Monday, March 28, 2011
It all started three years ago when my Dad went in for surgery. The outcome of this operation was not what we expected. For three long years my dad had to depend on a catheter. It was a long three years where he would be limited from all the activities that he enjoyed. He faced the news a lot better than we had expected. I cannot say enough about all the love and support he received from family members and church members.
Dad has always been very involved in the local congregation and for many years was an active leader for the church. During this three year episode of being limited in everyday activates it is interesting to note that the lawn never went without being mowed. Food was always in the table. The younger families of the congregation came to my parents rescue and never complained.
As we headed for Virginia for Dads newest surgery procedure we arrived with many unanswered questions. As Dad prepared to go in the operating room just 3 days before Christmas the surgeon told us the outcome was not good. The possibility existed that Dad would be on this catheter for the rest of his life. We prayed with him as he was wheeled into the room. During the quiet moments of waiting for the outcome I was thinking about all the cards and prayers Dad had received in the past month. My mind took me back to better times when we used to sing in the car on the way to church services. Then it happened. The surgeon came out of the double doors and looked at us with a wonderful smile. He explained that three years ago when the procedure was concluded at another hospital it was only half done. He went on to say that what he found inside my Dad was an awesome sight. The surgeon was able to correct the haphazard surgery of the past. He explained that my Dad would no longer need to depend on the catheter again.
God does not always answer our prayers the way we want him to. Then again there are those times when He goes far beyond our expectations. My gift reminds me not to ignore the answers from God. His understanding is far beyond our knowledge.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isa 55: 8-9
Have a great week.
- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address: http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/
The wise King Solomon said, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30). In a world where men and women are often judged by their physical beauty, it can be so easy to overlook the real beauty of life. We live in an era where Covergirl can make you the woman of your dreams, Metabolife can make you slim and trim and cosmetic surgery can make you look like anyone you want. But have we really forgotten what true beauty is? The principle Solomon stated is still valid for us. Both men and women are attractive in God's eyes based on what they are, not how they look physically. Let us turn our attention to the qualities of inner beauty that God desires in His children.
First, to be beautiful in God's sight we must possess a submissive, willing obedience to our Father. The beauty of obedience has always been that which attracted God to His people. For example, God destroyed the ungodly world in Noah's day, but of Noah it is said, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" (Gen 6:8). Likewise, our beautification will come through our obedience. The happy person is always the one who obeys God (Rev. 22:14). The person who wears the beautiful crown of salvation is the one who obeys God (Heb. 5:8-9). Truly, "to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams" (I Sam. 15:22). Are we beautiful to God by our obedience to his word, or are we stained with the ugliness of sin?
A second way in which we can be beautiful in God's sight is by possessing a quiet and gentle spirit or demeanor. By inspiration Peter said, "let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God" (I Pet. 3:4). Although this is talking about the adorning beauty of women, it would obviously apply to all of God's children alike. Isn't it interesting what God calls beauty, we often think of as cowardice or timidity? God does not desire His people to be loud, overbearing chatterboxes. God says we will be beautiful if we are "Swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath" (James 1:19-20). Do we really possess a quiet and gentle spirit in the sight of God? Or, are w known for our harshness, desire to be heard by others and getting the last word in?
A third way that we become beautiful in God's sight is through our worship of Him. The Bible repeatedly says we are to "worship Him in the beauty of Holiness" (Ps. 29:2, 6:9). When we worship God in the "beauty of holiness," we ourselves begin to become beautiful. But, worship must be done in holiness. It must be done according to God's commands (Jn. 4:24). It must be done with our inner psyche (I Cor. 14:15). And, yes, it must be done with fervent emotion, excitement and zeal (Jn. 4:24b). A child that adores, reverences and obeys his Father is always more beautiful than an irreverent child. Do we really look beautiful to God because of our reverent worship of Him? Or, are we unattractive to God in worship because of our additions to His prescribed ways (Lev. 10:1ff)?
