:14).
After sin: Shame haunts me day and night. There is no rest from my guilt (James 1:15).
Before sin: I cannot put a price on the joy that sin would bring me (Luke 12:19).
After sin: No price would be too high to regain my innocence (Matthew 16:26).
Before sin: I cannot live without it! (Matthew 26:15).
After sin: I cannot live with myself (Matthew 27:5).
Before sin: No one will know (Joshua 7:21).
After sin: I know...and God knows (Genesis 39:9).
Before sin: No one will get hurt (2 Samuel 12:1-19).
After sin: Sin has devastated my life and the lives of others (Exodus 20:5).
Before sin: God loves me (Romans 8:39).
After sin: God loves me still, and awaits my return (Romans 5:28).
Before sin: All have sinned! (Romans 3:23)
After sin: Hear (Romans 10:17), believe (John 8:24), repent (Acts 17:30), confess (Acts 8:37), be baptized (Mark 16:16), and live in accordance to God’s will until death (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Or, simply seek God’s forgiveness if you already are a Christian (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
Oh, the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13)! May we all look deep below the surface to see it for what it really is. Don’t let sin become your death trap. Rather, live for God and inherit eternal life (Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 6:11-12).
- Darrell Powell (adapted); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
Monday, October 19, 2009
By Mike Benson
IT ALL BEGAN with the desire, the deep-seated longing for something that he knew was wrong...
But he could not help it, he allowed himself to be enticed and allured by the seduction. It wasn't long before the seduction had conceived, and his sin had led to a birth.
Well, yes. Sounds like a pulpy novel (or Prime Time TV?), doesn't it? You can almost envision the seductive eyelashes, the dark meaningful looks, and the couple indulging in the pleasures of the forbidden.
But this is no R-rated movie. It is the ancient book of James, describing the compelling, seductive power of sin. Listen to the scripture again:
"Each (person) is tempted, when by his own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown leads to death" (James 1:14,15).
It would be a mistake, of course, to limit the application of this verse to "sexual" sins. We can as easily be seduced by the pleasures of anger. "Boy did I let him have it! I told her where to go!" Or the pleasures of gossip. "Wow what juicy information! I can't wait to tell Gertrude and Jerry!"
James knew the power of sin's pull. He portrayed it in terms of an alluring seduction. Sin is seductive. And pleasurable. And fatal. It "leads to death." That is the part that the pulp fiction fails to mention. The tragedy and sorrow that sin inevitably brings, well, that happens after the movie ends. That's part of the seduction, I suppose, to omit the hard facts of sin's consequences. After the momentary joys, there follows the heartbreak and shame.
Another Biblical writer put it this way: "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life" (Romans 6:23). So the next time sin flashes a sparkling eye at you, remember the novel's sordid ending. Don't be seduced! (Stan Mitchell)
KneEmail: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (Jas. 1:14-15).
Bible reading for 11.20.07: Romans 4 - 7
- Mike Benson edits an on-line devotional entitled KneEmail. To subscribe, send ANY message to: email@example.com Mike may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 12, 2009
The following timely remarks were penned by Gerald Cowan in response to this question: "I've heard the internet is responsible for the spread of pornography. Would that mean a Christian shouldn't take part in it?
The so-called Internet, is an information exchange system to which one is connected electronically. One's computer is connected to various sites by a telephone line, wireless phone or satellite system. Being online describes the act of being connected or interconnected electronic-ally to a "World Wide Web" of information, etc. Once connected to the network, one can alternate quickly between various sources of information, entertainment, and commerce. One can buy and sell information and goods. One can send and receive electronic mail (email) instantly and with no additional charges There are 'chat rooms' where you one 'talk' to other persons about anything of interest. Movies, music, and sporting events are available. Browsing through various offerings, sometimes called 'surfing the net' is somewhat like channel hopping on the TV. What could be "evil" about such an efficient and inexpensive way to share information?
Actually the Internet is like a library combined with a museum, a supermarket, a concert hall, a theater, a porno peep show, a bulletin board, and who knows what else? Information is arranged by category, and one can go from one collection site to another as long as he wants to, and can pay for his connection service and all associated fees. The internet or electronic information system itself is not evil. It is no more wicked in and of itself than the library, book store, movie theater or video rental store, or magazine section in the grocery or department store. All of those places have material available that is good and wholesome, but they all have things that are not good or wholesome. It is what people do with the materials that are available that causes so much trouble. We can't just close down the library or outlaw TV, movies, and videos (all these things have been tried). We need to be properly instructed in how to use the good things to which we have access and stay away from the things that are not good.
There is a subtle danger in the easy access to electronic information media. It can be done, and is done mostly, in the privacy of one's home. It isn't quite like being caught in the wrong section of the bookstore or video rental shop. Most people will never know what kind of programs the net surfers are watching and downloading for future watching. The ability to sin anonymously is a great temptation, and the internet certainly makes it easier for people to burn their brains with salacious smut. I hope some way can be devised and enforced to keep people honest and honorable in their use of electronic information and entertainment media. Those who want complete freedom of expression will resist to the death any effort to censor the internet or to mark those who use it improperly.
- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
But to answer the question: the internet has certainly spread such evils as pornography, making it more easily and widely accessible, with less fear of personal exposure. But that does not mean the internet is responsible for the spread of pornography. There is a tremendous amount of false religious information on the internet, but the internet is not responsible for the spread and proliferation of smut and error. The internet is a tool that can be easily misused by purveyors of evil. But is also an effective tool for propagation of the truth. The devil encourages people to abuse or misuse even good things - some do not need much encouragement. Most things, even good things or things that have a good purpose, can be used in a sinful way. We must learn to make appropriate use and avoid any abuse or misuse.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Thirty-Five Things Satan Wants from You and Me
By Tim Childs
Satan wants you and me to think he is merely a mythical character conjured up in the deranged mind of a right-wing religious zealot.
Satan wants you and me to think God’s warnings about just how dangerous he is have been greatly exaggerated.
Satan wants you and me to forget there is a line of demarcation between good and evil.
Satan wants you and me to feel comfortable in crossing over and passing freely back and forth over what he might term “a neutral zone”.
Satan wants you and me over time to become comfortable with that which is sinful, evil, and abhorrent.
Satan wants you and me to become desensitized by our frequent exposure to that which is corrupt, evil and vile.
Satan wants you and me to experiment…to tamper with sin.
Satan wants you and me to believe there are degrees of wickedness…that some forms of sin are harmless.
Satan wants you and me to become accepting of at least some manifestations of evil…to approve the behavior and those who practice the immoral, unethical, ungodly things of darkness.
Satan wants you and me not to shun them, but rather to become a joint participant in league with those who’re evil doers.
Satan wants you and me to drown our feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment when we fail to keep God’s moral standard.
Satan wants you and me, if we must feel shame, to have just enough (plus blended with a measure of pride) to discourage us from confessing our faults to one another.
Satan wants you and me to doubt God’s ability to forgive our failures.
Satan wants you and me to feel lonely in our Christian walk…to feel we are even isolated and alienated from our own brethren.
Satan wants you and me to become unfaithful to our Creator and Savior.
Satan wants you and me to turn our backs, permanently forsaking the living God.
Satan wants you and me to break the covenant we entered into with God on the day we, having received his grace, vowed to be faithful unto death.
Satan wants you and me to harden our hearts, dull our conscience, and dull our ears to his message.
Satan wants you and me to wear a cloak of darkness over our eyes so we can’t see the mercy, grace and love of God.
Satan wants you and me to shut tight the windows and doors of our hearts so Jesus and the word of the Lord can’t enter.
Satan wants you and me to turn our heads while he steals away any semblance of the word that may yet reside in our hearts.
Satan wants you and me to show God we really don’t love him, we don’t truly reverence him, that we couldn’t care any less than we do today about his Word.
Satan wants you and me to find excuses for staying away from God’s house of worship.
Satan wants you and me to believe he has power over our lives, including our destiny.
Satan wants you and me to think he still has the power to inflict pain and suffering upon us just as he did with God’s servant Job.