A final way in which we can become beautiful to God is through our attitude. A godly attitude is essential to becoming beautiful. Just as a woman who only puts on half of her makeup would not be fully beautiful, so Christians who do what God wants them to with a grudging and bad attitude are not completely beautiful to God. A preacher once said that to succeed in life you had to have the right AME (aim) Attitude, Motive and Emphasis. What is our attitude about God and living the Christian life? Do we obey god because we love Him (Jn. 14:15)? Do we worship God in the beauty of holiness because we are grateful for what He has done for us (Jn. 3:16). Do we attend worship service to grow closer to God, or do we attend because we have to? Is our heart right with God???
A wealthy elderly man seeking to find a beautiful companion made it known of his wealth and desire to find a wife. It wasn't very long until he had scores of candidates wanting to marry him. Eventually, he did choose a very beautiful young lady to be his bride. But something began to happen that he never dreamed of. As the old man began to realize that the only reason he had a beautiful wife was because of his money, the woman began to grow a little less attractive every day. It wasn't long until she was even repulsive for the man to look at. I wonder if this is sometimes how God sees us? Do we really have an inner beauty that is enduring? Or, did we marry God (Rom 7:14) for what He could do for us or because we did not have a choice. Remember, "For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Sam. 16:7). Since "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," what do we look like to God? To see we wi ll have to turn ourselves inside out!! The Old hymn says it best; "let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you."
- Ben Bailey, Ardmore, OK; 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
Monday, March 21, 2011
Are We Fighting for Faithfulness?… Every day we have a choice to make. Every day we have to decide if we are going to take up our cross, or if we are going to put it down and follow the course of this world. When we are faced with these choices, both big and small, we need to be determined to make each one of them count for the Lord. Let’s look at some illustrations that we can draw from the preparation for a physical fight to the spiritual realm (like Paul in Ephesians 6).
First, if we know we are going to have to fight, we have to start training right away. A soldier preparing for combat undergoes a tremendous amount of rigorous training long before he enters the battle. He is taught which weapons are effective and how to use each one of them. Such should be the case with those of us who are entering a spiritual battle. We need to be trained in the proper use of the Word of God. We also need to develop an understanding of things like faith, love and hope as well as the effectiveness of fellowship and prayer to aid us in the battle we are going to face. If we enter the field of battle ill prepared, we will quickly become a casualty of war. Hebrews 5:14 implies that if we continue to exercise good judgment, our senses will become well trained to discern good from evil. Once a soldier has been trained and seen combat, he continues practicing what he has learned and seeks to improve his skills daily.
Next, we need to make certain that we protect our fellow soldiers during the fight. Soldiers learn to depend on one another during combat for many different reasons. Each soldier has a particular job to do and the rest of the troops count on that job to get done. Each soldier also has the responsibility to take care of the other soldiers on the battle field. The wounded need to be treated, not left alone to suffer and die!
The same holds true with the members of the body of Christ. We need each other if we expect to survive the spiritual war in which we are engaged. We all have our God given roles to fulfill and we must realize others are counting on us to get the job done! We also have to watch for each other and make certain that we are taking care of the wounded and helping them heal so that we can all get back out on the battle field. And of course, we must NOT engage in friendly fire! If we spend our time and energy tearing each other down, we have just done our enemy’s work for him! You should love your brother and sister in Christ, not shoot them!
Finally, we must all be determined that we are actually going to fight! Sometimes we pretend we are going to fight, but we really don’t. When was the last time you saw somebody taking extreme measures to combat sin in his or her life? Did that impress you or did you think it was just strange? Has anyone (including yourself) asked a brother or sister in Christ for help in avoiding or eliminating sin? We have become a people that deny the real need to fight against sin and avoid the extremes that it sometimes takes to get rid of sin. We must take sin seriously. We must begin to confess our sins, repent of them, and fight to remain faithful!
A soldier going on to the battle field doesn’t train for no reason, but so that he or she can win the fight. Train to remain faithful to the Lord and fight to remain faithful to the Lord. Train to win against sin and fight to win against sin.
- Bryan Kirby preaches for the Goodwood Boulevard church of Christ in Baton Rouge, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www..goodwoodchurch.org
Captain John Callender of the Massachusetts militia was found guilty of cowardice at the Battle of Bunker Hill. George Washington had to order his court martial. Callender re enlisted in the army as a private, and at the Battle of Long Island exhibited such conspicuous courage that Washington publicly revoked the sentence and restored his captaincy.
It is the same way in the Lord's army. We can start over. We may feel that our actions and deeds are such that seeking to live for Jesus is useless. We try and then stumble. We make an effort and then do something that seems to blot out that effort, and we want to simply quit. But it is not too late to start over. One benefit of forgiveness is the starting over principle. John said in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Peter was one who went to sleep when the Lord needed him, denied the Lord, and followed him from a distance. Yet in the beginning of the church, who preached the first sermon? Who was a strong leader among the Lord's disciples in the early history of the church? It was Peter! For many of us, to have failed Jesus as often as Peter did, we would have said we can't start again. But Peter demonstrates that we can try again and succeed.
Each new day is an opportunity to start over. The sight of the rising sun is a beautiful reminder that we have a new and marvelous beginning ahead of us. It is an opportunity to overcome the mistakes and wrong doing of yesterday and be a better person today. Don't get discouraged when you do not live up to the goals you set. It is not too late to start over.
- Steve Boyd; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola church of Christ, Dongola, IL. Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
* We are redeemed by the same blood (Eph. 1:7).
* We obeyed the same gospel (Rom. 1:16; Gal. 1:6-9).
* We were added to the same church (Acts 2:41, 47).
* We are heirs of the same promises (Acts 2:39).
* We are united in the same head (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22).
* We worship the same God (John 4:24).
* We all have the same Father (Eph. 1:22).
* We hope for the same heavenly home (John 14:1-6).
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)
- Selected; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
Monday, March 14, 2011
On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense. The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near (Proverbs 10:13-14)
A man of understanding is not a man who seeks to be wise in the ways of the world. That is not the man in view here. A man of understanding is one who seeks to be wise in the ways of God. This man, consequently, will be very wise to the ways of the world and its utter foolishness. This kind of man will try to instill in others what he has. He is loyal to God, obeys His holy will, and has become wise to the ways of righteousness. The fool, on the other hand, has no wisdom in the ways of righteousness and with his morass of darkness he walks in this life “perfectly” confused.
- 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: http://www.highwaycofc.com
Editor’s note: Our society has become very lax in attitudes towards dress, and in far too many cases, Christians have followed the world. This is an editorial taken from a daily newspaper back in May of this year. Please prayerfully consider its message.
MAY, prom season, will be followed quickly by wedding season, beach week, and summer--when battles over teen clothing choices get really hot. From decorated bra straps designed to be seen to plunging necklines, belly rings, and tiny little bikinis, what's a mother to do? What's fair? What's not? And why even enter this land-mined terrain?
For many teens today, "sexy" is the goal--make that obsession--when picking out clothes. Attracting attention, Britney-style, is the adolescent brass ring. "Clothing like this makes me feel confident," one D.C.-area teen told her local newspaper. "People are looking at me, not another girl." Not since the Indians sold Manhattan for beads has something so precious been traded so cheaply.
Whatever happened to modesty? Some people are beginning to take a new look at that ancient virtue, not out of prudery, but because they've discovered a secret.
Wendy Shalit, author of a book called "A Return to Modesty," looks at our sex-saturated culture and says the decline in modesty has diminished respect for women. "It's no accident that harassment, stalking, and rape all increased when we decided to let everything hang out," says Shalit.
At the same time, a false view of sexuality has made "no" seem abnormal. Restraint has been rendered quaint.
The result? An epidemic of disrespect for females--and an increase in bleak behaviors among young women, including eating disorders, self-mutilation, and depression. Free love, it seems, isn't quite so free after all.