Satan wants you and me to think that if we’ll compromise, throw up our white flag of surrender, he won’t allow anything too bad to happen in our lives.
Satan wants you and me to think he is the only one who can give us the good life.
Satan wants you and me to reject the gospel plan of salvation.
Satan wants you and me to reject the idea of life made possible through the death of a carpenter’s son nearly 2,000 years ago.
Satan wants you and me to reject the command of Jesus Christ to be baptized in water to be buried into his death and be cleansed by his blood.
Satan wants you and me to reject the notion there is any association between faith and obedience of the form of doctrine presented in the gospel of Christ.
Satan wants you and me to lose our focus on Jesus, his cross, and the crown of life he yearns to bestow upon us.
Satan wants you and me to trade/surrender our souls and the souls of our family members to him.
Satan wants you and me to make him our god, to be his fateful companions presently, and throughout eternity.
Satan wants you and me to willingly give him what he wants. Will we?
- Tim Childs preaches for the Hillcrest church of Christ in Baldwyn, MS. He may be contacted at email@example.com, or through the congregation’s website: http://www.thelordsway.com/hillcrestms
Sunday, September 27, 2009
What I Want the Church to Be
It will be friendly, if I am friendly.
Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them.
It will do a great work, if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.
It will bring other people into its worship and fellowship, if I bring them.
It will be a church with a noble spirit, if I show the same kind of spirit.
Therefore, I will let God use me in the task of being all things that I want the church, where I attend, to be.
- Bulletin Digest; - via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Monday, September 21, 2009
Your Church, My Church, Our Church, Or Christ’s Church?
By Gerald Cowan
What do people think of me? That question often finds its way into our thoughts. We may seldom ask anyone directly what he thinks of us, but there are times when it important for us to know. On one occasion Jesus asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?" (Mt. 16:13). He was not satisfied with the answer, so He asked again, "But whom do you (disciples) say that I am?"
Jesus was not usually bothered by the kind of reception He got, and it may seem strange that He was so concerned at this particular time. But His concern was not about what people thought of His character or His attitude. He was concerned that they know who He was and what He had come to do. More than that, He was not concerned so much about what people in general thought of Him as He was about whether certain things had registered on the minds of the twelve disciples. It was important that they understand what His ministry was all about. The church was in the mind of Christ, and these men were to play a vital part in bringing the church into existence. When Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus assured them this answer was from God. Then He added, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:15-18).
Upon this rock! What rock? What did He mean? Some claim that the “rock” is Peter, that somehow the Lord would found His church upon Peter. This is a bit awkward though, since very soon after that He called Peter Satan. "Get behind me Satan" (Mt. 16:23). Others believe that by "this rock" Jesus meant the confession that Peter had made concerning Him. But this has led to the idea that the church is built upon the foundation of men and women who believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Actually, both views are wrong. Scripture plainly says that Jesus Christ Himself is the rock, the only foundation upon which the church is built (1 Cor. 3:11 and 10:4, 1 Peter 2:4-8).
If the church were built upon any person or group of persons, it could be only as strong and durable as the person or group. Even if such men were inspired by God, if the foundation of the church is human, there can be nothing final about either the religion or the church of Christ. Only if it is established upon the unchanging Lord can the church be considered essentially unchanging and permanent. If Jesus is indeed the Son of God, sent into the world to achieve redemption, then there is a certain finality about the church and its faith. God’s act of redemption in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be repeated. It was done "once and for all" (Heb. 10:12, 18). So then Christ’s indestructible church is founded upon Christ Himself, the living revelation of the living God, and not upon the shaky foundation of any human.
It might hurt our pride a bit to be told that, though the church consists of faithful Christians, it is not built by us or upon us. Nor does its future depend upon us. Man cannot destroy what God Himself has established. The persecution of the Roman Empire, the despair of the "dark ages," the attacks of rationalism, the devastation of global warfare, and the present efforts of liberalism and political correctness to secularize the church and take it away from God – all those things and more have failed and will fail to destroy what the Lord built. Death and hades could not prevent Jesus from building it, and hell itself will not be able to destroy it. Christ, who established the church upon Himself as God’s Son, will continue to add to it every day all who are being saved by their obedience to Him. He will do it as long as the world stands (Heb. 5:9, Acts 2:47). He does not add to your church or mine – no church is founded upon any or all of us, and no church belongs to us. The Lord’s church, the church of Christ Himself, is the only church which belongs to Christ and is the only one to which He adds the saved.
- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
What Is “Beautiful Singing?”
How many times have you worshiped in the assembly following which you heard, or might have said, “Boy was that beautiful singing!” Honestly, I have both heard it and said it myself. And, rightfully so. Some of the most beautiful singing in the world occurs in the church with absolutely no mechanical instruments involved! Furthermore, I am one who likes beautiful singing.
However, I got to thinking about it and wondered if God looks at our singing in that way. Does He put stress on the beauty of the voices that are singing or on something else? Will He accept singing that we would describe as something less than beautiful? Does the beauty of a Christian’s voice have anything to do with whether or not he (or she) is pleasing God in such?
Obviously, it seems to me that God does not place the emphasis on the beauty of what is offered to Him, whether it is singing, praying, preaching, giving, etc. That can be seen simply by noting Jesus’ condemnation of what the Pharisees did in Matthew 23.27, 28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Conclusion: it takes more than the “beauty” of what we do to be acceptable to the Lord. As far as our singing in worship is concerned we can have the most beautiful voice in the world and be unacceptable to God if we are not living a faithful Christian life.
We can glean much about the emphasis that God places on our singing when we view several passages…
1 Corinthians 14.15. “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” The context of this verse is miraculous singing given by the Holy Spirit and singing it in the assembly in a language that others can hear and benefit. It seems that from this passage we can learn at least two things.
- - Our singing today must be authorized by the Holy Spirit. Whatever we do in our singing in worship must be patterned after what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word.
- - Our singing must be done so that others can understand it. Understanding of the messages in our songs is just as important as understanding the messages presented from the pulpit!
Ephesians 5.19. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” It seems to me that there are at least four things in this passage that will help us.
- - Our singing involves “speaking.” That is what God wants. Notice that nothing is said about a mechanical instrument.
- - Our singing involves “speaking to one another.” That would involve everyone singing. How could I be speaking to another in song when I am not participating in it?
- - Our singing involves “making melody in your heart.” It is crucial, I think, to understand that there is an instrument involved in our singing to the Lord. It is the heart, that is where our melody is to spring forth.
- - Our singing is “to the Lord.” All worship, including our singing, is directed to the Lord. While we do benefit from the songs that are sung, we also are offering them to the Lord in our worship.
Colossians 3.16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” At least two more things can be said about singing in this verse.
- Our singing involves “teaching.” All one has to do is to glance through our song books to see many great sermons preached in our songs. When we get away from the teaching aspect of our singing and substitute other forms of music (humming and other sounds made with the mouth, hands, etc.), then our singing is not approved by Christ.
- - Our singing involves “admonishing.” To admonish is “to put in the mind; warn.” It seems to me that our songs, in many respects, parallel our preaching. We are both to teach and warn in our preaching as well as to teach and warn in our singing!
Let us remember that “beautiful” singing to the Lord involves at least those things mentioned above. And, let us strive to have more “beautiful” singing in the church. Think about it!
- Kevin Williams preaches for the Walnut Grove church of Christ in Benton, KY. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 7, 2009
A Preacher’s Classic
They could listen to me all day
Others think I preach too long,
And some think I go about it wrong.
Some say my sermon is much too deep
To others it’s shallow and they go to sleep.
Some report I hold them spellbound,
While others squirm and look around.
Some believe I have no light,
And others think I preach just right.
Some affirm that I’m too bold,
While others wink and say I’m cold.
Some used to say I was much too young,
But others declare my spring has sprung
Some folks tell I have met success.
Others think my work’s a mess.
Some have said my pay is too low,
When they discover the pace I go.
Still others say it’s above the peak
“Why, he only works three hours a week!”
From all of this it is plain to see,
That as a preacher, I’m up a tree.
Condemned if I do,
Condemned if I don’t.