The secret that Shalit and others describe is this: Modesty declares that a woman's body is precious, for when something is precious it is protected. Modesty, therefore, enhances self-respect--and actually increases legitimate sensual pleasure when the time is appropriate.
"You may think you see me, the modestly dressed woman announces," writes Shalit, "but you do not see the real me. The real me is only for my beloved to see."
"Modesty in dress," she says, "which today is considered evidence of being 'hung up' about sex, actually permits women precisely not to be hung up about sex. It allows me to be taken seriously as a woman, without having to be desperate about it or, on the other hand, having to pretend to be a man. It gives me the freedom to think about things other than 'Do I look OK?'"
Shalit, who is Jewish, describes the Jewish principle of tznuit, which promotes modesty. Orthodox believers, for example, don't even touch before marriage; but the forced separation actually enhances attraction and leads to mutual respect and honor.
Truthfully, isn't that exactly what we want for our daughters? To be more than sexual objects? To be respected?
Dannah Gresh, author of "And the Bride Wore White," is the founder, along with her husband, of purefreedom.org, which presents retreats on modesty and purity. She says that "fashion today is all about sex and [girls] being told their bodies are for show." While admitting that it can feel good to grab a boy's attention, girls need to know it's attention for all the wrong reasons.
Teaching modesty isn't about invoking shame or promoting ignorance about one's body. Gresh, a Christian, agrees with Shalit when she says modesty should be presented as a positive force. She says the Bible is clear that feminine allure is very powerful: The writer of Proverbs 5:19's wish for a husband is "may you ever be captivated by her love."
Affirming your daughter's allure while teaching her to save it for her "beloved" will go a long way toward protecting her from the physical and emotional fallout of random sexual involvement.
Gresh believes mothers should start teaching their girls about "the delicate power of modesty" at about age 8 or 10, before they begin to develop curves--and before adolescent angst kicks in. But what if your kids are older, and fully engaged in the halter top, low-rider jeans lifestyle? One of the wisest things anyone ever said to me was, "It's never too late to do the right thing."
We may not be able to change the sleaze factor in our culture, but teaching modesty is a choice each one of us can make. After all, our daughters are worth it.
- Linda J. White is an editorial writer and columnist for The Free Lance-Star; 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
One day, a wealthy father took his son from the city out to the country to see how the poor people live. The father and the son spent several days and nights spending the night with what the father would have considered to be a very poor farming family.
After returning home, the father and the son gathered around one of the fireplaces in the multi-million dollar mansion. The father asked his son, “ What did you learn from our experience with this poor, unfortunate family?”
The son, looking around the room filled with thousands of dollars worth of art, furniture, and other fine things, said, “It was great, Dad.”
The father asked his son, “What did you learn about how the poor people around us live?”
“Well,” the son replied, “I saw that we have only one dog and they have four dogs, cows, cats, and horses. We have a pool that reaches out into the middle of our garden while they have a creek that stretches out into eternity. We have expensive imported lanterns in our garden while they have the bright moon and millions of stars to light the night. We have a small patio that reaches out into the front yard while they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to call ours while they have fields that go on beyond the eye’s reach. We have servants that serve us, but they serve others. We spend a lot of money on food that is full of extra stuff while they eat natural food grown in their own fields and picked with love. We have a tall privacy fence around our property to protect us from the world while they have a tall fence of friends to protect them.”
After the boy finished answering his father’s inquiry, the father was speechless. He had failed to show his son how blessed they actually are and that their life is better. To beat it all, the son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me just how poor we really are.”
Isn’t perspective great?! As Christians, we must be sure that our perspective is in the right focus. Examining the sermon that Jesus taught while on top of the mountain, we see that Jesus said several things about our perspective: “Blesses are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
The things that Jesus said here are very astounding to the rich of our world. Those who consider their material possessions before they consider the Creator of their material possessions read this and think that Jesus was a nut and a man in need of mental help. It seems to them that, as the father of the son thought, that to be rich, you must have material things. However, as the son of the father showed by humbling his father, material things get in the way of seeing the real things that matter.