Criticized if I will,
Criticized if I won’t.
I can’t please men of such discord,
So I’ll just keep trying to please the Lord.
- Author Unknown; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org or e-mail: email@example.com
Monday, August 31, 2009
We plan and we work and we scrimp and we save,
It is thus from our youth clean on to the grave;
There's so little time and we've so much to do,
Why, sometimes it seems that we'll never get through!
We're told, "Early to bed and early to rise."
Is sure to make us "healthy, wealthy and wise;"
But I've lived long enough to see that's not true!
Well, it's not been for me, I don't know 'bout you.
I've known good men who worked hard and did their best.
Some were young and poor as they were laid to rest.
It's good advice that I've followed all along,
I'm not knocking it, so please don't take me wrong;
But if you follow it, there's no guarantee
That healthy, wealthy and wise is how you'll be.
I've known lazy men who seemed to manage well.
Just how they did it, well, I never could tell.
But one thing, yes one thing, happened to them all:
Ev'ry one of them had to answer death's call!
We plan and we work and we scrimp and we save
And for what? For we all end up in a grave!
And the buzzard who's ever circling the sky
Neither plans, nor works, nor scrimps, nor saves; and why?
For in time he'll get his - that's just nature's way,
I guess, in a sense, that's how he draws his pay.
Now, why do we worry about money so?
We leave it behind when we die, don't you know?
Somewhere there's reserved an heavenly treasure
With riches and blessings beyond all measure!
Let's spend more time thinking about going there
Than our troubles and trials, complaints and cares.
I've heard the pretty words the ministers said,
But no matter how pretty, the man's still dead!
So live while you may, and always do your best;
And remember: some day you'll be laid to rest.
Then what you have will give way to who you are,
(Over there, money won't get you very far!)
You'll stand in the presence of Jesus, the King,
And long for just one thing, yes, only one thing:
For Him to look at you and lovingly say,
"Enter in, for your sins have been washed away!"
Then, whether in life you were wealthy or poor,
Or cute or ugly, won't matter anymore.
Who liked you and who you liked won't matter then,
Only whether or not you died in your sins.
The buzzard, though ugly, has something to say:
"Your time will surely come, all men die someday!"
It's not a matter of "if," for you will die;
The question is, "Have you a home in the sky?"
O, my friend, now's the time for you to prepare!
Don't you want to be with the faithful up there?
Life is so uncertain; O, why do you wait?
When death overtakes you it will be too late.
Come, O Come, for the Master's Table is spread;
It will be too late when your body lies dead.
- H. L. Gradowith For more information on H. L. Gradowith and GRADOWITH POEMS e-mail group visit http://www.geocities.com/fp5699/ - the website of Tim Smith, minister of the Enon church of Christ in Webb, AL
Monday, August 24, 2009
by Bob Spurlin
Doubt and fear have caused many, including Christians, to fail in completing their responsibilities to almighty God. The word “doubt” suggests fear, confusion, and a lack of faith. Jesus often reprimanded his disciples for the doubt and fear that hindered their service to the Lord. One of the original disciples chosen, Peter, began walking on the water when suddenly he began to drown. This disciple of Jesus cried for help as he began to fall in the sea and Jesus reached out his hand to save Peter. Jesus punctuated the cure for fear and doubt as he stated to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt” (Mt. 14:31). This disciple of Jesus cried for help because there was an anemic faith in his life. Is it any surprise the disciples asked, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).
“Faith is the Victory,” an old gospel hymn, shows God’s formula in surviving the doubts and difficulties faced in a faithless world. From the writings of Hebrews come the words, “Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him” (Hebrews 11:6). The result of Peter sinking into the sea and the Lord saving him from this near tragic episode was the rebuke for his lack of faith. Overcoming doubt is a difficult chore and needs complete trust in the Creator of all things. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This indispensable item comes through the word of God (Romans 10:17), and one grows in measure to our enthusiasm, and spiritual enlightenment (II Peter 1: 3-8). Three inescapable results come from an increased faith:
1. A CERTAIN STATE OF OPTIMISM WOULD RULE OUR LIVES. The more faith we have in God, the more cheerful and positive the outlook we will have in life. Faith in God will enable us to launch in waters of responsibility and challenge the impossible. Peter and his resourceful fishing partners labored throughout the night and caught nothing. Jesus said, “Launch out into the deep,” and this group of fishermen responded by faith resulting in the two ships overflowing as the multitude of fishes caused both vessels to sink (Luke 5:1-11). What great faith Peter and his partners had and performed the impossible. Also, Paul working in Troas had a vision in the night; a man begging him to come over in Macedonia to help them (preach the gospel) Acts 16:9. The faithful Paul immediately went to the land of Macedonia believing God wanted him to go and preach the gospel to these people (Acts 16:10).