I truly hope that we can set aside our bills that mount up, the repairs on our cars, and the sales in the store and look clearly at the things that really matter. I suggest that sometime, you leave the cordless phone in the house, take a chair into your backyard, and sit there looking up into the sky. Spend time in nature praying and thinking about the things that truly matter.
One day, after we have lived the life according to the Bible and followed all of its commands, we will be able to truly see what it means to have the riches found only in Heaven.
Are you living as a poor person, or are you blinded by your riches? Please, dear reader, understand the truth behind this story and strive to be more perfect according to the Scriptures.
- Kyle Moses; via The Mathis Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the Mathis church of Christ, Mathis, Texas. www.mathiscofc.org
Monday, March 7, 2011
Intriguing, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80's, slim, 5'4" (used to be 5-6), searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion. Matching white shoes and belt a plus.
Recent widow who has just buried fourth husband, and am looking for someone to round out a six-unit plot. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath not a problem.
I am into solitude, long walks, sunrises, the ocean, yoga and meditation. If you are the silent type, let's get together, take our hearing aids out and enjoy quiet times.
Active grandmother with original teeth seeking a dedicated flosser to share rare steaks, corn on the cob and caramel candy.
Beatles or Stones?
I still like to rock, still like to cruise in my Camaro on Saturday nights and still like to play the guitar. If you were a groovy chick, or are now a groovy hen, let's get together and listen to my eight-track tapes.
I can usually remember Monday through Thursday. If you can remember Friday, Saturday and Sunday, let's put our two heads together.
Male, 1932, high mileage, good condition, some hair, many new parts including hip, knee, cornea, valves. Isn't in running condition, but walks well.
- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Highland church of Christ, Tecumseh, OK. He may be contacted through the congregation’s website: http://hcoct.org/
A man, after 25 years with one company, was still doing the same old job and drawing the same salary. Finally he went to his boss and told him he felt he had been neglected. "After all," he said, "I've had a quarter of a century of experience."
"My dear fellow," sighed the boss, "you haven't had a quarter of a century of experience, you've had one experience for a quarter of a century."
Oh, how common it is for Christians to be content to do the same old things in the same old ways and expect growth and progress. Certainly there is a place for specialization and for using specific God given talents in a specific way. But when our work for the Lord is nothing more than rote, ritualistic activity we cannot experience the growth we need to experience, nor can we be productive in serving Him and leading others to Him. Paul had many years of preaching and mission work. But, he was not satisfied with the activity of the work he did, but with the progress that was made. Though he certainly did not want to do things contrary to what God allowed, he was also not content to simply do things a certain way because that was the way he had always done them. Rather, his focus was on leading others to Christ with whatever method was necessary to accomplish the goal. "...I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some Now this I do for the gospel's sake... (1 Corinthians 9:22 23)
As Christians, are we able to separate our methods from God's message? Can we distinguish between what works and what is just work? Are gaining experience to allow us to serve God better and broader, or are we content with where we are and the experience we have had? God does not simply want us to experience becoming a Christian, but requires us to experience living it for Him. Are you?
- James C. Guy (Author of illustration unknown), Canal Heights church of Christ, in Demopolis, Alabama. He may be contacted at THE BIBLE SAYS website at: http://biblesays.faithsite.com
Karl Marx reportedly said,"Give me 26 lead soldiers and I will conquer the world" (i.e. the twenty six letters of the alphabet on a printing press).
"Men who never get carried away should be." (Malcolm Forbes)
"Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy." (Groucho Marx)
Ronald Reagan said, "You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit."
"What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is." (Dan Quayle)
Thomas Jefferson said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."
"The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper." (Thomas Jefferson)
"Life is a zoo in a jungle." (Peter De Vries)
Franklin D. Roosevelt advised, "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
"Women remember the first kiss, men remember the last." (Unknown)
"When I was young, I used to think that wealth and power would bring me happiness... I was right. " (Gahan Wilson)
"Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do." (Jean-Paul Sartre)