The faith of the early Christians gave them an optimism that would realize the impossible, even evangelizing the world (Acts 17:6; Colossians 1:23). Someone has said that optimism is a person taking the cold water thrown on his ideas and the fires of his enthusiasm produces the heat to perform the unattainable. Remember success comes in “cans” not in “cant’s.” The promises of God will produce an optimism filling every child of God. We can rely on the Lord’s commands to be genuine without fear (Hebrews 13:6). Let us all remember the familiar words of Paul, “I can do all through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
2. WE WILL DILIGENTLY SEARCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO DO GOOD. Matthew chapter 26 reveals two separate people looking for an opportunity. Mary was searching for the opportunity to anoint Jesus head with an alabaster box of fine anointment. When Mary finished anointing the Savior’s head the disciples spoke out with resentment toward her stating that it was a “waste.” Jesus rebuked these disciples saying, “Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work on me” (Matthew 26:6-10). Often we see those criticized for doing a good work when we should encourage such a deed. Let us always have our eyes opened to do well (Matthew 9:36-38).
Judas Iscariot “sought opportunity to betray him” (Jesus), and met secretly with the chief priests consummating the wicked deed for thirty pieces of silver (Mt. 26:14-16). Tradition reveals that this price of betrayal was the cost of a common slave. Satan looks for every opportunity to exploit the weakness of his prey. Judas had his weak points and Satan knew how to take advantage of his victim. Judas like Mary had the freedom of choice as one sought the good while the other looked for the evil.
Among an evil society with standards of right and wrong becoming blurred we desperately need the saving gospel more than ever (John 4:35). We must open our eyes and like Paul, “As we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Obeying the Great Commission involves devoted followers of the Lamb who will teach those that are sick in sin (Acts 5:42).
God’s people face a great opportunity with those needing our help. Souls lost in the sea of sin need the lifeline of the gospel by public and private teaching. Giving strength and encouragement to the weak and fainthearted serves those needing our support (Eph. 3:13; Gal. 6:9). Let us not fail to supply help for the sick, needy, poor, widows, and orphans (James 1:27; Mt. 25:34-36). Pray that our God will give us more faith to recognize our unlimited opportunities. Someone has given the following equation: potential + opportunity = responsibility. Study the equation carefully and search diligently for opportunities to serve.
3. WE CAN OVERCOME THE WORLD BY FAITH. The Bible tells us “Satan is the prince of this world” (John 12:31). Defeating the enemy of truth is possible through the “shield of faith.” Among the defensive weapons available to the Christian soldier Paul writes, “Above all, take the shield of faith, where with ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Let us never forget that Satan is the most cunning, subtle creature of all-time described as “deceiver of the world” (Revelation 12:9). We can overcome the world as John the apostle said, “Ye are of God, little children, because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). Christians must “Fight the good fight of the faith” if we would overcome the world (I Timothy 6:12).
John provides encouragement to the faithful in Revelation 7. The multitudes wearing white garments came through the power of an obedient faith. To transform Saul of Tarsus to Paul the missionary comes from a deep faith in Christ. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). An enduring faith in God will give us the power to overcome the difficulties and trials we may experience. Regardless of the trials and suffering thrust on us having our name on the Lamb’s book of life will become the victory for which we yearn. This is the supreme blessing of an enlarged faith.
- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. In addition to his website, http://www.bobspurlin.com, you may contact Bob via his email: firstname.lastname@example.org (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).